Two teams with contrasting fortunes this season are Liverpool and West Ham. The Reds enjoyed an excellent 2013/14, while the Hammers endured managerial turmoil and a brief flirtation with the idea of relegation, but this term the tables have been flipped, with Brendan Rodgers flailing in midtbale while Sam Allardyce looks longingly at the top four. It may be a bit simplistic, but a key part of this change in fortunes has been the role of Alexandre Song, who was linked with Liverpool, before eventually joining West Ham on loan for the season.
The impact of the ex-Arsenal man has been truly staggering so far, with his robust nature, quality on the ball and steadying influence in the middle of the park all major boosts to the Irons’ quest. And it appears that Song’s influence has been so great that the Merseysiders are now back in the running for his services.
Reports claim that the African ace could be Gerrard’s long-term replacement. But, does such a scenario make sense? And should Liverpool pursue him?
The statistics really do make for interesting reading. For the purposes of comparison, let’s line Song up alongside Gerrard, obviously, Emre Can and Lucas – who both operate as holders at Anfield – and Fabian Delph, who himself is reportedly a candidate to replace the 34-year-old. Although Song rarely top the standing in a set area, the Cameroon star clearly provides better cover defensively than Gerrard, with his tackles won, interceptions and superior aerial record all factors. Lucas’ shielding may be slightly superior, while Can has impressed in the air, but the Brazilian’s all-out holding style of play and the German’s presence in a back three may sway the figures.
There is so much more to Song’s game than purely sitting, with the video above taking a trip down memory lane. In his time at Arsenal, the 27-year-old was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, with his eye for a pass enough to tempt Barcelona at the peak of their powers. He may not have made the grade at the Nou Camp, many have struggled, but a return to familiar ground England has coincided with an upturn in fortunes.
So, is he worth it? Dependent on the fee Barca demand and their willingness to sell, YES. Song offers much that Gerrard cannot provide and would be the perfect anchor to a midfield that has lacked a shield in front of the backline. His presence could free up Jordan Henderson to move forward, while keeping Coutinho nearer the final third.