An ever-emerging theme throughout Liverpool’s season thus far is the quietly dysfunctional nature of their central midfield.
While the first-choice partnership between Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva has seemed imperious for spells, both players have struggled as matches enter their latter stages, with the trend of Liverpool’s opponent’s finding themselves in the ascendancy after half-time being no coincidence.
The third midfield option, Jordan Henderson, offers the requisite mobility and leggy energy to go some way to compensating for the above shortcomings, but still lacks the high-end technical ability that is needed of a forward-thinking central player.
Of course, the recent absence of Philippe Coutinho has compounded all of the above issues, with the side not just missing his creativity, but also his positional play, as the third central midfielder, when Liverpool are without possession – something Victor Moses is, understandably, less adept at.
A straightforward, foolproof resolution to these issues is no easy thing. One part-solution, though, would be to bring in cover for Lucas, whose rehabilitation from a series of lengthy, debilitating injuries still appears to be very much in progress.
There are a number of players who could be drafted in for such a role, but one of the more leftfield options could be Johannes Geis, FSV Mainz’s 20-year-old holding player and yet another one off Germany’s seemingly endless conveyor belt of pint-sized, tidy midfielders.
Geis has begun to catch the eye after only nine league outings for Mainz, having earned a relatively low-key summer move (he cost only £725k) after impressing during Greuther Furth’s season-long stint in the German top flight last-term.
The most impressive thing about Geis this season, albeit over a small sample size of games, is his ability to excel at a number of different skills. His tackling success rate (of roughly 97%), for example, speaks of a player with a naturally combative edge to his game, and is made even more impressive by the fact that he’s averaged, so far this year, less than two fouls per match.
So, a competitive instinct combined with a sensible, measured brain (take note, Lee Cattermole).
Equally, though, his ability to beat his man when needed and, most notably, to lay on chances for team-mates – at a rate of almost two per game – shows that Geis is hardly lacking when it comes to technical accomplishment and defence-troubling invention.
In short, then, Geis could well represent a sensible and, likely, affordable target for Brendan Rodgers, who could certainly use reinforcements in his engine room.
The need for additional bodies will, of course, be somewhat lessened by the imminent return of Joe Allen – another deep-lying central player – but whether he returns as the silky, mobile Joe Allen of August 2012, or the player who struggled leaden-footedly through the later stages of last season could determine whether his manager looks to bring in another midfielder once January rolls around.
Should he choose to do so, the acquisition of Geis could well be one which continues Rodgers’ trend, after last year’s enlisting of Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, of utilising the mid-season transfer window to recruit players with youthful, momentum-lifting hunger and to do so while finding value in a notoriously tricky time of year.Published 23 Oct 2013, 10:02 IST