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Rafa Benitez is ready to put one over Sir Alex Ferguson by finally signing Gabriel Heinze.

Liverpool boss Benitez was left fuming when Manchester United manager Ferguson blocked a summer bid for the Argentina left-back and sold him to Real Madrid.

But Benitez never gave up and is now determined to land the 29-year-old defender at the second attempt.

Heinze looked certain to be on his way to Merseyside after making it clear he wanted out at Old Trafford.

But Fergie blocked the deal when an arbitration panel ruled that Liverpool's arch-rivals could do business with whoever they wanted.

Heinze, who joined Real for £6.9million, remains Benitez's No.1 transfer window target.

But the Kop boss will turn his attention to Chelsea's Wayne Bridge should a £5m bid fail.

Heinze has barely had a look-in at the Bernabeu and the Kop boss has continued to track him.

Benitez knows Bridge would also be available for the same sort of money. Bridge has two years left on his Chelsea deal but he is often frustrated at playing second fiddle to Ashley Cole.

The purse strings are tight at Liverpool but cash will be freed up with Peter Crouch seemingly on his way out of the club with Manchester City the favourites to land him.

A deal for Heinze or Bridge will almost certainly signal the end of John Arne Riise at Anfield.

Benitez has long-term doubts about the player's all-round ability and Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has been monitoring the situation.
 
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