8 Jul 2009

What's the big deal? Sell Mascherano and sign THESE two players

Javier Mascherano allegedly wants to leave Liverpool for Barcelona and the club is apparently desperate to keep the player. If he wants to go then let him go - there are two inexpensive, readily-available players out there that Rafael Benitez could sign with the money who would instantly improve the club’s chances of landing a first ever Premiership title.

Mascherano is not irreplaceable; far from it, and I will explain my reasoning for this in another article. Liverpool should sell him for as much money as possible (hopefully somewhere in the region of £20-£25m; ideally £30m+), and use the money to strengthen in other areas.

As for on whom to spend the money – there are two experienced players out there who would be *perfect* for Liverpool, and it astonishes me that Rafael Benitez has (seemingly) not even considered either player.

The players I’m referring to are Barcelona’s Alexander Hleb and AC Milan’s Mathieu Flamini.

To me, the signing of these two players this is a no-brainer, and I cannot understand why the club – with its comparatively limited resources – is not moving heaven and earth to sign them.

Prior to Hleb's move to Barcelona last year, I argued last year that Liverpool should sign him:


Much to my frustration, it didn't happen.

I’ll now outline why I believe Liverpool should sign these two players.

1. Flamini is a natural replacement for Mascherano.
2. Both are already experienced in the Premiership with Arsenal, so no settling-in period.

3. Both are very experienced players.
4. Both are strong characters with a winning mentality.

5. Hleb cost Barcelona a mere £11.8m. He has barely featured for them and that is not going to change. Liverpool could probably get him for between £5 and £10m.

6. Flamini went to Milan for free. He is not a regular at the San Siro and the club is in transition with a new manager. Could probably be bought for £10-£12m.

7. Flamini is still only 25; his best years are ahead of him.
8. Hleb is only 28.
9. Both players were excellent performers for Arsenal.

10. Having played under Arsene Wenger, both players have excellent technical skills and like to play football the right way.

11. Hleb is an excellent creative option, and would add much-needed flair to the team

12. Both are versatile: Flamini can play defensive midfield and across defence (as he proved with Arsenal); Hleb can play on the left, right and as a link-man.

13. Hleb has publicly indicated that he is receptive to a move away from the Nou Camp.

If Liverpool really went for it, both players could probably be bought for less than £20m, with money left over to buy a second striker in the £8-15m range.

In terms of line-up and formation, we could be looking at something like this (using current players):

--------------------------- Reina

Johnson ---- Agger ---- Carra ----- Insua

--------------------- Flamini

Hleb -------------- Alonso -------- Riera

-------------------- Gerrard

------------------ Torres

Hleb could alternate with/provide cover for Gerrard in the role just behind Torres, and could also play out wide. With Flamini protecting the back four, Gerrard could still be free to roam, and he and Hleb could do serious damage together.

I personally believe that Flamini is a better all-round option than Mascherano - he has a better range of passing; is faster more dynamic; is more direct with his play; is just as good at breaking up play, and offers more of a creative threat.

This is a Premiership winning side!

Come on, Rafa – why are you not doing everything you can to sign these two players? You already allowed Andrei Arshavin - a player who *should* be playing for Liverpool - to go to Arsenal. Don’t waste this opportunity – sign these players now!


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  1. What complete and utter rubbish. Hleb and Flamini don't have winning mentalities and don't even come close to being anywhere near as good as Mascherano.

  2. Don't you think you ought to explain why? If you don't explain why I'll delete your comment, which is pointless.

  3. I would agree with Flamini he was usefull in the prem although not sure he is better than Mascher. Hleb not so much I don't feel he would be an improvement on Kuyt who was one of our best players last year.

  4. I agree with selling Mascherano since he is such a BIG MOUTH by talking about Barca but i do not agree with signing Flamini and Hleb, especially Hleb who is already old in football terms and we have a good Dirk Kuyt down there and as for Flamini, with have a good enough and can be even better Lucas. Mascherano, when will be the day when Liverpool fans can say goodbye to you on your way to Barcelona?

  5. Kuyt was excellent last year, I agree, but do we really want to go into next season with Kuyt as our main option on the right? That thought terrifies me to be honest! Kuyt has long periods where he is ineffective, and Hleb is far more skillful and creative than Kuyt. I'd take Hleb every day of the week.

  6. Noooo! If Masch has to be sold ( not under 40M pound ) so we gonna have to buy Masch replacement who for my opionion is Lorik Cana ( around 8M ) and with 32 sign a top class striker! Under 40M pound Masch won't be sold! YNWA!

  7. Come on, Anon - Lucas as good as Flamini?! Surely you're joking?!

  8. Are you mental, Hleb moved to Spain because he did not like the physical nature of the English game! Why do you think he would come back? Flamini is not in the same league as Mascherano!! I do agree however that if he wants to go then if we could get £30m then let him go!

  9. I've argued this repeatedly over the last two years - signing another top class striker is a mistake. You can't have two world-class strikers competing for one position. We need a mid-level striker; someone who is good in their won right but is willing to accept that they are back-up for Fernando Torres.

    Anon - Lorik Cana is a good option, but he's untested outside the (weak) French league, and would take time to settle in. Flamini is experienced in the Prem and knows what it's all about. Ideally, we need players who will come in and do the business NOW, not next year.

  10. I think the first poster DID explain why, he said that they dont have a winning mentality and Flamini is nowhere near as good as mash, so why the threats to delete him

    In fact I wholeheartedly agree with him. They weren't good enough for their teams last season so why think they are good enough for Liverpool

    Absolute rubbish if you ask me - gonna delete my comment now that it doesn't agree with you?

