Signed: from Valencia in January 2005 (free)
Left: for Alaves in June 2005 (free)
Mauricio Pellegrino became the first ever Argentinian to represent Liverpool when he linked up with his former boss Rafa Benitez at Anfield, the two having previously worked together at Valencia. He had been frozen out at the Spanish side by Claudio Ranieri, and said on his arrival:
“At my age it’s a great satisfaction that this opportunity comes along. I have always wanted to play in English football.”
At first, Benitez attempted to accomodate all three in his starting XI, on occasion changing formation, or moving Carragher to right back. However, Pellegrino began to get the nod over Hyypia in the league, with the Finn able to win his place back thanks to solid performances in the Champions League, for which Pellegrino was ineligible.
Pellegrino was disappointing in his short time at Anfield, and looked very much the player seeing out his career with one last payday. At Valencia, he had been a fan favourite, and put in years of great service, but he made no impact with Liverpool, and was far too slow for the Premier League.
He should never have been in the team ahead of Hyypia, and it is a wonder how everyone saw this bar Benitez, who continuously selected him despite almost anonymous performances. As with Antonio Nunez, it was no surprise when he was released at the end of the season.
After one season with Alaves, in which the club was relegated, Pellegrino retired to become a coach with Valencia’s youth team. He then returned to Anfield as a first-team coach, where he has probably had a much greater impact than his time on the field in Merseyside.
Verdict: He may have been free, and a stop-gap, back-up signing, but Pellegrino was clearly over the hill when he joined Liverpool, and shouldn’t have been anywhere near the first team. MISS. Although, he appears to be having more success as a coach. Well, he’s lasted longer anyway…
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