With just two weeks to go until the January transfer window swings open, rumors have been heating up at Anfield, and the latest player to be linked with a move to Liverpool this winter, according to Dave Filmer of the Metro, is Olympiakos striker Konstantinos Mitroglou.
Daniel Sturridge’s injury has left Brendan Rodgers with a single established striker in his ranks, and though Luis Suarez has been on fire for the Reds this season—he has scored 17 goals in just 12 games—backup forward Iago Aspas has struggled for both form and fitness.
BBC Sport has reported that Liverpool have opened talks with Suarez on a new contract to tie him down at Anfield, but considering his public flirtations with Arsenal and Real Madrid last summer and the injury situation at Liverpool, Rodgers would do well to strengthen his forward ranks.
Having already scored 22 goals for both club and country this term, Mitroglou has apparently caught the attention of many a top European club, with the likes of Arsenal also reportedly in the mix.
Just as we did with Martin Montoya earlier this month, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Konstantinos Mitroglou’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield, and evaluate whether he’d a good pick-up for Brendan Rodgers.
Just like Suarez, Mitroglou has been in outstanding form this season, with 13 goals in eight starts and two substitute appearances in the Greek Superleague.
And just like Suarez, it appears that Mitroglou has developed a fondness for hat-tricks: Nine of his league goals have come in just three matches, as he notched four hat-tricks in just over a month.
Equally comfortable with both feet, and physically imposing and dominant in the air, the 25-year-old Greek striker also possesses a quick turn of pace, a fierce long-range shot and a repertoire of fancy flicks and tricks. His passing and hold-up play also brings his teammates into the final third to score, making him a prototypical lone striker.
A tricky, unpredictable and high-scoring forward, Mitroglou celebrates his goals with an imaginary rifle and is also nicknamed "Pistolero" like a certain Uruguayan forward already at Anfield.
According to the Daily Star's Gary Jones, Mitroglou is rated at £7.5 million, which, for a striker enjoying a hot streak and at the top of his game, would almost definitely be a snip compared to the other more established names that might be on the market.
While the price tag may be considered on the lower end of forwards linked with Liverpool, the obvious disadvantage behind a potential Mitroglou transfer would be his lack of experience in Europe’s top leagues.
Despite his recent accolades, at 25 years of age he is a relative latecomer to the big stage, having started his career at Borussia Monchengladbach’s youth academy before joining Olympiakos. After two loan spells—the second of which he won the Superleague Greek Player of the Year with Atromitos—he only recently established himself as first-choice at Olympiakos.
Having spent his entire senior career in Greece, Mitroglou would no doubt be making a big step up in quality if he does arrive in the Premier League with an ambitious club like Liverpool, who will be looking for an instant hit in any January transfer this season to help them on their way to Champions League qualification.
A fiery and combative character on the pitch, Mitroglou is a typical out-and-out forward whose work rate will not match that of the industrious Luis Suarez, who aids his team by dropping deep to start attacks and generally interfere with his opponents’ play in their own half.
Brendan Rodgers will be sure to drill his current system and philosophy, which prizes work rate and high-energy pressing all over the pitch, into his new charge if Mitroglou does indeed sign for the Reds.
Potential Role at Liverpool
Given the importance of Luis Suarez at Anfield and the prospect of Liverpool signing him onto a new extended deal, Konstantinos Mitroglou would likely arrive knowing his status as first-choice will have disintegrated.
If Rodgers and Co. seal the transfer in the early days of January, Mitroglou may arrive while Daniel Sturridge is still injured, but given Sturridge’s impressive pre-injury form, the Greek striker will need to be on top of his game, both in training and in the Premier League, to dislodge Sturridge from the starting XI when he returns.
If that is the case, Mitroglou may have to bide his time on the bench and make do with an impact substitute’s role, at least in his first half season at Anfield.
Considering the difficulties that Iago Aspas and Fabio Borini have encountered in trying to establish themselves as Rodgers’ main striking options, Mitroglou will need to develop his all-round game and overall versatility across the front three if he is to give his potential manager a selection headache.
And even then, the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling will be around to make sure his journey to the starting XI won’t be easy. The road ahead for Mitroglou at Anfield may not be smooth.
Unlike Martin Montoya, who we recommended as a priority signing for Liverpool this January, Mitroglou doesn’t seem to represent an urgent need for the Reds this winter, especially if Sturridge returns from injury and sustains his free-scoring form.
The need for more strength in depth in the Liverpool front line is apparent, but given the narrow window for reinforcements, Rodgers should focus on other priority areas, like at left-back, defensive midfield and central midfield, before considering more options up front.
Back in October, Iago Aspas had been linked with a loan move back to Spain by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star due to his lack of first-team football, and Fabio Borini has already had to spend the season at Sunderland, so John Henry and Fenway Sports Group would need some convincing if they are to sanction another hefty bid for another third-choice striker.
And that’s if Mitroglou, an undoubted first choice now for club and country, is prepared to accept a move that would diminish his chances of regular football barring injuries to his colleagues.
£7.5 million for more goals isn’t a bad thing, but Liverpool are scoring enough already; they just need to plug the sometimes glaring holes in their midfield and defence. There are bigger priorities out there for Brendan Rodgers.