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Cafu Praise Should Prompt Prolonged Liverpool First-Team Chance for Jon Flanagan

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 26:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on March 26, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentApril 1, 2014

Could there be higher praise than Brazilian international legend Cafu following Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan on Twitter and referring to him as the “RedCafu on Sunday?

Now 43 years old and retired, Cafu won it all in his 18-year career: Serie A (twice), the Champions League, Copa America (twice) and the World Cup (twice), racking up 142 caps for his country between 1990 and 2006. He is the most capped Brazilian player of all time.

Of course, his remarks on Twitter were prompted by a wave of enthusiasm from Liverpool fans urging the Brazilian to watch the 21-year-old in action.

 

Flanagan vs. Tottenham

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Aaron Lennon of Tottenham Hotspur competes with Jordan Henderson (l) and Jon Flanagan of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool,
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Cafu probably couldn’t have chosen a better game than Liverpool’s 4-0 humbling of Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend to watch a showcase of Flanagan’s talents.

His stand-out moment was a delightfully perfected Cruyff-turn of Aaron Lennon to bring the ball out of defence.

Having confused the Spurs winger, Flanagan found 30 yards of space ahead of him. Striding forward, he played the ball off to Philippe Coutinho who hit a sweet low shot for Liverpool’s third of the afternoon. From deep inside Liverpool’s half to a goal, instigated by Flanagan.

He later showed no fear going in for a crunching tackle on Roberto Soldado on the edge of the Reds’ penalty area, promoting a euphoric roar from the Anfield crowd.

According to Squawka, Flanagan won four of his eight tackles against Spurs, created two chances and had a passing accuracy of 91 percent.

No wonder Cafu was impressed, but the bigger picture is an even more impressive story for Flanagan.

 

Consistent

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Jon Flanagan is embraced by Steven Gerrard of Liverpool at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Get
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Given his chance this season due to injuries to Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson, as well as the under-performance of on-loan signing Aly Cissokho, Flanagan firmly deserves his regular first-team starting role.

He has been unbreakable on either side of Liverpool’s defence this season, and he seems to be flourishing in his left-back role. He’s committed, strong and improving with every game.

He embodies the classic full-back and all the nostalgia that comes with it. Early heavy challenges will leave his opponents with a taste of what they’ve got in store for the match, as Alan Smith explained in his column in The Telegraph this week:

He did it to Aaron Lennon a yard from the touchline, steaming through the winger with bone-shaking force to take the ball as well as the man. The crowd loved that one. Any supporter, after all, enjoys seeing home-grown talent take the bull by the horns in such uncompromising style. Not only that, the challenge set the tone for a duel the Liverpool man ended up winning comfortably.

This aggressive mindset is winning him lots of admirers as Flanagan tests the bravery of any Premier League attacker who may dare to enter his danger zone. 

 

First Choice

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool competes with Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by A
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Furthermore, Roy Hodgson should seriously consider Flanagan as an option for his England World Cup squad this summer, though with the likes of Luke Shaw also hopeful of a call-up, the Scouse Cafu faces stiff competition for the trip to Brazil.

At Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers has a strong and effective full-back in Flanagan to finish the season with. With an attack on the Premier League and Champions League for the Reds next season, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for Flanagan to further cement his first-team place at Anfield.

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