Inevitably perhaps, considering that Liverpool have appointed a Frenchman as Director of Football Strategy recently, but many of the recent rumours surrounding Liverpool Football Club have had a Gallic taste to them. In many cases, it maybe just lazy journalist randomly picking out French names from a hat to initiate another round of rumours, but I would like to think there is no small smoke without fire, especially with the amount of French players being linked with the Reds.
After all, it is not much of a stretch to suggest that as head of player recruitment, Damien Comolli’s preferred targets would be in France as it is the market which he is most familiar with. Added to the fact that Roy Hodgson has watched Lille, Rennes and Saint-Etienne in action over recent times, it does suggest also that he maybe looking over some targets suggested by Comolli. The list of names that have been linked with Liverpool over recent weeks then is not surprising. Yvann M’Vila, Dimitri Payet, Blaise Matuidi, Mamodou Sakho, Eden Hazard, Gervinho, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann have all one thing in common; they are young. One of the most important aspects of NESV’s transfer policy. In addition they are either French or have played in the French league suggesting Comolli has already changed the focus of Liverpool’s scouting department. Under Chief Scout Eduardo Macia and previous manager Rafa Benitez many of the transfer links inevitably came from Spain but Macia’s influence is seemingly on the wane with transfers under the guidance of Comolli.
So are the French connections a good thing? They are certainly both positive and negative aspects to such a focus on young French talent. Firstly to the positives:
Technically gifted and with the potential to be world class if given the right support, there is no doubt bringing in players such as Mamodou Sakho, Blaise Matuidi, Yvann M’Vila, Eden Hazard (Belgian) and Dimitri Payet could reap the benefits in the future. If we look at the players listed they are look like exciting young prospects:
Mamadou Sakho – Made captain of PSG at just 17, the young centre back made an impressive debut for France against England at Wembley
Yann M’Vila – Rennes defensive midfielder, still only 20 but played very well for France against England.
Blaise Matuidi – Another defensive midfielder, 23 year old Matuidi is the captain of Saint-Etienne already.
Eden Hazard – Lille’s Belgian attacking midfielder, dubbed the “New Messi” and very highly rated by French legend Zinedine Zidane. Got a 9/10 by French newspaper L’Equipe for his performance against Monaco last weekend, not a mean feat as only five other players have achieved full marks.
Dimitri Payet – Saint-Etienne winger, aged 23, who has been on fire in front of goal this season with 8 goals in Ligue One.
Certainly there are a lot of players here to be excited about, but there are always negatives. The cost for some of these players will be very high. M’Vila has been rated at £9m while Hazard will be a great deal more than that. Spending a great deal of money on young foreign players can be a risk. Nobody needs reminding about the £10m spent on a player from Ligue One, El-Hadji Diouf, or the purchase of Bruno Cheyrou to know it can backfire. Comolli, Hodgson and the scouting team must be sure that these players are capable of playing in the Premier League before any offers are made.
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