With one full-back’s future assured, Liverpool are prepared to go to court if that is neccessary in order to secure the services of another. That was the news from Hong Kong yesterday as Liverpool prepared for this afternoon’s friendly with South China.
Right-back Steve Finnan revealed he had agreed a three-year-deal which he will sign next week on return to the UK, meaning the unsung hero of many a Liverpool game will be a Red until he’s 34. Meanwhile left-back Gabriel Heinze said he would take his current club – Manchester United – to court if they did not honour a letter allowing him to leave if a set fee was offered.
Rafa was asked about the move for Heinze, but was not prepared to reveal too many details: “All I can say is we’ve made an offer, they rejected it and the now the lawyers are working. Now we must wait. It’s clear he’s a player we like and he’s a very good player. That’s the reason why they don’t want him to leave for us.” The real reason United don’t want Heinze to leave for us is purely because it is us. Certainly Alex Ferguson would prefer to accept a £3m offer from Everton before he’d accept a £6m-plus offer from Liverpool.
Heinze’s agent is believed to have been sent a letter by United allowing him to offer the Argentinean international to other clubs for a fee €10m, around £6.7m. Unfortunately United took it for granted that the agent would not speak to Liverpool about Heinze. Lawyers are making money out of the situation, but the strong feeling is that United are going to be powerless to stop this. It’s certainly more of a cut-and-dried case than the attempts by United to sign Carlos Tevez without agreeing a fee with or getting permission from West Ham.
That rivalry means that Heinze’s possible arrival would be met by a mixed response from Liverpool fans. Some are happy to trust Rafa’s judgement on any signing, others are happy at the thought of Alex Ferguson is sitting in his office fuming that the letter didn’t say, “any club but Liverpool”. Some fans are just adamant that we should not be buying directly from the club we have such rivalry with.
As that row rumbles on it’s been a huge comfort for fans to hear that Steve Finnan has agreed to sign that new deal. He’s been at Anfield since Gerrard Houllier signed him in summer 2003, and looked like he was going to be leaving the following summer when Rafa arrived. He stayed and has become the first-choice at right-back, quietly playing a major part in Liverpool’s improvement under Benitez. He’s delighted to be staying: “I’m really pleased that I’ll be extending my stay at Liverpool and I can’t wait to sign the contract once we’re back home. I’m in my thirties now and there’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this is where I want to play for the rest of my career.”
There were worries amongst fans that after the other five signings by existing players this summer that Finnan still hadn’t signed. It seems this worry wasn’t shared by Finnan: “I was never worried about not being offered a new deal to be honest. We initially spoke about it towards the end of last season but there’s been a lot going on at the club in recent months and it was never in doubt. The manager assured me that I was in his plans and once talks resumed everything was tied up really quickly.”