You’ll know if you’ve read my column on Anfield Online before that I’m a big fan of Rafa and have defended him in previous articles. However, on the subject of Gareth Barry I actually feel that the board have got it spot on and we should not pay £18M for him.
As a club we do not possess the grotesque commercial-obsessed wealth that the Mancs do, nor do we throw money away on players simply to stop other people buying them like Chelski. Whatever you think about the finances of the Americans we always have had and still do have to spend money wisely.
So far this summer we’ve bought and sold a few and the board have backed Rafa in the major purchase of Robbie Keane, a player in a position that we very much needed. This was far more of a key purchase than Gareth Barry due simply to our need for some support for Torres which previously has come in the form of a quality player out of position (Gerrard in case you slept through last season).
Gareth Barry is a proven Premier League player of reasonable quality. He is versatile, suiting the central midfield role the best but able also to play on the left of midfield and even at left back. What he isn’t is an attacking winger that would thrive in a permanent left sided role. Like Gerrard he can do reasonably well out wide but there’s no escaping that either player is far more suited to a central position.
As such we have to ask the very straightforward question – Do we need him? Only if you consider him to be of greater quality than we already have in that position. From our current central midfielders Gerrard and Mascherano may be first choice and due to their very different styles complement each other very well. It is clearly Alonso who has been the yardstick to which Barry has been compared.
Few would deny Alonso’s quality and we have seen it many times in a Liverpool shirt. His form over the past 2 seasons has been erratic, hampered by injuries a little but also perhaps by playing out of position in a deeper central role than suits his visionary passing ability through to the forwards. Rumours of Alonso leaving the club were abundant over the summer but none materialised and Xabi himself stated that he wanted to stay at Anfield. His performances in pre-season have certainly confirmed his commitment and also hopefully a return to form.
Any gap in the merits of Barry over Alonso were previously very minor at best. With the latter in form, they should be eliminated altogether. Whilst I have no problem in principle with buying Gareth Barry, £18M is a lot to pay when you have to question if you need another player in that role.
Whatever formation Rafa plays he can field 2 of Gerrard, Mascherano and Alonso or even all 3. Should suspensions, injuries or just his famous rotation dictate a change, Lucas and even Damien Plessis have shown that they can at least fill in even if only in occasional games.
What the board should now do is demonstrate their commitment to Liverpool and to Rafa and offer him the £18M set aside for Barry and go out and get Silva or Joaquin. Even £12-£15M of it should get Albert Riera or if we buying cheap then Stewart Downing and this would fill a position where we really are short of cover.
What is worrying are the rumours about the Americans struggling to find the money for Barry anyway. If with-holding money to buy Barry is just because they haven’t got it then my next contribution will have a very different title.