By Andy Hunter
Liverpool expect to follow victory over Hearts in the Europa League play-off first leg with the signing of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid. Brendan Rodgers is in pole position to land the long-time Arsenal target and could complete a season-long loan for the coveted Turkey international on Friday.
Sahin is due to arrive on Merseyside for a medical before Liverpool's game against Manchester City on Sunday and would represent a major coup for Rodgers as he attempts to improve his midfield, having spent his allocated transfer budget on Joe Allen and Fabio Borini.
The 23-year-old, who joined Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for €10m (£7.9m) last summer only to endure a frustrating time with injuries, had been close to joining Arsenal in his desire to remain in the Champions League. But that deal floundered over Arsenal's insistence on having an option to buy Sahin next summer, with Madrid keen to keep the talented midfielder, and Arsène Wenger is also seeking a more defensive-minded player following the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona.
Crucially, Liverpool have offered to pay more of Sahin's £120,000-a-week wage at Real than Arsenal have. They have also been helped by Rodgers' relationship with his former manager at Chelsea, José Mourinho, and the Spanish champions' reluctance to loan the German-born player to a club in the Champions League.
The Liverpool manager said: "Hopefully in the next 24 hours we will get some confirmation on that. It's quite far along. He's a very good footballer." Sahin would need to be registered by noon on Friday to be eligible to face the Premier League champions at Anfield.
A breakthrough in a deal for Sahin was accompanied by an important, if somewhat fortuitous, win for Liverpool in the first leg of their Europa League play-off at Hearts. Andy Webster's own goal gave Rodgers' much-changed team a valuable victory after their opening Premier League defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
"It was a good win for us," Rodgers said. "We had some good moments but not good possession in the first half and that improved in the second half. We had more penetration and better movement in the second half. Hearts are an excellent side and we will respect them in the second leg. We are not that good to be complacent, to be honest."
The highlight of Liverpool's performance was the full debut of the 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling, who Rodgers had considered sending out on loan to improve his first-team chances this season. "I have spoken to Raheem and I have told him he won't be going out on loan," the manager said.
Rodgers had hoped to start Andy Carroll for the first time this season but the England international, who Liverpool are keen to sell before the transfer deadline, was unavailable through injury. Rodgers said: "Andy was due to start. He had a slight twinge on his hamstring. We had a scan on it and it didn't show a tear, just a slight disruption. We tried to give him 48 hours, let him travel and he trained yesterday to see how it was. It was still a bit tight and the medics' advice was it was too much of a risk for him to play. It was unfortunate because he has worked well and I know he was desperate to play. Hopefully missing the game will allow him to recover for the weekend."
Liverpool and Rodgers have refused to comment on claims they "tapped-up" Clint Dempsey, after Fulham lodged an official complaint to the Premier League over the transfer saga.
The Premier League are investigating Liverpool's pursuit of Dempsey, who was left out of Fulham's opening day win over Norwich City and will miss Saturday's trip to Manchester United as a result of wanting to move to Anfield.
A league statement read: "The Premier League has received a complaint from Fulham FC regarding certain comments made by Liverpool FC officials and is currently looking into the matter."
Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, claimed Dempsey was made aware of Liverpool's interest earlier in the summer but the Anfield club have not made an official bid for the United States international.