If the rumours are to be believed, Juventus are said to be preparing a bid for Dirk Kuyt. I am wondering, would Liverpool be better off without him?
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I like Kuyt, I admire his honesty, his work rate and I cannot fault the effort he puts into games. I like the way he stays to applaud the fans after games longer than any other player. He seems like a top guy off the pitch too, as he has a foundation to help disadvantaged kids in Holland and the Third World. He seems like a really down to earth bloke, the kind of guy who would happily stop and chat to fans on the street, the kind of man who would help to dispel the myth that all footballers are egotistical, arrogant morons. He also has contributed with goals in games where it matters most.
Taking away the sentiment I have to ask: Is this enough?
Cold hard facts suggest not.
We bought Kuyt to play as a striker. He had an amazing strike rate for Feyenoord and he was seen as the answer to our goalscoring problems at the time, as Crouch and Morientes were struggling.
Strikers coming from the Eredivisie (Holland’s top division) are notoriously hit-and-miss. For every Ruud Van Nistlerooy there is a Mateja Kezman, for every Robin van Persie there is an Afonso Alves. So the fact he scored a bucketful of goals in that division should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The brutal truth is that he just has not cut it as a striker for Liverpool. Ever since we signed Torres, Kuyt has been deployed on the right wing. He has done a decent enough job but he is not a winger.
As I mentioned before the big advantage to Kuyt is that he has an absolutely incredible engine, tries his best in every game for the full 90 minutes and defends from the front. He also has the knack of scoring in important games for us.
The downsides to him are: He doesn’t possess a great deal of pace, his crossing leaves a lot to be desired and he has the kind of first touch that makes Emile Heskey look like Johan Cruyff. None of these are the qualities you look for in a winger.
He also seems to have lost his way in front of goal as exemplified by the tame shot he hit at Tim Howard when put in a great position in Sundays game. Kuyt only got 3 league goals last season, 2 of them coming from the penalty spot at Goodison Park. His goals scoring record is only 20 goals in about 90 games, which is not good enough for a first team regular.
We seem to have created a role for Kuyt in order to accommodate him in our starting eleven and this is something we have never done before (remember Gerrard playing on the right for a couple of seasons?) and no other top club does this.
I remember reading an article about Neil Mellor when he was still at the club and the gist of it was that we should accept that for all his hard work, he just wasn’t the player Liverpool needed him to be. I apply this kind of thinking to Kuyt and I believe that we need an out-and-out right-winger. Nabil El Zhar has shown promise this season and I’d like to see us recall Adam Hamill from his loan at Blackpool and give him a try before spending in the summer.
To summarise I think that a good £10m + offer for Kuyt should be seriously considered and I honestly believe we would be better off with a true right-winger. I am and always will be a Kuyt fan and I am sure that Kuyt can be a success wherever he goes.