Tuesday’s Papers: Keane treatment a ‘œgruesome joke’

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Robbie Keane’s omission from Liverpool’s FA Cup squad against Everton at the weekend has sparked countless rumours, reports and speculation linking him with a late transfer window move away from Anfield.

The uncertainty continues in today’s back pages, where in The Independent James Lawton describes Rafa Benitez’s ‘œÂ£20million scandal’ ‘“ the Keane saga ‘“ ‘œsomething close to a gruesome joke’.

In a well written piece, but very controversial, that is worth a read in its entirety here, Lawton looks at Keane’s career as a Red so far:

His short Liverpool history is more than anything a study in humiliation. It’s true his early performances, his failure to relate to the game of Torres, sent out an almost instant warning that £20m had been misspent. But who was the author of the mistake, and what serious efforts were made to rectify it?

He looks back to last summer when Keane was signed. The summer was dominated by a different transfer saga ‘“ that of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry.

One strong theory on Merseyside is that the summer preoccupation of Benitez was Gareth Barry and the push to sign Keane was stronger elsewhere ‘“ and not least in the office of the chief executive, Rick Parry. Could this really be so, and if it is, could it possibly condition the appalling treatment of Keane, a player of accomplishment, even overachievement at Tottenham, who came to Anfield wearing his devotion to the Liverpool cause on his much-travelled sleeve?

John Edwards of the Daily Mail looks at the brief comparisons between Robbie Keane’s treatment at Anfield, and that of his predecessor, Peter Crouch.

Crouch, too, struggled for goals in his early days and, after finally answering the doubters, experienced the same frustration at being taken off with a morale-boosting hat-trick tantalisingly close at hand.

The similarities end there, though. While Crouch was perceived as being too full of himself in Benitez’s eyes, after becoming a fixture for England, Keane’s self-belief has wilted visibly with each reminder of the Spaniard’s ruthless approach.

Nevertheless, there are only four days left of the January transfer window and in my opinion, Keane is going nowhere. Today’s papers report interest from his former club Tottenham, and moneygiants Manchester City. But Keane’s replacement would also need to be found within those four days, and Benitez isn’t one to rush.

Besides, this quote in this morning’s Guardian from Spurs boss Harry Redknapp suggests he knows a late bid to bring Keane back to White Hart Lane would be a waste of time:

“Robbie Keane is a fantastic player but he belongs to Liverpool. I wouldn’t sit here and say that I wouldn’t like to have Robbie Keane at my football club, I’d be a liar, but he belongs to Liverpool so it’s not an option unfortunately. But as a player and a person, I’ve got a lot of time for ­Robbie Keane, I think he is fantastic.”

Having not fired on all cylinders without Keane in Sunday’s Merseyside Derby, don’t be too surprised if we see him restored to the first team for tomorrow night’s Premier League clash at Wigan Athletic. Benitez may seem like a confusing man at times, but he has my faith.

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