With Aly Cissokho becoming somewhat of a forgotten man at Anfield, Ben Twelves discusses the on-loan defender’s future on Merseyside.
Since arriving at Anfield on a season-long loan from Valencia, it’s fair to say that Aly Cissokho’s spell on Merseyside so far hasn’t gone according to plan. Question marks over Jose Enrique’s capabilities as a first choice left back saw Brendan Rodgers increase competition by bringing the Frenchman in, but so far Cissokho has failed to establish himself.
It could be argued of course that Cissokho has been unlucky. Injury on his first start in Liverpool red in the Capital One Cup at home to Notts County, saw him stretchered off after just ten minutes of the game. The injury resulted in the new recruit missing six games in all competitions and losing out on any chance to show Rodgers why he should be starting over his Spanish counterpart.
In that time, Jose began to perform closer to level which persuaded Kenny Dalglish to bring him to the club. But a persistent knee problem for the Spaniard which would require surgery, meant him being ruled out for a number of months and once again, the opportunity for Cissokho to stake his claim for a starting berth reopened.
Opportunities At Last
The 2-2 draw at St James’ Park in October saw Cissokho deployed in a left wing-back role, where in truth, he looked very uncomfortable which showed with an unimpressive performance. But Aly kept his place in the side for the 4-1 win over West Brom and started in our 2-0 away defeat at the Emirates, where he turned in a very poor first half performance, was hauled off at half time and left sections of the clubs’ support praying for a swift recovery for Enrique.
Seemingly little other option at that time saw Rodgers keep the faith with the 26 year old who again started in the 4-0 demolition of Fulham, a game which I watched at Anfield. A change back to a four man defence presented the chance for Cissokho to play in his favoured position – as a left back.
The overriding feeling on the loanee from that day was his lack of attacking nous and productivity – key ingredients for full-backs to possess for Rodgers. With the amount of quality play that came through Glen Johnson down the right, we could have actually played without Cissokho on the left.
Another below average performance left the thought of the Frenchman playing in a high-tempo derby game next time out a frightening one.
Cissokho’s uninspiring form provided food for thought for the manager, who ultimately decided to drop him for the derby at Goodison Park for the relatively inexperienced and natural right back, Jon Flanagan. The on-loan left back had his chances in the team, but failed to impress in any of them.
Even before Flanagan’s man of the match display, the writing was on the wall for Cissokho. His confidence was sure to be affected after being dropped and psychologically for the new signing, it must have had an impact. The fact Flanagan has gone on to keep his place in the side while the on-loan left back has featured at times for the clubs’ Under 21 side speaks volumes about how his Liverpool career has unfolded.
There are some positives to Cissokho’s loan though. We brought in cover and even a possible contender for a starting place with it all up to Aly himself to show what he can offer with no real burden of trying to shift him on if it doesn’t work out.
Also the move was a cheap one. If the reports are true, it was only a £1 million loan fee with the chance to make the move a permanent for as little as £3million if in the best interests of all parties. In truth, a permanent move isn’t something in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club.
In fact, never mind making the move a permanent one, is there actually any point in keeping Cissokho beyond January?
With Flanagan clearly first choice after his excellent displays and Martin Kelly the back-up full-back option on the bench, as well as the ability to switch Glen Johnson to the opposite side, it really is a struggle to see where the French defender will actually get game time.
Perhaps his best chance to play could come when the FA Cup commences, but even then, the recently promoted Brad Smith, who Rodgers has stated could feature in the second half of the season, may be a preferred and alternative option. The only reason it would make sense to keep Cissokho at this moment, would be in case of a dreaded injury crisis.
Therefore, the next step for Aly Cissokho is to return to parent club Valencia and unless something drastically changes, it makes perfect sense for that to happen in January.