Liverpool confident of signing Morientes for £5m

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The Independent Online

Liverpool are convinced that they will be able to sign Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes for around £5m in January despite having their first formal offer for the player of £3.5m rejected by the Spanish club yesterday.

Liverpool are convinced that they will be able to sign Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes for around £5m in January despite having their first formal offer for the player of £3.5m rejected by the Spanish club yesterday.

Talks between the two sides will continue after Real's rejection of Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry's first offer, although privately the Spanish club are realistic about their original £7m valuation.

They are aware that there is little competition for the Spanish international's signature among the rest of Europe and that Liverpool are one of the few clubs who could offer him competitive wages. Morientes, 28, is understood to earn around £70,000 a week and would be likely to settle for the £50,000 a week on offer from Liverpool.

Monaco, where Morientes played on loan last season, have been public about their interest but would be easily outbid by Liverpool who also have the added draw of Spanish coach Rafael Benitez. Any such deal for Morientes would make him one of the club's top earners behind Steven Gerrard who is on around £60,000 a week before bonuses.

The player's agent, Gines Carvajal, said: "It is certain Liverpool are interested in the player but I don't believe there have been any concrete propositions for a transfer. Morientes only wants to play and today this is impossible in Real Madrid. The player is a great striker and there are several European clubs interested."

Serious negotiations between the two clubs began on Friday. Although Morientes is cup-tied, the striker, who is fourth choice at Real behind Michael Owen, is regarded by Benitez as a more than adequate replacement for Djibril Cissé in the Premiership campaign. The sale of Owen in the summer, previously Liverpool's highest earner on around £70,000 a week, has lightened the load on the club's wage bill.

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