£16 million-rated Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji has the potential to play for Liverpool one day, former Anfield favourite Stephane Henchoz has told Swiss publication Blick.
If one game sums up Akanji’s Dortmund career so far, it’s the German Super Cup clash with Bayern Munich in mid-August.
For much of the game the former Basel man looked like the second coming of Mats Hummels, piercing the lines with superb, line-breaking passes while bailing out his teammates with perfectly timed interceptions.
But, just before half-time, Akanji was statuesque and helpless as Robert Lewandowski headed Bayern in front.
After the interval, the Switerzerland international failed to cut out an Alphonso Davies cross as Thomas Muller doubled the lead.
And worse was to come.
With Dortmund chasing a route back into the game, Akanji attempted one of his trademark fizzed passes into midfield. But, closed down by Corentin Tolisso, he coughed up possession just outside the penalty area before Lewandowski profited in typically ruthless fashion.
Chiellini praises Akanji but will he become good enough to play for Liverpool?
Legendary centre-back Giorgio Chiellini had a point when, in the aftermath of Italy’s 0-0 draw with Switzerland on Sunday, he claimed Akanji had everything required to be an elite-level centre-half – if he could sort out those lapses in concentration.
“The last step is still missing,” Chiellini says – a comment Henchoz agrees with.
“I’m not surprised what Chiellini said. Everyone speaks of world champion (Raphael) Varane and PSG player (Presnel) Kimpembe but, against France (in the World Cup), Akanji was the best,” says Henchoz, a treble-winner with Liverpool in 2001.
“He may be the only Swiss player who can play for one of the top ten clubs one day – Liverpool, Bayern, Manchester City or United, Barcelona, Real Madrid. I believe in him, he has all the qualities.”
With Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez returning from lengthy injury spells – and with Ibrahima Konate making himself comfortable on Merseyside – Liverpool are unlikely to come calling for Akanji in January.
However, if his trajectory continues as Henchoz predicts, don’t rule it out in the not too distant future.