Former Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann believes Everton’s James McCarthy would be the ideal replacement for Steven Gerrard at Anfield, and while the 24-year-old traversing Merseyside’s great divide seems unlikely, with bwin.com pricing up a move this summer at 4/1, it shouldn’t be ruled out.
Lest we forget, the Glasgow-born Republic of Ireland stalwart had the stomach to declare for the country of his grandparents as a 16-year-old at Hamilton Academicals, despite late attempts by the Scottish FA to tempt McCarthy into the Tartan fold.
This led to the chant ‘James McCarthy, why don’t you go home?’, along with the now-illegal ‘Famine Song’, rearing its head whenever the Accies travelled to face Rangers at Ibrox. Some would say they got theirs in the end.
‘There’s only one plastic paddy’ could also be heard ringing out in numerous Scottish Premiership grounds whenever McCarthy hit town, but the then-teenager seemed unconcerned by the boo boys and was quoted at the time stating “…I (hear) it, but I just try to keep my head down and block it out”.
This course of action clearly worked, as McCarthy was picked up by Wigan in 2009 for around £1m, then followed boss Roberto Martinez to Goodison Park four years later in a £13m deal.
Having come through a sectarian baptism of fire north of the border, the brilliant box-to-box midfielder would surely back himself to be a success at Anfield, even if he’d have to live with abuse from the Toffees faithful, as former Merseyside switchers Nicky Barmby and Abel Xavier did earlier this century.
All that being said, it could be tough for Brendan Rodgers to tempt McCarthy across town as the player has recently proclaimed his happiness at Everton, and rumours suggest other clubs are in the hunt for his signature.
Manchester United and Arsenal, both of whom are set for Champions League action next season, have been mentioned as possible destinations, with Spurs also expected to bid for McCarthy’s services if he becomes available.
With the Lilywhites only three points behind Brendan Rodgers’ men with three games to go in the campaign, White Hart Lane may be seen as a better bet than Anfield for McCarthy, as it was by Christian Eriksen when the Dane moved from Ajax to Spurs two summers ago.
The black and yellow boys at bwin offer 7/50 on McCarthy not moving to Liverpool before the start of September. If he doesn’t do what Hamann wants, it won’t be due to a lack of fight.