'£15m Bellamy' the signing of the season?


Former Liverpool forward John Aldridge has dubbed striker Craig Bellamy 'the signing of the season' after his imperious display against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Sold to West Ham after just a season with the Reds in 2006/07, Kenny Dalglish pulled off a masterstroke when securing the versatile Welsh winger's services on a free transfer in the summer.

Traditionally a striker, the 32-year-old has always been used in wide areas because of his pace, and has come into his own for the Reds on the left flank - with fellow summer signing Stewart Downing working on the opposite side.

It's to the pair's credit that Dirk Kuyt's demotion to the bench, against Villa at least, was seemingly an irrelevant factor in a 2-0 win that could have been five or six given the dominance of the Merseysiders.

On Bellamy, who scored and setup the other against Alex McLeish's side, Aldridge is in no doubt that he's the pick of the business undertaken by 'King Kenny' in the summer.

"Bellamy had his best game for Liverpool at Villa Park on Sunday and he must be the signing of the season," he said in the Liverpool Echo.

"Jose Enrique has proved to be a bargain buy but to get Bellamy on a free transfer was remarkable business for Liverpool.

"We’re talking about a player worth £15million plus!"

BBC Match of the Day pundit and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson echoed the sentiments of his former teammate, believing Bellamy has fulfilled his potential following his second-coming at the club.

"The Premier League may not quite be at the halfway mark, but Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy has already proven to be as good a signing as any in the top flight this season," he wrote in his Liverpool Daily Post column.

"Bellamy’s ability has never been in question. For Liverpool, it was just a case of trying to get the best out of him. He had been at the club before, so he knows how it works. And given his admiration for Kenny Dalglish, it’s no surprise to see him making such a big impact."

So just how good has Bellamy been?

The stats don't really do the former Cardiff City loanee justice, with two league goals in 10 appearances, as well as one in the League Cup.

Bellamy also has four assists in all competitions, but this too doesn't warrant claims for the player to be considered as one of the signings of the summer against the likes of Phil Jones (Manchester United), Scott Parker (Spurs) and Mikel Arteta (Arsenal).

Reasoning does come from his efforts in defence as well as attack, with Bellamy's incredible work-rate one of the reasons Dalglish is happy to employ the attacker in an area that requires efforts on the back-foot.

His ability to galvanise the side is also a key element, particularly when the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are out-of-action, as has been the case recently.

"He gets on everyone’s nerves on the pitch, including referees. He isn’t afraid to have a pop at his own team-mates and I like that. It shows he cares," added Aldridge.

"Point the finger at someone and then have a laugh about it afterwards – that’s the way it should be. Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard do it but no-one else apart from Bellamy seems to.

"It shows his passion for the game and he’s been a breath of fresh air."

Performances against Chelsea away, in both the Barclays Premier League and League Cup, have proved that Bellamy is certainly up for the fight when facing the big teams, particularly away from home when creating a 'siege mentality'.

His pace makes him a perfect weapon should Liverpool look to employ a counter-attack style, although his ability on the ball has never been in question, with the Welshman much more than just a speedster.

Whilst the majority of his showings this term have been as a substitute, you can expect that to change quickly following the performance against Villa.

Should he be able to replicate such form for the remainder of the season, particularly over the festive period when players become tired as the fixtures come thick and fast, then we could truly be looking at the signing of the season.

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