Monday, May 19, 2008

Liverpool To Offer Pair For Barry?

Liverpool could be set to offer two players to Aston Villa in exchange for the Villans' coveted captain, Gareth Barry.

According to the Daily Mirror, Liverpool are willing to exchange Peter Crouch and goalkeeper Scott Carson in exchange for Aston Villa's England midfielder Gareth Barry.

Rafa Benitez has been upfront about his desire to take Barry to Anfield, where he would link up with his good friend Steven Gerrard, the Reds' captain.

The player-exchange deal is apparently seen by Benitez as a hopefully more attractive offer than the £10 million bid for Barry which Liverpool had rejected last month.

However, Villa manager Martin O'Neill has been adamant when talking about his wish to keep Barry at Villa Park, and he seems in highly determined mood on the subject.

On the other hand, both ex-Villan Crouch, and Carson - the keeper on loan to Villa from Liverpool - have been linked with moves to the West Midlands club in recent weeks.

But are both together a big enough lure to tempt O'Neill into reluctantly parting with Barry?

Mascherano: Next Season Will Be Different

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano told LFC Magazine that the Reds will not be also-rans again next season.

League and the Champions League this year, but the Argentine had stated that there will be no such failures in 2008-09.

He said, "Next season will be very, very different.”Next season teams will have to believe in our challenge.

"We have the supporters of a champion team, we have a team of potential champions and who all believe in the same things.

"How can we not achieve our dreams when that is true? We will be back in August more hungry for silverware than ever."

As one of the more diminutive midfielders in the league, Mascherano went on to talk about his unique physical attributes.

"I am not as tall as Steven (Gerrard) or even as tall as any of the players that I play against. So I need to be brave and prove for every minute of every game that I have a big heart," he said.

"I would say that in my position, because of my size, I have to try twice as hard as the opposition players I am playing against.

"I am the smallest player in the Liverpool team. I am maybe one of the smallest central midfielders in the country and people will, I am sure, look at me before we play them and think that they will be able to dominate me physically.

"I think that in the course of my time at Liverpool I have proved that they can't. I won't let them."

To this end, the Reds fans have nicknamed him 'Monster Masch'.

"I meet supporters and they tell me this. It makes me happy because it tells me I made the right decision coming to England and coming to Liverpool," he beamed.

"It shows I am doing the things I need to and doing them right."

The 23-year-old concluded by stating that he was proud to be at Anfield and felt that he was settling in nicely.

"It is a matter of great pride for me to represent the famous name of Liverpool," he emphasised.

"I want to play my part in making the club even more successful. I want to ensure this is the last season without a trophy for us for a long time.

"We had a season that had many highlights, but also left us with a feeling that maybe we could have achieved more.

"I would say of course that I could be better. I am not finished as a player and I look at the other boys in this team and try to learn little things from them.

"But I have definitely had a more consistent season this year than I had in the six months after I first arrived."

Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher Refuses To Rethink Decision Of Retiring From International Fold

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has insisted that he wont be reconsidering his decision to retire from the national squad.

It was speculated that new England boss Fabio Capello was hoping to convince the defender to rethink his decision of retiring.

However the 30-year old claimed that he will be standing by his decision no wont be going back to the international fold.

"I said when I stepped away from playing for England that it would help my fitness to keep myself right for Liverpool, and this proves I made the right decision," Carragher told the Sunday Mirror.

"I feel I've benefited from regular rests during international weeks and it has helped with little knocks and niggles clearing up.

"My only disappointment was that Stevie and I didn't have another 90 minutes to add to the total by playing in the Champions League Final as well!"

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard Requests Full Backing For Rafael Benitez In Transfer Market

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard asked the owners of the club to give full support to boss Rafael Benitez in the transfer market this summer, so that quality players can be brought in, to aid the Reds in challenging for the title next season.

The English international claimed that he was disappointed for not having made it to the top spot this season.

However Gerrard insisted that with the bringing in of the right players to the squad during the summer would help them in lifting silverware next season.

"It hurts more and more when we get to November or December every season and have to accept we're out of the title race again," he said.

"Every year seems to be following the same routine. The manager asks for more support in the transfer market in January, while we're all saying to ourselves this should have happened the previous summer.

"The time to act is now, not in January when we're already too far behind. Look at Chelsea. A day after they've lost the league, what do they do? They spend £16 million on a full-back.

"That's the kind of ruthless approach to transfers the Liverpool fans and players want to see, making the signings the manager wants.

"The manager knows where we need to strengthen and the players and fans have faith in Rafa — but he needs the backing to act on his plans.