  11. Anon - what you're saying about Hleb moving because of the physical aspects of the Prem is pure conjecture. What would he rather do? Warm the bench at Barcelona or actuall play in important Prem/CL games for Liverpool?

    And why is Flamini not in the same league as Mascherano?

  12. Anon - saying someone does not have a winning mentality is just a statement. What evidence is there for this?

    And neither player left Arsenal because they 'weren't good enough'. It was widely documented at the time that Wenger wanted to keep both players, especially Flamini.

  13. Absolutely brilliant, players side shifting trying to carve out moves to other clubs can be detrimental to the squad. Sell him but for no less than 30 million.We have made him and deserve a decent profit. Flamani although defensively not quite as good as mascherano offers muchmore in a attacking sense as a holding midfielder, remembering we need to break down the Stokes, Hulls etc of the E.P.L. Helb was one of Arsenals key creaters in the in the 07/08 campaign when Arsenal looked great until until the latter part of the season. They have surely missed both players in the year past. What did Torres say in the press , we need some smaller creative players although he was probably referring to his spanish teamates I think these two defnitely fit the bill.

  14. Good article and I pretty much aggree with you, except maybe the part about your valuation of flamini and masch. I think flamini would cost a bit more, around 15mil, but on the other hand mascherano is definetly worth more than 20-25 mil you suggested, imo about 30mil
    these two would definetly be good for LFC

  15. So players that are not good enough to get a game at Barcelona and Milan will improve us?

  16. Yes, I probably undervalued Mascherano. The more money the better! The question is, would selling Masch and buying these two players *weaken* Liverpool in any way? I would argue no, not at all! It wold only strengthen the creativity, options and technical ability of the team. Plus, there would be money left over from Masch's sale and our existing transfer pot to buy more players i.e. a striker.

  17. Anon - I suppose Arsenal should've ignored Thierry Henry because he didn't fit in at Juventus?

    That kind of thinking is clearly flawed, don't you think?

  18. I agree with Jaimie on the point that we should have signed Arshavin, we did miss the boat in that regard.

    As for the question of Hleb and Flamini, like Arsenal players who left before them besides Anelka name any that has performed or became better because of leaving Arsenal under Wenger. I question both players loyalty to the cause and attitude more so which doesn't fit in with the ethos of Rafa Benitez's approach to the game.

    If you did understand the ethos you would know that these two are not on the Benitez menu so to speak. Flamini gets forward more than Mascherano for a defensive midfielder that should be the case. Mascherano is great at what he does and his understanding with Alonso is paramount to our success as a side. Getting rid of one or both our spine of the side would be ripped apart. Until to the contrary when Alonso and Mascherano say on camera to all our supporters they want to leave I firmly believe the will stay.

    Is Hleb any better than Deadly Dirk, in my opinion no. The fact Kuyt would complement Johnson on the right of our side I think it would be stupid not to realise how Benitez sees this side developing. Jaimie, if you did see the ethos of Benitez oozing out of the current side you shouldn't write articles on players who clearly don't fit into the ethos of Benitez's approach to the game.

  19. Another point, selling to then buy can be costly as the deals may no necessarily go through. I would hate to sell Mascherano and not be able to find a suitable replacement in time for the start of the season. For me Mascherano is far and wide the best holding midfielder in the world at the moment. You only have to look at the last game of the season, a nothing game by all accounts against Spurs. Mascherano ran 40 yards to win the ball and form a Liverpool break. After the game Rafa was lost for superlatives to describe his work rate and winning mentality.

  20. I disagree that Hleb and Falmini don't fit the Benitez ethos. Furthermore, I dislike that ethos because it prioritises stamina and relentless work-ethic over creativity and flair.

    Liverpool's success has been founded upon creativity and flair in the past, not creatively impaired work-horses like Dirk Kuyt. It has been proven time and time agaion over the years that lack of creativity is a serious problem for the club; this was again exposed last season. Signing Hleb would be a step in the right direction and would give us a creative alternative to Dirk Kuyt.

    I shudde at the thought of having Kuyt as first choice right winger for the *entire season*.

  21. Players like Mascherano and Kuyt are symbolic of the Benitez era, just like Heskey was symbolic of the Houllier era. Players who run 50 miles a game but ac tually contribute very little to the creative cause.

    yes, Kuyt just had a good season (in patches) but he is inconsistent and is not creative enough to own the right-winger spot.

    Would he play on the right for Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan or Bayern? Of course not. he'd probably be on the becnh. So why are Liverpool settling for him?

    Masch is an excellent holding midfield but since all he does is defend, he is replaceable. Defensive Mids are rife in world football now and I just disagree that letting him go would make any significant difference to the team.

    Defensive mids are pretty much interchangeable if you ask me, expecially if all they do is defend, which is what Mascherano does for the most part.

    It's more difficult to replace a defensive mid who also has attacking qualities, and Mascherano is not that type of player.

    It would be far more of a disaster if Xabi Alonso left. This cannot be allowed to happen.

  22. I think it's gonna take a MASSIVE name up front to force Gerrard back into the midfield. It's not like Stevie's not doing a great job up there alongside Fernando......26 goals last season says it all!
    As far as Mascherano leaving..........sure he's a great player......but let him go if he wants to.
    Not sure about the need to dash to buy a replacement tho. Hasn't anyone noticed young Jay Spearing coming through the ranks.

    Surely Rafa should give him a chance to prove that he can replace Javier. From what I've seen he's a competent, combative player who has a better eye for a pass than Mascherano......and he's only 20!

    It's surely worth a punt......after all, how can a player gain experience without being given a chance.

