Liverpool will this week respond to Rafael Benitez’s demands for ambition in the transfer market by following the expected club record purchase of Fernando Torres with an audacious attempt to lure Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United.
Heinze Liverpool’s manager has identified Heinze as the man to bring resilience to the left back slot at Anfield and, despite overtures from Italy and Spain for the Argentine, plus the problems in a transfer between the fiercest rivals in English football, is confident a deal worth £6m can be struck.
Benitez began to explore the first direct transfer from Old Trafford to Anfield in 43 years last week and has been encouraged by the response from Heinze’s representatives to instruct Liverpool’s hierarchy to prepare a formal bid.
While the Argentina international, 28, has expressed an interest in a move to Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, and United would prefer him to move abroad, those clubs are yet to register an offer, and Liverpool’s bid will enable Ferguson to reclaim much of the £6.9m paid to Paris Saint-Germain in 2004 and swell his funds for a new striker.
Heinze lost his first team place to Patrice Evra last season and has struggled to find the form he showed before a cruciate knee ligament injury against Villarreal in 2005. Last summer’s World Cup meant that he failed to get an adequate break prior to the start of last season having rushed back from the injury to be fit in time for the event in Germany. He has promised a decision on his return from the Copa America.
Liverpool’s main transfer priority remains Atletico Madrid striker Torres, who is expected to seal a £27m move in the next few days, having cut short a holiday to return to Madrid yesterday. Both the fee and personal terms have been agreed. Although he had been holding out for a four-year contract, the Spain international is expected to sign a six-year deal.
Atletico have signed the former United forward Diego Forlan for £14m from Villarreal and will today complete the £5m-rated transfer of Luis Garcia from Liverpool. Although both parties insist Garcia is not a makeweight in the Torres transfer, his departure will leave Liverpool with a bill of around £22m for Atletico’s captain.
Outgoing Anfield fans’ favourite Robbie Fowler said he has had no offers since being released by Liverpool.