Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bellamy Heading For Anfield Exit

Craig Bellamy is heading for a cut-price departure from Anfield as Liverpool put the finishing touches to their club record move for Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres.

Interested parties such as West Ham, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Blackburn had all been deterred by Bellamy's £12million price tag.

But with Torres likely to cost upwards of £25m, Anfield bosses have been forced into a rethink and may have to accept as little as the £6m they paid Blackburn for him.

Villa and Newcastle retain an interest, but Liverpool hope the Wales skipper may yet be useful as part of their bid for West Ham's Yossi Benayoun.

Liverpool last night signed Spanish wonder boy Daniel Pacheco — a striker, 16, from Barcelona.

Liverpool's move will cause uproar that another talent has slipped through the Camp Nou net.

The compensation fee will be about £350,000.

LiverpooL Enter Race For Heinze

Liverpool are reportedly ready to rival Juventus for the signature of Gabriel Heinze, but the Manchester United defender is remaining tight-lipped about his future until after the Copa America.

The uncompromising full-back is currently representing Argentina in Venezuela but on his return to Manchester, it does look likely that he could be set for a move away from Old Trafford.

Heinze has cultivated a cult status amongst the United faithful since arriving at the club from Paris Saint Germain, but last season, was more of a peripheral figure due to Patrice Evra's emergence as first choice left-back.

Juventus and Real Madrid are known to be keen on recruiting him for next season, but it has now emerged that United's Premier League rivals Liverpool are also suitors.

Sir Alex Ferguson would likely be loath to sanction Heinze's departure to Merseyside, but should Rafa Benitez outbid foreign interest then a deal could yet be concluded.

Heinze, though, is concentrating his thoughts on matters on-the-field, rather than off it.

"I know some clubs are interested in me," he told the Sun. "My head is with the Argentina team to play the Copa America.

"After that and a holiday, I will know better where I will play next season.”

LiverpooL Signed 'The Killer'

Liverpool have raided Barcelona to sign one of their prized young talents in the shape of Dani Pacheco.

The 16-year-old, nicknamed The Killer by his team-mates, was regarded as one of the best youngsters in the youth set-up at Camp Nou and only arrived as a 13-year-old from Malaga.

However, he has shunned their offer of professional terms in order to pen a three-year deal at Anfield.

Pacheco's signing is the latest in a string of youth deals tied up by the Merseyside giants in recent weeks - with Alex Kacaniklic, Marvin Purie, Mikel San Jose, Nikolai Mihailov, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon all penning deals to join the club's academy ranks.

Barca youth coach Garcia Pimienta admitted losing Pacheco was a huge blow to the club.

"It is a great loss for the club because he is a forward with a lot of quality," Garcia told Sport.

"He has been our top goalscorer and has already played for the youth team.

"Alongside Thiago Alcantara and Gai Assulin, he is one of the cadets we had the most hope for, but nothing can be done anymore.

"Everything happened very suddenly."

The news of Pacheco's departure to England is another blow to Barca, who have lost a host of top youngsters to the Premier League in recent seasons.

The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida and Gerard Pique have all turned their back on the Blaugrana to make the move to the English top-flight.

Cisse Set To Leave LiverpooL

Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is set to sign a permanent deal with Marseille despite a late approach from West Ham.

Bolton and Portsmouth were also interested in signing the 25-year-old, who cost Liverpool £14m in July 2004.

But Cisse, who spent last season on loan at Marseille, is keen to join the French club on a permanent basis.

"Marseille is definitely the choice for Djibril," Cisse's agent Ranko Stojic told BBC Sport. "I think the deal will happen on Friday or Saturday."

Stojic added: "I have been very busy this week - I caught six planes in two days - and I am sorry for the people I have not had the chance to call back, Mr Eggert Magnusson of West Ham for example."

Magnusson, who was thwarted in his attempt to sign Darren Bent from Charlton, tried to contact Stojic earlier in the week - but Cisse had already opted to join Marseille permanently.

"The Marseille option is the best choice for Djibril because of the Champions League," said Stojic.

"West Ham, Bolton and Portsmouth I understand are very, very good clubs but Djibril wants to play in the top level of European competition next season."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made it clear that Cisse would only be allowed to leave Anfield on a permanent basis.

"Mr Benitez has been very, very correct," added Stojic.

"Of course he tried to get a little bit more money for his club but I think it will be a good deal for everybody.

"There are some details to sort out between Liverpool and Marseille but I think it will happen soon."

Marseille started their pre-season training on 25 June and the player is keen to sort out his future as soon as possible so he can join his new team-mates.

Cisse, who has two years left on his deal at Liverpool, has broken his leg twice in the last three years, first in 2004 and then in a friendly for France against China last year just before the World Cup in Germany.

And after suffering such serious injuries, Stojic stated: "He is so motivated after all the problems he has had."

Rafa Coy Over Torres Talk

Rafa Benitez is remaining coy over the prospect of Fernando Torres arriving at Anfield, even if the Liverpool boss insists the club is working hard to secure new signings.

Whilst The Reds have brought in a number of talented youngsters over the summer - with two more joining on Friday - a big name arrival remains conspicuous by its absence.

Atletico Madrid striker Torres is likely to be the first at a club record £27million, as the two clubs are understood to have held extensive talks regarding a transfer for the Spanish international.

The Primera Liga club has denied that Torres' exit is a done deal, but Atleti fans have been holding public protests at his likely departure and, according to reports, Liverpool must only agree personal terms to snare the highly-rated forward.

Whilst Benitez was reluctant to pre-empt any deal for Torres, the two-time UEFA Champions League finalist did admit the club were working hard to bring in some exciting names before the start of next season.

"All I can say is that Fernando Torres is one of the players we have looked at," said Benitez.