    I remember being at Hillsbrough watching Stevie playing his 1st senior game and he looked a liability (he got brought off before he got sent off! lol), now he's arguably the worlds best player in his position.

  23. Jamie, you said it yourself about Hleb and his attitude... "what would he rather do? Warm the bench at Barcelona or actually play in important Prem/CL games.." Clearly he would rather sit on the bench at Barca as that is the choice he made when he turned his back on Arsenal.

    Flamini is another who is not happy unless he gets what he wants. He was not good enough to retain a regular spot in the Arsenal team so moved on. Why would Liverpool want the cast offs of a team struggling to stay in the top 4 ;)

  24. Anon - I'm sure Hleb went to Barcelona hopeing to feature regularly! Are you suggesting he went there to sit on the bench?! He's only been there one season. remember. Plus, if he was happy to sit on the bench he would not publicly state that he would be interested in leaving, which he did several times recently (in response to interest from Bayern Munich). If he was just happy collecting a pay-cheque he'd keep his mouth shut, no?

    Hleb is 28; his prime years are still ahead of him. He is bursting with skill and creativity. Someone will get the benefit of that. I hope it's Liverpool.

  25. I would sell Masherano over Alonso however, I dont see that many defensive midfielders with the same heart and commitment that Mascherano has.
    I think that Liverpool should have taken the risk on Michael Owen. He would happily play second fiddle to Torres an we could then focus on the signing Silva or Mata.
    I think Ngog has shown potential and look forward to seeing more of him in that Mickey Mouse cup we play in each season but he cannot be our sole backup striker next season.
    The problem we had was a lack of goalscorers on the pitch therefore the decision to move Stevie G behind Torres meant that we needed a hard working mid (masch) and a creative mid (alonso). For me everything should be done to keep BOTH players at Anfield. More creativity on the wings pls Rafa. I cannot faut Kuyt's effort and his ability to come up with big game goals...I felt that towards the end of last season Liverpool had ironed out a few problems and the team was looking a lot more balanced. Benayoun's form was testament of this.
    In conclusion Silva/Mata and a decent backup striker (open to suggestions cos I can't think of one) and we will be there or there abouts next season.

  26. we are getting so close. why would you want to break up the side in anyway at all? we HAVE to keep both alonso and mascherano.. there quality and experience of playing together within rafas system will be priceless next season.

    We have our new right back and rafa has said he has money for one more big signing. It would be frankly insane to sacrifice one of most important players.

  27. Why are we considering selling a player of Mascherano caliber when instead we should be looking to fund transfers by selling deadweight?

    We don't need Dossena, although I like him, we don't have issues at left back.

    Voronin isn't quality and Babel isn't as good as Riera or Benayoun.

    That's 20 million pounds in sales right there, why can't we wait and see if we can move these players on before throwing away Mascherano?

  28. Really disagree that Mascherano is replaceable. Nobody in world football closes down the ball quicker than him, and hardly anyone in world football shows the same commitment in winning the ball.

    There are plenty of defensive midfielders in football these days, but most are used as a sitting, 'simple distribution' footballer, not someone who breaks his balls every week closing down runners and throwing his every inch in front of the ball to block a shot.

    Flamini's a mercenary anyway. Wouldn't touch him with a barge pole.

  29. Let's not firget that it is Mascherano (allegedly) who wants to leave; I raise the issue of his replacement purely because of this.

    And again, I really disagree that Mascherano is not replaceable. History proves you wrong. Examples of players who were apparently irreplaceable:

    Kevin Keegan (replaced with Kenny Dalglish)

    Ian Rush (Replaced with John Aldridge)

    Kenny Dalglish (replaced with Peter Beardsley/John Barnes when he turned to management full-time)

    Every player is replaceable, including Mascherano and including Steven Gerrard.

    The only truly irreplaceable LFC player in the last 20-odd years is John Barnes (IMO).

  30. Can't believe what I am reading here.

    Liverpool have to keep their best players, if we are ever going to win title no_19.

    Fair enough if a player wants to go, but then it has to be on our terms.

    Benitez was right to slap a 50 Million Euros on Mascherano head.

    At 24 years old the Argentinian is one of the best holding / defensive midfielders in the business.

    Talk of 20 mil, 25 mil and 30 million are so very wide of the mark.

    We paid 18million for Mascherano and another 10 Million for his registration, so why the hell would we sell one of our best players whith 4 years left on his contract, who is only 24 for a paltry 2million pofit ?



  31. Anon - Your comments are automatically deleted by the way, so it doesn't waste any of my time. So please, knock yourself out!

  32. Gabe - read the comments policy, which states:

    "If you post a really compelling argument but preface it with some kind of insult, it will *still* be deleted, irrespective of whether your points have merit".

    Any post that contains any kind of insult will be deleted, even if 90% of it is valid argument.

    This site encourages civil, intelligent debate; if you can't do that, then don't post.

    I couldn't care less if people slag me off (!); I just don't want stupid comments detracting from the discussion.

  33. Kuyt's stats from last season were as good as Rooney's. Hleb has no end product what so ever, he is lazy and has a poor attitude.

  34. Disagree totally. As somebody already stated - we've made Mascherano, and should expect at least 40million for the Argenitine captain.
    As for your choices (i) always thought the Belarus was overrated when at Arsenal. Keeps hold of the ball well, energetic but not oustanding. Why do we need him when we have Benayoun?
    Flamini was supposedly meant for big things when leavng Arsenal, but why do Milan want to sell him in such a short time?

    If we did sell Masch then I would drop Gerrard back into the middle and spell the wedge on either Aguero/Villa/another forward.

