13 Nov 2007

How Liverpool FC failed Momo Sissoko

I wrote this article three months ago, but it's especially prescient now, given the fact Sissoko left for the very reasons I stated back then. It remains my contention that Sissoko was wasted at Anfield, and Rafa failed to develop him as a player. The same thing is happening with Xabi Alonso now, and he will no doubt suffer the same fate. JK - 9 Feb 2008

Inter Milan have expressed an interest in signing Mohammed Sissoko as a replacement for the injury prone Patrick Vieira. For his own good, Momo needs to grab the opportunity and leave.

Unfortunately for Sissoko, Liverpool are spoiled in the central midfield department, and the emergence of Lucas Leiva seems to have pushed him further down the pecking order.

Momo has superb potential, and has the potential to grow into a top-class midfielder, but this will sadly not happen at Anfield for one simple reason: The club has spectacularly failed to develop him as a player.

Sissoko’s strengths are obvious: Pace, power, tough tackling, unlimited stamina and a superb ability to break up opposition play. His weaknesses are equally obvious: Poor passing ability and suspect technique – flaws which have made Sissoko into an easy target for impatient fans.

All the raw materials are there, but Liverpool have failed to focus on improving his flaws. The impact of competing players and injury has all stunted Momo’s progression, but Rafael Benitez’s rotation system has proved to be the biggest problem.

The Mali born midfielder has started just six games this season after some disappointing performances. He failed to feature again in Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday and he admits he finds it difficult to not play a part in the action:

"It can be frustrating. I played a lot in my first season and then again at the start of last season before I got injured. I am more relaxed when I'm in the starting line-up. That's only natural."

A veiled criticism of Rafa's rotation policy. In public? Momo better watch out or he'll end up sidelined like Peter Crouch.

If Sissoko wants to develop the weaknesses in his game, then he needs to leave Liverpool, as his technical ability will not be developed by being a bit-part player in the premiership. He needs to go to league where technical ability is prized above all else, and where better than serie A?

Rafa must take the blame for Sissoko’s failure to establish himself at Liverpool. The weaknesses in his game should have been identified and worked on as a matter of priority. Instead, Benitez ignored these and went out and bought Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva instead – a surefire sign that his trust in Momo had waned.

It’s entirely possible that the 4 year contract given to Sissoko's in the summer was an insurance measure to keep him at the club should Javier Mascherano leave. If that is the case, this is proof that Sissoko is just being used and is not really wanted at Liverpool, irrespective of Benitez’s public assertions to the contrary.

Liverpool have failed Sissoko, it's as simple as that.

Momo needs to be playing more games, especially at his age, and with the fierce competition at Liverpool, this is just not going to happen. Ultimately, the writing is on the wall for Sissoko and he needs leave for the good of his career.


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