At times in 2011 it was relatively easy to forget that Liverpool had sold the once magical Fernando Torres for £50m and replaced him with £35m Andy Carroll and £22m Luis Suarez. As the January transfer window closed, many on the Kop were becoming incredibly excited at the prospect of a new ‘little ‘n’ large’ strike partnership. But few expected Dirk Kuyt to steal the show.
As Carroll struggled with injury, Suarez undoubtedly became an immediate star – his dazzling performances wowed fans up and down the country – yet ‘Duracell Dirk’ weighed in with a number of highly commendable goals. The perfect example of their fantastic partnership came in the 3-1 drubbing of Manchester United in March. Luis Suarez ran rings around the Red Devils’ defence, lending a considerable hand in all three goals, but it was the Dutchman’s intuition for goalscoring that allowed him to claim a hat-trick – albeit from a combined distance of seven yards from goal!
In fact, the Dutch international finished the season as the team’s top scorer, with a total of 15 goals – 13 of which came in the league. This feat is all the more remarkable considering Kuyt was often deployed as a right midfielder, as has been the case for a large majority of his Anfield career.
Bought by Rafael Benitez as a central striker, he was shifted to right midfield in just his second season at the club. Few would argue with this decision, as Fernando Torres became a Kop king as he broke record after record as a lone striker, but Kuyt’s most effective attribute – his goalscoring – was quelled considerably. Not once did Kuyt moan though, and his professional attitude has seen him develop into a successful wide player.
A regular starter in a Dutch team that reached the 2010 World Cup Final, Kuyt is often poorly misjudged as simply a workhouse with no technical prowess. However, those who watch him week in, week out will appreciate his strength, clever movement, and predatory instincts.
Dalglish is still likely to start the season with Carroll as his preferred centre forward – especially as Suarez will be missing for the curtain raiser against Sunderland – but Kuyt definitely offers another quality option upfront.