Liverpool Transfer News: Yevhen Konoplyanka a Better Fit Than Karim Benzema

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2014

Dnipro's Yevhen Konoplyanka celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina during their Europa League Group E soccer match at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Fabrizio Giovannozzi)
Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

Following the disappointment of a fruitless January transfer window, attention is already beginning to turn to what business high-flying Liverpool will conduct in the summer, with Yevhen Konoplyanka and Karim Benzema emerging as top targets.

Konoplyanka was the man Liverpool came so close to clinching on winter deadline day, while Benzema would represent an ambitious raid on Real Madrid

However, if it came down to making a choice between the two, it's Dnipro attacker Konoplyanka that should top the billing on Brendan Rodgers' wish list.

The Reds boss recently gave little away when asked if he'd return for the Ukrainian this summer, per ESPN, saying: "We've got lots of people we're looking at. We'll assess where we are at the end of the season."

It's unlikely that the Merseysiders would be able to justify signing both targets, but Spanish newspaper Marca (h/t to Metro) reports that—should Liverpool qualify for the Champions League—they will consider a move for Madrid's Benzema in a bid to pair the Frenchman alongside Luis Suarez.

Jon Super/Associated Press

It's a far riskier pursuit, given that Benzema would be expected to cost upwards of £25 million—per the Metro report—£10 million more than the figure Konoplyanka's services would require. Add in the wages and it would represent a giant financial gamble.

It's also confusing to think why Rodgers would be intent on breaking up the current strike partnership of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the one area of Liverpool's squad that one would have to say is working most fluidly at present.

As Squawka shows, the pair have been in mercurial form this term, scoring a huge majority of their club's overall goal tally:

With such a successful relationship currently in effect, there's no guarantee that Benzema's introduction would actually benefit the team, and it would likely result in the breakup of a front three that also involves Raheem Sterling.

Benzema's arrival would likely serve in halting the progress of the ever-evolving Sterling which, despite every club's desire for big names, isn't what any Liverpool fan should want right now.

Sturridge has fast become a favourite at Anfield.
Sturridge has fast become a favourite at Anfield.Sang Tan/Associated Press

Konoplyanka, on the other hand, wouldn't be as demanding a presence in the squad. The main advantage of his star being so small when compared to Benzema's is that the Ukrainian wouldn't warrant an automatic spot in the starting XI.

If Konoplyanka's signature eventually resulted in the splitting of Liverpool's Suarez-Sturridge-Sterling trio, it would almost certainly be due to the player's form warranting a place in the team, free of financial pressure on Rodgers that would accompany the Benzema deal.

This season has occasionally seen Philippe Coutinho have to fill an unfamiliar role on the left wing, with Victor Moses providing unsatisfactory backup.

In that vein of thought, Konoplyanka would be a vast upgrade compared to the on-loan Chelsea man, who has been far from the hit some might have been expecting.

Konoplyanka would be a superior, inverse option to Benzema in that his more natural position lies out wide, but he also brings the ability to play more centrally, the exact kind of profile Liverpool are seeking.

Squawka shows that in just six Europa League games this term, the 24-year-old has attempted 17 tackles for Dnipro, drawing in 17 fouls and dribbling against the opponent on 53 occasions. 

Gabriel Pecot/Associated Press

In contrast, Benzema's work-rate isn't quite as ferocious, and in 24 La Liga outings the striker has attempted 31 tackles, invited 23 fouls and dribbled against the opposition on just 23 occasions. If Rodgers is looking for a player more in the mould of Suarez, Konoplyanka is his man.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

While those at Anfield undoubtedly want to see the return of Champions League nights and marquee signings, it's also worth noting that owner John W. Henry is striving to make better use of Liverpool funds in future.

The club showed with the infamous moves for £55 million pair Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing that money doesn't necessarily buy quality, and Konoplyanka would be a lower risk, higher reward solution than his Bernabeu counterpart.