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£3.5m: Not Enough For Alvaro Arbeloa

£3.5 million for Arvalro Arbeloa? That’s all? Seriously?

I mean, I know that’s probably what his services are worth but that’s not the issue. When Real Madrid have their checkbook out and are licking the tip of their bottomless ballpoint pen there is no call to stop at £3.5 million. Real have made the market insane and now they want to go back to normal prices? I’m sorry. No. Why be reasonable?

3 Reasons Liverpool Should Have Held Out for More:

1.) Andrea Dossena:

Liverpool paid £7m for Dossena. This was their record defensive transfer fee prior to buying Glen Johnson. By midyear Dossena’s defensive prowess looked about as reliable as a hand-woven condom. Fabio Aurelio and Emmanuel Insua—far cheaper options—quickly shot above him in the pecking order. Sure, we’ll always remember Dossena’s two sweet goals against massive clubs (Real and Manchester United) but these didn’t change anything, both coming in the closing minutes of matches Liverpool were already winning. And since he did little else, we could say those goals cost £3.5m each.

Point is: Dossena had been unproven in the Premier League and cost £7m. So Arbeloa, who’s been a better player and a regular Premier League starter and has gotten better each year, should fetch at least as much. Arbeloa made 41 appearances in Liverpool’s best season in nearly two decades. He was an integral part of the system. That must be worth an extra 3 or 4 million.

2.) Philipp Degen:

With Arbeloa gone, Degen is Liverpool’s remaining senior out-and-out right-back. I swear I forgot he was still a Liverpool player until I saw him loping up and down the field in the recent friendly against Singapore. If memory serves: Degen broke two ribs, punctured a lung and broke his metatarsal while signing his contract with Liverpool. He missed just about all of last year.

It’s hard to imagine someone enjoying less pitch time in a season than Antonio Nunez, but Degen pulled it off. Rafa had hailed Degan as “an offensive player with great energy” when the injury-prone full-back came to Anfield. “His strength is going forward,” said Rafa. In his few performeances, Degen’s shown as much convincing attacking intent as Switzerland during the second World War. I’d trust any other Liverpool player over Degen as back-up right-back including Andriy Voronin. (Yes, that’s right: I dropped the V-Bomb—I’ve never asked The Gaffer if it’s ok to drop obscenities on EPL Talk… from now on I’ll refer to him as Andriy V*****n just to be safe.)

Granted, Degen’s injuries have prevented him from showing his stuff. But that’s the point. There’s no question Arbeloa could provide back-up for Johnson whenever needed. Degen remains unproven. This should have been used to raise the price. It’s like Liverpool are on a long car trip and Real just bought their spare tire. Onlyonly they paid what the tire is worth. No, in that situation Real should be paying for the inconvenience of Liverpool having to drive without a spare. Again: around £7m sounds fair to me.

3.) Cristiano Ronaldo:

Real paid £80m for Ronaldo. This is what he cost. This is not what he is worth. Before United supporters jump on this statement like a pack of rabid libel lawyers, let me explain…

Obviously, Ronaldo is going to be the most expensive player on the market (at least until Lionel Messi wants a change of scenery). I’m not arguing that he should fetch big money. But his price tag was beyond absurd. The previous record involving the English market was £34m for Robinho. The Ronaldo move more than doubled this. The only reason for such a jump was Real needed to shell out massive cash to pry him away from United. This wasn’t the worth of his abilities. This was the cost of his departure.

The value of prying Arbeloa away from Liverpool should have been higher. He’s a proven Premier League right-back who can also cover as a centre-back or left-back. For a side with title ambitions, that kind of versatility in a squad player would have made him indispensable. Yet Liverpool dispensed with him for a mere £3.5.

I don’t approve of the insane cash Real have put toward Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema, but I accept the inevibility of this trend. Real will spend and spend until they feel they can wrest the title from Barcelona. Business pragmatism is nowhere in sight. So why couldn’t Liverpool get more out of this deal?

There are two answers: 1.) Glen Johnson was already a Red. 2.) Arbeloa clearly wanted to go back to Spain.

If Liverpool had sold Arbeloa before the Johnson deal, they would have been in a position to let Real pry him away offering more cash. Liverpool could have held out. But with Johnson in place, convincing Real that Arbeloa was an essential cog in the machine became impossible. Like when your neighbor asks what you are doing with your old television now that you’ve bought a giant plasma flatscreen. What can you say?

And with Arbeloa making his desire to go back to Spain so obvious, it got a lot harder to haggle. It’s like walking into a new house, screaming “Oh my God! I love it!” and then trying to convince the real estate agent you need to sleep on the decision. It’s never going to work.

And yes: I like Arbeloa. I like him at Anfield. I get selfish in these moments. I know he’ll be happier in Spain than on the Liverpool bench. But I also had a vision of Liverpool using versatile players (like Arbeloa, Kuyt and Gerrard) to simulate the depth they need. Player that can play in multiple positions. Arbeloa is like three for the price of one. He wouldn’t start as often, but he’d be there when they needed him. Now they’ve lost a back-up right-back, centre-back and left-back in one move. He may not be worth more than £3.5m to Real, but he’s definitely worth £7-10m to Liverpool.

The only consolation is there’s no mention of a package deal where Xabi Al0nso goes to Real as well. I’m hoping this is a sign that Alonso is staying at Anfield.

