Mascherano out, Poulsen in for Hodgson and Liverpool

As Javier Mascherano prepares to leave Liverpool for Inter, Reds boss Roy Hodgson has reportedly lined up the Argentine’s replacement – Denmark international and Juventus midfielder Christian Poulsen.

Giuseppe Marotta, director general of the Turin giants, revealed Liverpool have already expressed an interest in the player and, despite Poulsen’s agent claiming the player will stay in Italy, Danish football journalist Peter Schulz, of tv2sport.dk, believes the 30-year-old would adapt to life in England. Schulz, speaking exclusively to A Different League said: “His one main weakness is that he is not very quick and he could struggle with the tempo. But if he played for a team in which he wasn’t expected to make the play, but instead was relied upon to provide safety then I don’t see why he shouldn’t be able to make a success of himself in the Premier League.”

A former Danish Player of the Year, Poulsen has 77 international caps to his name since making his debut in 2001 and appeared in all three of his country’s World Cup games this summer. Controversy has followed Poulsen around the football pitch at times, having been spat on by Italy’s Francesco Totti when the two nations met in the 2004 European Championships – Totti claimed Poulsen provoked him – and branded a ‘coward’ in 2005 by then-Milan Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who alleged Poulsen kicked Kaka out of the referee’s vision. Kaka later said he sympathised with Totti after coming face to face with Poulsen, but Schulz says Poulsen’s reputation is not justified: “He is no worse than so many others. I don’t think he’d have any more disciplinary problems than other players in his position.” Given Mascherano committed 66 fouls last season, the third highest total in the Premier League, received 10 yellow cards and two red cards, Poulsen would have to go some to outdo the man he may pass at Liverpool John Lennon airport – although Mascherano has never punched an opponent in the stomach, as Poulsen did Markus Rosenberg in 2007. That incident that led not only to his dismissal but referee Herbert Fandel coming under attack from an enraged fan and the abandonment of the game. Much like Totti, Poulsen claimed provocation and made a full apology.

According to Schulz, Poulsen’s potential move to Anfield rests on Mascherano’s transfer to the San Siro. “Mascherano is definitely leaving the club, it’s only a matter of how much Liverpool can get out of Inter. Poulsen would almost certainly be signed as the direct replacement. Poulsen actually made his big breakthrough at FC Copenhagen while Hodgson was manager.” As Hodgson looks to rebuild Liverpool, the purchase of a player with vast European experience, from his time at Schalke 04, Sevilla and Juventus, and that he already has a pre-existing relationship with would be a logical step, especially to plug the great gap Mascherano’s departure will leave. Schulz, however, does have a word of warning for Liverpool fans: “At Liverpool he would certainly allow his midfield partners to play higher up the pitch, just like Mascherano does, but I don’t think Poulsen is as good as the Argentinean in that midfield sweeper role.”

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