Now that Peter Crouch looks like leaving for Pompey thoughts will inevitably turn to the question of his replacement.
I don’t think too many Liverpool fans will be asking the question “do we actually need a replacement?” Fernando Torres is the only top class striker we have. Towards the end of the season Rafa, justifiably, settled on the productive arrangement of Torres in a lone attacking role with Steven Gerrard in close assistance. Injury to Torres would leave us desperately short of firepower.
Dirk Kuyt has his strengths but he is no Torres and Andri Voronin is no Kuyt and that’s being very kind! I guess Rafa could bring Ryan Babel in from the wing but he still has things to learn in that position so why throw him into the centre? I don’t think playing Gerrard up front would be the best use of his talents although he could be freed up to take this role in an emergency if we sign Gareth Barry?
So, a new striker is surely needed? I can’t believe Rafa hasn’t got someone in mind and, more to the point is not confident about getting him? Why else would he let Crouch go? As I write Robbie Keane seems to be top of his list however it was assumed that any deal would be dependent on Crouch going the other way to Spurs. Presumably Rafa can put the money from the Crouch sale toward prising Keane away although he is likely to cost considerably more than the £11m we are getting from Pompey. One also cannot rule out the fact that any enthusiasm Spurs had might have for the deal may have cooled now that Crouch is out of the picture?
The other striker who seems to have briefly appeared back on Rafa’s radar is David Villa. Perhaps a cash strapped Valencia have had second thoughts and now want to capitalise on Villa’s impressive Euro 2008? Rafa has admitted that Villa was in his sites in the past and even as late as a few days ago suggested he was still an option. However yesterday he confused the issue with this.
“I said the other day that he is one of the names we had on our list. But I can say at this moment that it is not an option for us. We know Villa is a very good player, we know the price and we know the players we have, so when you consider everything we decided he was one of the names, but at this moment, not our target.”
On the list but not an option? Work that one out for yourselves!
So is Rafa going to throw everything behind a move for Robbie Keane? Ruling out Villa, and the absence of any other rumours, certainly suggests so. Said Rafa
“Keane is one of the other names and OK, we are still working with other names. We were in contact and we will see now.”
Comparing Keane to Villa is a pointless exercise. However, I guess Keane has one obvious advantage, a proven goal scoring record in the Premiership. There would also be little or no period of adjustment or acclimatisation. It’s also said that Keane is a Liverpool fan and although he has not come out said he wants a move, has privately asked to be kept informed of developments. All encouraging stuff but perhaps I’m being over optimistic as I’ve gone on record about how I feel we should sign Keane in this blog on more than one occasion.
Meanwhile Aston Villa have written to us setting out their demands for the Gareth Barry deal. Personally I believe their intransigence and the departure of Crouch means we have to reassess our priorities and would not complain if we said to Villa “thank you very much, you’ve messed us around for long enough” and put all our efforts and funds into finding a new striker.
Changing tack and it seems pressure on the Star Spangled Duo is about to increase again as The North West Development Agency has refused to hand over a £9m grant for new stadium project until Hicks and Gillett provide “detailed evidence” that funds are available for the project to be completed. A potentially embarrassing development and a sad reminder that for all the transfer talk and build up to the new season, we still have unresolved personal and financial issues festering in the background!