  35. Kuyt has had one good season. Let's not forget the countless games over the last 3 years where he has gone missing or provided nothing. I find it astonishing that people are willing to have Kuyt as first choice right winger, as if there is no improving upon him.

    As for saying Hleb is 'lazy' and has a 'poor attitude' - this is lazy generalisation. I challenge you to provide examples of his lazyness and/or bad attitude.

    And I'm not suggesting that Kuyt is dropped; I'm suggesting it would be good to have two options on the right instead of one. Kuyt and Hleb could share the games. Just relying on Kuyt and no one else is not the solution.

    Benayoun, Kuyt and Hleb interchanging on the right (with Hleb able to play on the left and as a link man) has got to be better than what we have now.

  36. Suggesting it is moronic anyway, because love kuyt or hate kuyt he will be starting every game under Rafa.

  37. Scott - I don't think Milan want to sell him, but whenever a new manager comes into a club there is always a period of transition, and that means some players will leave. This doesn't mean they're not good enough; the new manager just has his own ideas. Plus, Flamini has played lots of games for Milan, especially in serie A, so it's not like he hasn't been playing.

    I agree that we should get as much money as possible for Mascherano, but no one is going to pay £40m for defensive midfielder. The most we can hope for is £25-£30m in my view.

    I fail to see how Hleb could be regarded as overrated - he was absolutely integral to Arsenal's wondeful style of play, and he would be even better playing with likes of Gerrard and Torres IMO.

  38. besyds, i dont think milan will ACTUALLY sell flamini
    and that's PRECISELY because of the new management...
    stop being so naive...
    dont u notice that everyone disagrees with you??!!

  39. Gabe - I don't care if people disagree with me! That's the nature of opinion. What should I do, just be fickle and change my view just because everyone else thinks differently to me?!

    I stand by my view, and if you don't like it then that's just tough luck!

    Re Flamini - considering he was signed on a free transfer, I think a good offer would secure Flamini easily, especially as they have Gattuso for his position.

  40. Don't be so utterly rediculous. There's absolutely no way Flamini could do half the job that Mascherano does which is largely unseen; hence this article. The reason why we're only struggling against the lesser teams and not the rest of the top four is Mascherano's expertise at breaking down play, while he also plays an immense role in allowing the rest of the team to get forward and create chances.

    This is the reason he was the Argentine captain at 24 and Rafa has placed a £50M pricetag on him. Masch is undoubtedly the BEST defensive midfielder in the world with only Essien coming close due to his other abilities, unless Makelele was 10 years younger.

    As for your comment about defensive mids being replaceable as all they do is defend, why not sell Agger for £14m or whatever Milan were offering and buy titus bramble instead using the rest of the money to get your precious Hleb? As after all he is only a defender. While you're at it why not turn into Real Madrid playing lovely creative football so we can get hammered 4-0?

    Defense is just as important as attack as it doesn't matter if you score 4 goals when you concede 5, defensive midfielders are part of the modern game and there is none better than the Monster.

    However I do agree that we need more creativity, but not from the holding midfielders as Alonso supplies hat in abundance with his passes, but we definately need someone further up the pitch to help break teams down, a Lavezzi type player who can play across the AM positions and even as a backup striker if needed. So can do a decent job up top without having to sign a £20m striker who will be pissed off sitting on the bench watching Torres play most of the time, instead playing on the left, right, sub for gerrard AND can play as a striker when Torres is out if needed.

    Either way Masch hasn't said he wants to leave, infact quite the opposite while only saying he's flattered by the Barca interest as any player would be. I'm much more concerned about Alonso leaving if Real stump up the money. furthermore the reason Hleb and flamini can't get a game at top clubs is because they're not good enough and we should have much higher aspirations.

  41. I agree with this post but I can name one thing that is working against buying those two players (according to Benitez´s transfer policy):

    * Hleb and Flamini ARE NOT Spanish!

    I do see Mascherano´s future away from Anfield and we can survive without him and get a healthy profit on the 18.5m spent on him. Thirty million would be good to receive and use the amount to get two midfielders; one to replace him and another to fill the void on the right wing so we can use Kuyt more often as a striker.
    I can see Van der Vaart or Robben to fill that void on the right but the defensive midfielder is something I have not thought of yet.

  42. Why do you continue to claim that you've been accepted into Google news when they've never even listed you on Google news....

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  44. Hi Jamie, i have read your article if think you have a great point to make. I myself am a Liverpool fan and i totally agree with what you have to say. Marcherano is a great player but to be honest he isnt considered to be worth 2 positions on the field (i.e Helb & Flamini). The only player i believe is worth at least 2 positions on the field is our great Steven Gerrard.
    There are a few problems to this i think i must point out:
    - Would these players want to come play for Liverpool considering they left Arsenal on bad terms...maybe flamini because he is money hungry!
    - Would Rafa send Dirk Kuyt to the bench...i dont think so! He loves Kuyt because of the fact that he brings a balance to the team because of his hard work. I personally still think to this day that apart from his hard work, his quality as a player doesnt cut it at this level.(please write back if you disagree) put it this way, if we replaced kuyt with hleb in the season that just had passed, i beleive we would of acheived greater things...do you agree?

    A player who i would like to see sign for Liverpool is the following (please these arnt rumours, this is a player who i have seen play for many years now, and not some punk off a you-tube video!):

    Martins - Newcastle (Striker & left wing...better than Riera)

    Would cost no more than $7m pounds
    Buy helb and flamini for $23m pounds

    = $30M pounds (Martins, Helb, Flamini)
    - $30M pounds ( Marcherano)
    = Title winning side with depth


  45. Good post.
    These two players make you sit up and put some thought to it. BUT ... nah ... still prefer the team as it is! Unless ... the big mouth Argie does move ... for upwards of 35mil no less, then I'll take Flamini for 8mil(for discussion sake) and try to get David Silva with what money we have.

