Liverpool have today confirmed that they are to release five youth and reserve players. The news was announced to the players themselves last week, but the official announcement only came today.
One player that is leaving is Irish under-21 winger Richie Partridge. A player who looked extremely promising, spent time away from Anfield on loan and also hit bad luck with the timing of injuries, Partridge only made three appearances for Liverpool. More than anything Partridge is likely to blame Houllier for his failure to break into the team, as the former boss tended to prefer to ignore home-grown talent if possible – playing others out of position before he’d try the youth of the club. Partridge was a hero for Coventry during his loan spell there, and in hindsight would probably have been better to have left Anfield permanently at that time.
Also on his way out is young Jon Otsemobor. Otsemobor spent time on loan at Bolton, after making half-a-dozen appearances for the Reds first team. Houllier’s decision to let him go on loan was felt strange at the time. He then spent the start of the current season on loan at Crewe, and the knock to his confidence has meant he has failed to produce the goods to the satisfaction of Rafael Benitez.
Young keeper Paul Harrison is now going to leave the club too. A year ago he’d already looked to be on his way out, but Houllier gave him a reprieve at the eleventh hour. Harrison never made a first-team appearance, and spent a short spell on loan at Leeds to help them out after the Reds signed Scott Carson from them. Liverpool’s new goalkeeping coach didn’t rate Harrison highly enough and recommended that he be released. We feel that Harrison will still have a future in football, remembering that goalkeepers tend to improve with age.
Another goalkeeper that is set to leave is another of those mysterious Gerard Houllier signings – Patrice Luzi. Luzi is said to have been looking to leave Liverpool for some time for personal reasons. With Liverpool looking almost certain to bring in Spanish keeper Jose Reina in the summer, there may yet be at least one more of Liverpool’s keepers on the way out.
Striker Mark Smyth is also going to be leaving Anfield this summer as Benitez looks to optimise his squad.
These five will join Czech Vladimir Smicer who has already been told that there is no contract on offer for him this summer. The future of midfielders Hamman and Biscan is still uncertain – it seems that Liverpool will make them both contract offers, but they may not be of the length and pay that the players are looking for. Liverpool have also been linked with a move for Bayern Munich’s midfielder Owen Hargreaves as Benitez makes the changes he feels are needed to improve the depth and quality of the Reds squad.