Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that he will make around six signings in the summer in order to reinforce his squad to challenge in all competitions next season.
A number of names have already been linked with the Merseyside outfit, and one of them is a certain Ogenyi Onazi. The 21-year-old plays as a central midfielder for Lazio and, following a successful 2013 Africa Cup of Nations campaign, has established himself as a first-team regular for the Italian club.
The youngster was recently quoted by The Mirror as saying that he would “jump at the chance” of playing for Liverpool, who are reported to be interested in him. Onazi added that he finds the Premier League club “attractive” and made it clear that if given the opportunity, he would join Rodgers’ team.
Now, we ponder on the three big questions that this story poses.
What will Onazi add to Liverpool?
Liverpool already have an abundance of fascinating young players, many of whom have come of age this season. What the Reds lack is depth in their squad and top-class players with Champions League experience. From that perspective, Onazi wouldn’t be a very helpful signing. However, the midfielder is supremely talented and his progress at Lazio this season has illustrated that he is ready for bigger challenges. Having been part of the first team for the past two campaigns and having featured in the Europa League, the youngster has gained enough maturity to step in front of the Kop and play week in week out.
What will Liverpool do for Onazi?
Switching from Lazio to Liverpool would be a step up for the 21-year-old, something that a professional football is always looking for. At Anfield, the Nigerian would get the stability that perhaps he would lack at Lazio, and he would also be rubbing shoulders against some of the best players in the world. He was promoted to the Lazio first team for the 2012-13 campaign and has already played under two different coaches, while Brendan Rodgers does not look like he would be sacked by Liverpool anytime soon. Moreover, the Northern Irishman has shown that he enjoys working with young and talented players, and Onazi would relish that.
Will Onazi’s progress be hampered at Liverpool?
It’s clear that Onazi will not be able to walk straight into the first team at Anfield and will have to be patient. Is this going to curtail his progress and even set him back a couple of years? After all, the Nigerian has established himself as an important player for Lazio and his confidence could be knocked if he fails to do the same at Anfield. How many times have we seen promising, young players failing to reach their potential because of lack of playing time or confidence in them (for example, John Obi Mikel?). Moreover, Liverpool do not ‘need’ Onazi right now; he would be an investment for the future. However, playing alongside the likes of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva, Onazi is only going to learn and develop more.