Rafa admits Cisse was about to be sold

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez today said he was “really sorry” for Djibril Cisse, who is out of the World Cup and all other football for the rest of the year. At the same time Rafa also admitted for the first time that Djibs had been about to leave the club.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Rafa said, “There are two issues here – firstly, from the players point of view, I’m really sorry for Djibril. That’s important. It’s really unfortunate for him.”

The second point of view though is that plans to sell Cisse and use the money towards some of the other signings are now on hold, at least until January if not on a more permanent basis: “It’s true it’s now impossible for him to be sold. We were expecting to sell him to Marseille or Lyon and planned using the money for other players. We were talking to both clubs. Now we won’t have this money. We won’t expect him to play again until November or December.”

Rafa was asked if the fact Djibs had been all set to leave will have an impact once he does return to fitness, but the boss said this wouldn’t happen, because everything was agreed and dealt with professionally: “It was a professional decision and we were honest with Djibril. There will be no problem when he comes back.”

The Echo also tell us that Rafa is hoping to sign Seville’s Daniel Alves “imminently” and also Dirk Kuyt. In addition to those two Rafa had, according to the Echo (and other sources), got his eye on Darren Bent or Craig Bellamy.

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Confirmation of Cisse’s break

Confirmation has come that Djibril Cisse did indeed break his leg against China last night. For anyone who saw the incident there was no doubt anyway, but the actual diagnosis is that he has fractured his right fibula and shinbone.

According to the French coach the injury has left a cloud over the squad as they try to prepare for the World Cup. Raymond Domenech said “It’s a vicious blow to all of us. Everything was going so well. All the players are depressed. Even during the game you could see it. They just lost interest in the game.” Domenech is inevitably being asked who he will bring in to replace Cisse, but is understandably more concerned about the health of Djibs: “The rule is that we can replace an injured player until a day before the first match. For the moment I have other worries. Then we’ll think about it and talk about it between us. Djibril’s injury is the only thing that’s worrying us right now. It’s a drama.”

Arsenal and France captain Thierry Henry was also distraught: “I was just beside him when he fell and I heard him yell. Losing a team-mate and a friend like that just before a World Cup, it’s really tough.”
The player who Cisse was battling for the ball with was China’s Zheng Zhi. He also seemed to be shaken by the incident, saying: “I was taking advantage of my position and engaged with him bodily but I didn’t expect Cisse to be injured after he fell to the ground. Football matches are just like this. Every professional player could be injured on the pitch.”

Cisse is expected to be out of the game for around six months if similar injuries are anything to go by, but remember, this is Djibril Cisse. He returned much sooner than expected from his last broken leg, which was on the other leg.

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Djibril breaks leg again playing for France

Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse has suffered another broken leg and his World Cup is over.

Djibs was playing for France in a friendly in St Etienne tonight ahead of the tournament in Germany. He fell awkwardly and as a result broke his right leg. Thankfully, contrary to what we’d earlier been told, it is not the same leg as he broke last time. He nearly lost his left leg when he was playing for Liverpool against Blackburn. It was the actions of Liverpool club doctor Mark Waller which saved Djibs from a possible amputation of his leg, so severe was the break.

The striker was looking set to be leaving Anfield this summer, with reports that Marseille’s sporting director was on Merseyside today to thrash out a deal with Liverpool for the forward. Djibs was signed by, but never played for, Gerard Houllier at a cost of £14m, arriving 2 summers ago at the same time as Rafael Benitez. The price that had been quoted for him was £7m, Djibs finally accepting he wasn’t a part of what Rafa saw as the future way forward for the Reds.

The injury will no doubt have an impact on Liverpool’s summer transfer dealings, but just how much remains to be seen.

The full extent of the injury is yet to be fully assessed, the break to the leg has not been confirmed officially but it’s difficult to see what else it could be.

We’d like to wish Djibril all the best and send our sympathies to him at what must be an absolutely devastating situation.

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Reds still working on transfers

Liverpool’s chief executive Rick Parry is no doubt in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year for himself right now, with transfer negotiations both in and out the top of his agenda. Birmingham City said yesterday they’d been in contact with Rick to tell him they weren’t looking to sell Jermain Pennant, and some reports are saying Blackburn have sent a similar message over Craig Bellamy. Other targets for Parry to bring home to Rafael Benitez are also being worked on, but until agents or clubs need to up the stakes these things are rarely leaked in much detail.

On the transfers out side of things, Djibril Cisse seems to be the priority for offloading, and he’d attract the highest fee. It’s that fee that is now being reported as a stumbling block for him to be able to join the team he supported as a boy – Marseilles. Liverpool have been asking for at lest £7million for the player, but Marseilles are trying to haggle. Reports say that Liverpool allowed Cisse to speak over personal terms with Marseilles ahead of him getting his head down to concentrate for the World Cup, and he and the club came to an agreement.

