Salif set for Stoke

Senegalese midfielder Salif Diao is widely quoted today as having sorted out a deal to go to Championship side Stoke City on a three-month loan deal. The deal would take him to the January transfer window when he might be looking to secure a longer-term deal somewhere.

Rafa Benítez spoke earlier in the season about how disappointed he was that Diao didn’t take the opportunities he was given this summer for a move away from Anfield, and pointed out that Diao won’t be getting much in the way of chances to put himself in the shop window. Salif had turned down a move to Recreativo and with his contract running out at the end of this season he needs to get some games in. Rafa has made it clear that he’ll only pick Salif for reserve games if there’s no youngsters fit and available ahead of him.

It seems the penny has finally dropped now. Diao’s been widely quoted this weekend as saying: “I need to be playing regular, competitive football and Stoke will give me that chance. I need that to get my sharpness back.”

When Gerard Houllier signed him in the summer of 2002 he was given a very lucrative five-year deal.  It’s best not to think what his wages have been over the five years, plus any signing-on fees. His transfer fee was £4.7m.  In the four years he’s been at the club so far he has made 37 appearances, scoring one goal.  In all, including cup appearances, he made 61 appearances, and his goal tally is a massive 3. Yes, three.

It’s fair to remember though that Salif didn’t pick his transfer fee, and that he would have been daft to turn down the money Houllier was offering him in the spendthrift summer of 2002. He’s not good enough for Liverpool, but it’s not his fault, so good luck to him if he does make it to the Britannia Stadium for the rest of this year.

The background he has come from is literally a world away from the one he finds himself in at Anfield, and as frustrating as it is for Liverpool fans it makes a lot of sense for Diao to sit out his contract and bring in those huge wages. He’ll not get anything close to that kind of money elsewhere, especially not if he’s only interesting clubs at the old Division 2 level.