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No Goals, No Assists: Is It Time That Liverpool Sell This £15m Midfielder?

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen

Welsh international midfielder Joe Allen has found it hard to nail down a permanent place in the starting eleven since his £15m from Swansea last summer. He has missed large parts of the last two seasons due to a multitude of injuries that have prevented him from getting an extended run in the team. With the season approaching the end, it is Allen’s last chance to make an impression before the summer when Liverpool will have a major decision to take- should they keep him or move him on.

In the two seasons that he has been at Merseyside, he has made 38 Premier League appearances, having missed 27 games either due to injury or he failed to make an appearance from the bench. This highlights the problem that he has had at Liverpool – every time one of the starters has got injured and he is due for a run of games, he himself gets injured.

For a midfielder who came with the reputation of being the ‘Welsh Xavi’ he has hardly lived up to the lofty expectations that came with the reputation or his £15m price tag. In fact, he has created only 27 chances in his 38 appearances and has failed to either provide an assist or find the back of the net. His only goals and assists have come in the cup competitions, and even those aren’t too many.

However, the one quality that has been clear in this period has been his willingness to get on the ball and his ability to keep the play ticking over in midfield. Allen started off really well at the start of the last season as a part of the Liverpool side that were firm believers in possession football, but the subsequent change in the playing philosophy has meant that his role has been marginalized to some extent.

In fact last season, he had an incredible 90% passing accuracy from the 1379 passes that he attempted last season while it is 87% from 428 attempted passes this season. This season among the Liverpool midfielders, only Henderson and Lucas have been more accurate at distributing the ball while Allen led the way last season.

While his diminutive stature may not make him the ideal solution in a defensive midfield role, he has enough tenacity in him to perform the role if a situation arises. His tackling has been much better this season (57% success from 51 attempted tackles) compared to last season (42% success from 76 attempted tackles) and he is no longer jumping into tackles.

His cameo appearance last week against Swansea would suggest that he still has a role in this Liverpool team, especially as a playmaker just in front of the defensive screen in midfield where he is able to have the comfort of having a backup behind him, and can then press and hurry the opponents and then move forward and pick a pass given the opportunity.

With Steven Gerrard edging ever closer to his retirement, having someone of the ability of Allen will certainly benefit Liverpool going forward. He is comfortable on the ball, can pick a pass and is much improved in terms of his defensive contributions. If given an extended run out in the team, he along with Jordan Henderson can form an excellent midfield axis for manager Brendan Rodgers to build his team around.

Stats courtesy of squawka

Watch Joe Allen’s finest moments from Liverpool’s 2012/13 season