25 May 2009

Should Rafa think twice before letting this youngster go?

With the season finally over, speculation is rife about which players are on their way out of Liverpool. Eoin Sheridan makes a case for one particularly promising young player to remain on the books at Anfield.

After Rafa Benitez won the Champions League in 2005 he pledged to re-build the Liverpool squad, with a focus on developing a stream of young talented players for the youth and reserve teams that could come through into the first team and improve the quality of the squad.

True to his word Rafa proceeded to bring in a string of young signings from around the world. One of the first of these signings was Paul Anderson.

Signed in November 2005 aged 17, the pacy winger was brought in from Hull City in exchange for John Welsh, a player who failed to make the grade at Anfield having come through the youth system himself, but was nonetheless highly regarded, and valued at about £1m at the time.

Anderson excelled at youth and reserve level in his first season, culminating in the F.A. Youth Cup victory of 2006. This highly talented team included future first team graduates as Jay Spearing, Stephen Darby and Jack Hobbs.

It proved to be these three youngsters who have since been given a chance in the first team (although Jack Hobbs has now been sold to Leicester City), it was Anderson at the time who was seen as the star player in the team, the one people compared to Michael Owen due to his pace and skill on the ball.

Loan moves to Swansea and Nottingham Forest have followed meaning he has been away from Anfield for the last two seasons, limiting his appearances in the Reds’ senior team to a couple of pre-season friendlies, and a single call-up as an unused substitute against Benfica in 2006.

Despite this, most Pool fans have been impressed with Anderson, and those who have followed his development at Swansea and Forest will have been encouraged by his performances in League One and the Championship.

Indeed, Forest’s upturn in form and escape from the relegation zone in the Championship coincided with Anderson’s return from injury. The fact that both clubs are now knocking at Rafa’s door asking to take him back permanently speaks volumes about the professionalism and attitude of the now 20 year old Anderson.

Surely Anderson therefore is exactly the kind of player that Rafa would be looking to keep at the club, to use as cover for Dirk Kuyt next season, who he has already stated is an automatic pick on the right side of midfield, so one assumes he will not spend any of his precious transfer kitty on a player for this position.

Instead Rafa is reported to have accepted a bid in the region of £750,000 - £900,000 for Anderson’s services, and it seems he will likely be on his way to either Forest or Swansea on a permanent basis.

I think this could prove a big mistake on Rafa’s part - Anderson has the potential to make a break-through at Anfield and become at the very least a useful member of the squad, and if sold will one day return to the Premiership with a rival team for a fee much higher than we will receive for him.

Ultimately, I think Anderson represents for Rafa a chance to prove the effectiveness of his longer term transfer policy, and could show his detractors his ability to get value for money from his transfer dealings.

Time will tell if Rafa is making the right decision, but for the sake of less than £1m I think Rafa should hold onto Anderson for one more year and give him a chance to show Anfield what he can do.


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  1. Quick, works hard but much too awful a touch to play at this level. He's found his level as much as I'm concerned.

  2. I agree with this article. It serves nothing to sell him now. The elements missing from his game can be developed within the Melwood training ground amongst the big boys. It would even be a good experiment. It would give him that push that is needed to step it up.

    There are one or two in the main squad who don't have a great first touch - never mind this kid.

  3. I think it's high time Rafa start using the youngsters from time to time. We heard a lot of positive feedback for our youngsters like Darby,Anderson,Nemeth and so on. Give them a chance. Spend wisely on 1 or 2 big names and complete with our young talent. The tile is ours.

  4. if ngogg is to be given a chance in the premiership, then I think Anderson should definately be given a run out. I saw him two seasons ago in a reserve game v Birmingham and he stood out and he has great potential. Rafa is looking for an out and out winger! well if he keeps faith with Anderson he could go on to be priceless in my view. Keep him Rafa!!