  46. Jamie you said of Kuyt "Would he play on the right for Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan or Bayern? Of course not." now ask yourself the same of Masch at DM. The answer is yes. There isn't another defensive midfielder as destructive as masch, he releases Alonso which was integral to last years success. I believe we would of progressed in the CL were it not for him missing the first leg. Against weaker teams your idea would strengthen us but at the business end of the CL and against the top three we would be found wanting.

  47. Anon, now we moved on from selling mascherano to get an overrated Nigerian, Frenchman and Belarussian.

    As for Dirk Kuyt, in his 3 years at Anfield. Had a decent return of 13 goals in his first season in English football, second season his father died of cancer during the close season and he even admitted himself it had an effect on him like it would have on us also. Last season and over his time at Anfield, he is one of the most underrated players in English football today.

    I am glad we have him, he complements the flair of Gerrard, Torres and Benayoun plus the panache and playmaking abilites of Alonso. He can frustrate at times but overall I see what he gives to the side. He brings balance to the midfield unlike Pennant before him.

    We need that something extra in games against teams who play with ten men at Anfield without selling a big part of the spine of the team. Keeping Mascherano and Alonso is essential. Jaimie, as you said (allegeadly) Mascherano wants to leave as your mission statement says "Rejecting biased media hype" clearly you have being reading to many of the rags. Until Tony Barrett speaks I won't be entertaining any rumours circulating around as there all BS...even after this story this morning by yourselves the 606 message boards are creaming over the prospect of Flamini coming....your site is becoming the new Koptalk already.

    Liverpool don't need to rebuild our spine is there, we have signed Johnson who will get forward more and his delivery will be essential. We don't need a backup striker, we have enough young players who will step up this season I believe and make a contribution if Torres is injured. We just need someone for the left side who has that creativity and nous to unlike a 10 man defence.

    Only Rafa knows who can do that and fit into his ethos of the current Liverpool setup.

  48. What about dirk kuyt. He had such a great season last term. He's slotted into that wide position you suggest Hleb gets very nicely!

  49. Ridiculous, benayoun is just as tricky as hleb and far more prolific. if you talk to arsenal fans they will tell you Hlebs build up play was good but his final delivery/shot was weak. As for Flamini, decent player, no where near the level of Mascha. I agree Mascha as a holding midfielder with limited passing ability is replaceable (far more replaceable than alonso who channels the play incredibly well), however flamini and hleb are far far far from the answer!

  50. right i've a few thing to say here firstly saying selling mascherno would be a disaster to the club him and alonso form possibly the best centre midfield in the league, if flamini can't get on for a dying milan side he shouldn't be at liverpool david beckham is in that team ahead of him, somehow I don't think chelsea will sell us essien, a yaya toure would probably be our best option and even thats a step down.
    Hleb id like to have at liverpool he is a world class dribbler of the ball and can commit defenders but if it means losing the monster he can stay at the nou camps bench

    no player is irreplaceable there are quite a few.
    gerrard for one is in that list
    realistically alonso torres and reina are irreplaceable due to that fact no team would sell players of their quality
    who is united going to replace ronaldo with.

    right a player I would like to see liverpool buy is quaresma. now i know that since hes left porto his career has skydived and he couldnt buy a game at chelsea and benitez hates the skillful luxury type player but honestly given the chance he is world class and swapping flair with kuyt workrate can divided to when which is necessary its a wonderful variety of wingplay.

    I doubt he'd break our bank aswell because inter dosent want him selling all the voronins etc. id say could pay for him

  51. Alan - Mascherano's situation is fair game for discussion, and it has nothing to do with reading newspapers (which I very rarely do) and everything to do with reading between the lines and monitoring his contract situation/public statements.

    And re Koptalk - that's a pretty lazy - but predictable - comparison, and completely inaccurate. I didn't 'report' the Flamini/Hleb story; I didn't hold myself out as having some kind of scoop; I didn't even use their names in the title of the article! It's obvious that my article is just my opinion (wishful thinking) of what I would personally like to happen.

    If people on 606 are latching onto it that's their affair and nothing to do with how I presented the article. If you're fair minded you'll agree.

    If I was presenting it as 'I have a source inside Anfield who says Flamini and Hleb will sign' then the comparison would be fair.

  52. Monster Mash when on top of his game is probably the best holding midfielder in the world but he does have some rash moments where he loses concentration e.g. sending off at old trafford and the 1st arshavin goal at anfield. He's been hit and miss last season and if we were to lose either alonso or him i'd def prefer it if we lost him as he's easier to replace, there's not many alonso style players out there who spread the ball all over the park while anchoring midfield, he's also got a great football brain. I'd value mash around 30mil and would prefer a straight swap for eto (15mil last yr of contract) AND yaya or eto and 10mil which we can use to get flamini and both the world class striker and an able replacement situations would be sorted, hleb is class but dosn't score as much as riera, babel, kuyt or benyoun from the same positions. flamini is not as aggresive or intense as mash but technically he's a bit better with a better passing range and shooting/goal scoring threat. Rax

  53. flamini? fine, if we really really had to lose masch. hleb? not for kuyt no.
    so all you claim that kuyt disappears, he not only was involved in 25 goals last season but also works harder then anyone else in the squad, wheras my arsenal mate was glad to see hleb go because for all he looks nice, he didnt score or even assist that much. hes a pretty, ineffective player and thats why he doesn't play for barca. because kuyt is better, in just about every way except for looking pretty. simple as.

