Will Andy Carroll Live up to His £35 Million Price Tag?
Arguably the biggest shock of the January transfer window was Liverpool's decision to use up most of the money gained from the Fernando Torres deal in a £35 million swoop for Newcastle's star, striker Andy Carroll. This after they had already splashed out £22 million on Luis Suarez.
Suarez has already proved his class and his potential to become a leading Premier League star, but Carroll's hamstring injury sustained at Newcastle has limited his playing time since his big money move to Anfield.
It was a transfer window full of shocks, surprises and exorbitant transfer fees, but was Liverpool's signing of Carroll the biggest over-estimation of them all? Is Andy Carroll more over-priced than Torres? Or will he go down in history as one of the great No. 9's to have graced the red half of Merseyside?
There is no doubt that Carroll is a talented player with his size and strength, complemented by his surprising pace and instinct to score goals. Carroll can bully defenses, menace goalkeepers, and he poses an aerial threat from all set pieces.
He scored 31 goals during his tenure with Newcastle and 14 of those goals came in the Premiership. His impressive goal ratio of 11 in 19 matches made him a valued commodity, but no one would have expected or could have predicted that within a few months of his first full Premier League campaign that he would become the most expensive English footballer in history.
Do you think Carroll will be a failure if he does not score at least 20 goals a season?
It is a tag that comes with an enormous amount of pressure, and coupled with the fact that he is at a club where success is expected but not always delivered, Carroll, still only 22 years old, must feel like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
On paper, a partnership with Suarez looks lethal, as does a Carroll/Wayne Rooney combination for the English national side. But anything can look good on paper!
Carroll will have a lot of support at Anfield in goalscoring terms with the signing of Suarez, the ever-present goal threat of Steven Gerrard and the recent flourishes from Raul Meireles and Dirk Kuyt.
This means the pressure to score goals does not lie solely with him. But the Anfield faithful will surely expect a £35 million striker to net at least 20 goals a season.
We also have to remember that Carroll has only had 41 Premier League appearances, with the majority coming from the bench. And although he has been consistently dangerous this season, it is surely a risk for Kenny Dalglish to spend so much money based on 19 games worth of evidence.
With Carroll's fitness improving fast, many Liverpool fans will perhaps expect this question to be quickly answered. But I think this question is impossible to answer without the test of time. People have to remember that this is a long-term investment as well as a short-term replacement.
Carroll needs to be given time, and the fans should not get on his back if he does not start scoring freely. Carroll has his whole career ahead of him, and there is a chance that he will decide to spend most of that time at Anfield.
When Carroll does start to feature regularly, his contribution will be measured in more than goals. He also has the potential to create opportunities for his teammates, soften up defenses and lay on assists.
The price tag will do Carroll no favors, but I believe he can evolve into one of the great English center forwards of the modern era.
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