By Chris Rowland.
Let’s start the week with a game of Liverpool v Spurs, and that Brazilian fellow with the Afro hair.
The Daily Mirror’s infatuation with any anti-Liverpool slant they can find under any creaky old floorboard (Aug 19) put it thusly:
Spurs are trying to hijack Liverpool’s bid to capture Brazilian playmaker Willian. The Reds have already agreed terms with the 25-year-old, who has been put up for sale by cost-cutting Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, and had been confident of completing the deal. But the two clubs have not yet agreed a fee, with Anzhi demanding £30million and Liverpool offering only £26m.
Spurs have now indicated to the Russians that they are ready to improve on the Anfield giants’ bid. The Londoners would also be able to offer the Brazil international European football in a season which ends with a World Cup in his homeland, should they win their Europa League play-off against Dinamo Tbilisi. The fierce battle for the Brazil international is set to continue as we approach the September 2 deadline, with Liverpool determined not to give up on the former Shakhtar star. Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas is a big fan, having tried to sign Willian during his time in charge at Chelsea. Willian has made it clear he is keen to move to the Premier League.
On the same day, the Daily Mail said “Liverpool are confident of winning the race to sign Anzhi Makhachkala playmaker Willian.”
By Tuesday Willian was having a medical at Spurs. The Sunday People (Aug 18) said we may already have an alternative target ready – a former Spurs target, as it happens: “Liverpool will make a move for Brazil and Internacional striker Leandro Damiao if Manchester United or Tottenham beat them to the signing of Anzhi Makhachkala forward Willian, 25. ”
But you can’t have a rumour without a counter-rumour, that’s the laws of physics that govern the transfer gossip universe:
Internacional striker Leandro Damiao says he is happy in Brazil at the current time, despite rumoured interest from Liverpool. The 24-year old has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs this summer, including Tottenham, Arsenal and Southampton, with Brendan Rodgers’ side suggested to be the latest to show an interest. Spurs and Southampton are both reported to have previously been in unsuccessful talks with Damiao, and he says it will have to be a substantial offer to tempt him into a move away. “The first time I was sounded out, I was happy, but I have to overcome that now – I am focused on Internacional – it has to be a good offer for me and the club,” he told UOL. “A lot was said. I am calm, nothing has come and I am still focused on Internacional and in the Brazilian Cup. If a very good offer comes, then maybe it could happen.” Internacional president Giovanni Luigi also spoke about the striker’s future, insisting that the club had not received any recent bids. “There have been no contacts in the last 15 days, not even speculation,” said Luigi. “Many times an agent comes and tries to make conversation between the clubs but we haven’t even had that. Everything indicates that Leandro Damiao will stay.” Sporting Life Aug 20
Meanwhile at the other end of the pitch, the Sakho situation is also turning into a saga (that’s ample alliteration for now):
Milan are battling Liverpool to take defender Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain. Laurent Blanc confirmed this week that Sakho has requested a transfer, although he could sign a contract renewal first and then go out on loan.
The 23-year-old French-Senegalese centre-back immediately became a target for the Rossoneri. However, according to the Corriere dello Sport, Liverpool have also entered the race for Sakho’s signature. Milan could attempt to get the upper hand by offering a cash sum to secure the loan with option to buy at the end of the season. FootballItalia Aug 18.
And Metro (Aug 22) reckon Sakho only has eyes for Anfield:
Liverpool are hopeful of pulling off the signing of defender Mamadou Sakho after he told PSG he is desperate to move to Anfield this summer. Brendan Rodgers is keen to add another centre back to his squad before the transfer window shuts on September 2, and Sakho is a key target. The Reds have already approached PSG to discuss a deal, but their opening offer of £8million was rejected, with the French club speaking to other clubs about the player.
However, Sakho has made it clear to PSG this week that Liverpool is the only club he is interested in joining, and had ordered them to let him move to Merseyside.Liverpool have so far failed to return with a new offer for the 23-year-old, but his agent has briefed Rodgers that a bid of around £12million would be enough to do business.
Sakho currently scoops around £60,000-a-week at PSG, which is topped up further with large performance related bonuses. It’s a giant salary that Liverpool would be uncomfortable with paying, but Sakho is believed to be so keen to make the move, he would consider lowering it. Arsenal, Tottenham and AC Milan have previously been linked with the defender, who is targeting regular playing time ahead of the World Cup next year.
Still at the defensive end of the field, and the Liverpool Echo had this on Aug 19:
Aly Cissokho is set to undergo a medical today ahead of completing his season-long loan move to Liverpool from Valencia. The Reds have the option to sign the French left-back on a permanent basis for around £4million next summer.
The ECHO understands Liverpool have also renewed their pursuit of Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tiago Ilori. Rodgers was keen to wrap up a deal back in June but talks between the clubs broke down. The Reds had a bid of around £3million rejected with Sporting demanding more than double that amount. However, Ilori’s refusal to pen a new contract in Portugal has given Liverpool hope that a compromise fee can now be agreed for the 20-year-old. The Reds were represented at Sporting’s game against Arouca yesterday and further discussions were held with the young defender’s representatives.
The Echo was right of course, Cissokho is now a Red.
The Daily Mirror’s version of the story on Aug 22 added one very familiar element to it – in the shape of a certain North London club:
Liverpool have made a fresh approach for rising star Tiago Ilori. Brendan Rodgers has gone back with an improved offer for the Sporting Lisbon centre-half he was first linked with in May only to have an initial bid of around £3million rejected. The 20-year-old broke into the Sporting team last season and made an instant impact with the Portuguese heavyweights, becoming a regular and earning a call-up to the Portugal U20 side. But he has refused to sign a new deal and Sporting are now prepared to negotiate after slapping a £6m price tag on the defender. Big-spending Tottenham have also been interested in the English-born centre back, but the Reds are at a more advanced stage in proceedings and Rodgers is confident of getting his man.
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