How Liverpool's £15m targets compare to Walcott, Valencia, Townsend

Liverpool are reportedly in the market for a winger/forward, but how do their targets compare to Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur stars?

Judging from reports published since the mid-season transfer market opened for trading, it is easy to infer that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is eager to bolster his attacking flanks over the forthcoming fortnight.

Thus far, two names have separated themselves from the speculated pack as logical candidates: FC Basel star Mohamed Salah and Dinamo Kiev trickster Andriy Yarmolenko.

The former, Egypt star Salah, has superb European performances against both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea on his ledger (as well as scoring in all group games for his national team at the 2012 Olympics, including Brazil), plays as a wide forward and holds speed, intelligent play and movement as his best attributes.

At Liverpool, it has been argued that he could likely play at the top of the pitch, rather than hugging the touchline as a traditional winger, however, his close control, his dribbling and his ability to take players on demonstrate that he is able to fulfill multiple positions should he be required to do so.

Because of his slight frame, though, he may find more joy beating Premier League full backs, rather than centre backs, as the latter could feasibly out-weigh him by two stone while tower over him by six inches (Salah is 5ft 8in).

While Salah, 21, is regarded to be the player with the potential, Yarmolenko, 24, is one who has already realised his.

Heralded by Andriy Shevchenko as the 'future of Ukrainian football', the attacking winger is inventive, creative, entertaining and would no doubt become an Anfield fan favourite due to his on-the-ball trickery.

He is technically-blessed, quick and can be played on the left (where he has for Dinamo) or right flank (like he has for his native Ukraine). When not on the ball and attempting to beat his man, his forward runs drag opposition players out of position, thus freeing up space for others to exploit.

Like Salah, his domestic form has attracted admiring glances from the European elite, including AC Milan. Unlike Salah, he has the physical traits required to match any Premier League defender (6ft 2.5in).

How do both compare to other winger/forwards in England?

PlayerGamesMinutesGoals (G)Assists (A)G+A:Mins
Salah 18 1,149 4 5 1:127
Yarmolenko 16 1,254 8 3 1:114
Walcott 13 859 5 5 1:85
Nasri 21 1,386 4 4 1:173
Valencia 18 1,327 2 2 1:331
Townsend 14 924 1 1 1:462

The data above takes statistics from that respective player's domestic division alone and, judging from a purely attack-efficient basis, it is clear the most productive forward is Arsenal star Theo Walcott, who affects the scoreline once every 85 minutes.

Considering how exceptional Samir Nasri has been for Manchester City - and how he may be sorely missed if his knee injury is as bad as initially feared - it is perhaps surprising that both Salah and Yarmolenko either score or assist a team-mate more frequently than Nasri does, although it must be noted that the City man is doing so in a tougher and more competitive league.

In order to obtain a more accurate analysis, though, it would be fairer to compare each individual to the other from their performances in European competition, where the level of opposition would be higher for those participating in a seemingly inferior division on a week-by-week basis.

On the data below, it is clear to see where the ultimate difference between Salah and Yarmalenko lies. The Ukrainian is almost as successful a dribbler than Andros Townsend at Spurs, taking a player on and beating him, once every 18.5 minutes compared to Townsend's average success rate of once every 12.5 minutes. Yarmalenko is also the only one who seemingly has the confidence in his vision to split defences from a deeper position to attempt an assist into the path of a fellow attacker - 50% of his through-balls find their target.

Both Salah and Yarmolenko bear similar statistics when it comes to passing accuracy, which pales in comparison to the Premier League representatives, with Nasri far in front with 90% of his attempts finding a team-mate.

Ultimately, the one stat that should be of most interest, is how often each player creates a goal-scoring opportunity. Again, Nasri excels, unsurprisingly, providing a chance every 20 minutes, compared to Townsend's return of a once per 30 minute average which is similar to Yarmolenko's (once every 32 minutes), but far ahead of Salah's (once every 75 minutes).

PlayerGamesMinsPassCrossThrough ballDribbleChance (C)C:Mins
Salah 6 (CL) 530 77% 2/7 0 9 7 1:75
Yarmolenko 6 (EL) 518 78% 8/38 2/4 28 16 1:32
Walcott 2 (CL) 93 81% 1/4 0 1 1 1:93
Nasri 5 (CL) 320 90% 8/18 0 9 16 1:20
Valencia 6 (CL) 442 80% 7/32 0 8 7 1:63
Townsend 2 (EL) 180 83% 5/18 0 14 6 1:30

images: © Magnus D, © helly - b

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