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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Liverpool’s Midfield Conundrum - Who Will Drop to the Bench?

After one of the longest drawn out transfer sagas in recent memory, Liverpool finally managed to sign their long term target Charlie Adam from Championship side Blackpool. It has been a relentless pursuit from the Merseysiders for the now former Tangerine midfielder and captain, an odyssey that began way back in January.

The deal is believed to be worth around £8.5million, an amount that is relatively fair considering that Pool has already splashed out £16million on the less fancied Jordan Henderson from Sunderland. For Kenny Dalglish, the summer might just have officially begun considering that names like wingers Juan Mata of Valencia and Aston Villa’s Stewart Downing, left-backs Jose Enrique and Aly Cissokho from Newcastle and Lyon in that order, Monaco midfielder Park Chu-Young and Birmingham centre-half Scott Dann are all being linked with the club.

And while wingers and left-backs are needed at L4 like retirement benefits at Old Trafford, the midfield position, central midfield to be precise, looks to be sagging in quantity and quality. The acquisition of Charlie Adam adds up to a total of nine players who can all pass and move as it is required at Anfield, albeit there are some who can do it better than others. A nagging groin injury to the irreplaceable ‘Captain Fantastic’ Steven Gerard saw the likes of Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey (one hell of player for the future IMHO) get a run in the team and impress.

Then there is Raul Meireles, last season’s PFA Player of the Year and his counterpart Lucas Leiva, Liverpool’s player of season 2010-11. Others include the returning Alberto ‘Aquaman’ Aquilani, of course Jordan Henderson and… and… who? Oh, Christian Poulsen!

These are, for all intents and purposes, players of exceptional class. The 3 Js, Jordan, Jay and Jonjo are still very young and should be content with playing a bit part in the team. Jordan looks the more likely to get a game ahead of his J compatriots, thanks to his big money move and some quality that the Kops are yet to but should see when the season starts on Saturday 13 August.

Christian Poulsen is the clearest definition of the word deadwood. He should not have been invited for a medical at Melwood but since he was, he should have failed it. In short, he has no future at Anfield.

The biggest headache lies in wait with Aquilani and Meireles. Aquaman was loaned out to Juventus last season at a time when Liverpool needed his kind of creativity in midfield. At times, it looked like the Old Lady were going to make the loan move permanent after the Italian showed consistent flashes of brilliance in the midfield. However, the interest waned as they refused to meet Liverpool’s valuation of the Rafa Benitez acquisition. He’s back now and should he stay at the club and make fitness and form as long as his hair, he would be like a new signing, if he squeezes into the team that is.

Rumours in the past two weeks pointed towards Meireles exit. Although they have cooled down now, the Portuguese might still leave the club to seek ‘greener’ pastures somewhere. It is believed he was promised a higher pay perk when he signed, something that is barely forthcoming, thanks to Fenway Sports Group’s determination to cut down the ridiculous player wages which sees even a certain Milan Jovanovic earning an astonishing £120,000-a-week.

If Meireles and Aquilani stay, we might not see South Korean Park Chu-Young or even Santi Carzola arrive at Anfield.

King Kenny, Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen have their hands full, at least as far as the central midfield position is concerned. It even gets worse if Gerard or Henderson might be allowed to drift wide to the left or right wing, meaning displaying Dirk Kuyt, not to mention Maxi Rodriguez.

It would be interesting to see how Kenny will parade his men in the coming season. The positive is, we are talking about an influx of talent at Anfield, not the lack of it as we have been accustomed during the turbulent reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillet. 

And That's thesteifmastertake!!