Who is reported Liverpool target Khephren Thuram?
Liverpool have reportedly agreed personal terms with France U21 and OGC Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram, as Jurgen Klopp continues his midfield rebuild.
The Reds decided that long-time number one midfielder target Jude Bellingham was too expensive in April and started to seek alternatives.
Alexis Mac Allister has already been confirmed as the first piece of the puzzle, signing for £35m, rising to £55m with add-ons, according to reports.
He is the first midfielder to arrive at Anfield since Thiago Alcantara since 2020, but more reinforcements are expected in the engine room as the club seek to regain their position at the summit of domestic and European football.
If Thuram is the next addition, what will he bring to the Anfield outfit?
The son of the legendary French defender Lilian Thuram, the 22-year-old is reportedly being coveted by Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United.
Les Aiglons are understood to be seeking a club-record fee of up to £55m, but French outlet L’Equipe claim that the club are desperate to keep hold of their prized asset.
His first big break came whilst at Monaco, making his professional debut in a substitute appearance against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, at the age of 17.
He would make two more appearances from the bench for the senior team, against Borussia Dortmund in the same competition and Guingamp in the league, before moving to Nice in 2019.
His career at Les Aiglons started as a defensive midfielder and in just 590 minutes in his debut campaign, he boasted some very impressive numbers, averaging 3.33 tackles and 3.79 blocks and clearances per 90 minutes.
It is important to consider the small sample size, however these were some of the best defensive numbers in Europe, and showed signs that he could be a tenacious defensive presence.
He featured 33 times the following season, earning his first call-up to the France under-21 squad, his role in the side more focused on ball retention and passing albeit still in a primarily defensive position.
Christophe Galtier’s arrival in 2021/22 saw a more advanced role on the left side of a midfield two for Thuram, that led to a nomination for the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season award.
His ruthless work-rate off the ball and defensive responsibilities were combined with increasing numbers on a per 90 basis for progressive passing (5.83) and progressive carries (3.08).
Didier Digard has evolved Thuram into a midfield general, leading to his most impressive campaign so far last season, his 3.25 progressive carries and 1.62 successful take-ons per 90 minutes epitomising his role as Nice’s creative hub.
He also managed eight assists in all competitions, a much higher figure than the most from a current Liverpool midfielder last campaign (two).
His first senior call-up for France came in March 2023, when he appeared from the bench in the European Championship qualifying win over the Netherlands, he should expect plenty more in the near future.
What will he bring to the Reds?
He is often mis-profiled as a defensive destroyer, but as explained above, the Frenchman is more of a complete midfielder, capable of playing in a deeper role or further up the pitch as an advanced eight.
His style of play has drawn comparisons to some of the very best ever in his position- such as Patrick Vieira, Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba.
That versatility is one of his best assets and that will be music to the ears of Klopp and his coaching staff, as the recent shift to a 3-2-2-3 in possession is a lot more demanding on the engine room.
An imposing figure, standing at 6’4, his frame would bring something that the Reds have sorely lacked, a colossus in their midfield, that is extremely strong in one-v-one duels and a pressing monster.
It is easy to see why Liverpool are interested, he would be a dream signing on both sides of the ball.
From a defensive point of view, his physicality and desire to regain possession of the ball means that he would be perfect for the intense counter-pressing that Klopp demands of his players.
In possession, his confidence with the ball at his feet and in tight spaces, combined with his elite ball progression, are qualities that will likely make him a fan favourite on Merseyside in no time.
There are some weaknesses to his game, such as the 40 successful passes per game he averaged last season, around half of what is expected of a player at his level.
Another is the aggressive nature of his game, he often rushes to chase down opponents and moves the ball too quickly at times. This could be turned into a strength if he learns how and when to apply it.
His attacking output and shot volume definitely need work, although in a more advanced role on a regular basis, this could definitely be improved and he already boasts quality ball-striking abilities.
One thing is for sure, Thuram is not the finished article yet. However, the thought of Klopp being responsible for his future development should terrify the rest of the Premier League.