Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reds Winger Set For New Loan understands Liverpool are exploring the option of sending young winger Adam Hammill out on loan again next season.

Hammill has returned to Anfield after a season-long loan spell at Southampton and is waiting to find out what his future holds.

The 20-year-old struggled to show his true form at Southampton because of the upheaval at St Mary's including George Burley's departure to manage Scotland.

Hammill enjoyed a superb spell on loan at Dunfermline in 2007, helping the club reach the Scottish Cup final and his performances in Scotland won him many admirers.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is now exploring the option of loaning out the talented winger for another season as he continues his policy of farming out his best young players, so that they can gain experience before making the step up to the first team.

The news has alerted a number of clubs in England and Scotland as they prepare a move for the former England Under 19 international.

Championship new boys Swansea are thought to be interested in landing Hammill, having had Paul Anderson on loan from Liverpool last season and a move to Roberto Martinez's men could be an option.

Plymouth, Charlton, Preston, Wolves and QPR are all monitoring developments, while Aberdeen and Hibernian are ready to offer Hammill the chance to return to Scotland after he impressed against them while playing for Dunfermline.

Benitez is believed to be looking at the list of interested clubs before making a decision on Hammill's future.

Ablett Seeing Shades Of Kenny

Gary Ablett claims he can see shades of Kenny Dalglish in the way reserve striker Krisztian Nemeth plays football – but insists the youngster has a lot to learn before people can call him the King.

Despite the high praise, Ablett outlines several areas where the Hungarian must improve before he can establish himself as a first-teamer.

"It's probably a wrong comparison to make but I was lucky enough to play with Kenny during my first games at Liverpool and Krisztian reminds me a little bit of that in that he has great balance, can back into people and twist and turn," says Ablett.

"But he still has a lot to learn. His movement can improve. We keep telling the young players that even when they haven't got the ball they can be involved in the game and affect play.

"He doesn't score many with his left foot and that's something we are working on. It's the same with his head, but with his right foot he can find that yard of space in the box and get his shots in early without much backlift. Goalscoring comes naturally to him.

"We mustn't get carried away because he is just 19 years of age. Rafa will make the decision as to when and where Krisztian will get his chance and that will be the right decision."

While stressing the importance of not getting carried away, the interview sees Ablett reveal his belief that Nemeth has the right mentality to succeed in England.

"The fact he came over with some of his countrymen (Peter Gulacsi and Andras Simon) might have helped but he is a little older and decided to get a place on his own in the city centre. I think he brought his girlfriend over too," he says.

"His English is improving and he seems to be a very level-headed young man."

Reds Set To Be Number One In Europe

Liverpool are on course to be Europe's number one ranked team according to UEFA for the first time since 1985.

The basis for the UEFA rankings is the performance of teams in the European Cups during a five-year period.

While the Reds currently stand third behind AC Milan and Chelsea, the projected figures for 2009 put Merseyside's finest on top.

That's because over the last four years – winning the Champions League in 2005, losing in the final in 2007 and reaching the semis last term – the Reds have accrued more points than any other team (Liverpool 104.288; AC Milan 103.006; Chelsea 102.284).

Therefore, a decent European campaign in 2008-09 would see Rafa Benitez's side overtake AC Milan and Chelsea to take top spot.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's recent form in the Champions League also means they will go into the qualifiers for next season's competition as number one seeds when the draw is made in July.

Kuyt And Babel Going To Euro 2008

Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel will both feature in Euro 2008 after being named in Marco van Basten's final Dutch squad.

Kuyt was dropped from the national set up after a blip in form earlier this year but has won his place back in style with a string of priceless Champions League goals for Liverpool.

More recently, the 27-year-old found the net at the weekend in Holland's 3-0 win over Andriy Voronin's Ukraine.

He'll now travel to Austria and Switzerland alongside Babel and five other Premier League stars.

