Fri, Jul 11, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Kewell heads to Liverpool


Australian forward Harry Kewell completed his drawn-out transfer from Leeds to Liverpool on Tuesday in a ?7-million (US$11.55 million) deal.

After weeks of speculation, Liverpool confirmed that Kewell had signed a five-year contract. The deal is said to be worth ?60,000 (US$96,000) a week.

"This is a fantastic signing for the club and its fans," Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier said in a statement. "After the intense media interest in the player I am delighted we have finally completed a deal which can only excite our supporters all over the world.

"We had spoken about bringing in players who would have the fans on the edge of their seats and I can't think of a better description for the qualities that Harry will bring to Anfield."

Houllier said Kewell would join his new teammates when they travel to Switzerland on Wednesday for pre-season training.

Leeds United confirmed the transfer in a statement to the Stock Exchange. It said the transfer fee was 5 million pounds (US$8 million), with another 2 million pounds (US$3.2 million) paid to Kewell's camp to ensure the deal did not collapse.

Kewell, who spent eight seasons with Leeds, had one year remaining on his contract. If he had stayed another year, he could have left on a free transfer.

Kewell, who has already passed a medical at Liverpool, had hoped to have completed the move to Anfield earlier this week. But the deal was held up by several sticking points.

Kewell becomes the fourth new player to arrive at Anfield since the end of last season, following Steve Finnan, Anthony Le Tallec and Florent-Sinama Pongolle.

The club said Kewell would be officially presented at a news conference Wednesday.

Kewell's transfer adds more quality to the Reds attack and severely weakens Peter Reid's lineup at Elland Road.

At Liverpool, the club Kewell supported as a boy, the Australian will team up with Michael Owen -- one of the top strikers in world soccer -- with another England star, Steven Gerrard, in midfield.

Among other eyecatching players on the Liverpool strikeforce are Emile Heskey, Milan Baros of the Czech Republic and Senegalese forward El Hadji Diouf.

With Liverpool searching for its first league title since 1990 and failing to gain a place in next season's Champions Cup, Kewell will have a big job to do at Anfield.

Gerard Houllier's team has fallen far behind Manchester United and Arsenal in the title race and also finished behind Newcastle and Chelsea last season.

His departure from Elland Road is more grim news for the Leeds followers.

Heavily in debt, Leeds has sold off many of its top players including Rio Ferdinand (to Manchester United), Jonathan Woodgate (to Newcastle) Robbie Keane (to Tottenham), Bowyer (to West Ham then Newcastle), Olivier Dacourt (to AS Roma) and Robbie Fowler (to Manchester City).

Leeds almost sold England goalkeeper Paul Robinson to Aston Villa but the move broke down because the player couldn't agree personal terms.

Kewell announced his impending departure on Australian TV.

"I've been speaking to [Liverpool] for over six months now and everything just seems right for me to go there," Kewell told Australian television's "A Current Affair" program. "I'm looking forward to it. They've got some great players there and exciting young players."

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