With Liverpool having brought an early end to Nuri Sahin’s loan spell at the club, with the 24-year-old returning to finish the campaign at former club Borussia Dortmund, will Brendan Rodgers reluctance to use him go down as a missed opportunity or have they got shot of the player at just the right time?
The Turkey international moved to Anfield in the summer after rivals for his signature Arsenal baulked at the £2.8m loan fee that Real Madrid were demanding, on top of paying 70% of his £90k-per-week wages, meaning the total cost of the move came in at approximately £6.2m altogether. Arsene Wenger withdrew his interest at the eleventh hour after the Spanish giants reneged on a £14m agreed buyout clause in his contract and this lack of protection should the deal turn out to be a success was to be Liverpool’s gain, or so they thought.
After 12 patchy performances on Merseyside, though, of which only seven came in the league, it seems that Rodgers would rather free up the wage bill some more than continue to pay out for a player that has rapidly fallen down the pecking order behind Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Steven Gerrard and the returning Lucas Leiva in recent times. There were calls on Twitter shortly after the deal was cancelled that Sahin simply hadn’t been given enough time to shine, but they were clearly made more due to an appreciation on the player’s reputation as opposed to anything to do with his actual displays.
His performances against WBA and Norwich in early November promised much, but equally he disappointed when the side needed him against Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal early on into his time at the club. In all honesty, many Bundesliga experts doubted whether the switch was the right one for both the player and club prior to his arrival and they’ve been more than proven right in their cynicism.
Sahin appeared to thrive when granted the time and space to pick a pass but in tighter games against quality opposition, he wilted under any sort of physical pressure and the suspicions many had about where he quite fitted into the side when everyone was fit turned out to be true. There was always a worry that he was just that little bit too similar to Joe Allen, but lacking that crucial bit of zip on the turn to pull away from his marker and he found the tempo of the top flight hard going.
The one-and-a-half year loan deal back at Borussia Dortmund, a club and environment which he thrived in before should see him return back to something approaching his best. At successive clubs now his face hasn’t quite fitted and he looked shorn of any sort of confidence during the majority of his brief stay in England.
After completing his move to Spain back in the summer of 2011, his time in the capital didn’t get off to the best of starts after he arrived carrying a medial ligament injury and after being unable to partake during a full pre-season, he slipped back behind Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira in the pecking order. With the side performing so well in the league and in Europe at the time, manager Jose Mourinho understandably remained reluctant to break the successful triumvirate up. That he wasn’t able to adapt saw him struggle both physically and psychologically and the timing of his move was all off, just as it was at Liverpool in the end.
The switch to Liverpool was seen as a shot at redemption, and despite Sahin reportedly favouring Arsenal prior to the move, it seemed his cultured stylings were a sound fit for Rodgers fluid approach. However, it has since been claimed that the deal was never at the manager’s behest, but rather former director of communications Jen Chang’s, in what will go down as only one of a number of poor decisions for the scandal-hit journalist.
Rumours of Sahin’s discontent continued after an interview he gave back in December stated that he felt he wasn’t being utilised correctly: “I’ve played my whole career deeper – that’s my position. But I have played as a No 10 here. It was new for me but I tried my best. If I could choose a position it would be holding, as I feel more comfortable playing deeper and can give my all.” German newspaper Bild reported earlier this month that the player felt ‘betrayed’ before floating suggestions that the player’s relationship with captain Steven Gerrard had deteriorated over the England skipper’s supposed jealousy over the playmaker. Baffling doesn’t even cut it.
He lacked the requisite aggression to fit into Rodgers preferred 4-3-3 system, both on and off the ball and the move will go down as one of the more bizarre deals to have passed through the Premier League in recent years, with Sahin barely even registering a footnote on the club’s inconsistent campaign so far.
Given that Liverpool brought an end to his £90,000-per-week deal on top of Joe Cole’s £100,000-per-week contract so that he could move to West Ham, reports linking the club with a move for Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder might not be quite so wide of the mark after all. With the club’s hierarchy cutting their cloth accordingly over last six months, the wage bill has been slashed by the exits of Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, and there’s clearly more room to manoeuvre for the right player should he become available now than there was before.
The club’s managing director Ian Ayre’s statement to Sky Sports over whether Liverpool would be involved in any more dealings during January spoke volumes that they were mulling over someone of Sneijder’s ilk, but that a compromise on his wages was needed first: “We don’t have any issues with finances, it is about doing what is best in the long-term interests of the football club, always. With the advent of financial fair play it means everyone should be running the club prudently and that does not mean not investing but investing wisely and at the right time, and we will always do that.”
The Netherlands star clearly doesn’t want to move to Turkey, hence the fact that he’s stalling over joining Galatasaray, with Liverpool looking like the only club that’s buying in his preferred destination of the Premier League at the moment, and shifting on Sahin in such a fashion, with the timing behind the move a factor, cannot be a coincidence.
Similar to the deal that saw Robbie Keane arrive at the club under Rafa Benitez for £16m back in 2008 then return back to Tottenham for £12m just six months later, sometimes certain players just don’t fit certain clubs. Of course, that isn’t to say that Sahin isn’t a talented player, but it’s a perfect example of a player not being given enough time to prove himself, but his inept performances not warranting continued selection to get to the point where he would be useful; a catch-22 situation that Liverpool were right to put an end to as quick as possible. Do you simply cut your losses or conitnue to wait and pay the price? Decisive action was needed and Rodgers has shown that in this instance.
Should the cancellation of Sahin’s loan deal lead to a financial package being agreed with Sneijder, then Liverpool will clearly have come out of this whole furore ahead, with a player of real world-class ability in their ranks on a permanent deal. Will they miss the Turkish midfielder, though? Not in the slightest.
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