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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Liverpool FC star Joe Allen has to shoulder the burden of £15m price tag, says Michael Laudrup


Allen has still to win over the Anfield faithful, failing to score in 28 top-flight outings and having tasted only seven minutes of Premier League action this season

Joe Allen hopes to replace Steven Gerrard as the star of Anfield
Joe Allen hopes to replace Steven Gerrard as the star of Anfield
Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup admits Wales star Joe Allen has had to shoulder the burden of a £15m price tag in his time at Liverpool.
Allen left Swansea just over 12 months ago to link up again with Brendan Rodgers in a deal that until Gareth Bale's recent £85.3m move to Real Madrid was a record for a Welsh footballer.
But Allen has still to win over the Anfield faithful, failing to score in 28 top-flight outings and having tasted only seven minutes of Premier League action this season as Liverpool have recorded three straight wins to make their best start since the 1994-95 campaign.
And, with Liverpool hoping to extend that 100% record at Swansea on Monday night, Laudrup admits that with that price tag comes a great deal of expectation from press and public alike.
''It's not easy to make the jump, not only from small club to big club or the difference in level of quality necessary,'' said Laudrup.
''There's a lot of things to consider and Joe only played one year at the highest level with Swansea before moving to Liverpool.
''It was also a huge amount of money for a young midfielder, and with money comes pressure. People look at him as the £15m midfield man and expect a lot more from him - but you have to accept it because that's part of it.
''You can't think your salary goes up and you can just play well once in a while like you can at smaller clubs. That's the difference.''
Allen's passing game was a big part of Swansea's success under Rodgers - both in the Championship and the club's first year in the Premier League - and the Ulsterman did not think twice about taking the 23-year-old to Anfield with him.
Rodgers even described Allen as the ''Welsh Xavi'' but the Narberth product has suffered with form and fitness on Merseyside and Liverpool fans appear unconvinced about his true worth.
''He played a lot at the beginning and I think he's a good player, but now they've brought in other players as well and there's a lot of competition there,'' said Laudrup.
''He has the talent and potential [to succeed] but I don't know him well enough and I can only judge him on what I see on the pitch.
''I had him for only four days after he played at the Olympics and that's not enough to have a big picture of what sort of person he is.
''But the big part when you change from a small club to big club is in the head, not about the qualities of a player, because you've seen many players in many countries make that step and they can't do it.
''They go down the ladder again and then they do great because they have a lot of quality, so the mental part is huge.''
Allen is expected to be on the Liverpool bench if he has recovered from the injury which kept him from Wales duty last week, but one player who might feature against Swansea is former Laudrup target Iago Aspas. Laudrup spotted an opportunity with Aspas having a release clause in his contract, but in the end it was Liverpool who completed the 26-year-old's £7.7m transfer from Spanish club Celta Vigo in June.
So the Dane turned his attention to Wilfried Bony and strengthened his strikeforce with the £12m capture of the Ivorian from Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.
''For that money it was only going to be one guy,'' Laudrup conceded. ''I tried to sign him but Liverpool is a huge club and I can't really blame him.
''I've been too many years in football to think I would get someone, he was one we wanted but then Liverpool came in and it was game over for us.
'He's fast, a goalscorer, has good football intelligence, good moves and is a two-footed finisher.
''He will do well there I'm sure, especially with the way Liverpool play with a lot of movement from the front three.
''None of them are wide players, they will all play in the centre when Luis Suarez comes back. But they do it well because they have a lot of movement, they go in and out and it's not easy to deal with that.''
Liverpool top the table after opening wins over Stoke, Aston Villa and champions Manchester United but Laudrup is yet to be convinced that they can force their way into a Champions League top four place.
''It's too early to say that,'' he said.
''I know they have started well but we have to wait and a little more to see.
''The three top teams - Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – can win the league but maybe they are much closer to Tottenham and Arsenal than the last couple of years.
''They have added some quality and are much stronger than last season but only one of them can be fourth.''
Swansea will have Jonjo Shelvey and Nathan Dyer available on Monday, while striker Dean Sturridge – yesterday named as the Barclays Player of the Month for August after his impressive start to the season - should be fit to lead the Liverpool forward line after missing England's World Cup double-header against Moldova and Ukraine with a thigh injury.



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