When Liverpool accelerated their transfer plans and brought in Luis Diaz in January 2022, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was seen as a coup and a job well done as it thwarted Tottenham’s efforts to bring the Colombian to London.
The moment he stepped on the field for the Reds, you could tell it was a perfect match. He brought a confidence on the ball and to the attack that allowed Mo Salah and Sadio Mane to thrive even more than they already were.
When they were all fit and firing, the front 3 of Luis Diaz-Sadio Mane-Mo Salah was electric to watch as they challenged Premier League defenses on a weekly basis. The Colombian has boundless energy as he is always willing to run into any channel and can be constantly seen snapping at the heels of defenders.
His appetite for football is insatiable, which permeates throughout the club. It’s another energy level that is sorely missed whenever he is out injured. Unfortunately, this past season saw Diaz injured more than on the pitch.
In his absence, Liverpool brought in a pair of young potential stars in the form of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo. The mercurial Nunez showed flashes of brilliance, but struggled to settle on Merseyside.
Gakpo started off slow, but as the season hit its peak the Dutchman began finding his comfort in a false 9 role for Jurgen Klopp’s side. However, even now, most fans and pundits would still put the name Luis Diaz on the team sheet before either of them.
This summer, now healthy and representing his country, Diaz is making a transition that does hold some significance. He will be donning the famed No. 7 shirt for the Reds this coming year and those thereafter.
He is joining an illustrious group that includes Ian Callaghan, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Luis Suarez. That’s a lot of silverware and goals to live up to.
A look at the way he plays the game, it’s clear this pressure is not something Diaz will concern himself with. While he has a similar game to Suarez, they are not entirely the same player. The electric Uruguayan could finish inside a cupboard if it was required.
Diaz does not have this level to his game yet, but 11 goals and 6 assists in his brief Liverpool career to date, shows the ceiling could be there. His solo effort for a 10-man Liverpool where he dribbled 3 or 4 defenders on his own before unleashing a thunderbolt into the top corner shows the magic he can bring.
His tool bag in attack is well-stocked. His ball control is some of the best in the league. He has seemingly limitless stamina that allows him to run and run and run at ragged defenses. His confidence on the ball is clear as he is always looking to move things forward.
He can pick out a pass with the best of them as well. His vision is an underrated aspect of his game, even if it can still improve. At 26, he is already a very talented footballer as evidenced by his club performances and a return of 9 goals from 30 caps with Colombia.
He already sports the No. 7 for his national team, which is a huge deal. So, he is no stranger to the pressures that might come with it at club level.
Luis Diaz is not a finished product as a footballer just yet. If he can stay healthy, the ceiling for his game might be higher than originally thought. One thing that will never be questioned is his heart and determination.
A quick glance to the League Cup and FA Cup Final’s in 2022 where he might not have scored, but he was clearly one of the best players on the pitch in those silverware winning matches, was a telltale sign of what he brings to the team.
Liverpool and Colombia are better teams when he is on the pitch. He could just be scratching the surface of what he is truly capable of. His growth and chemistry alongside Nunez and Gakpo will be crucial to the Reds’ future. Could he step into a Mane role of goal scoring and chance creation to alleviate pressure on Mo and the rest of the attack? Of this, I have no doubt.
He will make the No. 7 jersey his from the very beginning. Hopefully, future No. 7’s at Liverpool will be compared to the scintillating Luis Diaz. It’s going to be one heck of a show watching it unfold.