4 Aug 2015

Transfer Breakthrough: Liverpool to finally sign 'fantastic' €32m playmaker this week after new offer

Another day, another link to Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi. In July, Spanish newspaper Marca claimed that Rafa Benitez is 'willing to sell' Illarramendi, and new reports this week suggest that the 'fantastic' Spaniard is close to sealing a move to Anfield.

According to The Telegraph today:

"Asier Illarramendi is set to move to Liverpool after the Anfield club came up with an improved offer. A deal should be completed this week".

Liverpool are un desperate need of a top-quality *dedicated* defensive midfielder, and if the Reds can get Illarramendi for a cut-price fee, it'll be good business. However, I just can't see how or where where the Spaniard fits in:

* James Milner will almost certainly be a regular starter in a central role, and with Henderson - now captain - set to be practically everpresent, there's no room for another starting central midfielder.

* Add-in Can, Allen, and Lucas, and that's SIX players fighting for two midfield places (or three, if Rodgers decides to saturate the team with central midfielders).

* If Milner and Henderson play most games, where does that leave Illarramendi?

* Emre Can has repeatedly made it clear that he wants to play in central midfield, but how is that going to possible, especially with Illarramendi in the squad? Milner and Hendo are not going to be a bench players, so that creates a major problem.

Competition for places is good; excessive competition is counter-productuve, and if Liverpool sign Illarramendi, and keep Lucas, and Allen, the fight for places in midfield will (arguably) be unhealthy.

Example XI (4231)

------------------- Mignolet

Clyne ------- Skrtel ---- Sakho ------ Moreno

--------- Illarramendi - Milner

---- Hendo ------- Coutinho ------ Firmino

----------------- Sturridge

* Right-midfield is not Henderson's best position, and he'd be wasted out there. Milner could take that spot, but he expects to play centrally, and he probably has a gentleman's agreement with Rodgers re that role.

* Plus, a dedicated attacking midfielder should play on the right of midfield (i.e. Ibe/Markovic), not a centre-mid.

* Additionally, there's no room for Can, Ibe, Lallana et al in this line-up.

Example XI (433)

------------------- Mignolet

Clyne ------- Skrtel ---- Sakho ------ Moreno

----------------- Illarramendi

--------- Milner ------------- Hendo

--------- Coutinho ------ Firmino

----------------- Benteke

* Again, there's no room for Lallana, Ibe, Can, Origi, Ings etc, and when Sturridge returns, it'll become even more difficult to fit everyone in.

Example XI (442 - Diamond)

------------------- Mignolet

Clyne ------- Skrtel ---- Sakho ------ Moreno

----------------- Illarramendi

--------- Milner ------------- Hendo

----------------- Coutinho

------------ Benteke --- Sturridge

* Things get even worse now, as the inclusion of Illarramendi (or a any dedicated DM) means that one of either Coutinho or Firmino will have to miss out.

In his three years at the club, Rodgers hasn't show any great appetite to consistently play with a dedicated defensive midfielder, and it's probable that he'll rely on Milner and Henderson to do the job between them (which will, in all likelihood, fail).

I strongly maintain the view that Liverpool do no need Milner. A DM IS a priority, but by recruiting Milner, Rodgers has made a rod for his own back, and basically ensured that the Reds will once again go into the season with an unbalanced squad

Mark my words: the conflict between having two box-to-box midfielders (Henderson and Milner) over a dedicated holding player will create ongoing problems for Liverpool throughout the upcoming season.

The solution to this problem was to sign a dedicated DM/Holding player instead of another box-to-box midfielder (Milner); many fans could see this, but as usual, Rodgers chose to complicate things (just as has in central defence).

That said, if someone can explain how Rodgers can regularly fit Henderson, Milner, and Illarramendi (or indeed any other DM) into the same team without sacrificing bona-fide attacking players, then I'm listening.

Author: Jaimie K


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