Faint praise for Crouch as Rafa names his price.

It looks like the fat lady is about to starting singing for the tall guy. Yesterday Rafa hardly gave Peter Crouch the boost he was wanting regarding his Liverpool future. Although he is willing to keep Crouch, he can’t guarantee him a start every week and he stated that he can leave for the right price, £15m.

“If we receive a very good offer, and by that I mean £15m, we will consider it. I’m reading about £8m but, if we only receive that, then I’d rather keep the player. He’s a good player, so it’s not a problem to me. We’ve offered him a new contract, we like the player and we want him to stay but we cannot offer him a guarantee he will start every game every week.”

Hardly something that is going to please Crouch and make him ready to commit to the club? Reading between the lines I suspect Rafa will be looking to off load him especially, as is suggested, funds might not be readily available meaning that he will have to sell to buy.

I have sympathy for Crouch he has had limited opportunities this season but, after a few ill judged newspaper articles on his bench warming, he has knuckled down and tried to win back his place. Even though he’s played fairly well when he’s had the opportunities, it’s clear Rafa is looking elsewhere. I guess, with hindsight, the writing was on the wall as soon as Torres began to make his impact? Crouch has his uses, well documented, but he also has his limitations, again well documented. However, having shown considerable patience, and given himself a season to try and win over Rafa, surely it is time to say “enough is enough, let’s agree to disagree” and move on if only to get regular first team football?

Hopefully Rafa will put the money towards buying another top class striker to complement/play alongside Torres however there has been no mention of this in the press. Instead we are still picking over the increasing smelly carcass that is the Gareth Barry “deal”. Martin O’Neill has been fairly vocal in his criticism of the situation and only the other day said we were a “million miles” from the sort of offer that might tempt Villa to sell. However, Martin O’Neill strikes me a pretty vocal sort of guy!

It’s difficult to see how this will pan out. Ultimately I suppose it will depend on Barry, who has kept quiet, presumably waiting for

a: for Villa’s season to end out of respect or the fans
b: to see O’Neill’s plans for next season and;
c: see who else comes in for him?

He may also want to find out what Rafa’s plans are. Will he play most games? It might be hard with Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano in the side. There is also the question of where will he play? Benitez has made reference to Barry’s ability to play in three positions, centre, and full back and midfield. Would Barry, after a fair few seasons playing in midfield, a position in which got him selected for England, now consider reverting to defence as playing “out of position” or a backward step?

Rafa has also been talking about the future of John Arne Riise, another player earmarked for the out door. It been suggested that Barry would be replacement for Alonso if he goes but surely, because of his ability to play in midfield and defence, he is a replacement for Riise? Compare Rafa’s words about Riise to those earlier in this piece about Crouch..

“He is a fantastic lad and very good professional and player. He has one year left on his contract and we know there are some clubs interested in him. We will wait until the end of the season and try and do the best for him and for us.”

Finally, rumours that Inter have made a £25m bid for Gerrard have been scotched. More nonsense from every Liverpool fan’s favourite red top it seems. The same one that said Crouch was “raging” about Rafa’s comments. Can anyone imagine Crouch raging? We are more likely to see Roy Keane tripping at the Glastonbury festival in a kaftan with flowers in his hair!

Back tomorrow with a review of Spurs game.

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