Stats: Why Liverpool should NOT move for Spurs defender

Jan Vertonghen

Opta stats prove that Liverpool would be no better off if they signed Jan Vertonghen from Tottenham.

It would be easy to see the appeal of Brendan Rodgers stealing a rival's best defender.

With Liverpool currently in second place in the Premier League and looking well on course for a Champions League finish, fans would love nothing less than to sign one of Tottenham's key starters and cement the Reds' superiority over Tim Sherwood's side.

But looking at any potential move for Jan Vertonghen from that perspective might be a little misleading. Instead, a look at the Dutchman's defensive statistics for the season suggest his signature would add little to the current Liverpool XI.

DefenderTeamTackles won per gameAerial duels won per gameInterceptions won  per gameError leading to GoalEffective clearances per gameAppsMins
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool 1.67 2.75 2.08 0 8.08 12 1,029
Kolo Touré Liverpool 1.47 2.26 0.79 2 7.47 19 1,434
Jan Vertonghen Spurs 1.32 2.79 2.00 1 4.63 19 1,710
Daniel Agger Liverpool 1.00 2.50 0.93 0 5.43 14 961
Martin Skrtel Liverpool 0.96 3.38 1.77 1 11.62 26 2,322

While there is no doubting Vertonghen's ability - both on the ball and when trying to win it off an opponent - the 26-year-old would not especially outshine any of his counterparts at Anfield.

In terms of tackles won per game, Vertonghen enjoys a better rate than both of Liverpool's current starters Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel - but not Mamadou Sakho or even Kolo Toure.

In the air, meanwhile, the Dutchman has the second-best stats out of the group of five but is this time outshone by Skrtel. And it's a similar story with interceptions, as Vertonghen once again comes off second-best to Sakho.

When it comes to effective clearances per game, however, the 26-year-old has the worst statistics of the five, while he has also made an error that led to a goal this season - something Agger and Sakho haven't done.

Versatility

Another argument in favour of bringing the Dutchman to Anfield, though, would be his versatility, with the Spurs man able to play at full-back as well as in the middle. But, once again, the stats weaken this particular idea.

DefenderTeamAccurate crosses per gameTotal crosses per gameDuels won per gameDuels lost per game
José Enrique Liverpool 0.38 2.63 2.50 2.50
Glen Johnson Liverpool 0.26 1.79 7.11 5.84
Jan Vertonghen Spurs 0.26 1.21 5.84 3.42
Jon Flanagan Liverpool 0.15 0.92 5.85 6.15

Indeed, a look at Vertonghen's attributes out wide - his crossing, for instance, and how he fares in one-on-one situations - show that there would be little value in bringing him in as a full-back.

The injured Jose Enrique outshines Vertonghen at left-back, while Glen Johnson makes more crosses per game, also displaying a similar win/loss ratio in terms of duels.

Overall, the Belgian is a good defender, but not a world-class solution to Liverpool's defensive problems. Simply put, Rodgers already has a selection of defenders who offer the same, or better, and will be more used to working with each other by next season.

That being the case, a move for the 26-year-old might not make sense for the Reds. Unless, of course, they simply wanted to tactically weaken their rivals.

Should Liverpool move for Vertonghen if they make the top four?

image: © Gypsy Saskia

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