We are already halfway through the January transfer window but so far none of the bigger clubs in the Premier League have made any seemingly big signings. Some clubs are in more desperate need of new players of course, and nowhere is this perhaps more obvious than last season’s runners-up, Liverpool.
Since their sale of Luis Suarez in the summer to Barcelona and the subsequent injury to Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have struggled up front with the disappointing efforts of Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini. Raheem Sterling has been able to deputise to a certain extent but it is clear that the club need another out and out striker to improve on what they currently have.
There is a belief in the media that the Reds may be able to cut Divock Origi’s loan to Lille short and throw him in to the front line, but as he is still only a youngster, and someone more established may be required. Much of the speculation in recent weeks has been to do with the acquisition of West Brom forward Saido Berahino, and while he may only be a few years older than his Belgian counterpart, he has certainly shown why his stock is rising in the Premier League.
So what else could he offer the Liverpool team going forward then, other than goals obviously? In that department, he is well ahead of the players who have played upfront for the Reds this season, having scored nine league goals. In comparison, Sterling has managed only four while Lambert, Balotelli and Borini have only scored one goal between them. Their respective goal returns are made more interesting by how similar their shot accuracies are and also by how many they have attempted.
Berahino has attempted 51 shots at goal so far this season with an accuracy of 50%. Compare this with Sterling’s 50 attempted shots and 54% accuracy, and Balotelli’s 47 shots and 55% accuracy. Balotelli has actually played around 800 minutes less than the previous two but has no goals to his name. Whether this is down to firing his shots straight at the keeper or even just plain bad luck, this has been discussed many times over. Lambert and Borini have both attempted a significantly smaller amount of shots due to lack of playing time but it is still worrying to note that they have each only been able to get 40% of those on target. This suggests that while two of the current Liverpool forwards have the same work rate in terms of shots as Berahino, the latter is much more effective when it comes to scoring goals.
All of the strikers (I’ll exclude Sterling from this as he has often been used in his better position on the wing) are fairly comparable when it comes to creativity. While Berahino is well out in front in regards to how many chances he has created for his team mates this season with 17, compared to five, six and eight chances created by Balotelli, Lambert and Borini respectively, he has so far been unable to register any assists. Borini is the only member of this group who has had a part to play in any of his team mates’ goals this season with one assist to his name.
We are always made aware of how tough it is to play against defenders in the Premier League and so I believe it is important that we look at how well Berahino fares in certain types of duels and compare these statistics with those of the Liverpool strikers. Perhaps the most obvious duel to take a look at is take-ons and how well the players fare at this. It may surprise you to find out that Borini is the most successful of the five with a 66.67% success rate, compared to Sterling’s 53.33% and Berahino and Lambert’s 50%. Of course, Borini has actually only had two successful attempts. Berahino has made 17 successful take-ons but unsurprisingly, Sterling leads the way on 64.
Aerial duels may not be considered as important depending on the team’s style of play but it is still interesting to see how successful this group are when they have been involved in them. Aside from Lambert and his 46.88% success rate, they are all fairly poor, ranging between 17% and 25%. However, as Liverpool like to pass their way into attacking positions, this can perhaps be overlooked.
As you can see then, Berahino isn’t all that different from the strikers Liverpool already have, except in one area of course: goals. He is certainly a massive improvement on what the Reds currently have in their forward line, with the exception of Sturridge of course. His injury problems have left Liverpool lacking in forward urgency and Berahino can certainly be an antidote to that particular problem. The £30m price tag is pretty steep to say the least and to be honest, I cannot see the Liverpool hierarchy sanctioning a move for him at that price and maybe a few off the field issues that he’s been involved in. Having said that, he is definitely a player worthy of their consideration.