Liverpool Italian 'jewel' striker chase takes another twist

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Liverpool's chase of Italian international striker Antonio Cassano took another twist yesterday.

The Sampdoria forward was expected to have his contract terminated, thus making him a free agent and available to any club. Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was one of the manager's reportedly monitoring the situation, and the Reds were considering a contract offer.

However, Sky Italia claims that an arbitration panel will make a ruling preventing the player from leaving the Genoa club on a free, and will even suggest he stays with Sampdoria.

Liverpool were first linked with the player after news broke that Cassano had been frozen out at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris following a major bust-up with club president Riccardo Garrone.

A former Real Madrid hitman, controversy has followed Cassano in the past. Nicknamed 'the jewel of old Bari', his time at Roma was littered with disciplinary problems and he eventually left after a row with club legend Francesco Totti.

The Reds have been linked with a handful of strikers in recent weeks as the transfer window nears, and the Liverpool chief is thought to have a shortlist of 'five or six' players on his Anfield wishlist.

Cassano was thought to be one of the players on the shortlist as Hodgson searches for an attacking foil for Fernando Torres, and the Liverpool boss will have to turn his attentions elsewhere is the Italian reports are proved to be true.

Mario Gomez, Karim Benzema and Emmanuel Adebayor have all been linked with Anfield switches in recent weeks, and the Liverpool boss could turn his attentions to one of these as 2011 approaches.

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