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How does Southampton target Wesley Hoedt compare to Virgil van Dijk?

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Wesley Hoedt

In the latest update in one of the longest-running transfer sagas of the summer, the Daily Mail understand that Liverpool are starting to gain momentum in their move for defender Virgil van Dijk.

It is thought that the Southampton centre-back is to have talks with the club later this week to discuss his uncertain future, with the Dutchman expected to express his desire to move to Liverpool.

This comes just a month after the Merseyside outfit were warned over their unofficial approaches for Van Dijk, but the 26-year-old is allegedly still keen on forcing a move.

If Van Dijk does indeed leave for Anfield before the summer is up, the Daily Mail are claiming that Mauricio Pellegrino is already weighing up a £12 million swoop for Lazio centre-back Wesley Hoedt.

With the Dutch international a bit of an unknown entity in England, would he be a suitable Van Dijk alternative? The Boot Room dissects the key statistics to see if Hoedt can match his compatriot.

Defensive Steel

One of the main reasons that Liverpool are so intent on signing Van Dijk this summer is due to how impressive he has been at the heart of Southampton’s defence, making their back-line seem impenetrable at times, and winning 67% of his duels last season shows how mammoth a figure he is.

By comparison Hoedt was successful on just 54% occasions, winning less tackles (22) and far less aerial battles (52) than Van Dijk, who has made a name for himself in England as a monster in the air.

In a similar vein, the Southampton man reigns supreme when it comes to interceptions (56 compared to 30), blocks (14 to 9) and clearances (140 to 109), and if anything it doesn’t show that Hoedt is a poor replacement it shows just how hard it will be to replace someone like Van Dijk.

But judging Hoedt’s potential impact against Van Dijk’s legacy seems harsh, as the Lazio man has huge potential to succeed at St Mary’s and has the desire and determination to be a great player.

Composure

One thing that new manager Mauricio Pellegrino loves his players to do is have confidence in their own ability on the ball, and remain cool-headed under pressure, and Hoedt has shown this in bags.

In Serie A last season he carved out four key chances and made 1181 passes – 235 more than his fellow Dutchman – highlighting just how comfortable he is in possession, and how well he uses it.

Add the fact that 905 of these passes were forward and it shows that Hoedt possesses a natural tendency to push play forward, a trait Southampton need after scoring just 41 goals in 38 matches.

Set-Piece Threat

Yet it’s not just in defence where centre-backs can make their mark and, after watching former defender Jose Fonte score 15 goals at St Mary’s, being a threat from set-pieces is an important trait.

Hoedt comes out on top on this occasion, scoring twice in his 23 Serie A appearances last year, whilst Van Dijk managed to find the net once in the 4-1 dismantling by Tottenham over Christmas.

But although Van Dijk has the better goal-scoring record overall (seven in 64 Southampton games) in comparison to his fellow countryman (two in 46 Lazio games), Hoedt’s size, physical presence and his pure willingness to make himself a nuisance in the box means that he will be a dangerous outlet.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Liverpool

Liverpool news round-up: Fitness latest; Fekir move planned; midfielder deal imminent

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Photo: Getty Images.

Milner and Can ready for Saturday

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed that midfield duo James Milner and Emre Can will be fit to face Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev.

“Millie was clear [he would be fit] and Emre is a surprise,” Klopp told the club’s official website.

“He told me he would come back, try this and that and then we would talk to people. We thought it would be difficult, but he came back and from the first day it was like, ‘OK, that looks good, how do you feel?’ ‘Very good’ and then the next day ‘very good’ again.

“Now he trains completely normal. He’s a nice option and that’s why he is with us.”

Milner missed the final Premier League game of the season with a muscle strain whilst Can has been out since March with a back problem.

(Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Summer move planned for Fekir

The Telegraph say that Liverpool are planning to up the ante in their move for Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir after the Champions League final with the club confident of getting a deal done for a fee in the region of £60 million.

