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By ESPN Staff

Garcia won't follow Morientes, says Benitez

Rafael Benitez may have sold his fourth player back to Spanish football, but Luis Garcia will not be the next.

As the Liverpool boss embarks on what is becoming an extensive search for new strikers having sold Fernando Morientes to Valencia for around £3million, speculation in Spain is that Luis Garcia could follow.

But as Benitez paid tribute to Morientes, who ended a difficult spell in the Premiership this week, he said: 'I'm really happy with Luis and I know he is happy at Liverpool. He is an important player for us and he is still part of our plans.

'If people are saying he isn't settled here it's not true. He's scored a lot of important goals for us and he wants to continue to score goals and play well for us in the future.'

Benitez, however, has praised Morientes for his efforts during his 16 months at Anfield, adding: 'He has contributed a lot since he joined us, but I spoke to him at the end of the season and we agreed if a good Spanish club was interested in him he could talk to them.

'Since he joined us he has been a good professional and helped the team a lot. He played mainly as a second striker, which is a difficult position and you must do a lot of hard work to create a lot of space for other forwards.

'If you speak to the other strikers, they will all tell you how they liked working alongside him.

'Fernando always tried hard in this position and maybe he didn't always get the credit he deserved for his work.

'He joined Liverpool at an important time and played a key role to us. He's helped a lot of the other players with his attitude and professionalism.

'He joined us as a big star, but his attitude was always good.'

Morientes is the fourth of Benitez's captures from La Liga to return to Spain, following Antonio Nunez, Josemi and Mauricio Pellegrino.

There will be other departures from Anfield this summer, possibly Djibril Cisse and also some of the players who have returned from loan spells.

Striker Anthony Le Tallec, after a season with relegated Sunderland, wants to return to France.

He said: 'I have no idea about my future yet, but I don't think I will stay at Liverpool. I will ask for a transfer because I still have three years remaining on my contract and I don't want to be loaned any more.

'I want stability. A return to France is obviously my priority. I have had initial contacts with Paris St Germain, but nothing has been settled so far.'

Benitez hopes to have Mark Gonzalez's work permit sorted out next week, while his initial priority is to secure Brazilian full-back Daniel Alves from Seville.

It is believed a £7million bid has been made, but there could be work permit problems there because the player has not yet played for Brazil.

Feyenoord's Dirk Kuyt is not believed to be at the top of Benitez's list despite suggestions to the contrary from the Dutch striker, while David Villa of Valencia, Darren Bent, Jermaine Defoe and Craig Bellamy are being considered.

Bellamy's future, however, is shrouded with some doubt. Sources inside the Wales camp last week claimed the striker's departure from Blackburn was being openly discussed by the players.

Cardiff-born Bellamy is a boyhood Liverpool fan and could well be interested in Champions League football.

However, Mark Hughes at Blackburn will work feverishly to keep his high speed attacker.