"Yes, [new signings are] the idea. We are working on this all the time.

"As I've already said, the spine of the team is in place and now we just need to add to that.

"Of course, you must always be excited at the start of a new season. You must also have confidence in your team and hopefully we will soon bring in the new players that we want to make the squad better."

Benitez has frequently called on the club's new owners to deliver some high-profile signings, but a parallel policy has been to bring a number of young talents to Merseyside.

Swedish midfielder Alex Kacaniklic has joined from Helsingborgs, as previously confirmed by, and The Reds also recruited striker Marvin Purie from Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

They join teenagers Mikel San Jose, Nikolay Mihailov, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon in joining the academy ranks on Merseyside.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Atletico Hint At Torres Exit

Atletico Madrid have hinted that Liverpool target Fernando Torres could leave this summer by saying his future is in his own hands.

Previous reports suggested that a £25million player-plus-cash transfer involving Luis Garcia was in the pipeline with the only obstacle being Torres' claim he is owed 10 per cent of the transfer fee - £2.5million.

However, despite the 23-year-old Spanish international being away on holiday until July 10, Atletico Madrid's chief transfer negotiator, Miguel Angel Gil Martin, has hinted that Torres could be on his way, which sparked outrage amongst the club's fans who launched a massive protest.

He said: "Nobody is indispensable. We are trying to create a competitive team and no player by himself, very good though he is, is able to make a team achieve its aims.

"Atletico are building a team that does not revolve around Fernando Torres but around the team as a whole. I would be delighted if Fernando was to continue here, but the future is going to be decided by Fernando himself.

Liverpool Snapped Bilbao Youngster

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has captured a second top European teenager inside two days, signing Mikel San Jose from Athletic Bilbao.

Just a day after Levski Sofia announced that Bulgarian international goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov would be joining Liverpool on a three-year deal, Bilbao confirmed that young defender San Jose was also bound for Anfield.

While Benitez and Liverpool are still locked in talks over their plans to sign Atletico Madrid's striker Fernando Torres, it is also clear the Spaniard remains committed to bolstering younger players at the club.

San Jose, 18, will move for a fee of around £270,000. Bilbao were aiming to use the youngster in their second team next season, but a club statement said: "For us it is bad news, but Mikel has decided on the choice of Liverpool and it was impossible for us to fight against a European giant."

San Jose added: "It was a surprise for me but I have decided to accept the chance at Liverpool.

"I am very excited but now I know that I have to work more each day to get in the first team."

The arrival of Mihaylov will put pressure on England squad man Scott Carson, who has been told that he will be Jose Reina's number two next season and will not be allowed out on loan again.

Mihaylov is the son of Bulgarian soccer federation chairman, Borislav Mihaylov - the former Reading keeper - and celebrates his 19th birthday on Thursday.

He has been a regular in Bulgaria's Under-21 side and has made one full international appearance. He already has Champions League experience, playing for Levski Sofia against Werder Bremen last season.

Although Benitez's only other top-line signing so far this season is Bayer Leverkusen striker Andriy Voronin on a free transfer, two young Hungarians also started training with the club on Thursday.

Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon are hoping to make a big impression at Anfield, and hope for first-team action within two seasons.

The teenagers were signed from MTK Budapest and 18-year-old Nemeth said: "We hope that in a year or two we can make our debut in the first team.

"I'm very happy with this, I think this is great news for our whole country. It's a big honour."

Simon, 17, added: "We want to play regular football in the reserves. We will do our best to step forward as soon as it's possible."

The pending arrival of a clutch of new youth talent at Anfield coincides with the announcement of a restructuring of the academy.

Former Ajax player Piet Hamberg was on Wednesday unveiled as the club's new academy technical manager with Under-18 coach John Owens promoted to academy manager.

The pair will work alongside Malcolm Elias, who joined Liverpool from Southampton last summer, and is in charge of recruitment.

The appointments follow the retirement of Steve Heighway after 18 years in charge of the academy.

Chief executive Rick Parry said: "Steve Heighway's departure gave us a chance to assess things and it was felt the role in charge of the academy had become too big for one person so it made sense to separate the two sides of the role.

"We wanted to bring someone in to concentrate solely on the technical side of things, on being out on the pitch coaching, while also having someone in charge of the managing of the academy.

"Steve's great strength was coaching and yet a lot of time in the role would be spent in the office. John Owens has been with us a long time and understands the system and Liverpool, while Piet will be able to concentrate on doing what he does best, which is coaching the young players."

Tevez Urged To Join Mascherano

Javier Mascherano has urged his former team-mate Carlos Tevez to join him at Liverpool.

Tevez looks certain to leave West Ham before the season starts and has been strongly linked with a move to Internazionale this summer.

The duo, who are currently playing in the Copa America tournament, signed for West Ham at the start of last season and it was Tevez' goal against Manchester United that kept the Hammers in the Premier League for the coming season.

Liverpool midfielder Mascherano believes the best move for his former team-mate would be to remain in England and make the move to Anfield.

Mascherano told the Daily Star: "It would be nice to play with Carlos again.

"Right now we are together in the Copa America and it's great.

"We'll see what is going to happen before the start of next season."

Mascherano went on to praise Tevez, and although he feels he would be a strong addition to the squad, admits the decision lies with boss Rafa Benitez.

He added: "Carlos is a great player and he could be very useful to Liverpool in my opinion.

"But the truth is that I would never dare to ask Rafa Benitez or any other coach to bring a player to a club.

"If he asked me, I would tell him my opinion, but that's the only context in which I would tell him what I think.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

LiverpooL Will Have To Let Go Crouch For Torres

Atletico Madrid have reportedly told Liverpool they will only do business over Fernando Torres if Peter Crouch comes as part of the deal.

