Reds close on Simao
By Chris Stanton. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Liverpool are closing in on a deal for Benfica winger Simao Sabrosa.
Rafa Benitez has been a long-term admirer of Simao who has been a consistent performer in the UEFA Champions League this season.
Midfielder Bolo Zenden's lay-off now appears to have forced the Spaniard's hand, although Benitez is believed to be willing to pay no more than £8 million for the Portuguese international.
Nevertheless Benfica club president, Luis Filipe Vieira, claims a deal is in the offing even if The Reds will not meet the £12 million asking price.
"We know that we will have to sell him, it is just a question of price," said Vieira.
"If Liverpool had come up with £12 million, then he would already have gone."
Benitez may fund the transfer by offloading temperamental striker Djibril Cisse.
The French international has long been courted by Marseille and Cisse's incredulous reaction to being substituted in the second half of Liverpool's 1-0 win at Manchester City could hasten his departure from Anfield.
L'OM chairman, Pape Diouf, believes his side are in the box seat for a January transfer should The Reds opt to cash in.
"It is not impossible that this transfer can be concluded," claimed Diouf, "Marseille would be a very good club for him."