Admiring Ki very happy to sing Joe's praises
JOE Allen may still be battling to impress at Liverpool, but his replacement at Swansea City wants to be like him.
Allen started the first 17 games of Liverpool's Premier League campaign after following Brendan Rodgers on the road from Wales to the North West.
But the former Swansea favourite has struggled for game-time of late after suffering a dip in form.
Allen has been given a warm reception by his old club's fans in Swansea's two previous meetings with Liverpool this season.
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But it may be that he does not make it on to the pitch tomorrow if, as has been the case in recent weeks, Rodgers goes with Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva at the base of midfield.
Whether he features this weekend or not, Liverpool's management believe £15 million Allen is a player who will ultimately crack it at Anfield just as he did at the Liberty Stadium.
And Ki Sung-Yueng, the man Michael Laudrup brought in once had Allen had said his farewells, hopes to emulate his predecessor in the Swansea midfield.
"Joe is a very good player," Ki states.
"I had watched him many times when he was at Swansea and I played against him in the Olympics too.
"He can pass, he can do the defensive work very well — he just knows how to play football.
"Sometimes people expect you to be better than Joe was when he was here but I respect him too much to think like that.
"He is a good player in his own right with great qualities.
"We are different kinds of players. I am obviously bigger than him and we have different aspects to our game. But we are also similar in our way of thinking about the game — we both want to pass the ball.
"All I can say is that he is a very good player and hopefully I can show I am a good player here too."
Ki has begun that job already, having quickly established himself as a regular in Laudrup's side following his £5.5 million switch from Celtic back in August.
The South Korean international has chalked up 30 Swansea appearances already and, though he is yet to score for the club, he has proved to be a useful asset in the middle of the pitch.
"Ki has played a lot of games and, when you have played a lot of games, that means you are important to the team," Laudrup says.
"Ki had a knowledge of British football before he came here because he was playing for Celtic, but this is his first season in the Premier League.
"He is still adapting I think — it's not easy physically or mentally — but he is doing well.
"I think the experience he is getting this year will be important for him and for us as well."
So Laudrup is expecting more from Ki who, at only 24, still has his best years in front of him.
Given the strides he has made already in a Swansea shirt, the prospect of further improvement will excite the club's fans.
And not only the ever-growing South Korean contingent who can now be spotted in the Liberty's stands.