Reds fans must be salivating. Liverpool have today been linked with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the 29-year old Dutch goalpoacher extraordinaire of Schalke 04. Should the transfer come to fruition – which is eminently possible, but a long way off – it would remedy perhaps Liverpool’s greatest failing so far this term, converting on-ball dominance into goals.
So far this year, Liverpool rank sixth in the Premiership in possession, spending over 52 minutes per game with the ball. They get shots off, too – averaging nearly nineteen a contest. However, the Reds have managed only 13 goals all season for a conversion rate of 7% - a modest figure when compared to other teams who dominate the ball like Manchester City (9.5%), Arsenal (9.1%) and Manchester United (16.8%). Expect these totals to regress to the mean somewhat – City managed 12.6% last year, the Gunners 11.6 and United 13.8% – but such a low total help throw Liverpool’s lack of consistent goal scorers into sharp relief.
(Liverpool managed to score on only 7% of their chances last season as well, however this was under the system employed by then-boss Kenny Dalglish).
Some of these numbers are surely attributed to the systems each club deploys, no doubt, but as Robin van Persie has proved at United, you can always find room for a forward with spidey-sense.
Liverpool have been almost universally praised for their industry and creativity so far this term; however, the improvements in game style have yet to materialise as the wins the fans – and Rodgers himself – expect.
This is where Huntelaar should help. While Luis Suarez has been in sparkling form and was described by manager Brendan Rodgers on Sunday as “unplayable”, accuracy isn’t necessarily his strongest suit: his conversion rate of 11% this term is up from 8.6% last season. Huntelaar’s past three seasons has seen his cumulative conversion rate reach a stellar of 20.5% – over 2 percent greater than van Persie’s over the same period.
Transfers are never really done until they’re done. Just ask Fiorentina. They should always be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. However, if one rumour gets Liverpool fans licking their chops, it should be this one.