Tom Hicks and George Gillett take a look down the back of the Anfield sofa.
Yossi Benayoun has taken a significant step towards leaving Liverpool for Chelsea by agreeing in principle a four-year contract with the Barclays Premier League champions.
Although a fee has yet to be agreed between the clubs, such is Benayoun’s determination to quit Anfield that Liverpool officials have been braced for his departure for some time.
Benayoun, 30, is known to have fallen out with Rafael Benítez and it was widely assumed that the Israel midfield player would stay if the manager left. But even the removal of Benítez from the equation has not been enough to convince him to remain.
Chelsea are keen to recruit Benayoun to fill the void that will be created when Joe Cole leaves Stamford Bridge on a free transfer this summer and have made Liverpool an offer in the region of £4 million.
That bid has been rejected by Liverpool, who feel Benayoun is worth at least twice that amount. But the club are increasingly resigned to his departure and a compromise fee of about £5.5 million is likely to be agreed.
Benayoun has completed only 12 months of a four-year contract worth £55,000 a week and only last month claimed that “if it depended on me, I would stay here and retire in Liverpool. The fans are the best in the world, but it depends on a lot of things.”
However, the lure of playing in next season’s Champions League, for which Liverpool failed to qualify, and a substantial pay rise have contributed to Benayoun’s desire to leave the club he joined from West Ham United in July 2007.
Should Benayoun complete his move to West London, he could be the first of a number of players to leave Liverpool in what is likely to be a summer of upheaval in the wake of Benítez’s exit.
A number of other players are up for sale, with Liverpool open to offers for Ryan Babel, Albert Riera and Philipp Degen, among others, while Diego Cavalieri, the club’s second-choice goalkeeper, is seeking a transfer to secure regular first-team football, having been understudy to Pepe Reina for two years. (The Times)
OK so where to begin. I am worried. I think there is a very real chance that we could lose some of top talent. Players who I wouldn’t previously have thought would leave could well have become sick of the ways things are descending into chaos at Anfield.
The five players named in this report are on the whole players who we can afford to lose. Players who it would make sense to cash in on in an attempt to a) rid the club of squad members who are not really good enough to represent a team who should be aiming for the top four at the very least and b) by doing so could help us avoid selling more meaningful stars.
Ryan Babel has in my view just about done enough to avoid being named on this list. His performances and perhaps more importantly attitude, got better towards the tail end of the season and we always knew he had talent. I think he deserves to stay at the club and if by January he hasn’t pushed on then perhaps then we consider cashing on him.
Yossi Benayoun is by all accounts on his way to Chelsea. I wouldn’t have wanted the Israeli to leave. He gives us another angle and now that Rafa has left, something again I wouldn’t have wanted to see happen, perhaps he would have had a better chance of showing what he is capable of, but that’s done and dusted and I wish Yossi well.
Albert Riera can happily leave as far as I am concerned. The Spaniard never gives us the finished product. Its all tricks that never quite come off, its being greedy, its not playing the right pass when its blatantly obvious where he should be moving possession. Philipp Degen has never been Liverpool material and Diego Cavalieri is not happy being a sub keeper, which is odd as the Brazilian must have known that was what he was going to be.