Former Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder Albert Riera has joined Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkhiv on a free transfer. The 31-year-old Spanish midfielder joins after being released from his contract in January by Turkish club Galatasaray, making 13 appearances this season.
Metalist Kharkhiv become the eighth team that Riera has played for, the Spanish don't seem to have a phrase for journey-man, but Riera has definitely earnt that tag. He has never played more than three seasons at any of his clubs during his 14 year professional career. He made the most appearances for Espanyol and Galatasaray with 72 and 60 appearances respectively.
The highlight of his career arguably came for Espanyol when he scored at Hampden Park in the 2007 UEFA Cup final against Sevilla. Riera levelled the scores but his side would lose 3-1 in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.
Most British football fans will know the name from his loan spell at Manchester City, but also the £8 million move he made to Liverpool in 2008. He was also a Spanish international at the time of the move, earning 16 caps and scoring four times for La Furia Roja.
He definitely won't be remembered as the most successful of Liverpool's Spanish signings, he only made 40 appearances in his two year spell, with his attack on manager Rafa Benitez becoming the stand-out moment of his Anfield career.
"He's never sorted out a situation with a player by talking with him," Riera told Spanish radio station Marca.
He was then suspended by the club and was later sold to Greek side Olympiakos for around €4 million plus bonuses, one of the most expensive transfers in the country’s history.
Riera now joins Metalist a week before the Ukrainian league gets back underway after their mid-way winter break. They currently sit second in the table, five points behind Shakhtar Donetsk, but with a game in hand. Riera will hope his experience and excellent left-foot will help Metalist lift their first ever Ukrainian Premier League trophy, adding to the titles he won in Greece and Turkey.
Although he has been around for a long time, he is only 31 and will still have plenty to offer the Ukrainian club, although Liverpool fans may dispute that from the mixed memories they may have of the Spanish midfielder.
image: © banoootah_qtr