Reds agree deal for Dutch defender

Dutch international Jan Kromkamp is poised to become Liverpool’s first January signing after terms of an exchange deal were agreed with Spanish side Villarreal.

The 25-year-old, who is comfortable both in midfield and at right-back, will move to Anfield as Josemi heads in the opposite direction.

Kromkamp has yet to discuss personal terms, but a statement from his club tonight announced: “Villarreal have reached an agreement with Liverpool for the transfer of Dutch defender Jan Kromkamp to the English team and the arrival of Josemi. The agreement is between the clubs and lacks only the agreement of both players.”

Josemi, 26, was Rafael Benitez’s first signing as Liverpool boss when he arrived from Malaga, but he struggled to break into the first team and has also been troubled by injury.

Kromkamp joined Villarreal from AZ Alkmaar as recently as August this year, but he has failed to settle with the club who knocked Everton out of the Champions League in the final preliminary round.

Although he has been a regular in Europe, Kromkamp has to date made only six Primera Liga appearances.

The Villarreal president Fernando Roig had ruled out any January sales, but Liverpool have been successful in persuading them to offload Kromkamp, with the arrival of Josemi as a like-for-like replacement the ideal sweetener.

With the World Cup approaching, Kromkamp recognises the relevance of playing regular first-team football, although if he is seen as a defender by Benitez, he faces a battle for selection with Reds full-back Steve Finnan.

Holland coach Marco van Basten has made Kromkamp a familiar member of his squad, and he has won eight caps since making his debut against Sweden in August 2004.

His contract with Villarreal was for five years, but barring any hitches his stay will have lasted only five months.

Given his involvement in Villarreal’s Champions League campaign – they reached the last 16 and face Rangers next – Kromkamp will be unavailable to Benitez in Europe this season.

Josemi was a £2m signing and has made 35 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, his latest coming as substitute in the 2-0 St Stephen's Day win over Newcastle at Anfield.

Villarreal have not announced whether the deal is to be a straight swap, or whether a payment will also be involved.

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