A snippet from one of the better articles I've read on Joe Allen this summer.
Joe Allen: What would he bring to Liverpool FC?
July 20, 2012
By Michael Luscombe
Joe Allen is one of the many talented up and coming young Welsh players and is known as the ‘Welsh Xavi’. Whilst he is not quite up to the standard of the arguably-Ballon-d’Or-deserving Barcelona midfielder, Allen and Xavi certainly have many similarities which has prompted interest in him from both Liverpool and Arsenal.
What are Joe Allen’s qualities?
Passing – Joe Allen had one of the highest pass completion rates last season in not only the Premier League, but also in Europe. He is extremely adept at keeping the ball. Allen has the intelligence to know which is the right pass the play, and the right pass is not usually the most difficult.
“I pass and I move, I help you, I look for you, I stop, I raise my head, I look and, above all, I open up the pitch.” – Xavi Hernandez
Whilst this sounds incredibly simple (and it is), it is exactly what Allen moulds his game on. Simple tends to denote something that lacks quality but in this instance having the ability to play simplistically requires an enormous amount of awareness, technical ability, appreciation of space and obviously, talent.
Energy - Joe Allen has a very high work-rate. Extremely energetic, Allen is constantly on the move whether it be looking for space to offer an option to a team mate, dragging an opposition player away to create space or when the opposition have the ball, pressing high and quickly to ensure it is won back as soon as possible. This sort of energy not only endears him to fans but is also contagious and causes the players around him to give that extra 10%.
System – Joe Allen has featured for Brendan Rodgers for the last two season and knows the system Rodgers wants to implement like the back of his hand. Knowing when to press, when to rest with the ball and when to look for the killer pass is something that will take time for the Liverpool squad to master; were Allen to arrive his knowledge of the system could be extremely helpful in smoothing the transition between how the Reds played last season to a more ‘tika taka’ version of the pass and move philosophy Kenny Dalglish implemented.
Youth - Aged 22, Joe Allen’s career is only just starting, and whilst it could be a concern that he has only played 1 season at the highest level, it could also be argued that the fact he performed so admirably at such a young age, in his first season in the Premier League, is a cause for much hope.
Allen fits the philosophy that FSG have instilled (to varying degrees of success) in the club, the emphasis being on young players who will grow and improve with time whilst also commanding a transfer fee that will hopefully be less than what they could potentially be sold on for in the future. Given that so far in his career Allen has been surrounded by average players, surrounding himself at a bigger club with world class players such as Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, can only be good for his development and could lead to Allen progressing into a very good player.
Where would he fit in at Liverpool and is he needed?
For Swansea, Allen played the role of sitting in between the most advanced midfield player (Gylfi Sigurdsson) and the deepest midfielder (Leon Britton). This more or less meant he was the link between the defensive minded players and the attack minded players, and this is exactly what he was – a link.
Joe Allen’s primary objective was the receive the ball in space and move it on quickly and intelligently, either backwards or forwards depending on the phase in play. He would also be the midfielder that carried the ball from deep if there was open grass in front of him and be one of the first to press high up the pitch when the ball was lost, given his more advanced positioning than Britton. Were he to sign for Liverpool this is exactly the role he would play, although he is versatile enough to perform a job as the anchor or the most advanced midfielder, though these aren’t where he is best suited.
Since Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva’s places in the team are almost guaranteed providing they are fit, Allen would be in direct competition with Alberto Aquilani (if he stays), Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam. Given that Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson possess very similar qualities, unless Aquilani and Adam were to leave (which is quite possible) you could argue that signing Allen would be a waste of Liverpool’s limited budget – thought by some to be £20m plus sales – as there are more areas in more urgent need of improvement, namely the left wing, up front, and a defensive midfielder.http://www.theliverpoolword.com/2012/07/liverpool-transfer-target-joe-allen-what-would-he-bring-to-lfc/