Liverpool battle with Newcastle to capture prolific Kuyt

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The Independent Online

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, has renewed his interest in the Feyenoord forward Dirk Kuyt and will again rival Newcastle United in pursuit of one of European football's most prolific goalscorers.

Echoing their courtship of Michael Owen last August, both Liverpool and Newcastle have emerged as the leading candidates to offer the Dutch international the Premiership move he craves but was priced out of last summer, when Feyenoord valued the 25-year-old at €18m (£12.67m).

Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham were among several clubs to fail to land the striker who has scored a phenomenal 71 goals in 101 games since his move from Utrecht three seasons ago.

With three years to run on his contract, Feyenoord are under no pressure to drop their asking price, but that has not deterred Benitez or the new Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder, from making enquiries about a prized asset who, unlike 12 months ago, is prepared to agitate for a move to the Premiership. In an attempt to force the Dutch club to lower their asking price Kuyt revealed on Monday he would relish signing for Newcastle and barely 24 hours later announced that Liverpool were back in the market.

Kuyt said yesterday: "Jorien van den Herik [the Feyenoord president] has informed me of a new approach from last year's European champions, but it is out of my hands. I have several opportunities but it is now down to Feyenoord.

"I am happy at Feyenoord but would like to play in the Premier League. Last year this was close to happening so for now I prefer to concentrate only on the World Cup because my hopes could be soured again."

Benitez intends to sign two new strikers and other candidates include Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe and Craig Bellamy. Liverpool, however, are not in a position to make firm offers, with Djibril Cissé and Fernando Morientes surplus to requirements but still on the payroll and the club continuing their search for new investment, a saga Anfield officials hope to conclude within the next few months.

Morientes' salary demands are so far proving prohibitive to a return to Spain while Seville's valuation of the right-back Daniel Alves is far in excess of the Liverpool's at present.

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