Rafa makes room for Owen’s return

As we revealed late last night, Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallec has gone North to Sunderland on a 12-month-loan. Rafa Benitez is cutting down on his current strikers at the club, with Le Tallec’s loan move coinciding with the imminent departure of Milan Baros.

The 20-year-old Frenchman was sent out on loan at the start of last season under a cloud after complaining to Benitez about his position in the squad. He came back in the new year with a new attitude, and played an important part in Liverpool Champions League victory over Juventus at Anfield last season.

He’s had some Champions League involvement already this season, but after a chat with Benitez has decided to go to Sunderland to gain some more playing time. Speaking to Sunderland’s official website, safc.com, Le Tallec said: "I chose to come to Sunderland because I need to play games. At Liverpool it is very difficult to play every week, the coach told me that."

Le Tallec admitted that his knowledge of the North East team was limited but said he’s excited about the move: "I don’t know too much about Sunderland but I see it as a big club and a big challenge. I spoke to Mick McCarthy about the club and had a good feeling straight away. I’m a competitor and want to play games. I’m looking forward to
playing in the Premiership with Sunderland."

According to the Press Association, Milan Baros has made it known that he’d have no qualms about a move to Everton. After speaking to his advisors Baros is believed to be prepared for the stick he would receive if he changed his colours. Although Everton fans chanted "Die Die" to Nick Barmby when he moved in the opposite direction during the Houllier era, Liverpool fans would probably just wish the Czech international well and move on.

Everton’s Chief Executive Keith Wyness had earlier confirmed that the blues were looking at a possible move for Baros, telling the Liverpool Echo: "We are looking at a number of different striking options and we are currently reviewing them all. Baros is one of the names on the list." Everton sources say that the blues are confident that they could have the player signed in time for a Champions League appearance in their tie against Villarreal. Baros was at Anfield tonight, watching from the stands with Spanish right-back Josemi.

Before tonight’s game Rafa Benitez was asked by ITV2 if he was looking just for a centre-back and a right-sided midfielder, not a centre-forward such as Michael Owen. His answer: "At this moment we have a lot of strikers". The interviewer continued, "So Michael Owen is not an option?" to which Rafa replied, smiling, "we are looking for a centre-back and a right-winger".

Behind the scenes Liverpool are looking at the possibility of bringing Owen back to Anfield, whether on loan or on a permanent deal, and Benitez will not deny the interest in the player until the situation is resolved one way or the other. With Real Madrid just back in training today after their world tour, the two clubs will be able to resume talks over both Owen and Luis Figo.