16 June 2009

So, Glen Johnson…

Looks like right back can be checked off the list.

Liverpool poised to sign Johnson

All the stuff I’ve seen around the Internet focuses on the fee. Don’t focus on the fee. It will only make you crazy.

1) We really don’t know how much money Benitez has. But I’m pretty sure Benitez knows. And if Johnson – even at £17m – is within his budget, awesome. Sign him up. Rafa knows the holes in his squad better than we do. And chances are he’s smart enough not to spend all his summer cash in one place. Liverpool needs an attacking right back, and it looks like Liverpool will get an attacking right back. That’s all that matters. If it makes you feel better, Portsmouth supposedly still owes £7m on the Crouch deal, which will just be written off.

2) You pay a premium for English players. This is nothing new. What’s new is that Liverpool finally looks able to afford it. Ferguson has been paying over the odds for English talent for years, and sadly, it’s paid off for him. With this signing, it looks like Liverpool might be there as well. And the prices for English players are only going to get worse if Platini’s quota plans bear fruit.

3) I’ve written time and time again that width in the 4-2-3-1 comes from full back. This signing fills that to a tee. Both Aurelio and Insua are excellent at it, and it’s why I was optimistic over last summer’s signings of Dossena and Degen. Glen Johnson is a far better player than Dossena or Degen. And for all of Arbeloa’s outstanding qualities, attacking flair isn’t one of them; too often, he and Kuyt are one-dimensional on the right. But Glen Johnson is one of the best attacking fullbacks in the league, and is the best English one.

I sincerely hope this signing doesn’t come at the expense of Arbeloa. Not only is Alvaro an excellent squad player, he’s excellent for the squad – he seems to get along with everyone (the Carra incident not withstanding), and his goal celebrations are a perpetual riot. Liverpool is thin at right back even with Johnson’s signing (Benitez obviously doesn’t think Darby’s ready, and Degen’s injured more than Kewell). And Arbeloa could still be crucial, whether it’s because of injury or in a match where Liverpool will actually have to defend.

Right back and left wing are the two positions that Liverpool has to strengthen. Another striker to beef up the squad would also be nice, but those are the two “glaring” holes in the first team.

This solves one of them – once personal terms are reached, mind you – and it’s only June 16. Johnson will offer more in attack, and will be another dangerous player forward when Liverpool’s struggling to break down 10 men behind the ball. And that Benitez is confident enough to spend £17m on a right back – double Liverpool’s previous record for a defender, and the third-highest transfer fee in club history – shows that there’s probably more money to spend, despite all the dire predictions.

Next season cannot start soon enough.

22 comments:

Kowalski said...

I wish I could share your optimism.

Abhiram said...

In my opinion, we don't need a LM. My views were compounded by the performance of Riera. If he gets a full pre-season i think he'll be very tough to handle for anybody. He also needs to get a little more fitter. We have Benny, El Zhar and Bable for back-up. Who knows, Babel might come good this year since its also world cup year.

If we do sign Johnson it'll be good for us but Arbeloa might not stay. He left Real for first-team games and with Johnson, an english international and one of the best attacking full-back at that, coming to us, his chances will reduce drastically. I personally would not want Arbeloa to leave as he's versatile too. He can play CM, RB as well as LB when needed.

irfaanfr said...

Glenn stick that red jersey on and you will never walk alone my friend!!!!

vinnie said...

you might be interested in this topic, nate

http://www.epltalk.com/rafa-or-fergie-who-spends-more-in-the-transfer-market/8339#comments

Mike Georger said...

God, sites that use that transfer bullshit site irritate met to no end, it isn't accurate.

Carragher and Gerrard are the only players, at any level of the club, who were with the team when Benitez came in. He has had to build the entire squad, and still spends less money.

Ibracadabra said...

I'm a big Johnson fan and think he will link up well with Kuyt but I think you are fooling yourself if you believe Arbeloa will stay on as a squad player / back up.

Instead, I can see Arbeloa being sold now at his "highest" level- maybe between 6 and 8 M pounds - to free up some cash to use for one more new acquisition - a forward or winger...

Carragher can always play right back as cover, and Degen will hope to return to fitness, which will be enough depth for the usually extremely durable Johnson...

muffins said...

I hope hope hope Benítez doesn't offload Arbeloa. We need a range of options for both RB and LB and I'm worried Degen will break his epidermis.

nate said...

Kowalski,

Admittedly, I'm optimistic more often than not, but I really think this will be a smart signing, and I find it very hard to believe it'll be the only (major) signing of the summer.

