Benitez sends Josemi back to the beach

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The Independent Football

Liverpool are still saddled with the salaries of several Houllier signings who failed to deliver at Anfield, such as Birmingham's on-loan midfielder Salif Diao, and have also taken dramatic losses in recent seasons on others who did not repay the Lyon coach's extensive faith in their ability, including Emile Heskey and El-Hadji Diouf. Benitez, however, has shown no sentiment or loyalty towards unproductive purchases.

And as Josemi follows Mauricio Pellegrino and Antonio Nunez out of Anfield, the Liverpool hierarchy are celebrating the Spaniard's ruthlessness as much as the form that has carried the European champions to third in the Premiership and a 10th successive league win if West Bromwich Albion are beaten this afternoon.

Benitez insists that in terms of price and input, his three La Liga imports cannot be regarded as expensive errors, but has ended their Liverpool careers with necessary haste all the same. Josemi, Benitez's first signing as Liverpool manager when he paid £2m for the Malaga full-back's services last summer, will join Villarreal in exchange for the Dutch defender Jan Kromkamp this weekend providing he does not accept an alternative offer from Seville.

"We have signed more players this year so it is time for others to go," said Benitez yesterday. "It would be stupid of me to keep a player just because he is good for the dressing-room. I am trying to improve the team so to swap Josemi for another player without any money changing hands is perfect business.

"Josemi is a right-back who has problems with his English and Kromkamp is a right-back who has problems with his Spanish, so it makes good sense to swap. Josemineeds to go to Spain and see the sun every day. He is from Malaga. Just like all the English who go there for the sun and the beach, he is the same."

Benitez, who is without the injured Fernando Morientes for the rest of the festive programme due to a knee injury, confirmed he has "four or five options" in his search for a new centre-half but will not be pursuing a new striker in January despite repeated reports linking Djibril Cissé with Marseilles. The French international sealed victory in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday only to discover yesterday that his brother had given an interview to the French press in which he announced Cissé would be arriving at the Stade Velodrome.

The £14m striker, however, responded: "What is in the paper is rubbish. I am really disappointed with my brother. I don't know why he's behaved like this. He's an agent and maybe he's angry with me for not using him, but I don't think this is fair. I am very disappointed because it's my own family who have hurt me. I feel good at Liverpool, my wife is pregnant and I'm going to be a dad again so there is really no reason to leave."