From the official site:
Liverpool FC confirmed today that they had agreed a fee with Newcastle United for the transfer of José Enrique.
The club have now been given permission to discuss personal terms with the player, who will travel to Liverpool to undergo a medical.
With just under three weeks left in the summer transfer window, Liverpool finally get a left back, with a fee reported to be in the region of £5.5m. If accurate that's an absolute bargain, particularly considering the discussions earlier in the summer about the cost of signing up the Newcastle man.
There's been a need for Liverpool to add personnel at the back since at least last summer; even with the change in ownership, it's become clear that Emiliano Insua sn't going to last long, and the frailties of Fabio Aurelio made for a challenging season on the left side of defense. Glen Johnson showed adaptability and turned in some admirable performances while deputizing, and, countering John Flanagan, Jack Robinson emerged as one of the bright spots of last season's run-in.
Neither Johnson nor Robinson were lasting solutions, though, and with Aurelio's fitness a temporary boost at most, adding someone to the mix was a basic necessity. There's probably those who would have preferred that the club had made this their marquee signing of the summer and spend a few million more a month or so ago, but, if the reports about the fee are true, it looks like signing Enrique (or anyone else) then would have been wasteful.
As far as transfer sagas go, this one was relatively tame---Alan Pardew got a bit upset when Enrique used his Twitter account to criticize the club's transfer dealings, and ending up having to consult Alex Ferguson, leading technology liaison for the Premier League. It was a bit of an ongoing problem with Enrique, who had tweeted his match availability earlier in the season, but ultimately proved to be another overblown story, and one that you can't imagine taking place at Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool.
The 25-year-old earned plenty of attention during the 2010-2011 season, with a reputation for getting forward with excellent pace while losing little of his effectiveness in defense. In the last few days Jen Chang from Sports Illustrated discussed the latter statistic from the season gone by; assuming the tracking for this type of stat is valid, and the amount of times he was taken on is comparable to the other names included, it's mighty impressive---to only be beaten nine times over 36 appearances is stunning, and a facet of his game that may have otherwise gone unheralded given his skill in attack.
He also provides a nice juxtaposition in terms of reliability; as noted above, he led Newcastle in appearances last season and has been a consistent performer for the club since arriving in 2007. That's a far cry anything Liverpool's had since the glory days of John Arne Riise, with, at the very least, Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Aurelio, Daniel Agger, Emiliano Insua, Glen Johnson, Danny Wilson, and Jack Robinson playing a part at some point over the past three seasons.
The hope is still that Aurelio stays fit and can fit into the eleven on a consistent basis, but adding Enrique to the mix allows for a natural left back to feature nearly every time out. And either way, Liverpool have the potential to terrorize teams down the left flank---we saw the potential of Aurelio and Downing at the weekend against Valencia, with overlap and interplay that was terrifically effective at times. Substituting Enrique to that partnership would certainly have its benefits, as he's pacier than Aurelio and more forward-minded, and more than willing to work his way up the pitch.
In the end, and as I mentioned yesterday when talk increased, it's a positive, shrewd signing for the club, and one that will only make them better. So, like always, we wish José Enrique the best as he begins his Liverpool career. Oh, and an awkwardly-soundtracked video compilation. That's mandatory: