Crouch ready to join Portsmouth

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth yesterday agreed a deal worth £11m for Peter Crouch and the Liverpool striker will sign officially in midweek. The Independent revealed on Saturday that the two sides were at last close to a valuation, but they did not come to an agreement until yesterday afternoon. Crouch, 27, cannot complete the paperwork because some Liverpool officials are not yet back at work until this week.

Liverpool will get most of the money up front, although Portsmouth were not the only club to offer that amount. With only one year left on his contract, the England striker attracted similarly substantial bids from Tottenham and Newcastle. The clincher for Crouch was the chance to play for Harry Redknapp again, more than six years since he left Fratton Park for Aston Villa during Redknapp's first spell in charge of the club. The Portsmouth manager made sure that his board did not give up on the deal after Liverpool rejected their first bid of £9m.

With first-team chances limited at Liverpool because of a 4-2-3-1 formation accommodating Fernando Torres, the decision to leave was a simple one. Crouch has enjoyed his three years at Liverpool but is thrilled at the prospect of first-team football again, especially in partner-ship with Jermain Defoe. The two have played alongside one another for England Under-21s and the senior team.

For that reason he does not regard leaving Anfield as a backward step. Rather, he has made the decision that playing football is the most important factor. There was an improved deal on the table from Liverpool, but that was never a consideration after a season in which he started only nine Premier League games. A more cynical character would have chosen to see out his contract and leave on a free transfer next summer, making substantially more money. However, Crouch is determined to be a key player in Fabio Capello's 2010 World Cup qualification campaign, which begins in September, and realises that he will have to be playing first-team football.

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