LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: Didier Drogba of Chelsea goes past Lucas (L) and Charlie Adam of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on November 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Liverpool's week turned chaotic on Friday with the arrival of Fabio Borini and departure of Maxi Rodriguez, though there was still plenty to discuss before then with talk of potentially exciting new signings and rumoured target Clint Dempsey's less than clinical finishing. Beyond the cozy confines of the Liverpool Offside, too, there were interesting conversations to be found concerning FSG's business model, then-potential signing Borini's scoring record, and last season's best defensive midfielders in the Premier League...
EPL Index: Premier League Midfield Enforcers
Lucas Leiva was the best midfield destroyer in the league last season, while Scott Parker wasn't even the best at his club. Neither point will be especially surprising to those who watched Liverpool play last autumn, where Lucas' importance to the side and a continuation of his world-class form of 2010-11 marked him out as amongst the best holding midfielders in the game, or who watched Scott Parker's mindless chasing and poor positional sense during England's Euro 2012 campaign.
EPL Index, though, has taken the time to break down holding midfielder defensive statistics from last season from a neutral's perspective, and while the results may not be wholly surprising, they certainly give further insight—if any were still needed—into just how important Lucas is to Liverpool's prospects moving forward. The short of it is that last season amongst midfielders, Lucas was in the top three of every destructive category on a per minute basis, and number one in both minutes per successful tackle and minutes per successful challenge. When he was on the pitch, there was no midfielder in the league who dispossessed opponents more often, and up until his unfortunate injury against Chelsea in the League Cup, his statistics were right in line with his totals from the previous season.
Oh You Beauty: On Maxi, Summer Signings, and FSG's Business Model
Liverpool may have belatedly made their first signing of the summer, but it comes on the heels of two departures and after the club ended last season needing to improve the quality of both the starting eleven and squad if there were to be realistic hopes of making it back into the top four in 2012-13. One promising youngster in and two proven veterans out doesn't solve the club's playing staff problems, even if the acquisition of Fabio Borini seems a step in the right direction and there is every indication the departure of Maxi Rodriguez was driven by the player's desire to return home to finish his career rather than a desire by Fenway Sports Group to trim a veteran's wages off the bill.
Regardless, there is a growing perception in some quarters—driven in part by evidence provided by the recent history of the Boston Red Sox—that FSG's first and only real concern is securing new sponsorship deals, growing the brand via new media, expanding into previously underexploited markets, and various other commercial buzzwords. That's all well and good if it's used as a financial foundation for long-term sporting success, but as Nate of Oh You Beauty worried about this week, so far there's only really been evidence of a desire to bring in money, with any improvements to the club's fortunes to date seeming more coincidental than central.
It may be true that a fair bit of money has been spent on incoming transfers since the arrival of Liverpool's new owners, but the sales of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, and Raul Meireles last season meant the net spend was similar to what the club managed under David Moores—a net spend that played a key role in the former Liverpool owner's belief that he would need to sell the club to someone with deeper pockets if there was to be any hope of long term success in the Premier League era. Meanwhile, fans are left fret about a continual need to reduce the wage bill, speculate over potential transfers that put financial concerns ahead of immediate football concerns, and wait for real signs of movement on the stadium front. None of which is to say that FSG have been poor owners to date, but rather that a continuing healthy skepticism may not be entirely out of place.
Liverpool Scout: Fabio Borini: A Comprehensive Analysis
Finally, while we've talked about where we think Fabio Borini fits in at Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool and run through a bit of biographical background, if what you're most interested about in Liverpool's new signing are the cold, hard numbers then you could do a lot worse than heading over to Liverpool Scout for a comprehensive rundown of the young striker's statistics. In short, he may not quite be the finished product yet but his numbers to date are very, very encouraging. And for those looking for further clues as to how Rodgers might choose to use him at Liverpool, his numbers at Roma—even though he played most often from wide areas—suggest a player who is far more suited to the centre forward role than the wing.
We'll be back with any breaking news throughout the weekend, but in the meantime, you might as well have one more cup of Maxi for the road (HT: PhoenixTears)…