Media Myths: Rafa Benitez and His Transfer History With Liverpool Football Club

Jamie WardSenior Analyst IMarch 27, 2009

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 03:  Rafael Benitez, the manager of Liverpool, faces the media during a Liverpool press conference held at Anfield on November 3, 2008 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Myth: "fable, fiction, lie; a widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief." 

There appears to be a trend growing amongst media outlets, “expert” pundits, and rival supporters who strive to ensure a negative air surrounds Liverpool Football Club and more commonly its manager, Rafa Benitez.

It seems he can do no right in the eyes of some people—his own supporters included—and more false claims appear every week that serve only to derail him from his quest of rebuilding Liverpool Football Club.

As more and more newspapers churn out sensational headline after headline and "expert" television pundits spout opinion as fact; the more people are brainwashed by these stories and the further from reality a situation will get.

Many lazy debaters claim their opinion to be a pragmatic truth whilst they simply recycle misleading newspaper propaganda as their own knowledge or belief.

Biased supporters who choose to jump on the slander bandwagon when it involves a rival team are common place, and this only adds to the ever-growing ideology of a story perceived as fact.


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Ideology: “a system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant group of a society to all members of this society.”

“Organizations that strive for power will try to influence the ideology of a society to become closer to what they want it to be. Organizations and other groups (e.g. Media Outlets) try to influence people by broadcasting their opinions.”

One such myth which seems to have appeared recently has been the same tired line about Rafa Benitez and his transfers since his time at Liverpool.

You will hear people claiming things like:

A larger proportion of Rafa's signings have been expensive and poor.

This does of course depend on how a person interprets the words expensive and poor—the latter obviously being down to their personal opinion of a player.

If someone wants to use the barometer of anything over a million pounds to be expensive and any player other than Messi or Ronaldo is considered poor; then anyone will struggle to argue against that logic—me included.

We can easily address the “expensive” part of this particular argument:

(Numbers in brackets are players still at the club)

£20+ million: 1 (1)


£15-20 million: 2 (1)

Mascherano, Keane

£10-15 million: 2 (2)

Babel, Alonso

£5-10 million: 14 (9)

Dossenna, Riera, Agger, Skrtel, Reina, Benayoun, Leiva, Kuyt, Pennant, Crouch, Bellamy, Sissoko, Morientes, Garcia

£0-5 million: 47 (36)

Degan, Cavelieri, Ngog, Plessis, Insua, Leto, Itandje, Voronin, Arbeloa, El Zhar, Aurelio, Palletta, Fowler, Kromkamp, Barragan, Nunez, Zenden, Gonzalez, Carson, Pellegrino, Josemi, Martin, Antwi, Hobbs, Miki Roque, Gulacsi, Padelli, Anderson, Poloskei, Crowther, Hansen, Saric, Ayala, Weijl, Blanco, Flora, Mendy, Ajdarevic, Simon, Bouzanis, Nemeth, Pacheco, Palsson, Brouwer, Durán, Huth, Domínguez.

It is easy to see that the majority of Rafa’s signings have been below the £10 million mark and nothing like the fabrication that he has bought mostly “expensive” signings. It is also interesting to note that a large proportion are teenagers bought for the future of the club and may not be on alot of people's radars.

With 49 of his 66 signings still at the club, it means the selling on fee cannot yet be properly forecast and it is near impossible to fully determine if the original fee paid for each player is expensive.

Here are some more comments and claims made about Rafael Benitez:

“He has bought 53 players for £190 million and sold 56 for £108 million, clearly a loss of £82 million proves he doesn’t have a clue in the transfer market.”

I think the easiest way to explain this would be to just show you a full rundown of Rafael Benitez’ signings since he joined Liverpool in June 2004:

Players bought in by Benitez: 66   

Players still at the club: 49

First Team: 18

Alonso, Reina, Agger, Aurélio, Kuyt, Arbeloa, Mascherano, Lucas, Torres, Itandje, Benayoun, Babel, Skrtel, Degen, Dossena, Cavalieri, Ngog, Riera.

Reserve Team: 22

El Zhar, Insúa, Palsson, Brouwer, Durán, Huth, Domínguez, Pacheco, Nemeth, Plessis, Hansen, Saric, Ayala, Weijl, Blanco, Flora, Mendy, Ajdarevic, Simon, Bouzanis, Crowther, Poloskei

Out on Loan: 9

Andriy Voronin, Jermaine Pennant, Sebastian Leto, David Martin, Godwin Antwi, Jack Hobbs, Miki Roque, Peter Gulacsi, Paul Anderson


A figure of 49 players bought by Rafa are still playing for the club with the majority (29) bought as youth players for the reserve team—with the idea for future revenue if they perform to their potential. It will also save the club a great deal of money if they turn out to be superstars worth a large transfer fee.

From that 49 figure, there are 18 still playing for the first team and contributing to the clubs success on a very large scale—with the majority of them being priced by many as a greater figure than when the players were initially bought by Rafa.

From the nine players out on loan, only two are established players with the other seven being young reserve players gaining experience at other clubs—with the hope of either returning to Liverpool’s first team or making a profit to invest in future transfers, a policy utilised by many big clubs.


Players Sold On by Benitez: 56

Players Bought by Other Managers and Sold on by Benitez: 39

Players Bought and Sold on by Rafa Benitez: 17


For me, this is the key point from which poorly informed debaters’ opinions collapse. Most propaganda articles or rival supporters will wildly claim that Rafa has sold "56" players and made little money in return.

They claim the “majority” of the "56" players the Liverpool manager has sold on have been at a loss and “proves” his failings in the transfer market. This is such a misleading statement to make that I really don’t know how people can still get away with it, let alone acctually believe it.

For starters, Benitez has sold 39 players bought by other Liverpool managers.

Benitez cannot be held accountable for selling a player at a loss when; Benitez was not the one who identified the player as a target in the first place; sanctioned the over-inflated transfer fee when the player was first purchased.

You can only really judge him on the players he has bought and sold since he has been at the club and this brings the true figure down to just 17 players.


Profit: 7

Carson +2.25, Barragan +0.43, Sissoko +2.6, Crouch +4.0, Gonzalez +2.0, Bellamy +1.5, Nunez +0.5

Loss: 6

Garcia -2.0, Morientes -3.3, Palletta -0.8, Josemi (swapped for) Kromkamp -0.25, Idrizaj -0.19, Keane -3.0 (could be even less depending on contract triggers)

Even: 4

Pellegrino, Zenden, Fowler, Padelli (all four players were brought in and moved on for a free transfer)


So the true extent of Rafa’s failings in the transfer market is just six players from 17, coming with a loss of just under £10 million within four and a half years—the most expensive loss being just £3.3 million; nothing like the losses achieved by other established Premier League managers who manage to avoid the media abuse storm.

Hopefully that is one media myth that's now been eradicated.