At some point during a person’s football fandom, they will have to say goodbye to their favourite player. Part of following a team is seeing it change, dealing with the disappointment of a star’s exit or wondering what might have been as a potential great moves on.
In modern football it happens more and more. One-club players like Gerrard and Carragher have become an anomaly in an increasingly disloyal footballing world, where players skip from club to club with total disregard for their contracts.
As money becomes a bigger factor in football, clubs worry little about chopping and changing their squad. Cutting the wage bill, raising transfer funds and cashing in on players have become normal steps used from window to window as owners and managers do everything they can to give them the strongest squad possible.
Meanwhile players consistently turn their backs on clubs that have served them well, always worrying whether they have enough time left in their careers to wait for their teams to get their act together. A constant quest for personal success, both financially and performance wise, rules a footballers mind from day-to-day.
We’ve said goodbye to more successful reds than Alberto Aquilani, Craig Bellamy, Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Fabio Aurelio.
Liverpool fans have lost the likes of Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Sami Hyypia in recent transfer windows. Some moves have been bittersweet, others acrimonious.
This summer, as transition under Brendan Rodgers blooms and the Liverpool squad begins to take on a different mould, players have had to make way to usher in the new ones.
How much will we miss the players that depart in this transfer window?
Fabio Aurelio was the first to depart, returning to his home country to play for Gremio. It’s impossible to say what might have been if the Brazilian had managed to stay fit. Managing just 132 appearances in 6 seasons at Liverpool, Aurelio never established himself as a first choice left back for the reds. While he may have been more technically gifted then the likes of Insua, Riise and Enrique, his injuries always stopped him from being the player he could have been at Liverpool. A fantastic left foot that could guide a ball into any spot on the field, he was adept in left midfield and left back, with a wicked free kick, Aurelio really was a great player to have in the squad.
Top moment: Aurelio only scored 4 goals in his Liverpool career, but 2 of them were special, special moments in recent Liverpool history. He scored a free kick against Manchester United at Old Trafford when Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard led the reds to a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford, but his goal against Chelsea in the Champions League quarter final, deceiving Petr Cech to curl a free kick in from an impossible range to make it 1-0, it sticks in the memory for how surprising it was, no matter the outcome of the match.
Alberto will probably only be remembered as poor business for Liverpool. Signed for £20 million by Rafael Benitez, toted as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, and with a great reputation, Aquilani, like Aurelio, never played for Liverpool as much as he should have. A succession of injuries, two loan spells and repeated noises from his agent about a desire to move on later, and the Italian has departed for Fiorentina. You cannot really miss what you never had, but Aquilani has contributed 17 assists in his last three seasons at different clubs, more than any of our players over that period of time. Perhaps had he been given a decent period of continuous playing time for Liverpool, he could have shown that he has what it takes.
Top Moment: He ran the show against Portsmouth in a Premier League match in March 2010, scoring, linking up well and setting up a goal for Fernando Torres, while his volley against Atletico in the Europa League Semi Final in the same season was a wonderful moment for the Italian.
Throughout Kenny Dalglish’s reign it was rumoured by many that Maxi would be on his way out of the Anfield. However, with the instalment of a new manager with a love of passing and movement, two attributes Maxi deals in better than most, it seemed that he would be a player Liverpool would have to keep hold of. Unfortunately La Fiera had his heart set on home, although he will be missed. A penchant for popping up with goals in big games, consistently high passing and shooting accuracy and game intelligence that is so rare to find these days, Maxi was a chronically underused quantity throughout his Liverpool career.
Top moment: Finishing off a great hat-trick against Fulham with an absolute belter from 25 yards, his second treble in three games.
Dirk Kuyt is the closest thing we have to a modern Liverpool legend, outside of Gerrard and Carragher. The Dutchman was a true personality off the field and an important player on it. Quickly picking up the scouse humour, Kuyt was dedicated and brilliant on the pitch. With less than exceptional technical ability, he rampaged about the field in truly astounding fashion, earning him the nickname “The Duracell Bunny.” An exceptional workrate was not all he provided though, turning in some of the most memorable goals of the last 10 years against the likes of Chelsea, Inter and Man United until the day he left. His goals dried up last season, and he was exposed for his lack of skill, but his commitment to helping Liverpool win never faded, no matter how late the clock was or how tired he must have been. An inspiration.
Top moment: There are so many to choose from. Last season he scored that magical late winner against United in the FA cup as well as Liverpool’s second goal in the Carling Cup final, but before that he had turned up in the right place at the right time(usually stoppage time) to score dramatic winners. This writer will choose his goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League. In a game which Liverpool had dominated but couldn’t seem to score, Dirk Kuyt scored a classic mishit volley, bouncing the ball over Julio Cesar to send everyone absolutely wild.
One of the top performers from last season, Bellamy notched some great goals and put in some truly explosive performances. Always willing, passionate, dedicated and technically gifted, he is a menace to play against. If his second spell at Anfield is set to come to an end, he will be looked back on fondly for making a positive impact for Liverpool in both. A real bonus to have in your team, Bellamy scored 9 goals in each of his seasons for Liverpool, and will be missed greatly for his explosive pace, passion and finishing ability.
Top moment: Last season’s league cup semi-final goal against Manchester City, playing a one-two with Glen Johnson in the area before curling it beyond Joe Hart and sending Anfield into ecstasy, was a joy to behold, and capped off an incredible virtuoso performance from the no.39. But his performance and goal in the Nou Camp in 2007 was unforgettable. After reportedly attempting violence on team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club, the two set each-other up for goals. Bellamy celebrated his with a golf swing. That’s him.
Who will we miss most?
On the strength of last season, it will be Craig Bellamy.
For the promise of what could have been, Alberto Aquilani and Fabio Aurelio.
For unique, often hidden talent, Maxi Rodriguez.
For overall impact during their time at Liverpool, Dirk Kuyt.
Every summer players leave, and the best we as fans can hope for is that they are not missed.
That Borini and Allen will fill the hole that they leave.
That Suarez, Gerrard, Lucas and Agger will lead a team to victory no matter the personnel.
That Henderson and Downing will step into the limelight and grow the confidence they need to succeed those who once did so well here.
That Brendan Rodgers knows what he is doing, and is assembling the right group of players he needs to take Liverpool where they want, and need, to be.