With Portsmouth given special dispensation to sell their players outside of the official transfer window, Liverpool should take advantage of Pompey’s plight, and make a bid for Algerian left-back Nadir Belhadj.
Roma and CSKA Moscow are known to be interested in the defender, with Portsmouth looking to gleam around £4.5 million from the players transfer. Even Barcelona were said to be interested, following Belhadj’s showing for Algeria in the African Cup of Nations, with Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez heaping praise on the Algerian fullback. Whilst Liverpool face an uncertain summer regarding the size of their transfer budget, surely the talented Algerian is within their budget.
Fabio Aurelio looks set to leave the club this summer having suffered niggling injuries over the past two seasons, and so is unlikely to be offered a new contract by Benitez after his current deal expires this summer. Further, whilst Benitez will be patient with 21 year old Emiliano Insua, at 27, Belhadj would bring experience and an attacking dimension to a Liverpool team that could be short in the left full-back department next term.
Belhadj would take no time to adapt to Premier League football, having spent the past two seasons plying his trade at Fratton Park, after joining the club permanently for £3.8 million in January 2009 after an initial loan move from RC Lens. The defender, like Glen Johnson, is excellent going forward, and would offer Liverpool width and an attacking threat on the left which they often lack. For example, whilst Babel has recently secured a run of games in the side and offered Liverpool more of a threat from the left, Liverpool have at times looked too narrow this season. Injury to Glen Johnson, and the fact that Dirk Kuyt is deployed as a wide attacking midfielder player, has often left Liverpool lacking penetration on the wings. The signing of Belhadj however, would provide Benitez with another attacking option, and especially against weaker teams where Liverpool need to attack, Belhadj could be a useful addition.
Belhadj is not perhaps the strongest defender, and Benitez may not wish to sign another defender ala Glen Johnson, who is excellent going forward but poor defensively. However, in todays game, fullbacks are often the best source of width in the game, and need to be competent going forward. Further, Liverpool often play with two holding midfield players, so there is no reason for the full back not to attack when one of the two holding players can offer cover.
Belhadj has good Premier League experience, and owing to Portsmouth’s financial woes, Liverpool could get him relatively cheaply, freeing up cash to invest in other areas. He is a flair player, and his pace, skill and overall attacking ability would arguably serve the club well. However, with CSKA Moscow likely to make a bid immanently, Benitez could be set to miss out on a Premier League bargain.
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