The likes of Gareth Bale and match winner Hal Robson-Kanu may be bagging all the headlines as Wales sealed their first tournament win in almost 60-years by downing Slovakia in their opening match of Euro-2016 on Saturday, but the victory was very much a group effort — and Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen, who is starting to live up to his “Weslh Pirlo” tag, played more than his part for the Dragons with a seriously impressive Man of the Match performance.
“That’s the way you have to take it,” said the Reds cult hero earlier in the month when asked about the comparisons to the Italian legend. “I have got a sense of humour. There have been loads of things that are really funny. I’m hoping I have a big influence on everyone,” continued Allen with a smile. :I’ve seen a few more beards than normal. It’s the long hair next. I can’t say I have many of the lads copying me but there you go.”
Video courtesy of @MrBoywunder
Setting the tempo throughout, the 26-year old controlled the ebb and flow of the match; seemingly always available to receive a pass and excellent in recycling the ball, play flowed through the Liverpool midfielder as he worked both hard and smart for the cause. Although he may have struggled a bit defensively, he created 2-chances, completed 88% of his passes and made 3-interceptions en route to a 2-1 win over the technically astute Eastern European side. Allen’s future at Anfield remains in the balance with contract talks put on hold until after Euro-2016 is wrapped up and though he’s well aware that his performances in France — as well as those for the Reds during pre-season — could be the catalyst for a new deal, the Anfield hierarchy aren’t the only ones keeping a close eye on him.
“I think it has been well-documented that Joe is going to look at his future when he is finished out at Euro 2016,” Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins told the South Wales Evening Post when asked about their interest in the 26-year old. “Naturally, we are interested in good players like Joe who may be available this summer given that he has a year left on his contract,” he continued, before making sure everyone knew that they’ll be watching this situation closely. “Obviously we will keep tabs on his situation and see what happens later in the summer.”