"Whatever the reason, he will be missed."
There won't be the eulogies that followed Thierry Henry's exit from English football, but Luis Garcia's return to Spain deserves a lot more than a simple passing mention.
And he’ll be getting that from the red half of Merseyside. It says a lot of the high regard in which he was held that the sadness of his departure overshadowed the news that Fernando Torres had passed his medical to edge his move to Liverpool closer.
Stories of his possible move back home had long been making the rounds. Earlier this year it had been reported that he was willing to move back to Atletico Madrid, a story that was later partially rejected by the player. When Liverpool made a move for West Ham’s Yossi Benayoun, a player with similar characteristics, it started to transpire that Garcia’s time at the club was coming to a close.
That Liverpool allowed him to leave so easily, not to mention cheaply – especially given the high regard that Garcia is held by Benitez – and the fact that his deal was completely separate from the one that should bring Torres to Anfield hint that the rumours that he wanted to move his young family back home were true.
Whatever the reason, he will be missed.
Yet not everyone at Anfield has been appreciative of Garcia. Indeed, there were many more than willing to moan each time he misplaced a pass or tried a bit of trickery that didn’t come off. And of course, he was all that and more. Frustratingly inconsistent, Garcia could not only be anonymous when off form, he was actually a problem with the ease with which he lost possession.
But there was also the other side, when he was on form and giving defenders headaches. Brilliant moves, fantastic talent and one of the few capable of turning the destiny of a game with one move, he was perhaps the most talented individual to put on the red shirt since Steve McManaman. How Liverpool could have used him during the Champions League final when they couldn’t find a way through a stubborn AC Milan defence. As the song went, he had really come from Barca to bring joy.
There were also the goals, over thirty in two and a half season is a great return for a midfielder especially as most of them are of the kind that will be forever etched in Liverpool’s history. His goal against Buffon in the Champions League quarter final or the one, later in the same competition, that according to Mourinho never was. Garcia loved playing, and scoring, against Chelsea and another superb effort during last year’s FA Cup semi-final would make the final cut for the best goals scored in recent years.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of the transfer is that Garcia never got the farewell he deserved from the Anfield crowd, that the sangria song didn’t get one proper final airing. It will do so when the two cross paths again and, whenever that happens, Liverpool’s appreciation for King Luis will be played out.