Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bellamy Heading For Anfield Exit

Craig Bellamy is heading for a cut-price departure from Anfield as Liverpool put the finishing touches to their club record move for Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres.

Interested parties such as West Ham, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Blackburn had all been deterred by Bellamy's £12million price tag.

But with Torres likely to cost upwards of £25m, Anfield bosses have been forced into a rethink and may have to accept as little as the £6m they paid Blackburn for him.

Villa and Newcastle retain an interest, but Liverpool hope the Wales skipper may yet be useful as part of their bid for West Ham's Yossi Benayoun.

Liverpool last night signed Spanish wonder boy Daniel Pacheco — a striker, 16, from Barcelona.

Liverpool's move will cause uproar that another talent has slipped through the Camp Nou net.

The compensation fee will be about £350,000.

LiverpooL Enter Race For Heinze

Liverpool are reportedly ready to rival Juventus for the signature of Gabriel Heinze, but the Manchester United defender is remaining tight-lipped about his future until after the Copa America.

The uncompromising full-back is currently representing Argentina in Venezuela but on his return to Manchester, it does look likely that he could be set for a move away from Old Trafford.

Heinze has cultivated a cult status amongst the United faithful since arriving at the club from Paris Saint Germain, but last season, was more of a peripheral figure due to Patrice Evra's emergence as first choice left-back.

Juventus and Real Madrid are known to be keen on recruiting him for next season, but it has now emerged that United's Premier League rivals Liverpool are also suitors.

Sir Alex Ferguson would likely be loath to sanction Heinze's departure to Merseyside, but should Rafa Benitez outbid foreign interest then a deal could yet be concluded.

Heinze, though, is concentrating his thoughts on matters on-the-field, rather than off it.

"I know some clubs are interested in me," he told the Sun. "My head is with the Argentina team to play the Copa America.

"After that and a holiday, I will know better where I will play next season.”

LiverpooL Signed 'The Killer'

Liverpool have raided Barcelona to sign one of their prized young talents in the shape of Dani Pacheco.

The 16-year-old, nicknamed The Killer by his team-mates, was regarded as one of the best youngsters in the youth set-up at Camp Nou and only arrived as a 13-year-old from Malaga.

However, he has shunned their offer of professional terms in order to pen a three-year deal at Anfield.

Pacheco's signing is the latest in a string of youth deals tied up by the Merseyside giants in recent weeks - with Alex Kacaniklic, Marvin Purie, Mikel San Jose, Nikolai Mihailov, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon all penning deals to join the club's academy ranks.

Barca youth coach Garcia Pimienta admitted losing Pacheco was a huge blow to the club.

"It is a great loss for the club because he is a forward with a lot of quality," Garcia told Sport.

"He has been our top goalscorer and has already played for the youth team.

"Alongside Thiago Alcantara and Gai Assulin, he is one of the cadets we had the most hope for, but nothing can be done anymore.

"Everything happened very suddenly."

The news of Pacheco's departure to England is another blow to Barca, who have lost a host of top youngsters to the Premier League in recent seasons.

The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida and Gerard Pique have all turned their back on the Blaugrana to make the move to the English top-flight.

Cisse Set To Leave LiverpooL

Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is set to sign a permanent deal with Marseille despite a late approach from West Ham.

Bolton and Portsmouth were also interested in signing the 25-year-old, who cost Liverpool £14m in July 2004.

But Cisse, who spent last season on loan at Marseille, is keen to join the French club on a permanent basis.

"Marseille is definitely the choice for Djibril," Cisse's agent Ranko Stojic told BBC Sport. "I think the deal will happen on Friday or Saturday."

Stojic added: "I have been very busy this week - I caught six planes in two days - and I am sorry for the people I have not had the chance to call back, Mr Eggert Magnusson of West Ham for example."

Magnusson, who was thwarted in his attempt to sign Darren Bent from Charlton, tried to contact Stojic earlier in the week - but Cisse had already opted to join Marseille permanently.

"The Marseille option is the best choice for Djibril because of the Champions League," said Stojic.

"West Ham, Bolton and Portsmouth I understand are very, very good clubs but Djibril wants to play in the top level of European competition next season."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made it clear that Cisse would only be allowed to leave Anfield on a permanent basis.

"Mr Benitez has been very, very correct," added Stojic.

"Of course he tried to get a little bit more money for his club but I think it will be a good deal for everybody.

"There are some details to sort out between Liverpool and Marseille but I think it will happen soon."

Marseille started their pre-season training on 25 June and the player is keen to sort out his future as soon as possible so he can join his new team-mates.

Cisse, who has two years left on his deal at Liverpool, has broken his leg twice in the last three years, first in 2004 and then in a friendly for France against China last year just before the World Cup in Germany.

And after suffering such serious injuries, Stojic stated: "He is so motivated after all the problems he has had."

Rafa Coy Over Torres Talk

Rafa Benitez is remaining coy over the prospect of Fernando Torres arriving at Anfield, even if the Liverpool boss insists the club is working hard to secure new signings.

Whilst The Reds have brought in a number of talented youngsters over the summer - with two more joining on Friday - a big name arrival remains conspicuous by its absence.

Atletico Madrid striker Torres is likely to be the first at a club record £27million, as the two clubs are understood to have held extensive talks regarding a transfer for the Spanish international.

The Primera Liga club has denied that Torres' exit is a done deal, but Atleti fans have been holding public protests at his likely departure and, according to reports, Liverpool must only agree personal terms to snare the highly-rated forward.

Whilst Benitez was reluctant to pre-empt any deal for Torres, the two-time UEFA Champions League finalist did admit the club were working hard to bring in some exciting names before the start of next season.

"All I can say is that Fernando Torres is one of the players we have looked at," said Benitez.

"Yes, [new signings are] the idea. We are working on this all the time.

"As I've already said, the spine of the team is in place and now we just need to add to that.

"Of course, you must always be excited at the start of a new season. You must also have confidence in your team and hopefully we will soon bring in the new players that we want to make the squad better."

Benitez has frequently called on the club's new owners to deliver some high-profile signings, but a parallel policy has been to bring a number of young talents to Merseyside.

Swedish midfielder Alex Kacaniklic has joined from Helsingborgs, as previously confirmed by, and The Reds also recruited striker Marvin Purie from Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

They join teenagers Mikel San Jose, Nikolay Mihailov, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon in joining the academy ranks on Merseyside.