It was late in the demolition of Lazio by Napoli at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona when Fabián Ruiz received a assist from Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

Ruiz, about 25 yards from the goal, made several touches before stepping up a gear. He ran to the outskirts of the box, before sending a curling, diving shot that crashed into the bottom corner of Pepe Reina’s goal. It was the icing on the cake of a superb performance from Napoli, in memory of their greatest player. Ruiz’s goal made it 4-0 and the game was well and truly over.

Ruiz has returned to his best level this season under new coach Luciano Spalletti. The Spaniard signed for Napoli in the summer of 2018 from Real Betis, when he was somewhat of an unknown quantity in Serie A.

Napoli have paid their € 30million (£ 25million) buyout to bring Ruiz to Italy, and it’s fair to say that his fees are more than justified. Ruiz has already tied his best season in terms of goals this season, scoring five goals per game in his first Serie A season. According to Transfermarkt, his value has risen to £ 40.5million.

Ruiz regained his mojo under Spalletti after a few seasons in which it looked like the 25-year-old was going through the moves. Since arriving in Napoli, Ruiz has generally been the one to set the pace, receiving the ball deep and extending it to the wings or pushing it further forward towards Piotr Zieliński, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Victor Osimhen. . .

Under Spalletti’s predecessor, Gennaro Gattuso, Ruiz’s numbers declined. Last season he scored three goals and provided just one assist, his least productive campaign in terms of performance at the southern Italian club. It’s hard to understand why, given he held the same position, but his comeback in form could be due to the arrival on loan of André-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham. Anguissa’s characteristics – dynamism, power and ability to dribble – harmonize perfectly with Ruiz’s more ethereal and methodical approach.

The end result has been a rejuvenation of Ruiz over the past three months.

Now Spain’s Fichajes outlet is speculating Liverpool are showing interest in taking Ruiz to Anfield.

Ruiz’s contract with Napoli has been going on for 18 months and talks about a new deal have proved fruitless. He had been heavily linked with a move to one of Spain’s two giants in the summer of 2020, but the two lacked the financial means to keep him away from Naples. Moreover, his poor form last season was hardly going to convince Barcelona or Real Madrid to hand over money they didn’t have for him.

Would it suit Liverpool, however?

It’s hard to call. In terms of ability on the ball, he’s clearly more than enough to play for Liverpool. When the two teams met in the 2019/20 Champions League group stage, he dominated the opener in Napoli, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he would thrive in Jürgen Klopp’s system.

Ruiz lacks rhythm. In fact, he is undoubtedly slower than Thiago Alcântara. Many doubted, and still doubt, that Thiago is a good candidate for Liverpool and Klopp’s tactics. Ruiz would inevitably slow down the game even more, even from a deep midfield position.

Playing Ruiz on either side of Fabinho wouldn’t really work either, as he tends to do his best in the midfield center base. Ruiz could work in a double pivot, but Klopp doesn’t use one.

Like Thiago signing, Ruiz would offer an alternative approach to Klopp, something different for the opposition to consider. But having Thiago and Ruiz at the club at the same time doesn’t make sense. A move for Ruiz is only likely to happen if Thiago aspires to a Barca return and leaves next summer.

But if Thiago stays, Liverpool would have to look to other players for the midfield, despite Ruiz’s unmistakable quality.

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