According to a report in The Mirror over the weekend, Liverpool are lining up a move for teenage Schalke 04 defender Malick Thiaw, who has been described in some quarters as the “new Joel Matip”.
The Mirror reported that the Reds have been closely monitoring the progress of the 18-year-old centre-back and could try to entice him to Merseyside after Schalke’s negotiations on a new deal for the player stalled. The youngster has a £7m release clause in his current contract, which expires in 2021.
Why is Malick Thiaw being hailed as the “new Joel Matip”?
The teenager shares some uncanny similarities with the Liverpool man beyond their common status as centre-backs. Like Matip, Thiaw has taken his first steps in professional football with Schalke after graduating from the Gelsenkirchen club’s youth ranks.
Writing for The Mirror, Chris Hatherall described the 18-year-old Anfield target as “a powerful, tall, ball-playing defender, who can also play as a defensive midfielder” – traits which he has also attributed to Matip, who has indeed played 49 matches in a holding midfield role aside from his conventional centre-back position.
Both Matip and Thiaw even share the same birthday, with both being born on 8 August, albeit a decade apart. On the same day that the Schalke youngster will turn 19 later this year, the Liverpool defender will celebrate his 29th birthday. Indeed, it was 10 seasons ago that the Cameroon international made his first team debut for Schalke, just as Thiaw did against Hoffenheim earlier this month, although Matip ended that 2009/10 campaign with 20 Bundesliga appearances, twice as many as the maximum that the Schalke youngster could manage if the league resumes and if he plays in every game.
What might Malick Thiaw be able to bring to Liverpool?
As mentioned above, the youngster could be another ball-playing defensive option for Liverpool if he were to sign for the Premier League leaders, while also being able to fill in as a holding midfielder if needed.
Considering that he operates in defensive positions, though, the 18-year-old has a fantastic scoring record. In 20 league matches for Schalke’s under-19 side this season, he has struck no fewer than eight goals, averaging 0.4 per game. He also found the net in a cup tie for the Bundesliga club’s youth outfit last autumn, giving him a return of nine in 23 matches for the under-19s in the current campaign. [via TransferMarkt]
This raises yet another similarity with Matip, who hit 10 goals in 16 league appearances for Schalke’s under-19s back in 2008/09 before his promotion to the first team, for whom he went on to score 23 times in 258 matches despite being primarily a centre-back.
Thiaw remains very raw, having only made one senior appearance (as a late substitute), while it should be noted that his fine scoring record has come at youth level. However, it’s hard not to be impressed by how prolific he is for a defensive player and, if Liverpool can act quickly enough to sign him during his contract impasse with Schalke, they may have helped themselves to a surprisingly rich source of goals for a knockdown fee.
Liverpool fans, does Thiaw strike you as a player who could be an astute signing for the club if they were to get him? Have your say by commenting below!