Saturday, August 13, 2022

Will Stoke City Finally Get Their Midfield Enforcer In This Diminutive Midfielder?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Stoke City’s recent bid of Joe Allen was accepted by Liverpool as the Reds couldn’t resist an offer of £13m for the 26-year old. Stoke City would now be discussing personal terms with the midfielder who was very much a bench player at Anfield. Last season, Allen only started eight games in the league and considering that he had only a year left in his contract the amount offered by Stoke City makes it a very good piece of business for Liverpool.

Allen, a youth product of the Swansea City academy spent most of his career with the club as he witnessed their rise from the League One to the Championship and finally into the Premier League. The midfielder won the League One with Swansea in 2007/08 and played a very important role in the 3 seasons later when the Swans gained promotion from the Championship via the playoffs. Swansea City, drew much praise in their first season after promotion in the Premier League in the 2011/12 season with their passing and neat football. Then manager Brendan Rodgers instilled an attacking mindset into the team but Allen, playing as the deep lying midfield cover really stood out with his discipline, positional sense and passing.

His performances were enough to attract the interest of Liverpool and the Welshman followed his manager Brendan Rodgers, who made a similar journey after being appointed as the manager at Anfield leaving the Liberty Stadium. Swansea couldn’t keep hold of the player despite the midfielder signing a four-year contract just prior to the 2011/12 season and a fee of £15m was enough to secure the transfer.

Under Rodgers, Allen featured almost regularly for Liverpool and was one of the most consistent and reliable performers of the Merseyside Red’s squad for the next two seasons. In his third year at the club, Allen was left frustrated with his frequent injuries which didn’t allow him to play to his full potential and affected his gameplay. With the departure of Rodgers, Allen’s future and squad status began to change as new manager Jürgen Klopp preferred other options in midfield and reduced him into a bench player. Last season, Allen made only 17 appearances in the league but was still able to do his job perfectly when he was called upon.

Wales' midfielder Joe Allen (L) vies with Portugal's midfielder Adrien Silva during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016.  / AFP / PAUL ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Wales’ midfielder Joe Allen (L) vies with Portugal’s midfielder Adrien Silva during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016.
/ AFP / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

With his reputation suffering somewhat owing to his irregular starts, Euro 2016 provided Allen with the perfect opportunity to regain his confidence once again and he took it with both hands. Featuring in all the games Wales played throughout the tournament, Allen produced some wonderfully matured and commanding midfield displays as The Dragons went all the way into the semi-finals. His performances earned him a spot in the UEFA Euro team of the tournament 2016 and as the transfer market opened, the Welshman found himself in demand once again.

With the kind of personnel already present in the Stoke City team, a player like Allen can form the perfect base in the midfield and spray passes forward for the attacking players to make use of. The Potters do have some decent attacking options in Shaqiri, Arnautovic and Bojan who will relish having Allen play passes into space for them to exploit. Mark Hughes was in need of a midfield enforcer who can play alongside Imbula and Allen is the perfect option at the moment to carry out the role to perfection.

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