No January spree for Benitez as owners bid to get out of red
RAFAEL Benitez is unlikely to be given any of the proceeds from player sales during the January transfer window to reinvest in new signings this month.
Four fringe members of the Liverpool squad could leave the club in the coming weeks: Andrea Dossena, Philipp Degen and Andriy Voronin have been earmarked for the exit door and Ryan Babel is the subject of serious interest from Birmingham City. The money recouped from their potential sales could total in excess of £15m.
Napoli have agreed a £4.4m fee for Dossena who is set to complete the move back to his native Italy once personal terms have been agreed; Voronin is on the brink of signing for Dynamo Moscow in a deal worth about £2m; and Degen is the subject of interest from several clubs in Germany, with Stuttgart leading the race for his services.
Birmingham City have offered £9m for Babel but that bid is likely to be rebuffed because the forward is keen to hold out for a move to the continent.
Benitez is pushing ahead with the planned signing of Maxi Rodriguez, the Atletico Madrid winger, on a six-month loan and is also looking for a second temporary recruit in defence after Glen Johnson was ruled out for at least a month.
But although the Liverpool manager is working without a transfer war chest, club insiders insist that that policy has not been forced on him by Liverpool's estimated £250m debts and resultant interest payments, believed to be in the region of £30m a year.
But critics of George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks, the co-owners, may dispute that assessment. And should Liverpool not make any significant investment in their playing squad it will serve only to reinforce Benitez's recent assertion that the club's priority has shifted from trophy gathering to debt reduction.
Meanwhile, Fernando Torres is undertaking gruelling extra training sessions in an attempt to ensure that he remains fit for the rest of the season. The Liverpool forward, who has been plagued by a groin injury since the autumn, has completed 90 minutes in each of Liverpool's past four matches. (© The Times, London)