Monday, July 09, 2007

Transfer Speculation: Ricardo Quaresma To LiverpooL

The biggest transfer rumour of the weekend is The News of the World splash (08.07.2007) that Liverpool have offered nearly £14m for Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma. This is the first sign of a price for the Portuguese - although this story has previously appeared in all of the News Corp papers.

Firstly in The Times (05.07.2007) and then in The Sun (06.07.2007) - who bundled interest in the 2005 and 2006 Portuguese player of the year with two other high-stepping crowd pleasers, Roma's Alessandro Mancini and, err, Man Utd's Gabriel Heinze.

Quaresma is an understudy for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portuguese national side, as they are both nominally right wingers and both has a similar style. This is partly the explanation for Quaresma only picking up nine additional caps since his debut four years ago.

Other contributing factors have been the presence of Luis Figo (what a production line of wide men there is in Portugal) and Quaresma's spats with Frank Rijkaard during his dismal season at Barcelona. Quaresma would offer a quality outlet on the right for Liverpool replacing Luid Garcia and suggesting that Jermaine Pennant would be reduced to a squad role.

But despite some fantastic YouTube clips, signing the mercurial Quaresma is a risk. His inability to adapt to a squad role at Barcelona lead to his rapid departure after barely 20 games; 29 goals in 180 league games suggest that he is not going to improve the fairly dismal, Gerrard aside, goalscoring options from midfield; at 5'8" and fairly slight he will be treated fairly robustly by Premiership full-backs; and at £14m he seems fully priced for his abilities and experience.

On the plus side he is 23 years old and adaptable enough to play in all the support forward roles; both wings and at number ten. If the price were around £10m then Liverpool would have a bargain, but even at £14m a motivated Quaresma would improve the team and add points in Rafa Benitez's most important season as a Liverpool manager.