"There's no point us waiting all summer again and then possibly missing out on the players we need.

"If we do that we'll just end up going through the same experience as previous years.

"The only way to achieve this is to give the manager the kind of backing which gives us a chance. You only get better when you improve the quality in the squad.

"Everyone can see we've got a lot of very good players here. I honestly don't believe we're that far off if we can make two or three top-class additions.

"The spine of the side is definitely there. But we know United and Chelsea are going to go out and spend millions again this summer.

"You can see what Fernando Torres added to our team this season. He made a big difference.

"No one is saying we should be spending that kind of money on every player we sign, but if we're going to mount a serious challenge for the title we have to bring in proven quality.

"I'm not just talking or thinking as a player here, but as a fan. This isn't just about what I feel, but about what the fans, the players and everyone who loves the club wants.

"Our supporters deserve more of a challenge than we've put up — but they also need to feel we've a realistic chance of competing.

"Like all of us, they'll be watching what's happening at the club over the summer very carefully.

"They'll be reading the papers every day to find out what's going on, and desperate to feel positive about the future.

"I've always seen summer as a really important period because that's when all the planning gets done.

"League titles aren't just won on the pitch from one week to the next, they're won by managers planning ahead and assembling squads which can cope with the demands of English and European football.

"We have to be doing everything in our power over the next few weeks to prevent another disappointing season."

He added: "I've won every major honour at Liverpool except one. It hurts more and more not only to have never won the league, but to have never really gone close.

"It would be bad enough if we only narrowly missed out on the title, but we've never got to March or April recently and thought we were in contention.

"That's what we want more than anything at Anfield, but we'll only achieve that when everyone is working together for the same goal.

"I watched United last week and as a Liverpool fan it killed me to see them win the league again.

"They deserved to win it and I have the utmost respect for their achievement, but we've got to do everything we can to get it off them next season."

Four Reds In Spain Squad But No Place For Reds Target

Luis Aragonés has named four Liverpool players in his final 23-man squad for this summer’s European Championships, to be held in Austria and Switzerland.

Pepe Reina, Álvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres are all involved.

Spain will play a friendly against Peru on May 31st, but their Euro 2008 fixtures get underway on June 10th against Russia in Innsbruck. Four days later at the same venue they play Sweden before ending their group games with a match against Greece on June 16th in Salzburg.

The decision to omit some star names, including Real’s Raul, whilst including the uncapped Santiago Cazorla and Sergio García has raised eyebrows, but Aragonés was clear that he would make the decisions he felt were right: “I’m the one, for better or worse, who has to choose and I have chosen.” Álvaro Arbeloa has only played around 15 minutes for Spain too.

Aragonés caused upset at Espanyol by not picking any of their players in his squad, including Liverpool-linked winger Albert Riera. DiarioSport reported earlier this week that Riera was a Liverpool target with Sebastian Leto part of the deal. They suggested Liverpool had made an offer of around £8m with Espanyol holding out for £12m. Fiorentina were also said to be interested, but Liverpool may be helped thanks to Espanyol’s sporting director being former Liverpool head scout and long-time friend of Rafa’s Paco Herrera.

The inclusion of Liverpool’s young Argentinean midfielder Leto in the deal would be on a loan basis. Leto has suffered from passport problems this season and hasn’t played for the first team since October. Spanish government rules on work permits are different to British rules so he should have no problems playing in Spain whilst waiting for a resolution to the issue.

Rafa Eyes Taylor As Three Keepers Set To Leave Liverpool

Premier League survivors Fulham have joined the race to sign Scott Carson, who is set to be one of three goalkeepers to leave Liverpool this summer.

Anfield manager Rafa Benitez will try to sign Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor as back-up for Pepe Reina.

Reina's current deputy, Charles Itandje, has been told he will be allowed to find another club, while young prospect David Martin will go out on loan next season to gain experience.

Liverpool's £10 million asking price for Carson has been rebuffed by Aston Villa, where the England goalkeeper has spent the past year on loan.

But Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed would be interested at a more realistic price, with both his current goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Antti Niemi in their thirties.

Carson does not want to spend next season at Anfield as Reina's deputy. Martin is seen by Benitez as a goalkeeper of the future, but needs regular first-team matches.

Championship side Watford, who missed out on promotion after losing 4-1 in the playoffs at Hull on Wednesday night, lead the chase.

Frenchman Itandje has been told to find a new club in the summer after a season of disaster at Anfield.

He kept only one clean sheet in seven games after signing from Lens.