Liverpool completed their summer recruitment drive when they announced the return to the club of former Red, Craig Bellamy. The Welsh international has joined the club on a free transfer from Manchester City who granted him a free transfer as they sought to trim their wage bill by removing several high earning stars who do not feature in Roberto Mancini's plans for the season ahead.
Bellamy has of course already spent one season at Liverpool earlier in his career. He was first brought to the club in the summer of 2006 when then manager Rafa Benitez paid Blackburn Rovers a fee of £6million for the fiery Welshman.
Bellamy would play 41 games for Liverpool in that spell scoring nine goals. The most memorable of those was his header at the Camp Nou which helped Liverpool dump Barcelona out of the European Cup.
With Liverpool looking to sign Fernando Torres in the summer of 2007 either Bellamy or fellow striker Peter Crouch was always likely to be sold. Bellamy attracted more interest and when West Ham offered £7.5million, Bellamy was on his way to London.
Bellamy stayed at West Ham until until January 2009 before making a big money move to Manchester City. Unfortunately for Bellamy his arrival at City was part of the early stages of a spending spree by City that is matched only by the actions of Chelsea over the course of the Premier League.
With his employers spending untold millions to bring top talent to the club, Bellamy was forced out of the picture at the Eastlands club.
In August of 2010 he joined his hometown club Cardiff City on a season-long loan. Bellamy had a fantastic season for The Bluebirds, scoring 11 goals and also adding 10 assists whilst being deployed mainly in a left wing position.
It should be noted that Bellamy missed a number of games for Cardiff and those figures likely would have been even higher if not for a pesky hamstring injury which hampered him.
Bellamy returned to City once his loan spell was over but was never likely to stay with them. With City looking to trim their wage bill, and the player himself looking for an opportunity to play more often, it was clearly a matter of when, rather than if, he would move to a new club.
As the transfer deadline drew closer he was linked with Liverpool, QPR and Tottenham Hotspur. As dawn broke on the final day of the transfer window it seemed like he would be heading to one of the London clubs.
In what had seemed that morning an unlikely turn of events, the player decided that Liverpool was the club where he wanted to continue his career and he joined Kenny Dalglish's Red Revolution with just hours to spare before the window slammed shut.
Bellamy has signed a two-year contract with Liverpool and has made it clear that he's looking to win some silverware. In this article I lay out five reasons why I think Bellamy can play a big role in helping Liverpool claim their first Premier League title, and nineteenth top division championship in all.
I hope you enjoy.
Bellamy is primarily a striker, but he has regularly been deployed as a winger throughout his career.
At Coventry City he played a lot of his football on the right wing and then at both Manchester City and Cardiff he was predominantly deployed on the left flank over the last two seasons.
His ability to play on either flank offers Liverpool good back-up should Stewart Downing or whoever settles in as Liverpool's regular winger, potentially club captain Steven Gerrard, require a rest or suffer an injury.
He can also play both striker positions, either slightly withdrawn or right up top. He's also proven his ability to act as a long front man. This could prove vital to Liverpool over the next two seasons.
Bellamy's primary weapon is his pace, but he's also a talented player with good passing skills and good finishing skills. There's also the matter of his work-rate which is exceptional.
I expect him to bring goals and assists to the team when called upon, regardless of which position Kenny Dalglish chooses to deploy him.
One of the biggest bonuses about Bellamy's versatility is how compatible it makes him, not just with other players but also with the system Liverpool have in place.
Liverpool displayed a flexible formation against Bolton that seemed to flow seamlessly from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 onto 4-5-1 and back again.
That fluid system was one of the biggest reasons for Liverpool's sparkling attacking display as it was impossible for Bolton to readjust their defence as quickly as Liverpool changed their attack.
I can see Kenny Dalglish using that tactic quite often this season as the unpredictability it offers Liverpool will be a key weapon for them as they make their assault on the top 4.
Bellamy can fit into any system in multiple positions and that's something that is sure to have played a part in the decision made by Dalgish and Damien Comolli to bring him back to Anfield after a four year absence.
As i mentioned, it's not just the system Bellamy is compatible with, it's also Liverpool's other attacking options. If you look at Liverpool's other strikers, Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt, it's very easy to picture Bellamy playing alongside any of them, or indeed alongside any two of them.
Paired with Suarez his burning pace would be ideal to go with the Uruguayan's creativity and expansive passing. The can both play the withdrawn role, or operate right up against the central defenders and that would allow them to switch it up constantly throughout the game.
If played alongside Carroll, Liverpool would have an ideal little and large combination. Bellamy's pace, clever runs and smart finishing would work well with Carroll's aerial threat and power.
Neither Kuyt or Suarez is at their best playing alongside Carroll as their games do not appear to be compatible with his but it's very easy to close your eyes and see Bellamy feeding off Carroll's knock-ons and also breaking wide to put crosses in for the target-man.
Bellamy and Kuyt played together on a number of occasions during the Welshman's first spell at the club and it was a partnership that worked well. Both players are extremely hard-working and both are extremely intelligent.
When Kuyt and Bellamy played together they became very adept at creating space, not just for each other, but also for Steven Gerrard who enjoyed a phenomenal season and scored a number of goals by breaking into the space created by his front duo's constant movement.
There's also the possibility that he could be deployed as part of a front trio with any two of the other three and with his versatility he can play on either side of the attack, or indeed as the central figure if needed.
