Transfer Talk: Reds eye Tchouameni as Real close in on Jude
Liverpool are in the market for a midfielder and Aurelien Tchouameni is reportedly on their radar.
The Frenchman joined Real Madrid from Monaco last summer despite interest from the Reds, though he has failed to nail down a regular starting berth this season.
Jurgen Klopp is keen to add reinforcements in the centre of the park but has been forced to broaden his horizons after pulling out of the race to sign Jude Bellingham, with Los Blancos seemingly in pole position for the Borussia Dortmund star.
As the Merseysiders prepare to face Leicester tonight, we consider if Bellingham's potential move to the Spanish capital could allow Liverpool to lure Tchouameni to Anfield.
Tchouameni's defensive attributes would certainly make him a good fit for Klopp's high-intensity pressing system.
The 23-year-old has averaged an impressive 2.13 interceptions per 90 in LaLiga this term — the fourth-most in the division.
For context, Stefan Bajcetic boasts the highest rate of interceptions per 90 in the Premier League among Liverpool midfielders with 1.54.
While Tchouameni does generally play at the base of midfield, Gus Poyet has also praised his attacking prowess after working with him at Bordeaux.
He said: "I wanted [Tchouameni] to play a bit further forward for what the team needed, but he wanted to play as a No6.
"I was trying to push him up the pitch [but] he wanted to stay back.
"When he was younger he played further forward, almost in attack. He had that ability, had that timing in the air, could shoot with his right or his left."
That well-rounded skill set will undoubtedly be appealing to the Reds' recruitment department.
Less is more
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has indicated why Tchouameni is yet to cement a starting spot at the Bernabeu, suggesting the 23-cap international needs to improve his positional discipline and ability on the ball.
He said: "I think Tchouameni is an important player because he covers our central defenders well, he's good in the penalty area when opponents enter.
"However, with the ball he needs to improve, he's very young and he's learning.
"I told him not to move so much, because he has a lot of energy and sometimes he loses his position."
Though he will need to develop these areas of his game, that high-energy approach could be a good fit for Klopp's swashbuckling tactical philosophy.
On the ball
Interestingly, despite Ancelotti's criticism, Tchouameni's passing accuracy ranks among the best in LaLiga.
Only two players in the division can better his success rate of 93.87%, while his final third passing percentage is a league-leading 91.13%.
He has also attempted (1.42) and completed (1.13) more take-ons than any other defensive midfielder in Spain's top tier.
That ability to drive play forward, as well as retain possession, would see him slot in perfectly on Merseyside.
King Power clash
Liverpool visit the King Power Stadium this evening sitting four points off a top-four spot with three games remaining.
Recruiting a talent like Tchouameni may prove more difficult without Champions League football on offer, so victory over the Foxes would be a significant boost.
The rumoured arrival of Bellingham could push him further down the pecking order in Madrid, increasing the likelihood of a departure.
If he does arrive at Anfield, Tchouameni may find himself in a system that suits his qualities better.