There is nothing like seeing a player crawl back through the small door, they get itchy feet and want to move away to test themselves at a higher level but it just doesn’t work out and they eventually find themselves back at their old club.
Big money moves away don’t always work, Barry Ferguson will tell you that but I think it’s fair to say the award for spectacular big money transfer flop goes to Robbie Keane hands down.
I’ll be fair, Keane grew up supporting Liverpool so when an opportunity like that comes knocking anybody would jump at it without a second thought but it’s likely that Robbie Keane will very much regret making his dream move.
Touted as the new Kenny Dalglish when he joined, Keane had impressed in the PL for Leeds and Tottenham so when Liverpool publicly announced interest in July 2008, Spurs were rightly peeved. They accused Liverpool of attempting to unsettle the player and even reported the Mersyside club to the Premier League. A few days later Keane joined the club he supported as a boy for a fee of £19m plus £1.3m in incentives as well as a donation to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and an apology from Liverpool for their conduct but Liverpool will wish they didn’t bother.
Despite having a proven record in England, Keane found goals hard to come by grabbing his first against PSV in the Champions League in October and then another against Atletico Madrid. But PL goals were even harder to come by as he had to wait until November, when he grabbed a brace against West Brom, to open his Premier League account.
Following his brace against West Brom, Keane would have to wait 6 weeks before he scored again but what a crucial goal it was as he struck the equaliser for Liverpool as they drew with Arsenal at the Emirates. In the following game against Bolton he would grab his final goals for the club hitting a brace as Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners.
Upon moving back to Spurs, Keane alluded to the fact that Benitez had fed him a vision of playing behind Fernando Torres in a split-striker attack.
But this wasn’t the reality as when he did play he was employed upfront by himself or out wide, so he can’t be blamed for the fact he only scored 7 goals in his 28 Liverpool appearances.
There was much speculation about Keane’s future in the January transfer window and Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson even claimed after a chat with club captain Steven Gerrard (who shares the same agent with Keane) that the Irishman could be on his way out of the club. These rumour proved to be true as on February 2nd Keane rejoined his old club for £12m potentially rising to £16m with add ons. Keane said,
“Sometimes, the grass is not always greener on the other side.”
And this was clearly the case.
Liverpool fans speculate that Rafa did not actually want to sign Keane and that it was actually Rick Parry that pushed for the deal and Keane’s comments on his interaction with his former gaffer strengthen this,
“I respect Rafa, unfortunately I didn’t fit into the way he wanted to play football. Maybe under another manager it would have been different… If I’d been a bad egg I could understand but I never had a problem with the manager. I was never late for training. I came in every day and worked me socks off. Sometimes the manager doesn’t fancy you.”
Keane has salvaged his career after the wreck that was his transfer to Anfield and even managed to grab a goal against Liverpool on the final day of last season to show Rafa that he could actually score goals. This season he has 9 goals in 20 appearances and if he can help Spurs pip Liverpool to 4th place it will be the ultimate revenge!
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