Khephren Thuram of OGC is the latest midfielder to be linked with a move to Anfield
Following the end of Liverpool’s pursuit of Borussia Dortmund and England superstar Jude Bellingham earlier this month, OGC Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram has emerged as the latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield ahead of a summer of significant changes at the club.
As things stand, the Reds will lose Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, and possibly James Milner when their contracts expire at the end of June. Meanwhile, Arthur Melo’s underwhelming loan spell on Merseyside will come to an end when he returns to Juventus, with Liverpool having no desire to extend his loan stay beyond the end of the season.
However, the decision by the powers that be at Anfield to abandon their interest in Bellingham in favor of a more reasonable approach to their midfield reconstruction, while initially unpopular, makes a lot of sense given that the Reds’ season has largely been defined by a weakness in the center of the park.
After celebrating Thiago Alcantara’s 32nd birthday earlier this month, and with Jordan Henderson set to turn 33 during the off-season, Jurgen Klopp understands that the influence of both the Spaniard and his long-serving captain will dwindle in the seasons ahead, and he must now act quickly to reduce the average age and mileage of his current options with a handful of new additions.
Furthermore, the recent tactical move involving Trent Alexander-Arnold, which sees the No.66 move into a more central position when in possession, has highlighted the need for mobility next season, with Ibrahima Konate and Henderson currently tasked with filling the right-back’s vacant space.
Despite the small sample size of Klopp’s change, recent Premier League games against Arsenal and Leeds United have highlighted Konate’s importance due to his renowned athleticism and front-footed defensive approach.
However, with the Frenchman suffering from a string of muscle injuries this season, it is likely that the Liverpool manager will not be able to place all of his hopes in his new 3-2-2-3 formation in the years ahead, and will thus continue to plan for this summer window as originally intended, despite Alexander-Arnold’s recent blossom.
Thuram is the latest player to be considered by outgoing sporting director Julian Ward ahead of an active summer on Merseyside, according to the Independent. On the surface, the potential arrival of the son of 1998 World Cup winner Lillian could see the return of a much-desired attribute to the Anfield ranks: durability.
Thuram has played in all 44 matches for Nice this season in all three competitions (Ligue 1, Europa Conference League, and Coupe de France). In fact, the 22-year-old has started all but five games for both of the club’s managers this season, with his outstanding numbers boosted by four appearances for France’s national team at various age groups.
Since Gini Wijnaldum’s departure in the summer of 2021, Liverpool have been unable to boast of robustness, and the following two seasons have seen Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Thiago, Henderson, Arthur, Keita, and Stefan Bajcetic miss significant chunks of the footballing calendar due to injuries of varying degrees.
In fact, only Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker have accumulated more league minutes than Thuram has managed across 31 Lige 1 fixtures so far in 2022/23.
The Allianz Riviera outfit have been one of Ligue 1’s most eye-catching sides in 2023, losing just three of their 16 Ligue 1 games and embarking on a 12-match unbeaten run from mid-January to April. They could launch a late surge to qualify for the UEFA Conference League next season.
Such an impressive set of results has resulted from caretaker manager Didier Digard’s preference for a 4-3-3 formation since the turn of the year, with Thuram primarily deployed on the left side of a midfield trio; a position Thiago would normally play for the Reds.
While a small set of metrics would show that the former Bayern Munich star and the Nice youngster are very different players, and any talk of Thuram becoming Thiago’s long-term replacement should be dismissed immediately, Thuram’s more mobile methods could allow Liverpool to shore up their engine room in the years ahead if Alexander-Arnold’s Anfield story continues to see him become the Reds’ chief midfield architect.
Standing just under 6ft 3in tall, the new France senior international has impressed as a ball-carrying midfielder this season, notching two goals and eight assists in 44 appearances across all competitions.
According to Fbref, he has made the most interceptions of any out-and-out midfielder at Nice this season (34), as well as the second-most tackles (18). Only Thiago (4.70) and James Milner (3.98) have a higher average tackles + interceptions per 90 than Thuram (3.24).
With Fbref ranking Thuram in the 98th and 93rd percentiles of the top-five European leagues over the last 365 days for progressive carries (3.34) and successful take-ons (1.60), it’s no surprise that Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Barcelona have all expressed interest.
Thuram remained tight-lipped about his future in an interview with the Telegraph last month, saying, “The most important thing is to be the best version of myself.” As a man and a footballer. I’m not sure where that will lead me, but I want to be the best version of myself.”