Tag Archives: Yann M’Vila

5 Transfer Targets Liverpool Must Land to Keep Them in Top Four Contention

Twenty days into the January transfer window, and no new signing has been strongly rumored to be close to a switch to Liverpool, much less seen at Anfield.

Given the momentum that the Reds have regained following the tough Christmas period, Liverpool fans would be forgiven for waiting anxiously for new signings to strengthen Brendan Rodgers’ squad to face the business end to the Premier League season.

Not that there haven’t been any rumors of player transfers, though: Almost no day passes without a new name surfacing, which has prompted even more discussion and debate about which players Liverpool should really be looking at.

After club owner John W. Henry flew into Merseyside and witnessed a frustrating 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, perhaps the need for further reinforcements has become more pressing than ever, if they are to achieve their ambitions of returning to the Champions League.

Here are five transfer targets that Liverpool must look to land this January to keep them in top-four contention for the rest of the season. Let us know your picks and views in the comments below.

 

Mohamed Salah

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Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Not necessarily the most urgent need on the pitch by any stretch of the imagination, but FC Basel’s Mohamed Salah represents a winger who can break open defences with his pace and contribute goals from the midfield area.

After incessant rumors linking Salah with a switch to Anfield almost all winter, Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph reported yesterday that Liverpool may finally be ready to launch a formal bid for the Egyptian winger.

With Daniel Sturridge returning to the side following an injury layoff, a current forward line featuring Luis Suarez, Sturridge and Raheem Sterling has goals, pace and dribbling in abundance, but Philippe Coutinho, who arrived last January, hasn’t found his top form for the Reds this season.

If Salah could be another source of match-winners to Anfield, he could turn out to be an important signing for Liverpool this January.

 

Antonio Candreva

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A recent new name linked with a move to Anfield is Lazio’s Antonio Candreva, who, according to Charles Perrin of the Express, is reportedly in the middle of a £7 million co-ownership tug-of-war between Lazio and Udinese.

That Candreva is linked with a move to Liverpool is somewhat surprising: The Premier League hasn’t enjoyed a good track record with Italian midfielders, and the Reds have only recently rid themselves of a big-money transfer failure in Alberto Aquilani.

But Candreva might bring something that Aquilani was never known for: pace, stamina and work rate, on top of some much-needed composure and passing ability in the midfield.

Equally comfortable in the center of midfield and on the wing, Candreva would bring an assured presence to Rodgers’ midfield amid the recent experimentations of Steven Gerrard in a holding role and the recent injury to Lucas, sustained against Aston Villa on Saturday.

 

Martin Montoya

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Besides the midfield, another priority for Liverpool this January has to be in defence.

The centre-back situation is currently embarrassingly chaotic as Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure just can’t seem to stop leaking goals, but with Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger to return, the more pressing need lies in the full-back area.

Glen Johnson has exhibited a disappointing and alarming decline in form this season, while Aly Cissokho’s constantly underwhelming performances are not helped by Jose Enrique’s continued absence.

The solution? A soon-to-be out-of-contract Martin Montoya of Barcelona, who has been strongly linked with the Reds. According to Liam Prenderville of the Mirror though, Montoya seems content to stay at Camp Nou and wait for a new deal.

Ian Ayre and Co. must act fast to secure a player who would be an excellent versatile defender to join the Liverpool ranks.

 

Fernando Reges

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Given Lucas’ injury on Saturday—he left Anfield on crutches, according to the Express—and a lack of true defensive options in the Reds midfield, it’s the defensive midfield area that they truly need to strengthen.

A name that’s been thrown around is Fernando Reges of FC Porto, who, according to Ben Jefferson of the Express, has piqued the interest of Brendan Rodgers and his management team.

Considering that he will be out of contract in the summer and that his rumored extension agreement may just be a transfer tactic, Reges would be far too good a signing to pass up on.

He would bring pace, power, stamina, excellent tackling and short passing skills to the Liverpool midfield that has been short of a strong defensive presence this season, and would be an instant upgrade in the starting XI.

 

Yann M’Vila

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But if the Reds do miss out on Fernando Reges, all would be forgiven if the midfielder signed instead would be Yann M’Vila of Rubin Kazan.

As we discussed in our scout report on M’Vila last week, he would bring a complete package of strength, stamina, power and pace, allied with composure and ball-playing technique.

