Wednesday, July 11, 2007

LiverpooL Agree Price For Israeli Midfielder

Sky Sports News understands Liverpool have agreed a fee to sign Yossi Benayoun from West Ham United.

Benayoun has emerged as a target for Rafa Benitez's in recent weeks, despite agreeing a new five-year contract at Upton Park.

But the delay in signing the deal has allowed Liverpool to steal in with a suitable offer for the Israel international.

Benitez revealed last week that the Hammers had said 'no' to his club's original offer, but a fee now appears to have been settled upon.

Reports have mooted a price of £4million for Benayoun, who has made 72 appearances for West Ham since joining from Racing Santander two years ago.

His impending switch to Anfield follows the completion of the £7.5million deal which took Craig Bellamy in the opposite direction.

When quizzed on Liverpool's interest last month, Benayoun admitted he was 'honoured' to be wanted by the UEFA Champions League finalists.

The player's agent Ronen Katzav said: "It should be completed in the next 48 hours.

"Everybody would be happy to play for Liverpool. West Ham will always be in his heart, but he is looking to move up a level."

Babel Will Cost Liverpool £13.5m

Liverpool will have to pay £13.5m for 20-year-old Ajax winger Ryan Babel.

Ajax technical director Martin van Geel says talks have taken place between the two clubs, but no fee has been agreed.

"Liverpool are willing to pay a huge sum for Ryan," he said. "We have told them what we want, and that's 20m euros (£13.5m). That is our price."

Reports have suggested that Liverpool have made an improved bid after an initial £10m offer was rejected by the famed Dutch club.

"We would like to see Babel play here next season, it's not for nothing that we have extended his contract until June 2010," added Van Geel.

"But if these kind of clubs want to pay us these figures it says something.

"We will see if we can reach a deal in the coming days."

Babel helped Holland win the European Under-21 Championship this summer and had been linked with a move to Arsenal.

But the Reds appear to have stolen a march over their Premiership rivals and Babel said: "I had heard that there were some stories on the internet but that happens quite often.

"Liverpool's interest is serious news to me.

"I haven't thought about a transfer for a minute, I will do that soon though. That such a big club is interested is of course very nice."

BBC Five Live Sport football correspondent Jonathan Legard has been told a deal could go through on Wednesday after Craig Bellamy's £7.5m switch from the Reds to West Ham was confirmed.

He revealed: "Babel was strongly linked to Arsenal but Liverpool have made their move and it seems they will use the money from Craig Bellamy's move to West Ham to bring in one of Europe's finest young talents."

Liverpool boss Benitez signed striker Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid last week and admitted he was looking to sign wide players to help supply his new acquisition.

Babel made 27 Eredivisie appearances for Ajax last season, scoring five goals.

But Babel's agent Winnie Haatrecht has issued a note of caution as he considered any possible impact a move may have on the winger's career.

"The route is very clear," said Haatrecht. "First Liverpool and Ajax need to get an agreement about a transfer, that's step one.

"After that we want to know what the technical staff of Liverpool has planned for Ryan.

"The sporting perspective must be totally clear. Only then can Ryan make a good choice.

"Of course Liverpool is a great club. But it must not be that he needs to fight with eight strikers for two positions. We must also look at the development of Ryan."

Bellamy Joins West Ham United

West Ham United have confirmed the signing of Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy for a club record fee of £7.5 million.

Bellamy, 28 next week, agreed a five-year deal at Upton Park after it was made clear he had no future at Anfield following the arrival of Spain internationalist Fernando Torres.

The transfer was agreed on Friday but was delayed over the weekend as Bellamy thrashed out contractual issues with Liverpool.

The Wales captain is West Ham's fourth summer signing and takes manager Alan Curbishley's spending since he arrived at Upton Park in December to nearly £40m.

The deal for Bellamy breaks West Ham's previous transfer record of £7.25m, which the Hammers paid Norwich for Dean Ashton in January 2006. Bellamy joins midfielders Scott Parker and Julien Faubert plus goalkeeper Richard Wright in signing for the Hammers this summer.