LIVERPOOL have been linked with Joe Allen for a while now.
Rated as one of the Premier League’s brightest prospects, the Swansea City player was a key part of Brendan Rodgers’ side last season, and it is logical for the Reds new boss to take an interest in bringing him to Anfield.
According to The Mirror, Rodgers is believed to have approached his former club for the services of the Welshman, who is currently on duty for Team GB, with a bid in the region of £12million.
The question remains however, with the number of players the Reds already have in the midfield area, should they?
No, not this summer at least. And my reasoning is down to one key aspect – money.
Allen is currently part of the Great Britain squad going for gold at the Olympic Games. If he is able to replicate his club performances at the Games, his price will rocket further. Swansea are talking about driving a hard bargain, and it could be one which does not result well for Liverpool’s bank balance.
It is the legacy of Liverpool’s disastrous buy-British policy from last year; if Sunderland received £20 million for Jordan Henderson, a player at a similar stage of his career, Swansea are entitled to expect a similar sum. That’s the kind of money that Reds do not have right now. After the failure of most of last season’s acquisitions, FSG has made it clear that they will not be spending a huge sum of money this transfer season.
Swansea on the other hand, have made it clear that it would take minimum £15 million to part with their prized asset. That begs the question of financials. Is Joe Allen worth a £15 million transfer fee? In my opinion, he is not. But he is easily worth a £10 million transfer fee and his potential gives him the ability to live up to the £12 million transfer fee. However, in my opinion £15 million is just a bit too much for a player who has had only one good season in Premier League.
If Swansea are determined on their valuation of £15 million plus for Allen, then it’ll be wise from Liverpool to walk away, for now at least. Liverpool have already overpaid for Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson last season and they should not make the same mistake again this season.
You have to ask; will his price go up in 12 months from what it is now? With Swansea facing the potentially troublesome ‘second-season syndrome’ factor, Allen also may face difficulties in pushing on. Even if he has a better season than last year, it is hard to believe his price tag a year from now will have moved upwards from £15 million. And if he does get better than this, then paying £15 million should not be a problem for the Reds, for a player who is a proven talent and a consistent performer in the Premier League.
Do Liverpool need him?
The Welsh international had an excellent first season in the top flight and earned rave reviews as Swansea finished a very respectable mid table. A diminutive, ball-winning midfielder, Allen also has an eye for the pass and fits in perfectly to the passing style that Rodgers will no doubt implement at Anfield this coming season.
Technically gifted, Allen would work well alongside the defensive qualities of Lucas Leiva and the attacking abilities of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard.
However do Liverpool need to make a move to sign him now? Do Liverpool really need another midfielder now?
This is another key question. Rodgers is likely to utilise a three-man midfield, and two of the positions are automatic picks, Steven Gerrard and Lucas. For the remaining third position, Rodgers already has Charlie Adam, Alberto Aquilani, Joe Cole, Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing, Jordan Henderson and, maybe Suso at his disposal.
Brendan Rodgers has expressed his desire to work with Jordan Henderson, who still has bags of potential but yet to flourish into a top midfielder, and Jonjo Shelvey, who is clearly talented enough to compete for the spot.
Charlie Adam appears to be on his way out of the club, possibly as part of a swap deal with Clint Dempsey, but if he does stay, he will be pushing for first team action too and he is more than capable of doing that so.
Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani have also returned from their loan spells, and according to Rodgers they will be given their chances to prove themselves. And these two players do not only posses the creativity and versatility but they also have the experience of playing for a big club. In my opinion if they are given chances, which they deserve, they will fit into Rodgers’ playing style in no time. This means there is a very little room for Allen.
The highly rated and clearly talented Spaniard, Fernandez Suso is perhaps Liverpool’s brightest midfield prospect, and Allen’s arrival would potentially block his path to the first team too.
All in all, Liverpool are reasonably well stocked in centre midfield, with Jay Spearing offering cover too, and there is no urgency for Allen to be signed. Brendan Rodgers really needs to give players like Shelvey and Henderson competitive game time and judge them on that before electing to sign Allen. If they fail to convince this season, then perhaps the boss should take a second look at him next summer. If he is dead set on signing a new midfielder, Allen is hardly the only midfielder available. Rodgers has the whole world to scout for players, and could snap up a bargain for half the price (Rasmus Elm springs to mind).
Allen himself might feel Liverpool is a jump too soon in his career. He has seen Henderson struggle to acclimatize, and at 22 years of age, has plenty of time to work on his game. It would be wise for him to remain at Swansea for another season under new coach Michael Laudrup, which could be a good experience for him.
Liverpool on the other hand, should focus on what they do have available in the centre, and work on getting the best out of it. That at least is preferable to dramatically overpaying on a young Brit who still has a lot to prove at the top level.
Joe Allen, however, is one of the top young midfielders available on the transfer market right now (for a price). He is able to run both an offense and a defense as an all around midfielder. Every team would want a guy that could be their long term option as a leader and key cog in the attack like Joe Allen. His all around ability to lead both an offense and a defense makes him a top young prospect as a midfielder. Having said that, he however, still needs time to develop into a world class midfielder.
Next summer, if he continues his development, and Liverpool and Rodgers have a clearer direction, then will be a wiser time to consider a move.
Thanks a lot for reading. Opinions and suggestions are always welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter @LEONGUI7E