Friday, April 24, 2009

Liverpool hope to bring United ace to Anfield

Rafael Benítez is preparing to antagonise Sir Alex Ferguson once more with an audacious bid to sign Carlos Tévez.

The Argentina forward is increasingly resigned to leaving Manchester United at the end of the season, with Real Madrid his most likely destination. Benítez has signalled Liverpool’s willingness to join Chelsea, Manchester City and Inter Milan in the mêlée for his signature.

Ferguson has not yet given up hope of retaining Tévez’s services after his complicated two-year lease arrangement expires at the end of the season, but the forward’s growing discontent means that he will consider a move away from Old Trafford — even if United manage to reach an agreement with the companies that hold his economic rights.

Tévez, who joined United in a controversial move from West Ham United in August 2007, would be likely to cost any other club more than the £22 million that United have to pay at the end of the season to turn the player’s loan into a permanent deal. Benítez, though, is determined to test the water.

The Spaniard knows that United have no control over Tévez if and when he leaves Old Trafford and that the Barclays Premier League leaders would not receive any money, with the transfer fee instead going to the companies, headed by Kia Joorabchian, that own the player’s economic rights.

Tévez, 25, is frustrated at his loss of favour since Dimitar Berbatov’s arrival at Old Trafford from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, having not started any of United’s four matches in the Champions League knockout phase.

Madrid are favourites to sign Tévez should he end his two-year stint at United, with Florentino Pérez, who is expected to be elected Real’s new president next month, confident of delivering the forward as part of a wide-reaching rebuilding operation that is expected to include a world-record bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, the United forward. But Liverpool have registered their interest in signing Tévez if he wishes to stay in England — and if the price is right.

Tévez declared in an interview with an Argentine radio station this week that “in my situation, an exit [from United] will be the best solution” and that “there are other options for next season”, citing interest from Real and Inter as well as other clubs, of which there are now three in England monitoring the situation.

Ferguson, the United manager, would bristle at the idea of the forward joining just about any of the interested clubs. He blocked Gabriel Heinze’s proposed move to Liverpool in August 2007 and said of Real this season that he “wouldn’t sell that mob a virus”.

As revealed in The Times a week ago, Tévez concluded that his future lay away from United after being dropped for the 1-0 victory away to Porto in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg.

His sense of injustice is shared by some of his team-mates and certainly by the club’s supporters, who cheered his name loudly when the substitutes were announced before the 2-0 Premier League victory over Portsmouth on Wednesday — in contrast to Berbatov, whose name was booed by an audible minority.

These are issues that Ferguson could do without, having shown several signs of tetchiness in recent weeks even as his team continue their defence of the Premier League and Champions League titles.

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