Rafa: Bellamy and Cisse sold. West Ham deny Bellamy deal done

Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez has confirmed that strikers
Craig Bellamy and Djibril Cisse have left the club, although Bellamy’s supposed
buyers, West Ham, are denying the deal has been completed.

Craig Bellamy had a medical at West Ham earlier in the week,
and he agreed personal terms believed to include a £75,000-a-week pay packet.
Earlier today the only stumbling block was believed to be the fee for the player,
but that seemed to have been resolved when Rafa was interviewed after Liverpool’s
3-2 friendly defeat of Wrexham this afternoon: “He’s signed for West Ham, it’s
done,” claimed Rafa. “He knew what I thought and I think it’s a good move for

Bellamy had already been unhappy with the rotation policy
Rafa has, and the Spaniard told the Welsh striker that next season he was
likely to get even less games. The Liverpool boss needs the money more than the
player so he can fund more signings. A fee of an initial £7.5m was agreed, but
West Ham say the player is still to resolve some contractual issues with the

Also without a chance of playing a game again for Liverpool
was Djibril Cisse, who spent last season on loan at Marseilles. The French side
announced they had agreed a deal “in principle” to make Cisse a permanent
fixture and now that too seems to have been finalised. Rafa said: “Yes, it’s
done also.”

Liverpool’s attempts to sign West Ham’s Yossi Benayoun are
still ongoing. The Hammers are reported in some places as having put a
ridiculous £8m price tag on him, at one point trying to get a straight swap for
Bellamy, but Liverpool won’t be messed about. Rafa has a number of targets and
will switch to others if West Ham don’t budge soon. Benayoun has told West Ham
he doesn’t want to play for them again, upsetting the London side after he’d
agreed verbally to sign a new contract with them. Asked if the Israeli
international would be coming to Anfield Rafa said: “I don’t know. It’s clear
he’d like to come. Any move for Benayoun to join us from West Ham will not be
linked with the Bellamy sale. We have made an offer which has been rejected, now
we need to wait. He’s a player I like and would want to sign, and I believe he
wants to join us, but that deal will be separate now. We will have to wait and
see what happens next week. He’s a good player for me.”

The deals are clearly going to remain separate, especially
with West Ham attempting to get £8m for a player who doesn’t want to play for them
and who Liverpool value at around £3.5m.

Regarding the signing of Bellamy, West Ham’s busy press
office released the following statement on the club’s official website: “Following
comments attributed to Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez today, West Ham United
would like to make it clear that Craig Bellamy has not yet completed a move to
Upton Park.

“After a fee of £7.5million was agreed between the two
clubs, we can confirm that the Welsh international captain has successfully
passed a medical and agreed personal terms.

“However, the deal has been delayed due to a private
contractual issue between Craig Bellamy and Liverpool, which must be resolved
before any transfer can be completed.

“The player is due to meet with Liverpool on Monday morning,
and we expect to complete the transfer soon after.

“As always, confirmation of any new signing will appear here
on whufc.com as soon as it is formally completed.”

Liverpool’s official site was, as is usually the case with
unconfirmed signings, quiet on the issue.

Continue reading Rafa: Bellamy and Cisse sold. West Ham deny Bellamy deal done

Reds’ new No 10 not here to make up numbers

Andriy Voronin was officially unveiled by Liverpool
yesterday after signing on a free transfer this summer. The Ukrainian
international has played in Germany since his teens but when Liverpool showed
interest in him he couldn’t resist the opportunity, one he’s been hoping for
since playing at Anfield against Liverpool a couple of seasons ago.

One of the first things he noticed was that the atmosphere
within the club was extremely friendly, he’s been made to feel very welcome: “I
am pleased to be here finally,” he told the official site. “I am very excited
to be at a new club and especially one where all the players and staff are so
friendly. I’ve noticed how the atmosphere here is really good. The club is
helping me and my girlfriend find somewhere to live. I’m currently living in a
hotel but hopefully that’ll change in the next few days.”

What was it that brought him to Anfield? He said: “After
being in Germany for 12 years I felt it was time for a change, and then even
more so when the offer came in from Liverpool. It’s such a famous and big club
– one of the most famous in the world. You can’t resist an offer like that. The
task in front of Liverpool at the start of every season is to win trophies and
I want to be part of that. I want to help Liverpool achieve things.”

