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How Liverpool would benefit were they to make a move for Otavio

Posted on June 27, 2022

The transfer window officially opened a little over two weeks ago, but reports suggest that Liverpool have now completed their summer business. That is hardly surprising when the priorities were to bring in a new striker and bolster the youth ranks, both of which have been achieved before the end of June.

Darwin Nunez covers the exits of both Sadio Mane and Divock Origi, while Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay are impressive teenage additions. Granted, the Reds could do with another central midfielder, yet they are reportedly set to wait until next year to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham.

That being said, in the world of football transfers, never say never. Liverpool had been expected to wait until the summer to push for Luis Diaz, but their hand was forced by Tottenham's interest in the Colombian, so while it's unlikely that the FA and Carabao Cup winners will dip into the market, rivals making a move for another target could yet see them add to the squad.

Liverpool have enjoyed scouting missions to Portugal of late with Diaz and Nunez joining from Porto and Benfica, respectively, this year. The former's former teammate could yet join them with reports that the Liga Bwin champions are anticipating a Liverpool bid for Portuguese winger Otavio.

Having previously been linked with a Premier League move last summer before penning a new deal with the Portuguese powerhouse in March 2021, Otavio played a starring role in Porto's league triumph. Indeed, he was directly involved in 14 of Porto's 86 league goals, providing 11 assists in the process, that the fifth most in the division. Only Braga's Ricardo Horta (92) made more key passes than the Portugal international (69), while only teammate Mehdi Taremi (18) made more big chances than Otavio (17) in Liga Bwin last season, with the 27-year-old excelling from the right flank.

Now, Liverpool already have one of the best wide options in the game to call upon from the right with Mohamed Salah superb for Jurgen Klopp's side last season, scoring 23 and registering 13 assists to return a WhoScored rating of 7.54. However, the Egyptian star turned 30 earlier this month and does have just a year left to run on his current deal, with suggestions that Liverpool may not be prepared to match his demands to extend his stay at Anfield.

In that case, Liverpool do need to cautiously prepare for Salah's potential exit and if they are able to command a hefty fee for the attacker this summer rather than lose him on a free next year, then it may be in their best interest to cash in on the Golden Boot winner. In this instance, Otavio would be a solid Salah successor, who'd also bring the tenacity that Klopp's demands from his attacking players.

Otavio made more tackles (101) and won possession in the attacking third more times (42) than any other player in Liga Bwin last season, the latter metric one Diaz ranked second for prior to his January move to Liverpool. If Klopp is eager to land a hard working attacker to potentially replace Salah, then Otavio more than fits the bill.

However, a concern is Otavio's is his poor goal output, not in creating for others, but rather going for goal himself. Three goals for a Porto side that scored more goals than any other Liga Bwin side last season doesn't make for great reading, nor does a conversion rate of 6%, that placing 80th of the 99 players to attempt 25 or more shots in 2021/22. For context, though, Nunez (30.6%) topped this metric. A player as creative as Otavio would certainly thrive alongside the Uruguayan on the Liverpool frontline.

Leeds have also been credited with an interest in Otavio as a potential replacement for Raphinha, the Brazilian tipped to leave Elland Road this summer, but just as Spurs wanted Diaz in January, Liverpool could certainly leap ahead of the Whites in the queue for the Porto star were they to make their move, with the offer of Champions League football certainly an appealing one.

Any possible move for Otavio does perhaps depend on Salah's future at Anfield, while losing two key attackers to their domestic success in the same summer would be a blow to the club, even with the addition of Nunez and the Porto star. As good as the pair were in Liga Bwin last season, they'd need time to adjust to the rigours of Premier League football, though Diaz's rapid adjustment, during the winter no less, suggests that if they are the right fits for the system, this may not be an issue.

Considering Diaz's drive on the ball and Nunez's quality in the 18-yard box, Otavio would be the creative jigsaw piece in the Liverpool attacking puzzle, and one that works hard out of possession to pressure opponents as an additional route to goal. It's easy to see why the latter would be an appealing option for the Reds should Salah depart.