Electric Luis Diaz is Liverpool's newest attacking star - and can fire up quadruple bid

·4 min read
Electric Luis Diaz is Liverpool's newest attacking star - and can fire up quadruple bid - OFFSIDE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Electric Luis Diaz is Liverpool's newest attacking star - and can fire up quadruple bid - OFFSIDE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The difference between the top two in the Premier League and the rest is spelled out in the dugout. When Liverpool turned up at the Amex they had nine players on the bench who would immediately stroll into Brighton’s starting line-up. Not least Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, two strikers who regularly do something few among Graham Potter’s cohort seem able to do: put the ball in the net.

That Jurgen Klopp was able to name a team without two of the best finishers around was once again testament to the superb bit of transfer business his club did in the January window.

If Antonio Conte had got his wish, Luis Diaz would have been in a Tottenham shirt on Saturday, terrifying Harry Maguire with his pace and precision. But Liverpool snuck in and took the Colombian to Anfield. And with his performance against Brighton, playing instead of Jota or Firmino alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, the electric-heeled forward once again made everyone of Tottenham persuasion wince at the thought of what might have been.

Not least because, while Jadon Sancho, for instance, took nearly six months to show his true form at Manchester United, Diaz has been astonishing everyone with the ease by which he has adapted to his new club. Frankly, he looks as if he has been there for years.

“Top class,” was his captain Jordan Henderson’s assessment after Saturday's 2-0 win. “Like we have said for weeks now, he has come in and done fantastically well. With the ball, the quality he possesses and off the ball the work rate winning the ball back.”

His manager pointed out that part of the reason he has assimilated so quickly is that Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson have welcomed Diaz to Merseyside in his own language. “We have a few guys who can speak Portuguese, this helps Luis. It means the boy settled,” he said.

Plus his style fits the Liverpool way. Whether he would have hit the ground running in the same manner at Tottenham is something we will never know.

“It is not so easy to bring in a player in winter, but the way Luis plays is exactly the way we wanted him to play, so he did not have to adapt,” said Klopp.

Potter pointed out that Diaz’s arrival has done something else, too: it has subtly changed the dynamic of Liverpool’s attack.

“It has meant Mane has moved inside,” he said. "So they have real pace across the front three. It gives you a new problem.”

Jurgen Klopp has played Sadio Mane more centrally in recent weeks - GETTY IMAGES
Jurgen Klopp has played Sadio Mane more centrally in recent weeks - GETTY IMAGES

Brighton were quickly appraised of the newcomer’s qualities. Nobody in the home team seemed to think there was any particular threat when Joel Matip took possession in his own half and strode forward. But, without anyone closing him down, the defender dispatched a brilliant long through ball that Diaz was alert to, chased and reached before anyone else.

He had to show considerable bravery to do so, too, as Robert Sanchez, the home keeper, charged at him, limbs flailing. There were many - Klopp included - who thought the keeper should have been shown the red card for his very late challenge. But neither the referee Mike Dean, nor Var were among them.

Not that it mattered. Simply by scoring a goal Liverpool were doing something Brighton have struggled to do as they have slumped to five successive league defeats. When Salah scored the second from the penalty spot, it was clear there was no way back for the home side. After all, Potter did not have Firmino or Jota to call from the bench.

After the game, Klopp was asked whether the signing of Diaz suggested he now had the resources at his disposal to complete the quadruple. The Liverpool manager shook his head at the question. Not least because he is more than aware of the strength in depth at Manchester City.

Besides, as he demonstrated when, after Diaz had been tackled, he shouted at the player to stop moaning and track back, he believes there is more to come.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the full range of his skills,” he said. “There is a lot of space for improvement.”