Liverpool midfielder Momo Sissoko has told French radio station RMC that he has not yet signed for Juventus, but that he feels a deal is close to completion. Reports in Italy talk of a fee of €15m being agreed between the Juve and the Reds, which is around £11m.
Momo said: “A lot of journalists have called me, saying had I signed for Juventus. It isn’t done yet, but my agent is in advanced discussions with them. I hope that they can reach an agreement, but I am very pleased, I want to join a club like this. Today, I want a new challenge. The last few months with Liverpool have not gone as I wanted, but that’s one of the risks of football and I now want to move onto a new stage and show what I can do on the pitch.”
Juve boss Claudio Ranieri admitted being an admirer of the player: “Sissoko is a player that I like a lot and I know him well. I have had the pleasure of coaching him at Valencia.”
It remains to be seen how Rafa will be allowed to use the money that he gets for Momo. The fee quoted for Martin Skrtel, the centre-back on Merseyside this week to undergo a medical – even at the highest price reported of £6.5m – has come from what the manager had left in the budget from summer, after missing out on £6.8m Gabriel Heinze.
Rafa negotiated a number of deals, both incoming and outgoing, towards the end of last year, before the owners publicly told him to stop looking at transfers and to concentrate on coaching. One of those deals was to sign Javier Mascherano on a permanent basis for £17m, which was to be paid over the next five years. Contrary to what a lot of critics had said, Rafa hadn’t actually asked for more money, he just wanted the right to buy players using the resources he already had. Momo’s departure was one of those on the cards, alongside Aston Villa’s potential purchase of Scott Carson, who is currently on loan with them. Villa later claimed they’d not yet made a decision on whether to sign Carson permanently.
Although Rafa is willing to work with that level of funding, he feels it is unfair to expect him to win the league given that his spending power is much lower than that of those clubs he is competing with. The moves to bring in more youngsters are designed to give the squad extra strength in a couple of years, strength which would free up more funds to spend on getting the more expensive players of the type that are currently out of reach. Eventually the new stadium might finally be built, years after the originally planned date of 2006, and so further increase the money that could be given to the manager for transfers. In the meantime the owners had been expected to make provision to increase the transfer budget to help the club catch up to its rivals, as witnessed in George Gillett’s wad-waving and promises of “Snoogy Doogy” pre-Athens.
Meanwhile the club’s board, including Rick Parry, are meeting today to discuss the revised plans for the new stadium, downgraded after the earlier ones had turned out to be too expensive when they actually priced them up, an exercise they carried out after unveiling them to fans and the council. A decision should be made this week, after which the owners will be able to try and secure some funding, which will also include their plan to go back on their word regarding imposing debt from their takeover onto the club.
Despite Rick Parry confirming that the meeting was never planned to be about anything else other than the stadium, there’s little doubt that Rafa’s situation will be discussed. It’s unlikely that any statements will be made afterwards which give clear long-term backing to the manager.