Pellegrino rejoins Benitez at Anfield

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The Independent Football

Mauricio Pellegrino yesterday completed his move to Liverpool on a free transfer, as predicted by The Independent on Tuesday. The 33-year-old Argentinian central defender has agreed a six-month contract, with the option of a further year, after being released by Valencia.

It means he will team up again with the former Valencia manager manager Rafael Benitez, now in charge at Liverpool. Pellegrino becomes the fifth player to move to Anfield from La Liga since the Spaniard's arrival. However the chances of Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes becoming a sixth have receded slightly after it emerged yesterday that his agent Gines Carvajal spent Tuesday in talks with French club Lyon. This has irked Benitez who had believed that Morientes was keen to join him.

That may still be the case but the longer the Morientes deal drags on, the greater Nicolas Anelka's chances or returning to Liverpool are. As yet no contact has been made with Manchester City and though Anelka was omitted from City's team against Arsenal, manager Kevin Keegan insisted that the Frenchman was injured. He also said that no offer had been made for Anelka but added: "If that changes and they [Liverpool] rang up and the offer was massive, we would let him go, but we owe £5m [to Paris Saint-Germain] on him, so they'd better have plenty of money."

The deal to secure Pellegrino will hasten the departure of defender Stephane Henchoz who yesterday broke off talks over a move to Rangers, claiming he would prefer to stay in the Premiership. He has attracted interest from City and Southampton but his high wage demands may prove prohibitive. At the same time Benitez has issued an ultimatum to Igor Biscan, who has been given permission to to speak to other clubs, to decide whether he wants to leave Anfield, or stay until the summer.

Pellegrino arrives having won two La Liga titles, and appeared in a Uefa Cup final, under Benitez. He joined Valencia, from Barcelona, in 1999 and also featured in two Champions' League finals as well as making three appearances for his country. However he is nearing the end of his career and although powerful is not the most mobile of defenders and has been hampered by injury. Pellegrino said last night: "At my age it's a great satisfaction that this opportunity comes along. I have always wanted to play in English football."

Also wanting to stay in the Premiership is Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini and, according to the Italian's agent, he is attracting the interest of Liverpool. Federico Pastorello said yesterday: "In England there could be some clubs interested. Liverpool could be interested in Carlo but other clubs also."

Cudicini is currently No 2 to Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge, and his agent said a meeting will take place towards the end of the season to decide his future. "I'm waiting to have a meeting with Chelsea to speak about the situation. But Carlo is very relaxed about it," Pastorello said. Cudicini is hoping for a move to either Liverpool, Arsenal or Manchester United if he has to leave Chelsea to gain first-team football. He would also consider a move back to Italy and Pastorello confirmed that Inter- nazionale had made an inquiry about the 31-year-old last month.

The Serie A club are currently in the process of signing Brazilian Julio Cesar on a three-year deal from Flamengo instead. Ironically he has also interested Chelsea who considered him to replace Cudicini who they are prepared to let go, possibly even this month. Inter are hoping to persuade Cesar, the Brazil No2 goalkeeper, to go out on loan to Reggina before completing his switch to the San Siro at the end of the season.