Robbie Keane has spoken out about his failed Liverpool transfer that lasted less than a year.
In summer 2008, we bought the Irishman, notoriously one of the Premier League’s most clinical strikers, from Spurs for £20m – but by January 2009 – we were selling him back to the same club at a significant loss.
But in truth, Keane never got a proper chance. We had Fernando Torres as our central striker and Steven Gerrard just in behind as a dynamic no.10, so there was simply no obvious spot for Keane in our strongest XI.
As a result, Benitez tried to use Keane on the flank, but it didn’t suit his skill-set at all. The forward was a runner and a finisher, not a creator.
“He wanted to change me to a left winger,” Keane told the Echo.
“I am clearly not a left winger, and that is obviously clear for everyone to see.
“The first 20 minutes he wanted me to play left wing, and obviously I had never played it before, so it was new to me.
“When I did play up front I scored goals. But when I did play, I wasn’t going to play the next day, which for a striker is very difficult.”
“He tried to turn me into something I’m not, and that was always going to be a recipe for disaster as someone used to scoring goals.”
In hindsight, it might have been sensible to use Keane up top alongside Torres and use Gerrard at the tip of a diamond, but then Dirk Kuyt’s spot on the right would have been negated.
The player bagged just five league goals for us, in total, but still took time to praise Benitez, who he said was a tactical genius.
“I’m not a left-winger, as we’ve established from 20 years of playing football, but tactically he was probably one of the best I’ve worked with,” Keane continue.
“He knows the game inside out.”
It’s a shame Benitez couldn’t figure out a formulae to use the striker effectively, as he may have been the difference between a 2nd place and 1st place finish that campaign.