Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Yannick Bolasie a Poor Fit for Reds

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Yannick Bolasie of Crystal Palace and Victor Moses of Liverpool compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on May 5, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers want to make Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie one of six signings this summer, according to Daily Star reporter Adrian Kajumba.

But while the DR Congo international wide forward is a major threat from the flanks, he could be a poor fit in Liverpool's evolving attacking structure. Rodgers has spent two seasons moving the Reds toward a mode of play based on quick, intricate passing and fluid movement.

The stylistic change has demanded players capable of ably functioning in a variety of roles. That's why Bolasie would struggle if he made the switch to Anfield.

The 25-year-old established a niche as a fleet-footed, direct attacker in Palace's superb second-half form this season. He gave his club true width in tandem with the dangerous Jason Puncheon.

Yannick Bolasie Attacking Stats 2014
GoalsAssistsKey Passes per gameDribbles per gameCrosses per gamePass Success Rate

What is clear from Bolasie's stats is that he is a natural winger first. Despite the fact he "can play on either flank," per Kajumba, Bolasie might not be versatile enough for Rodgers.

Liverpool don't need a true winger. What they need is a false 11 capable of drifting off the flank and roaming into central areas.

That type of movement is key to the tactical flexibility Rodgers holds dear. That flexibility has become slightly overplayed amid Liverpool defying expectations for most of the season.

Altering his team's shape is something Rodgers does a little too often. But it will remain a central element of his tactics. His varied approach has been made possible by re-molding key players into more fluid roles.

Central striker Luis Suarez is about as close to a classic No. 9 as FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi. His ability to drop off into pockets of space between midfield and forward areas is essential to the way Liverpool attack.

Just as important is being able to deploy wide forward Raheem Sterling in multiple positions. Sterling is a good example of why Bolasie at Liverpool won't work.

When he first arrived at Anfield, Sterling was simply considered a typical, pacey winger. In that guise, he was simply a prospect with potential and nothing more.

Expanding his game from a traditional winger role helped Raheem Sterling flourish last season.
Expanding his game from a traditional winger role helped Raheem Sterling flourish last season.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

In fact, it wasn't until Sterling began to vary his movement and attack defensive gaps from different angles that he became a productive player.

Rather than providing from the flanks, Sterling was at his best when drifting off the wing to latch onto supply from others.

Daily Mail writers Simon Jones and Sami Mokbel highlighted how Rodgers has helped expand Sterling's game:

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who feared Sterling would become one of football's 'spoilt rich kids', has become a father figure. He has also enriched Sterling's football development - the slightly built but tenacious forward now seems more tactically aware, proving equally adept at the point of a diamond or in a wide position.

That's the type of wide player Rodgers needs to surround creative attackers such as Suarez and Philippe Coutinho with. Of course, Suarez might still be lured away by UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid.

Star striker Luis Suarez needs more fluid movement around him than Bolasie would offer.
Star striker Luis Suarez needs more fluid movement around him than Bolasie would offer.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Daily Star writer Carl Eldridge has suggested Los Blancos will table a £100 million bid to test Liverpool's resolve over Suarez. For his part, the player has stated his desire to stay at Anfield, per Matt Lawton of Daily Mail.

But if Liverpool were tempted, or even forced, into selling the mercurial striker, they would lose a good deal of their creative verve. Replacing it would take more than a traditional wing ace like Bolasie. If Suarez does stay, he needs players capable of more varied movement.

Bolaise represents good value, having only a year left on his deal with Palace, per Kajumba. But the Reds should expand their search to target attackers better suited to the way Liverpool play under Rodgers.