Time to Go: Slot Must Instantly Bin 6/10 Liverpool Dud Who Will “Struggle” Post-klopp

At the close of the 2022/23 season, Liverpool exited the field against Southampton with a 4-4 draw in the Premier League, marking their first failure to qualify for the Champions League since 2016.

It became painfully evident that Liverpool’s midfield, anchored by long-serving players like Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Fabinho, had exceeded its effectiveness in Klopp’s dynamic style of play, which he had implemented since his arrival in 2015, propelling the club to unprecedented success.

As Jurgen Klopp prepares to depart from his managerial role at Anfield this summer after nearly nine years, amidst some disappointment over the team’s late-season performance that saw them fall behind in the Premier League title race, the comprehensive rebuild undertaken in the summer of 2023 presents an optimistic outlook for the club’s future.

The imminent arrival of Arne Slot, who will succeed Klopp as manager following the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, brings anticipation for his plans and priorities. Slot, who enjoyed a prosperous spell at Feyenoord in the Netherlands, will inherit a team that requires strategic enhancements.

According to reputable transfer insider Fabrizio Romano, fortifying the defensive line is expected to be a primary focus for Slot, although attention may also be directed towards strengthening the midfield, particularly in the No. 6 role.

Why Slot Must Bin Wataru Endo

Right on the cusp of the 2023/24 campaign’s opener, Liverpool encountered setbacks in their pursuit of a new defensive midfielder, losing out on both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to Chelsea. This turn of events raised concerns at Anfield.

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Nevertheless, Klopp and temporary sporting director Jorg Schmadtke looked abroad and secured Wataru Endo from Stuttgart for a £16m fee.

The move surprised many in the Reds fanbase initially, but the 31-year-old Japanese star has since impressed with his industrious and composed approach in midfield. Bundesliga commentator Kevin Hatchard hailed Liverpool’s acquisition as securing a “proper warrior and leader.”

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While Endo had a slow start in England, he gradually earned a regular starting position in the Premier League as the season progressed, even winning Liverpool’s Player of the Month for December.

In total, Endo has made 41 appearances for Klopp’s squad across all competitions, scoring three goals and providing one assist on his £50k-per-week contract.

Given the modest fee paid for his services compared to Chelsea’s significant investments in Caicedo and Lavia, Liverpool fans have reason to celebrate this astute addition, particularly after defeating Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final where Endo received a stellar 9/10 match rating from the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle.

However, Endo’s performance is not without flaws. He received a 6/10 rating as Liverpool’s title hopes dwindled in a recent draw against West Ham United, showing signs of fatigue as the match progressed.

Wataru Endo: Premier League 23/24 Statistics
Matches played26
Matches started17
Pass completion88%
Key passes per game0.5
Ball recoveries per game3.4
Dribbles per game0.3 (67%)
Tackles per game1.5
Interceptions per game0.7
Clearances per game1.0
Duels won per game3.8 (44%)
Stats via Sofascore

According to FBref statistics, Endo is positioned within the top 13% of midfielders in Europe’s major five leagues over the past year for passes attempted. Additionally, he ranks in the top 20% for pass completion and the top 9% for aerial duels won per 90 minutes, showcasing his proficiency in fundamental skills essential for an effective No. 6 player.

However, a closer examination of the data reveals some shortcomings that prevent him from joining the elite tier of defensive midfielders in Europe. Endo’s success rate in winning aerial duels stands at just 44% out of 3/8 duels per game, which falls short compared to players like Rodri, who triumphs in 60% of his six contested duels per game.

An analyst has even suggested that Endo might struggle if placed in a different midfield setup, indicating that his performance is significantly influenced by his environment within Anfield’s confines, which enhances his strengths.

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With Klopp departing and Slot calling for a double-pivot midfield setup, Endo’s suitability for the role comes into question. While selling him this summer might not be advisable, it is essential to demote him from the starting lineup and assign him a more peripheral role in the team’s future plans.

Who Could Replace Wataru Endo?

Well-known analyst Raj Singh believes that Fabinho, who was widely criticised last season for his role in Liverpool’s collapse – noted for his “awful” performances by pundit Jamie Carragher, for example – better than what any Liverpool defensive midfielder has done this season”, after being sold to Al-Ittihad last summer.

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While Liverpool’s Brazilian stalwart may not represent the ideal solution, his potential departure underscores the pressing need for one, particularly with Klopp signaling the end of his tenure at Liverpool.

The speculation surrounding a successor to Endo has intensified, with reports emerging from Portugal suggesting Liverpool’s formal discussions with Porto for Alan Varela’s transfer. Varela, touted as a player of exceptional quality with a €70m (£60m) release clause, has earned praise as a “Rolls-Royce” talent from scout Jacek Kulig.

At just 22 years old, Varela could bring the necessary skills to solidify a central role in Klopp’s Liverpool lineup, possibly benefiting from the guidance of a seasoned veteran like Endo.

In addition, recent reports from CaughtOffside indicate Liverpool’s interest in Brighton & Hove Albion’s 20-year-old prodigy Carlos Baleba, valued at £55m. Liverpool, alongside Arsenal and Manchester United, are eyeing Baleba as a strategic addition to their squad.

Fabinho, acclaimed by pundits like Gary Neville as the premier player in his position worldwide, has provided a formidable presence, enabling attackers like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino to flourish.

However, despite Endo’s contributions, it’s evident that he falls short of Fabinho’s standard, prompting Klopp to consider alternatives for Liverpool’s defensive midfield, lest the errors of this season persist into the next era.

In other Liverpool news, Liverpool Now Looking to Renew Contract of £192k/week Star Amid Interest From Champions League Club

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