Redknapp sets Crouch deadline, Reds bid for Milito

Liverpool’s attempts to sign Southampton striker Peter Crouch must come to a conclusion by the end of the week according to Saints boss Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp doesn’t want to lose the striker, and if he does he wants his full valuation for the player. Liverpool are refusing to go as high as that in their attempts to sign the player, but haven’t given up hope of signing him yet. Rafael Benitez wants him to be signed in time for Liverpool’s trip to a training camp in Switzerland later this week. Redknapp says it’s simple – pay the fee and take the player, by the end of the week, or forget about the deal: "If they want him they have got to pay the money. They said they wanted to go on tour with him so they need to buy him this week or forget all about him. Then we can all get on with our lives."

Due to Crouch making his England debut at the end of May, Southampton feel the player is worth £8million. Redknapp wants to keep the player, but admits that every player has a price: "We don’t want to sell him but obviously if the money is right then we would have to look at it, but the offer they have made is not good enough. They offered £6m for him, West Ham did too, but we decided it wasn’t enough."

Redknapp wouldn’t confirm the fee the club require for the player, but said the Reds hadn’t yet matched it: "I don’t want to say how much we want for him but they are not there at the moment, that’s for sure. I want to keep him anyway. We have got to try to get back out of this league and I have already lost some good players. If we sold him I’m sure I wouldn’t see all of it but although I would be able to bring in two or three players I would rather have Crouchy."

Benitez is hoping to have Crouch in his squad as soon as possible so that the player is being coached in the new Liverpool way. Speaking earlier in the week, Rafa said: "Crouch is a player I like and I would hope that the final talking will be over as soon as possible. I would like to see him working with us, at this stage of our season you want players sooner rather than later."

Whether Benitez and Rick Parry are playing poker with Southampton remains to be seen, but Crouch will be bitterly disappointed should the deal fall through. Another player that looks set to be disappointed is Luis Figo. Liverpool are refusing to pay the £2million suddenly demanded by Real Madrid, which means the move described by Figo as a dream move could be off. Liverpool have agreed terms with the players based on the original agreement with Real that the player would be allowed to leave on a free transfer. Now to confuse matters there is interest in the Portugese star from the disgraced Italian side Inter Milan.

Inter played their city rivals AC Milan in the Champions League last season, in a game that had to be abandoned after missiles were thrown onto the pitch by Inter supporters. The owner of Internazionale, Massimo Moratti, claimed that newspaper reports linking Inter with Figo were true. He said on the club’s official website: "It’s true what the newspapers have said this week. Figo is a player that everyone likes but it depends on how he can fit into the mechanism of the squad and how much space he can get."

Inter are reported to be trying to offload 10 players before the new season kicks off, and Moratti claims that this will have an impact on whether they sign Figo: "I think that Real and the player’s wishes are evident, but everything is linked to our transfer market departures."

The Reds are reported by various sources as being short on funds at the moment, stories that seem to be being disproven every day. Liverpool have paid significant transfer fees for Pepe Reina and Momo Sissoko. Although Bolo Zenden arrived on a free transfer, Liverpool still had to commit to his new contract, as they have done with Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Didi Hamman and Djimi Traore. Now the Reds are reported to have put in a bid of £7.5million for Real Zaragoza defender Gabriel Milito.

Milito was asked last month if he fancied a move to Anfield when rumours about the Liverpool interest first surfaced. The Argentinian international said at the time: "If Liverpool make a concrete offer it would be very difficult to say no. I am happy at Real but it is not every day that the champions of Europe make you an offer."

For Liverpool to continue to be able to persuade players to join them, their status as Champions of Europe needs to be complimented with the club actually defending their title as long as possible. That defence starts tonight with a visit to Anfield for Welsh champions TNS. Benitez was asked how he felt about Liverpool having to start their defence so early in the summer, but was philosophical about it: "All of us have the same opinion on us being in the first round but we cannot change anything. I was surprised when I found out we needed to play three rounds but we’ll just have to do our best. We don’t have the pace yet but we do have the quality."

Benitez warned his players against complacency, but is hoping to get the tie over with in the first leg. The club are taking the opposition seriously, having been trying hard to secure footage of the Welsh team: "We have enough information about them but it is not easy to find the videos of TNS. The four tapes we have are not the same quality as, say, the videos we have for Milan."