Scouting Liverpool Transfer Target Ignacio Camacho

Jack Lusby@jacklusby_Featured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2016

According to Bleacher Report Insider Dean Jones, Liverpool are looking to seal a deal for Malaga's tenacious midfielder Ignacio Camacho this summer, having scouted the Spaniard as Javi Gracia's side drew 1-1 at home to Real Madrid on Sunday—and it is likely that the Reds delegation at La Rosaleda will have been impressed.

Speaking to Marcus Speller on Monday, Jones revealed that "talks are expected to take place at the end of the season—first of all between Camacho's representatives and Malaga...[then] Liverpool officials, to see what kind of deal could be done to get him to Anfield."

With Jurgen Klopp seemingly set to continue his work in reinforcing the Liverpool squad ahead of the 2016/17 campaign—his first full season in charge on Merseyside—Camacho could join Joel Matip and Marko Grujic as new additions this summer.

Jones claims that Camacho could be available for around £7 million, as Malaga "need money coming into the club," due to long-standing debt problems.

So who is Camacho, and what could he bring to Klopp's Liverpool side next season?

Born and raised in Zaragoza, Camacho joined his local side, Real Zaragoza, as an 11-year-old in 2001, on the books alongside his older brother, Juanjo, who has gone on to enjoy a fruitful career largely in the lower divisions of Spanish football—as well as two years with Scottish side Livingston.

Camacho spent four years with Zaragoza before moving to Atletico Madrid, making the near 200-mile move to the Spanish capital to join up with the Rojiblancos, progressing steadily through the youth ranks.

Atleti handed the midfielder his first professional contract in 2008, at the age of 17, with Camacho telling of his relief at signing a deal, and his determination to impress.

"I'm very happy at the club trusting me," he said. "I have always given all I have for the club and although this is an important step for me, I would rather keep calm because I still have a lot to prove."

This attitude will have endeared Camacho to then-manager Javier Aguirre, who gave him his full debut two months later in a 4-2 win at home to Barcelona; Camacho replaced Brazilian midfielder Cleber Santana in the 69th minute, helping to steady the ship as goals from Maxi Rodriguez, Diego Forlan and a Sergio Aguero brace secured the victory, despite strikes from Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o.

Camacho went on to make 10 La Liga appearances in his first season in the Atleti first team, scoring twice—both in a 3-0 win over Recreativo Huelva, with his second assisted by former Reds midfielder Luis Garcia.

The 2008/09 campaign was less promising, however, with Camacho seeing just 237 minutes of league action, and this trend continued until the end of 2010, when he secured a move to Malaga.

Camacho is now a firmly established member of Malaga's starting lineup, having made 153 appearances for the club over the past five years.

This is largely due to his quality and consistency in the holding role—something that has helped Malaga to three top-half finishes in La Liga over the past five seasons, including a remarkable run under Manuel Pellegrini in 2011/12 that saw the club finish in fourth, securing UEFA Champions League qualification.

Primarily a shielding defensive midfielder, Camacho is a tenacious, diligent presence at the base of the midfield, utilising his strong tackling ability and intelligent reading of the game to break up play and kick off attacks.

Averaging 3.4 successful tackles and 3.6 interceptions per 90 minutes in La Liga this season, Camacho represents a more well-rounded defensive option than any of Liverpool's current midfielders to make 10 or more appearances.

Lucas Leiva has averaged more successful tackles, with 5.4, but has only made 2.1 interceptions per 90.

Standing at 6'0" tall, Camacho also provides Malaga with a bullish aerial presence in midfield, averaging three aerial duels won per 90 minutes—the same as Lucas, and more than any other Liverpool midfielder.

This defensive quality was on show during Sunday's draw with Real, and B/R's Karl Matchett highlighted Camacho's performance by including the 25-year-old in his Team of the Week, saying:

Camacho was the perfect example [of a dominant defensive midfielder] as he put in a complete performance against Real Madrid, pressing extremely high upfield to challenge and upset the likes of Toni Kroos and get Malaga on the front foot close to the attacking third.

He won back possession with extreme regularity in the centre but also drifted to the channel to support resulting counters and help the immediate second press if the ball was lost in the build-up. An excellent performer once again.

Matchett's use of the term "front foot" is of vital importance when discussing Camacho's talents as a defensive midfielder. Rather than sitting back and watching the game unfold ahead of him like Lucas, Camacho remains on his toes throughout, pressing high and harrying the opposition.

Such is Camacho's aggressive brand of midfield play, the Spaniard is required to contribute to his side's build-up play when the ball is won in the opponents' half.

This ability to transition from defence to attack is invaluable, and while Camacho is not the most technically gifted of midfielders—completing just 70.2 percent of his attempted passes in La Liga this season—his presence in support of the attack is crucial, much like Empoli's on-loan Udinese midfielder Piotr Zielinski, who has also been linked with a summer move to Merseyside, by's Melissa Reddy.

As Jones suggests, Malaga could be tempted to sell Camacho this summer, and as he responded to interest from Arsenal a year ago, as reported by the Express' David Wright, the midfielder could be receptive to a move:

If I do leave here then I want it to be done well and that Malaga are not angry with me.

But I also think you need to look at the market and its value in case you leave. We all know Malaga's situation, which isn't too bad, but they could be forced to sell for a reasonable price.

It's always good when teams are looking at you because it means you are doing things right, both individually and collectively. The situation at Malaga is good and that benefits me.

I have a contract here but if anyone wants to come in for me, then they will have to negotiate.

At a rumoured £7 million, Camacho would make a fine addition to Klopp's squad for 2016/17 and beyond, with his strength, tenacity, defensive quality, height and pressing ability much needed within the German's midfield.

Performing with an energy that eludes Lucas as the 29-year-old reaches the end of his career at the top level, Camacho would provide Klopp with a significant upgrade in the middle of the park, while the one-cap Spain international still has his best years ahead of him at just 25.

If Camacho was to join Matip and Grujic at Anfield this summer, Klopp would be welcoming another brute to his relatively flimsy squad.

This is an avenue that the former Borussia Dortmund manager should certainly explore.


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