As with any summer period, no games means the attention and discussion inevitably gets turned towards player recruitment – those that will come in and those that will be moved on. However, so far this summer break, there has been far more speculation as to who is coming in than leaving.
An early signing of Kolo Toure has been followed by increasing reports that Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas is set join Liverpool, with Sporting defender Tiago Ilori supposedly about follow him through the Anfield door. Talk of Shakhtar star Henrik Mkhitarayan and Sevilla’s Luis Alberto is hotting up as the days go by and although speculation of moves for Schalke hardman Kyriakos Papadopolous and Porto’s Christian Atsu has quitened, indications suggest that both are still very much on the cards.
So far, the only genuine talk surrounding an outgoing is big-money misfit Andy Carroll, who is reportedly stalling on a permanent switch to East London, with it believed that the reason for the delay being the striker waiting for an offer to return to home-town club, Newcastle United. Luis Suarez rumours went wild after he revealed his frustrations with the treatment of the English media towards him, but nothing concrete has surfaced following his comments and all has gone quiet, along with talk of Pepe Reina leaving for Barcelona, luckily.
But over the last few days there have been murmurings of a departure for young midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who currently finds himself way down the pecking order of midfielders at Rodgers’ disposal with Norwich, Stoke, Fulham and West Ham all reportedly monitoring his situation. But does Shelvey still have a role to play at the club?
I first saw Shelvey play when he was just 17 at Charlton Athletic and although at the time he was playing League One football, it was quite clear to me that he was more than capable of moving higher. That day, he lined up in central midfield, bossed the game and scored in a 2-1 win for his side. His display left me very impressed considering his age and when I first noticed speculation starting to rise, I wasn’t surprised. What I admired most were his mental attributes – he was fearless, brave on the ball, demanding of his teammates and didn’t for one moment shy away. He also provided a presence in midfield with his size, ability to tackle and cover ground.
But alongside that and most importantly, Shelvey showed signs that he could really play the game. He got himself into the box, timing his runs from midfield to get on the end of crosses (like his goal) and it was evident he had an eye for a pass and good awareness. However, I felt what let him down at the time, perhaps slightly harshly seeing as he was very young, was his touch and I still feel it does now, over three years on.
Alongside an inconsistent first touch, especially in the final third, I also find Shelvey to be incredibly wasteful in front of goal – taking on ambitious shots from all angles and missing a few sitters. He lacks the intricacy, craft and patience to play the style that Rodgers wants and is more of an industrious type of player.
If he was to play anywhere, for me it would be in the ‘ball-winning’ role that Lucas occupies but I even question whether Jonjo would be disciplined enough positionally to carry out that instruction with him being an all-action midfielder who likes to be around the ball. Shelvey never hesitates to get involved in games, and doesn’t go hiding unlike some, but I feel that for what Rodgers is trying to achieve, Shelvey doesn’t feature.
Looking at midfield options, the others are ahead of him in terms of what they can offer. Lucas is a better holding player, Steven Gerrard has a better passing range and is therefore a better deep-lying play-maker, Jordan Henderson has proven to be better technically with the ball at his feet and more suited to Rodgers style and he doesn’t have the creativity of the little wizard, Phillipe Coutinho.
What I like about Jonjo Shelvey is unfortunately out-weighed by what I don’t and I really do struggle to see where his future could be on the pitch at Anfield. With Joe Allen set to return from injury next season and potentially more arrivals incoming over the summer, Shelvey’s days at Liverpool are numbered and it is time to move him on, but I do wish him well for the future.