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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jose Enrique - Is he the answer to our left-back crisis ?

Liverpool FC have never replaced John Arne Riise who established himself as a solid left-back who would score the occasional scorcher.

Riise has been the only left-back that has cemented his place in the hearts of every Liverpool fan in the recent past. What Riise possessed very few left-back in world football possessed. He had sheer pace, a deadly left foot, strong defensive attributes, was good in the air and could dribble. Alan Kennedy is another one that springs to the mind as we talk of legendary left-backs at Anfield.

Since Kennedy retired and Riise left, Liverpool have suffered a major crisis with respect to that position.

Many players have been bought, utilised in that position but have failed to stabilize the shift. This has been primarily down to the rotation policy, change of managers and failure of the player to settle into a position.

Liverpool, for the past seasons, have looked like a predictable side because  of their one-directional football.

There is barely any attacking done from the left flank largely due to an ineffective left-back. Fabio Aurelio performs well sporadically but is constantly plagued with injuries. Emiliano Insua is just not good enough .Jack Robinson lacks the necessary experience . England's first-choice Right back Glen Johnson was played out-of-position last season and although he did play admirably , his best attributes are not fully utilised playing left-back.

And so began a hunt across Europe to fill a massive void in the Liverpool defence.

Jose Enrique was putting in eye-catching performances for Newcastle United which caught the eye of several European clubs . Barcelona were also rumoured to be interested in his services. Such was the level of his performances.

Arsenal and Liverpool were in the forefront to sign him. With the departure of Gael Clichy to Manchester City , Arsenal were willing to do quick business with Newcastle United and replace Clichy.

Liverpool had scouted Enrique for the past two seasons but were unconvinced by the player. However, towards the end of the season , Phil Thompson revealed that a deal was agreed in principle to bring Enrique to Anfield.

The rumours began turning into reality. As Jose Enrique refused to sign a new contract amidst news that he was about to quit the club. Newcastle Manager Alan Pardew also stated vociferously that Enrique did not wish to sign a new contract .  It was evident that Enrique was seeking a move away from St. James' park.
Various reports in the media suggested that Liverpool was his only destination yet Kenny Dalglish was reluctant to sign him because of his suspect defensive positioning. Once Liverpool's interest was firmly established it was a matter of time before Jose Enrique became our new left-back as concrete interest from other clubs faded.

Laying to rest all the mounting speculation, it was announced on Liverpool's website that a deal was indeed struck between Newcastle and Liverpool for the transfer of Jose Enrique.

Having keenly watched the premiership for 10 years now, Jose Enrique does look the part. He is an ideal premiership left-back. Enrique possesses bundles of pace, trickery and is no mug defensively .

Jose Enrique started his career at lowly Spanish side Levante. Made the step-up by joining Valencia. Valencia wanted to give him first-team experience so they sent him out on-loan to Celta Vigo.

At Celta Vigo, Enrique found his feet again and made some superlative performances that season. This caught the eye of Villarreal who snapped him immediately for the 2006/2007 season. Instantly, he was a massive hit and a bigger move beckoned for the talented full-back. A move to Newcastle was next where he cemented his place as one of most talented full-backs in Europe.

Having watched Enrique at different clubs, he can adapt suitably to any side. He has great tactical awareness, is a solid tackler and a blistering athlete. Enrique also whips in quality balls that are tailor-made for strikers to head. Jose Enrique reminds me of a left-footed Sergio Ramos. Very rarely, does he have a bad game. Jose Enrique is an attacking full back who can defend .

His only flaw is lack of goals.

With an impressive Liverpool debut against Sunderland already under his belt, Liverpool have secured a quality signing.

Overall, he might just prove to be the bargain of the season at £6 MILLION.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Apology on the misleading name of Alan Hansen for Alan Kennedy.

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