29 July 2009
On Alvaro Arbeloa
Unfortunately, it’s not surprising, although the fee is lower than expected. Still, even in the last year of his contract, it’s £1m more than Benitez paid for him. Silver linings, and all.
But when Kolo Toure’s moving for £15m at the same time as it looks like Dossena’s going back to Italy for £4-6m, it feels a bit like the Rick Parry bad old days of Liverpool getting screwed on transfer fees. And couple that with the Alonso news of the last week – first, the fee was £35m, then £30m, and now, in the above Arbeloa article, the Echo suggests Liverpool will take £28m. Fuck.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m still hoping beyond hope Alonso will be in Liverpool red in a couple of weeks. On the other hand, Arbeloa is assuredly leaving, and his service over the last two and a half seasons doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by lingering malignant gossip.
I’m going to miss his goal celebrations the most. They never failed to amuse me, and were insight into one of the more likeable characters on a very likeable team.
Liverpool’s going to miss the reliable defender who replaced an aging Steve Finnan without missing a beat. The best thing about Finnan was his consistency, and Arbeloa was consistently better. At £2.5m, he’s one of the best pieces of business Benitez did. He went from the Real Madrid cantera to Deportivo to Liverpool as an unheralded right back, and is now a ubiquitous member of the Spanish national team.
98 games, two goals, and what I’m assuming is somewhere around five assists (if you can find a reliable tally, let me know). If my count’s correct, 42 of those 98 appearances ended with a clean sheet.
But I can’t quantify Arbeloa’s attributes with stats. He was a dependable, hard-working defender who could play anywhere along the backline. He was a Benitez player to a tee. And yes, it feels weird using the past tense with Arbeloa, but he’s not a Liverpool player anymore. 'Dead to me' is a bit too harsh, but, well, there you go.
Even though he’s joining that mob, I can’t begrudge him the move or do anything but wish him all the best in the future. He wanted to return to Spain, to the club where he started, and he was out of contract in a year. Given Liverpool’s other options in defense, I’d wish he’d seen out this season – £3.5m is less important to me than squad depth, especially when I don't trust Degen any farther than I can throw him – but again, it’s understandable.
The writing was on the wall with the Johnson deal. Now, instead of fighting with Glen for a starting berth, he’ll be competing with Sergio Ramos.
Good luck, Alvaro.