Liverpool are understood to have accepted a bid of around £13m from Stoke for Wales midfielder Joe Allen. The Press Association reported the Reds have accepted the offer as Allen only has one year left on his contract.
Allen was mostly a maligned figure for a large part of his Anfield career but ever since Klopp took over, he regained the form that earned him the Liverpool move, and subsequently found immense love and appreciation in the Liverpool fan base as well.
His performances in the Euro 2016 for Wales, a nation that did itself proud by reaching the semi-finals, earned him a place in the Euro “Team of the Tournament”.
Finally, most of the football watching world was able to see the reason why Brendan Rodgers rated him so highly in his days as Swansea boss, and then went back and bought him when he became the manager of Liverpool. However, Rodgers didn’t use Allen in the right position, partly because Liverpool didn’t really have defensive midfielders to rely upon and he became someone who would give Lucas Leiva competition for the defensive midfielder position.
Allen was key to Swansea’s heavy possession style when they established themselves in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers tried to work that method in his first season at Liverpool, but realised the players were more suited to a counter-attacking style. In the successful 13/14 season, Steven Gerrard was made useful by being operated in the deep lying playmaker role and Jordan Henderson accompanied him in the midfield. There was no spot for Allen in the Liverpool side exceeding expectations.
Even in the year and a half after that under Rodgers, Allen was only used sparingly and in a position where he could make little impact. Many thought Allen’s days were numbered after Rodgers departed but the Welshman won Klopp over with his fantastic performances in the midfield. Klopp used him well, behind the attackers, where Allen’s energy could be used to win the ball back higher up the pitch.
Considering how well he has fared in 2016, it came as disappointing news to many that the Reds had accepted a bid to sell their midfielder.
However, all things considering, this is a great move for all parties concerned.
As far as the player is considered, this will be a good move for Allen. He could have probably stayed at Liverpool with one year on his contract and played a sparing squad player role. That would obviously not have been satisfactory for his ambitions. Although he has always maintained a high code of conduct, Allen is currently in the prime of his form and playing a few minutes from the bench every now and then would certainly feel extremely underwhelming.
For Liverpool fans this might be a bittersweet deal, but for the club, this definitely seems a positive one. The Reds are recouping almost all they spent to bring him to the club in 2012 (£15m) and doing so with just one year left on his contract. Klopp is trying to trim the squad and bring in players he thinks are better suited to what he is trying to achieve at the club. However, it must be noted, especially by Stoke fans, that the German manager has always given Allen his vote of confidence. He very recently said, “I feel good (about Joe). I like the guy and I really think he is a wonderful football player: I knew this before the European Championships, I saw it during the Euros and I know it now.”
Mark Hughes is signing a player who keeps things going in the heart of the pitch, someone whose job shouldn’t be protecting the back four — he is not a defensive midfielder — but someone who can help doing that as well. He can put on accomplished displays in the middle of the park and as seen during the European Championship, there are games where he will hardly give a ball away throughout. Even if he is not having a great game, no one will ever dispute his work-rate. He works tirelessly.
Allen can keep the ball and help retain possession even in tight areas. He can set the tempo in the heart of the pitch, much like what Stoke had with Steven Nzonzi in his last season at the club. The Potters haven’t replaced Nzonzi yet, with Giannelli Imbula filling a different role in the midfield. Also, the side needs cover for Glenn Whelan, who is on the wrong side of his 30s at the moment.
Perhaps the way to go for Stoke would be to use Allen in a midfield three with Whelan and Imbula sitting behind, and the Welshman winning the ball higher up and offering an outlet to feed the front three.
He goes unnoticed a lot, doesn’t get many goals or assists, but he makes everybody around him better.
Therefore, landing a player like Allen, who is in top form right now, for £13m, a sum that can honestly be considered to be cheap in today’s time, is a great move for the side.