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.