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."