Benitez close to Zenden deal as Diao set to leave

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The Independent Online

The midfielder found himself surplus to requirements last season, joining Birmingham City on loan during the January transfer window, only for injuries to blight his time at St Andrews. But the £5m signing from Sedan three years ago is attracting interest from a number of clubs, and the time is right for a move if Benitez completes his move for Zenden.

The Dutch international became a free agent at midnight last night when his contract with Middlesbrough expired and, despite manager Steve McClaren's concerted efforts to get the 28-year-old to remain at the Riverside, a move to Anfield is now on the cards.

Slavia Prague have lodged an official complaint with European football's governing body, Uefa, over their prospective seeding demotion to accommodate Liverpool. Slavia, who finished runners-up in last season's Czech First Division, will lose their place as one of the seeded teams should the Reds make it through to the third and final qualifying round. That would result in the Czech side facing a much tougher task in qualifying for the group stage, and potentially losing out on revenue if they fail to do so.

Liverpool's goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has joined West Bromwich Albion for a two-week "period of training and assessment" which is expected to lead to a season-long loan. The 24-year-old is with Albion until 15 July, when he could sign a deal lasting until May, with Liverpool unable to recall him. The Reds paid Coventry £6m for Kirkland in August 2001.

Sammy Lee has replaced Phil Brown as assistant to Sam Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers. The former Liverpool and Bolton player will continue on England's coaching staff but will leave his full-time post at the Football Association where he co-ordinated the youth development structure.

Lee, 46, who made over 200 appearances for Liverpool, was a member of the England Under-21 coaching team before becoming a full-time member of Eriksson's staff in the summer of 2004.