x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Liverpool ready to spend on Coentrao

Outstanding at the World Cup, Coentrao, 22, has been the subject of inquiries from Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Fabio Coentrao, the Portugal left-back, has been included on a list of elite reinforcements drawn up by Roy Hodgson. The Liverpool manager is preparing a range of potential recruits following the takeover of the club by New England Sports Ventures.

Outstanding at the World Cup, Coentrao, 22, has been the subject of inquiries from Real Madrid and Manchester City since establishing himself as a fundamental part of Benfica's Portuguese championship-winning side.

He extended his contract following South Africa, but he is expected to leave the Estadio da Luz at the end of this season. His formal buyout clause is €30 million (Dh152.7m).

Liverpool's new owners have promised to "go toe-to-toe" with Manchester United in the transfer market without actually specifying the funding available for new recruits. If the new transfer budget proves substantial, Hodgson will embark on a thorough overhaul of his squad, upgrading economy signings of his own such as Paul Konchesky, the current left-back.

"We know Fabio Coentrao very well," Hodgson said. "He's an excellent player and he has been noticed by everyone. We are permanently discussing potential reinforcements for our team. Last summer we signed a left-back and right now it is not our priority to sign another one.

"However, I admit that we know Coentrao and his abilities well.

"When we decide to reinforce our team he will be part of the list of names that we will look at. We know when Fabio leaves Benfica it will be at a very high price."

One player who looks likely to leave the Premier League in January is Roque Santa Cruz, the Manchester City striker, who will be allowed to find another club when the transfer window opens.

The Paraguay forward, who cost City £17.5 million (Dh102.8m) in the summer of 2009, has played only 80 minutes of a Carling Cup match against West Bromwich Albion this season and is surplus to requirements at Eastlands.

"Roque is a fantastic man and a good player, but he knows the situation here," said Roberto Mancini, the City manager. "I am very sorry for him because Roque deserves to play every game, because he works very well. But it is difficult at the moment. I hope for him that he can go to play for another team, because he deserves this."

On the other side of Manchester, Wayne Rooney could be out for longer than three weeks with an ankle injury.

Rooney, 25, was injured in training last week during an extraordinary few days that ended with him committing his future to the club after previously stating a desire to leave.

"It could be longer," said Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager. "There is no recovery; it is just rest. Before he went away we did his remedial in terms of what we could do at the time. Thereafter, rest. We're quite happy with that. It is disappointing for him. It should be four or five weeks."

* With agency

Other previews

Wolves v Manchester City

The absence of Carlos Tevez (thigh) could pave the way for Mario Balotelli to make his first league start for City today. The former Inter Milan striker, who picked up a knee injury on his City debut against Timisoara in August, saw his first action since then when he came off the bench in the second half against Arsenal. For Wolves, Karl Henry is back from suspension but defender Jody Craddock is still sidelined with a thigh injury.
6pm Abu Dhabi Sports HD 6

Blackburn v Chelsea

Chelsea will once again be without Frank Lampard this weekend. Alex will start after missing last week’s win over Wolves with a thigh injury but Ramires (ankle) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) remain sidelined. Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen are set to return to the centre of the Blackburn defence. Jason Roberts is also back in full training, but the midfielders Nzonzi and Vince Grella are out with hamstring and groin injuries respectively.
6pm Abu Dhabi Sports HD 3

Arsenal v West Ham

West Ham look like being without captain Matthew Upson, who has not recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered last weekend, while striker Frederic Piquionne is a doubt. Avram Grant, the manager, admits his squad are “tired” after their midweek extra-time Carling Cup win over Stoke City. Arsenal will be without Kieran Gibbs (knee) Manuel Almunia (elbow), Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles), Abou Diaby (ankle) and Jack Wilshere (suspension).
6pm Abu Dhabi Sports HD 5

Everton v Stoke

David Moyes, the Everton manager, will make a late decision on whether to include Mikel Arteta, who missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur with a hamstring strain. Stoke manager Tony Pulis hopes Kenwyne Jones and Jermaine Pennant will have recovered from a virus in time for the match. Mamady Sidibe is Stoke’s only long-term absentee, although Matt Etherington, Ricardo Fuller and Danny Collins missed the midweek cup match.
6pm Abu Dhabi Sports HD 4

Fulham v Wigan Athletic

Fulham hope the midfielders Danny Murphy and Simon Davies will return today. Murphy (adductor) and Davies (ankle) sat out last weekend’s defeat at West Bromwich Albion. Dickson Etuhu (ankle) and Damien Duff (calf) remain sidelined, but could return within a fortnight. Steve Gohouri could be available for Wigan after missing three matches due to a calf problem. Gary Caldwell is in contention to play after double hip surgery over the summer.
6pm Abu Dhabi Sports HD 7