Liverpool's Figo bid hits snag over £2m fee

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The Independent Football

The Portuguese player has agreed a one-year contract with Liverpool following a search for a club befitting his status and willing to pay £65,000 a week for his services. Liverpool, their morale if not their bank balance buoyed by Gerrard's decision to commit his future to Anfield, have met the 32-year-old's criteria. However, that was before Real Madrid stalled the coup by seeking a €3m (£2m) fee for Figo.

Figo believed he had a verbal agreement with the Madrid president, Florentino Perez, to leave the Bernabeu on a free as they seek to dispense with his £90,000-a-week contract, which has a year left to run.

The midfielder will drop his wage demands for a high-profile club that improves his prospects of leading Portugal into next summer's World Cup finals. Olympiakos and a lucrative move to Qatar were both rejected on that basis, opening the way for Rafael Benitez to lure another import from La Liga.

Liverpool, however, will proceed with the transfer only if there is no fee and are now waiting to hear if Figo can persuade his employers to keep to their word. "The decision rests on Real," said Luis Douens, Figo's agent. "If they want money for the transfer then I believe it will be hard."

Benitez has also been frustrated in attempts to bring Peter Crouch to Anfield by Southampton's refusal to accept less than £8m. Liverpool are confident of clinching a £6.5m deal for the striker, maybe even today, with Crouch keen to leave the club.

Liverpool have continued a frenetic week by hijacking Everton's efforts to sign Mohammed Sissoko from Valencia. David Moyes had targeted midfielder Sissoko and left-back Emiliano Moretti in a combined £5m deal, only for Valencia to demand that amount for Mali-born Sissoko alone. The delay enabled Benitez, who signed the 20-year-old from Auxerre during his time at Valencia, to catch Everton by surprise to leave Sissoko with a choice between Anfield and Goodison.

Liverpool also tied Dietmar Hamann and Djimi Traoré to new contracts yesterday and received international clearance for £6m goalkeeper Jose Reina to make his debut in a friendly at Wrexham tomorrow. Hamann has signed a new one-year deal while defender Traoré has committed himself to a four-year extension.

Gerrard is expected to complete his turbulent week by signing his four-year contract this afternoon and is likely to be joined by Jamie Carragher, who has agreed to pledge his future to Anfield until 2009 too.

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