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Gabriel Heinze – How to make friends


Colin Illingworth

Colin is a sub-editor on a regional newspaper and is a die-hard Aberdeen fan. He's prepared to sell his soul to the Devil for the Dons to return to their former glory so Satan, if you're reading this, give him a call!...
[full biography]
06/08/2007 07:30:00.
read: 1944 times.

After being embroiled in the long running Carlos Tevez saga, Sir Alex Ferguson now finds himself in a similar situation with want-a-way Argentinean defender Gabriel Heinze. After three years in Manchester the hard-hitting left-back wants to leave Old Trafford and team up with United’s fierce enemies at Anfield. Rafa Benitez has reportedly met the £6.8 million buyout clause in his contract, but Fergie is adamant that Heinze will not be allowed to join one of their main title rivals. The fiery Scot is set to have showdown talks with the former Paris St Germain defender today (Monday August 5) regarding his future at Old Trafford and it’s a situation that has got fans on both sides of the divide talking.

Only eight players have made the move between Anfield and Old Trafford and just two more – Peter Beardsley and Paul Ince – have played for both clubs. The last player to move directly between the two sides was Phil Chisnall in 1964 and Heinze’s plans to join that list have sparked a lot of debate between rival fans.

Some Manchester United supporters believe Heinze is a better player than Evra and want him to stay, others think he has been a bit of a mercenary after the club stuck by him through injury and will be glad to see him go, while a number of others wonder why he would want to leave the champions for a bunch of “also-rans”.

This wide range in views on Heinze is echoed on Merseyside. I’ve heard some Liverpool fans question Rafa Benitez’s intentions with some saying, “we’ve got Riise, we don’t need him” to “Heinze would be a great signing”. And then there’s another group of fans that would love to see Heinze arrive just to get one over on Sir Alex. Despite the historic rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester Untied, Liverpool fan Cliffy Wedderburn would love to see Heinze arrive at Anfield.

“Even if Heinze possessed a broken leg and an OAP bus pass I’d be made up if he signed for Liverpool. As a former player myself (on the muddy fields of Birmingham, London and now Brighton) Heinze is the defender I would least like to play against. He is a stopper, a spoiler, a committed leg breaker and unapologetic yellow card lover from Argentina. Over the course of a season he can save teams vital goals. Not only that, I have often been impressed by his fluidity and simplicity of passes and movement out of defence. On route to the title, players like this are worth their weight in gold, and if the asking price is £6.8 million, pay it! No wonder there has been so much controversy over this transfer. Ferguson and Benitez know he is the player they both want on their side, not against them.”

Liverpool have spent vast sums of money this summer on big name players and Rafa Benitez will be under pressure to make a sustained challenge for the Premiership title. Gabriel Heinze is a quality defender who would ultimately boost Rafa’s defence and Nantha Kumar, 36, from the Liverpool Supporters Club in Malaysia, believes the Argentine would give the Reds an added dimension.

“John Arne Riise has catered for the need to provide width on the left when we were struggling to find the wingers to take on that role. Heinze is a similar player but has the tenacity and tough-tackles that the Norwegian does not possess. He has a knack of getting out of tight situations with skilful manipulation and technique and is a ball-playing defender in the Italian mould. We have not seen many instances of Heinze booting the ball into oblivion in the Premiership and he could only get better – despite his advancing age – under the supervision of Benitez.”

Cliffy Wedderburn, whose favourite Liverpool player is Steve Gerrard, has listened to a number of Manchester United fans say that Heinze is past his best and have no problem with sending him to Anfield, but Cliffy believes that such a move would come back to haunt them.

“At twenty-nine, Manchester United supporters reckon they’ve seen Heinze’s better days and to let him go now for that price would represent a canny piece of business. They cite the damage done to his cruciate ligament and the re-emergence of Patrick Evra as a more than suitable replacement. Basically, they reckon Heinze’s passed his sell by date.

“Unfortunately most of my Man United friends don’t possess the foresight to predict the significance of such a move. Lucky for them that Alex Ferguson is in charge. We happily sold grenade launchers to the Taliban in Afghanistan once, to get rid of Russian invaders. Now they’re firing the same rockets to get rid of the Brits. Sell Heinze to the Scousers? Don’t be daft, that’s not canny business, that’s like turning the gun on yourself. Liverpool wouldn’t sell Manchester one blade of Anfield grass let alone send one of their players up the M62.

“We have improved from last season with some excellent work in the transfer market. Rafa Benitez has lifted the spirits of every Kopite in the country. Difference is, not only do they possess a top-flight championship winning attack force; they are also in possession of a stunningly effective midfield. All they need now is a solid linchpin in defence to seal up an already squeaky clean rearguard. Can you imagine Carragher, Finnan, Agger, and Heinze? That’s a brick wall you could fire scuds at all day long and not see a dent in the armour.

“Fergie, one of the world’s greatest managers, is preparing to spend up to £70 million this summer in pursuit of the title. If the difference between winning and losing is £6.8 million (the asking price for Heinze) come the end of May, the canny Scot would prefer he did not to contribute to his own downfall.”

And Nantha Kumar, who writes the monthly newsletter, Walk On, for the Liverpool Supporters Club in Malaysia, believes that this proposed transfer is just a sign of the times and that if nothing does come of it then at least it’s been fun winding Fergie up.

“Players signing on to a club and moving on to another after a season or two has become a norm and it is within this context that most of us see the proposed Heinze transfer. It is no longer about luring a player from Manchester United; it is about snapping up a player who wants to play for us and would add to the team’s strength. Heinze certainly fits the identikit player espoused by the manager – and even if nothing comes out of it, watching the Scot turn purple made up for an eventful pre-season sideshow.”

Most Manchester United fans would prefer Sir Alex to sell Heinze to anyone other than Liverpool, but with players having a greater share of power nowadays this decision may be out of his hands. If Heinze has his heart set on joining Liverpool, and Rafa wants him, the likelihood is that the deal will go through and it looks as though most Liverpool fans would welcome him to Anfield. But he would be guaranteed a hot reception on his return to Old Trafford at the end of March.

We would love to hear what Liverpool and Manchester United fans have to say on the situation?

Latest article feedback

Alan Gan:

I agree with Nantha's views wholeheartedly. The situation has always been [Ferguson] saying something nasty about us. Just for once, it'll be great fun to see him turned purple,red or black when the league has made it's decision on Heinze's rights. Even if the decision goes against us acquiring Heinze, the fun would have made every KOP's day in that we've given him a taste of his own medicine. Not forgetting that there are other options available should Heinze's move to Anfield failed. However, judging by the way Feyenoord's goal is scored, a spruce-up in the backline should not be ignored as defence will be even more difficult in the EPL.


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