Liverpool are poised to sign Spain striker Fernando Morientes from Real Madrid for £6m.

Morientes is reported to have agreed a four-year contract and could make his debut against Manchester United on Saturday.

“We are very close, it could be just a matter of hours,” said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on Tuesday evening.

“I believe we have an agreement and I want the deal completed as soon possible.”

Benitez appears to have won the race to sign the 28-year-old, despite a late bid by French club Lyon.

“We have tabled an official bid to Real for Morientes,” said Lyon’s managing director Marino Faccioli on Tuesday.

That bid was thought to be around £6m which forced Liverpool, who previously had a £3.5m offer rejected, to increase their own offer.

Morientes is highly rated in France following his spell on loan at Monaco last season. He was recalled to Real when new manager Jose Camacho took over in July 2004.

But Camacho quit in September and Morientes has remained fourth-choice at the Bernabeu behind Ronaldo, Raul and Michael Owen.

Benitez added: “We have spoken about him for two weeks now and the player wants to join Liverpool which is a good thing.

“We are ready for his arrival as soon as a deal can be completed.

“I’m not sure how player registration works in England but we are hopeful that he could be ready for the weekend.

“We will use the player as soon as possible. The important thing is he wants to come to Liverpool and play for us.”