Saturday, July 14, 2007

LiverpooL Make Mancini Contact

Liverpool are mulling over a move for Roma's Alessandro Mancini, according to the player's agent.

Mancini enjoyed a superb campaign last season and has reportedly attracted the attention of several clubs, including Juventus and Liverpool.

His representative Gilmar Veloz claims he has talked with Rafa Benitez about a possible transfer, although he admits the two clubs have yet to enter negotiations.

"There has been interest from Liverpool and I have spoken with Benitez," Veloz told Radio Centro Suono Sport.

"I replied that they must talk with Roma, but if the Giallorossi were to sell him I'd have no trouble striking a deal."

Mancini's current contract runs out in 2009 but Veloz insists his client would like to remain with the club.

However, the Brazilian has yet to agree a contract extension and Veloz admits his future remains uncertain.

He explained: "On Monday I'll be meeting with Roma sporting director Daniele Prade to talk about contracts, I don't know what their offer is yet."

"Does Mancini want to stay? Surely if he didn't he would have already left."

Reports in the Italian press suggest Mancini will consider leaving if he is not offered a substantial pay rise.

Benitez On The Attack

Rafael Benítez yesterday introduced Liverpool's latest two summer signings after a busy week in the market and then claimed he is ready to throw off the defensive mind-set which has held the club back in the past few seasons.

Liverpool have struggled badly for goals in the Premiership during the Spaniard's three-year spell as manager, scoring only 166 league goals compared to Manchester United's 213 in that time. It is a statistic that Benítez now says he wants to put right.

"We needed to be quick in the market and with the players that we have we can also be quick on the pitch," the Spaniard said as he introduced the £11.5m signing Ryan Babel, a 20-year-old forward, and then Yossi Benayoun, the 27-year-old wide midfielder from West Ham.

"Defensively the team was good, but really we wanted to attack," Benítez added. "Last season we were having a lot of chances, crossing and shooting more than anyone. But we needed to improve. Maybe with these players the crossing will be better and also the finishing.

"At Valencia I had three or four players, all of whom could score 10 or 15 goals a season. If you have a player who can score 20 goals a year, it's good. But he could get injured and the other team knows he is the only one who can score. It's then easier for the opposition to control. When your team attacks I prefer to have four or five players getting to the box."

The arrivals of Babel and Benayoun take Benítez's spending this summer to around £40m, and the £26m record signing Fernando Torres is expected to play his first game for the club on Tuesday against Werder Bremen in Switzerland.

Babel becomes the third most expensive player in Liverpool's history (Djibril Cissé is the second at £14m) and will receive in excess of £2m of the fee after Ajax agreed he would get 50% of the difference of any fee above €9m (£6.1m). He has scored four goals in 14 appearances for the senior Holland side and is looking forward to playing with Torres.

"I don't want to go into exactly what Rafa said, but he said I could play in a lot of positions and after a couple of months he can see what the best position is for me," said Babel, who had been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal earlier in the summer.

"My favourite position is striker but I can play in a number of different ones. This is a very great club and it was an easy decision to come here. I didn't actually know Liverpool had signed Torres because I was away on holiday. But of course he is a striker that I admire. If you want to learn how to score goals easily then he is one of the players to show you. There was never a proper interest from Arsenal."

Benayoun, who claims he was offered more money to stay at West Ham, is the third Israeli to play for Liverpool and hopes to follow in the footsteps of Avi Cohen and Ronny Rosenthal, both of whom won the title while at Anfield.

"Hopefully I will be the next Israeli to bring luck to Anfield and win the league again," said Benayoun, who has signed a four-year contract.

"Joining Liverpool is the biggest step of my career. It's a big dream. West Ham are a big club and I've had a very good two seasons there. But I told West Ham from the beginning if I was ever going to leave them then it would be for a club like Liverpool.

"I had two or three offers from other clubs, but I told them I would never leave unless it was for Liverpool because it's my dream. It's got nothing to do with money. I simply want to accomplish my dream."

Liverpool Stadium Plans Submitted

The stadium plans for Liverpool’s new ground have been submitted and will now have to be passed for approval by the city’s council before work can begin.

The proposed stadium at Stanley Park will hold 60,000 fans and would cost around £270million to build, with work starting before the beginning of 2008.

The Liverpool Echo have reported that there could be the facility to expand capacity to 80,000 in the future, which would make the Liverpool ground the largest in terms of capacity in the Premiership.

Currently, Manchester United’s ground, Old Trafford, holds that record, holding a maximum of just over 76,000, although there are plans in place to increase this to a mammoth 96,000.

There are sure to be mixed reaction from Liverpool fans at the news of a stadium move. Anfield, like Highbury, Maine Road and countless other iconic stadiums of yesteryear, is synonymous with the club.

The atmosphere created at Anfield is world-renowned, something that new Liverpool co-owner is willing to keep in mind with the new stadium, saying recently: "It is all centred around the Kop - it will be the symphony stage that plays to the symphony hall.

"I think our fans will love it. It's very creative architecture, very contemporary but also unique to Liverpool."