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Ko Itakura: A deep dive into the Japanese star on Liverpool’s radar

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By Shrishh Attavar

Liverpool are eyeing a move for Monchengladbach centre-back Ko Itakura

26-year-old Ko Itakura of Borussia Monchengladbach is the definition of versatility. He can also play as a right centre-back, a left centre-back, and a defensive midfielder. Liverpool see themselves linked with a move for the player, and we have had our fair share of versatile players over the past. You might have heard of a certain James Milner.

He is a right-footer on paper, but Itakura‘s ability to slot into either of the two central defensive positions highlights how two-footed he is. The 26-year-old covers ground like a huge carpet. He’s here, he’s there and he’s everywhere. His claim to fame was during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics wherein he featured predominantly as a centre-back and was among the best players for Japan.

Despite missing eight games due to a knee injury, Itakura was named as part of the Japan squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and assisted Takuma Asano for the winning goal as Japan defeated Germany 2-1. Jurgen Klopp, or any manager for that matter, likes versatile players. Itakura’s tendency to slot in seamlessly across several positions makes him a like-to-like replacement for someone like Milly, who left the club in the summer transfer window to join Brighton and Hove Albion on a free.

Liverpool are eyeing a move for Monchengladbach centre-back Ko Itakura.
Liverpool target Ko Itakura.

In comparison with our present centre-back options including skipper Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip, there are a few areas where Itakura stands out. Jarell Quansah is not a part of the comparisons considering the small sample size when it comes to top-flight football.

Another Japanese to the Reds?

According to Fbref, Itakura in comparison with Liverpool’s defenders, ranks the highest when it comes to the number of times blocking the ball by standing in its path per 90. Moreover, the most astonishing stat is, that throughout his time at Monchengladbach, he has not made a single error which has led to the opposition taking a shot at the goalkeeper.

In recent seasons, one major drawback when it comes to Itakura is his proneness to injury. He has missed 22 games over the last two seasons due to two different injury issues. The Reds have had their fair share of injury problems and they surely cannot afford a player who tends to miss a lot of games, be it any issue. However, let’s be real. We all watched the World Cup in Qatar and Itakura stood out as one of their better players in the few appearances that he made. The eye test is important for times like these.

A potential deal for the player as a fourth-choice centre-back who can play DM makes sense. He is a very hardworking player who does not shy away from putting up a fight irrespective of the position he features in. At 26, he is in his prime as a footballer and might learn a thing or two from the world-class players at Anfield.

Liverpool are eyeing a move for Monchengladbach centre-back Ko Itakura.
Wataru Endo has been a sensational addition to the Liverpool squad.(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

In any case, Liverpool have a scout in their starting XI who will let the club know all they need to know about Itakura. Wataru Endo, you’ve got a job to do. Also keep in mind, even in the scenario that Itakura joins the Reds, he won’t enjoy a proper run of games until February considering he shall travel for national duties in the Asian Cup.

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Time will tell whether or not the Reds explore a move for the player. If a deal is worth the money, Liverpool should try and look to make use of it.