Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Ibrahim Afellay, Mauro Zarate Coming in on Loan?
With Sebastian Coates as good as signed, Liverpool have now turned their attention to adding reinforcements to their attacking options. Rumours have been swirling over the last week or so that ex-Reds Craig Bellamy and Yossi Benayoun may be returning to the club.
As things stand Bellamy seems to have a choice between Liverpool and Tottenham, and Benayoun's options are rumoured to be Liverpool and Lille. Both players are rumoured to be available on free transfers and would therefore represent decent signings. Personally, I would be very pleased with both signings as I believe they would add to the current squad.
The negatives about both are that they are the wrong side of 30, and neither looks good enough to break into the current starting 11 so they would likely be coming to the club as reserves. While they are, unquestionably, quality players and both are rumoured to be willing to take a paycut to join the Reds, they would still likely command something in the region of £50,000 a week.
Liverpool's owners, John W. Henry and Tom Werner, along with director of football Damien Comolli and manager Kenny Dalglish, have thus far shown a reluctance to sign older players and seem to be looking to build for the future. Using that logic, Bellamy and Benayoun do not seem like the ideal signings to suit the current transfer strategy.
With that in mind, it does seem likely that the club may also explore other options as Comolli, in particular, likes to have multiple options when making a decision on what players to bring to the club. Sports Illustrated senior football editor Jen Chang has posted two interesting rumours on his Twitter account in the last few days that may hint that the Reds are in fact exploring other options.
Firstly he states that Liverpool may renew their interest in Barcelona's Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay. He says that Barca are reluctant to sell but may consider a loan move. Liverpool have been linked with Afellay already this summer and were believed to be in the race to sign him last January before he moved to the Catalan giants.
A move for Afellay would make sense. He is a talented and versatile player capable of playing on both wings or in a central role. A year on loan with a view to a permanent deal would likely suit Liverpool at the moment.
The second, and in my view more interesting, rumour concerned rumoured contact between Liverpool and Italian club Lazio over a loan move for Argentine striker Mauro Zarate, who was last week linked to Arsenal and is a player Liverpool have been linked to continuously for almost three years.
Zarate has Premier League experience having spent six months at Birmingham during the 2007/2008 season. While he unable to save Brum from relegation, he did turn in a number of excellent displays despite being underused at the Midlands club. Four goals and three assists was a good return from just seven starts in a struggling side staffed with mediocre players.
Zarate has been at Lazio for three seasons now, and in two of those seasons he has been fantastic. Last season he was one of the very best players in the league just as he was in his first season with the Biancocelesti.
A gifted player capable of scoring and creating goals at will, his greatest strength is his fantastic dribbling skill. Blessed with quick feet, good strength and incredible balance, Zarate is capable of weaving his way through three or four defenders in a confined space.
Lazio have said in recent days that Zarate would not be loaned out, but according to reports in the Italian press that was merely a ploy to force Arsenal into making a bid and spending some of their newfound riches following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
In my opinion, a loan move for Zarate would make a lot of sense for Liverpool. I think his style of play would work perfectly in tandem with Luis Suarez. Their combined abilities and potential would frighten many defences and the pairing of "El Pistelero" and "The Zarate Kid" could be the spark that turns Liverpool from top-four contenders into title contenders.
Of course it is possible that there may be no truth to either of these rumours, but I do think we will see at least two more arrivals at Liverpool this summer. It's going to be an interesting couple of days.
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POST PUBLICATION UPDATE: Zarate's agent has confirmed that we have made an approach according to reports in multiple Italian newspapers on 30/08/2011. Will update when I know more.
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