Rafa hails battling Sissoko
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has hailed Mohamed Sissoko's presence in midfield.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has hailed Mohamed Sissoko for the presence he has brought in midfield.
The 21-year-old has had an impact in a midfield full of talent, having arrived from Benitez's former club Valencia in the summer of 2005.
Despite being an unknown to the Anfield faithful when he arrived, the French-born Mali international's battling qualities have added some steel in Liverpool's central midfield area.
Benitez thinks Sissoko's abilities complement the attacking qualities of captain Steven Gerrard and Spaniard Xabi Alonso.
"Two years ago, we had a lot of problems because we could not win the second ball," Benitez told The Sun's 'Super Goals'.
"The next season, we won 11 games on the run and kept 33 clean sheets. We were winning a lot of games Çª and why?
"Because we were winning the second balls and Momo was one of the key players for us.
"This year, maybe it will be the same as well. He is just as important to us as Stevie Gerrard or Xabi Alonso or those who get more headlines.
"Last year, I was really surprised Momo was not on the list for PFA Young Player of the Year.
"We finished third in the league, won the FA Cup and he was involved in almost every game.
"It really surprised me because every club would like a player like Momo in their side.
"I haven't known many players who has got the same stamina levels as him. I think it's a genetic thing."
Sissoko's commitment in the challenge has seen him booked on regular occasions, but Benitez thinks he will learn to tackle more effectively over time.
"It is always the same when you sign a new player from a foreign league," Benitez added. "They all got a lot of yellow cards at first.
"You need to know how the referees think and we have spoken to Momo about it.
"He is a young player and needs to learn how to tackle over here, but he will do."