Pompey defender Johnson looks the right man for Liverpool boss Benitez
13 June 2009 12:38
Rafa Benitez will step up his efforts to finance a deal for Glen Johnson over the weekend and hopes to unveil the England right back as his first summer signing in the next few days.
Manchester City and Bayern Munich have enquired about Johnson, but Chelsea are Liverpool's chief rivals for his signature after having a £17million bid accepted by Portsmouth, as revealed in Sportsmail last week.
However, Benitez remains confident of seeing off the 24-year-old's former club after it emerged that Anfield would be his preferred destination.
Raising the necessary finance appears to be the Liverpool manager's main stumbling block, but it is understood he is ready to utilise an outstanding amount from Peter Crouch's move to Portsmouth - thought to be around £7million - to top up his available funds and match Chelsea's £17million offer.
That should be enough to push a deal through for a player who has become Benitez's No 1 target in recent weeks.
Johnson's attacking forays down the right for Portsmouth and, in particular, England have convinced Benitez of his worth, but his arrival will leave little leeway for further strengthening.
Benitez has also lodged a £2m bid for Johnson's Fratton Park team-mate Sylvain Distin, but will have to consider selling before making any other signings.
He could raise badly needed revenue by sacrificing Yossi Benayoun after reports in Israel that Tottenham, as well as Barcelona, had made an approach for the midfielder.
Benayoun has been priced at £12m for foreign clubs but would cost even more for any of Liverpool's Barclays Premier League rivals.