Liverpool and Stoke City don’t play until Tuesday, but with Christmas sat between now and the next game, City boss Mark Hughes held his pre-match press conference unusually early, speaking to reporters about the match this morning.
And one of the things he talked about was Joe Allen, the Liverpool squad player who became something of a cult figure late on in his time at Anfield before excelling at the Euros. Some thought his play there might earn him a bigger role at Liverpool.
Instead, it earned him a move to Stoke, where he has been that club’s creative star in the ten role and a consensus choice for their player of the season so far. Needless to say, Hughes is rather pleased by how things turned out.
“I admired Joe Allen for a long time and obviously his time at Anfield was frustrating for him,” Hughes noted at today’s pre-match press conference. “It was only by a virtue of not playing week in week out that we managed to get him here.
“We were quite surprised that Liverpool were allowing him to leave after the European Championships, but I think they had other irons in the fire which allowed us to take Joe. They clearly were happy to do the deal and so were we.”
In all likelihood, if Allen had been willing to sign a new deal, Liverpool would have been thrilled to keep him around. He wouldn’t have been a lock to start, though, and that was a clear priority for the 26-year-old Welsh international.
With just a year to go on his contract, a move was inevitable. It might not have been the move Liverpool would have made in an ideal world, one where Allen was content to re-up as a key squad player, but getting a deal done made sense in this real world.
Enter Stoke, willing to pay the £13M fee Liverpool sought, and a deal all parties were happy to do—at least within the framework of the real world situation. And the results, certainly, have been exactly what Stoke and Allen were hoping for.
“If you look at his performances since he arrived they have been outstanding,” added Hughes. “We are delighted with the deal that was brokered. A lot of supporters expressed surprise when they allowed him to leave.”