By David Maddock
Brendan Rodgers capped a satisfying night in Edinburgh when he was offered confirmation that Nuri Sahin will become a Liverpool player on Friday.
The Reds’ boss was put through the mill by his side, as yet more missed chances gave Hearts the momentum to offer a passionate performance backed by a vocal Tynecastle crowd in the Europa League.
But thanks to a cruel own-goal by Andy Webster, Liverpool stole away with a precious away goal and a 1-0 victory that makes the second leg at Anfield in a week’s time look almost a formality.
And to add a gloss to the victory that left the manager with a relieved smile at the end, Rodgers revealed afterwards:
“We expect the deal for Sahin to go through in the next 24 hours, which is great news for the club because we think he’s a great talent who can contribute a lot to the team.”
Sahin flew to Merseyside on Thursday night and will have a medical today after talks progressed swiftly during the day when the player’s agent met Reds MD Ian Ayre to thrash out terms.
Rodgers also spoke with Sahin on Thursday to rubber-stamp a switch from Real Madrid for the Turkey international, which will be an initial 12-month loan deal, with the prospect of a permanent transfer if both sides agree.
The move comes as something of a U-turn for Sahin, who was close to joining Arsenal after talks with his agent Reza Fazeli at the weekend.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger though, was angered when the player failed to show up for a planned medical in London on Monday.
It transpired he’d had second thoughts because Real were unhappy with the terms of the deal – Arsenal were pushing for a permanent transfer immediately.
Both Sahin and Real coach Jose Mourinho want the player to go out on loan and then see where he stands in 12 months time, and that ultimately led to the change of heart which has seen him agree terms with Liverpool.
The former Bundesliga Player of the Year is thought to command £120,000 a week AFTER tax at Real, but Liverpool will pay only half the figure with the rest made up by his parent club.
The news on Sahin capped a good night for Rodgers, who admitted he was relieved to have got through the challenged presented by a brave Hearts side.
“I thought we managed the game quite well in the second half, but it was a tough game, and the atmosphere was fantastic,” he explained.
“The crowd really got behind them, so we are relieved to have got through that, and we hope we can finish the job now in the second leg.”
The biggest sour note of the night was the news that Fulham have made an official complaint to the FA – which will now be investigated by the governing body – over what they claim is an illegal approach for their player Clint Dempsey by the Reds.
Fulham claim that quotes attributed to Rodgers on the official website of Liverpool’s parent company Fenway Sports Group show ‘tapping up’, but the manager dismissed the allegation, and said: “I have nothing to say about that.”