Given his history of off-field controversies, he does bring with him some baggage, but if he performs to his potential, M’Vila could anchor the Reds midfield for years to come and establish himself as one of the premier midfielders in all of Europe.

The latest rumor from the Mirror is that Brendan Rodgers is now considering a loan move for M’Vila first, before signing him on a permanent deal in the summer.

Whichever path both player and potential manager choose to go down, if Liverpool were to sign just one player to instantly make a splash this January, it would have to be Yann M’Vila.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

Scouting Report on Reported Liverpool Target Yann M’Vila

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Ian Walton/Getty ImagesA week and a half into the January transfer window, Liverpool are still on the lookout for a potential new signing. The latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield is Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, according to the Liverpool Echo.

This news comes on the back of M’Vila’s agent announcing, via the Metro, that the French midfielder “dreams” of playing in the Premier League.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise either, given that he showed up at the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in November to support his friend, Reds defender Mamadou Sakho, as reported by the Daily Mail.

A precocious midfield talent during his days at Rennes, M’Vila was embroiled in a series of controversial antics off the pitch, and in the beginning of 2013, he moved to Russia to continue his career.

Just as we’ve done with Konstantinos Mitroglou and Martin Montoya earlier, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to Yann M’Vila’s potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield and evaluate whether he’d be a good pickup for Brendan Rodgers.

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesPros

Those familiar with Ligue 1 a few seasons back will know of Yann M’Vila as one of the most highly rated midfield talents in French football in his generation during his three-and-a-half seasons at Rennes.

As this Squawka report suggests, M’Vila might not have lost much of his ability despite a fall in reputation with his move to Russia: His passing statistics as of November 2013 were stellar (88 percent accuracy and a total of 770 passes in 14 league games), and his comfort playing in a passing-dominant midfield would suit Liverpool to the ground.

Curiously, given his ball-playing technique and composure, M’Vila is most known as a strong defensive anchorman thanks to his physical strength, athleticism and incredible stamina. His distribution and positioning also makes him a perfect shield in front of the back four.

With his talent, it’s no surprise that former French international Marcel Desailly claimed that he had the potential to become better than Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, according to the Daily Mail. His coach at Rennes, Frederic Antonetti, has afforded him further praise: “He reads the game like Claude Makelele, has the presence of Patrick Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure.” (c/o FIFA.com)

 

Cons

Given his abilities and reputation as a hot midfield prospect for France—he made 22 appearances for the national team, scoring one goal, in the space of just two years—it seems strange to see Yann M’Vila plying his trade in the Russian Premier League with Rubin Kazan.

But his career has been derailed by the aforementioned off-field troubles, the most noteworthy of which was an unauthorized night out while on international duty with the French under-21 team, as reported by BBC Sport, which saw him banned from the France national team in November 2012.

He had previously been given a warning following his snub of then-national team coach Laurent Blanc after his substitution in the quarterfinal against Spain in June 2012, according to BBC Sport.

And before his incidents with the French national setup, he also landed himself in hot water with the authorities in May 2012 after an altercation with a 17-year-old boy near his home, as reported by the Metro.

On the field, M’Vila isn’t the most prolific midfielder either: He has only scored two career league goals, both when he plied his trade for Rennes, for whom he played 126 times in Ligue 1.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesPotential Role at Liverpool

Judging from his playing attributes, Yann M’Vila would bring a complete midfield package to Anfield and should walk straight into Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI.

Comfortable both in central midfield and in a deeper defensive midfield role, M’Vila would be an instant upgrade over the likes of Lucas Leiva at Anfield, and he would form a complete midfield triumvirate with the equally energetic Jordan Henderson and one of Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard.

M’Vila’s pace, strength and positional awareness would help the Reds greatly, given that their midfield has been exposed by dynamic and explosive oppositions, such as Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton.

Rodgers’ ideal midfield system for Liverpool has all three midfielders relentlessly moving and applying pressure to their opponents, moving the ball at pace and comfortably with short passing to open up the opposition. M’Vila would slot in seamlessly to this blueprint.

At just 23 years of age, M’Vila has his best years ahead of him. If Rodgers’ track record with Daniel Sturridge and fellow January signing Philippe Coutinho reflects anything, it’s that the current Reds boss has the ability to motivate players whose careers have perhaps stagnated and unlock their full potential.

