The Sun says Benitez has put his neck on the line with a £35m gamble on the Irishman, who signed after a medical.

With wages and bonuses, his fee will effectively double by the time his contract is up for renewal.

With no prospect of a serious sell-on fee for a man who is now 28, Benitez is staking his reputation as well as Liverpool's chances of glory on Keane.

It is a break from tradition by the Spaniard, whose move for Gareth Barry is on ice as he does not agree with Aston Villa's £18m valuation.

All his previous mega-bucks signings have been young enough to mask the fee with either long service they will give, or potential cash pot they will command should they move on.