Friday, December 21, 2007

Klinsmann Waiting In The Wings To Replace Benitez At Liverpool

Rafa Benitez wants his Liverpool deal extended — as Jurgen Klinsmann waits in the wings for his job.

The Kop boss insists he can still deliver the title to American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Benitez' future was up in the air after a public fall-out with the pair — reminiscent of a Carry On film.

But, after Sunday's peace talks, Rafa wants to stay.

His deal runs for another four years but Benitez said: “I'd like to fulfil my contract and extend it, if possible.

"We are already very close to winning the Premier League. We are now eight points ahead of what we had last year.”

But SunSport has revealed Hicks and Gillett are keen admirers of German legend Klinsmann.

The ex-Spurs star is set to move from California.

And the feeling on Merseyside is that Benitez will probably go in the summer — possibly to Real Madrid.

A source close to Klinsmann told SunSport: “It appears Jurgen will be moving back to Europe and the word is Liverpool are favourites to get him.”

Valencia Set Their Sights On £4m Liverpool Defender Riise

Valencia boss Ronaldo Koeman has launched a £4m bid to prise John Arne Riise away from Liverpool.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is determined to keep 27-year-old Riise but Koeman told the Daily Mirror: "He is a player with experience and would offer options to our game."

Valencia sporting director Miguel Angel Ruiz added: "We want to improve our squad."

Valencia are already out of the Champions League and are rebuilding.

They see Riise as a vital part of that and will not be put off an initial rejection from Anfield.

Inter Visit Anfield On Opening Night

Liverpool FC, AS Roma, FC Schalke 04 and Olympiacos CFP will all look to take a significant step towards the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by exploiting home advantage in the first leg of their first knockout round ties on 19 February.

That quartet will face tricky away trips in the return matches, with Liverpool travelling to FC Internazionale Milano – although that second leg will be played on Tuesday 11 March due to a stadium clash with Inter's city rivals and UEFA Champions League holders AC Milan. Roma meet Real Madrid CF, Schalke play FC Porto and Olympiacos take on Chelsea FC, with the second legs of those three ties to take place on Wednesday 5 March.

The remaining four first knockout round fixtures kick off on Wednesday 20 February, with Milan visiting Arsenal FC and their predecessors as European champions, FC Barcelona, also heading for Britain to tackle Celtic FC. Fenerbah├že SK welcome two-time UEFA Cup winners Sevilla FC to Istanbul, while Ligue 1 champions Olympique Lyonnais host English counterparts Manchester United FC. The second legs will be held on 4 March.

Rick Parry: Liverpool Will Be Active In Transfer Market

Rick Parry has pledged that Liverpool WILL be active when the transfer window opens next month.

The club's chief executive has quashed speculation that Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez would not have any money to spend to new players in January.

Parry said: "We will be active in the transfer market next month, as we always are.

"There has never been any suggestion of a ban, I don't know where that has come from.

"Our priority is to do as well as we can on the field, and, as always, we will be active."

Speculation has been rife about Liverpool's transfer policy for the past few weeks, ever since Benitez fell out with the club's owners over their refusal to plan in advance for next month's window.

Interest Grows In Ujfalusi

Tomas Ujfalusi's agent claims Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have shown an interest in the Fiorentina defender.

The Czech Republic international's contract with the Viola expires at the end of the season and a clutch of clubs are chasing the 29-year-old.

Ujfalusi is considering his future with the Serie A club and has previously intimated at a move to Spain next summer.

Sevilla, when coached by current Spurs boss Juande Ramos, had been long-time admirers of the former Hamburg centre-half.

According to Ujfalusi's agent Dalibor Lacina, the Uefa Cup holders are still keen, along with Premier League duo Liverpool and Spurs.

"Tomas is right, it is 50-50," Lacina told Sport when asked if the player would leave Fiorentina or sign a new contract.

"A lot of clubs are interested in him, we will decide in the summer.

"The clubs which have been questioning us about him are Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg, Tottenham and Sevilla."
But Lacina did not rule out Ujfalusi making a late decision to extend his time at Fiorentina, who he joined in 2004.

Lacina added: "Their captain Dario Dainelli extended his contract two weeks before its expiry and the same may happen in Tomas' case."

John Obi Mikel Went Down Like He Was Shot - Crouch

Peter Crouch, the Liverpool forward, has admitted he deserved to be sent off against Chelsea last night, but has criticised the role of John Obi Mikel in his dismissal.

Crouch was shown the red card for a two-footed challenge on Mikel during the second half of Liverpool’s 2-0 Carling Cup quarter-final defeat at Stamford Bridge.
The England striker verbally retorted to crowd abuse as he left the field and he admits he was frustrated. “Mikel came in with his studs up and that was in the back of my mind,” he said. “Then I thought there was another foul in there and obviously I’ve lost my head.

"There are no excuses for the tackle I made but if the referee had pulled the foul up when he should have done it wouldn’t have happened. A lot was going their way and I think frustration got the better of me.”

Crouch admits his challenge looked dangerous but says that he made only minimal contact with Mikel and he was unimpressed with the midfield player’s reaction. “What I’m thinking is if you go in on Frank Lampard or John Terry would they roll around like Obi Mikel did?” Crouch said. “I don’t think they would have done. Would someone like Carra [Jamie Carragher] have gone down like that? I think it’s safe to say that he wouldn’t.

“Foreign players have brought a lot to our game but that’s something you don’t want to see. I didn’t catch him but he’s gone down like he’s been shot.”

Liverpool were trailing to a deflected Lampard goal at the time of Crouch’s sending off in the 60th minute and the incident all but ended their hopes of getting back into the game.

Crouch concedes it was probably the defining moment of the game. “It’s frustrating because I thought we played OK as a team and obviously it was always going to be difficult from the moment I was sent off,” Crouch said.

Benitez Keen On New Deal

Rafa Benitez has revealed he would be open to extending his Liverpool contract following talks with owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

The Liverpool boss met the American duo on Sunday, following the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, to discuss the recent stand-off.

Benitez had been critical of the owners' lack of understanding of the transfer window, but is confident any problems have now been resolved.

And, having won the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League during his Anfield tenure, the Spaniard aims to win the Premier League and prolong his reign.

"I am quite at ease," Benitez told Sport newspaper. "I would like to fulfil my contract and extend it, if possible.

"My family has settled very well and, to me, the respect and appreciation of the public in England is incredible.

"We are already very close to winning the Premier League. We are now eight points ahead of what we had last year and we have made progress in the Champions League.

"We are in a good position, but others also invest, progress and evolve."

Benitez also played down his row with Gillett and Hicks, and revealed the level of support he had received from Liverpool fans across the globe.

He added: "It has been a little exaggerated. The Americans want the best for the club and so do I.

"The only thing they want is that we sit down and talk because there is a difference in language and a significant distance. I think there must be better lines of communication.

"I am calm. I am confident that things are going to settle and we will succeed.

"40,000 signatures on the internet supported me to continue at the Liverpool helm. The signatures came from Australia or from Asia. Many supporters of Liverpool around the world are supporting a coach who has won major titles for the club."