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Liverpool must retain Joe Allen this summer

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If you’ve read the headline of this article, you’re probably thinking that I’ve inherited an impossible argument, but hear me out.

Joe Allen has been unfairly treated during his Liverpool tenure. The Welsh midfielder is regularly peppered with mockery on social media, as shown by the admittedly hilarious work of Darren Farley. Moreover, his questionable facial hair sees him sarcastically referred to as the ‘Welsh Pirlo’. I’m here to rinse the ridicule however.

Wales kick started their Euro 2016 campaign in electric fashion with a 2-1 victory over Slovakia yesterday. While the goal scorers Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu received most of the plaudits, Allen was the engine behind the victory. The Liverpool midfielder even garnered the Man of the Match award for his subtle but vital contributions.

It proved the latest reminder that Allen is arguably one of the most underrated players in British football. The 26-year-old is no world beater don’t get me wrong, but he receives barely half the praise he deserves. If you believed all you saw on your Facebook newsfeed, you’d think Allen was someone Liverpool plucked from the local pub every week for a bit of a laugh.

That’s far from the case however. My job would certainly have been much harder had I penned this a year ago, but Allen has produced a superb season. Crucially for Wales too, it seems to have spilled over into Euro 2016.

Many believe Allen’s presence at Anfield is completely down to the influence of Brendan Rodgers and that’s likely very much correct. So, when Jurgen Klopp strutted into Melwood he probably had intentions of disposing of the Welshman. However, since the German’s arrival, Allen has saved his Liverpool career.

The 26-year-old racked up an impressive 34 appearances this season with the majority of which coming under Klopp. This alone serves to demonstrate a prominent degree of respect from such a world-class manager for Allen.

Turning to goal and assist statistics doesn’t bode well, but that’s to be expected given his deep lying midfield position. Nonetheless, Allen still contributed crucial goals against Watford and Arsenal this campaign. The latter of which proved a strike that rescued an unlikely 3-3 draw.

Allen’s biggest pull proves his industrious nature and his ability to recycle the ball- maintaining possession. The Liverpool man recorded a passing success rate of 84.1% in the Premier League in 2015-16. This record surpassed the performances of players in the same position such as England’s Eric Dier.

As with many defensive midfielders, they are often far from champagne players. Allen certainly won’t whip out Ronaldo-like skills and 30-yard screamers, but he remains one of the best in his role in the Premier League. The KOP may still groan when the ex-Swansea star graces the pitch, yet, certainly recently, he’s been nothing but an asset.

Selling the midfielder would simply be a risk not worth taking and completely unnecessary. Allen proves a unique outlet and a calming influence. There would seem little justification to allow him to leave unless an appetising offer arrived at Anfield this summer. Even so, his value shouldn’t be taken lightly.

With Wales looking to progress far this summer in France, Allen will play a crucial role in their campaign. In addition, on current form, the 26-year-old could have a lot to offer Liverpool ahead of Klopp’s first full season in charge. Just because he does the dirty, unattractive work in midfield, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. Admittedly though, I can’t explain away that shocking hairstyle…

 

Kobe Tong

YJA Senior Correspondent