Once a figure of ridicule on Merseyside, Joe Allen is starting to become one of the outstanding midfield performers, not only for Stoke City, but across the Premier League in 2016/17.
- Position: Midfield
- Fantasy Price: £7.2m (PlayON), £5.4m (FPL)
- Starts: 10
- Goals: 4
- Assists: 2
In a four year stint at Liverpool, Joe Allen only started to find his potential as he headed out the door.
Alongside Adam Lallana, the Wales international was probably the player to benefit most from the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp. Often described as the ‘Welsh Xavi’ when he arrived at Anfield in 2012, Allen had suffered as the nickname hung around his neck like a weight. Short passing, neat touches and ease in possession he could provide, but it was more Tom Cleverley than any Barca star.
Over the past year however, Allen’s improvement as an all-round performer has been pronounced. Although he would eventually inherit the ‘Welsh Pirlo’ moniker to compliment the beard and hairstyle, Allen in fact became a lot more energetic and physical as a player than such a title would suggest.
The guidance of Jurgen Klopp appeared to give his game this particular direction and Allen was not only key in pressing the opposition with fervour, but he likewise regularly ranked in the top bracket of Liverpool players for ground covered per match.
Now at Stoke, and very much the main man, it looks like we’re seeing Joe Allen mk. III.
“I like the guy and I really think he is a wonderful football player: I knew this before the European Championships, I saw it during the Euros and I know it now.” Jurgen Klopp on Joe Allen
The 26 year old is now operating far closer to goal than at any point in his top-flight career, taking up the kind of advanced position we’ve seen the likes of Bojan Krkic operate in for Stoke. The result? Goals and assists. The hardest currency in football.
In 91 appearances for Liverpool, Allen had mustered just four goals. He equalled that same record within eight games for his new club and while this level of productivity may prove difficult to maintain, the short-term fixtures look promising for both Stoke and Allen, with Bournemouth and Watford on the immediate horizon.
His eye for a pass has not deserted him in his newfound number ten position and in Gameweek 10, Allen forced fantasy managers take further notice when he grabbed two assists in a 3-1 victory over boyhood side, Swansea.
Simply put, this is a player enjoying the best period of his career. Having undergone a reinvention across the previous eighteen months, it would be foolish to predict a sudden regression from Allen. Bet against him at your peril, 18.5% of Fantasy Premier League managers have already stumped for the Welshman.