There was shock, or maybe not, for Liverpool fans yesterday
with the confirmation from Rick Parry that Liverpool had indeed had their sights
set on West Ham's midfielder Yossi Benayoun. Benayoun has been offered a new
five-year deal at Upton Park, even agreeing verbally to contents of the deal
just three weeks ago, but is now stalling.
The morning's Daily Mirror had claimed that West Ham's
chairman Eggart Magnusson had considered an offer from Liverpool for the player
to be "insulting". They said Liverpool had made a "cheeky" attempt
to get the player by paying £1m now and a further £1m in 12 months' time, and
said the offer had been "rejected out of hand" by West Ham. The
Mirror misleadingly described that bid as a "£1m bid", failing to add
the two instalments together.
Later in the day Rick Parry was asked about it and rather
than telling a lie he admitted that a bid had been made – but not at that
price: "I can confirm we have made an approach for Yossi Benayoun,"
he said, "but the figures quoted are completely wrong. Other than that we
don't want to say any more."
Liverpool's interest will come as a shock to fans who still
believed that the club were going to be making multiple big-name signings this
summer. But for those who had read reports of how the new owners were refusing
to hand any of their own money over for transfers this summer there was no
surprise at all, more an acceptance that this is the kind of singing we can
look forward to this summer, certainly without money from sales having come in
As for the Mirror's implication that Liverpool were being
"cheeky" – well the idea of paying half now and another half in a
further 12 months isn't unusual in football by any means, in fact most
transfers are carried out with fees payable in instalments. One report said
Liverpool had offered a total of £3million, slightly more than the total of
£2million mentioned in the Mirror.
The 27-year-old has been a target of Rafa's in the past, and
he is said to have told friends he wants to move to Anfield. He is said to have
been offered wages of £50,000 per week by West Ham and Liverpool are unlikely
to beat that, so Benayoun's perceived interest in Anfield suggests a player
looking to be part of a bigger club. West Ham's new-found richness doesn't make
them a big club – yet.
That new-found wealth does put them in a position to make
big bids for the players they are interested in. One of those is Charlton's
Darren Bent. West Ham are supposed to have agreed a fee with Charlton for the
player, and had got as far as agreeing terms on a £75,000 a week deal for the
striker. Then the player changed his mind – some reports saying it was because
Spurs showed late interest, others saying it was because of Liverpool making a
late offer. At this time of year speculation is difficult to keep up with, but
unless the club's owners have changed their minds, it's unlikely that Rafa Benítez
is in a position to match the £17m said to have been the fee West Ham had been
set to pay.
If West Ham do miss out on Bent, they may be interested in
Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, although the West Ham chairman is unlikely to be too
keen on doing business with us if all these stories are true.
Outgoing Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek confirmed yesterday
that he has been offered the chance to join Real Madrid. His contract ended this
summer at Anfield, and he's now unsure about what to do: "After today's press
speculation, I must admit that I have received an offer from one of the
greatest clubs in the world, if not the greatest one," he said, not quite
accurately. "I was able to keep it in the dark for a long time, because the
first contact was established a dozen or so days ago. The offer is an honour
for me. I am seriously considering it now. As for now, I can say that a few
details have already been agreed upon."
Dudek's dilemma is whether he joins Real Madrid to spend
most of his time there on the bench, or if he joins a lesser club to be a
first-choice keeper, with a view to getting his international career back on