Why Liverpool would be foolish to overlook Ibrahim Sangare


"What a diff'rence a day made" sung Dinah Washington back in 1959. The opening lyrics of the popular hit ring true in the current transfer market. On Friday, Liverpool had reached an agreement with Brighton to sign Moises Caicedo. Then Chelsea finally got their act together to bring in their number one target and, as of Monday morning, the Blues look to finally be getting their man. The Reds, as evidenced in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Sunday, still need midfield reinforcements, and Caicedo would have been an ideal fit. 


Back to the drawing board, then, for Jurgen Klopp's side as they look to add midfield bodies to the squad in the coming weeks. Romeo Lavia remains high on the wishlist, though Chelsea are also courting the Belgian, while Ibrahim Sangare has emerged as a potential target for the Reds. 


It's been reported that Sangare has a £32m release clause, with Bayern Munich also courting the Ivorian, and if that is the rumoured fee for the PSV star, then Liverpool should be all over the 25-year-old. As was evidenced at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool very need to prioritise a ball winning midfielder to help shore up the squad. In a topsy-turvy meeting at Stamford Bridge, Klopp's side were carved open too easily with Alexis Mac Allister required to anchor the midfield. 


The Argentine didn't necessarily disappoint - he made three tackles - but was also dribbled past twice to apply further pressure to the Reds backline. Mac Allister can play the role if needs must, but it is a waste of his talent if he is tasked with shielding the backline. That is why Liverpool have been linked with moves for Caicedo, Lavia and now Sangare, and they'd be landing themselves a bargain were they to firm up their interest in the latter. 


No player has won possession in the midfield third more times than Sangare (158) since the start of the 2022/23 Eredivisie season, this despite starting just 27 of a possible 35 matches in that time. He may not have been the division's top tackler over the same period, making 69, that the 17th most, but when he needs to stop an opponent; Sangare is more than capable of easing pressure on the defence. 



Since the start of last season, Sangare has returned a tackle success rate of 80.2%, that ranking 15th of the 133 players to have attempted at least 50 tackles in the Eredivisie. No wonder, then, he has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored strength of 'tackling'. This is a core trait to his game that will undoubtedly solidify a Liverpool side in dire need of at least one more body in the middle of the park. 


However, there is the creative side to Sangare's game that can also be utilised by Klopp. The Ivory Coast international ended the 2022/23 Eredivisie campaign with five goals and one assist to his name, and he provided the assist for Noa Lang's opener against FC Utrecht on Saturday. One key pass per 90 since the start of last season isn't to be scoffed at for a player who sits as deeply as Sangare, but it's his ability to split defences apart that'll appease this Liverpool side. 


Since the start of last season, only Steven Berghuis (10) has made more accurate through balls than Sangare (9) in the Eredivisie, while a 75% through ball success rate ranks eighth of the 50 players to have attempted at least five through balls over the same period in the Dutch top tier. With the raft of attacking personnel at Klopp's disposal, they'd thrive when making runs in behind defences with Sangare able to maximise his vision to quickly set his side on the frontfoot. 


There are perhaps minor qualms about his overall distribution, and that may be why Sangare is yet to secure a high-profile move away from PSV, with the midfielder returning a pass success rate of just 84.3% in the Eredivisie last season. For any player in his position, they need to find a teammate with ease when they do win possession for their side, and Sangare is no exception. Yet much of that may be down to the player himself taking more risks in possession rather than seeking to play the simple pass. 


PSV dominated against FC Utrecht, and Sangare was key having returned a 90.3% pass success rate from 93 passes. A small sample size, yes, but proof that he can play the role of possession recycler where required. In short, though, this is a move Liverpool should make. Both the Reds and PSV already have a working relationship following the former's move for Cody Gakpo at the turn of the year, while the Dutchman and Sangare forged an effective partnership in the first half of the 2022/23 campaign, with Gakpo assisting three of the Ivorian's five league goals last term. 


Liverpool were prepared to spend upwards of £100m on Caicedo, and around half that for Lavia. They could save themselves a pretty penny with the addition of Sangare without compromising the quality within the squad. Rather, Sangare would be a readymade addition, whose skillset seems well suited to the Premier League.

Why Liverpool would be foolish to overlook Ibrahim Sangare