With the prospect of both parties reaching an agreement looking increasingly unlikely, Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson appears destined to depart Anfield when his contract expires in the summer.
The England international could well be joining former Three Lions and Chelsea colleague Ashley Cole at Roma, with the Telegraph reporting that the Serie A silver-medallists have offered to match the £120,000-a-week he earns on Merseyside.
Johnson’s latest quotes suggest he would be inclined to accept such terms too:
“First and foremost I want to play for a club that wants me,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to go crawling to anybody. They (Liverpool) know where I am and they know the situation.
The West Ham academy alumnus may feel underappreciated at Anfield, but the Reds’ long-awaited win over Stoke last time out offers further evidence that it’s Liverpool – evens to win at Leicester next – that need to do the pleading to ensure Johnson doesn’t leave.
Here’s why they can’t afford to lose him:
His defensive contribution is very much underrated.
In a positional sense, Johnson is occasionally found wanting, but the preconception that he’s an awful defender is just plain wrong.
As Dejan Lovren will attest, any able rearguard marshal can be made to look the epitome of incompetence when playing in the Reds’ grotesquely unprotected back line.
Brendan Rodgers’ diamond formation means he has no winger for direct support without the ball, while he must provide all of the side’s width down the right, meaning he’s bound to get caught out of place every now and again.
Stats of 1.6 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 2.1 clearances per outing this term say he isn’t as bad at preventing goals as perceived.
In an attacking capacity, few suit the Liverpool system better.
Marauding full-backs are essential in the narrow 4-1-2-1-2 configuration Rodgers deploys and Johnson is a master of the art.
His winning goal against Stoke is testament to his unrelenting work ethic and professionalism, while his versatility is also a valuable tool too – over a quarter of his 11 appearances this campaign have been as a makeshift left-back.
Continuity is what the club crave at this moment.
It’s fair to say a massive factor behind Liverpool’s plight this term is the wholesale squad upheaval that was undertaken in the summer.
Nine players were recruited as Rodgers looked to increase the options available to him and a lack of cohesion has been evident in their early-season showings.
Johnson has been a loyal servant of six years and, with the prospect of stalwart Steven Gerrard also bidding adieu in a few months time, a second season of reshuffling chaos could well be disastrous.
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