Liverpool desperately needed a defensive midfielder. Liverpool, it would appear, have now secured a defensive midfielder. Whether Japan international Wataru Endo will mark the end of their business in the centre of the pitch is uncertain, but for now it’s who they’re signing that matters most.
The 30-year-old Stuttgart man is expected to arrive on Merseyside for his medical on Thursday, ahead of the weekend’s second round of Premier League action with Liverpool set to take on Bournemouth, and according to The Althetic’s David Ornstein he will cost the Reds €19M (£16M) all told.
Given the current market and Liverpool’s need, it’s hardly an excessive fee for a player whose main question mark would appear to be age. Bundesliga watchers, though, have been quick to point to his massive engine, good mobility, combativeness, and leadership qualities since news broke.
Captain of both club and country, Endo also has outstanding chance creation numbers to go along with solidly above average progression numbers for a defensive midfielder while outperforming expectations in the air for a player who stands 5’10”. All the boxes, then, seem checked.
Other than age, at least. Still, with Liverpool losing Fabinho and Jordan Henderson this summer, it might not be the worst thing in the world to bring in a veteran who can contribute as a six as well as potentially at the eight—though expectations of CB and RB cover may be overly optimistic.
While the player has filled in in the backline in the past, it’s been a long time since he’s done so and his relatively short stature and good but not exceptional pace would seem to rule him out for Liverpool in deeper areas baring an injury crisis. As a six, though, he seems a strong—if unexpected—pick.