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Unwanted Anthony Le Tallec poised to go home

Unwanted Anthony Le Tallec poised to go home

Aug 2 2007

By Paul Walker, Liverpool Daily Post Correspondent

Anthony Le Tallec

LIVERPOOL misfit Anthony Le Tallec could be heading back to France on a permanent basis after it was made clear he has no future at Anfield.

The 22-year-old midfielder spent last season on loan to Sochaux, and the French club have now confirmed that they are considering meeting Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's £2.7million asking price.

Le Tallec returned to Liverpool's Melwood training ground this summer hoping to rekindle his Anfield career.

But Benitez promptly sent him to train with the reserves and it is believed he has been given a week off.

He did not travel with the second string to Holland on Tuesday for the four-team tournament next weekend in Amsterdam.

Benitez could have allowed Le Tallec to train with the senior squad this week ahead of their own trip to play two games in Rotterdam at the weekend, but instead opted to give the player time off.

Liverpool have offered Le Tallec to clubs both home and abroad, and he has been linked with Premier League rivals Birmingham City, Fulham and West Ham United.

But Sochaux could be prepared to end the player's Mersey misery by coming up with a permanent deal.

Sochaux chairman Jean-Claude Plessis, who earlier in the summer claimed his club would not pursue the player, said: "Indeed we are thinking about a permanent deal. Anthony is a very talented player who has been very fair with us last season. If the conditions are acceptable, why not sign him?"

After being signed by former manager Gerard Houllier from Le Havre - along with Florent Sinama-Pongolle - in 2002, in a joint deal which was worth up to £7m, Le Tallec also had an unsatisfactory loan spell at Sunderland.

But the French Under-21 international has never fulfilled the promise he showed as a teenager, which earned him high praise in a series of UEFA and FIFA youth championships.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's opening day opponents Aston Villa are facing a further injury crisis with manager Martin O'Neill struggling to fill the right-back berth.

He is currently without a senior player in the position after the departure of Aaron Hughes to Fulham and Phil Bardsley's return to Manchester United.

Mark Delaney is also still short of being ready for a first-team comeback after his long-term knee problems although the Welsh international is making good progress.

Former skipper Olof Mellberg is favourite to move from centreback into the role for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday week should O'Neill be unable to sign a replacement in time.

O'Neill also has only one senior goalkeeper at his disposal in Stuart Taylor for the meeting with the European Cup finalists as Thomas Sorensen will be unavailable because of a hamstring injury.

The Villa manager said: "I cannot say I am ready to name my first XI yet and, of course, we still have some strengthening to do.

"That will be my priority because it is better to get new signings in and let them settle during the pre-season rather than throwing them straight in."


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