Harry Redknapp has advised the England striker Peter Crouch to stay at Southampton and enjoy first-team football rather than risk being a full-time substitute at Liverpool next season.
Crouch was the subject of a £5m bid from Liverpool, which relegated Saints turned down, but Liverpool are determined to get their man and sources suggest they are prepared to go to £6m to sign the 6ft 7in 24-year-old, who made his international debut on England's brief US tour.
However, Redknapp would rather Crouch stays on for another year at St Mary's to help Southampton in their bid to reclaim a Premiership place.
Redknapp said: "It would be better for Peter to stay at Southampton and play rather than go somewhere like Liverpool and be on the bench. If we sell him, it sends out all the wrong messages. I'm not going to get into any sort of discussion of what fee we might accept for him as, if I do, people will think I want to sell him."
There was a denial from Liverpool yesterday that they are chasing Deportivo La Coruña's Spanish striker Albert Luque.
Crouch looks to be dominating their thoughts, with the Merseyside club's manager Rafael Benitez seeing the former Portsmouth and Aston Villa player as the hard-working and competitive targetman Liverpool need.
If he does arrive, Crouch would complement the attacking threat provided by Djibril Cissé and Fernando Morientes next season, with Milan Baros likely to leave.
Liverpool could fund a bid for Crouch by selling Baros to their former manager Gerard Houllier, now at Lyon, for a fee in the region of £7m.
Southampton would still rather Crouch begins the season in partnership with Kevin Phillips. Rupert Lowe, the Southampton chairman, said: "There has been a lot of interest in Peter Crouch and we have had an offer which we have turned down. We want to keep the squad together and the relegation clauses in players' contracts mean we do not need to sell."
With Crouch clearly in the thoughts of England's coach Sven Goran Eriksson for next summer's World Cup, he might consider whether playing in the Championship would affect his chances of selection.Reuse content