Burnley

Jovanovic – Flop Or Futurestar?

Standard Liege striker Milan Jovanovic will move to England this summer after signing a pre-contract agreement with Liverpool.

Jovanovic has a respectable scoring record in Belgium and will be hoping he can carry that form over to the Premier League.  But he should be wary of the struggles previous forwards have had at Anfield.

It’s fair to say that since Rafa Benitez became Liverpool manager in 2004, his defensive signings have been much better than his attacking ones. Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and Javier Mascherano are all key players for the Reds and some of Benitez’s best signings. However, there have been more than a few attackers who have failed to live up to potential after being brought in by the Spaniard.

Fernando Morientes, Mark Gonzalez, Andriy Voronin, Robbie Keane: all flopped and all have moved on.

There have been successes, most obviously Fernando Torres, as well as Yossi Benayoun and Luis Garcia, who whilst inconsistent certainly chipped in with some vital goals. But players like Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel have been played out of position and had their attacking threat reduced. Both were strikers when then joined Liverpool, but both now operate more often as wingers.

Whilst Kuyt has done a solid job on the right, one wonders what might have been if Benitez had persisted with him up front. The Dutchman once scored 36 goals in one season in Holland. Benitez seems to favour a defensive playing style, regularly playing with two holding midfielders and just one striker.

This means Jovanovic will probably not be a regular starter, as he’ll have a tough time displacing the world-class Torres.  It was the reason Peter Crouch left, and it’s the reason David Ngog only had a run in the first team when Torres was injured. The Serbian striker has also spent time playing on the left wing, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Benitez play him in this position on occasion.

One of the biggest problems Benitez’s attacking signings have had is a poor start. They never really got going, and this impacted their entire Anfield career. If Jovanovic can hit the ground running and quickly adapt to the English game, he could be an important player for Liverpool next season.

But if he doesn’t, he could be in for a short stay, and see his name added to the list of Liverpool’s attacking flops.

Written By Sean Mullan

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