Morientes on brink of signing for Liverpool in a £6m deal

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez appears to have won the battle to sign Fernando Morientes with the Real Madrid striker expected on Merseyside today to discuss personal terms with Liverpool.

Rafael Benitez appears to have won the battle to sign Fernando Morientes with the Real Madrid striker expected on Merseyside today to discuss personal terms with Liverpool.

Benitez said last night that he hoped to register the 28-year-old striker in time for him to face Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday. "I do not know exactly what the rules are, but this is something we will try to do," the Liverpool manager said after watching his side's unconvincing 1-0 first-leg victory over Watford in last night's Carling Cup semi-final.

"We are very close to a deal. I am not sure right now exactly what the situation is but it will be resolved in the next few hours. It is something we have been working on for two weeks and we want it finished as soon as possible."

Should the proposed deal be finalised, it will represent a considerable coup for Liverpool, who upped their original offer of £3.5m to a figure reported as being between £5.5m and £6m.

In doing so, they refused to give Madrid an option on Steven Gerrard should the Liverpool captain ever be put up for transfer. Real Madrid had been holding out for a fee of 12m euros (around £7m) for the Spaniard. Theirs was not the highest sum on the table; Madrid could possibly have got more from Lyon but Morientes had expressed his desire to go to Liverpool to work with Benitez.

Morientes is the kind of powerful, physical striker Liverpool have lacked since the dreadful injury suffered by Djibril Cissé at Blackburn and the potential of his partnership with the slighter, swifter Milan Baros is obvious. Although both have ability, neither Neil Mellor nor Florent Sinama-Pongolle are as yet anything more than support strikers.

Crucially, Morientes has the kind of European pedigree that not even Cissé could boast. Last season while on loan with Monaco he became the season's leading scorer in the Champions' League and steered the club to a European Cup final.

Despite making the knockout stages of the Champions' League this time around, the finances of Didier Deschamps' side were not up to a straight cash bid of around £6m without first offloading players. Morientes would also have had to accept lower wages at the Stade Louis II than he would have done at Anfield.

Although Liverpool will hope he will be available to take on Manchester United, it is less certain whether Morientes will be properly match fit for arguably the most fiercely- contested game Anfield will stage this season.

Returning to Real Madrid, the club he knocked out of the European Cup while at Monaco, Morientes found himself fourth-choice striker behind Ronaldo, Raul and Michael Owen and even for a centre- forward of unquestionable pedigree, his sharpness cannot be guaranteed.

Morientes will join a number of his countrymen at Anfield. Liverpool have signed Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, Josemi and Antonio Nuñez since appointing former Valencia coach Benitez in the summer.

Comments