Monday, November 27, 2006

Right back replacements

Thanks to Fowi from the .TV message board for this article on potential right back replacements for the ageing but excellent Finnan:

After reading and debating a lot in the past few days about Steve Finnan and our right-back situation in general it is quite clear that we’re in need of a player in that position. This player is to both compete for Finnan for the starting role and to take over in the next couple of years. So therefore I present you with 12 foreign-based right-backs who are affordable, avaliable (some of them rather expensive though) and who I feel could do a good job for us. These players are:

Daniel Alves – Sevilla, AGE: 23
Everybody knows pretty much everything there is to know about this player after this summer. However, I still feel that Rafa hasn’t given up on him yet. The thing is that Rafa sees him mainly as a winger and not as a full-back in HIS team. His defensive qualities are still questionable but he has improved a lot in the past 12 months and even though some of his tackles are very erratic, even over the top, he’s still a decent defender. Coupled with his fantastic technique and most of all his Formula-1 engine, he’s today one of the best full-backs in Europe. He won’t come cheap but good players rarely do.

Nelson – Benfica, AGE: 23
The latest player we have been linked to is Benfica’s Nelson. Now, people should not be frightened by his £17mil. quoted price because there is no way that they will either demand or get that much for him. A very talented player and in the same mould as Portugal’s main right-back Miguel. Not the tallest but very strong, very stable on his feet, quick and technically endowned. One of the positives about Nelson would be that he probably wouldn’t mind sitting on the bench for a few months as he knows that if he comes to Liverpool, he will be the number one right-back eventually. Having watched him quite a few times, I also feel that he would not have problems adapting to English game.

Cicinho – Real Madrid, AGE: 26
The forgotten man at Real Madrid and a player that is not appreciated by Fabio Capello. He’s been told he can leave the club if serious bidders come in for him, which means that his price would be a reasonable one. He has had injury problems in the last 8 months but there is no doubt that he’s still a top full-back and the natural replacement for Cafu, for Brazil. On the field he combines great attacking play with solid defending and is also a very influential figure off the pitch as well. He wouldn’t have any problems slotting straight into our squad and our style of play as he’s not a typical Brazilian fullback. Just a year ago clubs like Man Utd and Milan were willing to pay up to £12mil. for him and now he’s available at probably less than half that price. Probably the biggest bargain on this list.

Christian Zaccardo – Palermo, AGE: 25
Italy’s world cup winner is a much different player than the 3 mentioned above. He’s not as good going forward as any of them but on the other hand he’s probably the best natural defender on this list. Quite tall for a full-back, strength and high level of concentration are his trademarks which make him a typical Italian defender. He’s having a brilliant season at Palermo who are top of the table at the moment and therefore he wouldn’t come cheap. Nevertheless, Palermo is not a big club in Italy and I’m sure that he would be interested in a move. Milan are very interested in him, so are Juventus and Liverpool should be as well.

Philippe Degen – Borussia Dortmund, AGE: 24
He too has been mentioned before and mostly by people on this MB. My feeling on this particular player is that he would fit into our style of play. He’s big and strong, probably the most physical player on the list and he’s a typical British defender. However his level of concentration is not the best and he offers far more going forward, despite his size, than at the back. I remember last season in the game between Dortmund and Monchegladbach when he let slip his marker and Dortmund conceded a goal. Now, that happens to every defender from time to time but what was remarkable is that after the game Van Marwijk was asked by the reporter who made a mistake for the goal. His response was: “Degen, and not for the first time”. Nevertheless, this is also a player who can improve a lot and who certainly has other good qualities to compensate for his poor positioning.

Anthony Reveillere – Lyon, AGE: 27
Rafa knows all about this player as he was a member of the Valencia’s Primera winning team. He’s a player of immense experience and he’s a player who very rarely lets you down. This probably marks him as the player who is closest to Finnan in his style of play. He’s not the strongest nor the quickest and he’s not the best going forward but he very rarely has a bad day and is a typical Benitez, and may I say Houllier (obviously), type of player. He wouldn’t offer anything different to our team but he would still do a good job.

Rafinha – Schalke 04, AGE: 21
This small player is very much like Alves, a typical Brazilian offensive full-back. He has been one of the best full-backs in Germany since day 1 and is probably second only to Willy Sagnol. Brilliant going forward as he’s a type of full-back who does not make early crosses but is well capable of running straight into the opposition box. His incredible stamina makes it possible for him to go up and down the right-hand side for practically the entire match. As mentioned above, he’s not the biggest nor the strongest but he offers so much going forward that his defensive problems can be covered up by tactical tweaking. He too wont be cheap but the fact that he plays in Germany lowers his price, possibly beneath the price that his qualities warrant.

Gio Seitaridis – Atl Madrid, AGE: 25
Voted best full-back at EURO 2004 but has struggled since then. He was at Porto for a while with good success. Now he’s at Atletico and has played in every game so far this season, with success. There is not much this player can’t do. A good defender and adequate when going forward, strong and blessed with a very good first-touch. Another one of his strengths is that he can play well as a central defender too. He’s not the obvious candidate because he has just signed for a new club but perhaps this summer a good offer would be hard to refuse for Atletico.

Darijo Srna – Shaktar Donetsk, AGE: 25
We have been linked with him for quite some time now that it seems like he’s 30+ years old. In fact he’s only 25 and, disregarding his love for Croatian country music that landed him in trouble last month, Srna is one of the best right-backs in Europe. He’s been linked to many clubs but he’s quite happy playing at Shaktar and he doesn’t want to sign for an average European club. However, a move to Liverpool would be perfect for him and for us. He’s also probably the only player who can deal with the entire right-hand side on his own, which he demonstrates both at Shaktar and for Croatia. A top top player.

Bernard Mendy – PSG, AGE: 25
People will remember this French player from his short stint at Bolton but before that he was a brilliant player at Paris SG and also a full France international. He’s now back in familiar surroundings in France and is once again demonstrating his qualities, not least his breathtaking pace. Probably the quickest full-back in the world combines his good physique with fine technical abilities and is a very offensive full-back. A typical Arsenal-type defender in the mould of Eboue and Toure.

Christian Lell – Bayern Munich, AGE: 22
I’ve mentioned him before but he’s worth another mention. A young, talented full-back who is a product of Bayern youth academy. He spent 2 seasons on loan at FC Cologne before being drafted back into Bayern’s squad. He hasn’t had many chances this year so he will probably be up for a move pretty soon. Plays a bit like Phil Lahm but is physically stronger. However, unlike Lahm, he hasn’t been tested on the left side of defence. He could be a very interesting player for us and I predict that once he moves to another club he will become the nr.1 right-back for Germany.

Lars Jacobsen – FC Copenhagen, AGE: 28
Probably the cheapest player on the list and the least ambitious solution as well. However he’s a player with decent experience, having played at Hamburg, and is a very solid defender. He’s doing well in the Champions League this season and is also the number 1 right-back for Danish national team. He has a bit of everything but his crossing is probably his best asset.

The above list shows that there are some rather expensive players and then there are potential bargains. There is no doubt that Finnan is not getting any younger and that at some point we are going to have to think about his replacement. However there is also an urgent need for another right-back at the club to provide competition. Some of the players on the list would not only provide competition but would also eventually succeed Finnan.

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