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Discussing Denis The Menace

Lewis Owen, 8th February 2012 - 11:54

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Lewis Owen

Lewis Owen

Posts: 7

I’m Lewis Owen, an ardent Evertonian and all-round football partisan. Season ticket holder for more than a decade. I hope you enjoy reading my blog. Twitter: @lewisowen.

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God loves a trier and the feeling is no different among those of a footballing faith.

It seems fitting then, that on-loan striker Denis Straqualursi is a popular man on the Blue half of Merseyside at the moment.

Straq, as he is dubbed by those in and around Goodison unable to crack the twelve-charactered tongue-twister, was an unknown name in the depths of European football when he first burst onto the scene in the summer, but the Argentine was a somewhat hero in the top tier of his homeland and caught the eye of Moyes after netting 22 goals in 35 games for Tigres, the minnows of the Argentinean Championship.

Fast-forward six months and Straqualursi has been somewhat of a workhorse-like revelation in the handful of times he has donned a Blue jersey - but not necessarily for the reasons in which every Evertonian had originally hoped when he signed on the dotted line and became the club’s first recruit of an unproductive summer restricted by finances.

He has made only five starts and appeared from the bench ten times, but despite only scoring once, the 24-year-old has struck a chord with the Goodison faithful, especially of late.

It does not take an Alan Hansen-esque connoisseur to judge he is not Premier League class, but Straq is a binary opposite of his old teammate Louis Saha, whose surprise switch to Spurs will surely present the loanee with opportunity to pocket more minutes on the pitch.

Saha’s departure demonstrates a belief from manager Moyes that Straq’s continuous running is in fact a better option up top, and underlines a need to work hard in order to stick around in the Scot’s plans. Saying that, however, the January addition of Nikica Jelavic could change things for the Argentine. He will need to start fine-tuning his finishing if he is to keep the ex-Glasgow Rangers man out of the team.

Granted he hasn’t quite got the natural ability in which a top club in the best league in the world is crying out for - and won’t come anywhere near the record which Saha has managed to carve out in his career - but Straq’s tooth and nail effort and heart-on-sleeve attitude has rightly earned him a meritorious reputation from the Evertonians, who have loved every minute of his endeavouring appearances.

None more so than his recent display at home to moneybags Manchester City. He badgered and pestered, and left the field in the closing stages panting and unable to give any more - surely a sight every football fan loves to see of their players. The stadium erupted in appreciation as he trudged off in desperation for a breather.

On paper he totals a meagre transfer value, and was arguably the lowest-valued player on the field against City, but he was one of the best players on the park and deserved the recognition. A week earlier he had scored his first goal for the club, a header against Fulham in the FA Cup. After rising high, Straq wheeled away clutching his shirt over his teary eyes, emotional celebrations which summed up his determination and enthusiasm to prosper.

Before the capture of new marquee signing Jelavic, we had to resort to the unsung Straq to provide an attacking threat. And a threat is just about what Straq is. He puts his body on the line, cleverly uses his powerful frame and to put it plainly: doesn’t stop running.

His gameplay, frame and general characteristics resemble that of Manchester City (for now) forward Carlos Tevez, with both similar in the fact they take a bulldog-like approach to their game. Tevez is, clearly, much more prolific in front of goal, and while it’s fair to say Straq has generally struggled to find the net in the Premier League, his goalscoring record for Tigres is still impressive and must not be squashed. Albeit the standard is different, but the record means he could still stake a claim for being able to contribute goals once he becomes accustomed to the demands of the Premier League. He has the work-rate, but is shy of the natural ability required to impress in front of goal. Work on the training pitch could help that.

The underlining factor with the Tevez comparison, however, is colossal. Straq, firstly, is without the superior skill which has earned Tevez a £45 million price tag, but he is also, thankfully, free of the temperamental reputation. Straq works hard and knows he has to continue to do so. He appreciates he is a long way from cementing any sort of future in the Premier League or on any form of ‘big stage’.

And when the time arrives in the summer to sort out the future of both Tevez and Straq, while the former may find it difficult to find a club and manager able to cater for his wage packet and ego, there should be no question as to whether David Moyes will have his arms wide open for the Tigres man to stay put should he continue to do what he does best - give his all.

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