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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Final Whistle: Luis Díaz, welcome to Anfield

Graphic by Aliza Kibel

South America’s latest export to the Premier League is Liverpool’s Luis Díaz. The Colombian joins the Reds on a 5 ½ year deal for upwards of 37 million euros from F.C Porto. In his year and a half in Portugal, Díaz won the Primeira Liga and Taça de Portugal, two of the nation's biggest club honors. His 14 goals in the first half of the 2021–22 season still have him ranked second in the Portuguese league, in spite of being gone for weeks. In addition to impactful performances against Manchester City and A.C Milan in the Champions League, Díaz’s strongest display came during the 2021 Copa America. Colombia finished third behind heavyweights Argentina and Brazil as Díaz ended the tournament as joint-top-scorer alongside none other than Lionel Messi.

Díaz will wear the No. 23 shirt for Liverpool — its previous owners including the likes of Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, both club legends. As a player, Díaz is a versatile left-winger renowned for his pace and acceleration which combine well with his direct style of play. Often taking minimal touches before threading a key pass or beating opposition fullbacks for pace, Díaz will provide good competition for Sadio Mané toward the latter stages of the season. Liverpool is currently trailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by six points with a game in hand and should comfortably see out Inter Milan after a 2–0 victory in the first leg of the UCL round of 16.

From his debut against Cardiff, fans witnessed Díaz’s composure and relentless pressing ability as he set up Takumi Minamino for Liverpool’s second goal in the FA Cup fourth round. His PL debut against Leicester City was described by Jurgen Klopp as one of the best he’s ever seen. At times, Díaz dropped deep alongside Fábio Tavares and Thiago Alcântara to start attacking moves, usually drifting to the left and linking up with Curtis Jones as Andrew Robertson overlapped. 

Although not physically imposing, Díaz uses this to this advantage, surprising defenders with his strength on the ball and subtle body faints. Fans are surprised by how easily Díaz has fit Liverpool’s style, commending his tactical maturity. Liverpool’s new sporting director Julian Ward is credited with securing Díaz’s signing, choosing to sign the youngster in January rather than waiting for the summer amidst growing interest from Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Ward takes over from Michael Edwards who laid the groundwork for Klopp’s dominance in the last few seasons, signing Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Mohamed Salah, to name a few. 

Standing tall at 5’10”, Díaz reminds me of a mix of Ángel Di María and Kaká, and I could see him taking up a more central role in attack. His movements between defensive midfielders and centerbacks create space for direct passes from the midfield, evident in his goal against Norwich City as he slowly tucked in behind centerback Ben Gibson, dragging fullback Brandon Williams with him as he suddenly broke away to receive a diagonal ball from Jordan Henderson. Díaz’s ability to break defensive lines and open channels are valuable traits for Liverpool. In just a few games, Díaz has impressed many and seems to be a star in the making.