We profile another player who could improve the Liverpool squad – and a potential long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard.
Full Name: Sofiane Jamel Feghouli
Date of Birth: 26 December 1989 (22 yrs old)
Place of Birth: Levallois-Perret, France
Club: Valencia CF
Previous Clubs: Grenoble, Almeria (on loan from Valencia)
Position: Attacking Midfielder/Right Winger
Feghouli started his playing career with French club, Grenoble Foot 38. He made his debut at the tender age of 17. He spent 3 years in Grenoble spanning the first two division of France. He made 63 appearances for them scoring 3 goals.
Feghouli got his big move when Spanish side, Valencia snapped him up in 2010. He initially failed to break into the first team and was allowed to move to another Liga BBVA side, Almeria on loan. He impressed in his handful of games and this prompted opportunities at the Mestalla. He took his chances and has since established himself in the first team. He made 48 appearances in his second season for the club scoring 6 goals.
Under Pelligrino he was given continuous opportunities in the 2012-13 season, and that has continued under Valverde. He has started every game for Valencia this season in the league and has already bagged 3 goals.
Having been born in France, Feghouli was eligible for both France and Algeria. He made a couple of appearances for French youth teams. However in 2011, he was called up to the Algeria squad by national team coach Vahid Halilhodži? following a request from the Algerian Football Federation President. He scored on his international debut and has since scored another goal in his 7 appearances for the African nation. He is bound to play an important role in the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
Sofiane Feghouli is a versatile player who can occupy any area of the midfield. His preferred position is to play more centrally but has been deployed on the right flank at Valencia and has done a good job of it. His creativity allows him to play a bit more centrally as he usually has a decent pass on him and helps get others (especially the strikers) into the game. He prefers to play those short passes and touches rather than long balls.
His most significant strength however is that sudden burst of energy, the acceleration that complements his speed. It allows him to make those dashing runs into the box from midfield. Very similar to a younger Steven Gerrard. He naturally moves to the centre to allow this part of his game to come into play.
He often runs down the flanks as well and attempts to cross it into the box. Besides his speed, his ball control helps him in playing effectively out wide. He loves having the ball at his feet and makes full use of it. Feghouli is also able to contribute defensively while playing out wide, dropping deeper when needed and pushing on in attack as the team moves forward.
At 22 Feghouli still could be help with a bit more experience and is still a fairly raw talent. With the right mentor, he can mature further. His runs down the flank are usually wasted by his crossing ability, or lack of it as most of his crosses are met by the defenders head. He can improve this part of his game.
His inexperience also effects his attitude and too often he lacks control over himself. He commits unnecessary fouls that lets him and his teammates down. He has already received 3 yellow cards and a red this season. As he grows older, he will probably mature and become a ‘smarter’ tackler.
Earlier on in his career he had a recurrent knee problem, that however seems to have been taken care of.
Suitability and Availability
Feghouli was linked with a move to Liverpool according to some media reports, nothing concrete has been established yet. He has also been linked to high-spending PSG in recent weeks. Feghouli’s current contract runs until 2014 and would be available for a decent price in January, and would allow interested parties to dictate terms in the summer.
Currently attacking midfield is not an area Rodgers would be looking to improve but rather he’d want a defensive back-up to Lucas. Liverpool however lack a natural winger as such who prefer to stick to the flanks. Currently the wide men at Rodgers’ dispersal are instructed to play ‘invertedly’. Feghouli maybe a welcome change in that sense.
As mentioned, Feghouli has similar traits to a younger Steven Gerrard and personally I feel his real talent is being wasted out wide. A more central position, behind the striker, is what would suit Feghouli with a more natural centre forward ahead of him. Hence it will be interesting to see if Rodgers does indeed go in for him, and if he employs him in a more central role.
The Algerian international may even prefer to stay in Valencia with the Spanish club still in the Champions League. It is unlikely that he will leave the Mestalla in January. He should be available for a cut-price of around £10million in the summer when only a year will be left on his contract.
Browse our previous scout reports here.
Scout reports coming up later this week: Theo Walcott, Stefan de Vrij and Alex Pearce.