Friday, May 30, 2008

Liverpool's Riera Bid Rejected

Espanyol have rejected Liverpool’s £9.5m (€12m) bid for Spanish international midfielder Albert Ortega Riera, according to reports.

The left-sided midfielder has expressed his desire to join a bigger club this summer, having impressed for the The Periquitos this season, breaking into the Spain squad and scoring a spectacular debut goal against Denmark in October.

Having drawn plaudits during a loan spell with Manchester City in 2006, the 26-year old is not short of Premiership suitors and Liverpool will have to almost double their bid if they are to meet Espanyol president Daniel Sanchez Libre’s £18.5 million valuation.

The Merseysiders have time to mull over an improved bid given Riera’s omission from Spain’s Euro 2008 squad, a factor that served only to heighten the midfielder’s growing frustration in Barcelona.

Though he along with teammates Luis Garcia and Raul Tamudo have all featured prominently for Luis Aragones, most recently in the friendly win over Italy in March, Riera feels that Espanyol’s poor second-half to the season has cost the trio their international places.

"I knew there could be surprises but I expected to be there," he said.

"But the second half of the season has cost us.

"Normally all three of us would be with the national team and now none of us are," he said.

"It's disappointing but there is no point looking back now.

"I will rest this summer and start to think about next season."

Gillett & Hicks Show Their Priorities

Almost 16 months after George Gillett and Tom Hicks walked into Liverpool Football Club promising to have “a spade in the ground within 60 days”, instead the only construction involving Liverpool FC involves the opening of a brand new megastore in the new Liverpool One shopping centre.

The new shop, the biggest in Europe, is once again evidence of where the American owners’ priorities lie. If their promises about the new stadium had been met we’d have been seeing photos of the new stadium on Stanley Park being constructed, instead we’ve seen three proposed plans, lots of wasted money on planning, embarrassing backtracking on one design, cost-cutting to another design, and no further along with planning for the increased capacity. Rather than the new stadium being well on it’s way to be being built, instead we’re left still hearing about talks of groundshares with Everton.

Fans group SOS (Spirit of Shankly) have been urging Liverpool fans not to purchase official club merchandise for as long as Hicks and Gillett are at the helm. They have placed debt onto our football club and now expect us to repay that debt for them, against their promises and our wishes.

Whatever the marketing blurb says we know that paradise isn’t a place where Manchester United are league and European Champions and look like investing significantly this summer from a position of strength. We know paradise isn’t inertia; two owners desperate to wring every last penny over their abortive eighteen months in charge of the football club. We know paradise isn’t being lied to again and again. It isn’t Rick Parry.

Supporting this football club isn’t buying into a franchise; it’s committing yourself to shared values and aspirations. It’s a necessity of modern football that this collective identity is taken and sold back to us. However that doesn’t mean we should accept it when those shared values and aspirations aren’t simply being ignored but are being ridden roughshod over by those who stand to gain from our support.

We’ve asked you to withhold that support wherever possible and we ask you to do so again. We’ve asked you to spread this word around and we ask you to do so again. We’ve asked each and every one of you to consider every pound that goes into the football club as being a pound which goes towards us paying off a debt which is not ours, which has not been instituted for the benefit of the football club but for the two greedy individuals who hold our potential back, and work out whether or not that pound is worth spending.

The fight has dragged on but that doesn’t make it any less worth fighting and it doesn’t make it any less urgent. Every day that passes damages our club and we’re looking for new fronts to open, to re-emphasise there is no custodianship here, no integrity, no honesty, no dignity. Nothing that makes LFC fans proud.

Next week we’re hoping to start sending membership packs out, we’re hoping to launch the online membership. Within our membership packs is a badge. The badge we send out isn’t just a badge, isn’t a family crest but it is a simple statement - that the wearer will not accept our shared values being destroyed, that the wearer will fight against this now, and will ensure that after this fight has been won the next custodians will be held to account.

We know nothing is impossible; that’s why we’re here: an organisation created from the ground up, energised by Liverpool supporters who will not watch what they believe in be eroded by lies and ongoing incompetence. A democratic organisation which has and will continue to speak for the collective, speak for the shared values and aspirations and will speak out as the erosion takes place. We still need your energy and your support; we shall always need it if we are to fulfil what we said we would. We can only come together and hold the club to account for years to come if we do stand together as a massed force of Liverpool supporters.

