Alves to fix right-wing problem?

Rafael Benítez has been on the hunt for a right-winger now for what seems an age. He found one in the end, but although Steven Gerrard has had arguably his best season on the right side of midfield, the manager would like the option to use his captain more centrally too.

With Jan Kromkamp destined to move on in the summer, Rafa has got his eye on another player who can play right-back or right-wing. Seville’s Daniel Alves has said that he’d be happy to play at Anfield and if he did sign for the Reds he’d give Rafa some of those options he likes so much.

The two biggest problems for Liverpool will be the transfer fee and the interests of Barcelona in the player. The latest fee being talked about is £7m, and that is certainly the sort of fee Liverpool would be able to pay. If Barca do get involved and start any kind of bidding war then Liverpool will shift their attention elsewhere. Neither side has yet made a bid to Seville, but the price they are informally talking about is way too high for Liverpool’s liking. They aren’t short of money either, so if they want to dig their heels in they can.

The 23-year-old has spoken of his admiration of Liverpool and boss
Rafa, but with Barcelona last night completing the double of La Liga
and Champions League, his head could have turned since then. What he’d
said before was that the Reds were certainly an option: “Liverpool have
a great team and a great manager. It makes me very proud that they are
interested in me. Liverpool is an appetising option because of the
Spanish coach they have and because of the players they have there
because they are from Spain, too. They will help me adapt and that
makes it easier. I now have to make a decision.”

Alves continued: “It makes me very proud that some of Europe’s big
teams have shown an interest in me. For every player, playing at the
highest level is an objective – and clubs like Liverpool are at the top
now. They are one of those big, important clubs, with a lot of history.”

One reason Rafa Benítez has been able to make so much use of Steven
Gerrard on the right wing this season is because of the performances of
Momo Sissoko. Signed from Valencia last summer, the Malian
international has settled unbelievably quickly into the English game,
and was very much missed when he suffered an eye injury keeping out of
a good number of games. In Saturday’s FA Cup Final he played as well as
he has been playing all season, and Benítez wanted to praise him for a
great game and a great first season: “Momo did for us what he’s done
all season,” said Benitez. “He worked hard right until the end, and he
was very important, not just on Saturday, but throughout the year. Some
of my staff said they thought Momo would have been their
man-of-the-match as well as Steven Gerrard. Maybe a lot of people don’t
recognise how important Momo is, but everyone at the club knows it.”

As well as looking for a right-winger the FA Cup holders are looking
for a new striker. In fact two new strikers, if reports are right. One
of the names on the shortlist is Jermain Defoe, and with Spurs signing
Dimitar Berbatov for £10.9m Bayer Leverkusen there’s certainly a big
hint that he could be on his way out of White Hart Lane. He’s not been
a part of Martin Jol’s first-choice strikeforce even before this
signing. Also in the frame as possible signings are Darren Bent, Craig
Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt.