As Brendan Rodgers presses his so-called “gentlemen’s agreement“ over not poaching Swansea City players ever deeper into his tracksuit pocket, the Anfield vultures have been officially released to travel south and circle just above the head of the West Wales-born midfielder, Joe Allen.
Any move’s unlikely until post-Olympics where Allen, Neil Taylor and Scott Sinclair are the Swansea flag-bearers, so let’s run the rule over possible heirs to any space that may occur for the possession-and-passing Horn of Plenty that is the Liberty midfield.
1. Joao Moutinho
What is the heartbeat of the EPL if not aspiration and aiming high? In that vein, let’s consider Porto’s Joao Moutinho .
His vision shone powerfully and his style was apparent throughout a Euro 2012 that was in itself blessed with both qualities. Moutinho—who rates Ronaldo above Messi in the world pecking order—appears all but booked in for a summer window UK move.
First Chelsea and now Spurs have seemed to head the queue, but what bigger mind-changer for a leading European light could there be than the name of Michael Laudrup?
The fee may seem a potential roadblock. Tottenham’s initial overture to Porto was just €11 million, but any Allen switch should realize an expected €15 million, which together with creative financial husbandry could push open the latest iconic door on the Swansea surge forward.
Which of these players should move in to the Liberty if Allen moves out?
Closer to home and marking a reciprocal swoop on the Rodgers talent pool could be an attempt to offer Joe Cole his Welsh Eldorado.
After a first-game red card, the England midfielder’s initial induction to Anfield was almost as uncomfortable as that of the Roy Hodgson who took him there.
Never invited to become part of the Dalglish recoronation and then forced abdication, Cole’s subsequent French exile with Lille has honed and refined the maverick’s more blurred edges to fashion a product fit to grace Swansea 2012-13—and, of course, such a move could provide vital bargaining ballast if and when any Allen inquiry arrives.
3. Jordi Gomez
As well as bringing a close personal and footballing knowledge of the Swansea squad—including countrymen Rangel and Orlandi—the ex-Espanyol midfielder carries with him an enduring tag of Swansea folk hero for his free-kick winner that dumped Cardiff out of the Carling Cup in 2008.
As Wigan ‘s survival dynamic was enacted with Real Madrid-style panache over the last two seasons, Gomez has been an impressive fulcrum, and with Laudrup having recruited further troops from Spain, the squad ambiance would be even further heightened for a Gomez return
4. Darren Pratley
He was feted as a Viera-style midfield powerhouse with the eye, boot and head for goal as the Swans surged through the Championship playoffs, leaving the indelible imprint of his winner from the halfway line as Forest were vanquished in the semis.
Admittedly the cries would rise that Pratley’s not of the sylph-like mode of an Allen, but with Britton, Orlandi and the newly arrived Michu ably fitting that bill, a Pratley liberated from the abrasive‘hit them hard and hit them quick. Reebok handcuffs could provide a balance of handsome proportions.
5. Stephen Dobbie
Stephen Dobbie was recruited by Roberto Martinez—no wayward judge of talent—as a Jason Scotland replacement before the Spaniard headed to Wigan. Sadly under-utilized amid the Paulo Sousa defensive myopia, the Scot with the eye to unlock an "X Factor" opening proved just that, with his goals and influence during a loan spell at Blackpool, leading the Tangerines to the unlikely golden gates of the EPL.
Brendan Rodgers was reluctant to buy fully into the Dobbie franchise. It was only when the bullet was finally bitten to elevate him to starting roles in the final dozen or so away games that a potentially fragile house of cards found a foundation upon which was built a successful promotion push.
Having reached the promised land, however, Dobbie’s isolation returned, and north he headed to help shape Holloway’s tangerine dream. Now with a third managerial incumbent in as many years and a preseason hat trick at Port Talbot already pocketed, Michael Laudrup could just be the man to give Dobbie the role he’s made for as a result of any Allen Anfield adventure.