With the departure of Claude Makelele from Chelsea, by default, there is a void as to who is the champion of the “Makelele” role in the Premier League. The position demands speed, the ability to tackle, and crucially the skill to nullify the attacking threat of the opposition’s playmakers. In Anthony Annan, Blackburn have acquired a diamond in the rough who could yet lay a claim to the abdicated title.
For manager Paul Ince, who invested his illustrious career in perfecting the art of being the archetypal box-to-box midfielder, it speaks volumes for Annan that he has been drafted as the solution to Rovers’ lightweight defensive options in midfield.
Annan, despite his slight appearance, exudes all the qualities needed to be successful in the defensive midfield role. He manages to use build to his advantage, applying his low-centre of gravity to zip around the often congested middle of the park. Moreover, with the talent to comfortably pick out a pass with either foot, never scared to play the ball to his defenders to relieve the pressure, Annan can be relied on to be keep hold of possession.
Annan’s reputation was cemented during the African Cup of Nations 2008, when he was a pivotal figure in the Ghana team that progressed through to the semi-final, eventually losing to Cameroon. On the strength of his performances, rumours started floating around in which Annan and Chelsea were mentioned in the same sentence. But having literally stuck one in the eye of John Obi Mikel, a Blues’ move went cold, and Blackburn are now aiming to cash in on Annan’s talents.
Having held on (so far) to Roque Santa Cruz, Benni McCarthy and Morten Gamst-Pederson, and with the addition of the YouTube sensation, Carlos Villanueva, Ince has taken sensible steps to turn attention on reinforcing his side’s defensive robustness. Annan looks like a super signing for the Rovers midfield, adding steal to a position which was undermanned on the Blackburn books. Long gone are the days when the Ewood Park crowd were watching the shaggy blonde locks of Robbie Savage running around trying to break up the play.
Video evidence of Annan can be seen here.