Liverpool the big losers from this summer's sales
Friday 02 September 2005
The Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa was at Lisbon airport when he received word that Benfica, his current employers, had priced him out of a deadline day move to Anfield by increasing their valuation from £10m to £13.6m. For Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, it was another galling reminder that a European Cup victory does not improve bargaining strength, after his hopes of luring Michael Owen plus two necessary additions to his squad came to nothing as the transfer window closed until January.
"We had an agreement with Benfica," the Liverpool chief executive, Rick Parry, said yesterday. "But when the story leaked there was such a strong reaction they felt they couldn't sell."
There is a feeling that Liverpool have failed to build sufficiently on the glory of Istanbul despite the signing of Boudewijn Zenden. Jose Reina, Peter Crouch and Mohamed Sissoko for a total of £18m. Parry, however, insisted that circumstances rather than a lack of finance had conspired against them, although many would argue these were of their own making.
Liverpool sold their leading Premiership goalscorer of last season, Milan Baros, for £6.5m to Aston Villa to fund the purchase of Benitez's often-stated priorities, a centre-back and right winger. Neither arrived. The one striker who would have made way for Owen, Djibril Cissé, was touted around several clubs who proved unwilling to match the asking price, much to the French international's disgust and his employers' unease once his services were required again.
The late sale of Baros and the failure to spend his transfer fee has left Benitez short on established options in attack and vulnerable in defence. Real Zaragoza's Gabriel Milito topped a list of centre-backs who were priced out of Liverpool's reach, and with an identical situation developing with Simao it appears that European Cup success has brought a pressure to pay a premium on every target.
Frustration on Merseyside was not confined to Anfield. Everton's search for a goalscorer encouraged a deadline day enquiry for David Nugent, the 20-year-old signed by Preston from Bury for £100,000 in January. Preston's price? £5m.
* West Bromwich Albion beat the transfer deadline by a matter of minutes on Wednesday to sign the highly rated 6ft 2in Luton defender Curtis Davies for £3m.
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