Former German international Lewis Holtby is without a contract in the summer and Liverpool should be one of the clubs interested in signing him.
For a man nicknamed “Lucky,” Lewis Holtby has enjoyed a considerable lack of good fortune in recent years. Once considered the golden boy of German football, the Erkelenz-born midfielder won the U19 Gold Fritz Walter medal and was a full international at the age of 20. Now 27, and nearing the end of his contract with relegation-bound Hamburg, he will be wondering where it all went wrong.
Stuttering spell in England
The answer lies in an ill-advised move to Tottenham in 2013. Having manufactured a sanctimonious transfer away from Schalke, Holtby arrived at Spurs as the creative replacement for Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric, who had departed six months prior. There, he was inexplicably underused by André Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood and managed just 42 appearances during an 18-month spell. A sour loan move to Fulham fell in between after which he returned to his native Germany to join Hamburg. More misfortune followed.
Avoiding the drop
A twice-broken collarbone interrupted his first two seasons at Hamburg and, despite notable individual performances, he has found himself in an annual dogfight to drag the club away from the pit of relegation. The German international also found himself afoul of the favour of the Hamburg management during the early stages of the current campaign, but has excelled since his reintegration under Christian Titz – scoring four goals in his last six appearances to give the club a fighting chance. It is a fight he and the club seem to have finally lost, though, with Hamburg all but relegated (for the first time in history) heading into the final match of the season.
Could he fit the mold?
Ironically, it is the form and fire Holtby has shown in Hamburg’s relegation battle(s) that are precisely why Liverpool should take an interest. The former German international hardly boasts the reputation he once held but possesses all of the qualities, both mental and physical, to be a Liverpool player — perhaps more specifically, to be a Jürgen Klopp player. His attitude was questioned on occasion during his time in North London, but Holtby has matured into a well-rounded player under hardship at Hamburg. A naturally attack-minded and creative midfielder, Holtby has become far more dynamic in recent years and covers incredible ground — not unlike Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Indeed it is Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-term injury, coupled with Emre Can’s imminent departure and the ageing of vice-captain James Milner, that mean Holtby could well play a role in Liverpool’s midfield. He might not be the first name on the team sheet, but he has the ability to contribute the club’s style of play when called upon. Handy in front of goal with a good passing range and better vision, he would fit in well behind the irresistible trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, and possesses the natural stamina to press and track back as the match demands.
While he has experience in wider positions, he excels in the middle of the park and would be a viable option either as a deep-lying play maker or as a number 10. It is this versatility which would make him asset for Liverpool. The club has struggled this season in midfield, with a string of disruptive injuries proving that squad depth needs to be improved. Holtby, approaching the peak of his powers and in the form of his career, offers quality in depth. With his contract expiring in June he will also arrive as a free agent which is sure to satisfy the net spend enthusiasts.
Liverpool have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Perhaps it’s time Lewis got lucky?