The heart of the Liverpool midfield looks set for a slight revamp following Argentina skipper Javier Mascherano expressing his desire to leave the club this summer. After three years in the North West reports suggest his family are unhappy in England and the 26-year-old now looks set to be reunited with former manager Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan in the coming weeks.
It looks increasingly likely that the man brought into replace Mascherano will be Danish international Christian Poulsen who according to his agent will complete a £5m move to Anfield early this week.
“It won’t take more than a week before this is sorted out,” Jorn Bonnesen, the player’s agent, told Ekstra Bladet.
“It might be all ready in the beginning of next week. Christian Poulsen is Roy’s man. He will be playing as defensive midfielder at Liverpool. I returned home with a good and positive impression.”
Poulsen would represent a direct replacement for want-away star Mascherano and his experience and reasonable transfer fee makes him an ideal signing for new manager Roy Hodgson. The Reds will not sell their Argentine star for anything less than £25m and with European giants Barcelona and Inter Milan fighting for the player’s services, they should see their asking price fully matched. Mascherano’s sale and Poulsen’s arrival will free up around £20m of funds for Hodgson which he can use to re-enforce the rest of his squad, with another striker his priority.
Despite his age, the 30-year-old has all the right qualities to be a hit on Merseyside. While Brazilian star Lucas could have filled Mascherano’s role, Poulsen’s outstanding defensive capabilities makes him the better candidate. Poulsen played some of the best football of his career in two fantastic seasons at Sevilla between 2006-08, where he won the UEFA and Spanish Cup and earned a fearsome reputation for his combative style in midfield. However following a move to Juventus in 2008, Poulsen’s performances in Serie A were heavily criticised and he has since been told by manager Luigi Delneri to find a new club.
Hodgson is a massive fan of Poulsen and will know how to get the best out of him having managed him as a youngster in Denmark. If any doubts remain over the player’s ability at the highest level then Hodgson is the man to extinguish them. Hodgson signed the Danish star soon after taking over at FC Copenhagen in 2000 and together they transformed a team that had finished eighth the season before into Superliga champions.
“Poulsen is a legitimate transfer target if it can happen; he’s a player I know well. I kick-started his career some years ago now and I’ve followed him closely ever since,” admitted Hodgson.
“If we could get him from Juventus for a price I consider to be reasonable, he will be a very good addition to our squad.”
Poulsen could indeed be the kick-start needed in the Liverpool engine room following some questionable performances from Mascherano over the last 12 months. The former Corinthians man looked distracted at times last season as he angled for a move abroad and the club are right to get rid of a player who clearly doesn’t want to be there. While a world class talent like Mascherano will be missed, his hefty transfer fee and more than adequate replacement softens the blow. His departure is a lot more manageable than if either star Fernando Torres or Steven Gerrard had requested to leave. Should the move for Poulsen pay off this season then Hodgson will again be applauded for his deft hand in the transfer market.
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