There was a time when Liverpool would sign men who had performed well against them, or at the very least, they would be rumored to hold an interest in such players. This practice no longer occurs at Liverpool. Prior to joining the club, Christian Benteke had already scored five goals against the Reds, but he has only scored 10 goals while playing for them.
It appeared that the days of such straightforward analysis were behind us (even if Darwin Nez could be considered an exception on this front). On the other hand, it was recently announced that the club’s director of research, Ian Graham, and sporting director, Julian Ward, will be leaving the organization in the summer, so it’s possible that the organization will return to using such recruitment strategies.
Whatever the case may be, the Reds have been connected to a player who has scored a goal against them during this season. The sample size for this group is, regrettably, much larger than what Liverpool had hoped for. However, it seems that Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus may have made an impression on the people who matter the most at the club.
On Thursday afternoon at the World Cup, Ghana’s match against Portugal featured the 22-year-old player in the starting lineup. It was reported before the game by Sports World Ghana that the Reds would have scouts present to evaluate the Ajax forward’s performance. It is speculated that Liverpool will make a move in January if they like what they see (which included assisting André Ayew’s goal), but they will have competition from the other half of Merseyside, Dortmund, Juventus, and Milan.
Jürgen Klopp was able to gain first-hand knowledge of Kudus’ capabilities in September, when Ajax were defeated 2-1 at Anfield. He fired a fierce finish past Alisson Becker to score a fine goal that equalized the score at the Kop end of the field. Kudus converted a 0.15 expected goal opportunity into a 0.47 expected goal effort in the post-shot model, despite the fɑct that single shot expected goal values should always be viewed with extreme caution (per FBRef). To put it another way, the power of his strike combined with its positioning rendered the chance three times more valuable.
This season in the Eredivisie, he has not had any difficulty in locating high xG shooting positions, nor has he had any difficulty in amassing a healthy volume of shooting opportunities. According to FBRef, Kudus has taken an average of 4.5 shots per 90 minutes, and his shots that were not penalties have been worth an average of 0.24 goals per game.
When evaluating Eredivisie players, one must always take into account the lower level of football played in the Netherlands; however, for the sake of this comparison, let’s look at the top five leagues in Europe. Only eight men in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are averaging more shots than Darwin Nez, Kylian Mbappé, or Lionel Messi this season. These players are all part of the same group (who, with 5.8, is top of the standings).
If you think that is impressive, you should know that there are only five big league players in 2022/23 with a higher average chance quality, and none of them are in the previous eight players in terms of attacking talent. These numbers (along with his 10 goals and two assists this season) suggest that Kudus has outgrown the Eredivisie, but his scouting report on FBRef really drives home the point that he should be playing at a higher level.
On the basis of this, he is compared to forwards competing in competitions known as “the next eight,” which are a level below the major leagues. The players who compete in the Europa Conference League and the Copa Libertadores, in addition to those who play professionally in the United States of America, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, and the English Championship, are taken into account.
In this company, Kudus is in the top one percent in his position for 26 different metrics, and he is in the top 10 percent for a further 19 metrics, which helps to explain why former Dutch international Keje Molenaar told Het Parool that the Ghanaian is now “worth €70 million (£60 million).”
If there are any causes for concern, surely his track record of physical activity is one of them. Kudus has had three absences totaling at least 62 days over the course of the previous two years, although it has been almost 10 months since he was unable to participate in a match (per Transfermarkt).
However, a medical professional should evaluate any potential issues that may exist. It is abundantly clear that Kudus possesses a talent that should be evaluated.