21 Sept 2012

LFC star admits: I have a 'long way to go' to match La Liga legend...

Last season, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen was Europe's third most accurate passer, a mere 0.4% behind Barcelona legend Xavi. Since Despite maintaining an impressive average of 94% passing accuracy so far this season - which is a 1.4% increase on his result for last season (92.6%), the Welshman admits that he has a long way to go before he matches Xavi's the overall performance level..

Speaking to LFC magazine recently, Allen admitted that he 'finds it difficult' to play with his left foot, and singled out Xavi as player to whom he aspires. He enthused:

"It's easy to forget that Xavi is 32,33. He seems to get better every season, and it's like he has no age.

"What Xavi does better than everybody else is his movement all over the pitch. In the tightest of situations he finds a solution, whether he's in defence or attack.

"I've got a way to go before I can be that influential".

Allen is only 23 so he has plenty of time to improve his game, and in time, it's possible that could become as good as Xavi.

In an interview a few days ago, former reds striker Dean Saunders - who scored 25 goals in 61 appearances for Liverpool during the Graeme Souness era - was full of praise for Allen, and suggested that he could ultimately end up at Barcelona:

"Joe’s an intelligent player, and is difficult to play against. He’s got the whole world in front of him. He can get even better and go on from Liverpool and end up at Barcelona".

Allen has come in for a bit of criticism recently for his alleged habit of always passing sideways or backwards, but I don't believe this is entirely fair:

* Allen is basically deputising for Lucas at the moment, which means his natural game is somewhat on hold.

* Allen has to do do all the donkey work, and the job of a defensive midfielder is to break up play and move the ball onto to others.

* At present, it's not Allen's job to attack and be progressive; he's doing a job for the team, and if/when Lucas returns, I believe we'll see more attack-minded displays from Allen.

One thing that Allen does need to improve - when playing in his natural role - is his goals and assists ratio, and this is where Xavi is streets ahead. Over the last three league seasons, the Spaniard has grabbed 16 goals and 31 assists, compared to Allen's measly return of less than 10 goals/assists in the same period.

Granted, Xavi was in the prime of his career, and Allen is at the start, but hopefully, Allen will improve the offensive side of his game over the next couple of years.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. He is a great talent with the prospect of becoming a liverpool legend. I am glad he is with Liverpool.

  2. is it possible to have statistics on Allen of how many balls over 20 yrds are successful that go forward. The best midfielders i have seen are the ones who can pass the ball 60 yards as if it was 10. i.e. Alonso! Allen is more or less the same age as alonso when we bought him to Liverpool. if you had a choice who would you have a 23 yr old alonso or a 23 yr old allen. for me its alonso every time. this will explain why liverpool are probably not the team we once was as we have not got the players that we did have, hence no top 4!!! Allen is a very good player and he may well end up quality, but in terms of world class at the moment no way.

  3. Agree that he's not world class (has anyone actually argued that with a straight face?) - Agree with what you're saying about Alonso, but to be fair, he did not play as a defensive midfielder when he arrived; he did not have to do the donkey work Allen has to do. I don't see how Allen can be more forward thinking when his role in the team right now is to break up play.

  4. He has great talent and skill but very affraid to make shoot try.I like to watch Allen, Sterling and others always keep to shoot the ball with good power kick. This is one factor LFC can create and score the goal.No matter happen please do not lose to our big enemy Mufc

  5. I'll take sideways and backward passes over conceding possession.

  6. http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/latest-news/jonjo-gets-your-vote?

    These voting figures have to count for something at the moment too...(Check below the article)

    Allen is not particularly a game changer... he's naturally a midfield engine, not the same player as Alonso was... He does the basics excellently and has a few outstanding attributes. For me, that is a good player. one who keeps the ball and does the right things. This is why Enrique (unrelated but valid) irks me... he has all the skills, strength and talents, but does not use his head, tries to do too much...

