Liverpool have reportedly joined the race to sign Moroccan playmaker Younes Belhanda. According to the Daily Mail, manager Kenny Dalglish has made a personal check on the 22 year old who has been integral in Montpellier’s push for their first Ligue 1 title this season.
With some proclaiming him better than Lille star Eden Hazard, Belhanda has seen his stock rise as Montpellier look set to be crowned champions of France. If seriously interested, King Kenny will have to fight Arsenal and Paris St Germain for Belhanda’s signature.
With 2 years left on his current contract, Belhanda has said he would stay if the club wanted him. Combine this with his potential and comparisons to the Belgian Hazard, Dalglish will likely have to fork out around £20m for the Moroccan international. Yet having spent £130m in the previous 2 seasons, questions must be asked about whether such lavish spending can get Liverpool out of their current rut.
Belhanda’s natural position is on the wing, but for the 2011/12 season manager René Girard moved him to the middle in order to exploit his attacking capabilities. Dalglish would love another goal scoring threat in his side, but with Steven Gerrard only 32 and Luis Suarez’s tendency to drop behind lone front man Andy Carroll, it could be a case of too many cooks in the Liverpool midfield.
In addition, the arrival of Downing and Henderson last summer was Dalglish’s attempt to resolve Liverpool’s issues on the wing. The introduction of Belhanda at Anfield would surely represent a loss of faith in either player.
Liverpool’s summer should instead be spent addressing its age issues at centre back, something Kenny started last summer with the signing of Sebastian Coates. Furthermore, Liverpool has to score more goals next season if they want to compete for a Champions League place (they currently have 43 compared to United’s 86). The development of Andy Carroll into a 25 goal a season striker (or finding an alternative) is a must for Liverpool.
It would be unfair to cast aside Downing and Henderson so readily after only a season on Merseyside. Both players have talent and have got better and better throughout the season in Dalglish’s system. Furthermore, whilst Belhanda’s ability is apparent there would be questions about his transition into the faster, more physical English game.
Belhanda’s discipline is another factor, as the Moroccan has a tendency to snap when he is under pressure or frustrated. Further spending would inevitably lead to the exit of Dalglish. Instead he should stop looking for temporary solutions and start coaching this football team to deal with their weaknesses, not just buying players and hoping they’ll fill the gaps.
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