When we sold Robbie Keane in the last transfer window many thought we would leave ourselves severely exposed up front. What if Torres was injured? If this were the case we’d be left with Dirk Kuyt, David Ngog or even Babel filling in or even the prospect of hauling Voronin back from Hamburg!
As it turned out there was no problem. Torres was injured for part of the run in but goals flew from all quarters in the last third of the season to make us the Premierships top scorers. Nonetheless like last season it is still widely felt that we need another top class striker. Rafa has said that this summers transfer policy will be one of “fine tuning”. However, if we were to sign to another recognised striker one wonders if that would be the case?
Whoever we sign would raise the same questions about his role that were never really answered with Robbie Keane. In an attempt to accommodate him Keane seemingly played in every position except keeper! Eventually Rafa settled for offloading Keane and, as in the 2007-08 run in, playing Steven Gerrard in a more advanced role behind Torres. Would the new signing be able fit in with this arrangement? Torres has played alongside another striker before but he seemingly prefers to lead the line on his own with Gerrard backing up? Nonetheless, as was sadly seen this season, the two of them only started around a dozen games together. So, in keeping with laments about our lack of strength in depth, it makes sense to have another top class striker?
Of the list of candidates we’ve been linked with Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi is the most recent and Valencia’s David Villa is the most persistent, two years and still counting! However, it is Carlos Tevez who appears to attract the most attention. Is this a genuine rumour? The fact he’s a Mancs player and is being linked with us makes it hard to take seriously? It’s an intriguing issue as the direct route from Old Trafford to Anfield is not a well trodden one and both clubs in the past have been at pains to prevent players from taking it. You can be sure Fergie will be doing the same with Tevez although the Argentine’s “ownership” situation makes it harder? Either way one suspects we will have to be prepared to break our transfer record to obtain his services and even if we do, Manchester City, who look like they are finally beginning to flex their transfer muscles, could simply blow it out of the water?
Naturally Tevez has one supporter at L4 Mascherano, his compatriot. Only yesterday Steven Gerrard stated that we needed more players of “Torres level”. Presumably Tevez would fit the bill? However, with City’s undoubtedly financial clout and rumours of Chelsea being prepared to splash around £73m on Kaka we will face stiff competition if others decide to muscle in?
I believe there are real doubts about how he would fit in with us and, at the price we will have to pay, Rafa needs to think very, very carefully. So perhaps he needs to think outside the box (not literally as we are after a striker) and maybe even take a little gamble? Further north there’s a player with a proven goal scoring reputation who, because his club has been relegated, is facing the unappetising prospect of facing the likes of, with respect, Scunthorpe and Peterborough next season. I refer to of course Michael James Owen. No come on, hear me out!
Unlike two years ago, when Newcastle bought him for £16m, we can get Owen on the cheap. Wages and fitness are a big issue but it’s a good opportunity that wouldn’t hurt us too much if it doesn’t come off and would still enable Rafa to spend elsewhere. Prepares Owen, staring professional oblivion in the face, may jump at the chance to return “home” and would be prepared to compromise over terms if it means enhancing his chances of resurrecting his international career?
Throughout his career Owen has always got goals. Players of his ilk do not suddenly become duds overnight. No one should be fooled by his recent barren run at Newcastle, no goals in his last twelve games; he was an out of sorts player in an out of sorts side. Moving to Anfield and back to the North West where he has roots and his business (a horse racing stable) would surely galvanise him and at 29 years, if handled sympathetically (a case where Rafa’s rotation might be of benefit) there is still plenty in the tank?
Last time Owen was on the market Rafa was slow in coming forward, understandably so as the price and the circumstances weren’t right then. However, this has changed. Rafa has his main striker and perhaps money issues dictate a more pragmatic approach? He should also consider that Owen’s return seems to have the support of his captain. Said Steven Gerarrd
“If I was a scout or a manager, I would be giving Michael a ring. I’m a big fan and a good friend of his. And I would love to see him get a move from Newcastle to a big club and get his England career back. I still think he can play for his country again. He has suffered a lot in the last couple of years with injuries, but a fit Michael Owen has the ability to be involved in this squad for sure.”
Go on Rafa, pick put the phone, what have you got to lose?
Related post: Owen regrets