As such, not only would M’Vila be a quality signing for Liverpool, but they’d also represent the ideal destination for him to resurrect his career and establish himself as one of the best midfielders in his generation.

 

Conclusion

From our analysis of his strengths and potential role at Liverpool, it’s clear to see that we strongly recommend Yann M’Vila as a Liverpool signing.

In fact, given his attributes and potential ability, as well as what the Reds midfield currently lacks, we’d even go as far as to say that M’Vila should be a priority in the eyes of the Liverpool management.

That his development has been curtailed due to a series of off-field troubles is well-known, but that Rodgers has the man management techniques to bring the best out of a troubled young player is also highly regarded at Anfield. We only have to see Raheem Sterling’s recent improvement after almost a year of off-field distractions to recognize the work Rodgers is doing behind the scenes.

As such, we have every reason to believe that he would be able to do the same with M’Vila, who may well go on to realize his immense potential.

It’s a tantalizing possibility and a mouthwatering prospect: Liverpool should go all-out for Yann M’Vila, who might still have the world at his feet.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

The Midfield Issue: A January Transfer Wishlist for Liverpool

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On paper, it was a 0-2 loss to Premier League leaders Arsenal—only the second time Liverpool had dropped all three points in the league this season. After all, the Reds find themselves in an encouraging third place in the table after 10 games.

But in reality—and this will come as a huge dose of that after the previous weekend’s 4-1 hammering of West Bromwich Albion—this was another display, after the loss to Southampton a couple of months ago, that highlighted the deficiencies in the current Liverpool setup.

Besides the sheer class and quality in the Arsenal midfield ranks (with Mesut Ozil providing a premium addition to the likes of Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and the ever-improving Aaron Ramsey), we saw at the Emirates Stadium the clear lack of steel, poise and presence in the Liverpool midfield.

So, in coming up with a January transfer wish list for Liverpool, we consider the midfield issue and have drawn up a list of eight midfielders that Brendan Rodgers et al should be looking at. Let us know your comments and suggestions in the comments below.

The Essential: Maxime Gonalons

Back in July, Maxime Gonalons decided to stay at Olympique Lyonnais after being linked with a £10 million move to Arsenal, according to the Daily Mail.

If Arsene Wenger’s storied record of successful signings from France weren’t a good enough reason in itself already, there’s also the fact that as Lyon captain, Gonalons has established himself as one of the best and brightest young players in French football.

A product of Lyon’s academy, Gonalons rose to the first team in impressive fashion. He possesses tactical and positional intelligence, as well as tidy passing, tackling and box-to-box stamina. In short: a much-needed presence in the Liverpool midfield.

It’s no surprise that, according to Goal.com, Napoli are interested in the anchorman. At £10 million, Gonalons seems too good a deal to pass up on (just like Tottenham Hotspur’s £9.8 million capture of Etienne Capoue this summer).

All of this makes Maxime Gonalons the essential target for Brendan Rodgers.

The Premium: Nemanja Matic

The defensive midfield name doing the rounds in recent headlines is Benfica’s midfield general Nemanja Matic, most recently linked with Liverpool by Ben Jefferson of the Express.

The former Chelsea starlet, signed aged 21, sent on loan to Vitesse Arnhem and then to Benfica as part of a £21 million swap deal for center back David Luiz, has developed impressively at his current club, winning the Portuguese Primeira Liga Player of the Year award for the 2012/13 season.

The physically formidable midfield destroyer is quick and accurate in the tackle and would add steel to the Reds’ spine.

The stumbling blocks? He’s also being linked with a return to Stamford Bridge by ESPN FC, and at a rumored £38 million (according to the Daily Star), he would cost an arm and a leg.

The Alternative: Blaise Matuidi

£38 million Matic too expensive? Not to worry, for Brendan Rodgers has two great alternative options staring right at him.

The first is Paris St. Germain’s Blaise Matuidi, who has dominated opposing midfields in a PSG shirt for two brilliant seasons. A deep-lying midfielder, Matuidi is an all-round defensive midfielder with strong tackling ability and a creative knack going forward.

His performances in France have attracted interest from abroad, and this has only been exacerbated by his contract situation at the French capital club: His contract runs out in the summer of 2014, and according to the Independent, Premier League powerhouses Chelsea and Manchester City are already preparing pre-contract offers for Matuidi in January.

