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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan, 5, 2006

Agger the next target in Rafa's sights

Liverpool's fine recent run of form has not halted manager Rafael Benitez's restructuring at Anfield after two players yesterday joined the Reds and two more were strongly linked with a move to Merseyside.

Benitez has already snapped up Dutchman Jan Kromkamp and Paul Anderson and is ready to follow up that double swoop with the capture of £5.5million Brondby centre-back Daniel Agger by the weekend.

Winger Simao Sabrosa, another of Benitez's long-term targets, could also be on his way out of Benfica after the Portuguese club yesterday took Laurent Robert from Newcastle.

Kromkamp passed his medical and completed the final details of his swap deal with Josemi, who moves in the opposite direction to Villarreal in his native Spain.

The Dutch international could even make his debut at Luton on Saturday after rules governing the eligibility of new signings playing in the FA Cup were brought into line with the Premiership.

The 24-year-old right-back quit Villarreal having only joined them from Dutch club Alkmaar in the summer after failing to settle in Spain.

Benitez revealed 'he has had trouble learning the language'.

The 17-year-old Anderson's move was agreed several weeks ago but could only be confirmed once the transfer window reopened.

His switch to Anfield from Hull saw England Under-21 midfielder John Welsh make his loan a permanent deal with the Tigers.

Anderson, a winger, will join Benitez's new-look elite reserve squad which trains at Melwood alongside the senior players.

Mark Gonzalez, meanwhile, is almost certain to be loaned out to a Spanish club until the end of the season, when Liverpool will again apply for a work permit for the youngster.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho eased any concerns he may have had about the availability and fitness of £24million star Michael Essien by bringing in the familiar face of Maniche on loan.

Essien, who is suspended for both legs of Chelsea's Champions League last-16 encounter against Barcelona after being banned by UEFA following his foul on Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann, was carried off during the 3-1 win over West Ham.

Mourinho believes the Ghana international will miss the African Nations Cup to receive treatment on his injured ankle but either way he has brought in the ideal man as cover.

Maniche has signed on loan from Dynamo Moscow until the end of the season - when Chelsea have a £5million option on him - and will link up with his fellow Portuguese Mourinho for the third time in his career.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp's bid to save Pompey from relegation has seen him sign Poland striker Emmanuel Olisadebe until the end of the season.

The Nigerian-born 27-year-old, who has made 25 international appearances, joins from Panathinaikos after a two-day trial at Fratton Park last month.

'I am very happy to be joining Portsmouth and excited about the prospect of playing in the Premier League, which for me is the best league in the world,' said the player.

'I hope to play and do well for the team and it feels good to be back after my trial last month.'

Birmingham are poised to make Celtic striker Chris Sutton their first signing during the January transfer window.

The 32-year-old is understood to be close to agreeing a short-term contract with the Premiership strugglers until the end of the current campaign.

Sutton's contract expires in the summer and so he is able to open negotiations with other clubs as he is in the last six months of his Celtic deal.

Celtic paid Chelsea £6million for Sutton's services in the summer of 2000 but at best are likely to recoup only a nominal fee if the player makes the switch to St Andrews.

Coca-Cola Championship leaders Reading have completed the signing of Scott Golbourne for an undisclosed fee from Bristol City.

The 17-year-old is primarily a left-back but can also play in midfield and has agreed a deal until the summer of 2008.

Stoke have agreed a permanent £100,000 deal for on-loan West Ham winger Luke Chadwick, 25.

After a medical, former Manchester United man Chadwick will sign a deal until the summer of 2008, with an option for another year.

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