Beating Arsenal to the punch in a last-minute swoop, Liverpool clinched the signature of Nuri Sahin on a one-year loan deal towards the end of last week. The Turkish midfielder becomes the fourth new face of Brendan Rodgers’ new regime, following Oussama Assaidi, Joe Allen and Fabio Borini to the club as the former Swansea boss begins to stamp his own sign on the Reds’ first XI:
Upon completion of the deal, Rodgers admitted the Chelsea connection played a part in his chase of the player, with his determination to sign Sahin only furthered following talks with his former mentor at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho:
Jose has been fantastic in talking about his qualities and strengths. It’s a great opportunity to bring in a top technician. For me it’s important players can technically participate in the game. I’ve got some outstanding players here but this guy has got experience as well for a young player of 23. He’s a master technician and that’s something important, that I’ve got players who can cope with the game.
Sahin’s career began in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. Handed his debut at the age of 16 in 2005, he turned out 47 times in his first couple of seasons at the club, returning a goal and seven assists before being farmed out to Feyenoord for the 2007-08 season. The year in the Eredivisie saw Sahin develop a keen eye for goal, finding the net six times over 29 league matches in addition to providing five assists.
Returning to Germany, Sahin spent the next three years at Dortmund with his spell culminating in a title triumph for the club in 2010/11 – a season that also saw him pick up the Bundesliga Player of the Year award. His final three campaigns for Jürgen Klopp’s side harvested 88 league appearances, with Sahin producing 12 goals and 22 assists before being snapped up by Real Madrid on a six-year contract. His one season at the Bernabeu was plagued by injury, with Sahin making just four appearances for Jose Mourinho’s league winners before his temporary move to Merseyside. He has also turned out for his national side 31 times and found the net on two occasions.
Sahin’s move to Liverpool is an intriguing one. The Arsenal option looked a far more straightforward situation to understand after the Gunners lost Alex Song to Barcelona but, while the Turkish midfielder looked certain of game time at the Emirates, he still feels he is in line to play a significant part in the Reds’ season – a fact he reiterated after signing:
I want to play football – and it was important for me to be at a club where the manager really wants me… We’ve had a lot of conversations. We spoke and he told me about his ideas for how he wants to play football and where he sees me on the field in the team…I wanted to play for a club on the same level as Dortmund and Madrid – that’s why I chose Liverpool. This year, it is very important for me to play. I have to play, improve my game and help the team. If I stay in good condition, I am sure I can help the team and Liverpool Football Club, and Brendan Rodgers and my new team-mates can help me.
With Mourinho and Sahin desperate for the player to feature regularly, it would seem Rodgers has given both reassurances – which begs the question: just where will he play?
A cultured playmaker, Sahin also boasts a superb work-rate and ball-winning ability which was best served in a 4-2-3-1 formation at Dortmund, with his outstanding passing from deep a feature of his play. The only problem is that Joe Allen and Lucas stand in his way and both perfectly fit the bill within Rodgers’ 4-3-3 formation; however, reports suggest Lucas may be sidelined with a thigh injury – if this proves true, it would certainly offer Sahin an obvious route into the first XI.
With Steven Gerrard currently occupying the advanced central midfield role, it seems impossible to think the new boy will oust the skipper in Rodgers’ plans. Alternatively, Sahin could play in “the hole” with Gerrard on the right – clearly, there are plenty of scenarios and we’re likely to only get a handle on the situation as the Gameweeks unfold. Certainly, Sahin’s set-piece delivery could rival Gerrard and Luis Suarez for free-kicks, with corners also a strong point.
Sahin will be added to the Transfer List on Thursday and will be priced at £6.5m.