“Joe Allen is a Welsh Xavi” – Brendan Rodgers
In his short time at Liverpool so far, manager Brendan Rodgers has gotten very little wrong with his dealings in the transfer market. His gamble on Daniel Sturridge and choice of Coutinho over the much bigger name of Wesley Sneijder have both proven to be strokes of genius while the signing of veteran Kolo Touré has filled the void left by Jamie Carragher near perfectly. These signings have given Liverpool fans a sense that each signing he makes is one that elevates the club to a higher level but, as with all things, there is an exception. In this case that exception is Joe Allen.
From the get-go things were against Allen as many felt he was far from worth the £15 million the club paid for him. His first few performances were decent enough though with the Welsh international even putting in a man of the match performance against City (in only his second game for the club). But, soon after, things turned south with a string of poor performances. This prompted a deluge of criticism from Liverpool fans, pointing out that having worked with Rodgers before at Swansea, the midfielder was getting preferential treatment over players who may have deserved a start more.
It could be said that Rodgers himself contributed to the sense of disappointment in Allen by labelling him as a Welsh Xavi – a comment that would place the highest of expectations on any player. It is this expectation which I believe to have been the downfall of a player who is clearly talented, but who has buckled under the intense pressure of playing for Liverpool.
For most, the knee-jerk reaction to Allen’s form would be (and has been) to call for his departure from the club as soon as possible. And I agree, kind of.
By selling Joe Allen we could probably sign a better player in the position but, in the process, the club would lose a young player who potentially has a big future ahead of him and on top of that, would likely incur huge losses on the fee paid for him. My solution then is a loan – hear me out.
The Welshman came to Anfield having made a name for himself as something of a pass master (hence the Xavi comparison) but has shown very little ability at Liverpool to do so in an attacking manner. Added to this, he was signed as a specialist in possession football but has quite literally had the opposite effect on our midfield.
At 23 years of age Joe Allen is nearing his prime and really shouldn’t be needing a loan to reach it. Chances are he himself would never even consider it. But, because of the reputation he has built for himself amongst Liverpool fans he is constantly playing under a pressure which is clearly weighing him down.
By moving to a smaller team, Allen would be allowed to express himself and develop a confidence in own game free from the pressures he faces at the moment. He is the type of player who loves to dictate play and has perhaps been intimidated by the legendary Steven Gerrard alongside him who for so many years has pulled the strings in midfield. A loan would see him become a the puppet master in a team once more – an experience which will not only make him a better player but one which will give him back the confidence he showed while at Swansea. And that is the key. Confidence is the key.
Allen has all the ability to go on and reach the lofty heights expected of him (most likely short of being Xavi though) and could potentially prove to be vital component in the centre of Liverpool’s midfield in years to come. However, that all depends on how Brendan Rodgers manages his confidence and for how long he is willing to show faith in him.
The sad truth I feel, is that time is running on Joe Allen to turn things around at Liverpool and the sitter he missed in the Merseyside Derby will not have helped his cause. The January market is approaching and provided we can sign a player to fill his spot I would be very pleased to see Joe Allen make a loan move until the end of the season – perhaps to familiar surroundings in Swansea.
The potential benefits of such loan are endless. A perfect example of this can be found in Tottenham’s Andros Townsend whose loan to QPR last season ignited the spark in his stalling career. Townsend is now one of the hottest names in England and if all goes to plan, Allen might follow suit.
For his sake, I hope so.
Liam Bekker – @BekkersBlog