But with a little ambition and nothing to lose, Rodgers could, and should, enter the fray and change the landscape by opening the bidding with a transfer fee in January. It wouldn’t be the worst decision he’s ever made.

The Steal: Fernando Reges

The second alternative option also has a contract that runs out next summer and is also a powerful defensive midfielder.

The man in question is FC Porto’s Fernando Reges, who incidentally was linked with a move to Liverpool back in 2011 for a fee of £17 million, according to the Daily Mail.

He’s slightly slipped off the radar since but was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool’s cross-town rivals, Everton, toward the very end of the summer transfer window this year, according to the Mirror.

The deal eventually fell through, leaving his club with a tricky contract situation on its hands—and potentially opening the door for Rodgers to swoop in for a cut-price fee in January for what would certainly be a top-class addition to his first-team squad.

The Rough Diamond: Yann M’Vila

By the time January rolls around, it will be a year since Yann M’Vila, previously one of French football’s very finest prospects, surprised all onlookers with a move to Russian club Rubin Kazan.

Blessed with passing ability and superb vision, M’Vila also has stamina, work rate and a mean tackle to boot, making him an ideal defensive midfielder in the Premier League. Indeed, if this BBC Sport report is accurate, M’Vila was close to signing for Everton last January and was also targeted by Queens Park Rangers, then still fighting for survival in the Premier League.

According to a report on the FIFA website, then-club manager Frederic Antonetti had this to say about him back in 2011: “He reads the game like Claude Makelele, has the presence of Patrick Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure.”

Unfortunately, he’s courted controversy with his antics off the field—his period in the national team ended after an unauthorized night out while with the U21 squad—and has been criticized for his outspokenness and attitude.

But with news that Everton are again in the frame, according to Ben Jefferson’s article in the Express, Liverpool would do well to fend off interest from their Merseyside rivals and bring M’Vila in. Given Rodgers’ man-management ability, this would be a good chance for a young prospect to fulfill his undoubted potential.

The Prospect: Will Hughes

Moving away from the defensive midfield (finally) and onto more attacking players, we come across that name on everyone’s lips when it comes to Liverpool and January signings: Derby County’s Will Hughes.

A central midfielder who is technically proficient, adept at dribbling and has an eye for a pass, Hughes has, according to this Telegraph report by John Percy, attracted the attentions of many a top Premier League club, including Liverpool.

Such is the air of resignation that Hughes will eventually leave Derby that manager Steve McClaren conceded that he will eventually “be too good,” but the Rams are still looking to keep him at Pride Park for the rest of the season.

Rodgers may well put that to the test with a bid in January for England’s next midfield hope, but would in all probability need to beat tough competition to succeed.

The Luxury: Javier Pastore

As Brendan Rodgers tries to solve his midfield conundrum and fit Philippe Coutinho into an advanced midfield duo—a system that worked well against West Brom—instead of a solitary No. 10—Coutinho’s customary position—a rumor has arisen that would represent a luxurious addition to the Reds first team.

Javier Pastore was the marquee signing to show that the new owners at PSG meant business: His £30 million capture from Italian club Palermo sent shockwaves around Europe and suggested that PSG might be a new player in the super-club class.

After scoring 17 goals in 66 Ligue 1 matches, Pastore finds himself out of the weekly starting XI as PSG’s revolution continues, and he has duly been linked with a £17 million move to Anfield, according to the Metro‘s Jamie Sanderson.

An attacking midfielder with an eye for goal and exciting creativity, Pastore would be the big-name signing craved at Anfield—but not the final piece in the Liverpool puzzle.

The Dream: Juan Mata

Nothing can excite the Liverpool crowd enough at the moment, however, than the mouthwatering prospect of Juan Mata at Anfield, far-fetched though it may be.

Sitting out of Jose Mourinho’s first team in Chelsea’s first few games this season was enough to see Mata heavily linked with a shock loan move to Liverpool this summer, as reported by the Express, but it was enough to send minds and imaginations soaring.

As long as headlines like this from the Daily Star continue to do the rounds, Liverpool fans won’t stop dreaming of a Mata arrival at Anfield.

And who could blame them? Mata wouldn’t solve the central midfield problems at Liverpool, but he could be the Reds’ own Mesut Ozil-esque ground-shaker.

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.