Riera rant backfires as Spaniard heads for Anfield exit
ALBERT Riera has been suspended and put up for sale by Liverpool after his criticism of Rafael Benitez.
The winger was dropped from the Liverpool squad for last night's Europa League game at home to Lille and told not to return to training until Monday, meaning that he will also miss the Premier League match away to Manchester United on Sunday.
Riera could leave Anfield in weeks, with an immediate move to CSKA or Spartak Moscow, who are trailing the 27-year-old, a distinct possibility. The transfer window in Russia has been extended until April 8.
Riera, who joined Liverpool from Espanyol for £8m in September 2008, has had a fraught relationship with Benitez for several months and his frustrations came to a head on Wednesday, when he gave an interview to Radio Marca in which he accused the Liverpool manager of giving him the silent treatment, claimed that he was being left out of the team for personal reasons and stated that Benitez's brand of football is not good enough to earn him the Real Madrid job.
The Spain international's withering attack has also earned him a club fine of two weeks' wages, but, more significantly, it has signalled the imminent end of his Anfield career.
Riera has been a bit-part figure this season, with a combination of injury problems and poor form costing him a regular starting place. His outburst on the eve of last night's match meant that Benitez felt that he had no choice, but to omit him from his plans.
It is not the first time that the pair have been at loggerheads, nor the first time that Riera has been fined for his behaviour.
This season he was reprimanded after a training-ground altercation with a reserve-team player. The incident incensed Benitez and convinced him that he would have no choice but to sell the Majorca-born winger at the end of this campaign.
His departure date is likely to have been brought forward and will be confirmed if either of the Moscow clubs are willing to match Liverpool's £8m valuation. (© The Times, London)