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Benitez eyeing move for Lyon midfielder

Benitez eyeing move for Lyon midfielder

May 29 2007

by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post

Rafael Benitez

RAFAEL BENITEZ is contemplating making Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda his first major signing of the summer.

The France international left-winger is among several players the Liverpool manager is tracking as he prepares to radically overhaul his squad following the Champions League final defeat against AC Milan last Wednesday.

Benitez intimated over the weekend he expects Liverpool to make a major signing by the end of the week.

Malouda, who is available for around £10million, announced earlier this month that he wants to leave Lyon, with the French club’s chairman Jean-Michel Aulas having given the player until June 30 to agree a move to another club.

The 26-year-old was last week named the French league’s player of the year after helping the departed Gerard Houllier’s Lyon to a sixth successive title, contributing eight goals and five assists.

“I want to be sorted quickly,” said Malouda, who is also a target for several other top European clubs. “If nothing happens from now on, that would mean that the clubs who have approached me are not really convinced about recruiting me.

“If that is the case, there is no point in leaving. I don’t want to go wherever.

“If I leave, it will be under the best circumstances, for me and for Lyon.”

Malouda has won 28 caps with and scored three goals with France, and was part of the team that finished runners-up in last year’s World Cup, winning the penalty in the final against Italy from which Zinedine Zidane scored.

Ukrainian striker Andriy Voronin, Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva and young Argentine Sebastian Leto will already join Liverpool in the close season.

And the Anfield outfit yesterday confirmed the arrival of Hungarian teenagers Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon from MTK Hungaria.

Nemeth, 18, and Simon, 17, appeared for Hungary in last year’s UEFA Under-17 Championships, and will bolster the reserve team squad.

However, Djibril Cisse is almost certain to depart with Marseille keen for the striker to remain at the French club.

Cisse spent this season on loan at the Stade Velodrome, scoring 14 times in 26 appearances including a brace in the dramatic French cup final defeat at the hands of Sochaux.

And Marseille chairman Pape Diouf has reiterated his desire to being negotiations with Liverpool over the player.

“I think in spite of the problems Djibril has experienced, a lot of people would be happy if he was to remain with us, and I think he would be happy to remain with us,” said Diouf.

“We have not been able to give a response to Liverpool because we had a season to finish and they had a Champions League final to play. They have happened and nothing can now stop us starting discussions with them.”

In contrast, Peter Crouch yesterday insisted he was staying put after revealing Benitez has assured him he has a future at Anfield.

Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce is reported to be ready to table a bid for Crouch, who finished the season as Liverpool’s top scorer with 18 goals.

But Crouch said: “The manager has told me I’m part of his plans and that’s good enough for me.

“At a club like Liverpool there’s going to be competition for places, especially as the manager likes to chop and change.”


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