What a week. I think I also need a seat.
In addition to all the juicy transfer rumors (which, we’ll get to soon enough), Liverpool said goodbye to a key member of the backroom staff, bid farewell to Luis Garcia, brought even more young talent to the club and extended the stays of some others.
And then there was the big splash in the summer transfer pool with a cannonball by the name ‘El Nino’.
While I’m still buzzing about the arrival of the 23-year old Spanish international, I’m ready to put aside my bright optimism as we sort through all things Liverpool once again.
Firstly, joint Chief Scout Frank McParland has left Liverpool to join Sammy Lee at Bolton. After 13 years at Liverpool, McParland will be aiding the former Liverpool man as the Wanderers’ new Director of Football. By all accounts, Rafa did his best to keep McParland at Anfield, but the draw of a new major role with his close friend was too much.
He did have this to say about Rafa, via the Official site:
Being an employee of Liverpool Football Club has been an absolutely incredible experience and working with Rafa for the last three years has been particularly unbelievable for me.
In the last three years my footballing knowledge has improved an incredible amount and I put this largely down to the influence of Rafa. I didn’t get involved on the tactics side. My main job has been to find players at the right price and I’ve learned so much about how to deal with agents and co-operate with other clubs.
There was no way I could have done this job before he came. But having worked with him and learned so much from him I now feel I’ve got the skills needed to go on and do other things in football.
What I would say though is that anyone who ever has the chance to work with him should take it because they’d learn so much. I’ve been just a small cog in the wheel but it’s been a privilege to have been part of what he’s implemented at this club.
The future here is very rosy and with the backing of the board I’ve no doubt he’ll one day land the Premiership title. He’s so happy at Liverpool, he loves the place. And he’s the best manager this club could have, that’s for sure.
After the less-than-enthusiastic departure of Steve Heighway, it’s nice to hear such a glowing tribute to the man who’s charged with leading the club back to greatness. I wish Frank the best of luck, but fear for their future, as I honestly don’t see Sammy Lee lasting through the season. Time will tell, I suppose.
Speaking of the future, Rafa have signed five of the players from our FA Youth Cup-winning side to new contracts. Ryan Flynn, Stephen Darby, Robbie Threlfall, Craig Lindfield and Jay Spearing are all now signed up until 2010. A promising sign. Now let’s see if these kids have what it takes to force their way into the first team.
On a completely different front… While discussing the impact of Thierry Henry’s departure from Arsenal, Didier Drogba declared the upcoming Premier League season a two-horse race.
For us this one rare change means it will be Chelsea and United fighting for the Premiership again.
What a clown. I hope he loses his place in the first team to Pizarro. We’ll see what he has to say after the 18th of August. Ass.
As for the transfer market, now that the window is officially open, business has been brisk. But not to be outdone, the business of random speculation is also just as busy.
This week’s highlights:
- Obviously, Luis Garcia has packed up his sangria and bag of ball tricks for Atletico Madrid. The fee is reported to be around £4M, and helped lower the price of ‘El Nino’.
- 19-year old Adam Hammill is currently being eyed by a slew of teams hungry for the services of the talented winger. He spent a portion of last season on loan with Dunfermlime and a return to Scotland could be in the cards as both Rangers and Celtic are considering making a loan move. But, they may face competition from English clubs like Leceister, Watford, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Birmingham. If I had my choice, I’d ship the kid off to Birmingham and let him slum it in the bottom half of the Premiership table as opposed to sending him up North to play against nobody. First team football in the Premier League is precisely the sort of thing that will help prepare him for first team football in the Premier League. Besides, relegation battles build character.
- Djibril Cisse was supposed to have turned down West Ham, Portsmouth and Bolton to sign with Marseille this week. His agent has repeatedly said that a deal with the French club was practically done, but we have yet to see the fruition of all his supposed hard work and recent jet-setting. I do expect this deal to go through eventually with a fee in the neighborhood of £6 million, although the papers claim LFC are holding out for £9M. Marseille started their pre-season training last week, so time is awasting. Oddly enough, Bolo Zenden looks like he’ll sign with the French club before Cisse does. (Edit: Zenden has actually signed a two-year deal with Marseille)
- While still considering a move to the circus that is Real Madrid, recently released Jerzy Dudek is now considering fresh interest from Bolton. It seems after Sammy Lee was told that Scott Carson wouldn’t be available for loan, the new gaffer trained his eye on another known quantity in the affordable Pole. While Jerzy recently said it would be difficult to play in England for anybody other than Liverpool, he would get the chance to challenge for the starting job at Bolton, and quite frankly, nobody believes half the words that come out of player’s mouths when money is involved.
- Word has it that newly appointed Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is sweet on Peter Crouch. Luring him away from Anfield should prove an unlikely scenario, but who knows what Rafa might do if Sven starts splashing Thai bahts around like a drunken former Prime Minister.
- Rumors linking Bellamy to other clubs went quiet this week as most of Liverpool’s press was about some Spanish kid. But, judging by Rafa’s cagey answers during the Torres press conference (as to whether he was happy with Bellamy), those links should start popping back up. Five strikers on the books? Somebody has to go and I don’t think it’s going to be the 6’7” dude. One theory has Bellamy to West Ham for £11M and Yossi Benayoun. I’ll take the £11 million, please.
- Harry Kewell is currently busy scoring in the Asia Cup and not getting injured, all of which could facilitate a move to either Aston Villa or Tottenham.
- Shall we start out with the obvious? Fernando Torres to Liverpool from Atletico Madrid. If you believe the papers (and you shouldn’t), LFC beat Inter and Manchester City to the punch. Man City? Riiiiiight. Anyhow, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s believed to be roughly £20M. Or £25M. Whatever the exact price, I can tell you it was a lot.
- Andrei Voronin has officially joined the club and put his signature on a four-deal contract. Sorry, but we used all the confetti and champagne for the El Nino press conference. It’s nothing personal. Here, take the #10 shirt as a consolation prize.
- Honestly, I’m starting to have trouble keeping up with all the youngsters Rafa keeps signing. The latest additions are 18-year old Bulgarian midfielder, Mihail Alexandrov (CSKA Sofia) and 18-year old right winger Ryan Crowther (Stockport County). It’s getting to the point where statistics dictate that one or two of these new buys HAVE to make it big.
- Florent Malouda has now stated his desire to make a move to Chelsea. Funny, I seem to remember the same winger making the same noises about Liverpool, oh, two weeks ago. Inter and Arsenal are still said to be in for the player, but I believe Liverpool is now out. Rafa only wants to bring in players who want to be at Liverpool and Malouda no longer fits the bill. Enjoy your time at Stamford Bridge, that is, until you’re forced out in two years time.
- So, if Liverpool aren’t going to be bidding for that winger, which winger might they be sizing up? How about Porto’s Ricardo Quaresma? Man U just got themselves a midfielder from Porto, so surely this makes perfect sense.
- Speaking of Manchester United, Rafa has considered hijacking Real Madrid’s rumored move for Gabriel Heinze. Also on the defender’s short list are Juve and Barca. It’s said that he’s available for £5M (or £7M), yet one would assume Sir Alex wouldn’t sell us anybody over his almost-dead body. What gives this story legs is the rumor that the player can buy out the last two years of his contract for £4.5 million. You’d think, with Auriello, Arbeloa and even Riise, we have left back covered. But, five mil is a good deal on a quality player, despite his recent unlucky injury spell. I’ll say this; I wouldn’t be opposed to having him if there’s money left after Rafa gets his winger(s).