Every summer there is a general assumption that a collection of transfer rumours which hit the mainstream are nothing more than traffic-generating clickbait.
The 2016 summer transfer silly season has already provided some examples ranked at the lowest ebb of the probability scale. Many will put the latest links of Manchester United’s supposed pursuit of Joe Allen in such a bracket.
After all, Allen would not be regarded as a Jose Mourinho-type midfielder in terms of his physicality and energy, while the Red Devils would be recruiting a player who has struggled to nail down a first-team spot for one of their main rivals in recent years.
However, there are facets of Allen’s game which suggest he could be a hit at Old Trafford and provide something for Mourinho which others in the squad are unlikely to.
In the Welshman’s last season with Swansea before his £15m switch to Anfield, only five midfielders in the Premier League accomplished more successful passes than the 1,985 of Allen. To add some additional context, Cesc Fabregas was the only midfielder to eclipse this number last term.
Meanwhile, of all of the midfielders in 2011/12 to make 30 league appearances or more, only teammate Leon Britton had a greater pass success rate in the half of the opposition.
Allen completed 91.2% in this area of the pitch and was stationed in advance of his club compatriot, who often collected possession under less pressure.
No midfielder in the top flight last season to make 30+ appearances maintained a pass success rate above 90%. Michael Carrick was Man Utd’s most frequent central midfield passer on 1,354 and his success rate in the opposition’s half was only 87.1%.
A regular and reliable passer is useful if a team wishes to dominate possession and there is a phrase in football that if the opposition don’t have the ball they can’t score.
Paired with another midfielder who can provide physicality and off-the-ball contributions, Allen’s tempo-setting style could be valuable in certain matches, especially if Man Utd are looking to hold on to a lead.
Man Utd are 7/2 to win the 2016/17 Premier League and there is nothing silly when it comes to craving a player of Allen’s composure and accuracy in the squad.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.