On this day: Portsmouth insist midfielder's not for sale as Liverpool circulate... Harry Redknapp lines up host of new signings

On this day in 2005, Harry Redknapp insisted Gary O’Neil would not be sold in the transfer window as Pompey closed in on a string of targets.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 10:30 am

At the time, the Blues were hoping to beat Marseille and Wigan to the signature of Auxerre striker Mwaruwari Benjani.

They had also spoken to Spurs over midfielder Michael Brown and defender Noe Pamarot.

Pompey remained keen on Manchester City striker Robbie Fowler, while Redknapp confirmed his interest in Aston Villa full-back Mark Delaney.

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And the Blues boss was hoping Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe would arrive on a pay-as-you-pay deal from Panathinaikos later that week.

But central to his survival plan was keeping O’Neil at the club.

Liverpool were interested in the 22-year-old midfielder, who scored for Pompey in their 1-0 win over Fulham days before.

Former Pompey midfielder Gary O'Neil

But Redknapp said: ‘I’ll hang on to Gary in January.

'We can’t afford to let good players go. We’ve got to keep people like him here.

‘I know people say I loaned Gary out to Cardiff, but he was a good player when I was first here.

'I had to loan him out to play because I had so many good midfielders and it was difficult for him to get in the side.

‘But he’s got better and older and stronger and he’s a terrific footballer.’

Reports in France claimed Pompey were willing to pay £5m for Benjani.

The 27-year-old Zimbabwe international had found himself out of favour at Auxerre under Jacques Santini.

He was reported to have been offered a three-and-a-half year deal at Fratton Park.

Former Sheffield United midfielder Brown had hardly played for Spurs that 2005-06 season.

Pamarot cost Spurs £1.75m from Nice but had played just 23 minutes that campaign.

Middlesbrough were also keen on Delaney, a right-sided defender, who was out of contract that summer.

Redknapp added: ‘I think I’ll have some good players coming in.

‘You’ve got to convince the ones coming in that you are going to build a good team again.

‘If we can stay up this year we’ll build a team that won’t be in this situation next season.

‘I like Mark Delaney. I think Villa would probably want to keep him because he belongs to them at the moment. But he’s a good player.

‘I’d take Emmanuel Olisadebe on a pay-as-you-play deal, because he’s definitely got ability.

‘We’re looking to get him back here tomorrow or Wednesday. The one day he trained with us, he looked electric.’

Spurs midfielder Sean Davis and defender Anthony Gardner, plus Liverpool defender Djimi Traore, had also been linked with moves to Fratton Park.

But midfielder Giannis Skopelitis had returned to Greek side Egaleo at the end of his year-long loan spell at Pompey.