Craig Bellamy’s career has been littered with highs, but also blighted with the occasional off-field low.
Whether it be wielding a golf club at a teammate or an off-field run-in with supporters, the 32-year-old Welshman has never been far away from controversy during his 16-year professional career.
On the field, there can be no questions about the player’s ability. During spells at Norwich, Coventry, Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool and Manchester City he has always been a fans’ favourite.
It’s not just his ability to score goals though (79 in 266 Premier League matches), but also the capability to play on the limit whilst rarely stepping over the line. He’s received only one red card in the English top flight thus far – surprising given his fiery temperament.
It was unsurprising then that, with his time up at Manchester City in the summer, a host of clubs were interested in adding Bellamy to their own ranks. And it was Liverpool who won the race, with Kenny Dalglish persuading the player to return to Merseyside on a two-year deal.
And his form at Anfield has justified the move, impressing at every opportunity and even getting into contention for this summer’s Team GB squad for the Olympics, if reports in The Daily Mail are to be believed today.
But, his chances of appearing at the showpiece event are being hindered by the limited opportunities Bellamy has received this season – despite being one of Liverpool’s best performers.
Bellamy has played 90 minutes in the Premier League just twice this season, making only nine starts for the Reds whilst coming off the bench 12 times. He has six league goals for his troubles, whilst an 88% passing accuracy rating puts him in the highest bracket for players at the club this season.
Compare that to Dirk Kuyt, who has played 25 times this season, starting 17 matches. He has scored just one goal in the top flight, with a passing accuracy rate of 77%.
The story is much the same for Andy Carroll, who has scored three goals and has a passing accuracy rate of 65% from his 26 appearances in 28 league games this season.
So why has Bellamy been overlooked? One potential answer could be age, but the Welsh forward appears to be the most energetic 32-year-old going. He doesn’t struggle with fatigue at any stage.
What about a lack of specific position? Bellamy is often utilised in a wide area, as well as up-front. But it’s a similar situation to Kuyt, and ‘King Kenny’ has put more trust in the Dutchman when comparing the two this season.
It seems that something has worked against Bellamy this season, but only Dalglish will be able to tell you what that is exactly.
Perhaps the Scottish boss believes Bellamy works better as an impact substitute, and that’s understandable given his pace and finishing ability. But surely there comes a point when the substitute performs so well that he needs to be starting more games.
Whatever you think about Bellamy, it would be hard to judge his time at Anfield as a failure, given the success he’s had on the pitch.
But, if he doesn’t play more matches, then the veteran will be in danger of missing out on what could be a fantastic final furlong in his career.
Let’s hope he gets a fair chance at Liverpool.