Another two new signings for Liverpool today – although in reality they were signed quite some time ago.
The best news of the day for Rafael Benitez was that Chilean international winger Mark Gonzalez was finally given the go ahead to play for Liverpool after he was granted his a work permit. The 23-year-old was signed last summer, initially on a loan and then in a permanent deal as he was actually injured at the time he signed. The lack of a work permit meant he went on loan to Spanish side Real Sociedad where he had an impressive few months.
Rafa told the official Liverpool website how happy he was that the paperwork had finally been obtained: “This is very good news for us and I am absolutely delighted to welcome Mark Gonzalez to Liverpool as he is a player the supporters will like to see. Mark is an exciting left winger who can cross good balls and beat defenders and he is a very good signing for us. He has a very good mentality as when I was talking with him he told me, ‘I want to play for Liverpool’.”
Also today Liverpool announced officially that the signing of Brazilian left-back Fabio Aurelio had gone ahead. Although the signing was pretty much done and dusted months ago and the player had already been training with the club all week, it wasn’t until this afternoon that he finally signed the all important contract. He is one of Rafa’s old charges from Valencia, where he won a La Liga medal during Rafa’s reign there. He signed a four year deal to become Liverpool’s first ever Brazilian. Again speaking to the official Liverpool website, Rafa explained why he wanted to sign Aurelio: “Fabio is a player with a lot of quality and he is a really good signing for us. His technical ability is fantastic and he has a great left foot and provides the team with a lot of options. He has a really good mentality and he is a winner.”
These two announcements followed on from yesterday’s confirmation that Gabriel Paletta was now a Red. Signed from Argentinean side Banfield, Paletta also signed a four-year deal and was compared by Rafa to Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher: “I’ve worked with other Argentinean defenders in the past and there is a good tradition of tough, aggressive and tactically strong defenders from the country. Paletta is very tough and he’s exactly the sort of player we need who will suit the Premiership. When you talk about the Argentinean defenders I worked with in Valencia, Paletta is more like Ayala than Pellegrino. If you’re talking about Liverpool, he’s more like Carra than Sami Hyypia. This is good because we will have a balance in the style of defenders.”
Rafa continued: “He is a defender with a lot of aggression and we’re sure he has a great future. He will learn a lot here, like Daniel Agger, and provide competitiveness in our defence. We were watching him in the World Under-21 championships in Holland. That’s when our scouts spotted him and we identified him as the kind of player we’d like.”
Rafa also revealed that any delays could have seen them miss out on a player highly rated in his own country: “He has attracted a lot of interest from top clubs in Argentina like River Plate and Boca Juniors. River Plate even reserved a number six shirt for him, so we had to move quickly to sign him. We’re delighted to have done the deal now.”
Yesterday also saw Craig Bellamy making his first public appearance in a Liverpool shirt, although in this case it was still just a training shirt.