The 24-year-old is seen as a natural replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who Jurgen Klopp is yet to replace since he departed for Barcelona in January, and is one of the club’s top targets for the summer transfer window.

Can deal imminent

Whilst a transfer saga surrounding Fekir may only just be beginning, one could be coming to an end for midfielder Emre Can. His contract will come to an end this summer and he is now expected to join Juventus on a free transfer with an announcement looking to be closing in.

Gazzetta dello Sport report that Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta expects the deal to be done “within 10 days” as the 24-year-old waits for Liverpool to close their season against Real Madrid in Kiev.

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Liverpool

Dejan Lovren epitomises Liverpool’s progression since previous Real Madrid meeting

Max Cohen

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Dejan Lovren
Photo: Getty Images

The last time Liverpool played Real Madrid in the Champions League, the approaches of the two clubs could not have been more different.

The clubs played twice in the 2014 group stage, with Los Blancos smashing Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield and winning 1-0 at the Bernabeu.

Dejan Lovren was particularly culpable for the Reds’ first loss at home, as he was torn to shreds by the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Nonetheless, much has changed at Liverpool since those weak performances more than three years ago, with centre-back Dejan Lovren representing the Reds’ progression from continental lightweights to European Cup finalists.

In an interview this week with The Guardian, the Croatian defender claimed that the current Liverpool side is unrecognisable from the team that surrendered to Real Madrid in their 2014/15 Champions League campaign.

“The only thing that is similar is the name, Liverpool,” Lovren told the Guardian. “I am so much more confident in the team now than I was then. I feel the team is ready to battle against every team in the world.”

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

These confident proclamations mark a fitting response from a player who has come a long way since he first arrived at Anfield.

Lovren has come under immense criticism for his performances at Liverpool, lambasted for a lack of pace, propensity for lapses in concentration, and poor decision making.

And even as recently as October, the Croatian was horribly found out during an abysmal first half performance against Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet, Lovren admirably picked himself up from past disappointment and has become an integral piece of Jurgen Klopp’s defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

The 28-year-old has played every single minute of the knockout stages in Liverpool’s Champions League campaign, and will surely play a massive role in stifling Real Madrid’s high-octane attack in Kiev.

Dejan Lovren will be hoping for a far different response from Liverpool than their performance some three years ago, and his personal improvement will determine the Reds’ success on Saturday.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa would be the perfect platform for Harry Wilson if they are promoted

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa are 90 minutes of football away from a return to the Premier League, and they are already looking at potential signings for next season if they are promoted.

The Midlands side face Fulham at Wembley on Saturday in the Championship play-off final with a place in the top flight up for grabs. And, should Villa bring an end to two years outside of the promised lands of the Premier League, they will be determined to recruit properly to prepare themselves for next season.

According to the Scottish SunLiverpool are looking for a loan fee of £250,000 to snag impressive academy prospect, Harry Wilson, in a deal that would also see financial penalties issued should he not get the required amount of first-team action.

Wilson has been one of the brightest prospects in the Reds academy for many years and his recent form in the Championship is highlighting why there is such a buzz for this talented youngster and why the Villains should swoop.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Since departing for a temporary move to Hull in the January window, the 21-year-old has been in fine form, netting seven goals in 13 appearances to help Nigel Adkins’ side avoid the drop.

The youngster also made his international debut in his first start for Wales under new boss Ryan Giggs and netted a maiden goal for his country against China.

Despite the winger’s talents, it seems impossible to think that Wilson could break into Liverpool’s irreplaceable ‘fab three’ which means another loan move would be the best option for his development, and Villa’s potential promotion to the Premier League could set up the perfect platform in the top-flight for the youngster.

Loan deals are never ideal, permanent signings are what supporters want to see, but this is is a move that could be a benefit for both parties and something Steve Bruce should strongly consider.

The Villains likely have enough quality at their disposal to compete strongly in the Championship again next season, if they don’t win their play-off, Wilson could give them serious depth.

The winger is an elegant and languid play maker in the mould of Jack Grealish, and the combination of the two could get fans very excited for next season.

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