  54. Carra to play holding midfielder and Agger/Skrtel in defence. Lucas/Spearing as cover

  55. Carra to play holding midfielder and Agger/Skrtel in defence. Lucas/Spearing as cover

    It can be 4/1/3/1/1 or 5/1/3/1

  56. I agree carra can play there, hee's done it before and loves to close ppl down block etc kuyt has def earnt his place in the team not only was he involved in around 25 goals he scored some damn important ones over the last couple of seasons. we don't need hleb even though he is class. Rax

  57. I feel the two candidates would be good replacements, but I fail to see how they would (both) strenghten the side.

    For a start, Mascherano is a better player than Flamini, and Hleb does not even play in the same position! I would like him in the side, but selling our 'rock' in midlfield when we already have money enough to buy a player in another position smacks of desperate/drastic business.

    More to the point, I don't think you can expect a player like Flamini to shine in our squad given that he barely figures in an AC Milan of 30+ year-olds, and only had one good season at Arsenal before he left (the previous 2 were awful by anyone's standards).

  58. I think i'd agree that both players mentioned could do the job and it would not degrade us in any way. We def deserve a good profit on Mascherano if he were to go; 30mil plus is where I would be ok. Anyone who's saying not good enough at Brca to get a game only needs to look at Masch at West Ham...he was useless there. Now he's with us and he's the best player in the world. If Rafa can help make him the beast he is now imagine the potential of someone already skillful and tactically sound.

  59. Jaimie.... Agree with you about flamini. Hs a cheap n decent enough replacement. Altho Masch is the ultimate pitbull, Flamini was class until gettin injured in CL quarters at Anfield.so he gets my respect.
    Hleb tho... not to sure. Kuyt is limited as we need craft or pace. Kuyt has neither. Hleb- not ood enough for us. Mah must be 35mill at least n we WOULD benefit from a super striker. Gerrard might actually be a more disciplined CM if he saw 2 strikers her trusted!

  60. I agree with Flamini. Indeed, if Alonso (28m)and Masch (35m) declare they want to leave and we got Flamini (16m) and Sneijder (18m) I am not sure we are going to miss them much, plus we have a nice profit to buy Lorik Cana as a sub instad of the rubbish liability Lucas.

    Snejider is a quality player under appreciated at Real Madrid. Flamini was as good as Masch in his last season at Arsenal in my opinion.

    My perferred option is our two stay because they know the team and are settled. But they if cause trouble get them out for Flamini, Sneijder and Cana.

  61. Out with Mascherano since his heart is no more with Anfield and his brain ... in his ass!!!

    I would welcome Hleb & Flamini over Mascherano due to the influence they had exuded in some of Liverpool's defeat to the Gunners in some of the past matches.

  62. what a fool you are if you believe what you wrote is true mascherano if sold would not be able to be replaced his all round game and spirit and fight would not get replaced he a clas above the two players mentioned and i see your fantasy was hleb on the right thers no way in hell that rafa is gonna drop kuyt for no one OHHHHH then he wakes up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  63. Oh Jamie, you really messed up with this one.
    Your flippant attitude to two extremely important and industrious players is insulting. The first person who disagrees with you you threaten to delete his post!
    I'm not going to pain myself with going into details, just compare Kuyt's stats with other RWs in the league, and then tell me one other who gives you what he does every time he plays.
    Not to mention the way he seems to come up with goals at the most important of times.
    You also forget Johnson's arrival and how he and Kuyt will complement each other, Kuyt's defensive qualities and GJ's attack. It's upside down but you should know what I mean.
    I'm not even going to begin with Masch, he would eat your Hleb and Flamini for breakfast, and for whoever keeps on about his attitude, behave!
    Who's famous quote is this?

    Don't change a winning team.

    We were steamrolling teams and to disrupt that as spectacularly as the OP describes would be disastrous, epecially with rejects from other teams.
    Jamie, why do you think Barca want Masch so much?
    The top teams of the world want our players, and for a good reason, they're the best, simple!
    Maybe the lure of big bucks is too much for some to cope with, they see two lesser players and a few mill in the bank as a better option..
    Maybe if we sold Gerrard to City we could buy Ireland and Robinho, maybe have enough money left for Negredo?
    Maybe not.

  64. And please whoever it is stop with the Masch wants to leave garbage, ot's only the press being hysterical so grow up.

    Who woouldn't be flattered if Barca said they wanted to sign you?
    Gerrard would say what Masch said.
    Get over it!

  65. spot on mate .if masch actually wants to leave,hleb would be a good signing at 5 mill ,class at arse,but why did wenger let him go ? bad attitude ? if masch or alonso do go ,its got to be villa or weill miss our best chance in 19 years

  66. What about Felipe Melo, he actually scores goals too!!!!!!!!

  67. I would agree they are both good players but you want to sell Masch because he wants to go and buy two players who left Arsenal so easily. They both got on the map because of Arsenal then left for bigger fish. Now they come back to Liverpool and have great seasons then another club (maybe not bigger than Liverpool) offers them more money and they decide to walk out again. I'm sure Rafa might look at them as unreliable as Michael Owen.

  68. Jamie, I realise that you don't have a great reputation among Liverpool fans after speaking to many of them.

    So I will you give you a few tips, which will help improve your credibility.

    1. Research before you write. Hleb has no end product what so ever. In three full seasons at Arsenal he only managed 7 goals!

