Reports from Israel suggest Yossi Benayoun has agreed terms with Chelsea for a summer move away from managerless Liverpool. Liverpool have denied agreeing any fee with Chelsea, the Reds believed to be asking for £10m, but it seems clear that the move is inevitable.
Benayoun was said in some quarters to be looking for a move away from Anfield because he was unhappy with former manager Rafa Benítez and also frustrated at not getting enough starts. With Benítez gone and the next manager still unknown Benayoun still wants to leave, suggesting it wasn’t just Benítez and a lack of appearances that troubled him. The return to London would give no guarantees over appearances, but Champions League football and a big pay rise are likely to be more tempting than staying at Anfield in the current climate.
Yossi has three years left on the contract he signed for Liverpool last summer and is reported to have agreed a four-year contract with Chelsea. The reports say he will undergo a medical in the next few days before signing for his new club. Of course this can’t happen unless the two clubs do agree the fee, and with reports suggesting they are £6m apart on their valuations there would be much negotiation required before Israel’s captain would be clear to play in front of the plastic flags.
A figure of around £6m seems to be the most likely compromise on the fee, but any fans in doubt as to who negotiates transfers at Anfield will note there is no manager there to negotiate this one. Rafael Benítez left Liverpool earlier in the month after asking for guarantees from the Chairman Martin Broughton that all money from player sales could be reinvested in the squad. The Chairman is understood to have refused to give that guarantee, leaving Liverpool fans wondering whether any of this Yossi Benayoun money will be available to the next manager, whoever the next manager turns out to be.
Benayoun has been at Anfield for three seasons, his middle season by far his best for the club having suffered from inconsistency initially.
Fans fear Benayoun will be just the first of an exodus of players from Anfield this summer. Javier Mascherano has already made it clear he’d be delighted to follow Benítez to Inter Milan, with reports suggesting Dirk Kuyt – scorer of a goal for Holland in today’s World Cup win over Denmark –could also follow him.
With Steven Gerrard saying he wants to make his decisions about the future after the World Cup, he can hardly be encouraged by events at Anfield since he left for England duty. His relationship with Benítez is understood to nothing like the disaster some were suggesting, and although Real Madrid would be the most likely destination for the club captain should he leave, some reports suggest a move to Inter Milan should not be ruled out. Fernando Torres is another player unwilling to confirm he’ll definitely be at Anfield next season.
With no manager in place to block any of those sales, there is deep concern amongst fans that the squad could be decimated over the course of the summer. Of even more concern is how much of the funds brought in from those sales would actually be put back into the transfer budget for the next manager.
Some fans feel the perceived reluctance of certain board members to go along with the popular choice amongst fans of Kenny Dalglish as next manager suggests that they might just know he won’t be happy with their plans for the use of that transfer income.