Football is relentless. The Reds are fighting for Champions League Qualification & a potential victory in the competition, but there are already eyes on a vital summer for Liverpool.
The squad is in need of freshening, especially in attacking depth. Players such as Divock Origi & Xherdan Shaqiri seem to be in the twilight of their Anfield careers. Several names have already been linked with a move to Merseyside. Raphinha at Leeds is the most prevalent link so far, with other rumours sure to come in the following months.
This article will take an in-depth look at a potential target, Dutch forward Donyell Malen. The forward has made leaps and bounds at PSV Eindhoven after beginning his career at rivals Ajax (via a spell at Arsenal). He has caught the eye in particular this season, and seems destined for bigger and better things, like so many successful Eredivisie forwards before him.
At just 22 years of age and three more years left on his deal, Malen wouldn't come cheap (currently valued at £22.5m on Transfermarkt.co.uk). However, clubs in Holland know that their best talents will up and leave one day, so if the price is right, he will be available.
After all, Liverpool have had great success when buying attackers from the Netherlands - Dirk Kuyt and a certain Luis Suarez, anyone? Malen could add to the Reds current crop of excellent Dutch talent. Here is an in-depth look at the striker.
Style of Play
Donyell Malen has set the Eredivisie alight this season. He currently has 15 goals in 25 games (a rate of 0.74 goals per 90 minutes played). This is the second-most in the league and already four more than he managed last year.
He has also caught the eye of many in the Europa League with five goals so far - the joint fourth-most in the competition. He isn't the strongest in the air (winning just 16.7% of aerial duels in the EL), but thrives in his explosiveness. His finishing is also particularly strong, with 0.17 goals scored per shot - Bettered only by Diogo Jota in Liverpool's attack (0.26).
He's also a very direct player and will take the game to opposition defences. He averages 4.26 shots a game, more than any other Liverpool player. This can be put down to having more responsibility, but also suggests he isn't afraid to try things when others don't.
The Dutchman has drawn comparisons to former PSV attacker Memphis Depay for the direct approach they both take to the game.
Malen isn't just an exceptional striker, he's also extremely creative. One of his best attributes is his ability to play across the front line and in attacking midfield. This would allow him to adapt to most formations and systems across Europe and make him particularly attractive for Klopp's 4-3-3 & 4-2-3-1 formations.
He is currently averaging 0.29 assists per 90 minutes of football - better than any current Liverpool player this season. If you needed any evidence of the inventiveness of Malen, look no further than his incredible assist against Ajax back in January. This was his first of two assists in the game.
Liverpool & Malen: A Good Fit?
When big clubs sign players from outside of the big 5 leagues, there can be some apprehensiveness. Will they be able to make the step up? How will they cope playing against stronger opposition?
Plenty of talented players have come from Holland's premier division and flattered to deceive (Jahanbakhsh at Brighton and Ziyech's slow start at Chelsea are just recent examples).
PSV & the Anfield side set up in different systems - The Dutch club tends to utilise a 4222, whilst Liverpool predominantly use a 433. However, Malen's intelligence off the ball makes him highly adaptable.
As can be seen below thanks to Sofascore, the striker tends to drift towards the left side of the pitch. From here, he uses his explosive speed to devastating effect. He times his run to perfection, arriving late and leaving opposition defenders wondering what just happened as the ball hits the back of the net.
This skill is effective no matter the quality of opposition. Whilst it is hard to say how Malen would adapt to life on Merseyside, it is fair to say that his skillset, intelligence and positional play all point towards him being a success wherever he ends up.
With sources saying that attack is Michael Edwards & Klopp's area of priority, there will be a lot of rumours to come. What we do know about the club is that they tend to target young, talented players who are ready to make the step up.
Donyell Malen is one of those players that just seems like a Liverpool signing. He's 22 years old and is ready to make the step up from the Eredivisie. He is someone that is hungry to succeed - as can be seen when he left Arsenal to pursue first team football in the Netherlands.
The Dutchman is valued at around £25million. PSV know that he's going to move on sooner rather than later. Malen is a more than achievable target for Liverpool and would be within a price range that the club would see as economical.
Reports claim that Liverpool are keeping a close eye on his performances this season. He's clearly more than ready to make the step up, and he may feel like he has unfinished business in England after leaving Arsenal