Peter Crouch’s time at Anfield is now drawing to a close after he underwent a medical for Portsmouth, following an announcement from the Reds that he had been given permission to speak to Harry Redknapp’s side.
A spokesman was quoted on the official Liverpool FC website confirming the news: “We have reached a verbal agreement with Portsmouth and have given them permission to speak with Peter.”
Crouch joined the club from Southampton in 2005 for what many thought was an overpriced £7m. As that first season began those critics were enjoying his slow start, until he finally did find the net and put the 19-game dry spell behind him. In the end he scored 42 times for the club, in his 135 appearances and earned a lot of adulation from supporters. 22 of those goals came from his 85 league appearances.
If the move goes ahead it will be his second spell at Portsmouth. He had been linked with two of his other former clubs, Tottenham and Aston Villa, but it’s believed it was always Portsmouth he was most interested in moving to.
The player has a year left on his Liverpool contract, and so Rafa Benítez would not have seriously expected to achieve the £15m valuation he publicly put on the forward. The fee is, according to the Liverpool Echo, £11m – but only £8m of that would be paid up front. The rest is linked to various add-ons. The paper says he’s about to undergo a medical.
His desire to leave was based above all else on a wish to get more first-team football. He was never likely to oust Fernando Torres as first-choice striker, and even when Rafa was playing a 4-4-2 formation the manager was rarely willing to partner Torres with Crouch. Crouch wants to further his England career, and being an understudy to Torres seems to be incompatible with that.
Liverpool’s attempts to sign Gareth Barry have barely moved forward – Martin O’Neill has now reportedly asked for Steve Finnan to be included in the deal, but his expectation is that Finnan would be included on top of Liverpool’s latest bid. His expectation is unlikely to be met, because Liverpool will not increase their overall bid, they would purely reduce the cash part of their bid by Finnan’s valuation. O’Neill is desperate for a full-back, after the player he had been using in the role – Olof Mellberg – left for Juventus on a Bosman.
Juventus are also looking to add Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso to their squad this summer, but are now trying to get the fee down. Whereas Liverpool’s bids for Barry have been made without Villa allowing any contact between the player and Anfield, the Spanish midfielder’s representative has already held talks with Juve. These talks came after Juve’s representatives met with Rafa Benítez and others in Liverpool. The move looked set to go ahead as soon as the European Championships ended.
With Xabi involved in the final as Spain became champions his value has certainly not dropped, but Juve don’t agree with Liverpool on what that value actually is. Reports suggest Liverpool are asking for €20m, €5m more than Juve want to pay, and now the Italian side say they have other targets too.
They made similar noises in January when their move for Momo Sissoko had reached the stage where it was time to show the money. After their interest had been publicly confirmed, and the player had spoken of how good the move could be, they started to claim the deal wasn’t on. They claimed they wouldn’t be buying anyone in the January transfer window. Momo signed for them in the January transfer window. Many of names linked with them in place of Xabi are not realistic targets, and they are still expected to close that £4m gap between their price and Liverpool’s, just as soon as they’ve realised the price isn’t going to drop as low as they would like.
Charles Itandje’s departure after an embarrassing first season at Anfield has been held up by his contract demands. Turkish side Galatasaray were all set to sign him for £2m, until they spoke to him and heard his desired contract terms.
His replacement is set to be the Brazilian keeper Diego Cavalieri of Palmeiras. The 25 year-old is now in the city after being given permission to miss his club’s match at the weekend to speak to the Reds. A £3m transfer fee has been agreed, which will be largely paid for by Itandje’s fee, if the Frenchman can find some common ground on his personal demands. After just agreeing to sign former Red Harry Kewell, Galatasaray are perhaps unable to afford to keep the keeper in the style he is accustomed to.
Meanwhile a Bosnian-born 17-year-old striker has joined the Reds on a three-year deal. Nikola Saric has played for the Danish Under-18 international side and was the 2007 Under-17 player of the year in Denmark.
Signed from Herfolge, he told his former club’s official website of his delight: “Of course, I want to join Liverpool FC. I will get to train with the big names over there and develop in the reserves. It is a tremendous chance for me and I am very happy. I feel the time is right and that I am mature enough for a new challenge. We have been waiting for the right club to come with an offer.”