According to reports in France, Liverpool are monitoring 20-year-old RC Lens defender Loic Badé for a potential summer move. Despite joining Lens in the summer, Badé is a target of several European clubs, including Leeds and AC Milan.
Liverpool’s transfer windows tend to be merry-go-rounds, and this January is no different. The young French international is one of many names to be linked with the Reds this month.
Premier League Pipeline
A Merseyside move would see him follow an almost identical path of young French duo William Saliba and Wesley Fofana. Both who moved to the Premier League for large transfer fees after just one full season of Ligue 1 football.
Just last season, Badé was playing in the 2nd tier of French football for Le Havre. Only after impressive displays did he join Lens on a free transfer the following summer.Embed from Getty Images
Although Badé has only played 16 games of top-flight football in his career, it is clear to see why he has caught the eye of Liverpool.
Confidence in possession, impressive passing range and aerial ability are all traits he possesses that could benefit Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Would He Fit at Liverpool?
Due to his power and 6’3 frame, one of Bade’s strengths has been his dominance in the air and his ability to push attackers off the ball.
Bade’s aerial duels per game stats are very impressive. He averages 4.3 per match, which is almost double the likes of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
With set pieces being a major worry for the Reds at the moment, it’s clear to see what Bade could add to Liverpool.
The main weakness of Badé defensive game is his reaction speed at times when he needs to recover. However, this can be put down to inexperience which is natural for a young defender learning his trade.
In comparison to Fabinho and Matip, he gives away considerably more cheap fouls. He would have to adapt to a different formation at Liverpool. The Frenchman has only played in a back 3 in his professional career (3-5-2 at both Le Havre and Lens).
Badé is a right-footed CB who would play on the right side of the two. This makes him a more logical option than someone like Sven Botman, who would struggle to displace van Dijk at left centre-back.
If the signing happens, Badé could provide Gomez some competition, as the Englishman has dropped a level since his injury on international duty.
Ability on the ball
The long-term loss of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez has not only effected Liverpool at the back, but it has also had a clear domino effect that can be seen as a reason for the lack of goals.
Whether it was through Joel Matip’s ambitious direct dribbles or Van Dijk’s diagonal balls to the wingers, Liverpool’s centre-backs always made large contributions to the attacks. With this in mind, the young centre-half’s technical attributes make him a decent fit for Klopp’s style of play.
Badé has been praised for his talent with the ball at his feet – something that has become increasingly important for modern defenders.
The table displays Badé ‘s impressive dribbling ability which he is renowned for. At just 20 years old, he ranks 2nd out of all Ligue 1 centre-backs for total dribbles and has a 100% success rate .
In terms of his passing, the Lens man is known for his strong passing range which he has shown glimpses of in Ligue 1 so far this season.
A key strength to his game is his desire to play progressive passes and build up attacks. Liverpool desparately require this at the moment to inject some much needed life into their play.
Decision making on the ball is a limitation to his game at this moment in time. However, through more experience this will likely be cut out of his game (especially if plays under Klopp).
How he compares to other rumoured centre-back targets
Out of all of the centre back targets that Liverpool are reportedly interested in, Loic Badé is probably the most inexperienced with just sixteen games of top-flight football.
Although there are rumblings about Liverpool not being willing to spend big on a centre-back, Badé seems like a very good fit if the Reds aren’t willing to spend big on someone like Dayot Upamecano.
Bringing in Ben White in doesn’t put an end to the lack of aerial dominance in Van Dijk’s absence.
Despite not having the European pedigree and experience, Badé has Virgil-like dominance in the air which sets him apart from other young defenders.