Rafael Benitez has a knack for spotting good Spanish talent and then bringing it to Anfield. Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Alvaro Arbeloa and, of course, Fernando Torres have all been a massive success on Merseyside. The next generation of Spanish talent at Anfield promises to be just as good, with 19 year old striking sensation Dani Pacheco ready to make his mark in the first team. Another Spaniard who has the potential to succeed, but has been disrupted by injuries, is Francisco Duran.
The 21 year old midfielder was signed in January 2007 from Malaga alongside Alvaro Arbeloa, and while Arbeloa managed to break into the first team and earn a move to Real Madrid, Duran’s career has basically stood still due to a succession of injuries. A cruciate ligament injury suffered in a game against Middlesborough kept the Spanish midfielder out for 9 months in 2007, and then another cruciate ligament injury a month later against Spurs sidelined Duran for the first half of 2008.
The youngster then beat the injury demons to regain fitness for the start of the 2008/09 season, setting up a goal in his first game back in the reserves and earning heaps of praise from then-youth coach Gary Ablett,
“Mentally, the boy is as strong a kid as you will ever meet in terms of what he’s been through, and we are all doing our best to keep the lad going. Fran is probably as technically a gifted a player as we have in the reserve team squad and it’s just unfortunate he’s had these injuries.”
Duran’s good fortunes didn’t last long though. Another serious injury sustained in January 2009 sidelined the midfielder again. Possessing a great touch, good passing and excellent work rate, Duran has the potential to be great and is highly regarded at Anfield. The only problem is what have all the injuries reduced Duran to, and is he physically up to playing in the Premiership? Players have their careers wrecked by injury all the time, and there is major doubt whether Duran will ever be able to fulfill his obvious potential. And with Liverpool still looking for a successor to fill the boots of Xabi Alonso, Duran could have a real chance to break into the Liverpool first team if he can just stay fit.
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