Liverpool have reportedly agreed a deal to sign Malaga midfielder Manuel Iturra. A report by talkSPORT indicates the Anfield club have closed in on a free transfer for the Chilean international, whose contract expires in the summer.
The 28-year-old Iturra was earlier linked with a move to the Premier League club by the Sunday People, after reports emerged the playmaker had refused to extend his contract at La Rosaleda. The Spanish club, although backed by Qatari businessman and owner Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani, are in considerable financial turmoil amid reports of non-payment of wages and tax bills.
As a result, and in keeping with the soon to be fully enforced Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, UEFA banned the club from European club competitions for 12 months. The club are already in this season's Champions League and face Portuguese club FC Porto in the second leg of a knock-out tie, on Wednesday evening.
Malaga trail 0-1 from the first leg in Portugal and are aware that as per the terms of UEFA's ruling, they cannot play in Europe even if they win the title this season. And that ban is likely to be a major reason why Iturra could decide to leave the club in the summer.
A move for Iturra, on a free transfer, could represent a shrewd bargain by Brendan Rodgers. The South American has made 22 appearances, in all competitions, this season. And although he has yet to score a goal, there have been some impressive performances in what is his first season in European competition and at the sharp end of the Spanish top flight.
Rodgers has already confirmed the Merseyside club expect to sign at least four new players in the summer, to ensure a strong push for Champions League qualification for the 2014/15 season and Iturra, like Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, could play a vital part in that race.
The Reds boss also spoke on youngsters Suso and Raheem Sterling, indicating the former could be loaned out to give him first team experience and game time. The young Spaniard has not played for Liverpool since the FA Cup tie against Mansfield Town, in January. Sterling, meanwhile, has returned to training after a week's holiday.