Raul linked with Reds as he considers future

Raul of RealLiverpool are today being linked with Real Madrid striker Raul. In an "exclusive", both the Daily Mirror and Daily Express have said that Raul will move to Liverpool in the summer. According to the reports Raul has visited Liverpool four times recently, mainly to meet up with his friend Fernando Morientes, but also visited Anfield and Melwood.

Raul, 27, is the all-time top-scorer in the Champions League. Liverpool’s success in Europe this season, with its Spanish flavour, has been monitored enthusiastically throughout Spain, especially with Real and Barca ending their involvement earlier than necessary. According to the report Raul is one of many Spanish fans of the new Liverpool, and if he does leave Real then Anfield would be a favoured destination.

To say Raul is popular with Real fans is an understatement. He’s been with them for 11 years, is captain, and it would seem can’t be dropped without permission of the club president. Luis Figo was dropped from midfield to accomodate Michael Owen in the team without dropping Raul. Now though it does seem that after a season without any silverware the fans and president are looking for someone to blame.

From what Raul is saying, it does seem that somebody’s had a quiet word about his future to him: "After 11 years here I want what’s best for the club. If at some time I have to sacrifice myself in order for the team to progress, then I will do. If the club calls you up and says you have to go, then as a player you have to be prepared to look for a way out that benefits everyone."

Raul is willing to accept the views of the masses, but doesn’t want to be messed about: "If I listen to the polls in some papers, it looks as though I should leave now. I still feel useful to the club and believe I haven’t reached my peak, but I don’t want to be in the way. All I want is for the club to be clear with me."

The transfer fee being quoted will have to drop though if Liverpool are to sign the Real skipper. £25million is too much for Benitez to spend on the player, in fact it’s close to his full transfer budget. Raul’s friend and former strike partner Morientes joined the Reds in January in a £6.3million deal. Morientes has struggled in his first half-season in the Red shirt, but that is down to not playing football for quite some time prior to his move. To have a fully-fit Morientes joined by Raul and Cisse for the new season could see Liverpool’s goalscoring return to the levels needed to sustain a fight for the league title.

Liverpool are clearly looking for a new striker. Milan Baros has already started to talk publicly about what he wants from the next coach he plays for. Baros is certainly unhappy with Anfield life and wants to leave this summer. Peter Crouch has been linked to Liverpool too, and is certainly a possibility if the Reds can negotiate a low enough fee – Crouch would be a squad player at Anfield, at least in the initial stages. There may yet be a surprise from manager Rafael Benitez though – he has many contacts and friends in Spanish football and may have more luck getting players from his former club Valencia, who’ve recently had a change of president.