    For me David Silva epitomizes the Spanish play-maker... easily one of my favorite players as he is more attack minded AND DOES THE RIGHT THINGS WITH EXCEPTIONAL BASICS!

    Do the basics right first, ping the ball around, build the confidence in yourself and your teammates, then do something special. When Lucas returns and if he can make the first team, Allen will show us more of what he can do as he has exceptional talent all around him...

    Allen's performance is largely determined by his teams performance as he is that sort of player... a team player.

  7. Jamie the main guy I remember giving out about Allens' sidewards and backwards passing was Alan Shearer. Not only is he a pretty poor analyst, but if you look at the pieces of play he was picking out to criticise Allen he was grasping at straws. Honestly how Shearer gets to be a pundit on MOTD over someone like me even is annoying. I pay no attention to that kind of talk, it's totally incorrect.

  8. Let's get real, quality player but Xavi he is and will never be!

  9. I want to remind people JOE ALLEN is our player of the month he didn't pick up that accolade from just playing sideways and backward passes.
    The majority of BRITISH supporters don't appreciate players that keep possession and always make themselves available with clever movement.
    They look at footballers in a simplistic way.Do they make lung busting forward runs.Can they play Hollywood cross field balls and do they smash 30 yard shots at goal on regular basis.
    Playing the forward pass in every attack results in sloppy possession that's the reason ENGLAND will never win anything in my lifetime because they force play to much.
    BR is taking LIVERPOOL on a total football philosophy and players like JOE ALLEN are essential to future success!

  10. i will continue to argue that statistics or mathematics on their own tell only a part of a story. In my days as an econometrics student, we were taught never to use stats on their own without using "an underlying knowledge of a sector or system" becos stats and maths are made for systems and not the other way round. All the talk about pass completion and accuracy, ithout considering penetration and chances created are bull-shit to me. Whats the essence of having some savings in a bank account when u are not necessarily better-off than people who have less but have more by investing more? To me, Gerrard is a better player given this:

    Allen successfully completed 93% of his passes against Sunderland, but over a quarter of them went backwards, opting for the safer option.

    Steven Gerrard, on the other hand, completed only 85% of his passes,
    but he played just 12% of them backwards.Overall Allen has completed 93% of his 301 passes, playing 29% forward, 11% backwards and the rest to the left or the right.

    Gerrard has completed 82% of his 272 passes, but played 37% forward.

    And while Allen has created just two chances in open play in Liverpool’s four games, Gerrard has created seven.

    Dont get me wrong; I like possession football, but there ought to be an end product. If you cant do it like the masters (Barca), then dont copy it. Why not evolve a hybrid?

  11. i would take Allen simply because he is playing the wrong position at the moment he should be playing the xavi position and hes playing the basquets position in Barcelona terms so the question to ask is would you prefer Alonso or Allen in the xavi position. The answer Allen all day due to of the ball movement, speed, mobility, quicker feet.

  12. But Allen is then passing to the wingers who pass to the attacking players? exactly the same end product in a way that keeps us possession, whats the bad point here, 60 yard pass is sweet and looks good but it usually just gets us to the same point wide on the wing or headed away by defense. Joe Allen is doing a brilliant job so far to the point where its hard to see Lucas is gone, when hes back Allen will really shine, Allen has passing capability's going forward but much like his work further back in the field he waits for perfect pass's to feet so we dont lose possession . win win win win spot on player one of the golden linings of a bad transfer window

  13. I totally agree ALAN SHEARER highlighted 5 examples when forward balls weren't on then moans when JOE ALLEN didn't play it.He's the first person to complain how ENGLAND can't keep the ball at tournaments but he wants players to play the ball forward every time they get it.
    I'm not surprised NEWCASTLE got relegated under his management.He should spend more time researching and analysing before opening his mouth.

