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Fulham target becomes available

last updated Friday 19th May 2006, 2:25 PM
Djimi Traore
Djimi Traore
Position Defender
DOB 01/03/ 1980
P.O.B. Saint Ouen, France
Height 6'2"
Club Liverpool

DJIMI TRAORE is set to be the first out of the Anfield exit door this summer as Liverpool seek suitable offers for the defender.

The Frenchman has failed to build on his triumphant Champions League campaign which saw him rewarded with a new contract last year.

Now the left-back has been told he can leave Liverpool for the right price.

Manager Rafa Benitez had high hopes Traore would acquire some consistency and erase some of the mistakes which blighted his career.

But the 26-year-old has been unable to claim aregular starting place this term, when he fell well behind John Arne Riise and Stephen Warnock in the pecking order.

The imminent arrival of Valencia full-back Fabio Aurelio will further relegate Traore, while his chances of forcing his way in at centre-half are dashed by the signings of long-term prospects Daniel Agger and Gabriel Paletta.

Benitez will be hoping to attract a decent fee for a player who's acquired vast European experience since joining Liverpool in 1999.

Fulham have bid for the versatile defender in the past, although it remains to be seen if their interest will be revived.

Traore has been a much-maligned figure at Liverpool. But despite the criticism from pundits and supporters he remained an important member of the first team squad for both Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez. He was signed by Houllier from Laval for £550,000 in February 1999. The defender was dubbed the most promising young defender in France as Liverpool won his signature ahead of AC Milan, PSG and Lazio.

Traore broke into the first team at the start of the 2000/01 season, making his Premiership debut in a 1-0 win over Bradford City at Anfield. The departure of Dominic Matteo to Leeds gave him a chance but he showed his inexperience in his early games and the signing of Christian Ziege from Middlesbrough appeared to have halted his run in the team. Traore failed to win his place back in the side and was actually overtaken by Gregory Vignal in the pecking order.

Blackburn Rovers boss Graeme Souness then began the hunt for his signature in the summer of 2001, but failed with three separate bids. It was rumoured the final bid was £4million. In the end Traore returned to his homeland at the end of August that year when joining Lens on a season-long loan. That experience clearly helped him, as he became an important player for Liverpool in the 2002/03 season. But he was not without his critics, with many claiming he would have to be replaced if Liverpool were to challenge in the Premiership.

He figured only 11 times in 2003/04, leading to more talk of a transfer. West Brom were said to be interested in May. But he remained with Liverpool as Benitez took charge for 2004/05 and became a first team regular. However, his embarrassing gaffe against Burnley in the FA Cup, as he managed to turn the ball into his own net, sent Liverpool crashing out and will be on bloopers DVDs for years to come.

Traore played throughout Liverpool's amazing run to Champions League glory - including the whole of the comeback victory over AC Milan in the final. Though he remained an important squad member in 2005/06, his opportunities were limited by Benitez's moves to strengthen the defence - and he became a marginalised figure after the transfer window reopened in January. He also passed 125 games for Liverpool in 2005/06.

source: soccernet

Source Chris Bascombe at Liverpool Echo

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