Yukinari Sugawara transfer latest: Could he join Endo at Anfield?

With Arne Slot's reign at Anfield just around the corner, the Reds could be on the lookout for yet more Eredivisie talent to join their ranks. A Yukinari Sugawara transfer to Merseyside could be the ideal answer.

The Japanese right-back currently plys his trade with AZ Alkmaar, and could link up with international teammate Wataru Endo in a prospective move to Anfield.

The Reds will likely face competition from very close to home though, with local rivals Everton also watching the right-back closely, as well as from Internazionale, Brighton and Wolfsburg.

A Yukinari Sugawara transfer looks inevitable after another impressive season
A Yukinari Sugawara transfer looks inevitable after another impressive season – Photo by Icon Sport

Yukinari Sugawara transfer: a man who can Slot straight in

Sugawara is only 23, but this season marks his fifth campaign in Europe.

Making his debut at 17 for Nagoya Grampus, the Japanese club once managed by Arsene Wenger, Sugawara’s talent was swiftly recognised by AZ Alkmaar, and they persuaded the young man to come to the Netherlands.

It is a career path not dissimilar to Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, who joined Sint-Truiden in Belgium as a teenager.

After a season of development in the club’s Jong AZ side, then-manager Arne Slot liked what he saw, and made Sugawara a first team staple.

Arne Slot managed Sugawara at AZ Alkmaar – Photo by Icon Sport

A big plus of Sugawara’s experience under Slot means that he would take less time to adapt to life at Liverpool, and the new manager’s methods, than other players might.

He is not the only former Slot player to have been linked, with Teun Koopmeiners also a target.

Sugawara has gone from strength to strength, particularly in attacking areas, providing an incredible 24 goals and assists in the last two seasons.

What’s more, Sugawara, according to Sky reporter Florian Plettenburg, only has a price tag of €6m, making him a very low-risk move.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has missed a lot of 2024 – Photo by Icon Sport

Yukinari Sugawara transfer: does he have a place at Liverpool?

It is unlikely Sugawara would displace Liverpool’s incumbent first choice right-back in Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The 25-year-old possesses one of the finest right feet in football, and has contributed a staggering 27 goals and assists in the last two seasons. He is a truly world class player.

But Alexander-Arnold has shown some physical frailties this season, and has missed 16 matches in 2024 as he struggles with ligament damage.

Sugawara would provide excellent quality cover, and offers a very similar profile, even providing set-piece threat like the Englishman, with 0.8 shot-creating actions per game from set-pieces.

At just €6m, Sugawara would be a snip for any side, and in Liverpool’s case, could allow them to prioritise other areas of the pitch.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.