Dirk Kuyt, a player whose commitment to the cause is beyond question, attitude and work rate first class and a player supporters are fond of…but at a time when tough decisions may have to be made, should Kuyt be sold?
As an individual and a footballer, there are not many bad words to say about the Dutchman, a player who has never attracted any negative headlines throughout his time at the club and one who has contributed some vital goals for the Reds over the last four years. Interviews highlight his attachment to the club and the supporters and it will be a sad day when the day comes when he does leave. Unfortunately, it is hard to see Liverpool progressing in the way the supporters want if Dirk Kuyt remains in the side in his current position.
His game can go from the great to the dismal. Work rate and desire in abundance but his quality with the ball can at times be found wanting. Fans, at times, show immense frustration with the Dutchman, one moment doing the difficult things well and then making basic errors just seconds later. A fantastic player to have in your squad, unfortunately I just cannot see Liverpool winning the league or displaying fast, exciting, attacking football with Kuyt remaining in the first eleven every week.
Rafael Benitez’s appreciation of Kuyt was unbreakable, a mainstay in the side and one of the first names on the teamsheet, at times another source of frustration for supporters. Even when out of form and clearly having a difficult time, Benitez would continue to select him. For a manager who valued team discipline, effort and defensive solidity, Kuyt’s game fitted in perfectly. But Liverpool supporters now want something more. One of the most obvious failures in Benitez’s reign was his failure to sign a world-class winger, someone with the pace and skill to worry the best defences. In fairness, this is something where his predecessors have also failed and fans are now desperate to see a player who will lift them off their seats, a player worthy of the legendary number 7 shirt.
A glance at any of Liverpool’s competitors in the table and one can see the teams littered with exciting, attacking wingers; Lennon at Spurs, Young at Aston Villa, Malouda at Chelsea, Valencia at United…. Liverpool’s wingers consist of Kuyt, Benayoun (who cannot seriously be classed as a winger) and Babel. It was hoped when Babel signed for the club that he would be the winger the club have been crying out for, a young player with pace and natural ability who will only continue to improve. We were wrong. He can now be added to a list including the likes of Gonzalez, Leto, Riera, Kewell, all tried and tested and all ultimately coming up way short.
In order for Liverpool to improve as an attacking force, Kuyt’s position must be altered. Throughout all of last season Liverpool’s game was far too predictable, devoid of any creativity and craft. Kuyt has neither the pace nor the skill to attack opposing full backs and keep them guessing. Instead he frequently chooses to come inside, making the game far too narrow and preventing any chance of Liverpool penetrating defences. Liverpool’s game can at time be far too laboured and pedestrian.
Finding a place in the team for Kuyt though, away from midfield, now becomes difficult. With Torres and Gerrard forming such a strong partnership up front, the days of 4-4-2 appear gone. The arrival of a new manager may change this, but it appears it would be foolish to break up something that is so productive. Dirk Kuyt is not the type of player who will be happy to sit on the bench for long spells, which is why I sadly see an inevitable parting of the ways…should the team progress how I would hope and how it really needs to.
However, recent figures of £8 million for the Dutchman come nowhere near to what Liverpool and the fans would value the Dutchman at. If he were to be sold, a figure of between £12-15 million would be more appropriate. If Ryan Babel is being valued at £9 million then Kuyt’s price tag will be significantly higher than that. If an offer is forthcoming in the summer, (Rafael Benitez is sure to be interested), then it may be best for another amicable separation to allow both camps to progress.
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