Liverpool made their third signing of the summer transfer window late last week, signing up Oussama Assaidi from Dutch side SC Heerenveen on a long-term contract. The 24-year old arrives at Anfield for a fee in the region of £3m and follows Fabio Borini and Joe Allen to the club as Brendan Rodgers continues his first-team restructuring for the season ahead:
The move for Assaidi was something of a surprise – Liverpool have been linked with a substantial number of players since Rodgers’ installation but the Moroccan’s name was never amongst the potential targets mentioned. He spoke of his delight at joining up on Merseyside upon completion of a medical:
I’m very happy to play for this big club. The first time I spoke to the coach I had a good feeling. I had offers from other big clubs but I’ve been waiting for this moment. The coach gave me a good feeling. It will be a dream to play with these big players and I hope training will help me to be a good player here. When I watch Liverpool it’s always a good atmosphere, the fans are fantastic and I’m happy to be here.
A product of the AZ Alkmaar youth academy, Assaidi’s career has so far been restricted to Holland. He made his debut in the Dutch top division with FC Omniworld back in the 2006-07 season and over the course of his two campaigns at the club, found the net on only three occasions. As a result, he was shipped off to De Graafschap but failed to fire in his first term, with 12 appearances harvesting a single goal as his side were relegated from the Eredivisie.
Assaidi started the 2009-10 campaign with five goals in as many games and resultantly earned himself a transfer back into Holland’s top-flight, when SC Heerenveen snapped him up just prior to the closure of the summer transfer window. Once again, his initial impact in his new surroundings was minimal – the Moroccan managed a single goal and three assists from 20 appearances but the appointment of Ron Jans to the Heerenveen hot seat ahead of the following campaign proved to be the turning point.
Over the past two seasons Assaidi has returned 19 goals and 20 assists in 58 games for the Dutch side, with three goals and three assists in a 6-2 win over FC Twente the particular highlight of his flourishing career. To date, he has represented his country on 22 occasions and found the net once.
Assaidi’s arrival will undoubtedly boost Liverpool’s current options on the flanks. His speed and directness in possession, allied with superb dribbling ability and an eye for goal will surely place considerable doubt over Stewart Downing’s game time for the Reds. Bearing in mind the former Villa man failed to produce any attacking returns whatsoever last season, it’s fair to assume Rodgers has been looking for a more potent wide man in front of goal. The Fantasy potential of the new boy, however, now hinges on the club’s remaining signings over the summer period – if the mooted move for Clint Dempsey comes to fruition, it’s likely Assaidi will struggle for any sort of investment
The Moroccan’s preferred position is on the left as an inverted winger, drifting inside onto his favoured right foot, but is capable of playing on either side of a lone forward in Rodgers’ 4-3-3. We could well see him swapping flanks with Fabio Borini or maybe even see the Italian on the right – Rodgers’ tactics at Swansea was based around a natural right winger, Nathan Dyer, and the right-footed Scott Sinclair on the opposite side.
As to how quickly the new boy will settle – that’s another matter. Rodgers lavished praise on the Moroccan upon his arrival but also took time to suggest Assaidi’s introduction to the Premier League could very well be a gradual one:
We’re delighted with the signing, he’s a young player who has done very well, in particular in the last couple of seasons, in Holland. He fits our style perfectly, he’s an exciting player who is very good in one versus one situations and I think he’s a player that will excite the crowd. We’re not expecting too much too early, he needs time to adapt but we’re delighted he’s chosen to come here over a number of other clubs. As I said, I’ll look forward to helping his development and I hope he’ll become a very good part of this club.
In a sense, it’s an ideal situation for Fantasy managers if Rodgers affords Assaidi sub roles while he gets used to his new surroundings. Despite the fact they have three home games in the next four, Liverpool’s upcoming schedule is hardly enticing – City, Arsenal and United all roll up to Anfield in the next four Gameweeks and with a trip to Sunderland also on the horizon, we’ll be quite happy to allow the new boy time to settle before the Reds have (nor, STO, RDG) from Gameweek 6-8.
Although he’s likely to play the same role as Borini, the new boy has been listed as a midfielder in FPL and the Sky Sports game – coming in at 6.5 and 4.8 respectively, he’s a potential budget-friendly option, then. If he can come close to replicating his Heerenveen form and nails down a regular role, Assaidi is likely to find plenty interest, though with nine days still left of the transfer window the cheque-book is expected to be wielded by Liverpool once again. Only then can we assess his chances with a greater degree of certainty.
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