Benitez still harbours hope of fitting Figo into squad

Click to follow

"I am very happy with the squad, with the way they are working in training and in matches and I am happy with the new players," Benitez told the club's official website. "But I am still looking for a centre-back and a right winger and we need to bring these players in during the next seven days."

The winger could yet be Luis Figo, as the Spaniard has not yet given up hope of prising the Portuguese wide player away from Real Madrid. His chance of doing so may even have improved.

Figo's future at the Bernabeu may have been jeopardised by the arrival of two Brazilians, Robinho and Julio Baptista, which has made the competition for attacking roles even greater. But nothing is simple when it comes to transfers, and as a move for Figo to Internazionale now seems unlikely, he may stay put.

Benitez, who may look in Spain for his extra defender, has to construct a squad that is capable of facing up to what could prove to be a long hard season. Having had to start their Champions' League defence at the earliest possible stage, and weeks before the Premiership campaign opens, they also have to cope with the Fifa Club World Championship. In Tokyo yesterday, they were drawn against either FC Sydney or Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa in their opening match in that tournament in December.

Arsenal had been keen on Baptista as a powerful midfield presence now that Patrick Vieira has moved on to Juventus. But "The Beast" is keen to secure a Spanish passport, which becomes available to him in the coming months, and that, combined with his liking for Spanish football, was always likely to stymie the North London club's ambitions.

Robinho's arrival at Real also appears to cut Michael Owen's options still further, but there have been no early signs that any of the strike force will be shown the door and thanked for their efforts.

Owen will not be heading back to Anfield, even though Milan Baros is on his way out. The Czech international striker has agreed personal terms with Schalke, according to German club's coach, Ralf Rangnick. Now they will open negotiations with Liverpool over a transfer fee.