Reports today suggest Xabi Alonso’s move to Juventus could be concluded within the next few days, with personal terms close to being agreed. And with Gareth Barry having discussed the lure of Liverpool and Champions League football, along with the Liverpool Echo today suggesting Rafa Benitez is preparing to up the Reds bid for him, both moves seem to almost inevitable sooner or later.
Alonso’s move will no doubt be tied up first, ahead of his participation in Euro 2008 which kicks off this Saturday, and the gauranteed funds from that will ensure Liverpool can cover the fee for Barry.
I have huge mixed feelings about the whole Barry in, Alonso out deals. I’ve always been a huge fan of Alonso, not only for the obvious fact he is a class footballer, but he conducts himself well, has won trophies at the club and you feel an affinity to the player – something which isn’t true for many players nowadays with the rate of turnover of players recently.
But Alonso didn’t have his best season, although hampered by injury, and has looked off the pace at times, caught in possesion at others and particularly in the League hasn’t cut it. While he offers great passing ability, an eye for goal and infrequent tackling ability, he isn’t as mobile as, say, Mascherano, or indeed Barry. I think this is the main reason Benitez is pursuing Barry.
Barry, if paired alongside Mascherano, would offer more balance with his left foot – arguably the best in the Premier League – and be able to get forward to support Gerrard more than Alonso. He is also a consistent performer, very well suited to the League and offers good delivery from set-pieces, something we desperately need.
The ideal solution for me would be to keep both and have somewhat of an abundance of riches in centre midfield, while giving us other options for when it may be needed for Barry to cover down the left with Alonso back in the middle. Having both would give us a very strong squad. Just like United have Hargreaves, Scholes, Carrick and Anderson, we’d have Mascherano, Barry, Alonso and Lucas (and Gerrard). We really would have ‘the best midfield in the world’.
But that’s where the problem lies – is it financial that we must sell in order to buy? I have no doubt that Alonso would have been willing to stay at the club, at least for a season, even with Barry’s arrival, and Benitez, I am sure, would have loved to have finally had such strength in depth at his disposal – particularly early on in the season when Masch and Lucas will be in Beijing and Alonso recovering from Euro ’08.
The arrival of Barry, I believe, improves our starting eleven, keeping Alonso too would have improved our squad immensely, and that’s what we need to be doing now if we are to catch up with United and Chelsea.
Unfortunately, until we can match United and Chelsea in the financial area we will remain the Tom and them the Jerry.