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Gerard Houllier is reported to be planning a £12million bid for Ajax’s 19-year-old prodigy Rafael van der Vaart.

The Ajax striker, a product of the club’s renowned youth system, has attracted the attention of several European clubs. Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Real Madrid and Roma are all believed to be monoitoring the development of a player who was voted the young player of the year in Holland after establishing himself in Ajax’s first team set-up.

Van der Vaart has only just returned to action after recovering from damaging knee ligaments during Holland’s game against Belarus in September. But he was back in international action this week, playing the second half of Holland’s 3-1 win over Germany.

He won his first senior cap at the age of 17.

Liverpool’s exit from theChampions League precludes any additional spending when the transfer window opens in January, but Houllier has earmarked van der Vaart as his number one target when the club loosens the purse stringsnext summer.

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