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4 Rafa Bentiez Signings That Couldn't Replace Steve Finnan As Liverpool's Right Back

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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Limerick born Steve Finnan is a man who has never let anybody down, at any time or in any place, ever. Of course, you already knew this because it's common knowledge, but one of the Republic of Ireland's most consistent performers and a man who stepped up and blasted a penalty of into the top corner of Iker Casillas' goal under intense pressure back in Suwon in 2002 was not always shown the love he should have been at club level.

Similar to absolutely everybody who plays Football Manager, Rafa Benitez's favourite part of the year was the transfer window. The Spanish gaffer would regularly make numerous deals for players that perhaps most fans were unfamiliar with, which sometimes resulted in cult heroes putting in memorable performances throughout their career, and other times resulted in players who fans now say things like "Jesus, what ever happened to him?" about.

Finnan's appearance record at Liverpool.

The players on this list fall into the latter category in that respect. Benitez was a manager who loved competition for places, so while Steve Finnan was doing his thing on the right side of Liverpool's back four, numerous players were brought in to push him for his spot. These are the men that failed to get close.

The First: Josemi

Signed from Malaga in 2004 for £2m, Spanish right-back Josemi has the proud honour of being Rafa Benitez's first signing at Liverpool. At his unveiling, Benitez said the following about Josemi:

He is good in defence, good in the air, and he will make this team stronger.

None of those things were true, and 18 months later Josemi was on his way back to Spain in a deal with Villarreal that would see another member of this list arrive at the club. 21 league appearances in two years were not enough to convince Benitez, or anyone, that he was the answer. The answer to a problem that wasn't a problem at all, by the way.

The Prospect: Antonio Barragan


At 18 years of age, Spanish right-back Antonio Barragan signed for Liverpool having turned down a contract offer at Sevilla where he was pushing for the first team despite still being a teenager. Rafa made his move, and managed to lure the young Spaniard to Anfield for nothing more than a compensation fee.

After Barragan made his debut for the reds in their 3rd round Champions League qualifier against CSKA Sofia, he would never made another appearance for the club. Presumably he saw how reliable Steve Finnan was and decided there was no point, as he moved back to Spain after just one season. He is now a squad member for Valencia who are going well in La Liga as of late.


The Chancer: Jan Kromkamp

Signing from Villarreal in a deal that saw Josemi sent to the yellow submarine as part of the deal, Kromkamp surely would be better than the player going the other way, right?

Well... No, not really. Krompkamp was signed in January 2006, and by August 2006 he was a PSV Eindhoven player. This was largely due to Finnan exhibiting the form of his life at the time, and also because he wasn't very good.

The Mystery Man: Phillipp Degen

After Steve Finnan left Liverpool for Espanyol in 2008, Rafa Benitez needed to bring another body into the squad and compete for a first team place. The decision was made to sign Borussia Dortmund right-back and Swiss international Philipp Degen on a free transfer.


The first post-Finnan attempt to replace the Irishman, Degen got off to a rough start and never recovered. On his debut in the League Cup, Degen clashed with Sami Hyypia and was left with two-broken ribs, and a spell on the sidelines. Upon his return in the same competition, Degen badly broke his foot and would miss the remainder of the season.

The next season wouldn't be much better for Philipp, as he made just 7 appearances, the seventh of which would be his last. When he left Liverpool in 2011, many couldn't believe he had been at the club for three years, but his contract was mutually terminated and he joined FC Basel on a free.

The One Who Managed It: Alvaro Arbeloa

£2.5m were paid out to Deportivo La Coruna for the services of their right-back Alvaro Arbeloa in January of 2007, despite Steve Finnan playing an absolute blinder at the time. In fact, Arbeloa did struggle to dislodge Limerick's finest initially, as Finnan would start ahead of him in the 2007 Champions League final, but soon Alvaro was first-choice as he became a steady and calming influence on the back four.


Arbeloa would go on to join Real Madrid in July 2009, which sparked another struggle for find a decent right-back for Liverpool, which you could argue is still going on now. Who knows, should Arbeloa have decided against joining Liverpool, Steve Finnan may still be starting at right-back for the Merseyside club today, at 38 years of age. Ok, he wouldn't, but we feel he was hard done by.

See also: The 2001 UEFA Cup Winning Liverpool Team – Where Are They Now?


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