By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor
When Liverpool turned their attention to the Eredivisie for reinforcements in January 2011, there were plenty of question marks about whether Uruguay international Luis Suarez had what it takes to succeed in the Premier League.
The former Ajax star didn't take too long to convince his doubters of his qualities as he immediately became a key player at Anfield.
Twelve months later, the Reds are again keen to strengthen their squad halfway through the season and they have allegedly set their sights once more on one of the stars of the Dutch top flight.
After 20 league games, Liverpool have scored only 24 times as they linger in a disappointing sixth spot in the table. To make things worse, manager Kenny Dalglish will have to make do without the services of Suarez for a further seven games due to suspension. Therefore, the Premier League giants are believed to be considering making an offer for Twente forward Luuk de Jong in order to solve their attacking problems.
|CAREER STATISTICS | Luuk de Jong (Twente & Netherlands)
Attributes: Heading, shooting, positioning
|Height||Club||Weight||Place of Birth||Former clubs|
The young attacker was born in Switzerland, but moved to Netherlands at the tender age of four, where he started his footballing career with amateur side DZC'68. However, his immense potential didn't go unnoticed by De Graafschap, and he was soon integrated into the Doetinchem-based club's youth academy.
While his older brother Siem left De Graafschap for Ajax, the Amsterdam giants weren't interested in signing Luuk as well at the time. The Netherlands international consequently stayed put, and eventually made his first team debut in November 2008. Things moved quickly from then on and De Jong made a switch to Twente in the summer of 2009.
In Enschede, De Jong needed a season to adapt to his new surroundings as he was mainly warming the bench behind Blaise N'Kufo in his first year at the Grolsch Veste. Nevertheless, the forward developed into a key player in his second campaign at Twente as he netted 12 goals in 32 appearances, playing off target-man Marc Janko or in a free role from the right wing. As a reward for his excellent development, the Aigle-born starlet received a call-up to the Netherlands national side, and he made his international debut in the friendly against Austria.
De Jong has continued to impress this term and has become one of the most sought after young attackers around on the European pitches following his excellent displays in the 2011-12 campaign. The forward is held in high regard by Oranje coach Bert van Marwijk and is in contention to make it into the Dutch squad for Euro 2012. However, he faces stiff competition for a spot in the Netherlands frontline.
Therefore, De Jong could opt to make the next step up in his career and join a bigger club in order to convince Van Marwijk of taking him to Poland and Ukraine, and Liverpool seems to be just the perfect team for the versatile attacker.
Every player has dreams. Mine is to play in a nice foreign competition one day. And the Premier League is a really nice competition
Luuk de Jong
Not only are the Reds in dire need of attacking reinforcements due to the lengthy suspension of Suarez, but Andy Carroll has also been struggling to live up to the high expectations at Anfield ever since he joined the club from Newcastle United. Additionally, Dirk Kuyt seems to be past his prime and could leave the club at the end of the season, while physical problems have prevented Craig Bellamy from playing regularly.
Some would argue that Liverpool are in need of an accomplished attacker rather than a promising youngster, but despite his relatively young age of 21, De Jong has already won one Eredivisie title, one KNVB Beker and two Johan Cruyff Shields. Additionally, he has Champions League and Europa League experience, and has already been capped at senior level for a country that made it to the final of the World Cup only 18 months ago.
His ability to play behind a target man or to be deployed in a free role from either the left or the right wing makes him the perfect replacement for Suarez during the Uruguayan's absence, while he would be a good alternative to Carroll once the former Ajax star returns from his ban.
De Jong, who recently expressed his interest in moving to the Premier League, would thus not only offer a short-term solution to Liverpool's attacking deficiencies, but would be a great addition on the long term as well.
It's now up the Merseysiders to decide whether they're willing to meet Twente's asking price for the Dutchman in an attempt to save their season, or don't act at all and settle for yet another finish outside of the Champions League places.
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