Liverpool: Luis Diaz must be unleashed vs Southampton

The fleet-footed winger could prove the difference-maker on the south coast…

Liverpool will travel to the south coast to wage battle against relegated Southampton for one final dance this season, with the prestigious Premier League outfit already squandering the chance to qualify for the Champions League.

Indeed, Jurgen Klopp’s side have been harangued all season for a stark decline after years of unrelenting stoutness, clinching a wealth of silverware, including the Premier League and Champions League.

Against Saints, only pride will be at stake. The Reds are locked in for fifth place and will play in the Europa League next season; Southampton are concluding a miserable year and are confined to 20th place, a looming date with the Championship forthcoming.

Klopp and co will be emboldened, however, by the late-season renaissance, with an eight-match unbeaten run – including seven straight victories – underscoring the club’s credentials as one of England and Europe’s powerhouses.

In what is effectively a dead-rubber match, Klopp will demand his players prove their mettle ahead of a vital pre-season, and winger Luis Diaz, whose campaign has been detrimentally hindered by injury, will hope to stake his claim with a convincing performance.

Should Liverpool unleash Luis Diaz vs Southampton?
Diaz was signed from Porto for an initial £37m in January 2022 with the departure of esteemed forward Sadio Mane looking likely – the Senegalese ace indeed completed a £35m move to Bayern Munich last summer with just one year left on his Reds deal.

He took to life at Anfield with the intrinsic and seamless ease of a born superstar, plundering four goals and three assists from 13 Premier League games and winning the FA Cup and Carabao Cup as his side unsuccessfully chased a historic quadruple – praised as “sensational” by writer Leanne Prescott for his emphatic arrival.

He started his first full campaign on Merseyside with a similarly breezy grace, scoring four goals and supplying three assists from eight contests across all competitions before indeed sustaining an injury against Arsenal that left him shackled to the medical room until April.

The 26-year-old has, understandably, failed to return to his former fluid vigour since his return, his solitary goal since returning to fitness a close-range finish against Tottenham Hotspur, but he will hope to make his mark against Saints and end the season on a high before utilising the summer break to rekindle his fire.

He could certainly dismantle Ruben Selles’ outfit despite remaining somewhat out of sorts; as per FBref, the Colombian ranks among the top 10% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for pass completion, the top 17% for rate of non-penalty goals, the top 13% for successful take-ons and the top 8% for touches in the attacking box per 90.

Hailed as a “livewire” by journalist Peter Hall, the £55k-per-week menace is a mobile and energetic sprinter, tailor-made for Klopp’s footballing philosophy: high-octane and unrelenting.

At his best, he is robust as steel and slippery as an eel, and Southampton will surely fail to contain his dynamic threat if he can exhibit the best of his skill set.