Sissoko spurns Blues for Reds and old manager

Click to follow
The Independent Football

"I know Sissoko well, he is a good central midfielder with high energy and experience of winning trophies," Benitez said after yesterday's opening friendly of the season at Wrexham. "We are trying to sign maybe two or three more players. We have some ideas about right wingers and [Real Madrid's] Luis Figo is one of them. [Southampton's] Peter Crouch is also a player I like."

Benitez also suggested that securing Steven Gerrard after all on a four-year contract was like signing a new player. "For sure it's one of my best signings," he said, "because we were thinking about losing our captain and one of our best players. Now we have Stevie and Jamie Carragher for four more years, two players who have played all their life at the club, which is very important. It's good for football, and really fantastic for us. I always had confidence that Stevie would stay, because the most important thing was that he understood what Liverpool and the supporters meant to him."

Gerrard confirmed that, although his protestations about how traumatic his week had been struck a discordant note after events in London on Thursday. "I've been depressed and confused and I wouldn't wish being in my shoes on any other person," was how he described the difficulties involved in debating whether to accept Liverpool's £100,000 per week or Chelsea's £125,000. "I didn't doubt the reception from the fans," he said. "I can understand people getting frustrated, but the majority realised what I was going through. I feel I've made the right decision and hope I can win the one [Premiership] medal that's missing, if not this year then during my contract."

He also insisted that there would be no further wavering in future years, though Liverpool may be as concerned as Arsenal and Manchester United that once such seeds are sown, they can easily become hardy annuals, as with Patrick Vieira and now Rio Ferdinand, whose decision to reject the offer on the table will infuriate Sir Alex Ferguson. Every such impasse creates further distrust on both sides and tends to end in a parting of the ways.

Kieran Richardson will be part of Manchester United's tour to the Far East, although the midfielder - who spent last season on loan to West Bromwich Albion - is still not sure of his future at Old Trafford. Competition for places is fierce and, like the Brazilian Kleberson, Richardson will have to make his mark during United's four matches away if he is to secure a long-term contract. Twenty one players fly out to Hong Kong on 21 July on a trip that also takes in Beijing and Tokyo.

Benfica are one of a number of clubs linked with Kleberson, but United want to sell, rather than loan out, the 26-year-old. "One or two have made bids but they don't match the value we believe he is worth. If we get that valuation, that is a different matter,"said Ferguson.

Park Ji-sung, United's South Korean signing, has finally completed his transfer from PSV Eindhoven after being granted a British work permit. Park, a member of the Korean side that reached the last four in the 2002 World Cup, has signed a four-year contract.

Comments