Heskey open to Reds return

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Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey, who returns to Anfield today as part of the Wigan squad, says it would be “lovely” to re-sign for the club he left in 2004, shortly before Rafa Benitez arrived.

The Wigan and England forward has earned much praise lately for his revival under Fabio Capello and Steve Bruce and is “keeping his options open” after admitting the lure of playing Champions League football would be too great.

Heskey is available on a free transfer next summer, and Wigan may choose to recoup some money for him instead in the January transfer window.

The national media began linking Heskey with a return to Liverpool on Thursday, and speculation has heightened especially following the player’s own comments:

“It [a return to Liverpool] would be lovely. We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “When you’re performing well, speculation is going to come around. Everyone knows I’m in my last year of my contract so you’ve just got to take everything with a pinch of salt and carry on playing.

“I’m going to keep my options open and give 110% for Wigan and see how it goes and maybe sit down with them.”

But while the player himself may want the move, The Liverpool Echo‘s Tony Barrett reported on Friday it is highly unlikely, hinting at a lack of support for Benitez from, guess who, Hicks and Gillett:

Meanwhile, Liverpool are not about to launch a bid for Emile Heskey, despite speculation that the Wigan man is a target for Rafa Benitez.

The Reds boss is a long-time admirer of the 30-year-old striker but the signing of Albert Riera took Liverpool’s transfer budget into the red and outgoing transfers are much more likely than incomings in the current financial climate.

Benitez had tried to balance the books by selling Jermaine Pennant to Blackburn but that was scuppered when the winger declined the move.

So unless there is a cash injection from club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett the chances of Liverpool signing players ‘“ even on free transfers ‘“ are remote.

If Benitez were able to raise the money to finance the move, Heskey would add a different option in attack and be available for Champions League during the second half of the season, should Liverpool progress of course.

Heskey scored 60 goals in 223 appearances for Liverpool between 2000 and 2004, after arriving for £11m from Leicester City – a record for the club at the time. In his first full season (00-01) the club enjoyed huge success with three trophies and Heskey himself scored 23 goals.