Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keane Arrives At Merseyside

The last time I was so anxious in breaking in a transfer news was last year, this time, when our very own number 9 showed up at Melwood. He stood side by side with Rafa Benitez and he turned out to be one of the revelations of last season.

Obviously, Fernando Torres is his name and he did set the Premiership on fire last season with countless of brilliant goals.

His partnership with Steven Gerrard is undoubtedly one of the most potent in Europe last season, both of them working seamlessly on the pitch, helping out each other with assists.

But the dependence on the duo is apparent. Without any one of the these two components, Liverpool failed to break down stubborn defences and dropped some valuable points along the way.

Of course Rafa tried his best to solve the problem with his remaining strike force of Peter Crouch, Dirk Kuyt and Andriy Voronin. But other than Crouch, the remainder of them were not potent enough and struggled to provide goals for the team.

Now, with Crouch leaving for Portsmouth, Voronin's move to Germany imminent and Kuyt's transformation into a wing-forward complete, he knew he had to find a partner for Torres upfront, soon. He knew very well that this summer is the make or break one for him as the players he is investing are going to be the one which ultimately means he'll come even closer to his first Premiership crown, or a boot at the end of the season for yet another season of disappointments.

I see him now, being in the very same position with Gerard Houllier back in 2003. It is the situation where the team is almost complete but there is one or two players missing. It is like trying to fit a jigsaw puzzle, with chances of the last few pieces being the one that fits perfectly, or have the potential to fail spectacularly.

Obviously from history, we know that Houllier chose the wrong players and ended up with the latter circumstance. The rest of what happened should be discussed as little as possible.

Now, Rafa being in the same position, had to make the safest, yet the most dangerous gamble in his career at Anfield probably. The signing of Robbie Keane. The Irish arrived from Spurs yesterday after passing his medical and will don the number 7 of Liverpool.

Why would I say it's the safest, yet most dangerous gamble? It is obvious that this risk is very much down to the price of Robbie Keane himself, almost reaching 20 million pounds in total. He is after all, a 28 year old player with maybe 6 years max to his career span.

But I believe that above all, his Premiership stats speaks for itself and the number of goals he scored in the Premiership doesn't need to be justified. It most definitely speaks about the quality and consistency of the Irish striker, who seemed to have been playing football forever.

He had the chance to sign up for this very club he supported at 17 but rejected the Reds, stating that he'll be able to find first team football outside the Merseyside giants and indeed, he went on from Wolves to the prestigious Inter Milan, where he made waves in the Italian league before sealing a deal back in England with Tottenham.

Liverpool fans might have been wanting players like David Villa to add on to our ranks but I believe Rafa and many of us had the same idea. And that is to buy players with real quality (not doubting Villa) and someone who has ultimately, proven himself at the highest level as well as one who has already played in the Premiership.

Rafa Benitez definitely needs his players to be at their best right from the start of the season to truly mount a title challenge and he believe that Robbie Keane is just the man to support and add on to the already impressive firepower up front through Gerrard and Torres.

Also, having a leadership role in Tottenham means that he's matured and has the necessary mental toughness and qualities to play under Benitez. We know that the Spanish tactician isn't finding players who have boundless flair or limitless ability, but thinking players and footballers who can think for themselves.

I believe Keane fits the bill perfectly and will form a really fearsome partnership with Torres in the season to come. His experience and goal poaching ability will come in hand in hand with Torres' flamboyance and grace on the pitch.

Though the price is a little steep, it most definitely worth it, speaking through the eyes of faith in Rafa. One thing for sure and that is he improved the team and will most definitely make an impact in the league for the Reds.