If there’s one thing to be learnt from Liverpool’s hectic winter period, in which they recorded near identical 2-1 defeats to title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s that the injury-stricken Steven Gerrard’s monolithic presence was sorely missed.
Well, I guess that’s considered a given on Merseyside, but even so, the England international’s recent absence has highlighted firstly, a major flaw in the Reds’ squad depth, and secondly, concerns over finding a long-term successor to Captain Fantastic.
One man who could go some way to address that mid-season is Sevilla star Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian midfielder has always received rave reviews from his spells with FC Basel, Schalke and now in La Liga, but appears to be amid a real coming of age campaign that’s seen him claim eight goals and six assists in 16 league starts.
Along the way, the 25 year-old has averaged 2.4 tackles, 2.4 interceptions, 2.7 shots and 2.7 key passes per match, switching between defensive, central and attacking midfield, suggesting a very accomplished all-round game.
In shades of Stevie G, he’s also a set piece specialist and is renowned for his exceptional finishes from long-range. There’s no doubt he could go some way to replicating the Anfield legend’s prolific output from midfield, and his creative influence in the final third.
The Croatian international has furthermore continually delayed on contract negotiations, with his current deal with the La Liga outfit set to expire in 2015.
Sevilla will want to sell before the value of by far their most marketable player begins to depreciate, and will be caught between a rock and a hard place this January if a serious offer comes in.
Some believe that serious offer could be as low as £10million, but with recent interest from Manchester United and Chelsea well documented, Rakitic’s price-tag could easily sore.