The Daily Star claims the two clubs are £8million apart in their valuation for Spain international Torres, and while the Reds are believed to have offered Luis Garcia in part-exchange Atletico would favour the arrival of Crouch.

Officials from Anfield are apparently set to travel to Madrid this week in the hope of completing a deal for the highly-rated 23-year-old, who has also been linked with Manchester United.

Atletico coach Javier Aguirre is said to be a big fan of England star Crouch and believes the 6ft 7in frontman would be a big hit in La Liga.

However, Liverpool chief Rafa Benitez wants a pool of four top-class strikers as he bids to challenge on all fronts next season, and would prefer to lose Garcia over Crouch.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No Loan Deal For Cisse

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez says Djibril Cisse will only be allowed to leave Anfield if an interested club are prepared to finance a permanent deal.

Liverpool signed Cisse from Auxerre for a record club transfer fee of £14m in July 2004, but the 25-year-old forward spent last season on loan at Marseille.

"If another club wants him, they must buy him. We don't want another loan," Benitez told Liverpool's website.

French international Cisse has two years left on his Liverpool contract.

Cisse has broken his leg twice in the last three years, first in 2004 and then in a friendly for France against China last year just before the World Cup in Germany.

LiverpooL Set To Seal Torres Move

Liverpool are set to see off interest from Manchester United to seal the signing of Fernando Torres for a club-record £25m this week.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has made the Atletico Madrid striker his number one transfer target this summer and looks set to get his man despite late interest in the 23-year-old from United.

It is thought the Spanish international would prefer a move to Anfield, where he would team up with fellow countrymen Benitez, Xabi Alonso and Pepe Reina, to spearhead the Reds' strike force next season.

There are reports Benitez will offer Atletico Luis Garcia or Djibril Cisse as part of the deal in order to reduce the amount Liverpool will have to fork out, although it is thought the Reds are willing to pay as much as £25m for Torres - a figure that easily eclipses the £14m spent on Cisse in the summer of 2004.

United's interest in Torres is long-standing and reports have suggested Sir Alex Ferguson now wants the forward after his bid to land Italian international Fabio Quagliarella from Sampdoria stumbled over the weekend.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carson To Fight For Place In LiverpooL Squad

Rafael Benitez has confirmed that England under-21 goalkeeper Scott Carson will return to Liverpool next season.

Benitez loaned Carson out to Charlton Athletic for the duration of last season in order for him to experience regular first-team Premiership football.

And despite being relegated with Alan Pardew's men, the England under-21 regular was voted the club's player of the season after a string of fine performances.

Carson's stock has also risen after playing regularly for the under-21s but Benitez insists that he will not sanction the shot-stopper leaving on another season-long loan this year.

"I was speaking to Scott recently and I told him he will be part of our first-team squad next season," the Spanish tactician told Liverpool's official website.

"He must fight with Pepe Reina now for a starting place. We knew when we fought off Chelsea to sign him he was a talented goalkeeper.

"He got some good experience last season and now he is coming back to us."

Carson recently set a new record for caps won with the England under-21s when he was part of the team that were knocked out by hosts Holland in the semi-finals of the European Championships.

The 21-year-old saved one penalty in the marathon 32-kick shootout, eventually won by the Dutch 13-12.

Will LiverpooL Match The Asking Price For Torres?

Liverpool's hopes of landing Fernando Torres have hit a setback with Atletico Madrid refusing to budge from their £27million asking price.

The Spain striker, 23, has emerged as a prime target for Kop boss Rafa Benitez this summer.

However, Torres' club have insisted the star player will only leave if the buy-out clause in his contract is triggered.

The Reds are prepared to offer Luis Garcia — a former Atletico player — as a makeweight in the deal but the sides are still some distance apart in their valuation.

Benitez knows if he gives them the asking price it would blow a huge hole in his summer transfer budget.

And Liverpool sources have suggested they will not go the full way — even though they are desperate to sign a world-class goalscorer.

Yet Atletico are unlikely to climb down as they do not want to part with their prized asset despite the fact Torres has indicated he fancies a move to Anfield.

Speaking last month, president Enrique Cerezo said: "We always have the same problem.

"Every year, either at the start of the season, midway through or at the end.

"It is the same. Torres is an Atletico Madrid player and I think he is going to remain with the team for many years. He is very well at Atletico Madrid, the fans want him and we want him.

"Neither is he for sale nor do I think he is going to leave."

If the Reds fail to land Torres it would be another blow in what has been a frustrating summer for the Kop.

The millions of pounds promised by new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have yet to be turned into big-name signings.

Liverpool's interest in Charlton's England striker Darren Bent has also faded as they do not believe he is worthy of the £17m price tag.

Benitez hopes to off-load French striker Djibril Cisse to Bolton for around £6m.

This will free up funds to spend on West Ham & Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun, 27.

Friday, June 22, 2007

LiverpooL's Bid For Mancini Rejected By Roma

Roma have reportedly rejected an offer from Liverpool for Brazilian winger Amantino Mancini.

Rafael Benitez is looking to strengthen his squad for a Premiership title push next season and Mancini’s name has allegedly been included in the Coach’s summer wish list.

According to the latest reports in Italy, Liverpool made a £13m offer for the South American, but it does not seem likely that he will leave the Stadio Olimpico.

Mancini is considered as a key player by the Giallorossi outfit and Luciano Spalletti seems determined to hold on to the star, who has drawn interest from a number of clubs.

Liverpool could table an improved bid in the near future, but the capital city outfit are expected to offer the former Venezia man a contract extension, as his current deal expires in 2009.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Benitez Splashing Out In Spain

Rafa Benitez is reportedly planning a £45m raid on Spain for Fernando Torres and Diego Forlan.

