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Sissoko piece


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Guardian piece on Sissoko


amazing!! He runs 12km during a game and used to be a striker at Auxerre with 50 goals in two seasons for the reserves.




David Moyes has spent too long already this season attempting to pinpoint where it has all gone so horribly wrong. This evening, the sight of one who got away tearing into his team will provide a pointer to where the campaign first began to unravel.


Mohamed Sissoko, a player long coveted at Goodison Park, will attempt to wrest control of the 202nd Merseyside derby with Moyes cursing the fact that the midfielder wears red and not blue.


For Evertonians, this is likely to offer painful evidence of just what passed them by. After the staggering success of last season, Moyes?s toils this term can be traced in no small amount to the frustration endured with Spanish opponents overthe summer. An inability to see off Villarreal in European qualification cost the Premiership club a place in the Champions League, but the fact that negotiations with Valencia over Sissoko?s proposed EUR5m transfer were eventually undermined by Liverpool?s late (pounds sterling)5.6m interest arguably cost Everton just as dearly.


At 20, the Mali international remains raw, his passing often hit and miss and his tackling overzealous to the extent that he has served two suspensions this season. Yet he brings fizz and energy to Liverpool and, just as significantly, liberates the likes of Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia. Everton boast creativity in Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta but, with Lee Carsley injured and Phil Neville increasingly overburdened, their system has lacked the effervescence a player of Sissoko?s drive would have provided.


Moyes missed out on numerous targets over the summer - Craig Bellamy, Scott Parker and Emre Belozoglu among them - but the African?s arrival across Stanley Park cut the manager deepest. "I felt it was a deal which we were very close to completing and we were disappointed not to sign him," said Moyes.


"We were completing it for a lot less than Liverpool actually paid for him. I met the boy in Amsterdam and I thought we had a chance but, in the end, I suppose it was a bit like getting gazumped when you?re buying a house. It?s gone now. He had those qualities we were looking for, but we were in for a lot of players in the summer. For different reasons, some we got and some we didn?t."


Moyes left Everton?s pre-season training camp in Austria to fly to Holland hoping to secure Sissoko. The deal, the player?s agent Jose Segui said at the time, was "practically finalised", though Liverpool had an advantage in their late pursuit.


Not only were they the newly-crowned European champions, but Rafael Benitez was something of a mentor having originally plucked Sissoko from Auxerre?s youth set-up where the teenager, then a striker, had scored 50 times in two seasons. With the African in his midfield, Benitez?s Valencia had claimed the Primera Liga and the Uefa Cup.


"We were playing St Gallen in a pre-season friendly just after we signed Momo and we changed all the players for the second half, but one of them picked up an injury and we asked whether we could put Momo on again to make up the numbers," recalled Benitez.


"He played the first half as a second striker, but we used him in midfield for the second and it was incredible. You cannot believe how much stamina he has. He runs and runs, averaging more than 11km or 12km every game, and he gives us power in the middle.


"I like to sign hungry players and, with time, he can be much better than Patrick Vieira, but I don?t want to put Momo under pressure. He is improving every day. We knew Everton were trying to sign him but, once we knew he was available, it was easy for us. He has become so important for the team already - when we talk about clean sheets, if you have Sissoko in front of you running all the time, where you would have had to deal with 10 balls, now you only have four coming through. It also means that Gerrard or Xabi can think more offensively. Momo is a different kind of player to what we had."


It was the defeat suffered by the Spaniard?s side at Goodison Park a little over a year ago which exposed the deficiencies within Benitez?s squad. Back then, his attempts to pick a rugged side forced the inclusion of Salif Diao and Neil Mellor.


This year, confronted by Everton?s aggression, he can call upon Sissoko and Peter Crouch, both current internationals and of clear Premiership calibre. "There?s no way we?ll be bullied against Everton," said Crouch. "People say it?s the toughest league in the world and the fact we?ve won eight games on the run shows the steely determination in the side."


The hosts will need to rise to a daunting challenge tonight if they are to deflect that determination. A year ago, Everton beat Liverpool with Carsley?s goal to register their first derby win in seven years and move 12 points clear of their local rivals in the Premiership. Defeat tonight would leave them 20 points adrift and, potentially, in the bottom three.


Increasingly, it looks as if Sissoko made the correct decision.