    2. Don't make brash statements such as that Flamini and Hleb will settle right into the Liverpool side because they have played Premier League football. They played in a team who has a very different style to us first of all and secondly look at Robbie Keane, he has spent many years in the Premier League and he failed miserably at Liverpool.

    3. Look at Liverpool's squad. Yossi is a similar player to Hleb, but he has far better end product. Hleb is a poor man's Yossi.

    4. Love him or hate him, Dirk Kuyt will be starting almost every game under Rafa. His vital goals last season almost brought us a Premier League title, yet Hleb almost never scores, so we lose those goals Dirk brings us.

  69. Anon - I couldn't care less whether you or anyone else thinks I have 'credibility' - I write what I think, and if you don't like it, hard luck!

    On the subject of credibility - You seriously need to stop plagiarising your 'facts' from other commenters and make sure that when you pose an argument your 'facts' are not blatantly incorrect.

    a) Hleb scored 11 goals, not 7 in his time at Arsenal. he also provided 17 assists.

    Hleb statistics

    Goals are not the only criterion for judging 'end product'. Xabi Alonso scored 12 goals in 116 games in his first 3 seasons at Anfield. Taking tino account goals to game ratio, this is a worse record than Hleb. using your spurious logic, Alonso must be a really bad player!

    Hleb provided Arsenal what Alonso provides for Liverpool: setting the tempo; dictating the pace of the game; retaining and keeping the ball movin; bringing others into the game.

    b) He did not have '3 full seasons' as you put it; In his second season, he was injured and played only 17 games.

    2. Your Keane conmparison is nonsense. Benitez's mismanagent is the reason Robbie Keane didn't make it at Anfield.

    Why Robbie Keane 'failed' at Anfield

    Plus, it is far more likely that players who have vast experience of the premiership will settle in quickly. This is simple deductive reasoning.

    3. Hleb is stronger and more skillful than Yossi and is also a better dribbler and his short-passing game is far superior, as are his ball retention skills. They are not similar players at all.

    4. I wasn't suggesting that Hleb replaces Kuyt; Hlen and Kuyt can operate in the same team. They can share the right flank and Hleb can also play the link man role better than anyone in the team, bar Gerrard.

  70. Jamie, now your slagging on Rafa. Seriously mate just stop. At least half of the people I have shown this article to, haven't even bothered to read it as they don't read anything off your website anymore.


    1. Was I comparing Alonso and Hleb. No I was comparing Yossi/Kuyt and Hleb. They get as many assists and far more goals than him.

    2. Keane could not score. Simple as. He had no "end product" and it was never going to work out for him at Liverpool.

    Crouch, Keane, Bellamy, Pennant, Kewell are some examples of EPL experienced footballers who struggled or failed at Liverpool. That is basically every player we have recently signed that has EPL experience. It is basically a myth.

  71. Anon - you seem to be under the misapprehension that I'm somehow bothered about people choosing not to visit this site.

    Quite simply - I'm not. If people want to read stuff on here, they will. If they don't, they won't.

    You telling me that x, y and z don't bother to come here anymore makes no difference to me. What should I do, curl up in the foetal position and cry?

    I don't write stuff to appease the masses or fit in with the prevailing view of so-called Liverpool 'fans' such as yourself; As I've said time and time again, I'm just one fan with anj opinion. If you can't hack that, then I would suggest it is you who has the problem, not me :-)

    You're quite welcome to argue football related points here, but give it a rest with the desperate attempts to belittle me already :-D You're not going to crush my confidence or make me change the way I think so what's the point?!

    I find it very strange that you waste your time posting on this site when you clearly hate it. People repeatedly doing things they hate is rather stupid, is it not?

    Just a though ;-)

  72. Actually your last article on Paisley-Shankly was wonderful.

    However going back to your articles from 18 months-24 months ago, you were calling for Rafa to be sacked. And you never wanted us to sign Masch. You obviously don't like something bout Masch?

  73. You are just plain and simple wrong. But please consider these points before dismussing them entirely.

    I agree to some extend, that Flamini might be a good player for Liverpool. But as a supplement to Mascherano, not a replacement. Mascherano brings so much more than his skills as a holding midfielder to the plate.

    His winning mentality is unrivaled and his energy and workrate sparks the entire team. You won't see these things in Flamini. You won't see Flamini huddling up the defense or midfield and making a battle speach before an important match like Mascherano sometimes does.

    I think the same point applies to Hleb. He could provide some cover on the wing, but not a replacement.

    The purchase of Glen Johson has made the right side much more potent, as he is far better going forward than Arbeloa. Combine this with Kuyts space making workrate, and you've got a fairly good pairing on the right.

    And anyway, Hleb doesn't provide anything that we don't already have in Benayoun.

  74. @Anon - I have never called for Rafa to be sacked. Please provide a link to the article where I've said that. I've made no secret of the fact I am not a fan of Rafa, but I've never called for him to be sacked.

    I don't have a problem with Masch but at the time he was signed, I thought £17m for a defensive mid *at that time* was too much. He is a good player but when the defensive midfielder who offers nothing creatively starts to become your most important player, then something is seriously wrong.

    Liverpool would survive *easily* without Mascherano! Defence has never been a problem for the club under Houllier or Rafa - creativity and flair is the problem.

    Mascherano could be replaced with another defensive mid who could do the job just as well. And this myth that Masch is 'the best defensive mid in the world; is just that: myth.

    Last season was littlered with mistakes from him, some of them crucial, lile CL games against Arsenal. Masch is not irreplaceable. There was life before him you know; there will be life after him too.

