Whilst much of the focus in this summer’s transfer window is being placed on Javier Mascherano’s Liverpool future, it is another Argentine who may also be making an exit. Emiliano Insua is believed to be in negotiations with Fiorentina, with an agreement expected to be reached shortly. It will be unfortunate, should a deal be reached and the left back leaves the club after initially promising much.
Arriving in 2007, initially on loan from Boca Juniors, Insua made his first league appearance against Portsmouth four months later, at the age of 18. Since then the Argentine has made steady progress, taking advantage of the first team opportunities that came his way. Liverpool fans were impressed with what they saw. After seeing the likes of Arsenal and Man United continue to spot and bring through young talent, fans were eager to see more of Insua and hoped he would be able to make the grade at Anfield. Accomplished performances seemed to signal that this was indeed the case.
By the middle of 2009, Insua was recognised by many as Liverpool’s first choice left back, a great achievement for the player and a point that demonstrated the progress he had made in just two years. Arriving at Liverpool from Argentina cannot have been an easy transition but he worked hard to settle into the area and the squad, forcing his way into the reckoning. Such were his early performances for Liverpool, particularly in 2008/09, that Insua received his first call up to the international squad from Diego Maradona, making his debut in the World Cup qualifier against Peru in September 2009.
Unfortunately for the Argentine, his progress seems to have stalled somewhat having experienced a difficult season last term. The performances of the team as a whole did not help his cause but as the season ended it became clear that the left back position was one that needed urgent strengthening. Insua seems to have some crucial flaws that will make it difficult for him to become a top class player, and one good enough to play for Liverpool for a considerable period of time. Towards the end of last season it became obvious that opposing teams were targeting him as the weak link within the team. Prone to defensive lapses and, at times, poor positioning sense, his obvious lack of height and pace is also a great cause for concern.
Though Insua does deserve praise in some quarters, particularly for his great endeavour in supporting the attack and his ability to provide assists. By February 2010, Insua had provided 6 assists for his team-mates, the highest number provided by any other full back in the Premier League. This is a point that is overlooked by many, owing to his deficiencies in other areas. Considering the players he is up against in his position, the likes of Ashley Cole, Patrice Evra and Gael Clichy and this stands as a great achievement. His stunning goal against Arsenal in the Carling Cup is a goal that many will remember for a long time.
Unfortunately, after three years amongst the first team squad and 44 league appearances, there are still too many doubts surrounding the Argentine in terms of his defensive ability. Ironically one of his poorest displays came in the Champions League defeat to Fiorentina. However, if their interest is genuine and a deal can be done then it could be in both parties interest to come to an agreement. Insua could certainly do an accomplished job for the Italian side or even another Premier League side, one further down the league where expectations are not as high. But to be first choice for Liverpool at this stage seems a step too far.
Insua would make a great stand-in for a full back of greater experience and quality that we may be able to acquire but that would be doing the Argentine a disservice, particularly at his young age. Insua deserves to be playing, allowing him to keep progressing as much as possible over the next few years. At times there are deals struck which are in the best interests of both the player and the football club. The Fiorentina offer appears to signal one of these times.
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