Joe Allen has not had a great season since making the £15 million switch from Swansea City to Liverpool, he’s not been terrible but he’s by no means been as good as everyone may have expected.
He’s about to have shoulder surgery which means he’ll be out of the side for three months, meaning he won’t play for the club again this season.
It’s not a setback and should be viewed as something positive for the player because he can now get his thoughts together, look at his weaknesses and decide how he wants to go about his business next season.
Rather than risk further injury, he can get back to full health and return raring to go for pre-season next campaign at 100 per cent fitness.
Liverpool may bring in a heavyweight over the summer to strengthen the balance of the midfield, which means Allen’s place will be even further at risk if this happens.
He is a less attacking version of David Silva, someone who likes to sit and pull the strings in the middle for the more lethal attacking players but he’s now got the challenge of getting back into the side ahead of Philippe Coutinho and anyone the club subsequently brings in.
His period out of the game allows him to have a spell of reflection, something he can use to improve the weaknesses in his game such as his physical size. Of course, he can’t grow taller, but he can work hard on building up his strength and muscle size.
Ultimately, if he can nail all of his weaknesses and then come back more dynamic, Liverpool don’t need to go and spend millions on another midfielder because they already own one who can do a job for the team.
Liverpool are a side packed with midfield talent and the only difference between Allen and players like Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, is that they have moved forward a little bit when their places were questioned earlier in the season.
The injury spell puts the brakes on Allen’s career which is significant because he’s only 22-years-old and is being taken away from the pressure of what playing for Liverpool means and what the fans expect.
He’ll come back a sharper and fitter player, which means he’ll give the ball away a lower number of times, he won’t get brushed off the ball by opponents and he generally will have more of an impact over 90 minutes.
Had Allen not been playing through the pain barrier for 26 games and not needed this operation, it could have meant he carried on producing the inconsistent displays he’s being associated with which may have prompted the club to sell him sooner rather than later.
Liverpool fans, how do you see his future?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald