New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is on the verge of signing the Danish defensive midfielder Christian Poulsen from Juventus. Poulsen’s agent confirmed that he will complete a £5.5m move next week, a piece of business that will probably trigger the departure of Javier Mascherano to Inter Milan.
Poulsen’s arrival would add to the general sense of optimism currently shimmering around Anfield, in stark contrast to the gloom that accompanied Liverpool’s completion of their worst season in years back in May.
Then, it was widely assumed that Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano would all be leaving, especially as the appointment of Hodgson felt like a step down from some of the A-list managerial talent mentioned in connection with Liverpool.
Now that Hodgson seems to have secured Gerrard and Torres, however, the loss of Mascherano, should he leave, and the departure of Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea, feel like surmountable obstacles.
As a result, at 12/1 Liverpool are still in touch with the favourites to win the Premier League.
Poulsen, 30, was one of the key players in Sevilla’s golden age under Juande Ramos. Poulsen helped them retain the UEFA Cup in 2006/7.
In terms of goals and cards, he should prove the ideal replacement for Mascherano, who delivered few of the former and plenty of the latter. Poulsen has scored just once in two seasons with Juventus, and four in two seasons with Sevilla before that.
His abrasive style should also keep referees on their toes – it was Poulsen’s punch on a Swedish opponent in a Euro Championship qualifier that led to a fan attacking the referee, the match being abandoned and the Copenhagen police calling for Poulsen to be thrown in jail for a month.
Poulsen also sat out Juventus’ Europa League qualifying tie against Shamrock Rovers on Thursday, leaving him free to appear for Liverpool in the same competition. Liverpool are currently 9/1 second favourites to win the Europa League, behind Manchester City at 6/1.
Liverpool’s season kicks off on Sunday 15 August, at home to Arsenal. Liverpool are 7/5 to win, Arsenal are 15/8, 23/10 the draw.