Liverpool have agreed a deal to make Manchester City defender Kolo Toure their first signing of the summer. The Ivory Coast international will arrive on a free transfer after his contract at the Etihad Stadium expires on July 1.
“Toure, 32, will arrive at Anfield boasting a wealth of experience having represented both City and Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League since switching to English football in 2002 and add depth to Brendan Rodgers' defensive ranks ahead of 2013-14,” read a statement on the official Liverpool website.
Toure came to real prominence as an important figure in the Arsenal side that went the entirety of the 2003-04 season unbeaten. Yet, since moving to Manchester City for around £18 million in 2009, he has struggled to recapture that form. In the past two seasons he has made just 18 Premier League starts, while in 2011 he was given a six-month ban for failing a drugs test.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is likely to have sought out a central defender of Toure’s experience following the retirement of Jamie Carragher. Rodgers, though, is set to miss out on long-time transfer target Christian Eriksen. The Danish attacking midfielder has long been linked with a move away from Ajax to some of Europe’s biggest clubs and his international teammate Daniel Agger recently encouraged Eriksen to join him at Anfield.
But citing stories coming out of Denmark, the Daily Mail reports that the 21-year-old, who has just a year left on his contract, is set to join Borussia Dortmund for £13 million. Rodgers is still likely to boost his creative options this summer, however. The Daily Mirror claims that Liverpool have made a £3 million bid for Porto winger Christian Atsu. Like Eriksen, the Ghana international’s contract will expire next summer. It is for that reason that Porto are expected to be willing to allow the 21-year-old to leave for well below his £10 million release clause.
Atsu has left no doubt about where he sees his future. "There are times when we have to think about following our dreams and this is the time to follow my dream,” he said. “Since I started playing football I have dreamt to play in the Premier League. I will be sad to leave Porto but if I leave I would want my future to be in England."
Tottenham are also thought to be interested in the player. Liverpool could also face competition for another of their targets, Iago Aspas. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds have made their interest in the Celta Vigo forward known and are hoping to conclude a cut-price deal for the 25-year-old. Aspas has a buyout clause of €10 million (£12.9m) but could leave for as little as half that figure if Celta Vigo are relegated from the Spanish Primera division. Despite his side sitting in the relegation zone with one game of the season remaining, Aspas has had a fine campaign, registering 12 goals and six assists.
Chelsea and Swansea City were linked to the diminutive and pacey Spaniard in January, while, in Spain, Valencia are among the clubs thought to be interested.