Liverpool have been in fine form this summer with only one defeat in 5 matches. Klopp will pleased to see the progress his squad is making before the season starts on 14th August at the Emirates against Arsenal. The German has already made a host of signing this summer but still feels that there are some gaps in the team which need to be plugged if the Reds are going to mount a proper challenge for the top four places next season. Liverpool were heavily linked with Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Mario this summer.
The shift in focus in getting Mario to Anfield comes after Liverpool had their hopes of signing Mario Gotze dashed when the German decided to sign for his former club Dortmund recently, as well as missing out on Udinese’s Piotr Zielinski. Mario was one of the standout players in the Portuguese team that went on to lift the European Cup recently in France. It was his performances for his country that attracted the attention of top clubs across Europe. Reports have emerged this week that Liverpool have had a £33.5m bid rejected by Sporting. The Portuguese club believes the midfielder’s value to be closer to £50m, hence rejected the bid outright.
Mario was excellent for Sporting last season as he scored 11 goals and provided 12 assists in all competition. He has been deployed both as a central midfielder or wide right and has been equally effective in both positions. He is equally effective in quickening the pace of the attack with sleek passing and also keeping the ball securing while slowing down the pace of the game. His low centre of gravity allows him to glide past opponents using his excellent dribbling ability.
Although only 5ft 10in, Mario is known to be dominant in midfield utilizing his superb technique to keep hold of the ball. He has a sublime control and is very efficient in distributing pinpoint passes from the back. It’s his calmness and composure with the ball that is the most impressive thing about the Portuguese. He hardly ever panics when surrounded by defenders rather uses his quick feet to get out of tight situations. He is also a very hard working player, who doesn’t shy away from his defensive duties and work tirelessly for the teams cause.
One weakness that he might have is his finishing capabilities. He often finds himself with goal scoring opportunities but is rarely clinical enough to bury the chance. However, with Klopp in charge at Liverpool, he will have the perfect environment to grow as a player. His work ethics will fit perfectly into Klopp’s plans for next year and there is no doubt he will add serious quality to an already improving Liverpool squad.