As the season winds it’s way to it’s inevitable conclusion and we get to a point were only handful of clubs up and down the country have “something to play for” many thoughts will turn to next season and, even though the transfer window isn’t open yet, new personnel
Although The Champions League flame still burns Liverpool are no exception yesterday it was reported that Rafa had been given the go ahead to get his shopping list out for the summer sales. The batch of players we’ve been linked with and the first of many I suspect are, in no particular order, Gareth Barry, Maxi Rodriguez and David Bentley.
What surprises me about this is that all three are midfielders, although Rodriguez could probably be called a wing forward. There are certainly grounds for arguing that some of our midfielders could be moved on, but I would have thought Rafa’s priorities lie elsewhere?
I think we are definitely short of a top class forward to play with Torres. The issue of Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch as genuine partners continues to raise questions as Torres appears settled as the lone striker with Gerrard just behind. Kuyt appears out of the wing these days and Crouch will surely eventually lose patience if he continues to warm the bench. I think there is a case for moving Ryan Babel into the centre however, he is still a little raw and therefore perhaps not ready for this just yet? I can’t see Andri Voronin breaking into the first team and becoming a permanent fixture.
The other area that needs improving is defence. Skrtel has settled in fairly well, and along with Daniel Agger, looks like providing a good partner for Carragher in the centre. However at full back there could be problem. Steve Finnan has just returned from injury, John Arne Riise, even before Tuesday, has been off form and Carragher doesn’t like playing there. Arbelao and Aurelio haven’t exactly proved rock solid steady replacements, yet which is why Borussia Dortmund’s Phillipp Degen has also been mentioned?
Gareth Barry’s versatility will provide useful back up to the back four. Although he plays in midfield now, he has played at left back and centre half for Aston Villa. However, I’m assuming Rafa will play him in midfield particularly as Steven Gerrard was so complementary about him when they played alongside each other for England recently. Martin O’Neill is reported to be willing to smash Villa’s pay structure to keep him but, at 27 years, Barry must feel he has one more major career move ahead of him?
Maxi Rodriguez is probably best remembered for his performances for Argentina in the last World Cup. He scored a cracker to beat Mexico in the knock out stage but it the next round showed his other side by lamping a German player after they lost to them on penalties! Although he is Argentinean, not surprisingly most of his football has been played in Spain with Espanyol and Atletico Madrid, this is Rafa after all. A few years ago he suffered a cruciate ligament injury but seems to have recovered well as last season he scored 15 goals for Atletico from midfield.
David Bentley at 23 years is likely to cost us considerably more especially as he has also attracted the interest of Chelsea. He’s also just signed to stay at Blackburn until 2011. I’ve yet to be convinced about Bentley, although he has been championed as the successor to David Beckham in the England squad. Did Arsene Wenger let him go from Arsenal solely because he wanted regular first team football? People have also, probably unfairly as he was young, questioned his attitude. He won himself no favours by withdrawing from the England Under-21 squad for the European Under-21 Championships and has openly come out in print suggesting that he might move from Blackburn. He also admitted to a gambling problem a few years back. Nonetheless many regard him as a great prospect. There are similarities with Ryan Babel in the sense that we will probably have to pay top money for someone who has yet to become the finished article. A gamble which might not be taken on if Rafa’s words yesterday hold true?
“I’m sure we won’t need too much. Our squad is much better and we maybe need to sign four or five players, but we will not need to spend big, big money.”
Of the three Barry looks the safest bet, he is also versatile. Rodriguez intrigues and Bentley might be a costly risk but could, if he reaches his potential, be the best buy?
As usual it promises to be a busy rumour ridden summer and thats only concerning the transfers!
Back tomorrow with a review of the Birmingham game