  14. Your right but lets not forget how long barca have been doing that, after watching the young lads yesterday i think were making EXCELLENT progress very much ahead of schedule,but your missing another big factor Gerrard (Attacking midfield role) is playing much higher up the field than Allen (Defensive midfield role) his stats will show a big difference in forward pass completion, when he's higher up the field you will see the stats start to emulate SG

  15. Why not? hes got 10 years to get to find out yet, do people think these masters of football were that good in the first place? Suso for example is good now but in years to come he will be Amazing and worth a lot of money, will people then say of the new up and coming compared to him oh hes good but he'll never be Suso? Everyone starts off somewhere

  16. I wouldn't say anyone is saying he is world class but i think people would be dumb if you don't look at him and think you'll probably get there one day

  17. Lucas return? Perish the thought

  18. agreed Jamie, i do agree with you but i don't think i am there yet in terms of how good he is, i think you are slightly ahead of me in the love but to be fair alonso is not at liverpool and i do hope your the one that comes out right!!!

  19. what we also need to understand is he got player of the month in a month where we have not won a game yet, I agree he is a top player and no one is denying that but, lets put it into context!

  20. I think he is very different from Xavi in terms of position and style. Allen is more of a Busquets/Xabi, in terms of his passive passing and position, i.e., a conservative recycler possession (though Xabi is more willing to stretch play with his long passing, though that could be down to team style in relation to Allen's reluctance to do that). Whereas Xavi is more of a playmaker, which makes Xavi's accuracy even more impressive as he is more risky with his passing. That is no criticism of Allen, he simply has a different role to Xavi.

  21. Allen wasn't playing the so-called Xavi role at Swansea either, so maybe he is simply a Busquet/Xabi-type player. There is no consistent precedent that suggests Allen is a Xavi-type player. Maybe down the line he could be more adventurous a la Xavi but based on what he has done so far, who knows.

  22. Xavi is simply a world class player and almost unique in the last 10 years in that position. I'll be delighted if Allen gets to be even 3/4 of Xavi's ability. Far too high a level to be that hopeful of Allen being as good as Xavi, imo.

  23. JOE ALLEN and RAHEEM STERLING have played to a high level.If other players matched that in areas of the pitch they perform we would've won matches.
    So he doesn't player of the month because the back line has made errors and our forwards can't score.Is that what you're saying?

  24. exactly re allen and lucas's injury. Once JA has world class players ALL around him, we'll see him blossom into a world beater.
    At this rate we really really need a quality back up for lucas. the team suffers too much when a crucial cog like lucas is missing. it highlights the shallow nature of our squad.
    The good news is that some kids look to be stepping up. if wisdom learns fast, he could move ahead of GJ and MK.
    Suso could be an amazing impact sub playing at the front of a MF 3. he has that last third quality and ability to penetrate.

  25. Yup. Liverpool bought Allen to do the donkey work and acquired a donkey (Carroll) to play the striker's role.

  26. There was a glaring weakness in Alonso's game when he was with us - he'd get he ball deep but with 40 yards of open space in front of him - but never look to surge forward, he'd still look to pass from where he was. One of the things that contributed to out not getting men forward and in the box.

    Allen, whatever job he's doing, should still be looking to move the ball forward. Gerrard is continually having to come back to pick it up from him - crucial moments when defences are retreating and disorganised. He should also be looking tl pick out the wide men - not too difficult as he naturally drifts left and now has Sterling near him - but Sterling needs a mix of service - it's no good him beating his man on the halfway line and then coming up against the backstop defender.


  27. Xavi, Iniesta are players that are so good that they get nominated frequently for the top European, world's best awards. I think it's like trying and comparing one of our players to Zidane. I'm sorry but these players only appear once every 10-20 years. To compare Allen to players of their quality is bordering on ignorance.

  28. Jamie,

    I largely agree with the points you make in the article. What I have trouble with is the existence of an article about Joe Allen and Xavi. They are in such different leagues it is like comparing Stoke with Barcelona.