Andriy Voronin: Liverpool FC's Invisible Man

Nabeel KhokharCorrespondent INovember 17, 2009

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19:  Andriy Voronin of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on August 19, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez once described Andriy Voronin in the following manner: "He is clever, has great game awareness, and gives us so many options in attack. He can play behind a main striker, lead the line himself, or come into attack from the flanks.”

Is this the same Andriy Voronin that is currently in possession of the No. 10 shirt at Liverpool FC? Surely not!

It was in July 2007 that Benitez presented the Ukrainian Voronin to the public. The pony-tailed Voronin signed a four-year contract after deciding not to extend a successful three-season spell at Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored 32 goals in 92 appearances for the German club.

Voronin came to Liverpool with a reputation of being a technically gifted and talented footballer. Unfortunately, the Liverpool fans have yet to see much of this technical prowess and talent.

Life in the red of Liverpool started brightly for Ukrainian forward, as he scored his first competitive goal in only his second appearance. Voronin then went on to score his first Premier League goal against Sunderland 10 days later and quickly netted again in the next league game against Derby County, propelling Liverpool to the top of the table.

Things seemed to be progressing well and it appeared that the Reds might have found their very own "divine ponytail." But at the turn of the year, the Ukrainian suffered an ankle injury during training that required surgery, thereby halting any real progress that he had made.

After recovering from the injury, Voronin made a few appearances at the end of the season, but did nothing to impress Benitez and it seemed that Voronin’s stay at Liverpool would be short-lived.

However, rather than selling him, Liverpool agreed on a loan with Hertha Berlin, and Voronin again found himself playing in the Bundesliga. Back in Germany, where he had gained prominence, Voronin went about re-establishing himself as a potent striker.

In 20 appearances for the German capital’s top side, he found the back of the net on 11 occasions and became a favourite with the fans in Berlin. Happy to be scoring again on a regular basis, and back in a league that suited him more, Voronin pushed for the loan deal to be formalised into a permanent move.

However, with Hertha strapped for cash and Liverpool looking to make a sufficiently larger profit than they deserved from the deal, no agreement was reached and the Ukrainian was back at Melwood.

Since then, Voronin has slowly started to disappear. Falling further and further down the pecking order, he has found himself becoming Liverpool's invisible man.

When fit, Fernando Torres is Rafa's first choice striker, and with the likes of Ngog, Kuyt, and Babel being preferred over the Ukrainian, Voronin has found his chances few and far between.

Having little or no impact even when used as an impact substitute, his value to the squad has diminished with every performance.

But even when he was given a run of a few games with the first team, his performances left fans wondering if his heart is still in it.

Scoring goals is what Voronin was brought to Liverpool for and a majority of goals by strikers like himself come from strikes inside the penalty area. It is strange then that a lot of the time you find him dropping into midfield when the ball does go into the box, and Voronin is not there as he is either making his way in or staying out.

When a player's confidence is high, he goes looking for the ball and he wants it all the time. When confidence is low, the opposite is true and you don't want the ball. You don't look for it. You are always afraid to make a mistake.

Voronin is woefully low on confidence and when he recently found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, his finish was that of a player who has lost the belief in his own ability.

What is even more exasperating for fans, is that Voronin seems to have lost any drive, passion, will, and even appetite. There is no fight, nor fire in his belly. It appears that he is simply going through the motions.

Voronin has replaced Lucas as Liverpool's most criticized player. Lucas may not have the ability, but he always shows a fighting spirit and never disappears.

Whereas the Ukrainian obviously had what it took to be a success in the German League, playing for the Liverpool Football Club seems like a step too far. Sadly, Voronin falls short of the quality of player that Liverpool needs in its ranks if it is to be challenging for domestic and European honours.

With the January transfer window approaching, Benitez would do better to accept whatever offers come his way for a player that has fast become Liverpool's invisible man.