Reports earlier in the week claimed that Liverpool had abandoned the pursuit of Christian Benteke and made Carlos Bacca their top striker target, but it’s clear they won’t have a free run at the 28-year-old Colombian poacher. First came word that Manchester United considered him their preferred Plan B should moves for Harry Kane and Karim Benzema fall through. Now, Roma too are interested.
Sevilla have made clear that any club that wants to deal will have to match his release clause, reported to be around £21M. Roma, though, are trying to test their resolve, and according to the Italian media have made an official £18M bid for the industrious number nine. Sporting director Walter Sabatini has also made public their interest in the player, though he won’t go any further than confirming the Serie A club want him.
"We want Bacca," was Sabatini’s straightforward response when ABC Sevilla asked him about the rumoured Roma interest in a player who has scored 49 goals in two seasons since arriving at the Spanish side from Club Brugge in Belgium, where he tallied similar goal totals over 18 months at his first European club. "It’s true, but I cannot say much more than that."
Bacca is something of a late bloomer in the football world, and for a time it appeared he didn’t have a future in the sport at all. His first contract didn’t come until he had turned 21, and he wasn’t able to call football a career until 23. Set to turn 29 in the autumn, in the six years since making his breakthrough with Colombia’s Atletico Junior he has done nothing but score goals, tallying 153 in 290 appearances.
Though few aspects of his game seem world class, his hard work, determination, and preternatural ability to always be exactly where he needs to be in the penalty area for a pass or deflection or ricochet or rebound has turned him into one of the best poachers in Europe. Which isn’t to say he isn’t talented. Rather that the whole seems to add up to more than the sum of his pace and touch and dribbling ability.
A bit like German legend Miroslav Klose, or even a player like Dirk Kuyt with a touch of South American flair added to the mix, he’s not necessarily a striker who makes complete sense when you break it all down and try to explain why he's such a success. Yet no matter where he goes and no matter else he’s asked to do, he puts his head down, works tirelessly, and scores goal after goal.
Given the creative talent Liverpool have stockpiled and their lack of goals in 2014-15, that certainly seems like a quality they could put to good use heading into next season.