Looking Closer: Joe Allen

Allen the Dragon about to become a Potter

Stoke look to be close to securing some defensive midfield depth as it was confirmed on Wednesday night that a fee has been agreed between Liverpool and the Potters for Joe Allen. The Welsh Pirlo, The Welsh Xavi, Jesus, call him what you will but Allen looks to be in the dropzone at Liverpool and Stoke are looking to catch him. If reports are to be believed, Stoke have shunted Swansea away from re-signing their former player but could face late competition if the Swans match or better the £13m asking price.

Allen is 26 years old who grew up through the ranks and leagues at Swansea before following boss Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool in 2012 for £16.5m. Allen’s association with Rodgers ended last season as Jurgen Klopp became manager before he could get over his early season injury trouble. Clearly Jurgen was not as big a fan as Rodgers was, as last season Allen featured in 19 league games for the reds (starting just 8) and grabbed two goals and one assist in that time. However, Allen quickly burst into the spotlight this season during Wales’ campaign at this Summer’s European Championships. He helped his country to reach the semi-finals in the competition and also features in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament, picked ahead of several midfield behemoths such as Paul Pogba. Despite this gleaming accolade and Klopp saying he’d like to keep Allen, he seems like dead metal over on Merseyside and the club seem to be looking to replace him.

Allen’s strengths obviously include the reason why he’s been called the Welsh Pirlo: he defines ‘Passing 101’. His distribution is razer sharp and has always boasted an impressive passing accuracy: averaging 88% during his 5 years in the Premier League. Some may claim that Allen may only play it safe to achieve such a record, but he’s known to be an enabler of counter attacks and looks to shift the ball up the field to create chances. At first glance, Allen appears to be a bit of a pussycat and not want to get involved with the defensive side of football; as it turns out Joe Allen is one of the most impressive midfield defenders in the league. He’s someone who likes to launch himself into a tackle and has the highest interceptions per game at Liverpool by far. Despite only being 26, he begins the 2016/17 campaign with five years of top flight experience under his belt, meaning that a move to a fellow Premier League club wouldn’t require a great deal of settling in. The only slightly concerning factor surrounding Allen would be his injury record, missing nearly a year of football over the last four seasons due to injury; however when comparing that record to that of some Stoke players, that can be excused.

Joe Allen would most certainly provide competition for Glenn Whelan’s spot, something that Stoke fans have been anxious to acquire for a long time. When Whelan is missing, Stoke lack that midfield tornado that sweeps up the mess in front of the back four. Even with Whelan available, he’s now 32 and surely will only deteriorate from here on in. Allen seems to be the perfect replacement for Glenn and seems likely to start ahead of him immediately given the price tag. Allen would certainly be more mobile than Whelan and also boasts a certain flair which the Irish enforcer does not, without dropping his defensive duties. He is also versatile enough to fill in for the likes of Giannelli Imbula when required and would probably be chosen to fill that role ahead of Charlie Adam. As long as Allen is fit, he’s likely to be one of the first names on the team sheet. He has carried a monkey on his back during his time at Liverpool and probably doesn’t quite fit the style or quality that Jurgen Klopp demands of his Liverpool side, but Allen performed admirably at Swansea and may excel again at a club with which he is submitted to less pressure and expectation.

With Liverpool approving of Allen’s departure, as long as negotiations with the player himself go well and he would like a move away from his current club, Stoke should be confident of securing Allen’s signature. As mentioned before, Swansea are also keeping tabs on Allen and he may be persuaded to return to his homeland as an alternative to moving to the Midlands, but Stoke have moved quickly and that can only emit positive feeling towards the player and the club’s desire. There’s no need to have a panic attack if Allen chooses not to move to Stoke, as Hughes is allegedly still keeping tabs on Juventus’ Mario Lemina and may move for him as an alternative. But all the signs indicate that Allen will be a Stoke City player soon and may kick off an influx of new recruits. Stoke’s week regarding transfers has been chaos, 2 days in a row Stoke have been reported to have officially made big bids for first team quality players and look to address the current lack of activity around the club. By the end of the week we could have an entirely fresh team, with Joe Allen at the heart of it… Who’d have thought it, eh?

The boys over at Wizards of Drivel challenged us to produce a geeky article to contest with theirs that was written recently. I hope you’ve managed to find the eleven Robot Wars puns in honour of the return of the TV show this Sunday. If you didn’t, you’re gonna Kilalot of fan’s dreams. Sorry not sorry.

Written by Ben Rowley

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