  75. Allan,

    You're entitled to your view but again I disagree with you. I believe Flamini could *easily* replace Mascherano: he is combative; energetic; technically superior; has a wider range of passing and is headstrong, but in a good way. If he's good enough for Arsenal and Milan, he's good enough for us.

    And let's please dispell the ridiculous myth that Flamini hasn't made it at Milan: In the entire squad, Only 3 players made more appearances than him last season: Kaka (31); Pato (36); and Zambrotta (34).

    Flamini was one of Milan's most influential players. However, Gattuso will be fully fit next season, which means Flamini could be tempted away.

    Re Hleb - Again I disagree. Kuyt and Mascherano epitomise the Benitez style of play: Prioritising defence, work rate and 'playing it safe' over skill, creativity and individualism.

    Kuyt has a role to play but irrespective of Glen Johnson's arrival, he is ot the answer to our right wing/midfield conundrum for an entire season. Hleb could play there and in other attacking positions. Hleb is more skillfull and more mobile than both Kuyt and Benayoun and he will offer more of an *overall* creative threat than both players.

    I'm don't care if he doesn't score bags of goals; I want Hleb for his creativity; game intelligence; short-passing game and his ability to retain possession and keep the ball moving forward.

  76. I should not that the figures for Flamini I cite above are serie A only.

    In all competitions last season it the same: Only Jankulovski, Seedorf and Zambrotta made more appearances for Milan.

    Yes, so much for not making it/establishing himself at Milan.

    Really, certain people on this thread spout so much inaccurate nonsense. It's quite amusing really.

  77. Again you fail to give Mascherano credit for his mental and inspirational abilities. He is very much a part of the winning mentality that brought so many points in the last 10 minutes last season. The crativity in midfield is what Alonso is for.

    The problem with breaking down the lesser teams has been the wings as I see it, not creativity in the middle. Now with Johnson we have more firepower on the right. Benayoun stepped up late in the season and provided unpredictability. I fail to see how Hleb (currently called Dribbly McNogoal by Arsenal supporters) is better that him in any way shape or form?

    Also remember, that a fit Daniel Agger will provide additional pressure in the middle against the "park the bus" teams.

    Lastly, we KNOW that Mascheranog+Alonso in the middle works as a very good balanced unit. I will take that any day of the week over Flamini who MIGHT work.

  78. Allan - Please provide specific examples of Mascherano's alleged 'mental and inspirational abilities' and how these affect the team.

    What I've seen re this is Mascherano lose his discipline on more than one occasion, the most notable incident being his sending off at Man U.
    He is also prone to lapses of concentration (Arsenal CL last year being the prime example).

    People on this thread are basically saying that Masch is irreplaceable etc but I see not concrete evidence for this. In fact, I see evidence of the opposite:

    14.04.2009: Chelsea 4 - 4 Liverpool

    21.04.2009: Liverpool 4 - 4 Arsenal

    Two of the biggest games of the season - what happened to Mascherano's supposed defensive prowess?

    The mistakes he made in these games/lack of defensive cover contributed directly to Liverpool being knocked out the CL and losing their grip on the title.

    When the pressure was on, the 'best defensive mid in the world' didn't defend.

    Could Flamini do any worse? I think not.

  79. right flamini is behind abbiati 28app zambrotta33 jankulovski31 maldini30 seedorf30 kaka28 pato27 pirlo26 ambrosini24 flamini22 beckham18 from half the season.
    In case you haven't seen hes behind 4 midfielders in apperances thats because you midfield marvel played last season either on the bench or at right-back

    Hleb started 5 games last season 5 thats less that perrenial sub babel starts.

    your idea of improving liverpool champioship winning side is to tear apart the midfield and replace it with a benchwarmer and a rightback

    hleb scored 11 goals in 3 years kuyt will score more than that every season. and comparing hlebs goal tally to alonso, hleb is an attacking midfielder alonso is a defensive midfielder why are you comparing them oh carragher has only scored 5 goals in 10 years he is terrible?

    mascherano is the best holding midfielder in the world he dont need him to have creativity because he have alonso
    mascherano-alonso-gerrard = destroyer-passer-runner = toure-xavi-iniesta
    its the best formula for a midfield if it works for barca I think it'll do for us

  80. @Anon - your figures are completely and utterly wrong.

    Appearances in all competitions 2008-09:

    Zambrotta - 40
    Seedorf - 40
    Jankulovski - 37
    FLAMINI - 36
    Pato - 36
    Kaka 35

    Inzaghi - 32
    Maldini - 32

    Milan statistics 2008-09

    At least make an effort to get it right.

  81. Yikalo Yohannes4:26 pm, July 10, 2009

    u do understand their is more to the game than creativity, right?

  82. Really? Jeez, I didn't know that. Thank you so much for educating me.

  83. why dont u think that defense is not very important, really, there isnt anything wrong with spending a lot of money on a defensive player, they are just as important, if not more important, than offensive players

  84. Jaimie, I remember you saying somewhere among your comments that Kuyt wouldn't play starting right wing for any of the other teams. Well, I beg to differ. He starts as right forward for one of Europe's best teams (one which thrashed both Italy and France in Euro 2008) - the Netherlands. The Dutch play a 4-3-3 with Kuyt on the right.

  85. the players that liverpool should get rid of first and foremost is lucas, coudln't score couldn't pass couldn't tackle couldn't do anything. after that will be whoever that wants to go be it alonso(gone), mascherano etc. after that riera(not up to the standard of the club, not consistent), get silva as replacement or cappel from sevilla maybe. should took arshavin really but its gone. the one man who could bring the premiership to anfield is henry if he wants to come. for midfield hardman since aquilani is the creative one, steven defour or christian poulsen.