Portsmouth seek settlement with City over Benjani as credit crunch bites

LONDON – Portsmouth are in talks with Manchester City about an early settlement for the outstanding fee due for striker Benjani, suggesting the financial concerns of the club persist despite the sale of a number of first team squad members.

The Zimbabwe international was sold to City during the 2008 January transfer window for a figure quoted as £9 million, with £4 million of that to be paid up front and the remainder spread over the length of the player’s contract.

However, Portsmouth, who are fighting for their Premier League survival, are believed to be willing to take less than the full amount should City settle before the end of the season, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The deal itself was problematic at the time, due to a knee condition that was revealed in Benjani’s medical.

Such deals are not uncommon in football, with Portsmouth’s south coast rivals Southampton having restructured payments for Theo Walcott from Arsenal and Gareth Bale from Tottenham, due to financial hardship.

Portsmouth themselves are believed to be in negotiation, too, with Real Madrid, whom they sold Lassana Diarra to this year for around £20 million.

Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, is believed to be willing to talk to Portsmouth about an early settlement for Jermain Defoe’s transfer fee, with the two clubs on good terms due to the regular movement of playing personnel between Fratton Park and White Hart Lane in recent years.

Portsmouth’s debt currently sits at around £49 million, though the club insist that is offset by the sales of Sulley Muntari to Inter Milan, Pedro Mendes to Rangers and Defoe to Tottenham.