Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Benitez's best buys (and Rafa's rejects)

THE GOOD Xabi Alonso £10.5m (Real Sociedad, August 2004) Alonso has become the poster-boy of Liverpool's poor start to the season. Offered for sale the season before last, the team's heartbeat last season ? and sold to Real Madrid (at a handsome profit) this summer. His passing has been badly missed ? a great buy, but the failure to replace him has been disastrous, so far.
THE GOOD Pepe Reina £6m (Villarreal, June 2005) Reina may not be first choice for Spain, but he is reliable, consistent and one of Europe's top goalkeepers.
THE BAD Alberto Aquilani £20m (Roma, August 2009) He may yet be the saviour of Liverpool's season, but where is he when they need him? Injured when he arrived, and injured still, £20m is a lot to gamble on a player who has only played 73 times in three seasons.

One of the enduring criticisms of Rafa Benitez's management is that while his first choice team is capable enough, his squad is too thin – hence the fear that without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, the team has little chance.

So as Benitez reputedly enters last chance saloon, what were his best and worst transfer deals?

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