Liverpool ‘asks’ about second World Cup winner as Jürgen Klopp can copy Bayern Munich plan
One of Liverpool’s reported midfield targets for the summer transfer window is Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch.
According to Sky Sports, the Reds have already been in touch with the player’s camp to make their ‘pitch’ over a potential move to Anfield and are now hoping to strike an agreement with the Bundesliga giants.
But now it seems yet another Bayern Munich player may be on their radar, this time one who operates in defense.
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German publication Kicker reports (via Sport Witness) that Liverpool is one of a number teams to have ‘asked about’ Benjamin Pavard.
Pavard’s contract expires in 2024 and while Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić has said the club are in talks with his camp and ‘would love’ to keep him (via BeSoccer), the player has long been considering his future.
The 27-year-old appeals to Liverpool for a couple of reasons. Anfield recruitment staff consider him ‘one of the most consistent players’ in what’s been a difficult season for Bayern, who will be dethroned as champion for the first time since 2012 if Borussia Dortmund beats Mainz on Saturday.
But the second is Pavard’s versatility, specifically his track record of operating as both a full-back and a center-half.
Indeed, this season, the Frenchman has split his appearances minutes almost equally between right-back (19 times) and center-back (23 times).
Liverpool has enquired about Bayern defender Benjamin Pavard(Image: Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Pavard is best known for his goal-of-the-tournament-winning strike in his country’s 4-3 win over Argentina in the 2018 World Cup round of 16, but he’s not actually a full-back who makes a particularly big offensive impact.
While he produced 10 direct goal contributions from the position in his first season at Bayern (three goals, seven assists), he’s only scored four and set up two in 76 appearances there since.
When Pavard has played as a right-back this season, he’s averaged 19.8 touches in the attacking third per 90 minutes. By contrast, Liverpool counterpart Trent Alexander-Arnold averaged 33.8 last season (when he was a right-back throughout the campaign rather than a hybrid midfielder).
When you consider Bayern Munich’s dominance, it’s clear that this is by design. While some full-backs are converted wingers or midfielders, Pavard is very much a defender.
“We forget that with the right-back position, the bottom line is to defend well,” he says. “Now, they want you to have stats, to provide assists and attack. We don’t pay too much attention when you defend poorly. It’s the football of today. It has evolved.”
This mindset and style has seen him used conservatively by coaches like Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel. Often Pavard has tucked into form a back three when Bayern has the ball, with the left-sided full-back granted far more licence to push forward.
This is exactly the kind of player Liverpool needs if it wants to make Alexander-Arnold a fully-fledged midfielder.
There have been concerns about the viability of asking Ibrahima Konaté to defend the whole right flank when the Englishman is caught up the pitch, but one way to address that would be to recruit a defensive-minded right-back.
This would also help Andy Robertson, more suited to an attacking assignment than a fluid left-sided center-back berth.
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(Image: Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
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On paper, Liverpool would play a 4-2-3-1, with Pavard dropping in alongside Konaté and Virgil van Dijk when Robertson joined the attack, and Alexander-Arnold sitting permanently alongside Fabinho.
It’s no surprise to see Liverpool lodge an enquiry because, if the Bayern man is available for a reasonable fee as he nears the last 12 months of his contract, then it’s a deal with plenty of upside.
Pavard could be an effective replacement for Joël Matip, should he leave the club this summer, but beyond that, he could facilitate a difference-making adjustment to Jürgen Klopp’s exciting new system. And if he comes in alongside Alexis Mac Allister, it will be two World Cup winners joining the ranks — not bad pedigree for the manager to gain as he loses a wealth of experience from his squad.