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Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Nigel de Jong Vital to Reds in Lucas Leiva's Absence

AC Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong, of the Netherlands, controls the ball during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Atalanta at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

Former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has the ability to dominate Liverpool's midfield in the absence of Lucas Leiva.

The Dutch destroyer is linked with a loan move to Anfield after Lucas was ruled out for eight weeks with knee ligament damage, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail Online:

Liverpool are considering a loan bid for AC Milan's Nigel de Jong.

Lucas is expected to miss two months with a knee ligament injury, leaving the Anfield club worryingly short of a defensive midfielder.

Brendan Rodgers, who secured vital signings Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge during last year's January transfer window, will secure a major coup if he can tempt de Jong back to England.

The AC Milan midfielder, known for his tough-tackling approach, is exactly the man to ensure Lucas' spell on the sideline doesn't produce fatal repercussions for Liverpool's hopes of making the Champions League.

De Jong is a vastly experienced midfielder, one who has performed admirably at the top level of the game. He was a key component alongside Yaya Toure during City's ascension to the Premier League title in 2011-12, while this season, he has made 24 appearances for a struggling Milan side, per WhoScored.com.

Indeed, de Jong's stats are extremely similar to those of Lucas:

Lucas Leiva vs. Nigel De Jong, 2013-14 League Stats
Name:Avg. Tackles per GameInterceptionsFoulsPass SuccessTotal Yellow CardsRed CardsGoalsAssists
Lucas Leiva3.92.5291.3 percent5000
Nigel de Jong2.43.31.392.3 percent6003
WhoScored.com

The 29-year-old is also famous for a horrific "kung-fu" tackle on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final. Despite this, his willingness to do battle in the centre of the pitch is usually a positive aspect of his game.

Liverpool fans witnessed a breakdown of communication between Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson during the recent 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. The latter performed admirably during Gerrard's recent absence, but his leash was tightened when the captain returned.

This led to laborious, easy-to-read play in the middle of the park. Villa's energetic midfield found it easy to break beyond two midfielders who don't possess intimidating pace, while Coutinho's poor performance on the flank also invited pressure onto the Reds defence.

De Jong is the perfect player to halt this from happening. He will keep things ticking over by progressing possession with simple passes, while utilising his motor to shield the back four.

Liverpool need someone to play the thankless role, and if a loan deal can be set up, de Jong represents a clever signing for the remainder of the campaign.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Korey Smith of Oldham takes on Lucas of Liverpool during the Budweiser FA Cup third round match between Liverpool and Oldham Athletic at Anfield on January 5, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Image
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Despite his suitability, Mike Whalley of ESPN FC suggests alleged interest is short-lived and won't result in de Jong moving:

"Former Manchester City man De Jong had emerged as a candidate to replace the injured Brazil international but sources have told ESPN that he is not a target for the Reds."

Liverpool have a difficult set of fixtures approaching, including matches against Everton and Arsenal across the next three weeks. It would be careless of Rodgers not to strengthen his midfield.

During a time of inflated prices in the January transfer window, a loan deal for de Jong is a cheap and intelligent way of ensuring the side maintains momentum.

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