12 August 2010

On Christian Poulsen

Been doing more of these incoming transfer posts than I expected. Although, I promise, unlike the previous, this one's actually happening.

And unlike a fair bit of reaction I've seen sailing through the intertubes, I'm not upset with this deal. Hodgson knows the player and likes the player – those signings are to be expected from any new manager at any club. It's £4.5m, and while a far larger proportion of whatever the budget will be than in years past, it's not a vast sum, considering what his previous club paid and despite his age. Juve have Momo (yes, I'd rather have Momo) and Felipe Melo for that position, and it's a fair price for a 30-year-old. While he's not the absolute terror that Mascherano is – few are – he's a tenacious, clever defensive midfielder that will fit into this squad, especially if El Jefecito finally gets his wish. Yes, he's a shit, but now he's our shit – and I admit to enjoying those snidely aggravating types (and, yes, I still miss Bellamy). He's not Joey Barton; punching Rosenberg was a one-off, if deplorable, occurrence. No matter the takeover rumors strafing about, this is still the world we live in.

My sole concern is how this affects Lucas. I think Poulsen has a place in this team, but not at the complete expense of the young, improving Brazilian midfielder. At 23, and after last season's growing pains and learning curves, this is the time for him to make the leap and fulfill his demonstrated potential. I liked the Lucas/Gerrard midfield in a fair few matches last year – 4-0 v Burnley, 6-1 v Hull, 2-1 v Atletico, 3-0 v West Ham (of course, there were also 1-1 at Birmingham, 0-1 at Wigan, 0-2 v Chelsea, and 0-0 at Hull) – and I liked it against Rabotnicki last Thursday. Lucas has had to be a strong character to improve with a loud minority against him, and I fear a loss of opportunities would set him back after captaining the side in its first competitive match of the season. There still needs to be a place for him.

Granted, this all assumes that Mascherano's on his way out. He's angled for a move this summer and last, and has lustily gazed at Benitez's Inter since Rafa left. I just want to the see the saga come to a conclusion and for Liverpool to not get screwed in the process (guess which one of those I think is more likely).

That would leave Liverpool a man short in midfield. Lucas and Gerrard – which will probably remain my "preferred pairing" – can't and won't start every single game. I'm guessing Aquilani features as Cole's back-up more than he starts in central midfield; although I do want to see the Aqua/Gerrard pairing get a start in the near future, I fear it'd lead to Liverpool massively exposed at times.

Regardless, with the amount of games played each season and the difference in opposition Liverpool will play over the course of it, there should room for both Poulsen and Lucas in this side. I hope.

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