25-year-old Colombian wide forward Luis Diaz was the headline arrival for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool during the January transfer window. The former FC Porto star completed a £50m switch to Anfield in a deal said to be worth £37.5m up front and another £12.5m in potential add-ons. This equates to around half the transfer fee that Porto were originally demanding for him. Diaz has made a huge impression since joining the Porto from Colombian outfit Atletico Junior, winning the Primeira Liga and Taca de Portugal in 2019 and another domestic double the following season.
It could have been so different for Diaz, given that his likely destination earlier in the transfer window was Tottenham. However, the Reds were able to hijack the deal and entice him to Merseyside instead at the 11th hour. Spurs were reported to have agreed a deal with Diaz and his former employers Porto.
However, with Diaz away on international duty, the deal was never formally signed. Crucially, Liverpool negotiated directly with Diaz’ Colombian agent rather than Jorge Mendes who Spurs were using as their middleman when talking terms with Porto. His agent said Diaz was ultimately “seduced by the prospect of Champions League football and working with Jurgen Klopp” and the rest is history.
Luis Diaz: Hitting heights since 2017
The Barrancas-born wide man was snapped up in 2016 by Atletico Junior following a successful trial period. He was promptly loaned out to Barranquilla FC, a team that Junior used to develop their most promising talents. Within a year, Diaz had done enough to gain a promotion to Junior’s first team squad. 15 goals in 67 appearances for Junior caught the eye of many European scouts that view this part of South America as a hotbed of promising – and cost-effective – players.
14 goals in his first full season at Porto helped them to the Primeira League and the Taca de Portugal. He put himself on the radar of English clubs by scoring in his first Champions League game, a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in 2020/21. The start to the 2021/22 Primeira League campaign was quite remarkable from Diaz, who was named the league’s Player of the Month for back-to-back months and Forward of the Month for three successive months between October and December.
With 14 goals and five assists in 18 2021/22 Primeira League appearances, Diaz has been in red-hot form for Porto. Had Diaz registered those figures in a Liverpool jersey, there’s no doubt he’d be in high demand with the savviest fantasy Premier League managers. Those who know what it takes to win Premier League fantasy football competitions invariably pick forwards that are capable of creating as well as scoring.
How Diaz compares with the current Liverpool forward line
There are many reasons why analysts believe Diaz will be a perfect fit for Liverpool. He has a tremendous work ethic and tenacity, as well as the skills and flair to stretch Premier League defences. His output during the last two seasons is comparable with the likes of Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota. Diaz’ combined goal and assist contributions per game equates to 0.58, which is higher than both Mane (0.57) and Jota (0.55) and only bettered by Mo Salah (0.73).
Club insiders admitted that Diaz was Klopp’s number-one target for this summer’s transfer window. However, with Spurs sniffing around this month, the club acted fast to get him in six months earlier than envisaged. It begs the question as to whether Klopp sees the Colombian as a natural successor to either Mane or Salah. It’s possible Diaz has been recruited to reinforce to Mane and Salah that the Reds hold the aces at the contract negotiation table. With Diaz signed on a deal worth £90,000 a week – less than a quarter of what Salah is reported to be demanding – the transfer has given the club greater bargaining power.