After his recent outburst against manager Rafa Benitez, Liverpool’s Albert Riera seems likely to exit Anfield in the summer.
Riera criticised Benitez’s managerial approach as well as the team’s style of play, and labelled the club ‘a sinking ship’ in a Spanish radio interview.
Whilst Benitez seems to have forgiven Ryan Babel for his infamous twitter rants, it is hard to see him doing the same with Riera. Whilst the former Manchester City winger has had his moments in a Liverpool shirt, he will not be sorely missed.
His early performances were promising, and he provided a much needed wide outlet. He is one of the few genuine wingers Benitez has used during his tenure. But he never looked anything more than decent, a squad player at best, and not good enough to be a regular starter.
He was, however, able to do a solid job at Anfield last season, and managed to chip in with a few spectacular goals, most notably against PSV Eindhoven and Aston Villa.
But this season has been much tougher for the Spaniard. Injuries have restricted him to just sixteen appearances.
Riera has also suffered to make an impact in games as Liverpool have struggled for form, and in the race for fourth, the Reds can’t afford to be carrying any passengers. He also lacks real pace, one of the key elements to being a quality wide man, and his other abilities do not make up for this.
With Ryan Babel’s improved form and the arrival of Maxi Rodriguez, as well as the return from injury of Yossi Benayoun, Riera has seen himself slip down the pecking order.
Due to the club’s current financial troubles, selling Riera this summer could be vital to Liverpool, as this summer is probably their last chance to get anywhere near the supposed £8million fee they paid for him in 2008. His Russian wife, Yulia, is also said to be keen that the pair exit England.
Before his attack on Benitez, many would have argued, myself included, that it was worth keeping Riera at the club, and that he could still make a positive contribution in future years.
But the disruption and negativity his words could cause in the dressing room mean that, regrettably, Riera’s days at Anfield are numbered.
Written by Sean Mullan