It was when playing for Bayer Leverkusen in 2005 that he
first experienced Anfield on a European night and he says it was an “unforgettable”
experience: “I will never forget that night, even though my team didn’t perform
as well as we could. Even for an opposition player, the supporters and the
atmosphere in that stadium were unforgettable, and definitely the thing I
remember most from that match. The Liverpool fans are world famous, and though
this was not the only reason I decided to join this club, it was certainly one
of the main reasons. I can’t wait to play at Anfield in a red shirt.”

Continue reading Reds’ new No 10 not here to make up numbers

Bellamy and Cisse on their way

Liverpool strikers Craig Bellamy and Djibril Cisse both look
to have found new clubs, bringing much-needed transfer funds in for Rafa Benítez.

Marseilles announced that they had now made a deal “in
principal” with Liverpool for Cissé, who spent last season on loan there. They’d
been trying to persuade Liverpool to allow them to have the French
international for another year on loan, but Liverpool held firm. Their plan
seemed to be to continue delaying their attempts to sign him to force Liverpool
into dropping the price, but late interest in the player from West Ham seems to
have forced their hand. A fee of over £8m is believed to have been agreed.
Cisse will be joined by former Reds teammate Bolo Zenden, who signed on a free
transfer for Marseilles yesterday.

Meanwhile Craig Bellamy has reportedly agreed personal terms
and passed a medical at West Ham. The personal terms are said to include wages
of £70,000 per week. The transfer fee is believed to be around £8m, a clear
profit on the £6m Liverpool played for the Welsh captain a year ago. The
complication in this deal seems to be that whether as part of the same deal or
not, Liverpool want to sign West Ham’s Jossi Benayoun, who the Hammers are
valuing at a ridiculous amount.

The deal for Bellamy is certainly not all done and dusted, but
Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez wants the funds from the transfer to keep his
summer spending going. He’s looking at buying “wingers”, with a number of targets
in mind. Benayoun has allegedly told West Ham that he won’t play for them again;
he only wants to play for Liverpool. The London side are certainly not short of
cash, but seem to be trying to make a stand against Benayoun.

In the place of Bellamy and Cisse come Andriy Voronin and
Fernando Torres. Torres was signed for £20m, the club-record fee for Liverpool,
but Voronin arrived on a free transfer. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s
being put into the squad as fourth-choice striker, and he’s been handed the
number 10 shirt too, which may finally end speculation that Rafa Benítez is
considering signing one of the former holders of that shirt, Michael Owen.

There are still mixed messages coming out about Harry
Kewell. The Australian player is currently out on duty with the Socceroos, and
is entering the final year of his Anfield contract. There is no doubt that Rafa
Benítez rates him highly, knowing what Kewell is capable of, but after so many
injuries the boss has rarely had chance to use him. Kewell is convinced he can
stay and show Rafa what he can do, but Rafa is believed to be prepared to
consider offers for the current number 7.

Rafa’s revelation that he is looking for new wingers
certainly adds more weight to the feeling he’s willing to let Kewell go. Rafa
is also thinking about wingers in the longer term, after agreeing a deal with
Stockport Country to sign their 18-year-old winger Ryan Crowther. The fee hasn’t
been revealed but the player has now agreed personal terms with the club and
has only the formality of a medical to complete – on Monday – before he becomes
a Red. He has made just two appearances for County’s first team, one as sub,
but Liverpool’s scouts have spotted something in him that they feel will make
him an important part of Rafa’s new youth set-up.

Continue reading Bellamy and Cisse on their way

Marseilles: Cisse deal agreed “in principle”

Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse looks set to finally be
making his move to Olympic Marseille a permanent one. Marseille’s official
website is reporting that they have now agreed a deal in principle with

Cisse was set to leave Anfield for £8m last summer until he
broke his leg on international duty for France. Instead he spent the season on
loan at Marseilles, and they were given the option to sign him. They did not
take up their option, but by the time the season came to an end they realised
they did want to try and keep him. The past weeks have been spent with
Marseilles making efforts to persuade Liverpool to drop their £6m valuation, or
to even allow Cisse to spend another year in France on loan.

Cisse had been Liverpool’s record signing until the arrival
of Fernando Torres earlier this week. He cost the club £14m but never got to
play for the man who’d signed him. Gerard Houllier had set the deal up 12
months before Cisse arrived, and by the time he did Houllier had left the club,
replaced by Rafa Benítez.

The news follows the earlier story from Marseilles that they
have signed free-agent Bolo Zenden. Zenden was a part of Liverpool’s Champions
League Final side in May, but had been told by boss Rafa Benítez that he wouldn’t
be part of the plans for this season. Zenden’s contracted ran out on June 30th.
He signed for two years for “l’OM” and will wear the number 10 shirt.

