Barry and Keane latest

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With the transfer window now open speculation surrounding Liverpool targets will only increase in the coming weeks, just as it has this week regarding both Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane.

The two experienced Premier League players have become firm targets for Rafa Benitez as he looks to build a squad capable of challenging domestically, seemingly seeking quality and experience to compliment his wealth of internationals.

Reports today suggest Liverpool have offered a final, take-it-or-leave-it, offer of ₤17million for Villa captain Gareth Barry – ₤3m more than the Reds’ last bid but still ₤1m short of Villa’s rather high price tag. The Midlands club have already rejected three bids from Liverpool with previous offers including players plus cash, this ₤17million bid is reportedly a straight cash offer.

Liverpool hope that with Barry now having gone public with his desire to leave, Villa will accept the bid and allow the summer’s longest transfer saga so far (Ronaldo to Real aside) to end with Barry on Merseyside.

iA player who emerged as a target this weekend is Spurs captain Robbie Keane, similar to Barry, Keane has been a star performer for his club in recent years and holds aspirations to play in the Champions League – something his club seeks but is unlikely to achieve in the next couple of years. And similarly to Barry again, Keane is reported to be keen to make the move to Liverpool – whom he supported as a child.

While the Barry saga may be coming to an end, one way or another, The Mirror today reports “Liverpool are ready to mount a summer-long pursuit of Tottenham skipper Robbie Keane.”

The report continues:

Spurs have tried to ward off Rafa Benitez’s interest by valuing the Republic of Ireland striker at £20million.

But Benitez is prepared to be patient after Keane told friends he would love to join his boyhood club. The Reds boss is willing to offer Peter Crouch as a makeweight in any deal plus £5million cash.

Spurs manager Juande Ramos, like Benitez, is strapped for cash this summer, and Liverpool hope his interest in Crouch could clinch the deal.

Anfield insiders claim their pursuit of Keane could turn into another saga like Gareth Barry, but Benitez will put up with more frustration if he ultimately lands his man.

Elsewhere, Liverpool have today confirmed the departure of Anthony Le Tallec to Le Mans, where he spent last season on loan.

Yesterday, the club announced a controversial new membership scheme.