Liverpool fans will soon know how serious new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are about bringing success to Anfield as Benitez challenges them to spend big on strikers.

Torres will cost anywhere between £24m and £27m depending on what newspaper you believe, but it does seem that Atletico Madrid are finally ready to sell the Spaniard.

According to The Sun, Benitez is convinced that Torres wants to join Liverpool and will snub offers from Italy as well as Manchester United and Chelsea.

Persuading Forlan to leave Spain might be more difficult, with the Uruguayan settled there. His previous spell in England would hardly make him want to rush back.

Villarreal would want upwards of £15m for Forlan, and battling Liverpool for his signature are Aston Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland

Cisse Set For Another Loan Season At Marseille

Marseille and Liverpool are close to agreeing a new loan deal for Djibril Cisse, according to L'Equipe.

The France international striker spent last season at the Stade Velodrome and is happy to remain for a further season after l'OM qualified for the UEFA Champions League.

Bolton and Benfica have also been linked with a bid for Cisse, but it appears Marseille are set to reach an accord with The Reds.

The deal is likely to include the option for Marseille to sign the 25-year-old front man for a pre-determined fee next summer.

Barcelona's Ludovic Giuly is another priority for l'OM, who are on the lookout for a replacement for Franck Ribery.

Monaco also want the Barca attacker but Marseille sport director Jose Anigo hopes to steal a march on their rivals.

"We are in talks. We are trying but it is not that easy," Anigo said.

Meanwhile, Anigo has revealed he is close to capturing Karim Ziani, having agreed a deal with the winger.

But further talks with Sochaux chairman Jean-Claude Plessis are still required before the move can be finalised.

Anigo added in L'Equipe: "We have an agreement with the player and his agent. Now we are waiting for talks with the Sochaux chairman."

However, former Milan and Paris Saint Germain midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo will not replace Ziani at Sochaux, according to Plessis.

"We dreamt during a moment, but eventually the reality caught up with us," he told Direct 8.

Fernando Torres Heading To Anfield

Liverpool are reportedly hoping to seal a deal for top target Fernando Torres after Atletico Madrid finally decided to sell their prize asset.

The Spanish striker will cost around £25million because of a clause in his contract but The Liverpool Echo believes that price will not put off Rafa Benitez.

Torres has previously been a target for Manchester United and Chelsea, but he is thought to favour a move to Liverpool and during a recent match his captain's armband slipped to reveal the words 'You'll never walk alone' printed on the reverse.

Atletico have finally agreed to sell Torres after failing to reach the UEFA Cup following a disappointing season in which their star striker still managed to score 14 goals.

Some reports suggest that Liverpool have despatched officials to Madrid in order to open talks with Atletico Madrid, who might be tempted by an offer of former player Luis Garcia in part exchange.

Capturing a player of Torres' stature would appease both Benitez and Reds' fans who are becoming impatient at the lack of activity in the transfer market since Benitez's bleak Athens post-mortem.

Torres has scored 82 goals in 212 league appearances for Atletico, with 14 goals in 42 international appearances.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Craig Bellamy Wanted In Italy

Reports in the British Press suggest that Juventus and Roma are keen on signing Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy.

The Bianconeri are looking to strengthen their attacking department in view of David Trezeguet’s likely departure and Coach Claudio Ranieri has eyed the 27-year-old, as the Merseysiders seem willing to listen to offers.

The Guardian reports that Bellamy’s future at Liverpool is uncertain and Ranieri has already made enquiries about his availability, even if the player stated that he wanted to remain at the club.

The striker is valued at £12m by the Reds and Juventus are allegedly willing to offer up to £10m for his services, although Roma could also join the race to sign the Welsh international.

Coach Rafa Benitez hopes to include winger Amantino Mancini in the operation which could take Bellamy to Serie A.

The Spanish tactician was unimpressed with Bellamy’s performances after his move last summer, as confirmed by the fact that he was excluded from the Champions League Final in Athens.

His behaviour off the pitch was also controversial and he was involved in a tussle with teammate John Arne Riise before the Champions League match with Barcelona, when he threatened him with a golf club.

West Ham, Aston Villa and Blackburn have all been linked with the forward, who scored nine goals in 42 appearances this year, but appear to have been put off by Liverpool's asking price.

Friday, June 15, 2007

LiverpooL In The Risk Of Losing Benitez

Rafael Benitez could quit as Liverpool manager after becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of spending power at Anfield.

The Spaniard warned the club's new owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, he needed a £100m transfer kitty to overhaul his squad and turn them into Premier League title contenders.

And he set his sights on making two major signings over £10m immediately after losing to AC Milan in the Champions League final.

But the American tycoons are reported to be at loggerheads over the transfer budget.

The first signs of conflict came after Liverpool pulled out of the £17m race to sign Charlton and England striker Darren Bent.

Then the Reds made a £1m bid for West Ham winger Yossi Benayoun, which the Hammers described as an "insult".

Now a Reds source has told daily financial newspaper CityAM that Benitez has real concerns about the future ambitions of the club.

"If Gillett and Hicks cannot give Rafa a budget in which a sensible assault on the title, then Rafa will not hang around for long," he said.

"It simply doesn't look like Liverpool are competing in the transfer market and Rafa would definitely position than he is right now."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Liverpool Make Benayoun Bid

Israel captain verbally agreed a new five-year deal at West Ham but has delayed signing it since hearing of the Reds' interest.

Liverpool have confirmed their interest in West Ham midfielder Yossi Benayoun, with chief executive Rick Parry today stating the club had made an official approach.

Israel captain Benayoun has put off signing a new five-year deal at West Ham - which he verbally agreed three weeks ago - after hearing of Liverpool's interest.