Continue reading Marseilles: Cisse deal agreed “in principle”

Torres: “I am very, very happy”

Liverpool’s new signing Fernando Torres spoke to the press
and to the official site yesterday after he became Liverpool’s club-record
signing in a £20m deal. The former Atletico Madrid player had signed a six-year
contract, worth £90,000 per week.

Torres said to the official site: “I am very, very happy.
This was the biggest decision of my footballing life but I’ve come to a winning
club. This is a club of champions – one of the biggest there is. I now want to
play my part in that and be a champion too and help the club progress. Obviously
growing up in Spain you are aware of all the big clubs there, but you also keep
an eye on Europe, and Liverpool always catches the eye. It always did for me.”

It seems Torres has had his eye on Anfield for some time: “I
had older brothers who’d tell me about the likes of Keegan and Rush, but the
first players I remember seeing as a fan are players like Robbie Fowler. My
main memory is seeing Liverpool’s incredible record in Europe, and I certainly
followed that closely.”

Continue reading Torres: “I am very, very happy”

Nearly there: Torres bids farewell to Atletico

Fernando Torres has said his farewells to the Atletico
Madrid fans he was so fond of and is heading for Liverpool to sign his six-year
contract with The Reds. He passed his medical yesterday but wanted that
opportunity to explain his decision before he put pen to paper. Liverpool have
called a press conference for 3.00 this afternoon to unveil the new number nine.

Speculation still surrounds the amount of the fee, which is
believed to be just £20m, not the £26.5m quoted elsewhere, but either way it is
a club record, beating the £14m Liverpool paid for another number nine, Djibril
Cisse in 2004. That transfer was completed after Rafa Benítez arrived, but had
already been committed to by the club prior to Gerard Houllier’s departure and
had nothing to do with Rafa.

This time Rafa is delighted, although there are stories that
it was the Torres camp that made the first move, letting it be known to
Liverpool that he wanted to move on. Atletico have only qualified for the Inter
Toto and Torres wanted a chance to play in the Champions League. The story also
goes that he didn’t even consider the idea of joining any club other than
Liverpool – it was Liverpool or nobody.

Torres said during his farewell messages that he was a
wrench to leave Atletico, but that he thought he just had to take on this new challenge:
“It has been a difficult decision to leave my all-time club, but it would have
been hard for me to reject Liverpool’s offer. It’s a big leap for me and I
think it was the right thing for everyone. The time comes in a player’s life
that he needs more challenges. I have always done what was best for the club,

He confirmed in his message that Liverpool were the only
club he would leave Atletico for: “The Liverpool offer arrived and I told the
club to only listen to that offer because that is the team I wanted to play
for. It’s one of the best, if not the best, clubs in Europe.”

He’s also proud to be given the number nine shirt, the shirt
he wore for Atletico and Spain, and the number he has in a tattoo: “The fact
that Liverpool are giving me the number nine jersey just goes to show the
confidence they have placed in me, when you consider those who have worn that
shirt before me.”

He’s ready to put the work into adapting to the differences
between Spanish and English football: “A beautiful new adventure begins for me
and I hope that with work and effort I can be among the best players. This is a
unique opportunity for me: Liverpool aim high with everything and that has been
an important factor in my decision to go there. I want to adapt as quickly as
possible. I think Premiership football is a football that fits well with my
style. I will arrive with a lot of joy and full of ambition.”

As for Atletico, Torres was saddened to be leaving, and says
his heart will always be with the Rojiblancos (Red and Whites) whatever
happens: “I will always feel at home at Atletico. I am proud of what I achieved
here; my heart will always be Rojiblanco regardless of where I go. I want to
thank the fans, who have shown a lot of support over the years. It has been a
pleasure for me. I hope to return one day.”

The Atletico management were desperate that Torres told
supporters it was his own choice to go, fearing more protests otherwise. Torres
said that despite being sad to leave he had no guilt about moving on: “My conscience
is clear with what I have achieved. I believe this is a good decision for me
and for the club. I hope that those who come here after me will do what we
haven’t been able to do.”

Continue reading Nearly there: Torres bids farewell to Atletico

Official: Torres passes medical today, will sign tomorrow

Liverpool and Atlético Madrid football clubs have tonight
confirmed officially that Fernando Torres is about to become a Liverpool
player. Torres passed his medical today and will make a farewell speech at Atlético
in the morning, before flying back to England to sign the contract making him
officially a Liverpool player.

