Liverpool transfer target: Rory Donnelly

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In a new feature on GiveMeFootball, we assess some of the positives and negatives surrounding the top transfer targets in January.

Under the microscope today is a relatively unknown entity, who goes by the name of Rory Donnelly - the 19-year-old Cliftonville striker is currently the subject of intense scouting, and has attracted attention from around 15 English clubs.

There is a significant buzz around the promising Northern Ireland U21 international, who is widely regarded as the best player to grace the little known IFA Premiership for a number of years.

Donnelly is all but certain to leave the Emerald Isle in the New Year, but after holding talks with Swansea, and then Liverpool, the youngster's decision has been further complicated by the Reds' Merseyside rivals Everton - who came in late, to lodge the highest bid.

Arsenal and Manchester United both made personal checks on the striker last week, and are expected to show their hand shortly, but Kenny Dalglish has made no secret of his intention to bolster his striking options at Anfield, and secure the signature of this bright young talent.

Goals have certainly not been forthcoming for Liverpool so far this season - their tally of 21 in 18 Barclays Premier League games is less than half that of front-running Manchester duo City and United – so the Reds could certainly do with some additional firepower up front.

Dalglish has spent a small fortune on re-inventing his Liverpool squad over the past 12 months, including the additions of £35million record signing Andy Carroll, and Luis Suarez for just shy of £23million - two players who have had mixed fortunes in their first calendar year on Merseyside.

In his first full campaign since returning to the Anfield helm, there is no doubt Dalglish has overseen an improvement in playing style, belief, and, to a degree results. But so swift has been the rate of change, that teething problems were almost inevitable - some less predictable than others.

The ongoing racism furore surrounding Suarez, whatever your stance on the situation, fundamentally comes down to the reality that Liverpool will be without their star striker for at least nine games, following the Uruguayan international's additional one-game ban for a two-finger gesture aimed at Fulham fans earlier this month.

The fact that Suarez is Liverpool's most dangerous and inspirational attacker is without question. However, his ability to convert chances is starting to come to debate, as the South American sensation continues to garner a reputation as a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goalscorer.

And with Carroll still struggling to adapt to the club's pass-and-move philosophy, despite Dalglish's protective, reassuring shield, the long-term loss of Suarez will be a major concern for Liverpool, and could force their hand to re-enter the transfer market in January.


The interest in Donnelly comes after a sensational start to the 2011-12 campaign, in which the youngster scored 13 goals in the opening 18 games of the season, including four against the league's top side, Ballymena United. He caught the eye there, but has since kicked on, and sits on 17, before Cliftonville opted to bench their star striker in an attempt to protect their prized asset.

Whilst it's always hard to gauge a players true ability when they're playing in a developing league, based on the evidence so far, Donnelly seems to have the pace, power, and work rate that can easily be transferred to life in the Barclays Premier League.

And with a modest valuation of around £100,000 he could be a real snip for anyone willing to take a gamble on a player described as a 'classic No.9', who thrives off scraps and is always looking to run in behind defenders, never giving them a moments rest.


Donnelly is by no means the finished article, and still has a lot to learn in areas such as leading the line, when to hold and release, as well as his link-up play. The only question mark that could be raised is how the prospect will fare in making the transition to the English game.


But with a strong, 6ft 2in frame and powerful aerial ability to add, the young striker has all the natural ability to succeed, providing he applies the same solid work ethic to ensure he makes the grade.

Premier League

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