Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van Der Vaart has stated his desire for a move to the Premiership to secure first-team football, and it would appear Liverpool and Chelsea are at the front of the queue, but for the Merseyside club at least, a move for the Dutchman should remain low down on a list of priorities.
The ever-changing state of the future of star striker Fernando Torres remains the most pressing of issues, and should the striker depart, which sadly looks increasingly likely going off of what new manager Roy Hodgson came out and stated today, that the player is unsettled, going onto add that “his issues are with what has gone on in the past rather than the future. If he has problems with the club for things in the past, it is difficult for me to dismiss that” then replacing him is the main worry.
Of course, replacing a player of this magnitude will be difficult to say the least, but perhaps a lack of viable escape routes will keep him at Anfield for one more season at the very least. Some quotes from the player himself in late April this year seem to have been swept all rather too conveniently under the rug with regards to ongoing transfer rumours linking him with a move to another Premiership club.
Torres argued that “The Premier League is such a tough competition and I have always admired this championship and the players who are here. This is my third season and I’m still amazed to see Gerrard, Rooney and Lampard, players who have been here a long time, still playing at such a high level and with such impressive rhythm because the English league really wears down a player. I just can’t imagine what state I’ll be in within five or six years if I continue to play here – it could easily give me problems when I stop playing. The physical level is superior to all other countries.”
Well this would seem to rule out the two main players for his signature, Man City and Chelsea, for what would be the point in committing yourself to a new club in a league that you’ve openly described as being responsible for all of your injury troubles? A move to either of the aforementioned clubs would only be a short-term switch; such is Torres’s fear over the physical demands of the league, as highlighted by his decreased lack of playing time year on year, a move back to his native Spain remains his preferred choice.
It’s my contention at least, that Torres will stay one more season at Liverpool, until Barcelona can afford him, for that is his only viable alternative out of England, and most probably one that he would relish. His prior links with Atletico and his deep affection for his boyhood club should surely rule out any potential switch to Real.
Javier Mascherano looks set to leave the club this summer, with the only sticking point being the fee. He’s openly stated his desire to follow Benitez to his new club Inter Milan, he’s praised the club, described any potential move to the Serie A giants as ‘a dream’ and stated that he’s learning Italian, coupled with the fact that his wife has failed to settle, and a departure looks all but secure, so replacing the scrappy Argentine is of paramount importance also.
With Fabio Aurelio having left the club, a solid player whose potential was always blighted by the restrictions of his time on the treatment table and Emiliano Insua having been sold to Fiorentina, a left back is also important with the club lacking a recognised first choice player in that position.
Van Der Vaart plays best in the hole behind the front man, and can go missing in a four man midfield, lacking the physical gifts to present him with the platform to show off his technical abilities in certain games. The Bundesliga and Eredvisie are both quick tempo leagues, so the pace would not be a problem, but the physical nature which Torres attests to might.
With the arrival of Joe Cole, a player who looks to have moved to the North West, not only as the cynics will point to, for a bumper pay packet, but because of a guaranteed first-team slot, something he wasn’t guaranteed at Spurs, Van Der Vaart would have strong competition for a starting berth.Hodgson may have given Cole some firm reassurances that he’ll allow him to play in a more central role, something which would make sense given that he’s lost what yard of pace he once possessed.
Alberto Aquilani, a player who was rather ignorantly labelled as a like-for-like replacement for Xabi Alonso last season, despite the fact that he operates a full 15-20 yards further forward is also looking to prove himself after a stop start campaign last term, but when fit and even rarer, started, the Italian looked a lively and exceptional talent. This is not to even mention club Captain Steven Gerrard, whose dynamic partnership just behind Torres can be as destructive as anything else seen in world football when at its best.
Van Der Vaart stated that “I have heard of the interest from Liverpool and Chelsea – and that is very flattering. I expect the majority of transfers to be concluded in the next two weeks, and if Chelsea or Liverpool wanted to talk with me I would at the very least listen to what they have to say. They are both giants, and if they could offer first-team football it may prove impossible to turn down.”
But while it’s nice to be linked with this sort of calibre of player still, Liverpool fans will probably realise that strengthening down the flanks and the issues of replacements for both Torres or Mascherano should they depart are much more salient issues.
There is also no guarantee that Hodgson is going to be given the majority of money recouped from the sales of any player this summer to spend on replacements, so signing the inventive Dutchman would most definitely show a lack of foresight and leave the squad lacking serious depth in certain areas. With Benayoun and Riera sold, it’s clear that a winger needs to be added to the squad too, as well as forward cover for Torres, a role that Ngog and Kuyt performed ably at times last campaign, yet neither of them can be relied upon to consistently provide the side with goals.
It’s unclear what the formation will be going into the new season, but Hodgson has a reputation for picking players in their best and most favoured positions, a novel idea given the Benitez era, but to sign Van Der Vaart, an area where the club is extremely well stocked, although undoubtedly a good acquisition, would make little sense in the grand scheme of things.
Van Der Vaart has been derided throughout his playing career for being a luxury player, a view that I’d reject, but perhaps in such pressing times as these, he represents a luxury Liverpool could do without.