We take a look at five players from the recent European Under 21’s Championships who could fit in at Liverpool.
There is no doubt that it’s been a pleasant change for Liverpool fans seeing the club attempting to move quickly in the transfer market to secure the signings of some exciting talent; following on from a good January window and learning from previous mistakes. The new strategy of the ‘transfer committee’ has so far seemed to have impressed supporters and the number of voices involved in the group recruiting players right for the club, has provided reds everywhere with a confidence that any target will have been scrutinised and deemed suitable before walking through the door at Melwood.
With deals already agreed for Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto; and plenty more players being linked with moves to Anfield this summer, here are another five names from the recently finished European under 21s Championship that the committee should be keeping tabs on.
Martin Montoya – Spain & Barcelona
A typical modern full-back, the pacey Montoya enjoyed an excellent campaign for the eventual tournament winners, who conceded their first goals of the competition in the 4-2 final victory over Italy. Montoya demonstrated skill, pace and intelligence alongside his defensive capability by winning a penalty for his team which was converted, to all but hand the trophy to Spain. A player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, the Barcelona man also showed his athleticism and speed with marauding forward runs throughout the tournament and his pace and defensive dominance made him very hard to overcome for opposing wingers. With the future of Glen Johnson very much a topic of discussion, Martin Montoya would be my pick for any potential replacement.
Kevin Strootman – Holland & PSV Eindhoven
Holland exited the competition at the semi-final stages after a tidy finish from our very own Fabio Borini knocked them out, but in the four games they faced at the championships in Israel, Strootman displayed his class in every one. Having already been linked with a move and declared “good for Liverpool” by PSV Coach Dick Advocat, it is easy to see why boss Brendan Rodgers is an admirer of the tall left-footer. Skipper of the team, Strootman made everything look easy with his reading of the game and he played simple but effective football, by keeping the ball moving at a tempo suited to our slower build up play style. His calmness in possession and often overlooked industrious ability to win the ball back with his size and strength would certainly appeal, especially with Lucas Leiva facing an uphill battle to recapture his good form shown before injury.
Lorenzo Insigne – Italy & Napoli
A promising tournament ended in disappointment for Italy as they finished runners-up but they arguably wouldn’t have progressed to the latter stages had it not been for the performances of Lorenzo Insigne. Claiming 1 goal and 2 assists in just four matches, the exciting attacking midfielder showed attributes befitting of a Rodgers style player; Intricacy, creativity, technical ability and bravery on the ball. His fluidity and movement would see him very much suited to a role in ‘the 3’ behind the striker and his vision for a pass, cleverness and game intelligence would no doubt see the 5”4 figure contribute to our attacking play. His mentality and work-rate off the ball with his pressing in shutting down opposition players would also see him fit in well with the closing down game that Rodgers is looking to implement.
Stefan De Vrij– Holland & Feyenoord
Centre back looks like it will be a main area of focus for the transfer men at Anfield and with news that club officials have backed away from Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos for the time being, over injury and price concerns, other avenues will be explored. A dominant styled central defender is on the transfer wish list and De Vrij fits this mould with the controlling of opponents and robust style he showed, that would complement the more cultured defender such as Daniel Agger. The semi-final against Italy saw Holland untroubled defensively for large parts but once De Vrij went off, Italy nicked the game 1-0, as Borini was left too much space to turn and strike. The 21-year old, who has already been linked with a move to Merseyside, should certainly be viewed as an alternative option in the quest for a new central defender should Martin Skrtel and Sebastien Coates both leave.
Alvaro Morata – Spain & Real Madrid
Having never played for the Spanish under21s before the championships, Morata recorded a very impressive 4 goals in 5 appearances which included only two starts for the frontman. Pacey and direct, the striker who scored 11 goals in 12 games for Madrid B side ‘Castilla’ and 2 goals in 5 starts for the first team last season, showed his suitability to playing in a system that accommodates one out and out striker, much like Liverpool. Very much a presence in the forward line, Morata’s intelligent movement allowed him to always be an option in and around the box and his forceful style of play combined with his finishing quality meant that any chance that came his way was likely to end in a goal. Having impressive goal scoring records for each of the teams he has played for so far, Morata, with his guarantee goals performances, would surely attract the eyes of those in charge.
After Andy Carroll’s move to West Ham was finally confirmed, players such as Jonjo Shelvey, Stewart Downing, Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel could be next to follow the Geordie misfit out of the club. Even though many will warn against signing players off the back of impressive showings at championships, these players should certainly provide food for thought for the transfer committee.