With funds likely to be in short supply at Anfield this summer, Liverpool may be forced to utilise the talents of players previously marginalised under Rafael Benitez. Amongst the most controversial of these is outspoken winger Albert Riera. The Spaniard, 28, was ostracised last season after making several negative comments about Benitez and describing the club as a ‘sinking ship’. However, the departure of Benitez may have re-opened the Anfield door for the former Manchester City man, with Riera informing reporters that “Sincerely, if I can, I would like to remain at Liverpool because this club is a top one.” Whilst still being on the club’s payroll, many believe that Riera has burned his bridges with the Anfield side. How should the club deal with Albert Riera this summer?
After a bright start to his Liverpool career, Riera’s form tended to be infuriatingly inconsistent. However, due to the erratic nature of Ryan Babel, and unorthodox wide-play of Maxi Rodriguez and Yossi Benayoun, Riera offers the most natural wide option for Liverpool’s left flank. If, as anticipated, Yossi Benayoun departs for Chelsea, Liverpool’s wide options will be further diminished, increasing the importance of Riera’s place within the squad.
Riera’s comments were borne out of frustration at not being selected for the side’s first XI. A small minority of Liverpool fans believe that Riera’s loss of temperament was vindicated by Benitez’s selection policies, and pointed to the examples of omitting both Alberto Aquilani and former Liverpool man Robbie Keane after good performances.
However, Riera’s conduct has been inexcusable. In addition to criticising Rafa Benitez, Riera further landed himself in hot water for allegedly punching a reserve-team player and berating the club’s board.
“English clubs are run differently that Spanish clubs. In England you have a manager at the club, and the board of the club has done nothing for me,” Riera said.”The club has not put up any fight for me. I do not want to quarrel with somebody, but if a club doesn’t fight for you that means that they don’t want you. I do not want to be in a place where I am not wanted. “
Riera released his initial comments on the eve of a crucial Europa League clash last season, a move that threatened to destabilise the squad. As well as undermining the manager and publicly revealing the extent of Liverpool’s problems, Riera’s outburst indicated a failure to fight for his place in the team. To most Liverpool fans, Riera’s behaviour was disrespectful and completely unforgivable. Whoever is appointed as the new Liverpool manager will surely seek to rid the club of negative influences within the dressing-room, and it appears as though Riera falls into this camp. Fortunately for both club and player, it appears as though Riera has an exit route, with Juventus, Hamburg and Stuttgart all rumoured to be offering the Spaniard a way out of Anfield.
Albert Riera – should he stay or should he go?
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