Hardman Paletta lets his game do all the talking

Gabriel Paletta may still be struggling with his English, but the statement of intent he sent out on his second appearance for Liverpool could not have been clearer.

With the clock running down on a 1-0 win over Crewe in Saturday's preseason friendly and the ball rolling towards the touchline, Paletta sprinted 30 yards to intercept teenager Billy Jones.

Would the Argentine defender usher Jones into the corner or perhaps stretch out a leg to poke the ball out of play? Neither.

Paletta did not flinch as he ploughed full speed into a shuddering tackle that was as fair as it was fearless.

There were no complaints from Crewe, even though Jones had to be carried off with bruising. And manager Rafael Benitez seemed satisfied with Paletta's uncompromising approach as he settles in alongside Liverpool's other South American signings Fabio Aurelio and Mark Gonzalez.

"Most of them speak good English," said Benitez. "Only Paletta needs to improve a little bit, but he's working with the English teacher."

When it was suggested the £2million signing from Atletico Banfield did not need any work on his tackling, the Liverpool boss smiled in agreement, adding: "I don't think so!"

Paletta has been likened to Roberto Ayala and if he was hoping to rubber-stamp his reputation as a typical Argentine hardman, he could not have done it in a more emphatic manner.

Fast, strong and tenacious, the 20-year-old seems to possess all the attributes of a formidable defender and he is expected to mount a strong challenge to Liverpool's established central defensive pairing of Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher this season.

Aurelio and Gonzalez also tried to catch Benitez's eye against Crewe in a game that saw the return of Bolo Zenden, who has been out for eight months with a knee injury.

A 13th-minute goal by 17-year-old striker Craig Lindfield was enough to give Liverpool victory.

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