20 May 2008

On Phillipp Degen and free transfers

Long-rumored news has finally been confirmed today with the signing of right back Phillipp Degen on a free transfer.

Unsurprisingly, and much like the Voronin transfer last season, it’s prompted a range of reactions. Just surf message boards like RAWK, RAOTL, and TLW for starters.

Despite seeing most of Switzerland’s games at the World Cup, I can’t say anything concrete about Degen. If not for seeing pictures of him with every article I couldn’t pick him out of a line-up. But I also absolutely detest seeing players criticized before they’ve even pulled on a shirt.

Liverpool needs help at full back on both flanks, which was highlighted in the season review. However, Arbeloa (plus Finnan for at least one more season) is more than a capable defender and will continue to play a number of games. Which is why it’s reassuring to see the quotes from Benitez in today’s piece.

"He [Degen] is an offensive player with great energy and a winning mentality. His strength is going forward and I am confident he will be prove to be a quality addition to our squad."

He added: "Sometimes you can find these players on the market. When you find a player like him who costs no money it means you can use money for improving other parts of the squad."

Liverpool needs a player like that, especially in the 4-2-3-1, where much of the width is provided by the full backs. Of course I’m not convinced he’ll settle or slide right into the side, but the fact that Benitez wanted the player and that he’s more an attacking full back (in contrast to Arbeloa) are good signs, no matter the player’s transfer fee. To paraphrase a favorite Benitez euphemism, 'he will provide possibilities.'

Plus, and as noted by Benitez, signing the player on a free leaves the transfer budget (whatever it may be) intact for other signings. And no matter the ownership uncertainty, it appears there will be some funds. Everybody’s probably seen the Bentley, Barry, and Dossena rumors, among others, and I’d be very surprised if Liverpool doesn’t sign at least one (if not more) of those players.

Admittedly, Benitez doesn’t have the best record with free transfers (Pellegrino, Zenden, Fowler, Aurelio, and Voronin), but who does? While none of those players were world-beaters, all filled a needed role (and some were shipped out when Liverpool bought better replacements).

Pellegrino was essential in spelling Hyypia for the Champions League in 04/05, Zenden and Fowler played their parts in 06/07, Aurelio has the potential to be a world-class left back if he can stay healthy, and, well, we’ve debated the merits of Voronin all season long. Free transfers may not be the big name signings we’ve hoped for, and won’t win the league on their own, but more often than not they fill a valuable purpose.

No one’s pretending Degen’s going to be the end all, be all of summer signings. But he has a role to play, in a position where Liverpool’s lacking, and I’d hope he at least gets the chance to show what he can do before he’s derided from all corners of the internet.


Mike Georger said...

i just hope this isnt the 'first team player' benitez promised. but who knows could end up being a great move, gotta give him a shot

the one thing that irritates me is that two years ago we could have had alves for 12 million pounds, parry wouldnt go above 10 million. now watch united sign him for 25 million and become their right back for the next eight years.

really dont like bentley, dont know much about the italian, but of the rumors i have seen i would personally like niko. but hey i thought gonzalez was the second coming of christ himself sooo

iskoppa said...

I'm with you on this one Nate, give the lad a chance and to see what he can do with a red shirt on his back. WELCOME! Catch ya ron!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, can we get a designated attacking midfielder someday? Honestly, that's all I've wanted the last two seasons. I was hoping for Aimar in this last transfer window, but alas...


nate said...

In the 4-2-3-1, that seems to be Gerrard's role, JP, with Yossi and Voronin as backups.

And, I agree Georger, I'd like to see Kranjcar, but doubt it'll happen, while I'm pretty much happy to see Liverpool linked with a left back who's gotten rave reviews in Serie A this season, even if (like Degen) I can't ever remember seeing him or hearing his name before being linked with Liverpool.

Aravind said...

As a matter of fact, Degan's not listed in Wikipedia

Mike Georger said...


Anonymous said...

After seeing this fellow, I'd prefer him to anyone else we have on our list thus far.