Ryan Babel in action for Liverpool FC _300
RAFAEL BENITEZ is again faced with the prospect of having to wheel and deal in the transfer market next month as he strives to remedy his ailing Liverpool side.
The Anfield manager will be restricted to swap deals and loan signings after being told there will be once more be no major financial backing for new recruits.
Benitez still has the full backing of Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow but, with the club compelled to lower their level of debt, that support will not come in financial terms.
Instead, the Spaniard, who had to sell before he could buy last summer, is expected to again be creative in the transfer market, although he will be given access to funds raised from any departures from Anfield in January.
The most likely to be allowed to leave are Ryan Babel, Andrea Dossena, Andriy Voronin and Philipp Degen, with Liverpool open to the possibility of them being used as makeweights in any incoming deals.
Benitez has placed a striker and a right winger at the top of his list of priorities, but may have to make do and mend in any position given he will be shopping at the lowest end of the transfer market.
It is not the Christmas cheer Liverpool supporters will have been hoping for, with Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth meaning Benitez’s side have won just four of their last 17 games.
But it underlines the current financial climate under co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who, with no new investment yet forthcoming, are refusing to endanger their debt repayments at the expense of much-needed team strengthening.
That, though, may ultimately prove counter-productive, with Liverpool currently eight points off the lucrative Champions League places and desperately requiring a shake-up in the New Year if they are to turn their season around.
Babel would be the highest-profile exit, with his Anfield career having been in major doubt since declaring earlier this season he would be willing to move back to Holland in an attempt to bolster his chances of appearing in next summer’s World Cup.