EPL

How does Upamecano compare to Liverpool's defenders amid transfer talk?

By Sports Desk October 20, 2020

Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

Ready to do battle

Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

Related items

  • Rodgers leads Packers past Bears, Mahomes shines as Chiefs hold off Brady's Buccaneers Rodgers leads Packers past Bears, Mahomes shines as Chiefs hold off Brady's Buccaneers

    Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a resounding win in the NFL on Sunday, while Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost again.

    Rodgers was in control throughout as the Packers eased to a 41-25 win over the Chicago Bears to strengthen their grip on the NFC North.

    Patrick Mahomes had earlier starred for the Kansas City Chiefs, who held off Brady and the Buccaneers.

    Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers left it late against the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos – without a quarterback – fell.

     

    RODGERS' PACKERS DOMINATE BEARS

    The Packers handed the Bears a fifth straight loss with a 16-point victory.

    Rodgers completed 21 of 29 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns for Green Bay, who at one stage led 41-10.

    During the win, Rodgers became the 11th player in NFL history to reach 50,000 passing yards.

    Davante Adams had a receiving touchdown in a sixth straight game, the longest active streak in the NFL. He also tied the Packers' franchise record since at least 1950, according to NFL Research.

    The Packers (8-3) are top of the NFC North ahead of the Minnesota Vikings (5-6), Bears (5-6) and Detroit Lions (4-7).

    CHIEFS HOLD OFF BUCCANEERS

    Mahomes and Tyreek Hill dominated as the Chiefs overcame the Buccaneers 27-24.

    Hill caught three touchdown passes and had 269 receiving yards as the Chiefs improved to 10-1 and handed Brady three straight home losses for the first time in his career.

    During his performance, Hill had 203 receiving yards in the first quarter. He was the third player since 1980 with 200-plus receiving yards in a single quarter, joining Qadry Ismail (1999) and Lee Evans (2006).

    Mahomes was 37 of 49 for 462 yards and three touchdowns, while Brady completed 27 of 41 for 345 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

    In November, Mahomes averaged 399.5 passing yards per game. That is the most passing yards per game by any quarterback in a single month in NFL history, with minimum four games played, as per Stats Perform.

    49ERS EDGE RAMS

    Robbie Gould drilled a 42-yard field goal as time expired to lift the 49ers past the Rams 23-20.

    Deebo Samuel had 133 receiving yards for the 49ers as Nick Mullens completed 24 of 35 for 252 yards, with one interception.

    Rams QB Jared Goff struggled, throwing two interceptions and getting sacked twice while completing 19 of 31 for 198 yards.

    The 49ers (5-6) are bottom of the NFC West, behind the Seattle Seahawks (7-3), Rams (7-4) and Arizona Cardinals (6-5).

    SAINTS BEAT QUARTERBACK-LESS BRONCOS

    With all their quarterbacks declared ineligible to play due to coronavirus protocols, the Broncos fell to the New Orleans Saints 31-3.

    Wide receiver Kendall Hinton started at QB for the Broncos. He went one-of-nine for 13 yards and two interceptions.

    With Drew Brees sidelined, the Saints improved to 9-2 as Taysom Hill started, throwing for 78 yards and rushing for 44. Latavius Murray had 124 rushing yards.

    Week 12 scores:

    Atlanta Falcons 43-6 Las Vegas Raiders
    Buffalo Bills 27-17 Los Angeles Chargers
    Cleveland Browns 27-25 Jacksonville Jaguars
    Miami Dolphins 20-3 New York Jets
    Minnesota Vikings 28-27 Carolina Panthers
    New England Patriots 20-17 Arizona Cardinals
    New York Giants 19-17 Cincinnati Bengals 
    Tennessee Titans 45-26 Indianapolis Colts
    New Orleans Saints 31-3 Denver Broncos
    San Francisco 49ers 23-20 Los Angeles Rams
    Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Green Bay Packers 41-25 Chicago Bears

  • Bucs' Brady cuts short news conference after question about coaching Bucs' Brady cuts short news conference after question about coaching

    Tom Brady made a quick exit from his news conference amid questions about coaching after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crashed to another defeat.

    Brady suffered a third consecutive home loss for the first time in his career as the slumping Buccaneers went down 27-24 to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

    The Buccaneers – without a playoff appearance since 2007 – dropped to 7-5 this season after star quarterback Brady finished 27 of 41 for 345 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Much has been made about Brady and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – previously critical of the NFL great – this season after the six-time Super Bowl champion swapped the New England Patriots for Tampa Bay in a blockbuster move.

    Former Patriots team-mate Rob Ninkovich told ESPN on Friday that Brady needed a new coach, and a reporter put that statement to the 43-year-old following a third loss in four games.

    "It's just external noise that when you are losing, that's what you deal with," Brady said in response post-game.

    "I love playing with the guys that I play with, the coaches, the whole organisation has been unbelievable.

    "I think I have to go out and certainly do a better job the last four weeks of the year. So, I appreciate it. Let's have a good week."

    Brady added: "I think football is so much about being in that rhythm and staying in rhythm and finding your rhythm.

    "I think as we keep going forward, we are learning more and more about ourselves, about what we need to do. Going to get back to work and try and do a lot better of a job the last quarter of the season."

  • MLS: Columbus, New England into Eastern Conference finals MLS: Columbus, New England into Eastern Conference finals

    Columbus Crew will face New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference finals after their respective wins in the MLS Cup play-offs on Sunday.

    Gyasi Zardes inspired Columbus in extra time of a 2-0 victory over Nashville.

    The United States international's cutback found Pedro Santos to score the opener for the hosts in the 99th minute.

    And, just four minutes later, Zardes sealed the win with a clinical finish in a one-on-one after being played in by Luis Diaz Espinoza.

    Zardes has been directly involved in seven goals (five goals and two assists) in four matches against expansion sides over the past two MLS seasons, according to Opta.

    It was enough for Columbus to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in four seasons, and New England await.

    After finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Revolution beat Thierry Henry's Montreal Impact in the play-in round and stunned Philadelphia Union in the first round.

    They continued their run with a 3-1 win over Orlando City on Sunday.

    Carles Gil's 17th-minute penalty opened the scoring before Gustavo Bou made it 2-0.

    Junior Urso pulled a scrappy goal back for Orlando after the half-hour mark, but their hopes of victory were hurt by Mauricio Pereyra's red card for a dangerous challenge in the 60th minute.

    Still, Nani had a chance to equalise for Orlando in the 74th minute, only to see his penalty saved by Matt Turner.

    The penalty save was just the second by a Revolution goalkeeper from the previous 23 on-target spot-kicks they had faced dating back to March 2016, according to Opta.

    Instead, Bou got on the end of Gil's pass to poke in the sealer four minutes from time, sending New England to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2014.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.