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Liverpool close to capturing Babel

Liverpool close to capturing Babel

By Sam Wallace

Published: 09 July 2007

Liverpool made their second major move in the summer transfer market yesterday with a bid for the highly rated Dutch winger Ryan Babel. The club were understood to have offered around €10m (£6.75m) for the Ajax attacker, who was also a target for Arsenal and Newcastle.

Babel, 20, has attracted interest from all over Europe but it seems Rafa Benitez, the Liverpool manager, wants to make him the club's second significant signing of the close season after Fernando Torres. The player impressed in the Netherlands Under-21 team who won the European Championship on home soil last month and is regarded as the best of a crop of outstanding young Dutch talent.

He has already been capped by the full Netherlands side, scoring on his debut against Romania in March 2005, while the national team manager Marco van Basten has said Babel has the potential to be the next Thierry Henry.

Liverpool already have four first-team strikers in Torres, Peter Crouch, Dirk Kuyt and Andrei Voronin, but Babel is more adaptable and can be used as a winger. Benitez has said before that wide players are his priority this summer and he seems to have lost out on Florent Malouda, who will join Chelsea this week.

Ajax have not yet accepted Liverpool's bid for Babel, but it is close to their valuation of the striker.

Real Madrid have set their sights on the Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas after being warned off Milan's Kaka,. The Spanish club's sporting director, Predrag Mijatovic, confirmed local media reports that the 20-year-old Spain player is wanted.

"Of course we are interested in Cesc," Mijatovic said. "We've been interested in him for over a year now and we are still interested."


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