11 Oct 2013

Confirmed: LFC 'wanted' to sign coveted €18m France star. Another big loss...?

In his time at Anfield, former manager Rafa Benitez tried and failed to sign Dani Alves, Stevan Jovetic, and several other promising players before they went on to become major stars. Missing out on players of that quality has definitely had an impact on Liverpool's progress over the years, and it now transpires that the Reds missed out on yet another quality player during Benitez's reign.

Speaking to reporters this week, agent Frederic Guerra claimed:

"This summer I met [Napoli sporting director] Riccardo Bigon a couple of times to talk about [Maxime] Gonalons but then nothing more.

"Benitez already wanted Gonalons during his time as coach of Liverpool."

€18m-rated Gonalons - a defensive midfielder and captain of Lyon - is heavily linked with a move to Napoli at the moment, and if he'd signed for Liverpool during Benitez's reign, he would've been great back-up for Lucas Leiva.

In November, whilst still at Chelsea, Benitez claimed that he tried to bring Eden Hazard to Liverpool. He told reporters:

"Eden Hazard, we wanted him at Liverpool. We couldn't sign him. In our list, maybe he was here [top] but we have to go for this one [lower down].

Hazard at Liverpool? That would've been one hell of a signing, but the 21-year Belgian would've, perhaps, been too young during Benitez's Anfield reign, and probably made the right decision to stay at Lille and develop his game.

I doubt the transfer even got to the negotiation stage though; Liverpool were probably priced out of any deal, and given the money Benitez wasted in his last two seasons at Anfield (not to mention throughout his entire tenure), it's no surprise the board put the stoppers on any further big-money transfers.

Benitez also claimed recently that he tried to bring Arsenal star Santi Cazorla to Anfield. He told The Mirror:

"It wasn’t possible to sign him [Cazorla] because it was a big risk with the amount of money we [LFC] had to spend. The chairman there [at Villareal] didn’t want to lose one of his best players. We knew he could be a great player, but we could not afford him"

Cazorla cost Arsenal £16m last summer, and since arriving at the Emirates, the Spanish international has become an integral part of Arsene Wenger's team..

In his book 'Champions League Dreams', Benitez revealed that he was blocked from buying at least three players that he feels would've helped Liverpool improve over the 2008-9 season. He explained:

"We knew we would need cover and support for Fernando Torres. The player we identified to fill that role was Stevan Jovetic. [We also] identified Sylvain Distin, and West Ham’s Matthew Upson. Signing one of those two, plus the tall, powerful, intelligent Jovetic, would have given Liverpool the squad we needed to build on the previous year’s title challenge, when we had run Manchester United so close".

Wishful thinking in the extreme. Even if Liverpool had signed Jovetic and, say, Distin, it's highly unlikely those two would've been enough to change the course of the 2009-10 season. In 2009, Jovetic was only 19 (!) and would've probably needed time to adjust to the league; and Distin, whilst a good player, is not going to transform a team into Premier League champions.

Unfortunately, Liverpool can only dream of signing players of Hazard/Jovetic's quality at the moment, but when the club gets back into the Champions League - and it WILL happen over the next two years - players like that will once again grace the Anfield turf.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. If and when we do get Champions league back I'm looking forward to hearing players come out with the "I've always dreamed of playing for Liverpool" speech.

  2. Ah Mr Benitez!

    Memories... that 08-09 season was the 1st time I saw Liverpool challenge. That was such a change.

    Benitez wasted a lot of money but if it wasn't for Parry we might have gotten Aguero, Alves, Simao etc...

  3. We were only 4 points off winning weren't we. If Benitez had been allowed to sign some of the players mentioned, could some of those players made a 4-5 point difference? I think so.
    Jovetic instead of Keane? I think Jovetic is the better player and probably was better then.
    I really do think Benitez could have won the league that season had he been allowed to sign who he wanted. Wasn't the Keane signing more to do with Parry wanting him?

  4. It wasn't the signings. It was drawing 4 games in the run up which we could have won or at least tried to win which cost us. Sure, we remained largely unbeaten, but if we had gone for those games and only won half of the four and lost the others, we would have put pressure on Man U.
    In fact win 2 draw one and lose one of those 4 would have given us the title.
    It was Rafa's caution which lost it in the end...

