Liverpool’s return to training yesterday was made without any new players joining the squad. The Reds are looking to improve their squad after Rafa Benitez stated towards the end of last season that Liverpool’s performances in the league were unacceptable. However partly due to the later end to the Spanish season many of Benitez’s targets are not yet available to sign – too many decision makers are on holiday.
Two signings that Benitez was reportedly aiming to make that weren’t from Spain were for the strikers Peter Crouch of Southampton and Feyenoord’s Dirk Kuyt. The asking price for both players is higher than Benitez is willing to pay according to reports. Kuyt is valued at £10m by his club and Harry Redknapp doesn’t want to lose Crouch, even at the £6m fee that’s been quoted.
With this in mind the news has been circulating that the Reds are going to raid the French champions Lyon for their striker Sidney Govou. Lyon’s Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said yesterday that he’d given permission to the player to look for another club, after he’d helped the club on their way to a fourth successive title last season. He scored 8 times in 36 appearances and Aulas said: "Sidney’s being won over by the idea of staying, but we gave him the option of leaving after all he’d done for us at the end of last season. It’s just that he hasn’t had any concrete offers yet."
All of this seems a little odd – Govou’s contract runs until 2008 and Lyon have just failed in a bid to sign Milan Baros. Instead current Lyon boss Gerard Houllier, has signed his long-term target when at Anfield John Carew from Valencia. As ever at this time of year many stories are circulated deliberately to fire warning shots to players and clubs that are dragging their heels over possible deals.
Still no official word on the signing of Jose Reina, who is reportedly about to move to Anfield for £8million. Reports say that Chris Kirkland missed training yesterday in order to attend for fitness checks with West Bromwich Albion. West Brom want to sign the player on a 12-month loan, but boss Bryan Robson wants to ensure he’s fit enough. Kirkland has been at Anfield for four years since being signed by Gerard Houllier for £6m, and has only made 45 appearances. However he was the understudy to Jerzy Dudek for most of that time, and his low number of appearances is not all down to injury.
Kirkland’s agent Chris Gordon said last week in response to a link with Celtic: "Chris feels Albion and the Premiership is the place to be. It is an exciting opportunity for him at Albion. They will get a top quality goalkeeper. He wants to show he is fit again and is ready to establish himself in the Premiership and as an England player. The World Cup finals next year are very much in his mind. The medical will hold no fears for Chris. He feels fantastic and has real confidence in his back for the first time in ages."