Portsmouth are to press ahead with a £10m bid for Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips after yesterday completing the signing of striker Peter Crouch for a fee which will likely rise to £11m.
It is a measure of the FA Cup winners' ambition that they are prepared to break their club transfer record twice within one summer, having also spent £9m on Jermain Defoe last January, although they will have to raise funds to finance any deal for Wright-Phillips. The 26-year-old winger has been told by Chelsea that he is for sale, but there is concern as to whether Portsmouth will be able to cover his wages which are thought to be around £70,000-a-week. It is understood Wright-Phillips, however, wants to join Portsmouth.
It means that John Utaka, who arrived last summer from Rennes for a then record £8m, could be put up for sale although, in public, manager Harry Redknapp is maintaining that he does not want to sell the Nigeria international.
However he accepts that Utaka, and the striker David Nugent, who is wanted by both Stoke City and Hull City, are more expendable than the two other players he could sell to raise funds – Niko Kranjcar and Lassana Diarra. Redknapp is also keen to push ahead with bids for Reading's Nicky Shorey and, possibly, Younes Kabou and is attempting to engineer the latter as a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur.
Redknapp has already signed the winger Glen Little on a free transfer from Reading and striker Ben Sahar on loan from Chelsea. A deal is being negotiated for the Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland as Portsmouth attempt to push on from last season's eighth place finish and look forward to a Uefa Cup campaign.
Crouch yesterday signed a four-year deal after growing frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities at Liverpool. It will be a second spell at Portsmouth for the 27-year-old England international who scored 19 goals in 39 games during the 2001-2 season before being sold to Aston Villa for £5m by Redknapp as the manager raised funds to rebuild his team.
"It is fantastic to be back and the club is going places," Crouch said yesterday. "I've worked here before and he [Redknapp] gets the best out of me. The best is still to come in my career and it will be here at Portsmouth. They have built a good side and there have been big changes. The club is unrecognisable to the last time I was here. It is a very strong side which can compete against anyone. The club is moving forward."
"I had a fantastic three years at Liverpool and I would not change it for the world. I am privileged to have played for such a top club. Towards the end I did not get as many games as I would have liked but I will only take good memories away. In no way am I stepping down, I feel I am joining a club that is going places with a new stadium, a new training ground and some very good players."
The fee for Crouch, who had just one year left on his contract at Liverpool, is thought to be £9m down and £2m to be added on dependent on various targets being reached.
Redknapp added: "Bringing a player like Peter here shows how far we have come and how far we can go. I'm delighted he's back. I never expected to see him back here. He went off to Liverpool and did a fantastic job in my opinion and I'm looking forward to seeing him and Jermain Defoe up front – a big one and a little one – and we've got other good forwards here."
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