Didi and Djibs departures best for all says Rafa

Liverpool’s pre-season campaign gets underway this weekend and two of the faces who were involved in Liverpool’s last pre-season won’t be involved. Didi Hamann and Djibril Cissé left Anfield this week as they started new phases in their careers.

Cissé is now a Marseille player, initially on a 12-month loan basis but barring major problems with injury he’ll be made a permanent Marseille player next summer. Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez says that £6million new boy Craig Bellamy’s arrival was really the reason why Djibs had to go. Rafa said: “Djibril is a nice boy and a good player but I was looking for another kind of striker. We signed Craig Bellamy and he is a striker we like because of his movement in front of a back four, going both sides and scoring goals. I was looking for those things, and also the pace that he has.”

Rafa was already looking at offloading Cissé before the French striker broke his leg for a second time, but now says the move to France has perhaps even more than before become the right option for Djibs: “It is the best option for Cissé, because after two broken legs maybe it will be more difficult for him now in the English league. Now we have Crouch, Fowler and Bellamy and that would have made it difficult for him to get matches to regain his fitness levels.”

Rafa also spoke about Didi Hamann, now a City player after an odd deal involving him becoming a Bolton player temporarily. “I told Didi it would be difficult for him to play the number of games next season that a player of his quality would expect to play. And if you know you cannot play every game, it is maybe better to find a club where you will be used more, and that is certainly the case with Hamann. He will be happier now. I have been so pleased with him, when he has been called in he has always given us experience and a calm control, a great servant to the club.”

Now though there are younger players on board who can play in Didi’s position, and no doubt Momo Sissoko’s rapid settling in at the club has hastened Didi’s departure: “With Sissoko and Alonso both now more mature as players, and with Steven Gerrard and Bolo Zenden also there, we have good cover in midfield. We know we are losing a good player but maybe now we can manage.”

Rafa continued: “Didi is a very good player who always did a good job for us.”

Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce confirmed that City had to pay a fee to Bolton for Hamann, meaning Bolton didn’t do too badly out of the deal after all: “I think they will be reasonably happy with that and we have a top-quality player. First off all I thought Didi would still be a Liverpool player and not available. But then his agent phoned me and my first thought was to make sure everything was clear at Bolton. We have to be seen to be whiter than white in a situation like this. That’s why I rang Sam Allardyce and he gave me permission to talk to Didi.”

Pearce continued: “I am delighted he is here as he brings experience and leadership qualities to the team. He has everything. If you get more winners like him in your squad, you are going in the right direction.”

Didi himself explained how the move to Bolton and then City had all come about: “It sounds as though I made my mind up yesterday not to go to Bolton but that is not the case. I signed for Bolton four or five weeks ago and realised a few days later I had made a mistake. I informed the club a few days later I would like to go somewhere else if possible. After a week they told me I was open to speak to other clubs. A few clubs were interested in me and Manchester City were one of them. I am delighted to be here now.”

Hamann also said that Rafa’s advice to him about how he’d lack the chance to play in many games left him with little choice but to move on: “I had one year left at Liverpool but it was the right time to move. The manager told me I was not going to play as many games as last season. Given that I did not play as much as I would have liked then, it was not an option to stay. But of course it is a wrench to leave Liverpool. I had a great time there and some successful years.”