Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool have recently been heavily linked with Blaise Matuidi, St. Etienne’s £8M rated 23-year-old midfielder, but would the French international fit in at Anfield?
At 23, Matuidi is already club captain at St. Etienne and the defensive midfielder has built up a great reputation in France’s Ligue 1. Arsene Wenger himself was interested in the midfield enforcer not so long ago and came very close to signing him in July 2009.
Liverpool’s recently-appointed Director of Football Strategy, Damien Comolli has made Matuidi one of the Reds’ principal transfer targets since his arrival at the club, and considering Comolli arrived at Anfield from St.Etienne, it’s fair to say he knows Matuidi’s talents well.
The current Liverpool squad lacks dependable defensive cover in midfield. Raul Meireles was apparently signed as a direct replacement for Javier Mascherano, but with his attacking instincts and recent goal-scoring form, it is clear that a mainly defensive role does not suit the Portugese.
The beleagured Christian Poulsen, signed in the summer from Juventus, had a poor start to his Anfield career and has largely been restricted to a view from the bench in recent games. Looking long-term, Poulsen, 30, may not have too many years left ahead of him and with patchy form, the Danish international is unlikely to tie-down a starting place in that Liverpool midfield.
While Jay Spearing is a combative player, he is more of a playmaker, keeping the middle of the park ticking over, than a defensive midfielder and although he has shown potential it’s difficult to predict if he will ever become a first-team regular for Liverpool. Finally we have Lucas Leiva, who has risen to the position of first-teamer for Liverpool, but who continues to frustrate Kopites with his inconsistent displays.
All-in-all, there is definitely a space for Matuidi to add that bit of steel to Liverpool’s midfield; the St. Etienne midfielder, who recently made his debut for France, is proficient in tackling and dispossessing opponents, but equally he has the ability to set the team moving forward with his vision and accurate passing. He is also young enough at 23 to be a stalwart of the club for years; something that appeals to Comolli and NESV as they try to build a team for the future.
However, Liverpool face stiff competition for Matuidi’s signature from Serie A clubs Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina, plus Schalke of the Bundesliga, but it is thought that Comolli’s influence may well be able to tempt the defensive midfielder to the Premier Legue this summer.
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