While the player himself is settled in London with Team GB for the Olympics, Joe Allen’s name has been flying about in the media, with a potential transfer to Liverpool being mooted as more than a mere possibility. Brendan Rodgers is apparently keen to take the midfielder with him to Anfield after an extremely successful first season together in the Premier League, in which the 22 year-old drove up the price his former manager may pay for him with his consistently impressive passing game.
It is for his passing that he is generally praised, but, in fact, both his attacking and defensive statistics stand out. It will be interesting to see how he fares on the international scene at the Olympics, and a few good showings could raise his value yet further. Here, we take a closer look at him and consider how he could benefit Liverpool should he make that move.
Swansea surprised many with their brave and neat passing game in their debut Premier League season, and it is no secret that, along with Leon Britton, Joe Allen was largely responsible for it. Averaging 60.5 passes per game; Allen dictated play from his central-midfield berth, with only 10 Premier League players that played in more than 20 games averaging more.
Yet more impressive is the fact that Allen completed his passes with an incredible success rate of 91.2%, which is only bettered by three Premier League players that made at least 20 appearances – Swansea teammate Leon Britton (93.5%), Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong (92.3%) and Chelsea centre-back John Terry (91.3%). Terry’s pass completion is only 0.1% better than Allen’s and, what is more, the Chelsea defence is often under significantly less pressure than the Swansea central midfield. De Jong, meanwhile, only started 11 games all season, and made over one thousand fewer passes than Allen in total. Allen has overcome the pressure that comes with a first season in the English top flight, and has done so with consummate ease and a striking composure on the ball.
Playing behind Gylfi Sigurdsson in Swansea’s 3-man midfield last season, attacking duties were often left to the Iceland international along with the front three. Allen, however, did play his part, creating 46 chances for his teammates, which was bettered only by Sigurdsson in the whole Swansea squad. A meagre 2 assists to show for his efforts, though, could well be something that Allen, or potentially Rodgers at Liverpool, could look for an improvement in. Nonetheless, when comparing this to the pass master that is Leon Britton it looks a whole lot more impressive, with Britton making just 10 key passes all season and not picking up a single assist. However, with Liverpool’s profligate frontline, it questionable whether Anfield is the best place for Allen to improve his assist statistics next term.
In front of goal, Allen averaged just over 1 shot per game across the season, attempting 41 in total, and he finished the season with 4 goals as a result. His conversion rate of 9.8% was only marginally lower than that of Sigurdsson (9.9%), whose shooting ability is so often highlighted, and Allen’s was better than that of any of the central midfielders he could replace at Liverpool; Charlie Adam - 4.1%, Jordan Henderson - 5%, Jonjo Shelvey - 5%, while Spearing failed to score.
Allen would arguably be the perfect player to play in a Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool midfield three alongside Steven Gerrard and Lucas, and may well provide the passing game that Henderson was supposed to add after signing from Sunderland. Furthermore, he may well give more of an attacking threat than any of their current options.
Amongst Allen’s strengths is ‘defensive contribution’, and from his stats it is clear that as well as getting forward, the Welshman helps out at the back as well.
He tops Swansea’s charts for tackles, making 110 in total over the season, which was the third most of all players in the Premier League, behind only Yohan Cabaye (117) and Moussa Dembele (112). At Liverpool, Lucas averaged a vastly impressive 5.7 tackles per game, but only played in 12 matches all season. Yet more astonishing for Liverpool is that despite only playing 12 times, the Brazilian nearly made the most tackles in the whole squad, with 68, just one behind Jose Enrique's 69, and ahead of Charlie Adam, who made 62. Joe Allen alongside Lucas in that midfield looks like even more of a perfect fit, and in particular, more of a match than Adam has been.
As for interceptions, only defenders Rangel (95) and Williams (83) made more in the Swansea squad than Allen (74), whilst at Liverpool, Daniel Agger made the most interceptions with just 59 ahead of Henderson’s 54. All the more reason for Rodgers to pursue Allen.
Undoubtedly, Joe Allen is a talented midfielder who has made the step up to the Premier League with great success. As with all young British players who impress in the top flight, a vastly inflated transfer fee will be attached, and it is just a question as to whether Liverpool will be willing to risk another large outlay after a few recent big signings have, to some extent, failed. The statistics suggest they should do take the plunge.