Monday 19 March 2018

Babel set to go in Anfield January exodus

Rory Smith

A number of Liverpool's fringe players -- including Daniel Pacheco, Ryan Babel and Milan Jovanovic -- may be allowed to leave in January as the club's owners, New England Sports Ventures (NESV), look to trim the bloated wage bill.

NESV have made it clear that they will seek to use the forthcoming transfer window to bolster Roy Hodgson's resources if they believe they can identify value-for-money purchases, but they do not intend to allow what the Liverpool manager has suggested is an "overstaffed" playing squad to become any more unwieldy.

That is likely to lead to the departure of several squad players, with Pacheco, the highly rated Spanish U-21 international, increasingly likely to become the first to depart. A number of clubs in the 19-year-old's homeland -- including Espanyol and Malaga -- are believed to be considering offering the player the first-team football he has been denied at Anfield.

Pacheco has not featured for Hodgson's side since his inclusion in the team which endured the humiliating Carling Cup exit to League Two club Northampton in September and, judging by the manager's assessment of his predicament, an end to that exclusion is far from imminent.

"He has had moments when he has looked good, and other when not quite so," said Hodgson.

"When will he get a chance again? Probably in one of these games in Europe and, who knows, maybe he will burst back on to the scene, but it is very difficult to do that in a reserve game."

Though the sale of Pacheco would hardly offer NESV a significant saving on Liverpool's wage bill, the potential departures of Jovanovic -- signed on a free transfer in the summer but, after failing to settle, now a target for Anderlecht -- and Babel would free up a substantial sum to be reinvested.

Babel, signed for £11.5m by Rafael Benitez in 2007, has not lived up to the promise of his early showings for the club and yesterday suggested he had been frustrated in his attempts to improve his form through extra training sessions by Hodgson's predecessor.

"I wasn't allowed to train extra under our former manager, even when I wasn't involved," the winger said on Twitter.

"I begged lots of times but it was simply not allowed. If I wanted to do some extra training, which I asked for every single day, I didn't have permission. It was confusing, of course, because you want to get better."

Daniel Agger's future is also in doubt thanks to his failure to secure a regular place under Hodgson, even before the calf injury which Liverpool's Head of Sports Medicine, Dr Peter Brukner, revealed will rule him out for another three weeks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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