Liverpool strikers Craig Bellamy and Djibril Cisse both look
to have found new clubs, bringing much-needed transfer funds in for Rafa Benítez.
Marseilles announced that they had now made a deal “in
principal” with Liverpool for Cissé, who spent last season on loan there. They’d
been trying to persuade Liverpool to allow them to have the French
international for another year on loan, but Liverpool held firm. Their plan
seemed to be to continue delaying their attempts to sign him to force Liverpool
into dropping the price, but late interest in the player from West Ham seems to
have forced their hand. A fee of over £8m is believed to have been agreed.
Cisse will be joined by former Reds teammate Bolo Zenden, who signed on a free
transfer for Marseilles yesterday.
Meanwhile Craig Bellamy has reportedly agreed personal terms
and passed a medical at West Ham. The personal terms are said to include wages
of £70,000 per week. The transfer fee is believed to be around £8m, a clear
profit on the £6m Liverpool played for the Welsh captain a year ago. The
complication in this deal seems to be that whether as part of the same deal or
not, Liverpool want to sign West Ham’s Jossi Benayoun, who the Hammers are
valuing at a ridiculous amount.
The deal for Bellamy is certainly not all done and dusted, but
Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez wants the funds from the transfer to keep his
summer spending going. He’s looking at buying “wingers”, with a number of targets
in mind. Benayoun has allegedly told West Ham that he won’t play for them again;
he only wants to play for Liverpool. The London side are certainly not short of
cash, but seem to be trying to make a stand against Benayoun.
In the place of Bellamy and Cisse come Andriy Voronin and
Fernando Torres. Torres was signed for £20m, the club-record fee for Liverpool,
but Voronin arrived on a free transfer. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s
being put into the squad as fourth-choice striker, and he’s been handed the
number 10 shirt too, which may finally end speculation that Rafa Benítez is
considering signing one of the former holders of that shirt, Michael Owen.
There are still mixed messages coming out about Harry
Kewell. The Australian player is currently out on duty with the Socceroos, and
is entering the final year of his Anfield contract. There is no doubt that Rafa
Benítez rates him highly, knowing what Kewell is capable of, but after so many
injuries the boss has rarely had chance to use him. Kewell is convinced he can
stay and show Rafa what he can do, but Rafa is believed to be prepared to
consider offers for the current number 7.
Rafa’s revelation that he is looking for new wingers
certainly adds more weight to the feeling he’s willing to let Kewell go. Rafa
is also thinking about wingers in the longer term, after agreeing a deal with
Stockport Country to sign their 18-year-old winger Ryan Crowther. The fee hasn’t
been revealed but the player has now agreed personal terms with the club and
has only the formality of a medical to complete – on Monday – before he becomes
a Red. He has made just two appearances for County’s first team, one as sub,
but Liverpool’s scouts have spotted something in him that they feel will make
him an important part of Rafa’s new youth set-up.