Yasser Larouci is set to provide value in a COVID influenced market, littered with bargain-hunting clubs foraging far and wide for smart investment.
As expected, Larouci has turned down Liverpool’s latest contract offer thus becoming a free agent on June 31st.
Middling and lower clubs in Europe’s top five leagues will be hot on the tail of the left-back, who’s stock and talent are out of sync, giving a rare ample opportunity for investors to save millions on a young marauding fullback. Only nominal training compensation would be required in payment. A low-risk, smart pick-up.
The 20 year old winger-turned-fullback’s representatives had informed Michael Edwards as early as last Summer that Larouci would not be signing a new contract without a clear pathway for regular first-team football. Once tipped for an emphatic breakthrough, Larouci featured only twice for Liverpool U23s this season.
Unclear whether a lack of opportunity was the product of a breakdown in contract negotiations, the arrival of Kostas Tsimikas has further cluttered Larouci’s pathway, meanwhile Owen Beck firmly grasped any opportunities given this season with both hands – now a frequent trainer with Jurgen Klopp’s first team.
An original contract offer of five years in length was tabled, signalling how well the club valued Larouci. In 2021, it is largely suggested the latest offer is to ensure Liverpool are able to capitalise on future training compensation fees that could be obtained once any transfer fees are accumulated.
DE JA VU – The Liverpool Journey
Larouci’s inevitable departure eerily mirrors his Merseyside arrival. Hailing from the famous Le Havre academy, a conveyor belt of premium talent, the Algerian-born fullback joined Liverpool of the back of a contract dispute with the French outfit.
With a cluster of clubs interested, Larouci’s refusal to sign a contract ensured he could take his pick of interested clubs – which would include Manchester United. An impressive trial with Southampton in December of 2016 would further heighten a growing reputation.
Liverpool were the eventual chosen destination, although his arrival brought complexities.
International clearance meant that only friendlies could be played up until November – unideal circumstances for all parties. But it did not take long for him to settle himself into The Young Reds’ side playing as a winger under Steven Gerrard for Liverpool U18s – a starring role at that.
The catalyst in development that lead to a surge in reputation came as Barry Lewtas became Liverpool U18 manager the following season, with Lewtas’ tutelage tasked with overseeing Larouci’s transition from left-winger to left-back.
The reports were glowing. A further season of progression, this time flanking the defence, saw Larouci’s direct, robust style catch the eye of Jurgen Klopp in a season that brought silverware. Alongside the likes of now first-team players such as Neco Williams and Rhys Williams, Liverpool ran out as winners of the prestigious FA Youth Cup in 2019. On a platform with varying stages of player development, Larouci quickly appeared to be outgrowing it.
Yasser, our left-back played against one of the biggest talents in world football and did really well – Jurgen KloppSpeaking after Liverpool played Borussia Dortmund in 2019 with Larouci up against Jadon Sancho
The decision was made to include Larouci in Liverpool’s pre-season tour, in which he impressed to the extent that fans would call for him to become Liverpool’s clear back up left-back. This was perhaps amplified by the deteriorating fan perception of then-competition Alberto Moreno. His robust forward-thinking style is certainly one that appeals to fans, being difficult to stop in full throttle.
Unfortunately for Yasser, after impressing in all four of Liverpool’s prior pre-season games including a game against Borussia Dortmund, momentum stalled as pre-season curtailed after he was on the receiving end of horror tackle from Seville’s Joris Gnagnon. A straight red-card. The Algerian was subsequently stretchered off the pitch.
In what is bittersweet, Larouci never achieved such a level of consistency nor opportunity again. Two appearances the following season, both in the FA Cup against lesser opposition in Everton and Shrewsbury, tells the entire story of Larouci’s first-team outings.
Alleged rumours began to surface regarding a desire to leave for first team football which conspicuously aligns with a season of sparse football. Two appearances for Liverpool U23s for the entirety of the 2020/21 season.
What next for Yasser Larouci?
It has not gone as Liverpool and Larouci had planned.
The Summer of 2020 saw links to Leeds and Brentford emerge which appear to be doing the rounds again as an exit draws closer. He would represent a smart pick up for a Ligue Un side on a budget, allowing Larouci to flourish in a league that is fantastic for individual development.
What can fans expect?
Larouci plays like a former winger converted into a fullback. In a good way.
Always looking to attack at every opportunity possible, Larouci looks to play on the front foot with his aggressive style and tendencies. In his brief appearances thus far, he has not looked out of place when dealing with the intensity and physicality of senior football. While comfortable receiving the ball high and wide on the pitch, it is perhaps a smidgeon deeper he is best utilised wherein he can draw out his man and burst past them using the pace he blessed with.
On the ball, when deeper, he immediately looks to play in the striker who is peeling into the left channel by either aiming down the corridor between left-back and centre-back or the outside of the fullback having him run back towards his own goal. When high up the pitch he will look to start a one-two at a standstill pace, looking to catch a defender flatfooted before bursting past with blistering pace.
He is a forward thinking full back who is clever going forward in his combination play. His left foot is good enough, but he is so evidently reluctant to use his right foot, his angles are visually limited and a tad predictable which leads to awkward situations. He has outstanding physical attributes.
With the right coaching and tactical refinement, Yasser Larouci could prove to be a gem for a number of European football clubs.