There’s no doubting that foreign managers like going back to the country they previously worked in to find players who they’ve worked with or against previously, they particularly like to get their countrymen playing for their teams. Liverpool under Rafael Benitez have been no exception to this and a number of Spaniards have come through the doors of Anfield since Benitez’s arrival although their success rates have varied. Names such as Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, Josemi, Antonio Nunez, Alvaro Arbeloa, Jose Reina, Fernando Morientes and Fernando Torres have all been brought to the club by the Spanish manager and he is often linked with moves for more players from his homeland.
This has continued recently as reports are suggesting that Benitez is ready to go to Spain and raid former club Real Madrid for Duch midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart. Now it is true that Van der Vaart is a player who plays in one of the positions Liverpool need strengthening as the Dutchman could take Steven Gerrard’s place in the side when the Liverpool captain’s injured. He’s also played on the left of midfield previously which is a relatively weak spot in the Liverpool team. Van der Vaart has proven quality, he impressed thoroughly at both Ajax and Hamburg and was impressive for Real in his first season in the club when used. In fact, the only reason they are looking to get rid of him is that they have since signed a number of high profile, highly expensive players leaving Van der Vaart further down the club’s pecking line. This also gives Liverpool the advantage of the fact that Van der Vaart will not be overly expensive – with Real eager to get shot of the Dutchman they will probably accept bids of under his valuation or even allow him to go out on loan should Benitez not get enough financial backing from the Liverpool owners.
Yossi Benayoun has proven a decent enough deputy for Steven Gerrard though and Liverpool should be looking to strengthen other parts of the team – one such place being by signing another striker. Having another goal-happy striker would lessen the expectations on Fernando Torres and give him a suitable replacement for when he’s tired/injured. Liverpool could also switch to a system using two strikers if they did sign a new frontman which could give them different options. And if Benitez did decide to raid his homeland to sign a striker then who would be a good man to set his sights on? In my opinion: Raul Tamudo
I was shocked when Tamudo was linked with a move to Wigan earlier this year. This is a man who has played international football for Spain and has a 1 in 3 record in over 10 years in Spain’s top flight. Yes, he’s already 32 but clubs often sign old players and he would be a good, cheap short term measure who’s a proven goalscorer and is good with either foot or in the air. And yes, he would be cheap for Tamudo fell out with Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino earlier this year and was transfer listed. The duo seemed to deal with their issues and Tamudo was taken off the transfer list but there’s surely still some animosity and uncertainty in the air at the Catalonian club and they would consider selling him much more than they would have done at any previous stage of his club career.
So who would make the better signing? Obviously Van der Vaart is the fans choice as he is a bigger name, is younger and has proven capable of playing well for a top club. Tamudo could be a cheaper option though, would strengthen a position which Liverpool would do well to strengthen more so than attacking midfield, is a proven goalscorer and has a lot about his game. The fact that he hasn’t yet been linked to Liverpool is irrelevant – he is a Spaniard with top flight experience and a good record, that should be enough to attract Benitez. Opinion is mixed on which part of the squad needs strengthening most but both these players could be great solutions for Liverpool. And given how cheap they could both be, Benitez could go ahead and try to get both of them – it’s a risk worth taking.
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