Football

Reds face competition for Johnson

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's summer plans may not be as straightforward as he would have wanted as it seems he faces another transfer battle.

Having spent the last couple of weeks fending off interest in midfielders Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano from Real Madrid and Barcelona, it now appears Chelsea are competing for the signature of Portsmouth defender Glen Johnson.

Portsmouth chairman Peter Storrie said: "The matter will come to a conclusion at the beginning of next week. I do not have a preference over the move, it is up to Glen."

The Merseysiders were in pole position to bring in the England international for a fee, which includes money still owed to them from the transfer of Peter Crouch to Pompey, believed to be around £17million.

However, with Fratton Park chairman Storrie confirming a second club, understood to be Johnson's former side Chelsea, had lodged an identical bid there is now serious competition for the 24-year-old's signature.

Having seen Gareth Barry, Benitez's number one transfer target last summer, complete a surprise move to Manchester City earlier this month the Liverpool boss will not want to be pipped at the post again. Liverpool remain confident they are Johnson's preferred choice and it has been reported the player is to cut short a holiday to have a medical over the weekend.

Storrie added: "The deals are almost identical so it really is down to him and what club he prefers, which one is going to pay him more money."

With Madrid's interest in Alonso seemingly still alive and Barcelona reportedly considering a move for Jose Reina to replace goalkeeper Victor Valdes, signing Johnson would be a welcome relief for Benitez.

At least he can rely on star striker Fernando Torres, who signed an improved contract last month. The Spain international also believes much of the speculation about his club-mates, although unsettling, will not be too damaging.

"A lot of players committed themselves to Liverpool this summer with new contracts and players don't do that unless they think they can have their ambitions met," he said. "There is a lot of belief at the club and a lot of trust in the manager. I'm very happy with my contract at Liverpool and wouldn't leave just to earn a little more somewhere else where I wouldn't be that happy."

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Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Manchester City
Jose Reina
Gareth Barry
Glen Johnson
Chelsea
Premier League
Xabi Alonso
Peter Crouch
Fernando Torres
Liverpool

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