Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez’s shrewd signings of Maxi Rodriguez and Milan Jovanovic could turn the tables for Liverpool not only this season, but next.
With the well publicised falling out of Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and the lack of money available to Rafa Benitez, Liverpool have had to make some careful acquisitions over January and in the pair of Maxi Rodriguez and Milan Jovanovic Benitez has performed something of a coup. Whilst Jovanovic will not join the Reds until the summer on a free transfer, Rodriguez was a particularly good piece of business with the Argentine international lighting up La Liga with Atletico Madrid for a number of years.
The 29 yr old winger had been one of Atletico’s consistent performers since his £7 million move from Espanyol in 2005. With an impressive 31 goals from 120 appearances from wide positions for the Madrid side Rodriguez has always been a class act. Who can forget his sensational goal against Mexico in the 2006 World Cup in extra time. The touch and technique was outstanding and it won the official goal of the tournament. A regular in the Argentina side, for Liverpool and Benitez to acquire a player of such class for a cut price of £1.5 million is astounding. Even though his contract was up in June, this could have been one of Benitez’s finest hours in the transfer window. Whilst the player has not set Anfield alight yet, it may only be a matter of time. I think Maxi may be one to watch next season after he settles into English life.
Milan Jovanovic could also be a signing that lifts Liverpool next season back to being genuine Premier League title challengers. Whilst not much is known of the Standard Liege striker in England, his stature in Europe has grown over recent seasons with the likes of Juventus and Milan wrestling for his signature. Yet Liverpool stole a march on their rivals with the player signing a three year deal, much to the delight of Rafa Benitez. The 28 year old striker told Belgian newspaper Sporza ‘I opted to sign for Liverpool because they’re one of the biggest teams in Europe – definitely in the top 10.’ Jovanovic’s impressive goal record of 52 goals in 110 games for Standard Liege could ease the burden on star striker Fernando Torres.
Not only do these signings look good in bolstering a Liverpool squad that at times has looked mediocre, it sends a signal out to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres that despite the lack of initially outlay on these two players, they appear to be of quality to kick on Liverpool next season. Whilst Maxi Rodriguez is a more proven product than Jovanovic with Champions League experience, Jovanovic’s goal record cannot be denied.
Benitez has bemoaned on numerous occasions about the money he has to spend on players at Anfield, compared to the outlay spent by Manchester United or Chelsea. I don’t subscribe to his argument on such a detail, he has spent a fair old amount of money, some successfully, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano for example and some quite poorly, Lucas or Andrea Dossena spring to mind. Yet Liverpool has always been at their best when they have their backs against the wall, as they do now in the transfer market with a severe lack of funds present. These two ‘cheap’ signings could be the making of Benitez, forced to look around for good value has made him shrewder and more considered in his activity. These two deals could allow Benitez to silence all his doubters over his transfer abilities.
Will Maxi Rodriguez and Milan Jovanovic propel Liverpool back into title challengers next season?