Liverpool’s striking problems have been well-documented this season.
The Reds have found the net just 13 times in their 10 league games this term—a figure even lower than that of bottom-placed side Southampton.
Furthermore, a series of unfortunate injuries have seen Luis Suarez emerge as the club’s only established centre-forward.
But one of the more surprising names on that list is Finnish teenager Joel Pohjanpalo.
Pohjanpalo has been linked with the Reds on a number of occasions over the past few months, and even reportedly spent a week on trail in Merseyside earlier in the year.
But with little else known about this young prodigy, many Liverpool fans will understandably be keen to find out more. This article offers a more in-depth look at the player who may well become Liverpool’s newest arrival once the transfer window re-opens in January.
So who exactly is he?
Joel Pohjanpalo is an 18-year-old forward from Finland, currently plying his trade at the country’s biggest and most successful club side, HJK Helsinki.
Having made his debut in 2011, it was the 2012 campaign in which Pohjanpalo really made an impact. The youngster made an impressive 42 appearances in all competitions last season, managing to score 19 goals along the way as his side won a record-breaking fourth consecutive Finnish league Championship.
Undoubtedly the defining moment of his career so far was last season’s “perfect hat-trick” in fewer than three minutes, which has since seen him become something of a YouTube sensation.
With his team trailing 1-0, Pohjanpalo scored with his head, his left foot and then his right, all in the space of two minutes and 42 seconds in only his second ever top flight appearance.
The speed—and more importantly, the quality—of those three goals are one of the key reasons behind Liverpool’s prolonged interest.
What does he offer to the team?
First and foremost, Pohjanpalo knows where the goal is—but at the same time, he is so much more than just a mere poacher.
Despite not being the tallest of strikers (he stands less than six feet), the youngster’s aerial prowess is particularly impressive. Much like former Kop-hero Michael Owen, this is a result of positional expertise rather than sheer physicality, and has helped the Finn score his fair share of headed goals.
Also, Pohjanpalo is arguably more lethal from distance than from close range, with a number of his strikes from last season coming from outside the area.
The pick of these long-range efforts can be found in the following video, at around the 1:36 mark.
Based on this evidence, the teenager appears to have an abundance of potential, demonstrating that he is already something of a complete centre-forward, despite his tender years.
There is, of course, plenty to improve upon, but he undoubtedly has the natural ability to give him every chance of succeeding at Liverpool should a move materialise.
How likely is this transfer?
On the face of it, very likely indeed.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Finn also had a week-long trial at the club back in March. However, the prospect of being restricted to youth team football was eventually the decisive factor in scuppering the projected transfer.
Having since returned to Helsinki to continue his development, though, a move would appear far more likely now than at any point previously.
Despite a change of manager, Liverpool remain persistent, and are allegedly compiling a new and improved offer for Pohjanpalo in a deal thought to be worth around £1 million.
Though rumored interest from German club Borussia Monchengladbach could prove to be an obstacle, one would have to assume Liverpool’s dogged pursuit of the player would be enough to convince the starlet to opt for Merseyside ahead of Germany.
He may not prove to be the immediate fix that Brendan Rodgers is seeking, but he could eventually develop into a key player for the Reds for years to come.
With time and ability on his side, as well as documented interest from Liverpool themselves, don't be surprised to see this transfer come to fruition come January 2013.
Until then, feel free to comment below with your thoughts on Joel Pohjanpalo, his potential move or, of course, the article itself.
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