The 23-man squad in full is: Goalkeepers: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Henk Timmer (Feyenoord). Defenders: Wilfred Bouma (Aston Villa), Tim de Cler (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Ajax), Joris Mathijsen (HSV Hamburg), Mario Melchiot (Wigan Athletic), Andre Ooijer (Blackburn Rovers). Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Orlando Engelaar (FC Twente Enschede), Nigel de Jong (HSV Hamburg), Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV Hamburg), Demy de Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar). Strikers: Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic), Arjen Robben (Real Madrid).

Xabi Alonso Set For Move To Juventus

Xabi Alonso appears ready to accept that his Liverpool days are numbered – with Juventus hoping to close in on his signature this week.

Although Alonso’s agent insists that a decision won’t be made until after Euro 2008, he is due to meet officials from the Serie A club today with a view to discussing terms for the 26-year-old midfielder.

The sticking point in the deal remains the value of the Spain international, who is currently preparing for the European Championships with his country.

Liverpool have told Juventus that they must raise £16m for Alonso, who cost £10.5m when Rafael Benitez brought him from Real Sociedad in 2004.

Representatives of the Italian club have already met Anfield officials to outline their intention to prise the playmaker away, but they don’t want to fork out more than £14m for him.

Juve president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli said: “We can’t deny that we’re interested, but there’s always the problem of getting value for money.

“Managing director Jean-Claude Blanc is working on this and on other possibilities.”

Although Liverpool are in no rush to sell and Alonso has perviously revealed he is happy to stay, he is beginning to come to terms with his future lying away from Anfield.

Agent Inaki Ibanez said: “I have a clear idea, namely Liverpool would like to sell. But we must first speak with Rafa Benitez.

“We'll decide after the European Championships.”

Alonso struggled to produce his best form last season, when he was sidelined with a broken foot then used in a more withdrawn role behind Benitez’s attacking quartet.

With Javier Mascherano a fixture in the holding midfield position and Benitez pursuing Gareth Barry, there is no guarantee of Alonso being a first team regular if he does remain on Merseyside.

Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri is keen to pair him alongside his former Liverpool team-mate Momo Sissoko when the Turin side kick off next season.

Liverpool Fail In £5m Ramsey Offer

Cardiff City have rejected an offer from Liverpool for Aaron Ramsey, the 17-year-old midfielder who is also on Manchester United's radar. It is understood that the offer, believed to be worth close to £5m, were turned down because Cardiff are seeking a more substantial sum up front, with the Championship club reluctant to agree a deal in which the bulk of the fee is linked closely to the teenager's development.

Liverpool are expected to return with an improved offer but there is likely to be competition from a number of other Premier League clubs, including Everton, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.

United are also continuing to monitor the situation, although the lack of first-team opportunities at Old Trafford, and at Arsenal and Liverpool for that matter, is likely to be uppermost in Ramsey's mind when he makes a decision.

John Toshack, the Wales manager, voiced similar concerns this week when he spoke about the number of promising teenagers who have moved to Premier League clubs and struggled to fulfil their potential because of the quality of players in front of them. One solution would be for Ramsey to spend a season on loan at a Championship club, an agreement which could see him return to Ninian Park in August. There is certainly little chance of him starting next season as Cardiff's property, and the Welsh club are resigned to losing their biggest asset.

Ever since Ramsey made his debut in April last year interest in the Caerphilly-born midfielder has snowballed. Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has spoken to his Cardiff counterpart, Dave Jones, about Ramsey, and Harry Redknapp was hugely impressed with the teenager's performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Barnsley last month. Ramsey then came on as a substitute in the Cup final against Redknapp's Portsmouth at Wembley this month.

Ramsey has two years remaining on his Cardiff contract but such is the sense of inevitability surrounding his departure that there has been no talk of extending his deal.

His progress at Ninian Park - he made 21 appearances for Cardiff last season - has been recognised at international level, with Toshack calling him into the Wales squad for this week's friendlies in Iceland and Holland.