Wingers high on the agenda as McAteer and Molby compile Anfield dream shopping lists

By Tony Barrett on May 30, 08 02:41 PM in Journalists

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WHEN Liverpool's new city centre store threw open its doors for the first time yesterday it was deluged by fans with shopping lists as long as a John Arne Riise throw-in.

But there were two special guests who had very different shopping on their minds from the majority of people at the biggest official club store in Europe in the newly opened Liverpool One development.

The thoughts of former Reds stars Jason McAteer and Jan Molby were concentrated more on the forthcoming Anfield bring and buy sale as Rafa Benitez gets to work on moulding his squad for the coming Premiership season.

Both are in no doubt about the areas the Liverpool manager needs to strengthen as, like everyone else in football, they have identified the wide areas as being in need of most urgent attention.

And both are happy that Liverpool have been linked with Aston Villa's Gareth Barry.

But Molby and McAteer are split when it comes to who they would like to see added to the players roster at Anfield for the 2008/09 season, with the Dane being keen to see Barcelona star Deco in a red shirt and the former Irish international having his eye on Ricardo Quaresma of Porto.

"Obviously, Gareth Barry is the name on everyone's lips at the moment and I think the speculation about Xabi Alonso leaving links into that as well," said McAteer.

"We've already brought Philipp Degen in who is a Swiss international so that looks like a good signing.

"Down the spine of the team we can compete with anyone and that includes Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

"Reina is a fantastic keeper, we've got some brilliant centre-halfs in Jamie Carragher, Skrtel, Agger and Hyypia, in the middle of the park we've already got Stevie G and Mascherano and obviously there's Torres up front.

"I'd like to see another striker at the club but, having said that, I think Peter Crouch deserves to stay at the club.

"He is a great player and he's handled himself really well off the pitch despite the fact that he has had a difficult year.

"Peter has hung in there and I would like to see him given more starts next season.

"The flanks are the areas where we really need to improve. Harry Kewell's already gone and it looks like Pennant will follow him, Dirk Kuyt has done a job on the right flank for the team but I'd like to see a real top quality winger brought in.

"Quaresma can sometimes be a liability and he is supposed to be a bit of a livewire off the pitch, but in terms of ability his quality is fantastic.

"He grew up with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon and as youngsters he was considered the better of the two of them.

"Obviously Ronaldo has come through a lot more than Quaresma, but I think a lot of that is down to Alex Ferguson and I think Quaresma could really flourish under Rafa Benitez.

"So maybe someone like him would be a good signing.

"But I also like the look of Bayern Munich's Philip Lahm, who can play at fullback or in midfield.

"In fact, he would probably provide a nice balance with Quaresma because he doesn't go forward quite as much and has a more defensive mind.

"The only thing is, quality like this costs a lot of money. But there is no reason why the manager shouldn't be given that kind of money, especially if we want to challenge."

Like every other Liverpool fan, Molby has been picking up on all the speculation linking Liverpool with various players, but Deco is the one who most captures his imagination.

"There are lots of rumours going around, as there always are at this time of year," he said.

"I think we have more or less identified the areas where we need to strengthen - obviously the full back areas and on the flanks - but I also think we're desperate for another striker and that would be my prime target if I was the manager.

"Berbatov has been mentioned, but I don't know if we've got that kind of money.

"The one for me would be Deco. When he became available at Barcelona the first thing I thought was that he'd be great to play in the hole behind Torres.

"I'm not sure we need another out and out striker because I think Fernando Torres is one of those rare specimens who actually plays better up front on his own.

"For me, what we really need is an old style number seven, someone who can play in that role just off the main striker like Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley used to, and I just thought that when Deco became available he would have been ideal.

"I know he's had some ups and downs but he undoubtedly has ability. That boy can really play.

"I think it is really difficult because there aren't loads of great wingers about.

"I know a lot of people have been looking at Mancini at Roma but I don't think he's a Premier League player and I wouldn't bring him here.

"I think that Rafa has reached the stage where he believes that if we are going to bring in wide men to do well in the Premier League then they might have to be British, hence the talk about Stewart Downing and David Bentley coming to Anfield.

"We've tried with foreign wide men and it hasn't quite worked out.

"I think Gareth Barry is a very good player. He is an intelligent footballer who is ideally suited to the way Rafa wants to play.

"He's not a headless chicken, he knows the game inside out. The only problem is, if we do sign him we're going to have to sell one of our central midfield players because he won't be bringing him to play on the left and that will probably spell the end of Xabi Alonso.

"For me, Xabi is a once in a lifetime player and it will be a shame if he has to go, but maybe it makes sense if the fee that's been bandied about is the right one.

"If it is, then maybe the time is right to take the money and run but I would be reluctant to see him go."

The tills started ringing at Liverpool's brand new superstore yesterday, and it is only a matter of time before the buying and selling begins at Anfield.

But whether any of the potential targets named by Molby and McAteer feature on Rafa Benitez's shopping list remains to be seen.

tonybarrett@liverpoolecho.co.uk

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