Liverpool FC’s website said: “Liverpool Football Club has
announced Spanish striker Fernando Torres has passed a medical ahead of his
proposed move from Atlético Madrid.

“The 23-year-old is now expected to put pen to paper on
Wednesday before being unveiled to the press.

“A club spokesman said: ‘The player has passed a medical.
All the agreements are now in place and he will put pen to paper on the deal on

“Torres scored 82 in 214 appearances for Atlético, while for
Spain he’s bagged 14 goals in 40 games.”

The Atlético website said: “Fernando Torres has been
transferred to Liverpool and will give a press conference on Wednesday, July

“Club Atlético de Madrid has reached an agreement with
Liverpool Football Club in regards to the transfer of Fernando Torres. The
player, accompanied by Mr. Enrique Cerezo, will give his final farewells in a
closing press conference on Wednesday, July 4th in the VIP Room at Vicente
Calderon Stadium at 10:00 in the morning.”

Continue reading Official: Torres passes medical today, will sign tomorrow

Luis leaves Anfield

Luis Garcia has left Liverpool for a new phase in his career
at old club Atletico Madrid. The attacking midfielder had been at Anfield for
three years, memorably scoring the goal that still hurts Jose Mourinho and
which sent Liverpool on their way to Istanbul in 2005.

Atletico say he’s signed a three-year deal and that they
will parade him this afternoon, subject to him passing a medical: “Luis Garcia
returns to Atletico and will be presented on Tuesday at 13.30 hours,” they said
in a statement. “Atletico have reached an agreement with Liverpool to transfer
Luis Garcia, who has agreed to a three-year contract. Once the player completes
his medical, he will be presented to the media.”

Garcia started his career at Barcelona, one of two spells at
the club, before joining Real Valladolid. He also had loan spells at Toledo and
Tenerife before starting his first spell in the red and white stripes of
Atletico. From there he went to Barcelona which is where he was when Rafa Benítez
signed him in 2005. He played 77 times for Liverpool, scoring 18 times.

Anfield Road would like to wish you good luck in the rest of your career Luis – and thanks for those vital goals!

Continue reading Luis leaves Anfield

Robbie is delighted Torres is on way

Fernando Torres has cut short his holiday, prepared a
farewell statement for his adoring Atletico fans and is set to arrive in the UK
today for a medical. Once formalities have been completed, which may not
actually be until tomorrow, Torres will become Liverpool’s record signing.

The striker had a £27m buyout clause in his contract, but it’s
believed that hasn’t been triggered by Liverpool, who may have paid as little as
£20m for the player. We say ‘little’ – but it still eclipses the previous
record of £14m paid by the club for Djibril Cisse in 2005.

Torres will almost certainly take over Robbie Fowler’s
vacant number 9 shirt when he officially joins, and he does so with the Kop
legend’s blessing. Fowler told Sky Sports that he was, as a fan, delighted with
the news Torres was coming: “His goals record has been fantastic in Spain. He
has scored plenty of goals for his country as well. I think he will be a great
player for Liverpool. I am a Liverpool fan and I hope he brings the
championship to Liverpool. Since I have been playing, we’ve never won that and,
as I said before, I am a fan, so I want Liverpool to win everything.”

Continue reading Robbie is delighted Torres is on way

Reds transfer round-up

It's set to be a busy week for Liverpool in the transfer
market as Rafa aims to get his squad in place in time for pre-season.

The Red's attacking midfielder Luis Garcia has been in talks
with Atletico Madrid and spoke recently of his desire to play for them if he
did leave Anfield. With him having just a year left on his current deal, and no
plans the sign a new one, the 29-year-old would almost certainly have left next
summer anyway. His agent says the deal should be complete by tomorrow at the
latest. Manuel Garcia Quillon was reported by PA Sport as saying: "We are
working on Luis Garcia's permanent transfer to Atletico de Madrid. If all goes
well, the deal should be completed either today or tomorrow."

His three years at Anfield saw him play some very important
parts in very important games, perhaps his goal against Chelsea in the
semi-final of the 2005 Champions League being the most memorable. Especially
for Jose Mourinho. Garcia will be missed, but if his wish was to return home
for the final years of his career then that must be respected.

Garcia's deal is possibly going to be part of the deal to
bring Fernando Torres to Anfield, although it now seems the two clubs are
treating the deals separately. The fee has been agreed and Torres – on holiday
at the moment -has agreed his personal terms with Liverpool, although of course
he is yet to actually sign. Some reports suggest he's actually prepared to take
a pay cut compared to his salary in Spain. He's even said in Spanish reports to
be considering ending his holiday early so he can sign for us.

