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Could Nigerian prodigy solve Liverpool’s midfield problem?

Onazi has excelled for Serie A side Lazio this season, and revealed his desire to play for the Reds.

While Liverpool’s strength has certainly come in attack so far this season, it would be no surprise to see Brendan Rodgers turn his attention to strengthening his central midfield.

Liverpool are certainly not lacking for quality in that area of the pitch. Lucas Leiva is a far more resilient player than he was even 12 months ago, while Steven Gerrard has adapted his game to adopt a deeper position, and Rodgers still has Joe Allen to return from injury.

Allen remains a player who has not yet shown his best form in the red shirt, and Jordan Henderson looks far more comfortable playing in an advanced position.

While Allen’s return will add to Rodgers’ options, the manager may still feel he is a man short in the middle. Could midfielder Ogenyi Onazi be the man to fill that gap?

The young Lazio player this week revealed his desire to play in the Premier League, ideally with Liverpool. 'They are a huge team and attractive to any footballer,' he said, as reported by The Mirror. 'I could see myself playing for them.'

Onazi, unsurprisingly, is something of an unknown quantity in England. He first made the breakthrough to the Nigeria Under-17 team, and in the process earned a move to Lazio.

After 29 appearances for club and country last season, he has featured heavily again during the current campaign, playing 14 times and scoring a single goal against Trabzonspor.

Goal-scoring is not a key part of his game, however, as Onazi is a player employed to screen the defence, a ‘destructive’ player who brings resilience and physicality to midfield.

That, arguably, is what Liverpool have missed so far this season. Neither Lucas nor Allen are particularly physical players, and Rodgers’ side have at times lacked an individual to allow them to take control of matches in central midfield.

It is not a glaring weakness, but it is one which may convince the manager to dip into the transfer market in January.

image: © Vincent Teeuwen

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