Porto and Colombia winger Luis Diaz has been linked with Liverpool for what feels like an eternity.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a stellar season at Porto, with 18 goal contributions in 24 league and European appearances. This has already eclipsed his tally of 13 from last season, and he is a player who appears destined to become top class.
It is only a matter of time before he makes a big transfer, and Liverpool have been rumoured to be considering a £60million move for the left-winger as an option to rotate with Sadio Mane.
Like Diogo Jota before him, Liverpool are looking for younger forwards to slowly integrate and eventually replace their successful front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the long term.
Jota has already usurped Firmino in the Liverpool pecking order, whilst a slight drop in consistency has meant that a Mane alternative is a priority signing for Jurgen Klopp.
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READ: Everything you need to know about Liverpool target Luis Diaz
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People often express concern about signing players from outside the biggest leagues in case they cannot adapt, but Diaz has also done it on the biggest stage. Arguably one of his greatest moments came early on in the 2020-21 season, in the very first Champions League group stage game of the campaign.
Playing away at Manchester City, a difficult task for any player, did not faze Diaz in the slightest. Picking up the ball on the left wing, he pulled off his usual move of cutting inside onto his right foot.
Dribbling past three City players as if they weren’t there, the ball was glued to his feet as he continued his run to the other side of the box. He found himself in space, but there was plenty more to do.
In a matter of milliseconds, he shifted from dribbling to a shooting stance, before smashing the ball into the bottom far corner, leaving Ederson in goal with no chance.
The first time I took note of Luis Diaz: pic.twitter.com/C1ZCoVnYHi
— george (@LfcGe0rge) January 5, 2022
This goal gave Porto a shock lead, which they ultimately threw away, but this gave the world a hint of what Diaz is capable of.
Most of his 15 goals this season have followed a similar pattern: cut inside from the left, aim for the low far corner, score.
There is an air of inevitability about this move which is often seen in some of the world’s best players. Arjen Robben for example, was the undisputed king of the cut-inside-and-shoot move. Even if you knew what was coming, you had no way of stopping it.
The way Diaz occupies space on the left is very similar to Mane. Mane has been world-class for Liverpool for a number of seasons, and his runs towards the back post have helped him score over 100 goals in the Premier League.
Diaz has also scored a number of goals through this kind of run, and when you take the quality of finish into account, it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of him playing in the same team as Trent Alexander-Arnold.
With the ability to copy Mane’s runs, and the skillset to replicate Salah’s ability to cut inside, Diaz looks perfectly suited to Liverpool’s setup.
WHAT A GOAL! 🤩
Luis Diaz scored this WORLDIE bicycle kick for Colombia against Brazil 🔥pic.twitter.com/OYLqzcnXTv
— GOAL (@goal) June 24, 2021
Diaz’s exploits for Colombia in the Copa America had not gone unnoticed, as he finished the tournament with four goals, including this bicycle kick against Brazil.
Diogo Jota was 23 when Liverpool bought him as fresh blood in their front three. At 24, Diaz suits Liverpool’s scouting criteria better than anyone else, as someone who can play across the front line, dribble effectively, score regularly and excite the crowd with his South American flair.
His goal against Manchester City encompassed everything he is about. Some of the world’s best defenders could get nowhere near him on either side of the pitch, and when he fired his shot off, there was no doubt it would end up in the back of the net.
By Rahul Lakhani
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