September 29 2009 is not a date that you will find on any celebratory website of Liverpool football club. You will not find it on any banners, and you won't hear fans 'remembering when' in bars. But to anyone who made the trip to Florence for the Champions League Group E tie, or indeed anyone who sat in their lounge and watched as the wheels started to fall off in Rafael Benitez's final season, you will remember one thing about that day; Stevan Jovetic.
Then 19, the Montenegrin ran the show, scoring both goals and tormenting Liverpool with his movement. The goals themselves were far from spectacular, but every fellow fan I spoke to, either at the time or since, has extolled the virtues of the Sideshow Bob lookalike. Following that performance Liverpool have been consistently linked with him, yet until today, when it was announced he is stalling on signing a new contract and said to have his heart set on a move to England, it was mere conjecture.
So why should Liverpool recruit him?
Well, definitely not because of his first nickname, which is Brian May. And even if Suarez does have a bit of the Freddie Mercury about him facially, we can do without any overblown grandstanding. His second nickname though is far more appealing, what with it being 'the next Baggio'. To men of a certain age, Baggio, along with Romario and Stoichkov, are held in high regard. They elevated football in the mid-90s to a different level, they brooded, backheeled and bickered and were pure box office. Jovetic clearly isn't the 'next' Baggio, I mean who is, but for my money he would be a sound recruit for Liverpool and perhaps provide us with something we are missing.
He glides across the pitch, straight-backed, head up, ball seemingly stuck to his feet and his short passing makes a mockery of needle's eyes
And that is guile.
Despite the draw at home to Sunderland and the ridiculous loss to Stoke, I'm more than happy with the way we have started the season. The balance of the side is good, we use the full width of the pitch, have returned to a game based on possession and pressing and have what appears to be a good team spirit. It is pointless extrapolating the negatives of one result on to a whole season, but if we look under the stone of the Stoke match, which quite clearly could've been 5-1 on another day, then maybe, just maybe, Liverpool lacked a little bit of guile. Don't get me wrong it was exciting to watch and had me screaming red murder, but at times we went wide too often and used a brawny attacking game when a cerebral one would have served us better against Stoke's 7 man defence.
When he is facing goal or cutting in from wide, Suarez's footwork can be electric, but as he is a whirling dervish there are times when the ball gets stuck under his feet. Suarez is a lot of things, nearly all of them good, but he could never be accused of being languid. Jovetic is the dictionary definition of this, he glides across the pitch, straight-backed, head up, ball seemingly stuck to his feet. His short passing makes a mockery of needle's eyes and although nowhere near prolific he can score goals.
Liverpool have been crying out for a proper ten for a long time. Before the season started I wrote about Xherdan Shaqiri, and even if I would still like him at Anfield, he is perhaps too similar to Suarez in the areas he occupies on the pitch. Of our current fit midfielders, Adam is probably the best passer of the ball but he adopts a high risk strategy and his success rate is probably a little lower than he'd like. Commendably, in the absence of Gerrard he's trying to be both a fulcrum and a deep lying pivot, which is too much to ask of anyone, and this is why Jovetic would be an astute signing as he is a natural 10 who can also operate wide and up front.
The one concern is that he has just missed an entire season due to a cruciate ligament injury, but now that he’s fit again I wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool’s scouts are regularly seen at the Artemio Franchi between now and January. He fits the bill of being young with resale value, has scored 6 in 13 for Montenegro and was made club captain of Partizan Belgrade at 18.
With two years left on his contract he won’t come cheap but, as we’ve seen so far, that won’t worry John Henry.
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