With social media rife with speculation that Samed Yesil will start for Liverpool vs. Hull City on Tuesday night, Jack Lusby provides the lowdown on the young striker.
Ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Hull City, manager Brendan Rodgers has a series of difficult selection questions to answer—he may have come up with one unconventional solution in 20-year-old striker Samed Yesil.
With the Great Wall of Melwood yet to be erected, social media is bubbling with the rumour that Yesil could start in the Reds’ midweek Premier League clash.
It would seem that Samed Yesil could start for Liverpool against Hull tomorrow night. #LFC
— BetGOAT (@BetGoatUK) April 27, 2015
This would look to solve the attacking problems Rodgers has faced of late, with Daniel Sturridge facing a continued spell on the sidelines with injury, Mario Balotelli consistently out of favour and Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini no more than last-minute substitute options.
But just who is Yesil?
Liverpool signed Yesil in a £1 million agreement with Bayer Leverkusen in 2012, becoming the fourth signing of Rodgers’ Merseyside tenure, following the arrivals of Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and the elusive Oussama Assaidi.
Tipped for big things from the start, Yesil arrived after high praise of the club from then-Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia.
“I spoke with Sami Hyypia, he helped me. He told me very important things about Liverpool, the quality of Liverpool and the quality of life here, and how famous the club is,” Yesil said upon signing.
“I will work hard here. I have read how the manager here will make a team that is young and that makes many passes, and I think I can be the right player for this.
“I am a goal getter, but it is important that I improve physically on my body because the Premier League is a hard league.”
After scoring 22 goals in 26 games for the German U16s, U17s and U18s on the international stage, including six in the U17s World Cup, it was clear what Liverpool were welcoming: a poacher in the mould of Robbie Fowler.
Boasting a hard-working mentality too, Yesil had the backing of his manager early on. Just a month after his arrival, Rodgers was preparing to give the striker a shot in the Europa League against Young Boys, happily declaring: “Yesil will certainly be fast-tracked.”
In the end, the striker was an unused substitute in the tie—a thrilling 5-3 victory.
Yesil did, however, make two appearances for the Reds in his first season at the club, both in the League Cup. Firstly, in a Nuri Sahin-inspired 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion in a Third Round clash, then the 3-1 loss at home to Swansea City in the following round.
Signs were promising but, despite Rodgers’ best-laid plans, that was it for Yesil—for a long time.
Four months later, Yesil suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for Germany’s U19s, ruling out for the rest of the season. Then, after a successful recovery, it happened again, this time in training.
After two years out of the game, give or take a handful of ill-fated comeback games, Yesil is back. But what can he bring Rodgers at Liverpool?
What Can Yesil Bring to the Liverpool First Team?
Making his long-awaited return for the U21s this season, it seems like Yesil has lost none of his canny knack for the finding the back of the net, hitting two in his second game back—a 3-1 U21s win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
For his first, Yesil made an intelligent, pacey surge into the box and latched onto a through-ball from Ryan Kent, turning with Adam Lallana-like majesty and firing home with his left foot.
His second came from some fancy footwork in the penalty area, eluding the decidedly poor Spurs back line and driving home, again with his weaker left foot.
These two goals typified Yesil’s quality—he is a pure goalscoring centre-forward; a traditional poacher.
On his return, U21s manager Michael Beale described Yesil: “He is that sort of player, around the box things just tend to fall to him, no-one really knows why but that is the mystique of a centre forward.”
Rodgers’ side could definitely do with a striker of that instinct. In theory, Yesil could bring pace, intelligent movement and supreme finishing to the Liverpool first team. He is the type of striker Rodgers adores, who plays off the shoulder of the opposing centre-backs and sniffs out chances with speed and tenacity.
However, a lot of this remains pure theory—but would Rodgers be wrong to experiment at this point?
The Right Approach From Rodgers?
Liverpool have just five Premier League games left, and lying seven points adrift of four-placed Manchester City—albeit with a game in hand—it seems that hopes of a top-four finish this season after gone.
To do so, they would need to defeat champions-to-be Chelsea along the way.
Having likely missed out on the Champions League next season, it seems to be Europa League once again for Rodgers’ side—and does it really matter where they finish beyond that? Fifth, sixth or seventh, the margins are minute.
Therefore, now may well be the time for the manager to start planning for next season.
This could come in the form of Yesil, and perhaps other young players like Kent and Harry Wilson—they can hardly do worse than the rest of the Reds’ forwards have of late.
Of course, rumours may not be true—however typically accurate Liverpool team leaks seem to be—and Yesil may not feature at the KC Stadium. But, by all means, Rodgers should use this period to experiment, to try new formulas and look for solutions.
Yesil’s return could prove a triumph yet.
Should Samed Yesil come into Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool first-team squad for the rest of the season? Let us know in the comments below.