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Arrival Profile: Tiago Ilori

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Liverpool finally got the Portuguese defender they were after all summer long, so now it's time to take a deeper look and see what kind of player he is.

We don't have a picture of Ilori that we can use yet, so you get the Shankly tribute instead.
We don't have a picture of Ilori that we can use yet, so you get the Shankly tribute instead.
Alex Livesey

Tiago Abiola Delfim Almeida Ilori. It's quite a mouthful of a name, but not a lot is known about the player. He's just 20 years old and has mostly played in the second division of Portugal with Sporting Lisbon's B team, so good information is scarce. Luckily, he has played some with their first team and has been active in Portugal's youth ranks, allowing for some good footage out there to make a proper scouting report.

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Tiago Ilori
Former Club: Sporting Clube de Portugal | Position: Center Back
Age: 20 (born 2/26/1993) | Height: 6’3" (190cm) | Preferred Foot: Right
Last Season: Primera Liga 11 appearances (11 starts), 1 goal; Segunda Liga 20 appearances (20 starts); Europa 1 appearance

Strengths: Ilori is very quick for a centerback, and is pretty decent with the ball at his feet. He's got the wheels to keep up with some of the fastest strikers that he faces, and it also gives him recovery speed to get back in position if he or one of his defensive partners get caught out. He's a premium athlete for the position with a high ceiling to his potential talent as a result.

Weaknesses: Lisbon's academy system has done wonders for developing Ilori physically and technically, but his tactical sense leaves a lot to be desired. His positioning is sorely lacking, and he has issues reading the game coming at him. While these are issues that are fixable with the proper training and coaching, he's an awfully long ways behind where you would want him to be at his age and development level.

Summary: I'm going to be honest: I don't see this move as positively as I have the others that the club has made this window. Now, I'm all for gathering up a bunch of quality young players to develop, and Ilori has a lot of potential. But here's the thing: he's an £8 million lottery ticket, and you lose the lottery a lot more often than you win it. If the club had spent half that much to get him as the price would be rumored to be earlier in the summer.

There are some that feel that Ilori could play further up the pitch as a DM. I would be... hesitant to make that call right now. He could certainly handle it from a physical standpoint, but the tactical issues I mentioned above make me think that he would struggle, badly, if placed in that role. He'd have a lot more to keep track of if he was put in to the midfield, and he has enough issues with his field awareness where he is now. I'd be OK using him as depth at right back if needed, though you should expect him to get caught upfield more often than you'd like to see.