WITH Joe Allen (virtually) confirmed as Liverpool’s second signing of the summer, his transfer to Anfield has been discussed and debated heavily by Reds fans.
From what I’ve seen and heard, the debate has been more about the fee than about Allen’s ability; he’s good, but is he worth £15m?
After Liverpool overpaid for British players last summer, Reds fans are wary of the club making the same mistake this summer and with good reason. We spent a lot of money last year and it goes without saying that we got a poor return for that outlay. The result was that our mistakes in the transfer market cost Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli their jobs.
But that does not mean we should abandon the idea of signing British player altogether; it merely means that the club needs to give more thought to the quality of the British players we are after and whether the fees required to sign them represent value for money. Allen showed last season that he is a talented midfielder and I’m sure Swansea are disappointed to be losing him. But the fact they allowed a £15m release clause in his contract shows that £15m is what he was worth to them.
A talented midfielder, Allen had one of the highest passing accuracy percentages last season – not just in the Premier League, but also in Europe. Since accurate passing is a key factor in Brendan Rodgers’ brand of football, it should come as no surprise that our new manager wants Allen at Anfield. After all, Allen was a more accurate passer of the ball last season than each and every member of the Liverpool squad. As whoscored.com pointed out, Allen was also one of the Premier League’s most frequent tacklers last year, behind only Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Dembele. With Allen, Lucas and Gerrard working together in midfield, not only will Liverpool improve our passing, we will also do a better job of winning the ball back when we do lose possession.
Allen’s greatest strengths are his passing and tackling; however he only scored four Premier League goals for Swansea last season and managed just two assists, so his attacking contribution is something the Welshman needs to improve on. After Liverpool’s poor chance conversation rate last season, the last thing we need is another player who struggles to find the back of the net. But Liverpool had no trouble scoring against Gomel on Thursday night, so let us hope that Rodgers has already got the team improving their shooting accuracy and that Allen can improve with the rest of the squad. Allen is also weak in the air, as you would expect from a footballer who is just 5’6″. However since Rodgers prefers his players to play the ball to feet, Allen’s lack of height will not hinder him at Liverpool.
There are other areas of the team that need strengthening – we have a poor selection of wingers and we need another left back to act as cover for Jose Enrique. So it will be interesting to see if Rodgers is allowed to spend more money or if instead he will have to secure the loan signings he mentioned as possibilities. This is another factor which makes a player’s “true” value difficult to gauge; the size of a club’s transfer budget determines how much the club is willing to pay for one player.
My personal opinion is that although Joe Allen is talented, he is not worth £15m. He is a worthy addition to the Liverpool squad, but the squad is far from ready to challenge for a place in the top four and Rodgers still has much to do before the transfer window closes.
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