The immediate success of Liverpool's incoming transfers has long been a subject of debate. No matter the cost, there is the expectation that most, if not all, of the new faces will have a role to play in the squad's success unless stated otherwise, and it's often far easier to focus on the negatives than it is the positives. It can, of course, be argued that the negatives are more easily found because the transfers themselves are almost wholly negative, whether due to cost, quality, or some combination of the two, but Liverpool's moves over the past few seasons seem more complex than that, almost certainly complicated by their efforts to reestablish themselves among England's elite.
Take Joe Allen, who arrived for a hefty sum and immediately asserted himself as the most reliable midfielder in Liverpool's squad. With Lucas recently returned from injury and eventually sidelined yet again, Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson not yet capable of leading, and Steven Gerrard on the downslope, Allen was a revelation in the first few months of his Liverpool tenure, and he looked to make good on Brendan Rodgers' promises that his transfer fee would seem bargain if given enough time.
Two months seemed enough time at the start, but as too many minutes and niggling injuries caught up with him as the season wore on, suddenly the fee was far too high, which has more or less remained the case for many despite a string of excellent performances in the past two seasons when not hindered by fitness problems.
The player has gone beyond concerns with injury, however, and noted that his debut campaign under Rodgers was affected not only by fitness, but by an approach that wasn't up to the standard he would have liked:
"I look back to my first season at Liverpool and I was disappointed with the way I approached it at times. But the last couple of seasons I have certainly learned a lot and improved from that point of view and having those experiences. I understand now I have experienced a lot of highs in my career but unfortunately there are times when you will have some lows.
"My dip in form affected my confidence and it was the first time I had experienced that at club level. At Swansea it had always been progress really so it was a bit of a setback, but I came through it. I have turned 25 now so I don't consider myself a young player any more. I have got enough experience both at club and international level to feel a big part of the squad. The experience I have had in the past will hold me in good stead going forward in international football. I am getting towards my peak and I hope to keep improving in the next few years and getting better."
That experience has left him in good stead for Liverpool, as he's performed well in the absence of Lucas, and on the international stage he should be set for a start as Wales continue their unlikely charge toward a spot in the Euro 2016 finals. Their qualification campaign has been boosted by the expansion of the finals field from the 16-team format that's been in place since 1996, as well as an unbeaten start through their first four matches.
If Allen can stay fit and his Wales squad can keep it up over the next week--including tomorrow against group leaders Israel--they'll be well set up for their first visit to the finals of a major international competition in the modern era. And more importantly for Liverpool, a strong showing for Allen over the international break would keep up momentum for a midfield desperately in need of quality performances as they seek to recover from the disappointing defeat to Manchester United last weekend.