There has been speculation that Liverpool offered as little as £1m for him, though other reports put the figure closer to £3m.

"I can confirm we have made an approach for Yossi Benayoun," said Parry.

"But the figures quoted are completely wrong. Other than that we don't want to say any more."

West Ham are believed to have rejected the bid and plan talks this week to convince Benayoun to stay in east London, where his new contract will be worth £50,000 a week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can Liverpool Bridge The Gap?

George Gillett Jr, one of Liverpool's American owners, has said he will not spend money on players like “a drunken sailor", much to Rafael Benitez's chagrin.

Benitez, the manager, has been openly disgruntled over the club's transfer policy, but has grudgingly accepted that the Americans’ promise of support in the transfer market does not equate to the blank chequebook that he envisaged after his initial conversations.

Yet, with Manchester United having already spent a projected £55 million this summer, and Roman Abramovich's seemingly bottomless pit of available cash at Chelsea, Liverpool seem further from catching their Premiership rivals than ever before.

Two Champions League finals in three years provides evidence that progress has been made, but can this summer's transfer activity really see Liverpool challenge for the title they last won in 1990?

Is the club now more suited to knockout competitions or do Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks, his co-owner, have realistic ambitions of claiming the big prize over a season?

Is Diego Forlan, now plying his trade at Villarreal after 2½ largely unsuccessful years at Old Trafford, a realistic alternative to the more expensive Barcelona striker, Samuel Eto'o?

Reds Could Switch Winger Targets

Lyon's £17 million asking price for Florent Malouda could see Liverpool turn their attentions back to Benfica wideman Simao Sabrosa.

Rafa Benitez is understood to be keen to add French international Malouda to his squad during the close-season, but the latest comments from the Ligue One champions could put the Reds off making a move.

Lyon's chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, has called on those clubs interested in Malouda to firm up their interest after slapping a price tag on his head.

Aulas revealed: "I'm waiting on a call from an English club so we can sort out a meeting. The transfer could move forward if there is an offer that comes close to the price I've fixed.

"On players' values, I seldom get it wrong: today Malouda is [worth] £17m."

With Chelsea and Arsenal also believed to be interested, Liverpool are being tipped to step aside and instead concentrate on trying to sign long-time target Simao, who is available for £12million.

Liverpool Boss Benitez To Have £55M For Transfers

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez could have up to £55 million to spend this summer - despite the club's American owners warning over the size of his transfer budget.

With Liverpool making £29 million from their run to the Champions League final, plus the Sky TV and Premiership prize money to come, Benitez can expect £40 million plus to spend this summer.

With maybe £15 million from the sale of fringe players, including a possible fee from Marseille for Djibril Cisse, Benitez can bolster his cash kitty considerably.

Punters Pick Henry For Liverpool Move

There has been plenty of speculation about where Thierry Henry will start next season and, if money talks, then he could be heading for Liverpool.

The Arsenal forward has been backed down to 7-4 from 7-2 with Ladbrokes to be plying his trade at Anfield after a string of wagers.

Nick Weinberg, a Ladbrokes spokesman, said yesterday: “Punters have been speculating on Henry’s future all week. He was initially backed to leave Arsenal but then we began to field requests, in increasing numbers, from customers looking to back Liverpool as his destination.”

Liverpool have lacked a prolific striker since Michael Owen’s departure in three years ago but, even so, they finished with the same number of points as Arsenal in the league last season and reached the final of the European Cup for the second time in three years.

Were Henry to join, then Liverpool’s title odds - they are generally 11-2 - would plummet. The 4-1 that Coral offer against Henry being top goalscorer next season would also vanish.

AC Milan and Barcelona have also been linked with Henry, whose impact last season was limited by a string of minor injuries. The 29-year-old is said to have been disappointed with the departure of vice-chairman David Dein in April and would have been frustrated with Arsenal’s inconsistency in their first season at their new 60,000-seater home in Ashburton Grove.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Alonso & Reina Sign New Deals

Xabi Alonso said Liverpool’s forceful determination to retain his services led him to reject several offers from Spain as he signed a new five-year contract at Anfield.

Alonso and Pepe Reina yesterday penned new deals committing their future to Liverpool until 2012, ending concerns of a return to La Liga.

Momo Sissoko will also put pen to paper on his contract, possibly today, while unsung hero Steve Finnan has also agreed terms on an extension.

Alonso’s deal came as a huge comfort to Benitez, who was worried about the strength of Barcelona’s interest, but the playmaker had always made his preference to remain on Merseyside clear.

After putting pen to paper, he said: “I knew there was interest from other clubs but it was always my idea to stay here.

“I have been here for three seasons now and have such special feelings for the club and the supporters. I understand what Liverpool FC means to people. It is such a special club and I just didn't want to leave.

“It was a simple decision because I could see right away that the attitude of the club towards me was spot on.

“I greatly appreciate all the hard work that Rick Parry has put in on this contract and the faith that Rafa Benitez has shown in me.

“I want to be part of what lies ahead because I know it is going to be exciting. It's also good news to see that other players have signed new contracts this week.

“Stevie, Carra and Pepe are all big players for us and it's great they have all shown their commitment.

“I'm sure the manager will be bringing in new players as well and that the new owners will be making a big effort to improve the squad.

“I'm really excited because I think we can achieve big things.

“Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes next season as we did last season and we can win some more games. We want to be challenging for the top teams.

“Even though I'm looking forward to a holiday and a rest I can't wait for next season to begin.”

Reina, meanwhile, said he felt there was no club he’d rather be at than Liverpool.

He said: “I spoke with Rafa and his thoughts for the future really excited me. He has ambitions for the team which I want to be part of and I'm sure the other players feel the same.

