When Damien Plessis joined Liverpool from Lyon in the summer of 2007, there was optimism that the young French midfielder would make a quick progression from reserve team action to first team football. Two and half years later though, and Plessis still finds himself on the fringes of the first team at the age of 22. With Lucas Leiva ahead of him in the pecking order, the likelihood of the defensive midfielder breaking through into the starting eleven seems very unlikely.
Plessis hasn’t really progressed as much as the coaching staff would have liked since his move from Lyon. Rafa Benitez was optimistic on the player’s arrival at the club that he would quickly progress from the reserves to first team action. Plessis had all the pedigree to achieve at the top level; he had been an integral part of the France team which reached the semi-finals of the 2007 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship along with David Ngog. His move to Liverpool was seen as a good stepping stone towards a very bright future in the professional game, and his first year at the club had a lot of promise. During the 2007/08 season, he played an important role in central midfield as Gary Ablett’s reserves won the Reserve League title. Such performances were rewarded with first team action and Plessis was surprisingly selected to play against Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates in April 2008. Benitez praised the young Frenchman’s performance after the match:
“Today was the debut for Damien Plessis. We knew when we signed him that he was a good player. He’s played really well for the reserves, and to play as well as he did today in this stadium, it shows we are going in the right direction.”
A strong, tall defensive midfielder, it was hoped Plessis could push on from his good debut to develop other aspects of his game but the Frenchman has sadly not progressed since then. He was given the number 28 shirt for the start of the 2008/09 season and began the campaign very promisingly. He played in the Champions League qualifying round versus Standard Liege, started his first Premier League game against Sunderland before starting also in the Carling Cup against Crewe in October 2008. He scored his first senior goal against Tottenham in the Carling Cup in November of the same year but his appearances have dried up since then. He has in total played 8 senior games for the club, but he hasn’t featured in a Premier League game this season. He still plays regularly for the reserves but his development as a player has come to a stand still.
His style of play has always been pretty laid back but he certainly does take too much time on the ball. He also is not the most mobile of players at 6ft 4in tall and his tackling is not at the standard required for a defensive midfielder. His positional play is not of the highest quality either, and all of this made it all the more surprising when Rafa Benitez gave the 22 year old a contract extension back in October that keeps him at the club until 2012. Despite the new contract though, it is unlikely that Plessis will be at the club much longer. Even back in January, just a few months after signing a new contract, when Lazio were interested in the player, Benitez was keen on making a deal for the player:
“Plessis is a young player who isn’t playing games. We were considering a loan but we’re talking to the player and his agent. We had an Italian team asking about him and we’ll see if we can find a solution that is best for him and for us.”
Despite his strength, height and good left foot, Plessis’s abilities are probably not good enough for the Premier League and Liverpool will surely look to offload the player in the near future.
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