Leny Yoro, an 18-year-old center-back from LOSC Lille, has recently been linked with a move to Premier League sides Liverpool, Man United and the Galacticos, Real Madrid. Yoro is attracting the world’s elite, and it is easy to see why.
These Liverpool rumours originate from Téléfoot, as reported by Diario AS, with the transfer link also citing PSG and Real Madrid as potential suitors for the French defender.
It is no secret that a central defender will undoubtedly be on the radar for the Merseyside club. With Joël Matipc out for the season with an ACL injury, it seems unlikely, although not impossible, that the Cameroonian will pen a new deal at Anfield and will ultimately leave at the end of the season.
While promising academy prospect Jarrell Quansah has broken through, the plausible move seems to be that the Reds will dip into the market to replace Matip. However, is Leny Yoro the right man?
What Type of Defender Is Leny Yoro?
Leny Yoro is a 6’2″ central defender who boasts excellent physical traits such as pace and strength. The young Parisian is well capable on the ball, just as much as when he is off it. This is an essential trait in modern football. Due to Lille’s style of inviting the press before they launch devasting attacks, the defender is quite press-resistant.
Despite only being 18 years old, he is a confident player and rarely misses a pass when under pressure. All of this sounds good.
Well, the real question lies in if he is a good fit for Klopp’s “heavy metal football.”
How Does Leny Yoro’s Player Profile Compare to LFC CBs?
First off, there are a couple of key statistics you need to look out for when looking at potential Liverpool CBs. The first is Aerial Duels.
Due to Liverpool’s high press, being dominant in the air is a crucial asset. If you look at Liverpool’s current central defenders, all of them will likely have a high success rate. Winning the ball from the opponent’s long passes is critical to an aggressive press.
At first glance, Leny Yoro certainly fits the profile. The Lille man comes in with an 80% win rate on his Aerial Duels. However, it is worth noting that he also contests less than half of what Virgil van Dijk does per 90.
Yoro only gets involved in 2.4 Aerial Duels per 90, whereas the Liverpool captain competes in 5.59 per 90. So, while he may have an impressive success rate, the lack of volume is something to consider.
Secondly, while Liverpool plays a high line, they need their CBs to be good passers of the ball.
Yoro certainly profiles well in this regard. The Frenchman has a respectable volume of 59 passes per 90, which is only five less than van Dijk. Additionally, he has an impressive accuracy rate of 94%, pretty much identical to the Dutchman.
Finally, can Leny Yoro use one of Liverpool’s most important tactics? This, of course, is the long diagonal from CB to winger.
On the plot, he ranks close to both Konaté and van Dijk. His volume is low, but Lille’s playstyle could explain that as well as the fact Liverpool is more likely to hit it long. While he does have the lowest success rate, he is not too far off the current Anfield defenders.
- Virgil van Dijk – 66%
- Ibrahima Konaté – 63%
- Leny Yoro – 60%
When it comes to direct comparisons to Ibou Konaté, there are some striking similarities, as shown in the chart below.
For instance, both men have almost equal Passes Completed and Forward Pass %. However, Konaté outperforms him in Progressive Passes, an attribute not to turn your nose up at. This can be useful when teams set up against the Reds in defensive blocks, something that happens more often than not. These line-breaking passes can create chances out of nothing.
Additionally, there is quite a significant difference when it comes to Progressive Carries, but this could be explained by LOSC Lille inviting the press so they can swiftly play it out and create attacks. In these scenarios, Yoro will not look for that direct way forward but instead, a quick release to play around the press.
However, Leny Yoro completely outshines his French counterpart when it comes to Defensive Duel win %. Although, once again, he does rank in the lower percentile of Duels per 90, highlighting a lack of volume.
Yoro also has much lower Defensive Actions, but this could be described as the CB having an excellent position. For example, as you will see below, van Dijk has exceptionally low Defensive Actions on the chart, likely because, in most cases, his positioning means he retrieves the ball before he even needs to compete in one.
The same similarities pop up when compared to van Dijk. They have similar Passes Completed and Forward Pass %, but the Dutchman is miles ahead regarding Progressive Passes and Carries.
In terms of being dominant in the air, the two are incredibly similar.
Is He the Right Fit?
In terms of availability and his ability to defend, Leny Yoro certainly fits the profile of a talented defender. However, this doesn’t mean he suits Liverpool alone.
His passing and aerial ability plot him near the current centre-backs at the club already. In fact, out of van Dijk and Konaté, he has the highest Aerial Duels Won %.
The volume of these metrics does pose a serious question. If he was involved in more duels, would his win % remain the same, or would it drop?
Either way, he is still only young, so even if the volumes are under what the Liverpool data department would typically expect, his age could prove a crucial factor. At just 18 years old, he has loads of time to improve and refine his game. If he was under the wing of someone like Virgil van Dijk, who knows how good he could become?
Whether they do make a move for Yoro remains to be seen. They will certainly have multiple names on their list, which includes Sporting’s Ousmane Diomande.