De Jong’s arrival in Liverpool is somewhat contingent on the extent of Leiva’s injury, but De Jong would be a valuable acquisition for Brendan Rogers in his own right.
Liverpool have had a solid season, currently ranked fourth in the Premier League, but the addition of De Jong in the midfield could be both necessary to replace Leiva and an important move to help propel Liverpool to the top of the league.
But that doesn’t mean De Jong wouldn’t be a worthwhile acquisition now. The 29-year-old has had 18 appearances and three assists for AC Milan this season following an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him for several months shortly after moving to Milan.
Furthermore, AC Milan have struggled mightily this season, potentially adding to De Jong’s motivation to leave. His exit would be a noticeable loss in San Siro, and whether newly appointed coach Clarence Seedorf will entertain the possibility of De Jong leaving is up for debate.
De Jong doesn’t litter the stats sheet like other midfielders, but the defensive midfielder has a solid presence in the backfield, bolstering his team with ball-winning tenacity and steady passing.
On a team struggling to put together a successful season, De Jong has been a key defensive asset for Milan, with 47 interceptions landing him in third place in that stat in Serie A. To add to that, De Jong has accumulated a 92 percent pass success rate this season to add to his defensive prowess.
Nigel de Jong: Has made more interceptions than any other player in the Champions League this season (13)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 22, 2013
As Daniel Gutman from the Rossoneri Blog argues, De Jong this season has been, “what holds together the pathetic excuse for a defense Milan have.”
With a versatile game in the backfield, De Jong would complement Liverpool’s strong frontline led by Luis Suarez. A strong midfield presence from De Jong would also be a valuable presence alongside Jordan Henderson, who reiterated Liverpool’s need for a stronger defensive presence after Saturday’s game against Aston Villa.
If Leiva’s injury proves serious, Rogers’ acquisition of De Jong could become more of a necessity than a perk, but after being hampered by injury and a string of underwhelming seasons, De Jong is back on the rise and would be a highly valuable addition to the Liverpool squad going into the second half of the season.