Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Degen Still Pinching Himself Over Liverpool Move

New Liverpool signing Philipp Degen has vowed to do whatever it takes to make the grade at Anfield.

The 25-year-old Swiss international, who arrived on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund, will be in direct competition with Steve Finnan and Alvaro Arbeloa for a place in the Reds' starting XI next term, which he acknowledges is a daunting prospect.

"All of my team-mates have congratulated me [about Liverpool]," he told Swiss reporters.

"My team-mates know the business. They know what this transfer means.

"Only in the last week were the details clarified. I am glad now everything is clear.

"I made the change but it's not easy. I was in Dortmund for three wonderful years.

"My playing style suits The Premier League. It is played moving forward. The move is a challenge for me. Liverpool are not just any club.

"They play every year for the championship and the Champions League. It is clear to me that it's not easy to get through [to the team]. All the positions are two or three occupied at Liverpool."

Ironically, Degen could be in line for one of the biggest disappointments of his career, if Swiss team manager Kobi Kuhn deems that he has not recovered from injury sufficiently to be part of his final Euro 2008 squad.

"On Wednesday, Kobi Kuhn chooses 23 players," he added. "I know I was injured for a long time and if the coach cuts me, I will accept this.

"Of course, I hope, however, that I am included.

"I can only say that I feel ready. I feel nothing in training and can easily join in all the exercises. I am a man who never gives up."

Gareth Barry's Mentor Urges Villa Star To Join Liverpool

Gareth Barry has been urged to quit Aston Villa and join Liverpool by the coach who first discovered him more than 15 years ago.

Les Rogers unearthed Hastings-born Barry at Brighton’s Centre of Excellence in the early 1990s before the midfielder made the switch to Villa.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez remains keen to sign the 27-year-old despite having an initial £10million bid rejected and being involved in a war of words with his Villa counterpart Martin O’Neill.

O’Neill is desperate to hold onto his captain and build a team capable of breaking into the top four.

But Rogers believes the chance to join the Reds is too big an opportunity for Barry to turn down.

He said: “Martin O’Neill has been a brilliant manager for Gareth and Villa have really looked after him. He would miss playing at Aston Villa.

“But the opportunity to move to a top four club is too great. I think Gareth should go. How often will this opportunity come around?

“He’s been loyal to Villa and has had previous opportunities to leave but now he will be torn. Gareth has done a tremendous job with Villa but the chance to go to Liverpool is too big an opportunity not to take.

“If Gareth didn’t go, it would end up being a ’what if’ scenario. He might end up having a drop in form and regret his decision to stay.

“He wants to hold onto his England place, which I know he values a lot, and now that he is back in the international team I think it’s the right time for him to move.

Barry is unlikely to make any decision on his future until after England’s friendly internationals with the United States on Wednesday and Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday.

Dossena Keen To Join 'Famous' Reds

Udinese full-back Andrea Dossena has suggested he would be interested in joining Liverpool, who have been linked with an £8million bid for him.

The Italian is thought to be a target for Reds boss Rafa Benitez, with reports claiming a deal is in the pipeline.

Fiorentina and Juventus both want to keep Dossena in Serie A, but Liverpool are favourites to capture the left-back.

And Dossena admits the Reds' European pedigree makes a move to Anfield a tempting proposition as he considers his future.

"Liverpool are a famous team and it's good to be mentioned with them," said Dossena in The Sun. "I want to play in the Champions League and Liverpool are a side who have won it and reach the late stages often.

"They are one of the famous names in Europe - comparable with the biggest teams in Italy.

"In England I think Liverpool are Manchester United's equal - they can rival them."

Rick Parry Issues Rafael Benitez Title Warning

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has called for manager Rafael Benitez to close the gap on the teams who finished above the Merseyside club in this season's Premier League.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Parry said: "We have to be real contenders.

While Benitez will be pleased with the club official's desire to build, the Spaniard will be hoping Parry can persuade the club's American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks to provide funds for transfer market.

Hicks will need to be persuaded that Parry can deliver the high-profile targets to Anfield, after blaming the chief executive's lack of clear communication in the failure to land some big name signings.

One message that will have been received by Benitez is the importance of the Premier League, as Liverpool have not finished top of the league table since 1990, something which rankles within the club's hierarchy and fanbase.

Meanwhile, Peter Crouch, who is thought to be one of the player Benitez is prepared to allow to leave Anfield this year as the manager seeks to raise funds for new players, has decided to see out the final year of his contract at Liverpool.

The England striker, who will be able to leave for free next year, has been shocked by the £15 million price-tag put on him.

The Star reports a source close to Crouch as saying: "Peter's been treated appallingly by Benitez.

"First there's been the lack of games, then Benitez claiming Peter had been offered a new contract.

"Now comes this £15 million price-tag, which is ridiculous. The best option is to see out his last year at Liverpool and then go for nothing."

Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry: “We Have The Nucleus Of A Very Good Team”

Chief executive Rick Parry has voiced his feelings that the Reds are a brilliant side, and claimed that certain changes are necessary in the squad if they are to lay their hands on the Premier League title in the coming season.

The Reds, who at one point had a huge gap of 21 points with the Premiership champions Manchester United in the 2006/07 campaign, managed to reduce it to 11 points by the end of the season.

Parry claimed that with some improvements to the current squad during the summer, it will definitely put the Reds well in the race for the title when the season resumes.

Parry said: "We have to look back, learn and build for next season when the Premier League title will again be a priority target.

"We said back in February that despite the off field issues we needed to focus on a busy and important game schedule.

"The players did this and we qualified for next season's Champions League with games to spare.

"As ever, we now begin to concentrate on further improving the squad for next year. We have to be real contenders.

"The points gap has narrowed but it's still not enough.

"We have the nucleus of a very good team and now we must build on that during the summer break."