After Michael Laudrup's posturing early in the week, it was clear that Liverpool's interest in Joe Allen had reached the point where it was worrisome for Swansea City and their new manager, who obviously wanted to keep a player that was a large part of their success last season. Today that worry seems plenty justified, as Tony Barrett from the Times reported that Liverpool have triggered the £15 million release clause** built into Allen's contract with the Welsh club, with negotiations with the player set to take place over the next few days.
**Note: The link seems to be back behind the paywall, so it's inaccessible unless you've got a subscription. The Guardian's running a similar story now. Cheers to Professor Ch@os for the tip while it was still free.
Brendan Rodgers has been open about his hopes of adding to the squad in the very near future, with discussion of players arriving prior to the end of August discussed more out of resignation than anything else. So the potential to add Allen now--or at least very close to now--with a full week and another friendly before the season kicks off in full next weekend would be a boost for a midfield that desperately needs adaptable, quality depth.
How Rodgers intends to fit Allen into the side may soon become clear, but for now most assume he would go straight into the starting eleven ahead of Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, and Jonjo Shelvey--who was apparently offered to Swansea on loan as part of an earlier bid--with the expectation that he'd fit nicely into a three-man central midfield contingent along with Lucas and Steven Gerrard. I think there's a decent probability of that taking place; Allen seems more developed and composed than any of Henderson, Shelvey, or Spearing, and doesn't appear to need an extended period of time to develop in order to be match-ready. That it might delay Jordan Henderson's progress a bit might be the only hangup, but with Rodgers speaking positively about the player's future with Liverpool, Allen's arrival wouldn't seem to disrupt Henderson's prospects too much.
I suppose there's still the possibility that problems could arise as negotiations continue and become more involved, so we'll have to reserve having the actual discussion for another day. But for now it's nice to see Liverpool making strides to improve the squad, and along with some firmer assertions that a transfer for Daniel Agger would take a "ridiculous" offer, things might not actually be the worst.