The 21-year-old Greek international currently forms the heart and soul of the Schalke back four but he could soon be playing in Liverpool colours if Brendan Rodgers feels as though he is worth taking a risk for the club.
Here are a few positives and negatives of Liverpool signing him.
His versatility is something which could work hugely in Liverpool’s favour. He can play on either side of central defence and he has also been used in a defensive midfield role by his current German employers, a position Liverpool currently have unoccupied.
He increases the competition for places which should improve the quality Brendan Rodgers sees in each Liverpool training session. That’s significant because it’s important for the younger players coming into the first team squad to experience a competitive nature straight away.
He’s already played 16 times for Greece and has tasted captaincy at the top level. That experience will prepare him well for the Premier League but also the expectation of playing for the club at the very highest level. Liverpool can easily replace the quality of Jamie Carragher but they can’t replace his leadership skills so easily.
At six feet tall he’s not the biggest centre back Liverpool could go after but he is aggressive and his game is built around that. It has got him into trouble with yellow and red cards before, but it’s important for any young defender coming into the Premier League for the first time.
He is notorious in Germany for having a poor temper. If a decision goes against him in the middle of an important game, Liverpool need him to keep his cool rather than lose the plot with wild tackles and poor decision making, which could affect the result of the match.
He reportedly sulks a great deal when he’s not selected in a first team. This is not something Rodgers needs because he’s not going to play in every single game and the boss needs him to be turned on and ready to go again when he’s selected for the next match or the one after that.
Both of the reasons above combined could create big problems between him and other members of the Liverpool first team. Liverpool can’t afford to pay for the best superstars at the moment so the emphasis is more on hard work and team spirit. Anything which could affect that team spirit, Rodgers should be very wary of.
Will he be a good signing for the club? Is he worth the risk?
image: © Vincent Teeuwen