Maybe Brendan Rodgers is having a well-deserved mini break in Rome, or perhaps, just perhaps, he’s made a little trip to assess a potential move for Miralem Pjanic… Well, that’s what the reports suggest, with the Northern Irishman believed to be planning for life after Steven Gerrard.
So, is the Bosnia & Herzegovina international worth the fuss? Or has Rodgers wasted his air miles? We think the former, and here are FIVE reasons why…
Goals win games, so a source of goals and assists is vital. Although Pjanic is not exactly prolific, his stats rank among those of Liverpool’s two main attacking central midfielders – Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard. Despite hitting fewer shots, the Bosnian has outscored the former and his passing numbers are slightly more impressive than those of ‘Stevie G’.
In a slick Liverpool team, Pjanic may even be able to improve his return.
With Gerrard on his way out of the club, Liverpool are now short of set-piece takers. The skipper has netted some simply stunning free-kicks over the years, and when not on the pitch there appear to be few genuine alternative options at dead-balls. Mario Balotelli has rifle of a shot, but it’s tricky to score from the bench, while Jordan Henderson is unproven and Philippe Coutinho’s strikes are often a little wayward.
Brought through in the Lyon team with Juninho Pernambucano, the 24-year-old appears to have picked up some technique from the Brazilian, with his record from set-pieces pretty good! As well as firing the ball goalwards, he is also adept at whipping crosses in from wide, which is of use with powerful defenders such as Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho in the area.
At 24, the years are still on Pjanic’s side, with his abilities likely to improve in the coming seasons. Rodgers is known for his ability to nurture emerging payers, and with the Bosnian about to enter his peak years, he could well help the playmaker to kick on to the next level.
There is also the angle of sell-on value, with Pjanic’s price-tag likely to increase hugely if he impresses in England.
The elephant in the room is Gerrard’s impeding exit. The skipper is heading off to LA to retire in the Californian sunshine, and despite his fading powers, his abilities will be missed. Pjanic, although not a direct replacement in terms of style, could help to fill the void, with his passing ability impressive.
£25m may not exactly be a small amount of cash, but in the wild world of football, such a sum is not too drastic for a proven international midfielder, especially with the eye watering figures being paid into the beautiful game in terms of TV revenue.
When Angel di Maria cost £60m and the likes of Marouane Fellaini have moved for in excess of £25m, Pjanic appears to be good value.