Another aspect of Bellamy's compatibility that make him a perfect fit for what Liverpool are looking to do is obviously his desire to win trophies.
That's why he came to Liverpool, and that's why Kenny Dalglish was brought back as manager.
Craig Bellamy plays with a burning desire to win. He always has and he always will.
To try and temper that would be to take away from what has made him a such a good player for so many years. Bellamy's not a nice guy on the pitch and that's exactly what Liverpool need.
For far too long Liverpool have been far too nice and nice teams don't win titles. You only need to look at Arsenal to see that. Liverpool need a nasty streak and Bellamy will bring that.
I'm not talking about kicking players here, I'm talking about standing up to the opposition and letting them know you're not going to be pushed about.
Bellamy's desire to win, work ethic and refusal to back down could also be the key to unlocking the enigma that has thus far been Andy Carroll. Carroll is Liverpool's record signing and thus far has not lived up to his billing.
Liverpool fans will make excuses, blame injuries, bad luck and a lack of support from his team-mates. The truth is that Carroll's bad performances and down to him and him alone because he's simply not putting in the effort.
Carroll is playing games at a walking pace right now, putting in the minimal amount of effort, not chasing lost causes, not harassing defenders, not helping his team and giving his team-mates an earful when they fail to deliver the ball to exactly where he is standing.
If there is one player who will get on his case about this, it's Craig Bellamy. Bellamy will not care that Carroll dwarves him. If he feels that the big man is not pulling his weight, Bellamy will get right in his face and let him know.
If Bellamy can take the fire that burns deep within him, and use it to light one under Carroll then Liverpool will start to see a return on their massive investment.
Carroll was highly motivated at Newcastle because he was playing for his boyhood team and as a result of that, he scored goals. That motivation seems to have been left behind on Tyneside when he made his move to Liverpool.
Carroll has a nasty streak inside that resembles that which Bellamy proudly wears on his sleeve. The two greatest England centre-forwards of all time, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer have both had a nasty side to them which they were not afraid to use to get the better of defenders.
Liverpool hope Carroll can become the next great English centre-forward, he will need to use his nasty side if he wants to live up to their expectations. Bellamy can teach him to do that.
Getting that motivation back into Carroll is half the battle. The other is finding the right partner for him. As I mentioned on the previous slide, I believe that right now that is Bellamy. It's a partnership I'm hoping we will see Liverpool use in the cup games as they keep the starting pair of Kuyt and Suarez rested for the league matches.
Bellamy can also act as something of a mentor for Carroll. There's a lot of similarities between the two. Both made big money moves at early ages to clubs were expectations ran high.
Obviously the £6million Newcastle paid for Bellamy is nothing in comparison to what Liverpool paid for Carroll, but at the time it did represent a pretty big investment in such a young player and it came with a lot of pressure.
At 22 Bellamy was a limited player with one primary weapon, just as Carroll is now. Bellamy's pace was to him what ability in the air is to Carroll. Carroll has shown no improvement in any other aspect of his game.
If Bellamy can relay his own experiences on expanding his repertoire and improving his own all-round game to Carroll, then the young striker could start to develop into something resembling the top class striker Liverpool hoped they were buying.
Carroll's price tag and the doubting of his abilities have given him a point to prove at Liverpool, and that's another area where he and Bellamy are similar.
Craig Bellamy's main motivation in coming back to Liverpool is that he feels he has unfinished business at the club.
Bellamy was wrongly viewed as a failure when he left Liverpool after just one season. The truth is that Liverpool wanted Fernando Torres and one of their existing strikers had to be sold to make way for his arrival.
Dirk Kuyt was never going to be sold and it was a choice between Bellamy or Peter Crouch as to who would leave. An offer came in for Bellamy, none came for Crouch, so Bellamy was sold.
Bellamy is a lifelong Liverpool fan and the fact that he was sacrificed to make room for Torres, and then viewed as a failure are something that I'm sure have gnawed away at him in the years since.
He will want to show the Liverpool faithful that he deserves to play for their club, because he is one of them.
Another ghost Bellamy has to lay to rest this time around is the issue he had with John Arne Riise and a golf club. It was an example of Bellamy's temper boiling over away off the pitch, something Liverpool and Bellamy will want to avoid happening this time around.
Bellamy will want to show that he has matured as a player and a person and that is ready to accept whatever role Kenny Dalglish has for him.
The role that Bellamy is most likely to fill is that of being an impact player off the bench.
If you read my recent article in relation to players Kenny Dalglish would need at Liverpool this season for it to be a success, I noted the need for a player in that very role.
Bellamy is the perfect player to provide a spark off the bench in my view. His pace is a real game changer and in tight tense games it could make a real difference if he's introduced with 20-25 minutes remaining against a tired defence.
Combine his pace with the ability to score and create goals, his work rate, versatility and his will to win, and Liverpool have a fantastic weapon at their disposal if they deploy it correctly.
Those are the five main reasons I think Craig Bellamy can help bring a title to Liverpool. The key to my thinking is the two-year deal he has signed with the club.
Personally I don't think Liverpool are capable of winning the title this season, I just don't think they have enough quality in their ranks right now.
I do however feel that with further strengthening in January and likely a world class talent or two arriving next summer once Champions League qualification has been confirmed, 2012/2013 could very well be our season.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this article, I've certainly enjoyed writing it.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.
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