Sky Sports analyst and former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson said on Norwegian television today that he's heard from sources that Jose Enrique Sanchez is ready to sign a contract with the Reds as soon as the summer transfer window opens. (The Sun - video embedded) for several weeks, ever since his dissatisfaction with Newcastle management became public. It has also long been rumored that Kenny Dalglish is willing to pay up to a £15 million transfer fee for the left back, though Thompson did not divulge any financial details.
Follow the jump for some commentary on this story.
When Jose Enrique first made the comments indicating that he "desired" more than Newcastle could provide him, I wrote a piece expressing my disappointment in him. I'm still frustrated, mostly because I have really grown to appreciate his game and wish that he possessed the drive to make something out of this team instead of jumping ship. It's hard not to feel as if a player is taking the easy way out when he hops on the first train out of town.
However, I don't think I can blame him. Whenever a player leaves, it highlights just how important every game and every point is. After all, what player wants to be in a relegation battle year after year? What player doesn't want to challenge for European competition? What player wants to watch as his captain (albeit a replacement) flops all over the field and then curses at the ref for it while a team full of replacement-level players refuses to challenge the other team's goal?
Make no mistake: I am happy that Newcastle are likely going to avoid the drop this year. (No jinxies) I am not happy with this team's performance from week to week, and it goes deeper than wanting to enjoy watching a game whenever it's on. When a player reflects back on their experiences on Tyneside, they shouldn't have to think about the numerous games where incomplete lineups were fielded and their talents were wasted. Injuries and suspensions are going to happen (though we've clearly got a serious problem with the latter), but there should be quality players ready to step in. Otherwise, 0-1 against Aston Villa, 1-3 against West Bromwich Albion, and 1-3 against Stevenage are going to stick in the mind of a player as he's on his way south to play for a team with more ambition.
That's just one reason why it is essential to spread the Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique money out this summer and not attempt to appease fickle fans with one or two big splash signings. This team is far from complete, and the Jose Enrique departure (I haven't yet entertained the possibility that this rumor is false, mostly for my own sanity) opens up yet another hole to fill. It would be foolish to bring in a "proven" (read: aging) striker for £20-25 million, for example, when there are easily 4+ spots currently being manned by subpar players, not to mention the need for quality backups.
As for JE, I'll miss him. Strange as it sounds, the offense has at times run through him, and he's a sound defender as well. He'll be tough to replace, but as we said when Andy left, if somebody is willing to overpay, you let your attachment to the player go. All we care about, after all, is NUFC.