Liverpool striker Milan Baros has reportedly agreed personal terms with Schalke 04, as Rafa Benitez reveals he expects to have signed two more new players by the end of next week.
Czech Republic internation Baros, 23, has two years left on his Anfield contract, but after numerous complaints in the press about the tactics of Rafa Benitez leaving him off the field more than he liked, it seems his days in the Red shirt are numbered.
Baros has been left out of Liverpool’s three Champions League qualifiers so far. Schalke’s coach, Ralf Rangnick, spoke to German sports news agency SID, saying that talks between the Germans and the player went really well: "We’ve agreed things with Baros and his agent. He wants to come to us. We’ll make a move towards agreeing a transfer with Liverpool next week."
Liverpool want £7million for the player, which seems beyond the reach of Schalke. The German outfit believe they can talk Liverpool’s price down: "We have time and don’t need to acceed to Liverpool’s demands straight away."
Baros is also wanted by Aston Villa and West Ham. Two moves have already fallen through for the player. Valencia changed their management and their minds about signing him. Lyon wanted the player, but he refused to play under Gerard Houllier again.
Regardless of what happens to Baros, Liverpool’s manager Benitez says he wants to add two more players to the squad – a centre-half and a right-winger. He said: "I am very happy with the squad, with the way they are working in training and in matches and I am happy with the new players. But I am still looking for a centre back and a right winger and we need to bring these players in during the next seven days."
Benitez would not answer either way whether Luis Figo was the right-winger he was looking for. Figo is out in Asia at the moment with Real Madrid, and his future will be settled on his return to Europe. Rafa said: "I always say that a player is not yours until he has actually been signed. We have alternatives to these players and my idea is to always be looking at all your options."
It isn’t clear whether any money from the sale of Baros would allow Benitez to sign a third player by the end of next week.
Liverpool pre-season diet of training, friendlies and Champions League qualifiers has gone well so far for Liverpool. They’ve won every game they’ve played, scoring 3 or 4 goals in each match. Rafa is confident about an improvement this coming league season, but is taking each game as it comes: "I am realistic. I always think about winning the next game and nothing else. I know it will be difficult but it you start the season winning games then it helps your confidence and your performance. We have a better squad than last season and we have a lot of hungry players who want to win. If the players continue working as hard in training as they have been doing then I can dream of the possibilities."
Jamie Carragher scored his first goal in six years during the week, which is something Rafa has been looking for from his back players: "We have forwards who bring different qualities and different possibilities to the team and it is good when they score goals. But it is also important that we get goals from the midfield and even from the defenders, and this has been happening."
Rafa’s mission to bring a new central defender into the squad is more to strengthen the depth of the squad than due to feeling his defence isn’t good enough: "We are scoring a lot of goals so I am not too worried about goals we have conceded. When you look at the goals we have conceded some have come at the start of games but most have come at the end of matches which we have been two or three goals ahead and our players have been looking for more goals. That comes down to concentration and this will improve as the players fitness improves and they are more ready for matches."
Rafa Benitez is a hero at Anfield now, and his modesty is all part of what makes him such a popular figure amongst the fans. An arrogant boss would not have gone down well at Anfield, but Benitez is far from being like that. After chairman David Moores came out and praised the Spaniard, Rafa admitted: "I am flattered by what the chairman has said but I prefer only to look at my next challenge and not to look too far ahead. But I am really happy at the moment."
The 350 Liverpool fans that followed the Reds to Kaunas in midweek impressed the manager. Prior to his arrival at Anfield this level of support was something he had never experienced. "When I was manager of other teams and we played pre-season games away from Spain we would sometimes have 10 or 20 fans with us. But at Liverpool it is different. There are usually hundreds of fans wherever and whenever we play. This is something that is very special and something that the players and myself really appreciate. It is one of the reasons why I always say we have the best supporters in the world."
The best supporters in the world are now looking forward to seeing the final signings of this summer and are confident that this squad will perform extremely well in the new season.