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Liverpool Close In On £4.5m Serie A Battler As Mascherano Replacement

Christian Poulsen to move to Anfield if Manchester City trigger chain of events.

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June 19, 2010 - Pretoria, South Africa - Christian Poulsen of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2010 soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 18, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Javier Mascherano wants to leave Liverpool, but little progression has been made in a potential move to Inter Milan. It has emerged that a series of deals must be completed before Mascherano can join his former boss Rafa Benitez in Italy.

It won’t be the last time that Manchester City’s reserves of money start off a chain reaction of transfers, but if Internazionale can sell Mario Balotelli to City for an extortionate price, they will have enough to afford Mascherano. Only then will the currently cash-strapped Liverpool be able to buy a replacement, and Roy Hodgson has his eye on a particular player.

When some people hear the name Christian Poulsen, they think of the Danish chess master prominent in the middle of the twentieth century. For the rest of us, he’s a footballer from the same country.

Poulsen is 30 years of age and is out of favour at Juventus. He is similar to Mascherano in that he is tenacious, strong in the tackle and a versatile performer able to cover for a right back. Poulsen has also played in attacking midfield in his career with aplomb, while his Argentine predecessor offered little attacking threat.

Mascherano was undoubtedly very good at what he did. He broke up attacks very well, and often put himself on the line for the team. Still, in the last three seasons, Liverpool have won 11% more games without him in the team, and scored an average of 2.25 goals per game instead of 1.88 with him on the pitch.

More significantly though, Liverpool have lost 19% of Premier League matches with Mascherano in the team in the same period – and just 4% without him. This may well be due to the main threat in the modern game coming from wide forward players cutting inside in a 4-3-3 formation – and perhaps Hodgson has realised that a dynamic box-to-box presence in midfield will be of more use to Liverpool.

However, like Mascherano, Poulsen tends to attract yellow cards at an extraordinary rate, and his disciplinary problems have been well documented throughout his career. Indeed, the Dane almost makes Mascherano look rather tame with some of his past behaviour.

In 2007, Poulsen was at least in part responsible for the abandonment of a Euro 2008 qualification match between Denmark and Sweden. He punched Swedish forward Markus Rosenberg in the stomach and was given a straight red card – to which a Danish fan reacted by invading the pitch and attacking the referee.

The game was called off, and a 3-0 victory was awarded to Sweden.

Poulsen’s position at Liverpool will of course depend on the ownership of the club, for if a takeover goes through and the Reds have money to spend, the Dane could spend much of his time warming the bench as an effective option. Otherwise as someone who is fluent in English and out of favour at his current club, he will be an effective replacement for Mascherano with something to prove.

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