Lucky number seven?
Skysports.com looks at the positive arguments of England playmaker Joe Cole's arrival at Liverpool.
Last Updated: 19/07/10 11:01pm
Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley or Harry Kewell and Robbie Keane. Who will Joe Cole follow?
It is understood that Liverpool's most recent signing will be handed the club's famous No.7 shirt if he passes a medical in the next couple of days to rubberstamp his four-year deal.
Wearing a jersey bearing such distinction is an honour based upon ability, but it also comes with a pressure and weight of expectation to meet a set of standards both on and off the pitch.
Keegan and Dalglish made Liverpool's No.7 famous, while Beardsley followed in the mould. But others, Kewell and Keane, failed through a combination of factors.
How will former Chelsea star Cole cope? Here skysports.com looks at the positive arguments of the England playmaker's arrival on Merseyside.
Cole will provide Liverpool with an obvious solution to the left-hand side of their midfield, which emerged as a problem position during the last season. Maxi Rodriguez, Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Ryan Babel all filled the role, but failed to make it their own. Maxi was adapting to life in the Premier League, Benayoun has joined Chelsea, Riera still seems to be on his way out of the club after a fallout with former manager Rafa Benitez, and Babel prefers to play in attack. Cole will settle immediately on the left, with vast experience for club and country, and his arrival will help the sale of Riera, while Maxi and Babel can play in preferred positions elsewhere on the pitch. Cole can also operate centrally or on the right and could offer a different option behind Fernando Torres to give flexibility to Steven Gerrard.
Value for money?
There is an obvious reason why the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, AC Milan and Valencia showed interest in multi-talented free agent Cole, 28, but did not attempt to force a deal - money. Reports suggest that Cole's agreement with Liverpool is worth in the region of £90,000 a week and a significant signing on fee, which other clubs were not prepared to meet. Unquestionably, that is a lot of money for a player who has struggled with injuries and could not force a regular place in Chelsea's 2009/10 first team. However, taking into account the spare cash from the undisclosed sale of Benayoun, worth an estimated £5.5million, and the loss of the 30-year-old Israeli's wages, it looks a shrewd swap that sees Liverpool gain a younger, more talented player.
With Uefa rules on homegrown players in mind, Cole's signing helps to meet quotas at Anfield. But it also sends an important message to fans. Merseysiders became disillusioned by the barrage of foreigners who arrived without impact under Benitez. However, Cole represents a player who has a point to prove after the disappointing end at Chelsea and the failure of the 2010 World Cup; a player who is accustomed to the rough and tumble of the Premier League; and one who will be entirely committed to the challenge of restoring faith. It is easy to imagine Cole banging his chest in front of The Kop next season in a 'You'll Never Walk Alone' gesture that will be essential after the difficulties of the last campaign. From a commercial point of view, Cole is also a player who excites. Liverpool followers will be clamouring to buy new shirts with name and number prints, which generates profits and makes Anfield more attractive to prospective new owners.
A message to you, Stevie
Speculation has not stopped about Liverpool captain Gerrard this summer and manager Roy Hodgson has confessed that he is having to work hard to convince 'disenchanted' stars that they have a future at Anfield. Gerrard, though, will certainly view England squad-mate Cole as a superb signing after watching the playmaker in close quarters for several years for club and country. It will also be hoped that Chelsea-target Torres considers the deal as a step in the right direction. Vice-captain Jamie Carragher should be suitably impressed, having played in a defence that has conceded four goals to his new club colleague over the years.
Liverpool now seem well covered in midfield. Milan Jovanovic has arrived and Joe Cole is definitely a man to open defences and bring that bit of craft that was missing last season. Hodgson's next task is to identify a left-back following the departures of injury-prone Fabio Aurelio and the hapless Emiliano Insua. Paul Konchesky, who Hodgson knows from Fulham, and Wigan's Maynor Figueroa have emerged as the rumoured, prime targets and it remains to be seen who will be the next arrival.
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