Rafa Benitez may have made some absurd comments this season, but Liverpool football club played some high quality football over (if not right through) the last 9 months.
Be it shaking up the Madristas or drubbing the champions at their home, Stevie G and his troops sure had their moments. But what cost them most dearly, many feel, was the absence of a second striker, let alone a third.
Whereas Manchester United’s fifth striker, Kiko Macheda, brought home 4 points almost on his own, Liverpool could only watch. In a league where a moment of striker’s instinct could be the difference between end of season glory and gloom, Rafa Benitez HAS to BUY El Nino a striking partner (or two) to take Liverpool (back) to the promised land.
So, who are the options and what are their credentials?
David Villa: He is, arguably, the best striker in the world. Already Torres’ partner for country, he is a manger’s dream. A wonderful eye for goal and all the necessary frills in place, he could make opponents hate coming to Anfield again. With his ability to play as a lone striker too, he is tailor-made for Liverpool’s requirements. Buy him now, when he is at his prime, and the champions may have to play a lot better than this season to reach number 19.
Carlos Tevez: Whether or not Liverpool fans truly admire him, this could give them plenty to talk about with their Man united fan friends. Purely on a footballing basis too, this buy has its merits. Carlos Tevez has a lot of attributes common to world class strikers- touch, physique, an eye for goal (especially late ones) and a champion spirit. Add to this his all round play, and you have a very very handy addition to Liverpool’s side, whatever be his price.
Sergio Aguero: Neither has he shown great enthusiasm in leaving Athletico Madrid, nor has he got the credentials of the above two. Though very promising, he would still be a gamble in the world’s harshest league. Add to it his playing style, and one doubts if he is the right man to partner Torres upfront. Keeping in mind the fact that he is not likely to come cheap as well, he would be a huge gamble for the future, but are Liverpool fans ready to ‘wait’? Much cheaper strikers are available, who would be safer bets for Liverpool.
Michael Owen: He may be a free agent, but nothing about his wage demands is alluring. Though he is a player with a proven track record, considering how Robbie Keane failed last season, Owen cannot be brought back to Anfield as the only acquisition upfront. It would be neither prudent nor a gamble, even. Having said that, he could be brought in as cover for Torres and someone else, though he is surely not the solution to the problem.
Samuel Eto’o: He may have a scored a bucket of goals just this season, but he is no longer prized possession at Camp Nou. A striker who gets the goals, he could be an inspired signing by Benitez if some of his other choices don’t come off. Though not too many years of guaranteed performance from him, he could still get Liverpool back to their winning ways. End of season slump notwithstanding, he is a champion player and they are a rare breed. If the price is right, this could be a pretty good acquisition too.
Verdict: Considering the competition, Villa may just be a bit out of Rafa’s hands. If he gets him, nothing like it. But as that looks very unlikely, I’d settle for Carlos Tevez. Hungrier than ever and proven in the premier league, he could be Liverpool’s action hero on their way to glory next season. If Man City get in the way there, then I’d plunge in for Eto’o while there are still some fish in the pond. Depending on who is bought, Michael Owen should be considered as a standby who could just come into his own in familiar surroundings. But whoever is bought, one thing is clear. Liverpool are short at the top, and they need replenishments there come next season.