The summer months are testing times for Liverpool supporters. Not only are we forced to endure seven weeks without any competitive action, but are also subjected to decidedly inferior ‘˜sports’, often as entertaining as Big Brother Live.
If an unfamiliar gap in the diary come 3 0’clock Saturday was not bad enough, the unrelenting rumour mill compounds our misery. Every year, without exception, the club is linked with superstars. Indeed, my friend’s next door neighbour’s auntie’s cousin’s head teacher’s dustman saw Samuel Eto’o and Kaka, hand-in-hand, stroll into Rafa Benitez’s office yesterday. The reality is humbling.
Only this year, with the aid of a pair of American tycoons, Liverpool actually look braced to capture that big-name we all crave. No, Sean Dundee is not making a belated return. Instead, Fernando Torres appears to be on the verge of a whopping Â£26 million move from Atletico Madrid.
Amongst the purported criteria of the Torres transfer is a move in the opposite direction for Luis Garcia. Since his arrival three years ago, Anfield’s version of ‘˜football heaven’ has manifested a love-hate relationship with the Kop. At least five times a half the diminutive Spaniard will surrender possession. This collection of errors is often courtesy of a clumsy pass or, just as frustratingly, an ill-judged flick. But for every horrid flashback is the accompanying memory of genius. That succulent goal against Charlton for instance, that superb volley against Juventus, and his incessant knack of tormenting Chelsea. When they come to revise the record books, it is the aforementioned that earn Garcia his place in Liverpool’s history.
If the little man leaves, and it must be stressed at this minute it remains an IF, I for one will miss him. Nobody enjoys three separate stints at Barcelona without possessing quality. Yet at the same time, it is understandable why the Catalans adopted such indecision. In Spain, as Fabio Cappelo has found to his cost, the hierarchy are inclined to knee-jerk reactions. This spelt bad news for Garcia, whose misgivings no doubt pre-empted sales, but whose flair triggered subsequent returns to Camp Nou.
Like Jodie Marsh, the winger hopped from city to city in order to showcase his talents. Aside from the stop-start career at Barca, there were periods at Valladolid, Tenerife and poignantly, Atletico. It was on Merseyside though where he seemingly felt comfortable. A tentative beginning actually saw him declare: ‘˜They (English defenders) are trying to kill me’. In truth, Lennox Lewis, never mind little Luis, would presumably screech in such a manner when faced with bruising Bolton.
But soon after, like compatriot Xabi Alonso, Garcia found his feet. In Europe especially, he proved dynamic. It is no exaggeration to say that without him, that fifth crown would not have been achieved in 2005. Sterling displays against Leverkusen, Juve and Chelsea, acted as the catalyst to eventual triumph.
Domestically the Spanish international was also capable of brilliance. Everton, to the collective delight of reds everywhere, seemed to be a particular target.
If nothing else, Luis Garcia is our big game player. In a similar vain to Michael Owen, he is inspired by the top occasion. To achieve success, a team needs this type of individual. Who knows? Torres could well be a fitting replacement. Standing at over 6ft, he would certainly create a greater physical intimidation. His touch is also nimble, his movement slick. Comparisons with Ian Rush only whet the appetite further.
To reach the very top sacrifices are invariably made. If willing to splash-out in such a grand fashion, it is only right for Messers Gillett and Hicks to expect a return of sorts. At this moment, Garcia appears to be the bargaining tool.
This issue will no doubt act as somewhat divisive. On the one hand we look set to capture a world coveted striker, whilst ridding ourselves of an annoying maverick. But there is something about Luis Garcia. His unpredictability supplements an otherwise programmed machine suitably. Bidding adios to this amigo will be difficult.