Last night (24th July), Goal.com reported that Liverpool had struck a £13.5M deal with Swansea for 22-year old Welshman Joe Allen. At first, many, including me, were quick to knee-jerk and criticise Liverpool for, yet again, ‘overpaying’ for a player simply because of his status as a player from the UK- but after some thought, you can see the reasoning behind the move. Allen will slot in nicely alongside Lucas Leiva and Gerrard in the heart of Liverpool’s proposed 5-man midfield, providing a very dynamic and varied central trio the immense defensive capabilities of Lucas, the dynamic, hard-working, ‘tough-as-nails’ demeanour of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, and then there’s Allen, a young, composed and creative midfielder who oozes class and has bundles of potential. He’s currently at the Olympics with Team GB, and will look to impress with all eyes expectantly fixed on him.
Statistically speaking, other than his aerial ability which is beyond his control, he is only 5ft 6, after all! Allen has no glaring faults. In fact, he is shown to be a pretty nippy little all-rounder. Averaging 3.1 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game, he is deceptively capable defensively, in fact, he is 7th best in the league at regaining possession doing so, on average, every 11.2 minutes. Couple this with his 60.5 passes per game 11th highest in the league and you’re on to a winner. Last season, he created 46 chances but only got 2 assists; this is in no small part down to Swansea’s poor finishing with the team as a whole having a measly 12.2% chance conversion rate -and lack of a top-drawer striker. This, however, will most certainly not be helped by supposed future teammate Luis Suárez’s poor finishing, actually, Liverpool have an even worse rate, converting only 9.2% of their chances in to goals; but criticising Liverpool’s strikers is another story, eh?
So, after all that, what’s the conclusion? I’ll leave you with this- I do believe that, for instant impact, there are better options for £13.5M. For example, last season, Yohan Cabaye joined Newcastle for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £4.3M, Arturo Vidal joined Juventus for around £9M, Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal for £10M and legendary Italian midfielder joined Juve for… nothing. I firmly believe that, if Liverpool truly want to push forward, they need to reduce the amount they buy domestically and start buying from other top European leagues, from which many top players would jump at the opportunity to join a Premier League club. This season, long-term Arsenal target Marvin Martin was available for just £8M, he was quickly snapped up by French giants Lille.
However, I’m a huge fan of Joe Allen and his style of play. He’s good, he’s really good, but a lot of people may say “he’s not £13.5M good” (I did earlier), but when you consider the current football climate, the massively inflated transfer fees being thrown around these days for British players and the fact that he was one of Swansea’s key figures, I believe that, in the coming years, he will show why Rodgers has paid the 8-figure fee to take him to Anfield.
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