14 Nov 2016

Legend confirms: Liverpool rejected the chance to sign 'outstanding' €25m powerhouse because of 'poor stats'

Liverpool legend Gary Gillespie has revealed that Liverpool rejected the chance to sign one of Spurs' top players.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Gillespie mused:

"I had a conversation with an ex-Liverpool manager about Dembele, and I said: 'why don't you sign him?'. He said: 'his stats are poor, he doesn't create enough goals, doesn't score enough goals'".

Liverpool were regularly linked with Dembele during Kenny Dalglish's second spell in charge, and given the fact Gillespie is close to Dalglish (fellow Scot; friends off the pitch; played in his team during the '80s), I suspect that Dalglish is the manager in question.

In my view, Liverpool were right to hold fast on Dembele, and I made the same stats argument back in March 2013, when John Aldridge insisted that Dembele would be a 'fantastic signing for LFC'. At the time, I argued:

"Dembele is a quality player with good technique, physical presence, and passing ability. However, his end product is extremely poor, and the last thing the Reds need is another midfielder who doesn't consistently score/create goals".

Dembele's career stats at Spurs:

* 9 goals/10 assists in 166 games

* Goal every 1200 mins. G/A every 570 mins.

Dembele's position has changed somewhat over the last couple of years, but that was by necessity rather than design. When a box-to-box midfielder simply cannot score/create goals on a regular basis, the solution is drop deeper, and player more of a holding role, where the pressure to contribute (in attack) is lessened.

On a related note: I always find it amusing when Liverpool fans vehemently insist that stats are irrelevant, misleading, and unimportant (unless, of course, the stats support their argument, then they're suddenly inalienable, and the greatest analytical tool ever conceived).

As Gillespie's comment proves yet again, stats are vital, especially when it comes to the decision-making process for managers. Whether fans like it or not, stats are one of the most important factors in football analysis, and every top club uses a whole range of stats on a daily basis to track performance, recovery, and fitness.

Next to objective stats, individual perception is flawed, and ultimately irrelevant.

* Hailed by Mark Hughes as an 'outstanding talent'.


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