Chris Kirkland is still favourite to land at Wigan, as he seeks to try and get his career back on track after a long time out injured for one reason or another. He’s effectively become fourth choice goalkeeper at Anfield now, behind Pepe Reina, Jerzy Dudek and Scott Carson. Dudek still wants to leave Anfield, but Scott Carson is being advised to leave too by his England team-mate Paul Robinson. Carson has gone to Germany as England’s third choice keeper behind Robinson and ex-Red David James, and according to the Spurs keeper he’s got a lot of potential. Robinson claims that Carson needs regular football to develop his skills: “Scott Carson will be very good in the next couple of years, but he needs to play games. He is 20 now. Whether that means leaving Liverpool permanently or on loan I don’t know, but to further his career and develop as a keeper, he needs to take that step up and play games week in and week out.”

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Rafa continues work on new signings

With Peter Crouch fast becoming England’s favourite player, it’s easy to forget that Rafael Benítez is still looking for two new strikers. He returned from holiday last week to sign the new deal Rick Parry had offered him, and it’s expected that the second batch of new signings will be announced this week. The first batch includes the likes of Aurelio and Paletta, who were signed during the season but won’t officially become players until sometime this month. The second batch will include players targeted by Rafa for some time, but it remains to be seen which deals actually get finalised this week. With the World Cup then kicking off, other signing may not be seen until after the tournament ends, or as individual players find their country’s participation ends.

Rafa is still hoping to bring Daniel Alves to Anfield, but his current club Sevilla are trying to see if Barcelona might make a bid so that Liverpool have to raise theirs. Reports vary, but Rafa is said to be prepared to pay up to £8million for a player he sees as his main target for the summer, but as he has proved time and again he’ll not pay more than what he considers a player to be worth. Craig Bellamy is someone linked tenuously with Liverpool towards the end of the season but he’s now been able to use that interest to engineer a better deal with Blackburn, so looks unlikely to move. Jermain Defoe is another name strongly linked with the Reds – and publicly by Rafa in response to some Spurs press manoeuvres earlier in the season. Defoe was overlooked by England boss Eriksson for the 23-man World Cup squad, as was another name linked to Anfield, Darren Bent of Charlton. With Fernando Morientes already gone and Djibril Cisse looking set to move back to France and either Lyon or Marseille, Rafa does need some striking options.

The move for Alves is Rafa’s priority, but a link to Fulham’s right-side midfielder Steed Malbranque has been gathering momentum this weekend. Liverpool were often linked with the Frenchman during Gerard Houllier’s reign. With Alves planned as a right-sided midfielder for Liverpool, it could just be that Rafa is setting up a back-up deal. The fee talked about is £4million. Rafa will certainly be looking for cover for the right side of the pitch, with Jan Kromkamp set to leave this summer.

Getting Rafa to put pen to paper on that new deal was no doubt Rick Parry’s number one priority on his return from holiday – he’ll not have forgotten about last summer in any hurry. Parry said after signing: “This contract is not about financial reward, but about Rafa’s belief that he can take the club even further forward. We have someone who shares the vision of everyone connected to Liverpool.” Rafa himself said, as he has been saying for some time now, that he’s happy: “I’m delighted to have now signed the contract. I’m very happy at Liverpool and hope we can enjoy more success.”

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Rafa target Alves in high demand

Rafael Benitez is still on holiday today, but will be well aware that his number one transfer target looks to be part of a mini bidding war. The Brazilian wing-back Daniel Alves is that top target, and now the player’s agent has done what agents do best – stir things up through the press. In this case it’s Spanish newspaper Marca and the agent has named Barcelona is another club interested in signing the 23-year-old. He’s also claimed three other clubs are interested in the player. Liverpool are one of the three, along with Real Madrid according to some reports.

Rafa is said to have put a bid in of £7m for the player, who is also on holiday at the moment. His agent is José Rodríguez Baster and he told the Spanish newspaper about the current situation: “Barcelona were put in contact with us to know Daniel’s situation and we directly transferred them to Sevilla. Since then we have not spoken with them. In addition there are great clubs also involved who have not yet been publicised. Three important clubs, at European level, have shown their interest.”

Alves would be used on the right side of midfield for Liverpool, but the left side of midfield is causing Rafa some trouble too at the moment. Chilean winger Mark González is already a Liverpool player, but due to him not being able to obtain a work permit he’s not yet played a game for his club. The Reds had to wait 12 months before putting in another work permit application and that new application goes in this week.

González has been at the centre of some controversy this past week during his country’s stay in Dublin. After an impressive game for Chile against the Republic of Ireland he was sent home for an alleged breach of discipline. He and team-mate Reinaldo Navia were allegedly caught in their hotel room with three girls and accused of being up to no good. González claimed they were just giving the girls autographs, and is now threatening to quit international football: “I will think very carefully about whether I will wear the national shirt again. I told Acosta there was a misunderstanding with what happened in Dublin but even with my explanations he decided to send me back to Chile. Neither Navia nor I was drunk, we were only giving our autographs.”

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