Liverpool agree £25million transfer deal for Chamakh
Published 23:00 12/01/10 By David Maddock
Marouane Chamakh has agreed to join Liverpool in a £25million deal the club hope will signal their transfer intent.
The highly rated striker is wanted by Arsenal, Juventus, Inter Milan and West Ham, but the Reds have stolen a march by offering a big money pre-contract agreement they expect the player to sign before the end of the month.
Bordeaux striker Chamakh is out of contract at the end of the season, and he signaled his intent to wait for a move until the summer, when he can command a massive signing on fee, in the absence of a transfer fee.
That has put off Arsenal, who were hoping to tempt the Morocco international to come to north London during the current transfer window, by paying a small fee to his French club.
But after intensive negotiations at the weekend with the player, Liverpool believe they have a deal and are prepared to use the money they will raise through sales during the current window to pledge to the 26 year old.
It could cost them as much as a £12million signing on fee, and a contract in the region of £60,000 a week, which would amount to a massive outlay approaching £25million over the course of a five year deal.
But the player is one of the hottest strikers in Europe, and the Anfield club's hierarchy see his capture as a signal of intent to go for the best young players to build for the future.
There has been growing unrest amongst the fans at the lack of activity in the current transfer window, and there have been protests complaining that money is instead being diverted towards debt reduction.
But senior officials at the club, along with manager Rafa Benitez, point to a policy of now going for top young players instead of 'buying around the edges' of the transfer market - a high risk strategy that has not worked at Anfield over the past few seasons.
Manager Benitez has traded incessantly in the hope of finding talent without paying inflated prices, but it has seen a huge turnover of players, with little success. He has now signed almost 100 players since he arrived at the club, but his most successful buys have been the established stars he spent big money on.
The Anfield boardroom therefore, has resisted the temptation to bring in squad players this January, and instead have committed the money raised from the sale of Andrea Dossena, Andreiy Voronin, and possibly Philipp Degen and Ryan Babel, to the capture of Chamakh.
He held a meeting with Liverpool officials last week, and agreed in principle terms that will bring him to England next season, and now the Anfield club is waiting for his signature on a pre-contract deal, which is permitted under the Bosman ruling.
There is still a chance for Arsenal to steal in and offer similar terms, but even though manager Arsene Wenger has long pursued the striker, he has insisted he will not pay the sort of money Liverpool are prepared to go to.
Dossena and Voronin have already left, bringing in around £5million so far, and Babel is the subject of a £9million bid from Birmingham. He could still be sold, allowing Liverpool to finance the Chamakh deal.
Owner Tom Hicks has stated that there will be further buys in the summer, describing it as a "big window", and officials at the club have made clear summer buys will be on top of the Chamakh deal, which they regard as the big move of the January window.
They hope that will diffuse the criticism, with Liverpool effectively spending more than their big four rivals, and even Manchester City, in the current window, as they attempt to plan for the future.