Liverpool agree £10m deal to sign Kuyt

Liverpool's long pursuit of the Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt appears certain to end in success in the next couple of days with the two clubs likely to agree a £10m fee.

Talks have intensified over the past 48 hours after Kuyt, who was last night due to appear for the Netherlands in their friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, again told Feyenoord that he wanted to move to Anfield.

Indeed sources in the Dutch national squad indicated last night that they expected Kuyt to fly to England later today to discuss terms and is likely to be a Liverpool player in time for Saturday's opening Premiership match away to Sheffield United.

The stumbling block, for some time, has been the asking price with Liverpool loath to pay more than £8m for the 26-year-old. Liverpool have offered players - particularly Jan Kromkamp - plus cash and have tried to negotiate a staggered deal on payments but the Dutch have attempted to hold out.

A problem for Feyenoord is that few other clubs have registered an interest in the player despite the fact that he scored 22 goals last season, taking his total to 71 in 101 league games since he moved to Rotterdam three years ago. However Kuyt suffered a poor World Cup.

He had hoped to move to the Premiership last summer, and was strongly pursued by Tottenham Hotspur, but decided to wait another season while Liverpool's only serious challengers have been Newcastle United.

Their manager Glenn Roeder and chairman Freddie Shepherd flew into Dublin last night in the hope of watching Kuyt but their interest has not been as strong as Liverpool's who also have the bonus of, hopefully, offering Champions' League football.

Newcastle also chartered the 10-seat private jet so that they could take their players from the Irish squad straight back to Tyneside after the match. Originally there were four players but following the withdrawals of Damien Duff and Shay Given only Stephen Carr and Alan O'Brien were due to be on the flight.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho thinks he is the "Special One" but John Toshack believes that title should be attributed to the manager at Anfield Rafael Benitez.

The Wales coach, an Anfield hero in the Bill Shankly era, had an input into Benitez's early career when managing Real Madrid and a young Rafa was working with their youth. Toshack said: "When I first met Rafa there was definitely something about him. I remember when I was at Madrid the second time around and we were in Switzerland pre-season.

"He was over watching the training and was making notes. He was always a very studious type. I think his Valencia side that played Liverpool a couple of times was very impressive.

"I saw the game at Anfield and they never gave Liverpool any options at all. That sort of approach, which is common on the continent, maybe prompted Liverpool to go for him and he hasn't let them down."

He added: "When I first went to Madrid in 1990, Rafa was working with the youth team. He has worked his way up and did tremendously well to come through some difficult times at Valladolid and Osasuna.

"He then got Tenerife promoted but was still a bit of a surprise choice when he first went to Valencia. At the Mestalla he pushed on and was very successful. He established a very methodical side and once they went 1-0 in front it was very difficult to get anything back from them. He won the Uefa Cup with Valencia as well as La Liga and his record since taking charge of Liverpool speaks for itself."

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