RAFA BENITEZ have beaten off competition from Manchester United to sign one of the hottest properties in British youth football.
Liverpool will pay Southend United £250,000 after agreeing a deal for talented 16-year-old Michael Ngoo.
The giant 6ft 4ins striker has already been likened to Peter Crouch and he will go straight into the Academy set-up at Kirkby.
Ngoo has recently had trials with Manchester United and helped them win the prestigious Milk Cup in Northern Ireland this summer.
However, Liverpool made their interest known and following a successful trial he has opted to make the switch to the Reds.
The transfer of youth players to Premier League clubs is currently a hot topic but Southend insist they have nothing but praise for the way Liverpool have conducted their business.
Head of youth at the League One club, Ricky Duncan, said: 'Liverpool were excellent from the word go. Obviously we would have liked to have kept the player but when an opportunity like this came along for him we couldn't stand in his way.
'I think Michael first came to Liverpool's attention in the Milk Cup where he played well and scored a few goals.
'After that Liverpool got in touch with us and offered him a trial. Then they made us an offer which we thought was a fair price.
'It's very early in his career but we believe he has the potential to go on and carve out a good career for himself at Liverpool.
'He leaves Southend with our best wishes and we're delighted that he has managed to move on to a club of Liverpool's stature.'