Paradise isn’t a shop. It’s being one red in a crowd, urging this football club towards success.

Fernando Torres To Get Liverpool Pay Rise

Liverpool are set to reward Fernando Torres for his outstanding debut season at Anfield by giving the striker an £800,000-a-year pay rise.

The Spain international, who moved to Merseyside from Atletico de Madrid last summer for £21.5 million, was promised when he signed for the club that his salary would be reviewed at the end of his first season in the Premier League.

Torres was so keen to join Liverpool that he actually accepted a drop in his wages, as well as waiving the £3m from the original transfer fee that Atletico owed him but, after scoring an incredible 33 goals in the last campaign, the powers that be at Anfield have agreed to increase his weekly wage packet from £74,000 to the £89,000 that he was paid at the Vicente Calderon.

That works out at an extra £4m for the player over the remaining five years of his contract, but it will be considered a small price to pay by manager Rafael Benitez if it helps to ward off interest from rivals Chelsea, who earlier this week signalled their desire to lure the highly-talented forward away to Stamford Bridge for the start of next season.

It has been reported that Torres' agent, Margarita Garay, was in Liverpool between May 14 and 16 to thrash out the new agreement, with a source close to the player saying: "There has been a meeting between Fernando's people and Liverpool.

"It was very amicable and set the tone for what should be a straightforward negotiation."

Aberdeen And Hibs Join Queue To Land Liverpool Winger Hammill

Hibs and Aberdeen are among the clubs set to fight it out for the loan signing of Liverpool winger Adam Hammill.

The 20-year-old had a successful four-month spell at Dunfermline last year, helping the Pars reach the Scottish Cup Final, and could now be set for a return north of the border this summer.

Hammill is back at Anfield after a season-long loan at Southampton but Reds boss Rafa Benitez is exploring the option of farming him out again to gain experience.

But the SPL duo are likely to face English competition from the likes of Swansea, Plymouth, Charlton, Preston and Wolves.

Meanwhile, Hibs striker Abdessalam Benjelloun appears set to quit the club this summer due to a lack of opportunities under manager Mixu Paatelainen.

Riise Wants Answer From Rafa

John Arne Riise wants Rafa Benitez to make a decision on his future at Liverpool before he returns to the club for pre-season training.

The left-back endured a frustrating past season after failing to hold on to a regular place in Benitez's starting line-up.

Benitez is also trying to increase competition in Riise's position, with the Reds in talks to sign Udinese defender Andrea Dossena.

Riise has already admitted he could be forced to move on after seven years at Anfield, with Aston Villa and Newcastle United having been linked with offers.

The 27-year-old is now calling for Benitez to make a decision on his Liverpool career before he returns to the club for pre-season in early July.

"My agent is set to find out what is happening," said the Norwegian.

"I have to get things sorted out before pre-season starts. Those who have played internationals are due to meet up on 7th July.

"I can't wait and wait for an answer. I have to get an answer now."

Rafael Benitez Faces Liverpool Midfield Crisis As Mascherano And Lucas To Head To Olympics

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is set to discuss with Javier Mascherano the Argentinian's possible participation in this summer's Olympic Games.

Mascherano, 23, looks likely to be named in the Argentina squad as an over-age player but the issue has caused consternation at Anfield with Benitez worried about his absence for the start of the new season.

Brazilian Lucas is also likely to be in Beijing with his country while Xabi Alonso seems set to leave the club for Juventus in a £16 million deal, leaving Benitez short of midfielders for the early stages of the campaign.

Benitez said: "This is a very difficult situation for us because we have Lucas, who is eligible through his age with Brazil, and Mascherano, who can play for Argentina as an over-age player, so I need to discuss his position with him. We will see what happens."

Alonso, 26, was reported to be in Turin holding talks with Juventus yesterday. The Basque midfielder has found first-team opportunities increasingly limited at Anfield and the club need to raise funds to make signings over the summer.

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."