Pavel Pogrebnyak. The man Liverpool should have bought.
By Oliver Wilson
At 6 ft 2 and signed for free on the bosman ruling, Pavel Pogrebnyak is a mammoth bargain in every sense of the word. He’s also the player Liverpool should he bought this summer to ease their finishing woes.
Despite putting two past Manchester City this weekend the Reds are still in need of a goal scorer. Luis Suarez is continuing to score one chance in every 50 that he creates, as he did last season, while £12 million summer signing Fabio Borini looks more like a supplier then a finisher in his opening two games of the Premier League season.
Their two goals on the weekend didn’t come from open play, and when combined with a dismal performance against Hearts in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, Liverpool fans are more then entitled to feel a little sketchy about their forward line.
The Anfield faithful knew this problem existed before Brendan Rodger’s appointment back in June, as Suarez and co wasted ample opportunities in front of goal last season. Yet despite knowing this, both the board at Anfield and Rodgers, have failed so far to bring in a recognized clinical finisher.
Pogrebnyak would have been a cheap but effective solution to Liverpool’s problems upfront and the ideal player for the Reds to have brought in this summer.
The towering Russian was not a “stand out” centre forward on the continent before he came to England last season. His most prolific goal-scoring spell came in 2007 while at Zenit St. Petersburg as Pog banged home 11 goals in 24 games.
His move to German side VfB Stuttgart in 2009 proved to be far less fruitful and the bulky striker struck the back of the net just 15 times in 68 league appearances during a very difficult three years.
Despite his less then average performances at Stuttgart Martin Jol saw enough potential in the Russian to bring him to Fulham on a short-term contract last January. Pogrebnyak made an immediate impact, becoming the fastest player to score his first five goals in the Premier League.
He showed an adept ability to keep up with both the physicality and the pace of England’s top flight, and proved to be a dual threat attacker with his ability to score both with his head and his feet.
This is the sort of forward Liverpool need.
He’s scored seven goals in his Premier League career with his first nine shots on target, while his size and physique makes him an ideal target man who can operate with the ball at his feet.
Unlike Andy Carroll, who lacks the dexterity of a more skillful forward, Pogrebnyak can operate in a similar way to Didier Drogba (although maybe not as effectively) and is proving to be a ruthless finisher in front of goal.
Not only that, but Pavel would have cost Liverpool nothing accept his wages. The forward was out of contract and available on the open market to the highest bidder. Yet it was lowly Reading the managed to secure his services for this season, while Liverpool have to make do without a consistent goal scorer.
He’s not had a full season in the Premier League yet, and that may be why the Russian didn’t hit on many clubs’ radars this summer. But Liverpool missed their chance to take a risk on a very talented bargain striker this summer.
Hopefully Brendan Rodgers can find another forward before Friday, otherwise The Reds will have to make do with Andy Carroll..