Long-term speculation linking Liverpool with a move for Roma’s Miralem Pjanic took a further turn yesterday with fresh revelations from the Daily Mail.
It has been revealed that manager Brendan Rodgers had flown to the ‘Eternal City’ straight after his side’s 3-2 win over Tottenham on Tuesday.
According to sources of the paper’s Sportsmail section he travelled to Italy to carry out “groundwork” on a deal for the midfielder.
One of many names touted as the magical ‘Steven Gerrard replacement’ Liverpool’s interest in the Bosnian international was acknowledged by Roma president James Palotta back in January.
The disparate skillsets of those would-be singings tasked with filling the hole left by the Anfield skipper is enough to suggest that attempting to replace him will be a thankless task.
However, much like Gerrard, the Roma man there is no perfect role for the Roma star in the 3-4-1-2/3-4-3 that has underpinned Liverpool’s one-loss-in-21-normal-time-match-resurgence.
Pjanic has excelled in the middle band of a 4-3-3 under Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia, playing alongside sitter Daniele de Rossi and box-to-box operative Radja Nainggolan (read a Belgian Jordan Henderson).
He is the creator in the engine room, whether it’s spotting a pass or driving with ball from deep or playing incisive balls from behind the line of play as his side attempts to make pressure tell.
His average of 72.8 passes an outing in Serie A at a jaw-dropping 92.2 success-rate suggests he is more than capable of taking responsibility with the ball.
Playing with aplomb in a midfield three shows that the Bosnian has industry, understanding and artistry in equal measure – he gets through his fair share of defensive work too.
Emre Can’s emergence as a ball-playing defensive anchor at Anfield means Pjanic would be at home in one of two central midfield positions of the 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 Rodgers employed against Tottenham.
However, the necessity of fielding a spoiler like Lucas in the formation when fit was underlined by two goals shipped as Gerrard and Henderson combined in his absence.
The Bosnian’s inclusion in such a setup the would likely come either at the expense of captain in waiting Jordan Henderson or some of the defensive solidity the Brazilian instils.
Meanwhile, with Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling on the books pushing Pjanic further forward is not really the reason that he would be signed.
As such it seems that to retain the defensive rigidity they need to become genuine title challengers going forward, Liverpool would need to alter their current winning formula if they bring in the Roma man, with a 4-3-3 the best blend of his talents with the effective functioning of the team.
It’s a heady mixture they next put to the test against Crystal Palace in Saturday afternoon FA Cup action, where they can be backed to prevail at 21/20.
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