Can the Dutchman replace Lucas effectively?
All stats used courtesy of WhoScored.
According to the Independent, Liverpool have targeted AC Milan’s 29-year-old Dutch anchorman Nigel De Jong as a replacement for Lucas, who injured his knee ligaments against Aston Villa and will likely be out for two months.
As a result, manager Brendan Rodgers is desperate to bring in a suitable replacement as quickly as possible, and has earmarked the former Manchester City star as a possible option.
Here’s how he would naturally fit into Liverpool’s lineup until Lucas’ return:
Like Lucas, De Jong would likely play his natural anchoring role, deep in midfield. The Reds have performed best this season when they’ve deployed three central midfielders, so De Jong would play as the deepest of a trio which would include two of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen.
Again like Liverpool’s Brazilian, De Jong would provide the side with the platform from which they can perform.
He has all the attributes and experience to fit into this role seamlessly. Not only has he played in the Premier League, winning the title in 2011/12, but he’s a fierce tackle and consistent interceptor.
Statistically this season, the players are very comparable, too.
No other player in the Premier League has made more tackles than Lucas this season (74), and while this is more than De Jong (48), the Dutchman intercepts the ball more than Liverpool’s Brazilian. De Jong averages 3.3 interceptions per match, which is more than any Premier League player, while Lucas only makes 2.5 per game.
Both players prefer to pass the ball simply to teammates rather than look for more ambitious balls. As a result, both complete over 90% of their passes. De Jong is more involved in play however, averaging over 70 passes per match, compared to Lucas’s 60.8.
Creatively, De Jong offers more than Lucas, too. He’s assisted three goals in Serie A, while Lucas has yet to create a single one, although both average under 1.0 key pass per match.
With De Jong a virtual ever-present in the Milan lineup, it will be difficult for Liverpool to prise him away from the San Siro. If they are prepared to offer an appropriate transfer fee however, it appears they could be able to sign the perfect temporary replacement for the Brazilian holding midfielder.