Who will prove to be Liverpool’s best British summer signing?
Charlie Adam was Dalglish’s second summer purchase, he cost the Reds £9m. His drive, determination and ability to lead a team, accompanied with his outstanding array of passing talent and deadly set-pieces, made him one of the stars of the Premier league last year and a transfer target for many teams in the post-season including Tottenham, Manchester United and Aston Villa. His statistics illustrate how crucial he was to Blackpool. He was involved in 36% of Blackpool’s 55 goals, scoring 12 and assisting 8. He averaged a shot on goal every 39 minutes, his shooting accuracy was 44% and his conversion ratio was 15%, which although sounds low is actually very good for a central midfielder. Although he is not blessed with pace Adam will bring creativity to Anfield, something that Liverpool lack especially when Gerrard isn’t playing. Last season the Scot created 80 chances for his team-mates while his pass completion rate was 72%. Also, 50% of Adam’s assists came from set pieces and it was one of his set-pieces on Saturday that created the goal for Luis Suarez. He will not have the freedom that he had at Blackpool and may not be as involved with set-pieces, as Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt will be ahead of him in the pecking order for penalty taking and Gerrard and Luis Suarez for free-kicks, but will still be a crucial player for the Reds if they are to be challenging at the top.
Despite having talented left-sided midfielders, notably Patrick Berger and Harry Kewell, Liverpool have not had a left-winger who will get chalk on his boots, run at players and put crosses in from the touchline since the days of John Barnes- and that is exactly what Stewart Downing will provide that for the Reds. His statistics speak for themselves, he has completed more crosses in open play than any other player over the last three seasons and with Andy Carroll waiting to pounce in the middle Liverpool will be hoping to score a lot of goals.
Liverpool have missed a player who can create a chance and pick a pass from midfield since Xabi Alonso left for Real Madrid two years ago, and Charlie Adam will be that player for the Reds. Jordan Henderson energy and determination suggest he will be a great player in years to come, but for this season Stewart Downing’s crosses will make him Liverpool’s best British summer signing.