Atletico have his replacement lined up, and it will be of
relief to Liverpool fans for more than one reason. Firstly it confirmed
Atletico were ready to let their captain go, and secondly it confirmed his
replacement was not going to be coming to Anfield after all: "Atletico Madrid,
Villarreal and the representative of Diego Forlan have reached an agreement for
the transfer of the Uruguayan player for the next four seasons," said the Atletico

Torres is likely to get Robbie Fowler's number nine shirt
next season. Fowler's contract ended this summer and he has told Sky Sports
that he's still not had any serious offers for next season: ""I'm between
jobs," Fowler told Sky Sports News. "I actually thought I'd have a
few options, but at the minute I've not, nothing has happened as yet. There
should be interest in a few weeks for me, I think. Obviously I don't want to
blow my own trumpet, as in this day and age, lots of players are in my
situation and not everyone can get a club. I'm in that boat, so we'll just have
to wait and see."

He was reported to have been off to Scotland or America, but
it seems neither of those stories actually carried any weight. He feels sure he
could be of use to a club – as he should: "I'm confident in what I can do. I'm
32 and not past it by any means. I feel as though I'm capable of still doing a
job, I'm just waiting for that phone call to get any offers." He said injuries
could be putting people off him, but says that shouldn't really be the case: "I've
not got a bad record in the Premier League. I know I've had a few injuries and
people might be scared off by that, I don't know. I never played as much as I
wanted to last year, but I kept myself in good shape and I think I'm as fit now
as what I have been for a long time."

Fowler is a modest person and obviously finds it hard to ‘blow
his own trumpet', but he finds himself having to: "I don't think I need to
prove myself to anyone, my record speaks for itself. I'm not going to stand
here and say 'come and get me' because I've played at the top level for 10 or
15 years now and I think that says it all."

Scott Carson is reported as having asked for talks with Reds
boss Rafa Benitez about his future. Benítez spoke recently about how he planned
for Carson to be his second-choice keeper next season and wanted the England
Under-21 player to fight for the first-choice role. The Liverpool Echo have
quoted ‘an Anfield official' as saying Scott wants talks with the boss about
how much of a chance he actually will get. He's not planning an argument
though: "Scott doesn't want to ruffle any feathers. He just wants to discuss
the situation with Rafa. They will be perfectly amicable," said the unnamed

One of the reasons Carson was said to want these talks was
because of interest from Sammy Lee at Bolton. He reportedly wanted Carson on
loan for next season, after being turned down by free agent and former Reds
keeper Jerzy Dudek. Dudek's almost certainly off to Madrid, although he says he
did think about the chance of playing under Lee: "I made a decision to leave
England but Bolton's offer has made me have a rethink. I still haven't signed
anything with Real Madrid and I have other offers to consider very carefully."
Dudek knows his time at Madrid will almost certainly be spent on the bench.

Has as already been reported elsewhere Liverpool may well
have pulled off a coup in signing Barcelona teenager Dani Pacheco. Liverpool
will pay compensation of around £350,000 for the 16-year-old striker.

Rafa is believed to have given up on winger Florent Malouda
after he made it fairly clear in statements to the press that where he played
wasn't too much of a concern, suggesting he was most interested in which
contract looked most lucrative. Rafa is prepared to pay decent wages, given the
funds, but isn't a fan of players who consider that to be the most important
aspect of their future.

The shock news that broke at the end of last week was that
Rafa wanted to sign a player from Manchester United. He's interested in their
defender Gabriel Heinze, who can play at left-back or in the centre of defence.
It doesn't look like Liverpool would actually have to negotiate with United –
Heinze is close enough to the end of his contract to be able to leave his club
under the new FIFA ‘buy-out' rule. Liverpool would have to pay Manchester
United compensation based on the amount of money left owing to Heinze on his
existing deal as long as it has less than two years to run. As ever, estimates
vary as to what that fee would actually be calculated as, somewhere between £4m
and £6m. Heinze would need to undergo a very good medical before Liverpool
signed him.

The official Liverpool FC website confirmed that Hungarian
youngster Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon are now officially Reds players
after their move from MTK Hungaria was finalised. The club say the pair have
both signed three-year contracts and will be under the control of Gary Ablett
for the reserves.

Ablett has allowed defender Godwin Antwi to join League One's
Hartlepool on loan for the whole of next season.


Continue reading Reds transfer round-up