Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov scored 43 goals between them at Tottenham Hotspur last season in one of the league's most potent pairings. The northern summer of 2008 saw the pair both leave White Hart Lane for new, very different surroundings.
Robbie Keane signed for Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy, in July 2008, for £19 million. He made his competitive debut against Standard Liege in the Champions League and began to develop what looked to be a good understanding with Fernando Torres, before the Spaniard returned from international duty with a hamstring injury.
It took 11 games in all competitions for Robbie to break his scoring duck, with the goal coming in the Champions League game against PSV, this saw his trademark cartwheel celebration for the first time at Anfield in a red shirt.
League goals proved harder to come by, and it wasn't until his 12th league game appearance that he managed to put two in the West Brom net.
Cost: £19 million
Minutes in League: 797
League Goals: 2
League Assists: 3
Minutes in Champions League: 204
Champions League Goals: 2
Champions League Assists: 0
Berbatov signed for Manchester United at the end of the summer transfer window, despite Manchester City's attempts to hijack the deal. Costing £30.75 million, the Bulgarian joined the champion's already impressive attacking talents of Rooney, Ronaldo, and Tevez.
He made his debut against Liverpool at Anfield in a 2-1 loss, although he did set up Carlos Tevez for the opening goal. He scored his first goals for his new club against Aalborg BK in the Champions League, and his first League goal in a win against West Bromwich Albion.
Cost: £30.75 million
Minutes in League: 836
League Goals: 1
League Assists: 6
Minutes in Champions League: 194
Champions League Goals: 4
Champions League Assists: 0
Who Was Better Value?
From the above stats, we can determine that Keane has cost Liverpool £18,981 per minute on the pitch compared to Berbatov, who has cost £29,854 per minute.
Keane's goals have come at an average of one every 199 minutes and 15 seconds, costing £3,781,964 per goal. With Dimitar's at a rate of 206 minutes per goal, each costing £6,149,924.
Much was made of Keane's age when Liverpool announced his signing, with many fans and pundits feeling that £19 million was too much for a 28-year-old. Berbatov though, is only just over six months younger, and cost approximately 50 percent more than the Irishman.
Though the Bulgarian has scored more than his former teammate, Keane's goal-per-minute ratio is better than that of his counterpart by seven minutes. Keane has also played as predominantly a lone striker, though Kuyt has partnered him on occasion. This is a role that many feel Keane does not excel at, preferring to see him play off another striker, as he did with Berbatov at White Hart Lane.
Of course, the above stats aren’t conclusive, and they don’t take all factors into consideration. At a quick glance, one would assume that Berbatov had made a more impressive start to his Old Trafford career than Keane has with his Anfield one. As a Liverpool supporter, I am obviously going to favour Keane in this article.
But I honestly think that Keane has been more beneficial to the Liverpool side than Berbatov has to Manchester United. For starters, we're equal top, six points clear of third place, whilst Manchester United are currently sat in fourth, eight points behind with a game in hand.
There has also been less disruption to the team makeup, though Liverpool has been assisted in this regard by the injury of Torres. We don't have a £30 million striker warming our bench, and though I don't doubt Rafa would love someone of Tevez's class to bring off the bench, he also doesn’t have to worry about him leaving in January.
With Keane, according to Rafa, having got the monkey off his back, and also being able to reunite with strike partner Torres, the coming weeks will hopefully see a run of Keane goals. While no one has doubted his work rate or commitment to the Liverpool cause, there has been a lack of cartwheels at Anfield, and I, along with many Liverpool supporters, will be hoping to see more.
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