Liverpool’s Brazilian youth midfielder Allan played just under an hour for Brazil under-20s on Sunday as they defeated England 2-1.
The 19-year-old was the sole representative for Liverpool in this game, as the England squad contained no players from the club’s youth ranks on this occasion.
The Brazilian midfielder is currently on loan at Hertha Berlin, biding his time in the hope he’ll one day be granted a work permit to play football in the UK.
A new number 8
Wearing the number 8 shirt, he took up a position in front of the back four — or, this being Brazil, a back two — covering defensively while also instigating attacks.
Liverpool’s current crop of players in this position aren’t ideal. After a promising adaptation to the role under Rafa Benitez, Allan’s compatriot Lucas has struggled to keep tabs on quicker opposition players since picking up a bad knee injury in 2011.
This leaves the club without a quality defensive midfielder or deep lying playmaker to play in front of the back four — a subject which has been covered heavily as the summer transfer window closed last week.
This is a role Allan doesn’t typically play though, used more often in an attacking trio behind a forward.
Could Allan be the answer?
Jurgen Klopp certainly thinks so. He’s given high praise to the player on several occasions after observing him in training at Melwood.
“I saw him in training and I thought ‘oh my God, what can we do to keep this boy here and bring him into the line-up?’,” said Klopp.
“He’s 19 years old, an outstanding talent, a good player with a good attitude, everybody loves him, he’s a nice lad – so that’s really, really good. He’s a smart player.”
The German manager believes that Allan will become a first team player once his work permit issues are sorted.
“We hope we can find a solution in the future because he will be a fixed part of the squad in the future, for sure.”
Creator or destroyer?
Allan’s certainly more of a playmaker than he is a defensive midfielder at this moment in time, but he’s not averse to covering in defensive areas.
If a centre-back stepped out of the back line to challenge an opposition attacker, Allan would drop in to fill the space.
Sometimes he was the furthest man back, but he needs to work on maintaining the line as he could make it easy for forwards to stay onside.
He also managed to pick up a yellow card for a mistimed challenge. The type of foul Lucas has made his trademark!
Allan also covered for the central defenders when his side had the ball, sitting deep while a centre-back carried the ball out, resisting the temptation to follow them up the pitch.
This type of insurance can also be useful in teams where both full-backs make forays forward.
The defensive area of the game is one which he could grow into once he reaches his twenties, and he could become one of those sought after playmakers who can also defend.
But should he fail to improve this part of his game, he could easily play in a more creative role further upfield.
He’s comfortable on the ball, using his preferred left foot to help his side keep possession and spray passes further up to more attacking players.
He can look slow at times when moving around the pitch off the ball, but he has the ability to burst into life, accelerating quickly to close down or to take up a better position.
Allan was withdrawn on 57 minutes after comfortable performance against an England side which didn’t test him too much.
Brazil took the lead in the first ten minutes when a cross from the right fell favourably to Paqueta to tapped home.
Their lead was doubled when Man United left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson played a terrible back-pass to goalkeeper Freddie Woodman. The Newcastle teenager couldn’t control the ball, allowing Malcom to pounce to make it 2-0.
England failed to make the most of a penalty opportunity when Harry Chapman’s spot kick was saved by the considerable frame of Caique in the Brazil goal.
Aidy Boothroyd’s men pulled a goal back with ten minutes to go through a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header, setting up an exciting finish, but is was Allan’s Brazil who held on for the win at the Aggborough Stadium in Kidderminster.