“IT’S not my business that there is talk about whether I go to Liverpool or stay. It doesn’t matter to me, I am Roma,” were the words spoken by Fabio Borini on Tuesday when he was asked about whether he had given consideration to a move to Liverpool.
The Italian striker, having spent last season at the Italian club, had decided to stay with Roma after a good season, not just turning Liverpool down but dismissing any possible interest in a fairly offhand manner.
From my point-of-view, it was something of a blessing for us, as I didn’t believe he was the right type of player to solve our goal-scoring issues and would have cost too much to sit on the bench, but the way our interest wasn’t even given a thought by the player is a worrying thing.
Then, following this news on the same morning, came reports that Tottenham had moved ahead of us as favourites to sign the Icelandic international, Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim. This was of serious concern. Given how much he impressed last season, not to mention his Premier League experience, age, potential fee/bargain potential, he would’ve represented a good bit of business for the club. And following Brendan Rodger’s move up from Swansea, it appeared as if the Reds were in pole (or, more like sole) position to sign the attacking midfielder.
On the one hand, it would seem to be a strange move that Tottenham are considering making a signing without a manager being in place, but on the other it’s perhaps more concerning that Sigurdsson might be thinking about a move to a club that doesn’t even have a manager, over us.
We’re very aware that, in terms of attracting players, our star has fallen considerably in recent years and we were probably incredibly lucky that there wasn’t a greater interest in Luis Suarez when we moved in to sign him up last year but the level of player that appear to be either turning their noses up at our interest or choosing clubs that, in the past, we would’ve easily seen off in the transfer market is of grave concern. Make no mistake, this isn’t us taking on giants such as Barcelona or Real Madrid for the new Messi or Ronaldo, this is a couple of players a few tiers below that who really look to have chosen moves to a couple of clubs that up until a few seasons ago would’ve lost out to us each and every time.
Another Liverpool target that may have had his head turned is Porto winger James Rodriguez. Having found himself linked – albeit, tentatively – with the Reds in recent months, the last few days have revealed that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is weighing up a bid and, should both clubs submit a bid, I’d be surprised to see the 20 year old Columbian international look any further than Old Trafford.
Now, many may just look at this as a number of players weighing up their options and simply choosing to move to a different club and, being the usual eternal optimist that I am, I would agree, more often than not. However, the amount of players being heavily linked with a move out of the club would suggest that there is a pattern emerging. Both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have been linked to Manchester City in the past fortnight and it would seem it is simply a case of whichever player City opts for will be on his way out.
It has been a long time since we’ve been in this position, struggling to interest good players (never mind any great ones) and seemingly having to let our best players leave to in order to fund the moves for these players but it’s been coming for some time now, with barely a transfer window since 2009-10 passing us by without a top player moving on or a top transfer target turning us down.
At the moment, we appear to be in something of a vicious circle – season of under-performing, new manager, new manager unable to attract top targets, season of under-performing, new manager, etc. and this summer seems to have followed on in much the same way. It was always a concern for me personally, that a manager of Brendan Rodger’s reputation (that’s reputation, not calibre) would not be a huge pull for most of the good-to-very good players across Europe, and it would seem that that has become the case with players like Sigurdsson and Borini feeling their futures are better served elsewhere.
One of my primary reasons for backing Benitez to return as manager was his reputation across Europe, the reputation that brought in the likes of Alonso, Torres and Mascherano and I wouldn’t be surprised if the installation of the young British manager has sent a signal out to a number of our transfer targets: this is a new coach, starting a new project and, while that is hardly anybody’s fault, unfortunately most high-quality young players (or even those in their mid-twenties) are ambitious and want to move to clubs that are either already in, or will be challenging for, Champions League places or league titles. That is just a plain fact.
Of course, this could all just be gossip and paper talk because, as far as we’re aware, there haven’t been any official bids or approaches for any of these probable targets but, as they say, there’s no smoke without fire. Losing out to Barcelona, Madrid, Inter or any of the top clubs across Europe I can usually stomach but the day one of our preferred targets turns us down in favour of a club like Tottenham will be a very sad day indeed. Still it’s early days yet and until anybody starts actually putting in some bids, we won’t know for sure who’s going where but should the rumours prove true, it may be the time to start worrying.
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