Liverpool sign Argentina winger Maxi Rodriguez

Liverpool have signed Argentina winger Maxi Rodriguez on a free transfer from Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

The 29-year-old, a close friend of Reds midfielder Javier Mascherano, passed a medical on Wednesday and has signed a three-and-a-half year deal at Anfield.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez told the club's website: "He can play on the right, left or as a second striker.

"He is good at getting into the box and is a good finisher. Every year he gets five to 15 goals from midfield."

Rodriguez will watch the Reds' FA Cup third-round replay against Reading on Wednesday before returning to Spain.

The deal is subject to international clearance but he could be in the Reds squad to face Stoke on Saturday.

With Fernando Torres hampered by a niggling groin injury, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is keen to bolster his attacking options.

"We were looking for players with character and a good mentality," Benitez added.

"I know he was not doing as well as he did in the past at Atletico Madrid, but he is doing really well with Argentina and wants to impress for the World Cup."

Benitez is also hopeful that Rodriguez will settle quickly with the help pf Mascherano and former Atletico team-mate Torres.

"I think he will adapt to English football because he is a clever player and takes up good positions on the pitch.

"It is a question of adjusting to the pace of the game and he will need some time, but with these players around it will be easier for him.

"Rodriguez will be a different kind of player for us and also competition for Dirk Kuyt on the right side, along with Nabil El Zhar and Yossi Benayoun.

"He will give us the opportunity to manage some of the other players and rest them if necessary to keep the level of the team."

Rodriguez is likely to be employed on the wing as Steven Gerrard normally occupies the attacking midfielder role.

The arrival of the former Newell's Old Boys and Espanyol player follows the departure from Anfield of Andrea Dossena to Napoli and Andriy Voronin to Dinamo Moscow.

The signing could further signal that Ryan Babel, who can play on the left or right of midfield, does not feature in Benitez's future plans.

Liverpool have already rejected a £9m bid from Birmingham for the Holland international but Benitez has insisted he could still have a future at Anfield.

Copyright - BBC

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