Why Liverpool and Spurs are in love with Itakura.

Ko Itakura Liverpool

Ko Itakura is receiving transfer links to clubs such as Liverpool, and Tottenham, but why? The Japanese defender is already 26 but seems ready for the step back into the Premier League. See how Itakura is actually one of the most versatile defensive options in the market this winter. 

Ko Itakura's History

Ko Itakura was born (January 27, 1997) in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan., which makes him 26 already. The 1.88m (6’1) defender has experience playing both center-back and defensive midfielder. 

He currently plays for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, where fellow teammate Manu Kone also plays. 

His value rated by Transfermarkt is ~ $16m, which means he is a great bargain signing for whoever gets him.

Ko Itakura's background stats
Ko Itakura's transfer History

Itakura may be rumored to join Liverpool but he was a Manchester City player in the past! He played in youth squads in Japan until he was 18 before joining Kawasaki Front. for three years.

It was there where he started thriving which got him a $1m move to Manchester City in 2018. He spent the next four years on loan at FC Groningen and FC Schalke 04 before joining Gladbach for $5m. 

Itakura's Style of Play

In terms of where Itakura plays on the field, this season he has been mainly deputized at center back. He spent much of last season playing at defensive midfield, but he puts in a good performance regardless.

He is a strong tackler of the ball and will make an attacker’s day miserable with constant attempts at the ball. Additionally, I am in awe of the passion he plays with even just winning a tackle. 

Great Defensive Capabilities

If we take a look at how he ranks compared to other center-backs in the top 5 leagues, you can see why the interest is deserved. His block percentiles prove his nose for sniffing out danger. 

According to Fbref, he has 1.86 blocks per 90 (93rd percentile), 1.07 passes blocked (92nd percentile), and .79 passes blocked (85th percentile). 

These along are super impressive, and when you watch his game you can see the nature of his blocks are technical. He knows exactly what he’s doing which is also why he rarely makes mistakes.

Itakura defense

Comfortable on the ball

In order to understand why he has no real position, you have to understand how good he is on the ball. 

Itakura is super safe on the ball with some elite passing accuracy in short to medium-length passes. He’s facilitating play from wherever he is on the field with fantastic precision. 

The one negative I have to point out is his lack of progressive play, especially compared to other center-backs. He may find himself further up than most, but isn’t playing the ball forward still.

It may be a tactical decision, but it’s one that an elite club would need to change if they signed him. Take a look at Japanese teammate Wataru Endo at Liverpool, and how he has adopted so many progressive passes forward. 

Which Itakura does Liverpool want?

Last season Itakura played a defensive midfield role which is why we see a sharp decrease in on the ball actions, and the opposite reaction in defensive actions. 

It goes to show how versatile a player he truly is, with both of these representing seasons one year apart. 

Itakura and Liverpool/Spurs would require him to fill in the gaps whether that be in rotation, or for an emergency. He’s got the skillset he needs to do that comfortably. 

Last Thoughts

Ko Itakura is of the older age profile that I usually write about, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. I got to research a player who has seemingly been putting in work his whole career, with the fruition near and here. Whether he ends up making a winter move or not, make sure you watch Japan at the Asian games to get a longer look at him!

Thank you for reading, do you think Liverpool will sign him this window? 

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