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Liverpool set to finalise Sturridge deal

Liverpool have all but finalised the £12 million purchase of Daniel Sturridge, ESPN understands.

• Walsh: Beware of window watching

The Anfield team's interest in the Chelsea forward is long-standing and, with negotiations between the two clubs having intensified over the past two weeks, highly-placed Stamford Bridge sources have confirmed that the deal is almost complete, and he will be presented on Merseyside - along with £4m Tom Ince from Blackpool - early in the January transfer window.

One player who won't be leaving Chelsea in the new year, however, is Frank Lampard. It is understood that the decision has been taken to keep the veteran midfielder at Stamford Bridge until the summer, at the very least.

The imminent transfer of Sturridge, meanwhile, follows months of speculation and weeks of discussion between the two clubs. It will take Brendan Rodgers's January spending up to £16m, as he also hopes to finally bolster the club's under-resourced forward-line.

For his part, Benitez was coy when publicly discussing Sturridge in his Tuesday press conference but did admit that "conversations" had taken place.

"He [Sturridge] was training with us, he is fine. It is just a question of the club and some conversations with different options. But at the moment for me, as a coach, he is training and doing well. I can't say too much as I don't have much information."

Benitez did reassert Lampard's importance to the team, despite the midfielder himself recently questioning his Chelsea future. The 34-year-old has only started one of three games since returning from injury at the start of December, but that may change now that Benitez is suffering such a spate of injuries and suspensions in midfield. Given the club's own lightness in that area, Lampard will at least stay until the end of the season.

"If you analyse our team, we don't have too many options in the middle of the park," Benitez said. "The fact he was playing some minutes against Monterrey and after against Corinthians. He is coming back and he will be OK.

"I will say to you he [Lampard] is fully committed, every training session, every game, an important player for us. I cannot say too much about what he feels, or what he doesn't feel, just that he is training well, he is doing well and I'm happy with his attitude."

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