Abhiram,

Yossi isn't an answer on the left - he's best on the right and in the Gerrard role. Babel could be, but didn't show it at all last season, and saw his time limited as the season went on.

I like Riera, but he needs a player to push him. And Liverpool needs another game-changing attacker in the mold of a Silva, Tevez, etc. etc.

Ibracadabra,

You're probably right. It will be very hard to hold onto Arbeloa. Especially if someone offers decent money, as Alvaro's in the last year of his contract. But he is a very good right back, valuable as a utility defender, and I would dearly miss his goal celebrations.

I think we can all agree that neither Carra nor Skrtel covered themselves in glory at right back this season - outside of Carra at right back in the 4-1 win over United. And Degen, even if he is healthy, is an attacking RB supposedly in the mold of a player like Johnson.

If Arbeloa goes, I imagine we'll see a player come in for a similar fee as Josemi, Kromkamp, and Arbeloa - about £2m. And Rafa will try and work magic like he did with those three (well, he turned the first two into Arbeloa for no fee).

Mike Georger said...

If Micah Richard for five million pounds is a real price, I think that would be an incredible one two punch back there, especially since Richard could cover in the middle if anyone gets hurt.

vinnie said...

mike, the article itself is not interesting, it's utterly flawed; it's the "fact" issue and i reckon i've got a good formula to find out the fairest answer as possible, just to scratch my itch over the northern summer

hope nate would talk about this so we don't have to hijack this topic

btw, glad to see johnson turned down city's bid. he wants to play the REAL champions league

nate said...

fyi: comment threads go where they go; that's the beauty of comments. it takes a lot to "hijack" a topic in my eyes.

i didn't say anything about that epl talk article, because it's been done before. paul tomkins did an excellent piece on this in march.

there's a reason i tag my stats-heavy posts with "damned lies and statistics," a shortened version of the disraeli/twain "lies, damned lies, and statistics" quote. you can make stats say a lot of things.

georger summed it up well. that transfer site often uses highest quoted figures (lfchistory.net's numbers are probably a better guide), and you have to take into account the comparative squads. rafa's basically built from scratch, and most of the positions have gone through changes as Benitez has upgraded.

nate said...

actually, this article - from the official site, and in the comments of that epl talk article no less - is a better version of tomkins' transfer analysis.

vinnie said...

i'm one of them commenting in epl talk too. i'm just amazed by how people are so simple minded by looking issues from the surface and/or believing totally what mainstream media reports. I remember reading tomkins' article somewhere, now you reminded me of it

Mike Georger said...

Oh and by the way, love this signing if it comes to fruition.

vinnie said...

son of a.... http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=655942&sec=transfers&cc=3436

Mike Georger said...

Mascherano needs to leave his wife, post haste.

nate said...

I'd be a lot more worried if the most recent "Masch leaving" article didn't mention Torres to Chelsea for £60m in the same breath. That load of nonsense makes me dismiss the entire piece as nonsense. Which it probably is.

Doesn't help that evidently now Masch is off to Madrid instead of Barca, according to this story. You think the transfer rags could keep their gossip consistent.

The way the hacks are treating this transfer season makes me think Benitez kicked all their dogs or something. It's bordering on a vendetta.

Mike Georger said...

It sure is. Truth be told though, if Barca offered us Yaya and Bojan ... I might take it.

The sale of the Canadiens has been accepted by Gillet and co. and it looks like Bettman will approve it (he isn't totally worthless!), which is great news financially for us.

Mike Georger said...

And now people are running 'Alonso to Chelsea!' stories.

I swear to God nobody else has to deal with this shit. None of our players have come out and said that moving to a certain team would be a dream like Ronaldo constantly did.

Abhiram said...

We sign Glen Johnson :)

http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/drilldown/N164842090622-1758.htm

Parry should learn a trick or two from Rafa. For the first time in Benitez era we've signed a player who can make a difference even before the Transfer period starts.

Mike Georger said...

I'd like to point out both Soccernet and FSC have buried this story towards the bottom of their news columns. Not like they don't want to make a big deal out of a club record signing for a defender (and third overall for us?) after running weeks of ZOMFG TORRES AND MASCHERANO SOLD TO PAY DEBTS! articles.

nate said...

As if there were any doubts since Liverpool and Pompey agreed the fee...

And yeah, I saw that Georger. I swear, I hate playing the "world is against the Scousers" card, but this summer has been utterly egregious. The media is fucking in the bag against Liverpool and I don't know why it's worse than ever.