After a ridiculously underwhelming summer of transfers things finally got very exciting today with the news that Robbie Keane had finally joined his boyhood idols for around Â£20 million. Keane is a player I’ve wanted us to sign for a number of years and I’ve often wondered in the past why we hadn’t tried to sign him before. I feel he is the type of player who will fit well into the Liverpool style of play.
When it was first revealed that Keane was a transfer target for Rafa Benitez, a few of my friends expressed disappointment that we weren’t going after David Villa instead. This was despite the fact that David Villa had expressed his intentions to stay at Valencia, although now it appears he would favour a move after all. The thought process seems to be that Villa would cost around Â£25 ‘“ 30 million and is a far better player than Robbie Keane, so worth the extra few million. I don’t think that is necessarily true, Keane is a proven goal-scorer at the highest level in the English game whereas Villa is not. Villa may be fantastic during Champions League games but we don’t know whether he would cut it in rough domestic games. Robbie Keane has proven he can handle the tough games in the league as well as play stylishly against quality opposition. If we were to spend the extra cash on Villa there is always the risk that he could turn out to be another Morientes, amazing in Spain but a shadow of himself in England. There is also a chance he could settle as well as Torres has, but with this being possibly Rafa’s last chance to win the Premiership he can ill afford to risk such a large sum of money. There is also the fact that as proven during Euro 2008, when Villa plays alongside Torres, El Nino tends to be making the plays for Villa to score which neutralises a lot of Torres strengths.
According to UEFA’s rules for the 2008/09 season, a club must have no fewer than eight ‘˜locally trained’, ‘˜association trained’ or ‘˜club-trained’ players within a twenty five man squad. Robbie Keane falls under the category of ‘˜association trained’ player. According to UEFA rule 17.11;
An ‘˜association trained player’ is a player who, between the ages of 15 and 21, an irrespective of his nationality and age, has been registered with a club or with other clubs affiliated to the same national association as that of his current club for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months.
Robbie Keane spent three years with Wolverhampton Wonderers and Coventry City between the ages of seventeen to twenty. Therefore he falls within the UEFA criteria for overseas players and David Villa does not.
This could also be a minor reason as to why Rafa appears to favour Gareth Barry over Xabi Alonso. Although that transfer is more complicated than this reason with the Alonso needing to be sold to finance the signing of Gareth Barry. Personally I disagree with the opinions I have heard from people that Alonso is more suited to the European game than the Premiership as he gets more time on the ball. Apart from last season which was interrupted by injuries, Alonso has been top class from the moment he signed in 2004. I would love to see both Gareth Barry and Xabi Alonso at Liverpool but if it is a case of Alonso being sold to buy Barry I’d sooner just keep Xabi. People who say Gareth Barry is experienced at playing in England seem to forget that Alonso has now been playing here for four seasons and he is hardly a novice.
I am sure there are to be more twists in the transfer market for Liverpool this summer but tonight I will be sleeping with a smile on my face because we have signed a superb player, a Liverpool fan and a proven goal-scorer.