Liverpool unveiled their latest signing officially today – Mohamed Sissoko. Momo, as he prefers to be known, reportedly cost Liverpool £5.5 million and was ripped from under the noses of local rivals Everton.
Momo played for Rafa Benitez the season before last at Valencia, and the Mali international said that it was Rafa that persuaded him to snub the blues. Speaking at Melwood, Momo said: “The motivation for me was the manager. He was the manager who got me into the first division in Spain and I have great respect for him. The motivation to join Liverpool came from him. I appreciate the way he works, the motivation he has and the ambition he has.”
Sissoko revealed that Liverpool’s decision to make a bid for him almost came too late after he’d so nearly agreed to join Everton. He said: “It was close, but I opted to sign for Liverpool. It was a decision I made on my own and I believe it was the right decision.” Sissoko knows that Evertonians will be bitter to see the player who turned them down wearing the Red of Liverpool, but doesn’t see it as a problem: “I am sure it’s going to be tricky, but for me that’s not really a problem. I am a Red man and I am happy.”
Sissoko knows that he’s got to fight against some excellent players for a place in the team, but at 20 years of age is looking forward to working with those players: “I am here to learn from the players who are already here, like Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. I was at the match last night and I was pleased with what I saw. The team played well, passed the ball well – and as for Steven Gerrard, he’s a great player.”
That performance from Steven Gerrard included a hat-trick, and as we said last night it’s his first one for Liverpool. Liverpool’s captain said: “It’s probably my first and last hat-trick for Liverpool. I should have scored a hat-trick against Graz last year. I think I was seven or eight the last time I got one.” Gerrard says the hat-trick had extra meaning in the wake of his near departure from the club: “It was special for me after everything which has gone on. It was great to get the reaction I did from the fans. That made it even more special.”