“The idea now for all of us is to challenge for titles. That's what we'll be looking for.

“Our fans deserve the league title. Seventeen years without winning it is far too long for this club and that's why our biggest target next year has to be the Premiership.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Henry Heading To Andfield???

There’s a wild rumour every summer about a big name player moving to Liverpool and it seems the hot topic on Merseyside this year is that Arsenal striker Thierry Henry could be on his way to Anfield.

Henry has made it public recently that he is unhappy at Arsenal and their constant underachievement of recent seasons.

The French striker has also revealed in the past that if he were to play for any other Premiership club besides Arsenal, it would be Liverpool. However he also reassured Arsenal fans that this would never happen.

Murmurings on Merseyside over the rumours, which have been circulating for several weeks now, suggest Henry could be set for an extraordinary one year loan deal at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Reds striker Djibril Cisse is being rumoured to be heading in the direction of the Emirates Stadium. Maybe someone should be reminded that April Fool’s Day was a couple of months ago?

Real Betis Aims To Strike Deal With LiverpooL

Liverpool are reportedly ready to secure first option on Real Betis starlet Juande, as part of a deal that will take Mark Gonzalez back to Spain.

Real Betis are believed to be leading the chase for the Chilean winger who has also been linked with Real Zaragoza and Real Sociedad - where he spent time on loan last year.

Sevillian sources claim that Betis are lining up a €3.5million (£2.3million) deal for Gonzalez.

Liverpool are ready to do business, but as part of the move Rafa Benitez is looking to line-up a deal for Juande.

The 20-year-old midfielder, who made the breakthrough into the Betis first at the end of last season, is seen as one of the brightest prospects in La Liga.

Juande is a defensive midfielder, a position Liverpool are currently well stocked, but Benitez is building for the future and would seemingly be more than happy with letting the youngster develop at Betis for at least another season.

Malouda Eager For Switch To LiverpooL

Rafa Benitez's transfer frustrations finally showed signs of easing when Florent Malouda indicated he was ready to join Liverpool.

The £8million-rated Lyon midfielder looks bound for Anfield in the next week after the French club agreed a similar fee with Benfica for former Liverpool target Simao Sabrosa to replace him.

Malouda, 27, said: "There has been contact with Liverpool although I don't know as yet if they have shown their interest directly to Lyon. "People make their decisions based on the different leagues in different countries, but I would rather base mine on the club involved. And why not Liverpool? They are a great club."

Benitez is also interested in Valencia's left-sided midfielder David Silva.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hicks Promises Significant Transfers

Tom Hicks

New Liverpool owner Tom Hicks today told Liverpool fans to expect big-money transfers next week as the club prepares to mount a serious challenge for the Barclays Premiership.

Hicks, speaking after skipper Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher signed new contracts, vowed to "give Manchester United a run for their money" next season.

But despite pledging money for new signings, the American co-owner demanded bosses Rafael Benitez to produce a more “consistent” side next term.

Hicks insisted that results must improve to compete with Chelsea and Manchester United.

He said: “Our goal is to play good football all season next time out. In the Premiership, you have to be so consistent.

“We lost far too many games on the road, particularly to lesser teams.

“That’s the goal going into next season, to try to win those games that we have not been winning in the league.

“Only then will we be able to give Manchester United a good run for their money.”

Hicks is also confident that revised plans for the club’s new stadium will be revealed soon.

He said: “The design is now final, it’s spectacular and I can’t wait for everybody to see it.

I think our fans will love it - it’s very creative architecture, very contemporary but also unique to Liverpool.

“It is all centered around the Kop. It will be the symphony stage that plays to the symphony hall.”

Benitez returns from holiday at the end of the week keen to conclude new contract discussions with Jose Reina, Xabi Alonso and Steve Finnan.

And Hicks, added: “I would say to fans ’just be patient’, because we’re talking to Rafa often. We are going to sign some good players, some good young players.

“The academy is now under Rafa’s control and that will also help us produce our own young players.

“(Chief executive) Rick Parry is in charge of getting the contracts negotiated and I think the fans will like the outcome. Maybe we’ll hear something in the next week.”

And Benitez believes that securing Gerrard and Carragher on long-term deals will help him persuade transfer targets to join Liverpool.

He was reacting for the first time to the news that the pair have signed new deals which will keep tie them to the club until 2011.

The contracts were verbally agreed ahead of the Champions League final, but Benitez is delighted pen has finally been put to paper.

He told “These deals send out a key message as we enter a crucial period.

“Other players will look at Stevie and Carra committing their future to Liverpool and understand that this means we are determined to progress on the pitch.

“When we talk to players we’d like to sign for this club, we can point to the fact that they will be playing alongside the likes of Stevie and Carra.

“Now these two deals are complete, we need to continue working on bringing in new players and keeping the ones we already have.”

Benitez is chasing several foreign players, including Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o and Lyon winger Florent Malouda.

The Spaniard added: “New contracts for Stevie and Carra are two very important deals because they are about safeguarding the future of this club.

“They both wanted to stay at the club. They have a passion for this club and you can see that in the way they play.

“They are 100% committed to Liverpool and now they can be 100% focused on their futures at Anfield.”

Parry added: “It was a priority for us to get two of our most important players, two local players, signed up to new contracts.

“It’s a very positive statement we feel and sends out an important message. There’s a lot of work - an awful lot of work - going on in the background.

“It’s important we get the right players and there will be a lot of activity at the club to come - but we’re delighted to see Steven and Jamie sign these contracts.”

Monday, June 04, 2007

LiverpooL Losing Ground On Duo

Liverpool could be set to miss out on transfer targets Daniel Alves and Gabriel Milito, who may join Real Madrid and Juventus respectively.

