In an interesting twist, ESPN are reporting that Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun may well be targeted by Chelsea as a replacement for Joe Cole if the England international decides to leave this summer. According to ESPN, a Chelsea insider was quoted as saying:
“There is no doubt that Yossi Benayoun is highly thought of at the club, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he came to Chelsea.”
It is certainly a surprise development if it were to be true and if we were to consider hypothetically the consequences of such a move, it becomes even more intriguing. First, you have to consider whether Joe Cole is likely to leave Stamford Bridge, and as he has still not signed a new contract after being marginalised as a sub during the last few months of the season, the most likely outcome is that he will leave the Blues in the summer.
This would certainly leave Chelsea looking for a player to replace him, and with Liverpool struggling financially and looking for funds to rebuild their squad, they may well be tempted to sell Yossi for £10m to their rivals if they felt the money could be used on improving the squad elsewhere. So would that leave the possibility of Cole joining Liverpool on a free transfer? There are definitely two problems to any such move, Cole’s wages and Tottenham Hotspur.
In regards to Cole’s wage demands and signing on fee, they will no doubt be sizeable and need financing from somewhere. This means that Spurs could have the upper hand, both due to their healthier financial situation and Champions League participation, but also due to Cole’s long standing relationship with Harry Redknapp. It maybe enough for the Reds to put off pursuing the 28 year old but I would say that if Benayoun is sold for a sizeable amount, Cole could be a great replacement for a lower sum and free up finances to spend on other positions.
This is of course if the Reds want to sell Benayoun, and as he has been one of the Reds stand out performers this season, why would they? I think the jury is out to say whether Benayoun or Cole would be a better player for the Reds. Yossi has great ball control, balance, speed and creativity, while Cole’s ability to create chances for others and score goals is nothing to be scoffed at either. One thing that may sway it one way or the other though is the attitude of manager Rafa Benitez. There have been question marks over the personal relationship between Rafa and Yossi, and the Israeli international has talked about the uncertainty about his future at the club, speaking on more than one occasion about keeping his options open.
Rafa himself has stated he wants a British undercurrent through the team. In recent weeks he has talked about his idea about bringing in players such Glen Johnson, Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling to bring in some much needed British passion into the team. That was the conception behind trying to bring Gareth Barry to Anfield and the ongoing negotiations to bring Danny Wilson from Rangers. Joe Cole would certainly be included in this bracket of British players and would also fill the void left by any outgoing creative winger. Whether he has the passion to play for Liverpool which Rafa talks about is another question and in the end, finances certainly would determine any deal.
I have always been a fan of Joe Cole as a player but whether he would fit in as a Liverpool player I am not so sure. He would need to be totally committed to the club and I don’t know he would be. On Benayoun, the Israeli is a great player but with the Reds finances as they are, Benitez may want to sacrifice him to finance new investments. Whether he will end up at Chelsea is anyone’s guess but whatever club both players end up at, they will be getting good quality players who can really make important contributions in matches.
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