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He still plays up front for Mali, I wonder if he's any good up there.


I'm surprised to learn he was/is a striker. He just seems to fit so naturally into the midfield. I've also seen nothing as yet to suggest the lad's got a decent shot on him. Nice to know we can shove him up front if neccessary.

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Hes the worst player to ever play for Liverpool you know.


Can't remember the journalist, but he surely will regret saying that! :)

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Guest PaulMcC
Can't remember the journalist, but he surely will regret saying that! :)




Paul McCarthy from the People. Tube. He's on Sky Sportsnew all the time talking nonsense.

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we tried scrapping with everton at goodison last year and lost ,okay we had diao but I just don't like the idea of having to descend to their level ,they will want a scrappy ,disjointed game so they can have half a chance against us ,footballing wise we have the ability to t*** them and I would rather see us sticking with so called "lightweight" players rather than changing much . But I expect benitez will make a few changes and will more than likely get it spot on as he usually does and thats why he's manager and er I'm not . ;)

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Similar piece in the Times.


Sissoko set to make his mark as the 'new Vieira'

By James Ducker and Oliver Kay

IT MIGHT, in time, become one of those stories that today?s young Liverpool supporters recount with relish to their children and grandchildren, although for now at least the Kopites may just be thankful that fate opted to intervene and bestow them with such a burgeoning young talent.


Mohamed Sissoko is fast becoming one of Europe?s finest midfield enforcers, but had a referee not been so obliging during a friendly game in Spain 2½ years ago, the player Rafael Benítez believes can be ?much better? than Patrick Vieira might never have emerged.


The Liverpool manager was in charge of Valencia when, in the summer of 2003, the Spanish club signed Sissoko as a striker from Auxerre. Having used all his substitutes by the time a player got injured early in the second half of a friendly against St Gallen, of Switzerland, later that year, Benítez was granted permission by the referee for Sissoko to be reintroduced as a midfield player, having spent the first 45 minutes operating in his customary position as a deeplying forward.


?We put him in the middle and it was like, ?Wow! What is this?? ? Benítez said. ?After that we started working with him as a midfielder. We were looking at the numbers after each game in astonishment. Every game he was running 11 or 12 kilometres so it just required us to work on certain tactical situations with him because he?d always been a striker before.?


When it became apparent that Valencia were willing to sell Sissoko in June this year, Benítez was confident of signing him, but had the manager dallied any longer before eventually parting with £5.6 million, the Mali international might well have been lining up against Liverpool in the blue of Everton this evening.


For a long time, Everton appeared favourites to sign Sissoko, but having watched the player blossom this season, Benítez must be counting his blessings. ?We had an advantage (over Everton) in that I knew the player and when we talked to him, it was easy,? Benítez said.


Sissoko, 20, has been instrumental in Liverpool?s improvement this season, according to Benítez, who deems him potentially superior to Vieira, the former Arsenal captain now with Juventus.


?With time he can be much better (than Vieira), but I don?t want to put him under pressure,? Benítez said. ?He?s a different kind of player to what we had last season. With Sissoko in front of the defence running, blocking and intercepting all the time, we?re conceding less, while Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard can play more offensively and on the counter-attack.?


Benítez can only hope that his next forays into the transfer market will be as successful. Having missed out on Nemanja Vidic, the Spartak Moscow defender who is joining Manchester United, he has switched his attention to Daniel Agger, of Brondby, although César and Fabricio Collocini, both of Deportivo La Coruña, last night emerged as possible alternatives. Benítez hopes to raise funds by selling Josemi, the full back, to Seville, but negotiations stalled yesterday as the Spanish club refused to increase their £800,000 bid, with Liverpool holding out for closer to £2 million.


Reports in Costa Rica, meanwhile, suggest that Christian Bolanos, the winger who played against Liverpool for Deportivo Saprissa in the Club World Championship recently, will have a trial at Anfield next month.



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?We put him in the middle and it was like, ?Wow! What is this?? ? Benítez said. ?After that we started working with him as a midfielder. We were looking at the numbers after each game in astonishment. Every game he was running 11 or 12 kilometres so it just required us to work on certain tactical situations with him because he?d always been a striker before.?


Great that! When you watch him play, its hard to believe he didn't play as a midfielder until 2 years ago.


Momo can only get better and better :cool:

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