To address that hypothetical, this article grades Gradel's performance against Colombia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and provides a scouting report on his season for Saint-Etienne.
Gradel vs. Colombia—Grade: F
Gradel started on the right wing with support from Ivory Coast right-back Serge Aurier.
Colombia left-back Pablo Armero was generally not tested by Gradel, who gradually shifted centrally to act as a deep-lying forward.
Gradel made energetic runs but lacked the end product the Ivory Coast needed to beat Colombia.
Gradel misplaced four of five crosses, per Squawka.com, and only made 15 passes in 68 minutes.
Gradel Saint-Etienne Positives
Gradel interchanges from the right to left wing.
He can operate as an inverted right-footed winger on the left flank, as shown here where he cuts in and strikes the ball past Lorient goalkeeper Fabien Audard.
In addition, Gradel can play as a conventional winger on the right flank.
Speeding down the right wing against Ajaccio, he plays in Saint-Etienne centre-forward Mevlut Erding.
When given space by Ajaccio central midfielder Mehdi Mostefa, Gradel delivers an accurate cross to Saint-Etienne centre-back Loic Perrin.
Creating separation from Evian Thonon Gaillard left-back Youssouf Sabaly, Gradel clips the ball to Saint-Etienne central attacking midfielder Benjamin Corgnet.
Gradel is capable of producing game-winning moments.
This is why he is an ideal super-sub.
He spent 50 percent of his playing time last season in that role and scored 60 percent of his league goals off the bench.
Gradel Saint-Etienne Negatives
In his three seasons at Saint-Etienne, he was not consistent enough to be a week in, week out starter.
All of Gradel's assists came in the last four games of the season, so prior to his purple patch, he was on a 14-game run without creating a goal.
Gradel's shooting at times is wayward.
These factors would explain why Gradel has never played for a major European club.
Gradel will make a seamless adjustment having played professional football for English clubs from 2006-2011.
"Max is fond of his time in England and would be open to playing in the Premier League if the chance arose," Gradel's England-based agent, Tra Desmond, said, as reported by James Pearson at Sky Sports. "He impressed during his time at Leeds and the style of play in the country suits his game."
|League Only||Adam Lallana||Max Gradel|
|Shots Per Goal||7.8||6.0|
|Key Passes Per Game||1.9||1.4|
Gradel only played 18 times in an injury-affected season. Though, he still scored or created a goal in 55.6 percent of his games, which is significantly higher than Lallana (39.4; combined 15 goals in 38 games).
If Liverpool fail to sign Lallana, Gradel should be on the long list of potential summer transfer window alternatives.
Statistics via WhoScored.com