Pennant hoping to stay at Liverpool

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The Independent Online

Jermaine Pennant has urged Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez not to sell him to Portsmouth.

The two clubs have agreed a fee for the 26-year-old winger, who has only started two Barclays Premier League games for Liverpool this season.

Portsmouth announced today Pennant, who has also been linked with glamorous moves to Real Madrid and AC Milan, was due on the south coast to discuss personal terms "over the next few days".

But Pennant insisted he would rather stay at Anfield and fight for his place in the team.

"My preference is to stay at Liverpool and I am still hoping to do so," said Pennant.

"There has been a lot of speculation about my future but I have always maintained my position of wanting to stay at the club.

"I am happy to compete for my place here and hope I am given the chance to do so."

Pennant joined Liverpool from Birmingham for £6.7m and played in the 2007 Champions League final defeat by AC Milan - but he has not featured for the Reds since October 28.

And Pompey manager Tony Adams wants to make Pennant, a former Arsenal club-mate, his first signing since taking over at Fratton Park.

Adams said: "Jermaine is a player I have been tracking because he is not getting regular first-team football.

"I realised he wasn't in the team at Liverpool, he was a bit-part player, and I said to (executive chairman) Peter Storrie we might be able to give him a platform to play football.

"We have had a bid accepted by Liverpool and we want to get him down here ASAP."

Meanwhile, Adams, who has sold midfielder Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid and striker Jermain Defoe to Tottenham, denied any interest in re-signing Benjani Mwaruwari from Manchester City.

News that Pennant is not keen on a move south will come as a blow to Adams, who has struggled to strengthen his Portsmouth squad for the battle against relegation that lies ahead.

Although Portsmouth earned around £35m from the sales of Diarra and Defoe, the finances at Fratton Park dictate he does not have it all to spend on reinforcements.

Adams has looked at around 50 players and been urged to "be creative" in his attempts to land a few loans signings before the February 2 transfer deadline.

Only nine points separate Hull in eighth to bottom-of-the-table West Brom and Portsmouth are three points above the relegation zone heading into Sunday's trip to Tottenham.

Adams said: "There are 14 teams all scrapping and that is why it has been such a difficult winter. The transfer window has been horrific.

"Clubs don't want to let their players go because everyone is in it. There is a lot of fear. There are 14 clubs struggling to stay in the Premier League, where the money is, and we are one of them.

"There are a couple of bits in the budget but not a lot. I need to bring some loans in."

Adams first knew Pennant during the early days of his career at Arsenal, who signed him as a 15-year-old from Notts County for £2million.

Pennant has had his troubles off the field and arguably not fulfilled that early promise on it - but Adams believes those days are now behind him.

He would relish the chance to bring Pennant to Fratton Park and link him up England full-back Glen Johnson, who recently signed a new contract, on Portsmouth's right flank.

"It's down to the player," Adams admitted.

"I knew him as Ashley Cole's buddy as a kid. He has had a few, shall we say 'different' experiences through his career. Haven't we all. But I think he is growing wiser with age," said Adams.

"As a player, he has played in the Champions League final which is something I never did. Maybe he has had a better career than me."

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