Editor’s Column: Klopp likely to change Kephren Thuram’s position like he did with Wijnaldum and Gakpo if Liverpool get deal done

Liverpool acted early in the transfer market to get Alexis Mac Allister over the line, and the general consensus seems to be that Nice’s Kephren Thuram might be the next player through the door.

Reporter Jacques Talbot has claimed the player already has his heart set on an Anfield switch and that the two clubs are now in negotiations for the 22-year-old France international.

Obviously, the deal isn’t done, but it’s obvious the Reds are keen and the trusted Neil Jones has confirmed our very strong interest.

We know Liverpool will buy more midfielders given the exits of James Milner (Brighton), Naby Keita (Werder Bremen) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Unattached) – so it would be a surprise now if the Reds missed out on Thuram given the fact he wants to move and that his current team are a selling club who know they cannot hold on to key players for long.

What are Thuram’s attributes? 

Thuram is big, tall, fast and strong. Good. Given Mac Allister’s skillset lies in his technique, creativity and mindset, we need our next midfielders to be physically exceptional.

He also loves to dribble and break lines. Curtis Jones is a good dribbler, but he does so without much speed, whereas Thuram’s style is more barnstorming.

How would he fit in at Liverpool?

This is where it gets interesting… Klopp began to use a 3-4-3 formation in our successful run at the end of last season, in which we made a run for the Champions League but narrowly missed out.

The midfield section of the side was the most eye-opening, tactically. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho formed a base, with two players in advanced, slightly wider positions ahead of them – forming a box midfield.

Thuram has possibilities in all of these roles, bar the Trent hybrid role that not many players on the planet would be capable of.

The most obvious position is the one on the left and the top of the box midfield, most similar to where he’s been playing most recently for Nice. However, this is where Curtis Jones found a spot in the side and is surely where Mac Allister will be used – and there’s no way the Argentine was brought in to be a sub… Therefore, this ‘LMC’ spot has strength in depth and might not be where Klopp hypothetically sees Thuram long-term.

He could also do the job as RMC, given his physicality and defensive nous would provide energy and cover for Ibou Konate who has to manage this area on the turnover. His quick-feet and clever passing would also allow for better linkups with Mo Salah than Jordan Henderson – who prefers a first-time long-ball – is capable of.

But the Fabinho role might end up being his most natural. Although he hasn’t done so for a couple of years, he was originally a DMC – an anchorman for Nice – at 19. It’s only one game, but you can see in the video below of one of his performances in this position that he did it quite similarly to Fabinho:

He passes sharply and forwards, but also has the bite to make interceptions. Like Fabinho, he’s tall and rangy, but is much faster than the Brazilian so would hopefully be better at tracking faster midfield runners.

He would need to dribble less, but so did Gini Wijnaldum when he moved to Liverpool and the Dutchman became a brilliant tactician for Klopp in the prime version of his team. Could Thuram adapt? His attributes in terms of his physicality and technical skills suggest so.

Klopp also changed Cody Gakpo this season from an inside left-forward to Roberto Firmino’s replacement as the False-9, and it appears a genius move.

Fabinho improved towards the end of the campaign, but his performances for most of the season hint he’s on the decline and is not a long-term starting option.

It’s guesswork, but Thuram could do a great job as a holding midfielder in the Premier League and it’s this role I think Liverpool will use him in predominantly – although part of our interest stems from his versatility anyway.


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