Saturday, August 25, 2012

Liverpool, not Arsenal, right for Sahin

Nuri Sahin appears close to signing on loan for Brendan Rodgers' new Liverpool. The temporary (?) transfer promises to add to a midfield that didn't convincingly implement a new pass 'n' press gameplan in an opening day loss to West Bromwich Albion.

Turkish playmaker Sahin conducted the exquisite Borussia Dortmund midfield for several seasons before moving to current club Real Madrid before last season. He promptly found himself a fixture on the bench, squeezed out in preference of the powerful triumvirate of Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ӧzil. He has the nous, physique and game to make a significant contribution to the Anfield mob this season.

It had been thought that Sahin would move to Arsenal, perhaps as a direct replacement for Alex Song who, shortly after Robin van Persie, discovered the not-so-secret tunnel that allows players to escape from the Emirates. Now a deal with Liverpool seems imminent and more the better for the player.

Rodgers' preferred tactical system demands his central midfielders be mobile, efficient and to play both attack and defence. It doesn't hurt if they can pass, either. If the centre-mids overcommit or don't/can't harry effectively, the possession-heavy game style becomes exposed to counter-attack. Swansea City's performances while implementing a pass-press approach earned Rodgers the Liverpool job, but the Reds don't quite have the horses to completely adopt either the pass or the press: Rodgers' current midfield features too many players unable to adapt their games to his liking.

Big-ticket Kenny Dalglish items Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson haven't synched well with the Rodgers manifesto; academy graduates Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing may never. Acquiring another pivot players became paramount before harrier Lucas Leiva or new buy Joe Allen succumbed to injury or fatigue. Sahin would play heaps and could even conceivably become Liverpool's featured player.

While Arsenal leapt at the opportunity to bring in Sahin, negotiations with Real Madrid have hardly been smooth. Sahin would fit – apart from Real, there are few places he wouldn't – but would be another class player at a club which seems allergic to grunt. Even Song, who ostensibly occupied the defensive midfield position for five years, thought of himself as more playmaker than combatant.

The Gunners – like many other EPL squads – lack a Tiote-type, paid primarily to win back possession; at Anfield, the press (and Lucas) this need is minimised. Sahin at Arsenal would duplicate talent – he'd be very handy, but not address the club's most pressing need. While surrounded by Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and, most blindingly, Santi Cazorla, Sahin may never develop into the “franchise player” he could become.

This makes the impending move to Merseyside the best option – for Nuri Sahin, and football watchers everywhere.

(Original article date: 24th August)

No comments:

Post a Comment