Anfield cult hero to make move to Premier League champions.
Yossi Benayoun has moved closer to a Liverpool exit after agreeing terms on a four-year contract with Chelsea, although the clubs have yet to finalise a fee for the Israel international.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, has targeted the versatile 30-year-old as a replacement for Joe Cole who, along with Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti, will be released from Stamford Bridge when his contract expires at the end of the month. Liverpool rejected a £4m inquiry from the Premier League champions for Benayoun last month and have not received another official offer since.
The midfielder, a £5m signing from West Ham United in 2007, has made no secret of his desire to return to London and has agreed in principle to join Chelsea on a four?year deal. Reports in Israel, where Benayoun is on holiday, have claimed he will undergo a medical at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground this week.
Benayoun will be the first high-profile player to leave Anfield following Rafael Benítez’s exit should Liverpool agree a compromise figure with Chelsea. The Israel captain signed a four?year contract at Liverpool last summer and scored nine goals in 42 appearances for the club last season. The midfielder, however, was often deployed as a substitute under Benítez and became frustrated with the former Liverpool manager as a result. Even with Benítez moving to Internazionale, Benayoun remains determined to leave for a club that can offer Champions League football and a better salary, and is expected to get his way in the coming days. (Guardian)
Given the manner in which Rafa Benitez opted to use Yossi Benayoun, i.e. only when injuries and poor form forced him into making the decision, its not surprising that the Israeli international has decided to leave Liverpool but a little surprising that the 30 year old has waited until the Spaniard has left Anfield before taking the plunge and accepted a deal to leave.
Considered a hero with most fans of the Merseyside outfit it seemed that Benitez was never totally committed to using the former West Ham man unless he absolutely had to, even though whenever Benayoun was picked in the myriad of roles he could manfully adopt he almost always put in a determined and accomplished performance.
During his spell at the club he managed a very healthy 28 goals in 81 starts and was often on hand to score crucial goals and was always a focal part of the attack. Clearly Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti believes he can put to good use his abilities and a four year deal is one that Yossi could not afford to turn down.
He seems likely to take Joe Cole’s place in the squad and that may well mean a healthy portion of his time at the West London club may be spent on the Stamford Bridge bench but perhaps the talented attacking midfielder felt he had little to lose in accepting such a deal given the uncertain time his current side faces.