Hell, if Real really wanted to sweeten the Arbeloa deal, they could offer to take Andriy V*****n away as well. Since I value V*****n at about -£4, taking him off Liverpool’s hands would cancel out my entire argument.

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  1. Matt

    August 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I agree that Arbeloa went for too little. But the bargaining chips were a little skewed due to his contract running out in a year.

    Alonso will likely be sold for around 30 Million this week. Liverpool are rumored to already have Aquilani in the pipeline if Alonso is in fact sold. There are also rumors of Van der Vaart, Negredo, and Huntelaar being offered as bargaining chips to cheapen the Alonso cost. But the real key is to not budge on Mascherano. As greatly as Alonso has been the last season, I am far more comfortable losing him over Masch. Liverpool can not lose Masch at any costs if they want to make a title run.

  2. Alex Smith

    July 31, 2009 at 8:29 am

    I really agree with the article, I was having this conversation with a colleague yesterday.

    Can’t really fathom why Liverpool undervalue him so much, you would think that it would be in their best interests not to? Which leads me to think that there may be some other clauses involved?

    Who knows, possibly a fantastic bit of business from the Real side of things.

  3. Akers

    July 31, 2009 at 6:01 am

    £3.5M is all he is worth. Why should you get more for your second choice right-back and what the hell has Cristiano Ronaldo got to do with this?

    Sorry, but this is just a bias rant.

  4. CA_backpacker

    July 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Meh, so he can go sit on the bench at Real? The grass is always greener Arbeloa…

  5. Lyle

    July 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    You guys still have Degen the Swiss player. Maybe he will step up this year.

  6. DaveMo

    July 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Jeff C. nailed it. Rafa knows that Xabi was about to hand in a transfer request (he lost that battle last summer when he tried to sell him on to fund the Gareth Barry acquisition), but Xabi was great in 08-09, and Rafa needs to save face – make it look like he at least drove a hard bargain. So he says to Real “just take £3.5m off the Arbeloa deal and add it to the Alonso offer you make me next week”.

  7. Sudonihm

    July 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Can you write on anything other than Liverpool? I use to enjoy coming to this site, but now it’s like going to a Liverpool supporters site. Thanks for ruining a good site.

  8. Tyson

    July 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Well what do you want Liverpool to do if a player wants to leave he will eventually.

    Arbeola wanted to leave so Liverpool got whatever they could for him and its probably going to be the same situation with Alonso who is also leaving. I think Alonso will fetch a decent price but not what Liverpool want.

    Now its all eyes on Mascherano.

  9. Ned

    July 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I think Rafa takes players like Voronin and Degan because they are free transfers and he thinks that after a year we can make some money by selling them. Problem was Degan was injured for the whole year and nobody has wanted Voronin yet for the price we want for him. But it’s good business and Rafa rarely loses money on players he buys, unlike Rick Parry who was the worst businessman on planet Earth.

  10. lynyrd cohen

    July 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    alonso handed in his transfer request. looks like rafa is not only bad at transfers, but the players hate him to! and lol at thinking degen is some kind of viable option, i doubt there was a single dortmund fan who wasn’t laughing their arse off at rafa actually picking up that worthless pile.

  11. John

    July 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

    “With Arbeloa gone, Degen is Liverpool’s remaining senior out-and-out right-back.”

    You seem to have forgotten about Glen Johnson.

    In Rafa’s 4-2-3-1 it’s essential for Liverpool’s right-backs to get forward and create width. This is especially important on the right side with Kuyt. Neither Degen nor Johnson are “out and out” right backs, but Johnson is closer than Degen. Both of them and Carragher can play in that right back slot.

    • Ethan Armstrong

      July 31, 2009 at 8:32 am


      I meant as a back-up. I should have been more clear. My mistake. Johnson is the ovbious starting choice.

      Carragher spent a lot of time as a full-back when he was younger, but no longer has quite the same pace. He did the job well enough when he has to these past couple seasons, but isn’t top choice for cover.

  12. Jeff C.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I actually wondered if there was an unannounced package deal involved here, with Liverpool accepting a lower price for Arbeloa in exchange for RM coming closer to Liverpool’s valuation for Alonso. I guess we’ll see soon. Very upset about Alonso’s transfer request.

  13. Buck

    July 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I agree with you. The problem was that Arbeloa only had one year left on his contract and wanted to leave, which leaves us with very little power to demand more than what we got for him. Although we did sell him for more than we paid for him, and also got a few years of good service out of him. So it’s not all bad. But why Real don’t want to pay our price for Alonso is what really makes me mad. We should do a big nose Ferguson and not let him leave unless they pay stupid money for him as he still has 3 years left on his contract.

    • wllmhll

      July 30, 2009 at 10:41 am

      ah. ive been wondering why liverpool let him go so cheaply – he had a year left on his contract.

    • T-Bull

      July 30, 2009 at 12:01 pm

      I Don’t think anyone alse will exit Anfield this summer. Think back to the WBA game in week 35, remember Carra hitting him for the goal Liverpool ALMOST shipped (late in the match with Liverpool up 0-2 ), maybe he was not well liked in the locker room ?

      plus year left on his deal ,and Dossena improved quite a bit in the second half, Glen Johnson is world class, and there is an abundance of talent in the back. All in all he is a good player, but I don’t see the Reds missing him.

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