The number of forwards linked with Liverpool in the days since the Champions League final defeat has been numerous. That’s because, as everyone knows by now, Sadio Mané is almost certainly set to leave the club this summer.
Mané was coy about his future leading up to the final, but in the aftermath of the defeat, word has seeped out that he is set to tell the club that would like to try a new challenge in a different league.
The likes of Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Darwin Núñez and Jarrod Bowen have all been linked to The Reds. One name who hasn’t been mentioned, but who could be an outside bet, is Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick.
“If Mané’s going then they have to replace him,” former Liverpool goalkeeper David James told GGRecon. “You’ve got Patrik Shick who finished second to Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga goal standings. He’s a young player who’s got plenty of experience, so he could be an option for Liverpool.
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“One win instead of a draw would have given them the advantage they needed. One goal stopped them winning the title, but with Erling Haaland next season at Manchester City, then the difference isn’t going to be just one goal, it may be multiple goals. Liverpool have to make that improvement. It’s doable but the recruitment will have to be spot on again. “
Schick was once thought of as one of the next up-and-coming young strikers several years ago after his breakout season with Sampdoria. A move to Juventus broke down due to a failed medical, and his subsequent move to Roma did not work out, where he was lost in the shuffle and did not live up to expectations.
After a couple of underwhelming seasons at Roma, he moved to RB Leipzig on loan before Leverkusen snapped him up on a permanent basis in the summer of 2020.
Schick has regained his form while with the German outfit, and last season represented the best of his career, as he hammered in 24 goals in 27 games, outscoring Erling Haaland but some way behind the evergreen Lewandowski, who smashed in 35 goals as Bayern romped to another title.
Could Schick represent a low-cost option for Liverpool this summer, in the post-Mané landscape? It would be difficult to see the Czech forward donning the red shirt.
On a technical level, it would be easy to see it, as Schick has unbelievable levels of ability (his goal against Scotland at Euro 2020 proved as much) and would not look out of place in the Liverpool XI. However, it would be his off-the-ball issues that would not fit with Liverpool’s philosophy under Jürgen Klopp.
Simply put, Schick lacks the dynamism and the stamina to operate fully in Klopp’s system. He’s not a player known to press high and relentlessly in the way Klopp demands of his forwards, nor is he known to get overtly physical.
Schick works best as a No.10 in a front two, or as a No.9 in a 4-2-3-1. But he does not interpret the No.9 role in the same way that Klopp demands of his forwards, so it’s difficult to envision how Schick would fit into Liverpool’s 4-3-3 system.
Schick would be an interesting option as a replacement for Mané, but they could not be more contrasting players: Mané is all speed, power and tenacity, while Schick is entirely the opposite of those traits, relying more on the deftness of touch and ability to ghost into favorable positions.
Moreover, Schick alone would not replace Mané, but if he was bought in conjunction with another forward, it could be an experiment worth trying, an outside bet for Liverpool as they look to move on from Mané.