Rafael Benitez wanted the club's new owners to splash the cash this summer in order to strengthen his team for a concerted Premiership title challenge.

But it looks like they could miss out on two of their reported top targets in Sevilla wing-back Alves and Real Zaragoza central defender Milito.

Both have been long linked with moves to Anfield, but according to reports from Europe it doesn't look like either will end up on Merseyside.

Spanish daily AS Diario claims that Real Madrid have already begun negotiations aimed at taking Alves to the Santiago Bernabeu.

He first sprang to British prominence last season when helping Sevilla take Middlesbrough apart in the UEFA Cup final.

And he was part of the Brazil side that snatched a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley on Friday night.

AS claims that Madrid sport director Predrag Mijatovic is already closing in on Alves as Los Galacticos start their summer strengthening.

Meanwhile Milito, who almost joined Real in the summer of 2003, could be bound for Italy next season.

Reports from both Italy and Spain suggest that Juventus want the Argentine ace, and have already offered 16million euros (£11million).

The reports say that if Claudio Ranieri becomes the next Juve coach he would love to land Milito, and that Juve will have to offer something like 25 million euros (£18million) to get their man.

The 26-year-old Milito has three years remaining on his Zaragoza contract, and the Italian press claims his advisers have already agreed personal terms with Juventus.

LiverpooL FC Defends Their Supporters

Liverpool criticized European soccer's governig body Monday for branding the Reds' fans as the worst behaved in Europe.

UEFA spokesman William Gaillard said Liverpool supporters had been guilty of misbehavior 25 times in the past four years - more than any other club in its competitions - and some had tried to get into last month's Champions League final in Athens with tickets which had been forged or stolen from fellow fans.

"That was just the latest example,'' Gaillard was quoted as saying in British newspapers.”What other set of fans steal tickets from their fellow supporters or out of the hands of children?''

UEFA will hand a critical report on the Liverpool fans' behavior at the May 23 final against AC Milan to Britain's Sports Minister Richard Caborn on Tuesday.

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said UEFA and local organizers of the Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium were to blame for ticketing problems that led to violence before the game when fans with genuine tickets were prevented from entering the stadium.

"The shortcomings in the management of the situation in Athens were apparent to anyone who was there,'' Parry told the club's official Web site.

Parry also said UEFA's latest comments were in conflict with the praise that the European body heaped upon Liverpool supporters.

"These latest comments from UEFA should not deflect attention from that reality,'' Parry said. "What is most surprising about the latest comments from Mr. Gaillard is that, on the eve of the final, he quite rightly commented that Liverpool supporters 'have a tradition of good behavior.'

"Let's not forget that these same supporters who Mr. Gaillard is claiming are now the worst in Europe were praised by UEFA president Michel Platini after our semifinal victory against Chelsea only last month, commended for their behavior in Istanbul in 2005 and actually honored by UEFA at a gala dinner in Monte Carlo in 2001 as joint Supporters of the Years with Alaves after the UEFA Cup final.''

The violence and ticketing problems occurred before kickoff at the Champions League final when security staff stopped Liverpool fans getting in with forged or stolen tickets, causing a long delay.

Fans with genuine tickets, having been held back, tried to rush the gates to get into the stadium. Greek police used pepper spray and some fans said they were hit with batons.

"The incidents involving Liverpool fans have been well known to us before the trouble at the Champions League final,'' Gaillard said. "We know what happened in Athens, and Liverpool fans were the cause of most of the trouble there. There have been 25 incidents involving Liverpool fans away from home since 2003 and these are in the report. Most teams' supporters do not cause any trouble at all.''

LiverpooL Duo Signed New Contract

Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher on Sunday afternoon put pen to paper on new deals that will see them devote the prime years of their careers to Liverpool Football Club and immediately set their sights on bringing the title back to Anfield.

The club captain and vice-captain returned to Merseyside from England duty just after lunchtime on Monday and met Chief Executive Rick Parry to add their signatures to new four-year contracts which will see them extend their stay at Anfield until at least 2011.

With Rafael Benitez planning big changes at the club this summer, Gerrard and Carragher were both delighted to cement their long-term futures to the club before they break for the summer after England's trip to Estonia on Wednesday night.

Carragher: "I am very pleased. Obviously we are both local lads and I've always said I wanted to stay here for the rest of my career. Hopefully I've got one more [contract] left in me that will take me until the end of my career. I have signed for four years and hopefully I can still be a regular in the team. That's the aim anyway."

Gerrard: "I'm really pleased too. The negotiations have gone really smoothly. Although they have been spoken about for a couple of weeks, I think it's happened pretty quickly. I'm just pleased to get it out of the way and we look forward to next season now. Hopefully over the next four years we can deliver a lot more trophies."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

West Ham To Sign Bellamy?

The Sunday People reports that West Ham are favorites to sign newly-appointed Wales captain Craig Bellamy. The troubled striker looks certain to leave Liverpool as they too have new money to spend and the Hammers are rumored to be willing to offer Bellamy a pay rise of up to approximately £70,000 per week, thus leaving Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers behind in the race for his signature.

None of the three abovementioned clubs interested are expected to meet Liverpool's valuation of £12 million, which is a ridiculous price after all. West Ham may offer in the region of £8 million. Liverpool paid £6.3million for Bellamy last year.

Bellamy, however, wishes to remain at Liverpool. 'It's been very difficult in terms of adapting to not playing every week but I've learned so much. I've gained so much this year,' he said. 'It's been a great experience to be involved with what I think is the best club in the world. It has been a massive achievement.

I would have liked it to have gone a little bit better than it is has but you have to take it on the chin. There have been much better players than me who haven't had a great first year and come back and done really well over the next couple of years.'

What do YOU think? Feedbacks welcomed….

