Figo ready for Liverpool move as Real back down over £2m fee

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The Independent Football

Figo held talks with the Madrid president, Florentino Perez, on Thursday night in an attempt to secure the free transfer that would allow a move to Anfield or Internazionale, who have also confirmed their interest in the 32-year-old.

Though an agreement has been reached, with Perez dropping his demands in order to save the £5m payable to the Portuguese international for the final year of his contract, Figo was included in the Real party that embarked on a pre-season tour of the United States, China, Japan and Thailand yesterday.

As he left Madrid airport, however, Figo indicated to waiting reporters that England could be his final destination and Anfield officials, having finalised personal terms with the midfielder, are hopeful of a definitive answer within the next 48 hours.

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, has signed three midfielders this summer - Boudewijn Zenden, Mohamed Sissoko and Mark Gonzalez - but remains anxious to strengthen his right flank. "I would like two or three more players," he said yesterday. "We need a centre-half and maybe a right winger as Antonio Nuñez is sure to go to another club."

Benitez is at a training camp in Switzerland where he yesterday met Milan Baros' agent, Pavel Paska, after reports that the Czech Republic international will be sold in order to make way for a new striker at Anfield.

Baros was left on the bench in the Champions' League qualifier against TNS in midweek and though he rejected moves to Valencia and Lyon this summer, the 23-year-old faces an uncertain future under Benitez.

Even if Baros is sold, however, the Liverpool manager is unlikely to spend his additional revenue on the former Anfield striker Michael Owen, who is reportedly keen on a return to Merseyside following a difficult debut season in Madrid. Benitez would prefer to take Peter Crouch from Southampton despite Rupert Lowe's insistence on an £8m transfer fee for the England international.