When Liverpool won the FA Cup last season, beating Chelsea on penalties for the second time in a few months after winning the Carabao Cup final in very identical circumstances, manager Jurgen Klopp lauded his players as “mentality monsters,” yet the team has tumbled like a stone in less than a year
Only one week ago, the Reds thrashed rivals Manchester United 7-0 in the Premier League, adding to earlier season-high goals against Bournemouth (9-0) and Rangers in the Champions League (7-1).
The Cherries exacted their vengeance on Saturday, justifiably overcoming meek Liverpool on the south coast, shedding light on the fluidity and consistency concerns that have plagued the Merseyside club’s season and threaten to close the door on Champions League football next season.
The midfield has been scolded in particular for a lack of passion and vim, and with this in mind, summer transfers are critical to ensuring the sustainability of Klopp’s Anfield dynasty.
The obvious aim is Jude Bellingham, but according to 90min, Liverpool’s technical director Julian Ward has dispatched scouts to see Lille midfielder Carlos Baleba. Liverpool may just have the perfect young choice to reinforce the engine and assure a silver-laden future for the historic club.
Who exactly is Carlos Baleba?
The 19-year-old baller has quickly burst into the Ligue 1 scene with Lille, making 12 appearances and earning high acclaim from teammates, including clinical talisman Jonathan David, who remarked on how “strong” the lad is.
According to Sofascore, the Cameroonian prodigy has made a good start to life in European football, averaging 0.6 shots and 0.9 tackles per game while also completing 84% of his passes and winning 61% of his duels.
His propensity for smooth passing and dribbling skills bodes well for Klopp’s midfield’s developing efficacy, which has undoubtedly failed to provide the robustness the German manager’s system requires this year.
Hailed as a “monster” and “incredible” by teammate Remy Cabella, the mounting praise surrounding this blossoming dynamo appears to be telling for the breadth of his abilities, with a move to Merseyside perhaps an auspicious route for his career, given the rise of teenage aces Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic
With his manager hailing him as “exceptional” for entering a withered midfield and injecting vibrant life at the age of 18, Spaniard Bajcetic is quickly emerging as one of the Premier League’s premium talents, having made 19 appearances for the club and scoring one goal, and being dubbed a “incredible prospect” by journalist Tom Barnes.
With Baleba’s physicality and’monstrous’ presence in the center, Bajcetic may have found the ideal partner to grow alongside in the coming years, averaging one tackle and 1.4 dribbles per match according to WhoScored, clearly combative in a way that defies his adolescent years and inexperience.
Baleba has been dubbed a “future star” by journalist Graeme Bailey and is already valued at around £30 million by his club. With Bajcetic demonstrating that Klopp’s Liverpool is a fantastic club to nurture talents and grow as a force in the center, Anfield could be the ideal home to kickstart his exciting career.