Marseille Negotiating With LiverpooL On Cisse's Future

Marseille have confirmed they are set to hold talks with Liverpool next week regarding Djibril Cisse's future.

Cisse spent last season on loan at Stade Velodrome and reports suggest Marseille will seek to agree another loan deal, but it is believed Liverpool are keen on a permanent transfer.

'The meeting with the Liverpool officials should happen later next week,' Marseille chairman Pape Diouf told the club's official website.

'I have good hope because Djibril has showed very clearly his desire to go on with us.

'So there are already two parties willing, ours and Cisse's.

'Now we have to convince Liverpool. We are keen to go far in the talks to settle that case.'

Jermaine Pennant Gunning For England Spot

Jermaine Pennant is hoping his performances for Liverpool will one day lead to an England call up.

'A lot of players have been tried on the right, but no-one's filled that gap yet,' he told BBC Sport.

'I'm still young and if I can keep playing well for Liverpool I don't see why I can't get the nod one day.'

Pennant worked hard to claim a regular place in Rafael Benitez's side and impressed many with his performance in the Champions League final defeat to AC Milan.

'I was happy with my season,' he said.

'To come from a relegation battle to play in the Champions League and come third in the Premiership, if somebody had offered me that two years ago I would have taken it all day long.

'But, for a team like Liverpool it's a disappointing season to end up with no silverware.'

Although Benitez will be looking to revamp his squad over the summer, Pennant does not believe there will be a huge influx of new players.

'I don't think there will be a complete change of squad, there may be a few players coming and going, but that happens at every club,' he said.

'I'm an easy target (for speculation), but no-one has said anything to me about leaving.

'I'm sure I'm staying. I've got a contract for another two years and I hope I can stay for as long as possible.

'Next season I'm sure I'll improve as a player and really shine, and that will lead on to the international stage.'

Saturday, June 02, 2007

LiverpooL To Splash On Eto'o

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, is willing to gamble all the transfer funds made available to him by the club's new American owners on a bid for Samuel Eto'o that could reach as much as £35m. The summer scramble for the Barcelona forward's signature is likely to include Manchester United as well but Benitez wants to strike early to get his target.

Benitez's comments in the wake of the European Cup final defeat last week caused considerable disquiet at Liverpool and his thinly veiled attack on the chief executive, Rick Parry, upset the new American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks. They spoke to the manager eight days ago in a conference call from the United States in which Benitez emphasized his desire for the club to move quickly on summer signings.

The criticisms of the club by Benitez were not lost on the Americans, who were persuaded by Parry that they should stick by their manager despite his words. At the time it was felt that Benitez had gone too far in criticizing the club publicly. However, in the next week he is expected to test their pledges to back him with money by asking them to put together a bid for Eto'o.

Since that last conversation between the four men, Benitez has publicly endorsed his chief executive but a move for Eto'o would be a further test of Liverpool's resolve to sign the very best players in the world. Benitez said this week that he and Parry had "worked together" to sign the Hungarian teenagers Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon as a sign there was no problem between him and his chief executive. It was Parry, after all, who defended Benitez when the Americans took exception to his comments after the 2-1 defeat against Milan in the European Cup final.

Having seen Manchester United sign up Nani and Anderson this week from Sporting Lisbon and Porto respectively with the minimum of fuss, the pressure is back on Liverpool to see whether they can do the same for their manager. Parry is still in sole charge of transfers until Foster Gillett, son of George, gets his Home Office work permit in August.

Dealing with the various parties claiming to represent the Cameroonian will be a job for a real football operator, especially with Barcelona in no rush to sell. Eto'o has a contract at the club until 2010 and would almost certainly have come to Arsenal last summer had Thierry Henry gone in the opposite direction.

Benitez tried to buy Eto'o from Real Madrid when Michael Owen moved there in 2004 and wants every effort made to sign the player early so, if his offer is rejected, he can at least turn his attention to other targets on his list.

It is still unclear exactly how much money will be put at the Liverpool manager's disposal next season. He has already replaced Robbie Fowler with the Bayer Leverkusen striker Andrei Voronin, a Bosman free transfer. Craig Bellamy has made clear his intention to leave, with Blackburn, Aston Villa, West Ham and even another of his former clubs, Newcastle, signalling their interest. Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch, set to be rewarded with a new contract this summer, will stay.

The Lyon left-winger Florent Malouda will cost between £8m and £10m. With Bolo Zenden released and Mark Gonzalez close to signing for Real Betis, Benitez's second priority after Eto'o will be two wide players as competition for Harry Kewell and Jermaine Pennant. With one year left on his contract, Kewell would be permitted to leave if a reasonable offer was made - Tottenham Hotspur are interested.

Something of a novelty at English football clubs, a spending review by the American owners to scrutinize Benitez's transfer record at Liverpool, is to be carried out by an independent body, most likely an accountancy firm. The results are sure to have some bearing on the funds made available to him.

Juventus Bidding For LiverpooL's Sissoko

Juventus are reported to have tabled a bid for Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

Sissoko has fallen out of favour at Anfield following the arrival of Javier Mascherano from West Ham in January.

The Mali international has stated his frustration at his current situation with Rafa Benitez's men, and could be open to a new challenge.

Sissoko's future in England is therefore in doubt, despite still having three years remaining on his contract, and Barcelona are also thought to be interested.

Liverpool are unwilling to sell Sissoko to another English club, but may be tempted by Juventus' attractive offer.

The Italian giants are rumoured to be offering The Reds between €15million and €20million (£10m-£13.5m) for Sissoko.

Meanwhile, Juventus are also reported to be interested in Lyon's out-of-favour midfielder Alou Diarra, who is also a target for Everton, Bordeaux and Marseille.