By Liam Twomey
As Liverpool fans look towards a summer of uncertainty, they could be forgiven for having bigger priorities than the idle daydreams of exciting new player arrivals which inevitably plague most football followers through the barren months of the off-season.
Following the departures of Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish, the Reds are in search of a new technical director, a new manager and, once again, fresh impetus.
Yet it would appear that someone at Anfield is still concerned with potential squad recruits – or, at least, according to Ryad Boudebouz, who claims that representatives from the Merseysiders have made contact with his agent. But just who is Ryad Boudebouz?
MIDFIELDER | SOCHAUX
He is not, as some slightly less attentive football fans might mistakenly presume, Khalid Boulahrouz, the brutish Dutch defender who served Chelsea with such a lack of distinction over just 22 appearances during the 2006-07 season.
Rather, he is one of the hottest young properties in French football. A dynamic and skilful attacking midfielder who can play centrally or on either flank, Boudebouz already boasts 130 Ligue 1 appearances for Sochaux over the last four seasons, despite being only 22 years of age.
|Ligue 1 Goals of the Week
The youngster made 25 top-flight appearances in all in 2008-09, scoring important goals in home victories over Nancy and Le Mans which helped Sochaux ensure survival.
Another season of steady, if unspectacular, progress followed, and Boudebouz was rewarded with inclusion in Algeria’s squad for World Cup 2010. Despite being born in France and heavily capped at youth level for Les Bleus, he opted to answer the call and represent his country of origin.
|THE VIEW FROM FRANCE
Ryad Boudebouz has come through Sochaux's youth academy with the likes of Jeremy Menez and Marvin Martin, and he is also an exciting attacking midfield player, combining the attributes of the two. Typically, he has been used in the wide areas by les Lionceaux, where his pace and trickery have been effective, but he also possesses a fierce long-range shot, the kind of which scored the only goal against Marseille on the final day of the Ligue 1 season, ensuring Sochaux a place in France's top flight next term.
His attributes have long caught the eye of France's top clubs, with Lyon and Lille amongst those rumoured to be interested in him this summer, and, if given time, there is every chance that he could become a hit in the Premier League due to his technical talents. After Liverpool's transfer splurge last season, he is a player who would represent better value for money and perhaps even provide a better long-term investment.
Over the course of the campaign, the tricky youngster’s slick combinations with midfield maestros Marvin Martin and Nicolas Maurice-Belay caught the eye, as the imaginative trio provided the ammunition for free-scoring strikers Ideye Brown and Modibo Maiga.
With praise for Sochaux’s impressive achievement came unwanted attention, however, and Brown, Maurice-Belay and boss Francis Gillot all departed last summer. This campaign saw a return to the Ligue 1 relegation scraps to which the club's fans are more used and, at 22, Boudebouz, along with Martin and Maiga, has indicated that he is ready to move on.
Domestic big boys Lille, Marseille and Lyon are all monitoring his progress, but it is likely that a move to the Premier League promises greater riches. Moreover, given Sochaux’s league situation and their starlet’s avowed wish to leave, a Liverpool move for Boudebouz should make more economic sense than the splurges on Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson last summer.
Clearly the Reds have several other important issues to iron out first. But if those in the corridors of power at Anfield want their brave new dawn to be imbued with pace, trickery and excitement, they could do a lot worse than to snap up one of French football's brightest prospects.
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