So, Fabio Borini is finally a Liverpool player and the Reds’ transfer window is now properly underway.
No sooner than the Italian forward formally dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, a whirlwind of speculation began to form on Twitter as fans became keen to get another player or ten through the door.
Two names were the most visible in that whirlwind: Joe Allen and Clint Dempsey. Dempsey, the versatile American forward currently of Fulham, seemed to split opinion. Allen, however, seemed to excite the majority of Liverpool fans based on his performances for Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea side last season.
After Rodgers arrived at Anfield, pretty much every media outlet in the country ran with the story that the former Swansea manager had a gentleman’s agreement with the Welsh club that he would not return to “raid” the team for any of his ex-pupils. Going by the latest reports, that agreement seems to have gone out of the window. For those of you that haven’t seen the aforementioned reports, apparently the score is that Brendan is very interested in the 22-year-old midfielder although Allen is reluctant to leave and Swansea are even more reluctant to sell but a £15m bid would probably be enough reason to do a deal.
Joe Allen is a fine young player and his performances last season matched those of his club as Swansea brought a breath of fresh air to the Premier League. But, should Liverpool be paying £15m for him? No.
Now before you close the page, leave an angry comment or give me abuse on Twitter, please hear me out.
Still here? Good.
Joe Allen reminds me of Jordan Henderson, albeit a smaller and slightly nippier version. Both players move the ball well, are economical in possession and possess a great engine. Last summer, Liverpool paid £16m for Jordan Henderson and were castigated for it. I think that Henderson is currently a better player than Allen, though obviously I might be slightly biased and I’ve seen more of the former. Both players are the same age and if you were to factor in the add-ons and other clauses, the fee for Allen would probably end up being very similar to the fee paid for Henderson. As I’ve said, both players are in the same mould as central midfielders who are perfect for Brendan Rodgers’ ideal style of play but with the other options we already currently have is it worth spending £15m on Allen?
Alberto Aquilani has returned from his loan spell in Italy and it looks like he might be staying too. Aquilani is also a similar player to Allen, although again I would say that the Italian is better than the Swansea man. Aquilani was signed from Roma in 2009 for £18m but for whatever reason, didn’t play much in his first season at Anfield and was shipped out on loan almost immediately after Roy Hodgson took over in 2010. He returned for the pre-season of 2011-12 but was loaned out again, this time by Kenny Dalglish. He impressed in both loan spells back in Serie A for both Juventus and then AC Milan, showing the quality he has as an important player for two of Europe’s biggest clubs. I imagine that if we bought Allen, either Aquilani or Charlie Adam would be sacrificed. If I had to put money on either, I’d say Aquilani would be the first one out because I doubt he’d be willing to sit on the bench. I’m assuming Allen will be a regular starter because of the fee Rodgers is reportedly willing to pay for him.
Aside from the huge fee we’d be paying for a player as inexperienced as Allen, another disadvantage would be that his signing would likely stall the progress of the talented young midfielders we already have at the club. Jordan Henderson is one that I’ve already mentioned but Jonjo Shelvey and Jesus “Suso” Fernandez shouldn’t be forgotten about either. Shelvey impressed in what limited appearances he made last season and deserves a lot more playing time this season. Suso has recently earned many an admirer for his performances in the Spanish Euro u-19s winning side this summer. With every young midfielder we sign, we are only going to continue to reduce the chances these two extremely talented youngsters will get to break into the first-team properly. Though these are two obvious choices when one makes this case, there are even more talented midfielders that have the potential to break into the first team set-up sooner rather than later. Look at Joao Teixeira, Conor Coady and Kristian Adorjan for example.
Of course, maybe the fee won’t be £15m as the media are reporting but why would Swansea sell for say £10m if neither the club nor Allen are especially open to the move? It’s not just the fee that I’m against though, as I’ve mentioned in this article. There are other things that would be a side-effect of this signing, such as needlessly spending money on areas in the team that don’t need improving as much as other areas. For example, the winger and forward department. The fact it would limit the progress of some of the talented reserve and u-18 players we have at our disposal makes me uneasy too, especially after the outstanding work that those involved with the club’s youth development have put in over the last few years.
It must be said though, that if we do sign Joe Allen, he will have my full backing regardless and he should have yours too. He is an exciting young player and Brendan Rodgers already knows him well so obviously trusts him enough to make the step-up to a massive club this early in his career.
What do you make of Joe Allen or Liverpool’s current midfield options? Please leave a comment below or tell me directly on Twitter @DanWRobinson.