Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse looks set to finally bring to an end an Anfield career that never really lived up to expectations. Marseille are about to complete the signing of the forward on a loan initially, which will be made permanent once Cisse proves his recovery from his broken leg.
Djibs was signed by Gerard Houllier a year before the French manager left the club, but he didn’t actually arrive until Rafa became boss. His first season at the club was interrupted by a broken leg, although he did return in time to play a part in the Istanbul glory at the end of that season. He scored both Liverpool goals as they won the Super Cup at the start of last season, but was less influential in the FA Cup final at Cardiff. He did score some goals though and his departure will surely be followed by the signing of a replacement.
Cisse always claimed, amid constant speculation about his future, that he was happy at Anfield. His British wife and their children were settled in their Frodsham home he said. When Rafael Benitez confirmed he had been looking to sell Cisse it seemed certain that he was going to go after all. Lyon and Marseille lodged bids in the region of £8m, a decent fee compared to the £14m paid for him bearing in mind two years of his contract had since passed. Then Cisse broke his leg again.
The disappointment of not being a part of the French squad that got all the way to the semis must have been quite deep for Djibs, coming on top of his Anfield rejection. His arrival back in France at Marseille, the club he supported as a boy, will give him something to look forward to when he recovers from the injury.
Didi Hamann’s move to Manchester City should go ahead by the end of this week. Didi has a year left on his Anfield contract and will cost City around £500,000 – no doubt a chunk of that going to Didi as a payoff for that remaining contract. No Reds would begrudge him a good pay-off at the end of his Anfield career and will wish him well at City. Sam Allardyce tried to sign him, but the style of football played by Bolton doesn’t appeal to many and perhaps Didi was one of those. Bolton had already signed him according to many reports, but these reports had come a little prematurely and Allardyce conceded as much recently: “It’s a big disappointment because this is the second time that we have failed to get Hamann. But it seems that he is going to City, so that’s it. I don’t know why he has changed his mind. Hamann could have done a good job for us.”
With Didi gone, there’s a possibility that Boudewijn Zenden could feature in a more central role at the club. Signed for his abilities on the left wing, Bolo had been playing more centrally for Boro before the Reds signed him. He was starting to get some games in and showing what he was bought for when he suffered a knee-ligament injury which put him out for the rest of the season. Now though he’s gone straight back into pre-season training and has pleased Rafa – especially with his attitude during his absence from the field. Rafa sad: “He is training again now and I was really happy with him at the end of last season. He was injured, but he was always in the dressing room and he was always encouraging his team-mates and supporting them.”
Rafa continued: “This year he has started pre-season training really well. I am thinking about using him sometimes as a central midfielder because he has experience at Middlesbrough in this position. He also has quality, and with his experience and his game intelligence he can give us more things. I think he was happier in this position, and with us losing Hamann, we will have Momo Sissoko, Stevie Gerrard and Xabi Alonso for that position – and maybe Bolo, too.”