David Ngog has been a Liverpool player since July 2008, when his transfer was completed from Paris Saint Germain for a reported £1.5 million. Since this time it has become widely debated as to whether he is simply good enough to don the red shirt.
Next week N’Gog turns 22, the same age as Liverpool’s record signing Andy Carroll. Whilst I personally do not think Carroll is currently of a quality to warrant a £35 million price tag, he certainly has the potential and ability to be one of our greatest players. He has, however, already arguably proven himself in the Premier League, and can only continue to grow under Kenny Dalglish’s influence. With N’Gog, I feel, it is a slightly different story.
The Frenchman has provided much needed cover for an injury prone Fernando Torres in previous seasons, but with our new strike force and owners with the ability to open their wallets, does he really have a place within our squad?
There are instances of brilliance from the 21 year old which make one wonder – if given time, could he become an asset to Liverpool Football Club? Time, however, is not something we really have to give at present. Not only are the supporters demanding action, but the players are beginning to also. If we want to keep prized assets such as Pepe Reina in the summer, can we really afford to take a ‘wait and see’ approach with players such as N’Gog? The truth is that if we are to start challenging for silverware again, we need a lot more quality on the bench than David N’Gog. If you look at other top clubs in the Premier League, their substitutes are drastically more effective than ours. Chelsea, for example, on Sunday had the ability to take off the hugely ineffective Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou and replace them with Nicholas Anelka and Didier Drogba. If Carroll or Suarez were having similar troubles, who could replace them? Davig N’Gog? Dirk Kuyt? Who would we then play on the right wing?
Our substitute bench is often filled with players who have useful qualities for maintaining games or slightly altering our dimension, but they are not nearly good enough to challenge for starting berths. Isn’t the point of having substitutes, to be able to introduce game changing quality when the current approach just isn’t working? Unfortunately, David N’Gog simply does not currently possess that game changing ability. In the last two games against Braga and Sunderland, when coming on as a substitute with the need to cause problems, he has often looked lost and troubled in the final third, let alone in front of goal. That is not what we need from someone brought on to make a difference. We need a player hungry to score and eager to earn his place in one of the greatest footballing sides of all time.
Manchester City, despite their arrogance and inability to gel a team together, at least have the general idea. Having to choose between Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Jo, Mario Balotelli, including Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Bellamy who are all currently on loan, is a headache most managers would not mind having. Of course, Manchester City’s books are more than excessive, but having at least three world class strikers is almost a necessity in a competition with the physicality and diversity of the Premier League. Let alone when having the weight of Europe (hopefully), The FA Cup and League Cup on top of that. Whilst Dirk Kuyt proved extremely effective in the 3-1 humiliation of Manchester United, and will perhaps prove to be important cover for our front line during the remainder of the season, he too is no long term fix. The Dutchman is a tireless soldier for Liverpool Football Club on the pitch, and he promotes a game changing quality in the ability to score timely and much needed goals for us.
However, his role on the right of midfield means he is often unavailable to give strength in depth to our front line. If we are to continue to confine him to this role after we (hopefully) obtain a couple of wingers in the summer, we will also need to look for another target man to keep our newest acquisitions on their toes. David N’Gog is not in a position to do this yet. He simply is not good enough for us to rely on whilst the club is trying to maintain some kind of consistency. Perhaps a season long loan with a club such as Stoke or Newcastle could be the answer. Some may argue that Liverpool should just cut their losses, cash in and focus on brighter prospects coming through the Academy. In my opinion, this would be the wrong move, at least right now. N’Gog is still relatively young and finding his feet in the battle ground of the Premier League, but he is no lost cause.
We’ve seen in games, like our 2-0 win over United last season, that N’Gog has ability and promise. After studying under Fernando Torres for a few years, you are bound to learn a trick or two, I imagine. N’Gog has claimed more than once that he has learnt a lot from the Spaniard, and although Torres’ departure still leaves a bitter aftertaste for most, no one can deny the quality that the £50 million man obviously possessed during his time in red. Why not let the Frenchman prove himself somewhere else, let him adapt and grow to become the kind of striker that Liverpool Football Club will need on their books. If he fails, and we are forced to sell him at the end of next season, it will be no huge loss.
However, if he succeeds, we may just have the kind of player to help the owners plan for a better future at Anfield, the kind of player that gives us options. Something that has been severely lacking for a number of years now.