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Morientes lured by Liverpool

Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benítez has agreed a €9m deal for Real Madrid CF forward Fernando Morientes.

Replaces injured Cissé
The 28-year-old will fly out to Liverpool and undergo a medical at the club, Madrid confirmed today. It was no secret that Liverpool viewed Morientes as the perfect replacement for Djibril Cissé, the €21m France forward who suffered a double fracture of his left leg in October. With Cissé out for the season and Milan Baroš only just back from injury, Morientes will get an early chance to make his mark in the Premiership and could feature on Saturday when Manchester United FC make the short trip to Anfield.

Champions League
Liverpool fought off competition from Olympique Lyonnais to sign Morientes, with the French champions tabling a reported €8.5m bid yesterday. The Spaniard enjoyed a wonderful season on loan in France last term, scoring ten Ligue 1 goals and nine times in the UEFA Champions League - the highest of the competition - to propel AS Monaco FC to the final, where they lost to FC Porto. He will not be eligible to represent the Reds in this season's competition, however, having already done so for Madrid.

English-style No9
Morientes, considered a classic English-style No9, played for Albacete Balompié and Real Zaragoza before Fabio Capello brought him to the Santiago Bernabéu in 1997. He won the Champions League three times with Madrid, including in 2000 when he scored the opening goal of the final against Valencia CF, and also collected two Spanish championship medals.

Spanish contingent
Benitez has already recruited four Spanish players in Xabi Alonso, Luis García, Antonio Núñez and Josemi as well as Valencia's Argentinian defender Mauricio Pellegrino.