  5. Backup for Lucas? Gonalons would walk all over Lucas, dance circles around him and make him cry and all that with his legs tied together. I love how Benitez always moans about the lack of funding at Liverpool. The summers he's referring to are the summers he decided that 1. He didn't need Alonso 2. Spent 19 million on Keane 3. a combined 20 million on Cavalieri, nGog, Riera and Dossena 4. 35 million on Aquilani and Johnson. If he wanted those players he should have invested in his first team and not reserves. If he wanted those players he should have bought them in stead of the ones he did for nearly 20 million. Jovetic, Hazard and Gonalons were only kids back then. They wouldn't have cost more than the players we ended up buying and there would have been plenty left for Cazorla. It's all easy to blame others now but he bought those players because when he had to make choices, he chose to buy them and not the ones he is claiming he wanted now.

  6. The Parry wanted Keane thing is a load of rubbish brought into the world by internet fans who couldn't accept Benitez could get anything wrong. It was never proven. By anyone nor was it ever claimed by Parry, Benitez or anyone else involved with the club.

  7. I still don't know why we sold Keane, I know he was not banging in the goals like Torres but he was a good option and still scored 5 goals for us. During that 08-09 season Torres was injured a lot.

    Poor management.

  8. Even if LFC had signed then young players like Jovetic, Cazorla or even Hazard, they may have well faded into obscurity by now. Seriously, LFC has not been great in grooming young players into top class players since RB era. The only one I could picked from the list of 59 players bought by RB is Daniel Agger, who was actually quite a good young player before he came to LFC and maybe, Lucas Leiva, who was called up to the senior Brazilian squad by end of 2006, before he came to LFC actually. RB doesn't look like a manager that is willing to give playing time to young players. I can safely say that he is always looking to buy instant success. He should coach a club like Chelsea, Man City, PSG or Monaco, clubs that has endless pile of cash waiting to be spent.

    Say that I'm a pessimist. I'm not too confident with the present batch of potential young players at LFC either. How many of them can raise above the rest and become a first team regular for LFC is a big question mark. Though BR is already giving many young players playing time compared to the previous managers in RB, RH and KD. Anyway, talking about KD, it's really good to see him back in LFC. He will always be an iconic figure for the club despite of the catastrophic second appointment as manager.

    It's a real good thing to see LFC positioning nicely in the league table after 7 games. Who knows, this might be the year to see LFC qualify for the Champions League again.

  9. Kevin Francisco Mambela Mbela1:03 pm, October 11, 2013

    I have to agree with you i am a new Liverpool supporter only started supporting the team in 2004. But that season gave me the best memories of Liverpool i have to say teams were scared to play against us. Beating a very strong Man untd team at old trafford was just awesome. GOOD Times

  10. I do agree to some extent with regards to Benitez not choosing younger players, but I think he genuinely believed they weren't good enough. At Inter Milan he had Coutinho playing in champions league games, Ngog was playing in Champions league games and Aimar was in champions league games all the time too.

  11. IMO very few of the current crop of young players will make it.

    Sterling is overrated in my opinion, needs a good loan.

    Looking forward for Suso to come back next season, he is laying really well at the moment in La Liga.

  12. That's standard though - Does every United or Arsenal kid make it? The majority of youngsters never see the first team.

    Sterling may be overrated but at least he has established himself and is getting somewhat regular game time. Surely he will develop and the minimum expectation would be that he will become a decent squad player.

    I think we hype up our kids too much. I'd love to see Morgan, Rossiter, Dunn, Coady amongst others establish themselves in the first team. That would be awesome, but the reality is that the vast majority of young teamers never even see the first team, for every club, not just ours.

  13. Very true, I agree.

  14. Fair enough, most local kids from various age groups don't make it to the first team, practically same for every club. That's very true.

    So I hope LFC no longer spend big on young players and send them straight into the reserve/u21/bench. After a couple of seasons, sell them and make considerable losses. I suppose that is nothing new to us. Talking about astuteness in player identification, purchasing and development, LFC's managers are/were miles adrift of Arsenal's Arsene Wenger. But again, no one else in the entire EPL is half as close to what he's capable of. Alex Ferguson used to churn out good British players with ease. Maybe the entry of Roman Abramovich into EPL changes the entire landscape of British football. Since then, most big clubs rely less on developing young players but turn to buying instant success instead.

  15. All managers sign players that flop. didnt Fergie do the same? Didnt Kenny do the same? Roy Hodgson? No one does it on purpose.

    One should also remember that it was benitez who signed Torres (50million received) Alonso (25 million received). Not to mention that Agger, Skirel, Leiva, Johnson, Sterling and until recently Reina - all who are or were integral to the team.

  16. Benitez signed one of the most promising players when Ryan Babel arrived at Anfield and was hailed as the next Terry Henry. Unfortunately Babel did not make it under Rafa so there is nothing that suggests that a player as young as Jovetic would have thrived under Benitez. Not many young players did.