Monday, May 26, 2008

Reds Renew Bentley Bid

Liverpool have revived their interest in Blackburn winger David Bentley by way of a ₤12 million bid, according to reports.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has been keeping a close eye on the 23-year-old over the past couple of seasons, as he seeks to increase his wide options over the summer.

The former Arsenal man has been heavily tipped to move to Anfield in recent months, having become increasingly unsettled following Blackburn’s failure to qualify for Europe.

Rovers boss Mark Hughes has rebuffed all interest so far and is desperate to hang onto Bentley, whose link-up with Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz provided most of the club’s highlights this season.

But Benitez has swooped with a ₤12 million offer in an attempt to prise the England international away from Ewood Park, although Rovers reportedly will not consider anything under ₤15 million.

Bentley could replace fellow ex-Gunner Jermaine Pennant, who may leave Merseyside after just two seasons.

The former Birmingham City winger was offered to Aston Villa as part of Liverpool’s bid for Gareth Barry, while Newcastle have shown interest in the 25-year-old.

Rafael Benitez: League Is Not Vital For Liverpool

The dust may have only just settled on the Premier League season, but Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is already busy playing down his side's chances of winning it next year and fighting off speculation over the future of his best player.

Benitez feels the League is harder to win now than when he joined Liverpool in 2004, and knows that his task will be much harder if reports last night that linked Fernando Torres with a move to Chelsea turn out to be than speculation. Chelsea were last night reported to have made Torres their main transfer target and are prepared to offer up to £50 million.

"There is a desire among certain people at Liverpool to sell at a right price," said a Chelsea insider. "It is just a case of whether they have the nerve to incur the wrath of the Liverpool fans."

The relationship between American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett has left Benitez convinced the club is unable to match the spending power of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in the transfer market.

"It's more difficult because after two years of Chelsea winning the league and spending big money, United needed to do the same," Benitez said. "They started spending big money and Arsenal were also spending big money. We will try to do our best and the key for me is to not talk about the title."

Benitez has warned that teams below Liverpool are spending big money in a bid to qualify for the Champions League. "You see Aston Villa, Newcastle, West Ham and Everton spending money and having strong teams. It's not easy to be in the top four and be contenders, but because we have a young squad we can try again."

Dossena Deal Proving Complicated For Reds

Liverpool's hopes of a straightforward deal for Udinsese defender Andrea Dossena appear to have been scuppered.

The Reds were expected to seal an €8 million deal for the Italian full back Dossena, but the latest word is that the 26-year-old is leaning towards staying Italy, with Fiorentina and Juventus now firmly in the frame.

Udinese sport director Pietro Leonardi admitted that talks with Liverpool are already well underway, but seemed to suggest that a conclusion is still some way off.

"We have not reached an agreement yet with the English club," said Leonardi.

"We are negotiating, but we will continue talking again next week.

Dossena enjoyed an excellent season for the Zebrette, playing 34 games, scoring two goals, and helping the club qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Riise Headed for Spain?

Liverpool full back John Arne Riise could be on his way to Spain following news that Atletico Madrid and Villareal have both joined the chase to sign the Norwegian. Schalke and Newcastle are also circling.

Riise, 27, who signed for Liverpool from Monaco in 2001, has become surplus to requirements at Anfield and is widely expected to leave the club this summer.

The Norwegian, who is one of the longest serving players at Anfield, has had a mixed season this year. The arrival of Fabio Aurelio has increased the competition for places in the side and Riise has not only lost his place in the starting line up but has also been forced to play out of position in midfield at times this season.

Riise, who made a name for himself as a defender with a ferocious shot has also seen his goals dry up this season.

Indeed the goal he will be most remembered for will be the last minute own goal he conceded against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final which turned the tie in Chelsea’s favour.

With manager Rafael Benitez keen to raise funds in order to embark on a summer spending spree it is thought that Riise is one of the players the Liverpool manager is more than willing to sell in order to free up some funds.

This is something that the player himself has acknowledged recently as he has reportedly told the press he is aware he may have to leave Liverpool in order to find regular first team football.

Riise has reportedly already rejected a move to Newcastle and there have also been rumours that Juventus are interested in signing the Norwegian, although this seems unlikely.

Far more credible are recent reports that the German side Schalke 04 are interested in the defender as well as Atletico Madrid and Villareal.

Whilst it is unclear where he will end up what does seem apparent is that his days at Anfield are all but over.

Rafa Seeks The Perfect Blend

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is keen to identify the correct players to complement the foundations of his side.

The Reds finished a second successive season empty-handed as they flirted with mounting a challenge for the title in the Premier League and departed the UEFA Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Benitez has already outlined his plans to spend this summer, and he has now stressed the importance of signing individuals who will add balance to his current squad.

"We have the spine for next season and now we need to add players in certain positions," he told the club's official website.

"It's really important to sign the right players with the right mentality - a winning mentality. You want players who are desperate to come here and win trophies."

Benitez is already looking to the next campaign, but admits he has learnt a great deal about his players after the disappointment of the 2007/08 season.

The Spaniard added: "You can always learn when you win, but you always learn more when you lose. In a difficult year you can see the character of the players.

"You can also see the character of all the staff and people around. You can see if they have the winning mentality that we want."