Brendan Rodgers’s new man, secured from Sevilla, has the right temperament for the Premier League, a young attacker who is adept at playing across the forward line
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Liverpool have a new Luis in their ranks but whether the club’s latest recruit from Sevilla gets the chance to play alongside their troubled Uruguayan remains to be seen.
With Luis Suarez away in Brazil at the Confederations Cup and his future very much undecided amid interest from Real Madrid, Luis Alberto has arrived on the scene – and he is delighted to be playing his football at Anfield.
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“I feel like I’m in a bubble at the moment,” he said on Saturday. “For me, Liverpool is a top team. I feel like I am dreaming and I want to enjoy it to the full. I feel very excited, I’ve never felt so excited before but I’m very happy. I think I am the happiest man on Earth.”
Liverpool supporters have reasons to be cheerful, too.
Signed from Sevilla for a very reasonable £6.8 million, Luis Alberto’s career has totally transformed since the frustration at a lack of opportunities, the contract disputes and the struggle for motivation at Sevilla B in recent seasons.
A loan move to Barcelona B last term was supposed to prepare the forward for Sevilla’s first team but it went better than perhaps even the Andalusians could have imagined and, after the Catalan club turned down an option to make the move permanent due to overbooking in their first-team forward line, Liverpool moved quickly to seal his signature.
Liverpool have been watching Luis Alberto since October and must have been impressed with what they saw. Operating primarily in the ‘false nine’ role, the 20-year-old formed an admirable association with brilliant youngster Gerard Deulofeu and ended the campaign with 11 goals – most with his powerful right foot and some spectacular.
More impressive even that that, however, was his link-up play; Luis Alberto’s vision and superb technical ability shone at the Miniestadi as he set up no fewer than 18 goals for his team-mates last term. Indeed, many Barcelona fans are unhappy to see him leave.
Luis Alberto could have operated in any of the front three positions at Barca but the ‘false nine’ role belongs to Messi, the left wing will be occupied by Neymar next season and the right slot is set to be disputed by Alexis Sanchez and Pedro. A new striker may also arrive, while Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas play further forward at times and there is no room even for Thiago who, frustrated at his lack of minutes in 2012-13, could move to Manchester United.
But Barca’s loss can be Liverpool’s gain. Adaptation will be necessary and the Cadiz-born forward can improve some aspects of his game, notably his aerial ability and his build. But his undoubted technical ability and creative flair make him an ideal fit for Brendan Rodgers’s Reds and his versatility will also be a big boost – he can play either as a lone frontman, drop deeper as a support striker, as a ‘false-nine’, a left or right winger or even an attacking midfielder.
A little like fellow Spain star Juan Mata but more direct than the Chelsea player, the 20-year-old is mild-mannered, unselfish and eager to get going with his new team. Fans can only hope they get to see the new Luis Alberto alongside his Uruguayan namesake next season. If they do, it could be quite a partnership. And if not, the new man will have even more opportunity to shine.
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