Liverpool can save £70m Mason Mount transfer fee by considering these four top class alternatives

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Looking at four alternatives that Liverpool could look at rather than splashing the cash on Chelsea’s Mason Mount.

If Liverpool’s struggles this season have proven anything, it’s that Jürgen Klopp really needs to refresh his midfield. Between the Thiago Alcântara’s injury problems, Naby Keïta’s lack of form and Fabinho failing to reach his usual heights – not to mention the rapidly advancing age of Jordan Henderson and James Milner – Liverpool have lacked their usual dynamism and consistency in the centre of the park.

The Reds know this, of course, and are expected to be busy in the summer transfer window as they seek to refit a midfield in need of a new edge. Now that their widely-publicised pursuit of Jude Bellingham has come to a close, thanks largely to the rapidly steepling price tag placed on the wonderkid’s head, reports suggest they’ve turned their attention to Chelsea’s Mason Mount.

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Mount is a fine player, but would not come cheap either. The bidding is likely to start at around £70m and if rumours of substantial competition from elsewhere in the Premier League are true, that fee could easily spiral. On top of that, reports also claim Chelsea are opening fresh contract negotiations with the 23 year-old England midfielder - he may not even end up on the market after all.

Liverpool’s owners FSG have not been noted for their willingness to match the extraordinary spending of their Premier League rivals, and while they’ve laid out big money on occasion, it would not be out of character for them to cool their interest in a big money transfer and seek to save some pennies by looking elsewhere. So we’ve dived down into the stats to find four cheaper alternatives who can – if the raw numbers are anything to go by – match Mount’s output without putting such a big dent in the bank account.

Alexis Mac Allister

Let’s start at the top, with another Premier League player who’s been consistently linked with a move to Merseyside. Mac Allister has been one of the standout performers in an endlessly impressive Brighton side and the World Cup winner is expected to leave the south coast in the off-season – chances are the fee would be more in the region of £40-50m. Still a lot of money, but saving £20m or more would certainly take the edge off and keep John Henry off the blood pressure medication.

Alexis Mac Allister is one of the most statistically impressive midfielders in the divisionAlexis Mac Allister is one of the most statistically impressive midfielders in the division
Alexis Mac Allister is one of the most statistically impressive midfielders in the division | Getty Images

The best justification for making a move for Mac Allister is his goal output. His eight league goals easily outstrips the three Mount has managed, and he’s actually underperforming his xG of 9.5 – which is way ahead of Mount’s 2.0. That implies that while Mount may be a more reliable finisher, it’s Mac Allister who knows how to get into the dangerous areas in the first instance. The Argentinian’s passing stats are also better than Mount’s across the board – his completion rate of 86.1% is through the roof (Mount sits at a thoroughly respectable 75.2%) and his long passing stats really stand out, with 71.6% completion at a high rate of attempts.

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So Mac Allister gets into more goalscoring areas, is a better passer with a rider range, and is also one of the few attacking midfielders in Europe who can match Mount’s pressing and defensive output, but that doesn’t necessarily make his signature a slam dunk. As a more aggressive player, he would require something of a rethinking of the Liverpool midfield strategy, he’s less flexible positionally and despite his exceptional passing numbers, he creates slightly fewer chances than Mount manages. There is also likely to be very high interest in Mac Allister from the league’s other big-name teams, and if Liverpool can’t offer Champions League football, he could easily be heading elsewhere anyway. Still, from the raw numbers, the fact remains that the Brighton midfielder is one of the league’s standout players.

Conor Gallagher

This may seem like an unusual suggestion at first, not least because Mount’s Chelsea team-mate Gallagher is a rather different kind of player – much more of a box-to-box type, bursting from deeper positions than Mount does. On the surface, you would also not think of Gallagher as being so much of a creative force, either.

But the statistics from this season tell an unexpected story – despite often playing a deeper role, Gallagher has actually fractionally outperformed Mount in terms of both expected goals and assists. He’s managed one less of each in the league than Mount, but has had rather less playing time – pound for pound, he’s kept stride very well indeed. He also manages a far better shot on target ratio – 42.1% to Mount’s 27.3% - makes more progressive passes per game and has a better pass completion rate.

In other words, Gallagher’s slightly deeper role for Chelsea and England has belied his creative abilities, and he would arguably be a more natural fit for Klopp’s preferred three-man midfield. He would also cost quite a lot less – Chelsea are likely to offload him as they seek to balance the books and reduce the squad size – although Newcastle United could offer competition. A different kind of player in some ways, but one who offers much the same output on a much smaller budget.

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Lovro Majer

Allow us to throw a wildcard into the mix – there aren’t any reports linking the Croatian midfielder with Liverpool, or indeed anyone else. He signed for French outfit Rennes two summers ago and has had an up-and-down time in France, so hasn’t caught the attention of the rumour mill in recent months – but Majer offers many of the same qualities as Mount and would likely cost rather less – Transfermarkt estimate his value at around the €20m mark, which would be the better part of double what he cost in 2021.

Lovro Majer played every match of Croatia’s run at the World Cup in QatarLovro Majer played every match of Croatia’s run at the World Cup in Qatar
Lovro Majer played every match of Croatia’s run at the World Cup in Qatar | AFP via Getty Images

So why bring him up? An energetic and direct midfielder who has drawn comparisons with his compatriot and idol Luka Modric, he outstrips Mount for both expected goals and assists but a healthy margin – albeit not to the same extent that Mac Allister does – and has a much broader passing range, with a fine line in longer balls which Mount can’t match. He’s also a better ball carrier and outstrips both Mount and Mac Allister for progressive passes and carries – in other words, he’s great with the ball from deeper positions, which lines up well with how Klopp likes to play.

There are red flags, however – despite getting into more goalscoring areas than Mount, he scores fewer and undershoots his xG by a worryingly wide margin. He’s the only player mentioned in this article who gets fewer attempts on target than Mount. He’s also less of a pressing machine and makes far fewer tackles than Mount – a metric that would not fit well with Klopp’s philosophy of heavy metal football. Still, he offers many of the same qualities and some of them in spades, and would be an interesting mid-priced alternative in the middle of the park.

Harvey Elliott

How about we consider a completely different tack – not buying anyone, at least in the Mount mould. Running a statistical comparison between Mount and the 20 year-old that Liverpool already have in their ranks is startling – their numbers overlap almost exactly in most key areas. Their xG is identical. Their dribbling numbers are within a hair’s breadth of each other. And while the margin is small, Elliott actually outstrips Mount by almost every other passing and progressive play metric you care to find.

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Elliott has mostly played as the second man in the midfield three this season, but during his loan spell at Blackburn Rovers two years ago he operated mostly as a right-sided forward and was hugely impressive, scoring seven Championship goals – which exactly doubled his xG, a remarkable stat which implies a predatory touch that Liverpool haven’t yet fully exploited. If he was set up in a more advanced role, at the spearhead of a midfield three, he could easily be a more dangerous presence than Mount.

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And, besides that, he wouldn’t cost a penny. He’s already right there, has a good understanding with his team-mates, and positively radiates potential. If you want to keep the purse strings tight, moving Elliott up the pitch leaves FSG with their precious pennies free to be spent elsewhere – and let’s be honest, Liverpool need more than one player to get back to their recent glories. Sometimes, the solution is simply staring you in the face.

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