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Is Yohan Cabaye the Right Player for Liverpool in January Transfer Window?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United celebrates scoring his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2013

Liverpool's transfer activity already seems to be taking a step up in November, with plenty of media reports surfacing over rumoured January transfer possibilities.

Diego Capel and Juan Iturbe are two of the oft-repeated rumours which seem to come about every window, but Yohan Cabaye is a new and intriguing possibility for the Reds to consider.

The Newcastle midfielder has been linked to the Anfield club by Ben Jefferson of the Express, with Arsenal and AS Roma also mentioned as interested parties. An £18 million fee is thought to be the asking price for the French midfielder, who was close to a move to the Emirates during the summer.

Would he be the right transfer course of action for the Reds to pursue?


Midfield Cover and Competition: Urgently Required

As things stand, Liverpool are in fairly desperate need of an additional central midfield signing. They only have four natural senior centre-mids on their books at present, and three have been playing in almost every game, leaving just Joe Allen on the bench.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Steven Gerrard (L) of Liverpool celebrates scoring his 100th Premier League goal and his team's first with team-mate Jordan Henderson during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpoo
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

A suspension or a couple of injuries could prove extremely costly for the Reds, who have failed to so far add competition for the holding midfield role for several windows in a row.

For keeping players fit, covering for those absent or for ensuring that everybody stays focused on performing and training well on a regular basis, the Reds have to add a midfielder to the group for pure numbers' sake.


Where does Cabaye Fit?

This is a tricky question, as much depends on the system that Brendan Rodgers chooses to employ going forward.

Should Liverpool continue with a three-man defensive system, Cabaye can fit in as competition with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park as the "middle" central player. In the 3-4-1-2, he would be the link between the holding player and Philippe Coutinho as the attacking midfielder. But, as that is usually Gerrard's role, the likelihood of this occurring regularly is slim.

In a 1-2 midfield within a 3-5-2, Cabaye could operate as the deepest midfielder, the deep playmaker with two stronger and mobile players ahead of him. But that negates the need, or the space in the team at least, for a No. 10 such as Coutinho.

Again, not entirely likely.

A switch back to 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 would be the most likely scenarios to fit Cabaye in.

With Coutinho to the left, Cabaye could himself play the No. 10 role, much as he often does for his current side Newcastle United. His versatility means the Frenchman can fit into a variety of systems, but the established first-team players at Anfield dictate that he might not necessarily be an automatic pick in one exact role every week.


Possible Lineups, and is Cabaye Worth the Money?

If operating as part of a two-man central midfield, Cabaye would fit in no problem, but questions would have to be answered as to whether Cabaye-Gerrard would be an improvement on Lucas-Gerrard in terms of mobility, defensive awareness and athleticism.

4-2-1-3/4-3-3 with Cabaye as part of two-man midfield
4-2-1-3/4-3-3 with Cabaye as part of two-man midfield

The other option would be to have one sitting midfielder, be it Lucas, Joe Allen or Henderson, and have both of Gerrard and Cabaye roaming forward—but the similarities between the two might not make this an optimal solution.

Returning to an argument brought up a few times recently, a diamond midfield could once again be an option for Liverpool, but until it is actually utilised in matches by the manager, it is little more than fictional thinking at this point.

Cabaye as a deep playmaker with protective runners ahead in a diamond 4-4-2 system
Cabaye as a deep playmaker with protective runners ahead in a diamond 4-4-2 system

In the current set-up, while Cabaye's talents are undoubted, there is probably not the argument to bring him in at the expense he would require. He wouldn't be a standout option for a true holding role, he certainly wouldn't want to come in as cover for Gerrard and Coutinho and Liverpool already have several options of the passing, playmaking type in the squad.

Cabaye's 10 chances created by pitch zone. Gerrard (21), Suarez (12) and Henderson (11) have created more in the current LFC squad. via Squawka
Cabaye's 10 chances created by pitch zone. Gerrard (21), Suarez (12) and Henderson (11) have created more in the current LFC squad. via Squawka

There are other traits missing from the Reds midfield at this point, which means that without further signings, it's unlikely Cabaye will be the No. 1 target for January.


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