Ideally, in the modern game, a wide forward should score goals, create for others, excel athletically, and work hard defensively. Luis Díaz is that… AND MORE.
He is the archetypal Klopp forward who joins Jota as the figures to spearhead Liverpool’s front 3 evolution!
Díaz is very much so like Sadio Mané and Mo Salah in the sense that he can receive high and wide on the sides before attacking players via dribbling but also makes those inward runs meaning he’s a penetrative goal threat, & he has the necessary traits to complement that movement.
Diaz’ entire game is centered around his athleticism and this enables him to carry out what he wants to do to an elite level. He is very direct on and off the ball and is in the top 80 and 92% of wide attackers in the world in touches in the opposition box & dribbles completed.
To play with such speed and intensity not only requires fierce athleticism, but also an ultra-determined mentality, and this is exactly what Díaz has. Every single action he partakes in is with complete and utter commitment to the cause – on AND off the ball.
So, to have a player who’s willing to work as hard as possible who is also a physical specimen is incredibly valuable in itself because he’s an outlet, but Díaz is much more than that. He’s also a phenomenal technician in a variety of key aspects of goalscoring and creative play.
The Colombian carries the ball with incredible speed with unbelievable regularity, but he excels at his close control dribbling when carrying the ball and facing players up. Díaz isn’t a headless chicken like Adama – he’s a calculated runner and dribbler who plays with arrogance.
Díaz can face his man up & burst past him in a split second or carry the ball from inside his own half past several players. Within these situations, he is comfortable playing a direct pass or combining with his teammates. He’s like Mané in that sense – level-headed on the ball.
If the opportunity to play a penetrative pass is present, Díaz has the braveness and awareness to play it. If the opportunity to combine or recycle is the better option, he will do that.
This is a great tool to possess because a combination is needed against all types of teams.
Crucially, when dribbling, Díaz is comfortable at taking on his man on the inside or outside thanks to his ability to use either foot & operate at many angles. This is key. When striking the ball, he is adept at striking through the ball on either foot. That’s a game changer.
Díaz strikes through the ball with sensational precision and power and this is a trait ALL elite attackers possess. Salah, Mané, Ronaldo, Messi, Son, Chiesa, Kane, etc, etc all possess this trait. But, the thing is, it’s rare on both feet, yet Díaz can score on either side.
So, we’re talking about a player who is a top athlete in every sense of the word with a win-at-all-costs mentality who also excels technically in terms of dribbling and ball-striking but also has a fair balance of being direct and patient in attack, and for £50m, max. How?!
And, the thing is, that’s not it. Remember we discussed Díaz’ willingness to attack the box? The guy is hellbent on scoring goals and is also fantastic in the air because he’s got the speed, height, and athleticism but also the determination and braveness to *ATTACK* the ball.
With 19 goal contributions in 18 league games, it’s clear why Liverpool had to pull the trigger sooner rather than later on a deal they had planned to finalise in the summer. The secret was already out but the competition would’ve been more fierce in the summer. LFC had to act.
In terms of where Díaz fits in at Liverpool, I think it’s the beginning of the end for Sadio Mané. Look, Mané is still special, but inconsistent, & to be honest, the biggest compliment anybody can give Mané is that Klopp has looked to replace him with a player who’s just like him.
Stylistically, the most similar player in world football to Sadio Mané is L. Díaz. They are so, so similar. They both attack the box, can strike through the ball on either foot, go left or right when dribbling, work hard defensively, etc.
However, one is more explosive in 2022.
That’s the biggest problem here. Again, profile-wise, Mané is still *THAT* guy, but not athletically. He is still a phenomenal athlete and will absolutely still play a big part for Liverpool but Díaz is Mané when he first came to Liverpool. The style, quality, AND explosiveness.
Mané has an elite mentality so this signing will only spur him and Díaz on. The two will make each other better but, as I said, Díaz is quite simply a far more explosive athlete at this stage in their respective careers, & that’s saying something because Sadio is still explosive!
There’s almost an element of sadness when writing this because it’s difficult to see a Liverpool legend be replaced. Sadio Mané was, and is, special. Forget his quality – his dedication to the Liverpool project is second to none. His work ethic is a credit to him as a man.
The transition will be slow, but Luis Díaz will ultimately replace the great Sadio Mané. They are both special physically, quality-wise, and mentally, but only one is still reliably explosive, and that’s Díaz. The Colombian is half-way between Martinelli & Mané, and in his peak.