At the beginning of last season Liverpool announced the signing of Moroccan international Oussama Assaidi from Dutch side SC Heerenveen. The winger had just had a brilliant campaign in Holland the season before but despite this was relatively unknown amongst Liverpool fans. This lack of a big-name reputation, coupled with a paltry price tag, meant that most fans were underwhelmed with Brendan Rodgers’ new signing but the manager was quick to emphasise that he was an “exciting player.”
With a whopping return of four league appearances the whole of last season, though, we got to see very little of our exciting new player. In fact, Assaidi’s appearances for the first-team were so few and far between that the sound of his name being called out over the loud speaker on match day was always met with a sarcastic, comical sort of applause and a host of entertaining jokes across social media networks.
His loan move to Stoke this season came then as very little surprise in the end with everyone realizing the importance of him getting regular first-team football away from Liverpool. Truthfully, though, it was generally accepted that the loan move was nothing more than a delay to the end of a futureless career at Anfield for Assaidi.
Admittedly, I was part of this majority that simply wrote the mysterious Assaidi off without having given him the chance to prove himself. Unsurprisingly, it seems that I have been proven wrong (not for the first time) about Assaidi as the Liverpool loanee has hit a rich vein of form, and in the process has proven himself to be the dynamic edge in a Stoke side more suited for Rugby. The winger has shown that he possesses a full package of explosive pace and skillful technique, coupled with the goal scoring ability to produce a fine end product. What makes this more impressive is that the pacey Moroccan has displayed his best performances against some of the league’s top competitors, including the likes of Chelsea and Everton – much to Liverpool’s benefit I might add.
Assaidi is playing some great football at the moment and is undoubtedly on top of his game for Stoke, but question marks remain as to whether he has a long-term future at parent club Liverpool. Our wide attacking options (especially down the left) have proven to be a bit of a concern this season as we have lacked players who are able to bring impetus into our attacks. Providing impetus is exactly what Assaidi has been doing this season for Stoke and with his pace, trickery and trademark finish from the ‘Del Piero’ zone he could well become an important fixture in the Liverpool squad next season.
From a personal point of view, I would love to see Assaidi make a name for himself at Liverpool. With the past as a reference and the possibility of new signings around every corner, though, there is a great chance that it might not happen. But, if he does make the cut, us fans have a lot to look forward to, because quite simply (as Rodgers said) he is a very exciting player.
Until then though, Stoke had better make good use of their rocket on loan from Liverpool.
Liam Bekker – @BekkersBlog