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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 29, 2006

Benitez quashes Magpies' hopes of Crouch deal

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has insisted he has no intention of selling Peter Crouch and bringing Valencia target man David Villa to Anfield in the January transfer window.

Crouch has been the subject of heightened transfer speculation since failing to take his chances during his side's 1-0 defeat to Blackburn at Ewood Park on Boxing Day. Earlier today it was reported that Newcastle were preparing a £12million offer for the England international.

But ahead of tomorrow's Premiership trip to Tottenham, Benitez dismissed rumours of Villa's imminent arrival and said Crouch remained an integral part of his plans.

Benitez said: 'I can be very clear - we do not want to buy Villa and we do not want to sell Peter Crouch. Villa is a fantastic player but we are not interested in buying him now.'

Crouch cut an abject figure when he was replaced by Dutchman Dirk Kuyt against Rovers but the Reds boss added he was satisfied with the big striker's effort and backed him to get back to scoring goals.

Benitez said: 'He is working hard and the only thing you can do with a striker in this situation is continue to support him. If he continues to work as he has been doing, I will be happy.

'You can never say you are really pleased with the strikers because it is important to take your chances. But the important thing to say to all of your strikers is just to keep going.'

Benitez admitted he may do little business in the transfer market, although the arrival of Australian full-back Lucas Neill from Blackburn appears to have moved closer.

Benitez added: 'If you are top side and you can do something you must always look for improvement but at the moment we are happy with the squad we have got and they are all playing well.'

Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder himself has played down his chances of landing Crouch.

He said: 'Someone knows more than I do. As far as I am concerned, there has not been a deal even spoken about. Secondly, I really hate managers talking about other managers' players.

'Peter Crouch is a Liverpool player and I do not think Rafael Benitez would appreciate me talking about Peter Crouch when he is not a Newcastle player.

'At this moment in time, it is pure speculation and I would be surprised if he ended up becoming a Newcastle player.

'I said a month ago when I was asked, he is very talented and certainly deserves his place in the England team, in my opinion.

'But anything outside that would be unfair to Liverpool and the manager there.'

Roeder is in the market for a striker with Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi injured and loan signing Giuseppe Rossi on his way back to Manchester United after tomorrow's Premiership trip to Everton.

It is understood Crouch is one a list of potential targets, although with cash at a premium at St James' Park it is unlikely he would be able to invest at the suggested level.

Chairman Freddy Shepherd found £15million during the summer to land Obafemi Martins and Damien Duff despite having seen Roeder's predecessor Graeme Souness invest a staggering £50million during his brief but ill-fated reign.

With defensive reinforcements also a priority the club's transfer kitty is likely to have to be spread rather thinly.