Forget Ricardo Rodriguez: Why Liverpool Should Turn Their Attention Towards This Manchester United Left Back Target

The first round of games in the Group stage is over and the World Cup fever has engulfed the entire world. So far, the tournament has witnessed it all. Crazy red cards? Check. Refereeing blunders? Check. Last minute winners? Check. Humiliations? Check. Upsets? Check. Plenty of goals and entertainment? Check. In the midst of all that, two players have really stood for their respective sides. And no, it is not Neymar or Messi or Robben or Muller, instead it is two left backs who have cemented their place as one of the finest full backs in the World right now.

While Robben and Van Persie get all the plaudits for the side’s win against Spain, it was left back Daley Blind who started it all and currently sits pretty in first place in the assists chart. Joint-top alongside him is another left back, this time it is Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez, who supplied both goals for the side in their injury-time 2-1 win over Ecuador. Both the players came into the World Cup on the back of sublime seasons for their respective clubs and have only continued from where they left off.

Daley Blind was arguably Ajax’s most improved player last season and the 24-year-old was fully expected to start for his national side in their opener against Spain. 21-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez on the other hand was without a doubt, Wolfsburg’s player of the season in the 13/14 campaign. Both full backs have a lot in common, they are both technically sound, brilliant going forward and solid at the back.

And, on top of all that, both of them have been linked with a move to Liverpool. Given the Reds lack of options at left back, either of the two would prove to be perfect. But, who is the better option? Should Brendan Rodgers spend his money on Holland’s most improved player from last season or Germany’s best defender from the season just gone? Let us take a look at both of their stats and then make a judgement on who fits Liverpool better. The analysis will be split into three categories – defending, attacking and suitability to the club.

Defending

Defensive contribution of both Blind and Rodriguez in their respective Leagues last season

  Daley Blind Ricardo Rodriguez
Total appearances 29 34
Average Duels won (in %) 54 61
Average Defensive actions 5 6
Total Defensive errors 1 0
Yellow/Red Cards 4/0 2/0

 

As far as the defensive aspect is concerned, it is a close run thing. Both players win more their half their duels, with Rodriguez only slightly edging out Blind by winning 61% of his, compared to Blind’s 54. In terms of average defensive actions per game (this includes tackles, interceptions and blocks) it is another close contest with Rodriguez once again edging out Blind six to five. While Rodriguez didn’t commit a single defensive error all season, Blind made one. And in terms of their discipline, neither player is rash, when it comes to their tackling, and both have accrued less than five yellow cards all season long and no red cards.

In terms of defensive discipline, it is a close battle, but the younger Swiss left back is slightly better in terms of his numbers and is, as a result the winner in terms of his defensive ability.

Attacking

Offensive contribution of both Blind and Rodriguez in their respective Leagues last season

 

  Daley Blind Ricardo Rodriguez
Total appearances 29 34
Goals/assists 1/1 5/11
Chances created 37 78
Shot accuracy 44 68
Pass accuracy 88 80

 

When it comes to their productivity offensively, there is clearly only one winner. Rodriguez was arguably Wolfsburg’s main attacking threat and he scored five goals, while creating a further 11. The Swiss full back also created 78 chances for his team mates and had a shot accuracy of almost 70%. Blind’s stats pale in comparison, with the Dutchman scoring just once and assisting another, his shot accuracy was also less than 50% and created less than half as many chances as Rodriguez. Some of it, is down to the fact that Blind was often employed as a defensive midfielder, thus greatly reducing his offensive potential.

Blind has a better passing range and accuracy when compared to Rodriguez, but purely in terms of numbers, there can only be one winner and that is the 21-year-old Swiss left back.

Suitablity to the club

While both players are defensively sound and great going forward, Blind’s experience and his more technical style of play makes him more suited to the Reds. Another thing that the Dutchman has going for him, is his versatility. Capable of playing at left back or as a defensive midfielder, both areas of concern for Liverpool means that he will be a great addition to the Reds’ squad. Also, the fact that Blind won’t too expensive is another thing that adds up in his favour.

Verdict

While Rodriguez is the younger and better option at left back, Blind’s versatility and relative cheapness will mean that he will be a much more reasonable bet for the Reds. For a side that is looking for readymade fit, Blind’s experience of playing in the Champions League and the World Cup and his proven technical ability means that Blind is the one the Reds must look to target this summer. However, Liverpool will have to face a stiff competition from Manchester United, who are apparently chasing him after missing out on Southhampton’s Luke Shaw.

Stats via squawka

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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