Salif Diao has upset Rafael Benítez with his refusal to accept any of the loan offers he received in the summer, leaving Liverpool having to pay a fortune in wages for a player they just do not want.
One of Gerard Houllier’s many overpaid signings, Diao has never impressed Rafael Benítez in all his time as boss, and has pretty much spent all his time out on loan or in the reserves. He’ll not even be offered playing time in the reserves now though, with Rafa saying he’d rather give those chances to the youngsters who are for the long haul. Without reserve games or loan games, Diao is going to be stuck at Anfield even longer.
Houllier’s decision to pay £5m for Diao in 2002 means Rafa still wanted a fee for the player this summer, but after a move to Charlton fell through so did a move to Spanish outfit Recreativo. Diao’s wages are clearly going to be quite lucrative for a player of his quality though, and no doubt he’s better off financially staying at Anfield for now.
On the other hand Diao’s agent surely could have shown him the alternatives according to Rafa. The Senegalese former international may well continue to receive big money for doing nothing, but for the longer term the money will dry up because he’ll not be the subject of any scouting reports: “Sometimes it depends on the people around the players, and if they have good advice or bad advice or bad advisors.”
Put simply, Rafa says clubs aren’t likely to buy a player if they can’t see him play: “In this case, I think that as a player the most important thing is to play. If you don't play, you cannot show other people what you can do.”
Rafa’s happy with Salif’s attitude in training, just disappointed that he didn’t try harder to get a deal in August: “He is fit, he is training normally, and it is not a problem. He is a very good professional and is training every day without a problem, but without games, other teams cannot see this.”
Rafa brought former Liverpool defender Gary Ablett in this summer as the reserve coach, and says that Salif could get the opportunity to play in the odd game, but he’s expecting Ablett to use the youngsters that are starting on the road to hopefully become important players for the club, rather than players that have long since blow their chances of becoming so: “We will see how we can use Salif, and it's a possibility he can play for the reserves, but we have young players in the reserves, and if it's a choice between using young players and senior players, I would say to Gary he should use the young players.”
The negotiations to for Diao to move to Recreativo would have seen him teaming up with another outcast, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but it wasn’t to be. Benítez says: “I was talking with Recreativo and everything was almost done, but then at the last minute things changed.”
All concerned are now going to be hopeful that he does get a chance to show what he can do, although some cynics might say he's got more of a chance of getting a move if he doesn't get that chance!