Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has set his sights on out of favour Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben, after arch rivals Manchester United reportedly stepped up their interest in the Holland international.
The Spaniard is a long-time admirer of the 25-year-old's ability, and could go battle it out with his bitter rival Sir Alex Ferguson over the player's
signature before the transfer window closes.
Real are believed to willing to let the flying Dutchman leave the Santiago Bernabeu for
£18 million as coach Manuel Pellegrini is having trouble accommodating him with new
arrivals Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
Reports over the weekend had suggested that United were exploring the possibility of signing Robben, who almost moved to Old Trafford before he signed for Chelsea from
PSV Eindhoven in 2004, with Fergie keen to add some more creativity to his ranks.
One stumbling block for Benitez should he pursue his interest in Robben is that he may struggle to stump up the money required to seal a deal after club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett intimated that there was no more funds to strengthen his squad.
However, Benitez remains hopeful that the £10million remaining from the sale of Xabi Alonso to Los Blancos could be made available, while he is also said to be considering selling £8million-rated Ryan Babel, who has struggled to make any real impact at Anfield since arriving from Ajax.
After two defeats in their opening three Premier League games, Benitez is acutely aware that his side can not afford too many more slip ups if they are to end their twenty year drought for the league title and the capture of Robben would be a huge boost to his attacking arsenal.