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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 7, 2008

Liverpool accept Pompey bid for striker Crouch

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will step up efforts to secure his primary transfer targets after agreeing a fee with Portsmouth for the sale of striker Peter Crouch.

The two clubs had been at odds over the England international's value, with Benitez putting it as high as £15million earlier in the summer and Pompey making an offer of £9million, but a compromise appears to have been reached on the structuring of the deal.

Reports suggest Portsmouth will pay an initial £8million with a further £3million payable in add-ons over the course of Crouch's contract at Fratton Park.

'We have reached a verbal agreement with Portsmouth and have given them permission to speak with Peter,' a spokesman told the club's website.

Crouch joined Liverpool for £7million from Southampton in 2005, having previously played for Pompey in 2001-02, but last season found his opportunities in the starting line-up limited as Benitez changed his formation to get the best out of record signing Fernando Torres and inspirational captain Steven Gerrard.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso's move to Juventus is still to be finalised, with the two clubs again disagreeing on the fee, but any income from that and the Crouch deal will immediately be ploughed back into the squad.

Benitez knows he has to close the gap to Manchester United and Chelsea and transform his team into consistent Premier League title contenders.

The Spaniard has already brought in Switzerland's Philipp Degen and Italian Andrea Dossena to cover the right and left full-back positions, respectively, while 25-year-old Palmeiras goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri is believed to be close to agreeing a contract to be Jose Reina's understudy.

With the defence now taken care of attention turns to further up the field.

Benitez's long-running pursuit of Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry appears locked in a stalemate with counterpart Martin O'Neill unwilling to lower his £18million valuation.

Having had a £15million bid rebuffed it now appears right-back Steve Finnan could be thrown in as a makeweight in the deal, but with Barry desperate to leave Villa after being fined for comments made about his manager a deal is likely to be done at some stage.

Tottenham striker Robbie Keane remains on Benitez's wishlist, while Espanyol winger Albert Riera, Real Mallorca's Borja Valero, Real Madrid's Ruben De La Red and Valencia's David Silva have all been mentioned as potential targets.

However, further reinforcements are likely to depend on the departure of more fringe players.

Further down the club Liverpool have signed promising Denmark Under-18 international Nikola Saric on a three-year deal.

The 17-year-old, who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, was recently on trial with Heerenveen.

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