By Chris Teale
Prior to Liverpool’s League Cup trip to West Brom, midfielder Nuri Sahin told Ntvspor in Turkey that he was “seven to 10 days” away from full match fitness.
Yet after a scintillating performance against the Baggies, Reds fans must be relishing the thought of Sahin at peak fitness, if he is not there already.
The Turk was vital for the Merseyside club as they began the defence of the trophy they won last season on a cold night in the Midlands.
Sahin scored both goals as a young Reds side overcame a difficult test at the Hawthorns, capping a very encouraging night for the club.
These goals, added to his assist against Young Boys in the Europa League, points to a player brimming with quality, who will now surely be asked to perform in the Premier League.
Sahin was left on the bench for Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United, but with Jonjo Shelvey banned following his sending off, the Turk must now be ready to step in for the club’s next game against Norwich on Saturday.
Shelvey appeared to have been above the Turk in the midfield pecking order, having made four appearances in the Premier League so far this season. However, his three-game suspension has opened the door for Sahin, and on the strength of his recent performances, he looks ready to take his chance.
The Real Madrid loanee has struggled with injury problems in his career so far, and has only made four appearances in La Liga for the Spanish champions since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2011.
However, Liverpool fans will be hopeful that the midfielder can regain the form that saw him voted the Bundesliga player of the season in 2010-11, a campaign in which he made 30 appearances in the league, scoring six goals and providing eight assists.
He came to the Bernabeu as a highly-regarded prospect, having made his debut for the senior Turkish national team at the age of 17, being the youngest player to ever play and score for his country when he found the net on his debut in a friendly against Germany in 2005.
His six-year contract with Los Merengues suggested that the Spanish giants saw Sahin as a superb prospect for the future, and that they were keen for him to play a key role for them in the future despite previous injury problems.
Sahin’s passing, vision and decision-making will all be crucial as Brendan Rodgers looks to implement his style of football with the Reds, and the Turkish midfield maestro could prove to be the perfect foil for captain Steven Gerrard in what could be a highly effective central midfield pairing.
He may have only arrived at Anfield to gain regular first-team football after a frustrating spell on the sidelines with injury, but his past performances in Germany show that when Sahin plays, he quickly becomes a key part of his team.
While he has only shown his true quality for Liverpool in a Europa League tie and a League Cup game, he has all the qualities to make an impression on the Premier League and become a regular in Rodgers’ side this season.
Reds fans will now be hoping that the young Turk can put his past injury problems behind him and put some of his enormous potential to good use on a regular basis.
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