Monday, June 02, 2008

Crouch Ponders Anfield Exit

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has admitted that his future may lie elsewhere as he pursues regular first-team football.

Though his goal-to-game ratio for England and Liverpool is impressive, the 27-year old continually found himself out-of-favour at Anfield and was handed just nine starts in the league last season.

Crouch’s former club of Portsmouth, along with Manchester City, have been linked with a move for the six-foot seven-inch striker this summer, with both clubs able to offer more certainties with regards to his place within the starting eleven.

With one eye on his place in Fabio Capello’s international set-up, Crouch met with Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez to clarify his position.

"I have spoken to Rafa. I have to play more games if I want to stay in the England set-up," he told the Daily Star Sunday.

"I didn't play enough last season, that's for sure. I need to play more at club level to be able to play at international level. You have got to be noticed.

"I need to play more games. I didn't get enough and it's something I have to look out for, for next season."

Should The Reds decide to move the forward on in the coming weeks, they are likely to request a fee of around £12 million.

Blanc Slams Door On Liverpool's Riise

Juventus chief executive, Jean Claude Blanc, has revealed the club will not be signing a left-back and thus has closed the door on Liverpool’s John Arne Riise.

The Norwegian left-back was linked with a move to the Bianconeri who are currently reinforcing their squad ahead of their Champions League return.

Riise’s future at Anfield is looking in doubt and reports in Italy claimed that Juve were paying close attention to the stopper.

However, the Bianconeri have revealed that they have no intention of signing a left-back.

“I can confirm that we will keep the left hand side of our defence as it is,” said Blanc.

“Cristian Molinaro and Paolo De Ceglie will be competing for the left-back place as they are two players who we have plenty of faith in.

“We want to show everyone that we can go far with our own home-grown players.”

The Bianconeri have already captured Albin Ekdal as well as Amauri and they are currently in talks over Xabi Alonso’s availability from the Reds.

Juventus president, Giovanni Cobboli Gigli, has in the past stated his intentions to focus on youth and it seems as if his philosophy is being adhered to by his directors.

Relief For Liverpool As Ryan Babel Injury Not As Bad As First Feared

Liverpool winger Ryan Babel should be fit in time for the start of the new Premier League season after it was revealed his ankle injury could take as little as five weeks to heal.

The 21-year-old was ruled out of Holland's Euro 2008 campaign after tearing ligaments in training on Saturday, but national team coach Marco van Basten insists he should be able to take his place in Rafael Benitez's side when they kick off the new season in August.

"He needs five to seven weeks to recover," Van Basten said of the former Ajax youngster.

"He was on the other end of the field when he turned around. He told me that he heard something snap, and others heard it too.

"He went to a hospital and there it became clear he had torn a muscle."

Liverpool's next confirmed match is a friendly away to Villarreal on July 30, by which time, if the Holland coach's assessment is right, Babel should be back in training.

Gerrard: I'll Play Anywhere For England

Steven Gerrard has admitted he is happy to adapt to playing in different positions across midfield for both club and country.

Under Fabio Capello's management with England, the Reds skipper has been utilised in several different roles. Even though central midfield is his preferred and most natural position, Gerrard said he will play anywhere to suit the team.

"That is not a concern," he added. "It is something I am quite used to at club level. I feel as if I am mature enough and experienced enough to adapt to different roles.

"You know my favourite role. I don't have to go on record and say it again.

"But, as long as I am in that starting XI and part of this England team, because I believe we will improve to get to where we want to get, I don't mind where I play.

"I think football has changed. In this day and age you can't afford to be selfish and think about yourself and spit your dummy out of the pram if you are not in your favourite position.

"You have got to adapt and be a team player and that's what I think I am. I have mentally accepted that - about six years ago."

The Liverpool captain also added he is enjoying the experience of playing under Capello for England, and said the former Real Madrid boss expects every player to perform to their highest level.

"Every single player has got things to prove personally and also as a team," said Gerrard. "We have under-achieved. All the staff are scrutinising us and looking at our strengths and weaknesses.

"Every time we train and every time there is an opportunity to meet up and play these games, you've got come to try and impress to stay involved.

"I am sure this manager will be ruthless if you don't meet the standards he wants. It is as simple as that.

"Training has been intense and, if you don't play the way Mr Capello wants you to play, or buy into his system, then I think it's 'goodbye' for you.

"The lads are learning how the manager wants us to play and how he wants the team set-up and he is also telling people individually what he expects from them."

Gerrard played the full 90 minutes in England's friendly 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday night and Peter Crouch joined him for the second half.

Juve Take Fresh Alonso Step

Juventus will resume negotiations with the agent of Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso on Tuesday, reports in Italy are claiming.

Preliminary talks took pace last Wednesday when sporting director Alessio Secco and director general Jean-Claude Blanc spent four hours with Inaki Ibanez.

Stories emanating from Turin claim that the Bianconeri offered the Spanish international a four-year contract worth £2.5m a campaign.

Although the representative is thought to be happy with the length of contract offered, it is believed that he’s attempting to net his client a salary which is a little closer to the £3m mark.

Juventus were hoping to wrap up the deal as soon as possible, but they may have to be patient to get their man.

Alonso seems to be in no rush to sort out his future before Euro 2008, while the Turin giants still need to convince Liverpool to sell.

Blanc recently flew to the English city for talks with boss Rafael Benitez in an attempt to reach an agreement over a transfer fee.

Juventus will reportedly offer up to £12m, while the Reds would like £18m.

However, the Alonso deal could also hinge on whether the Premiership giants can get in an adequate replacement after an initial bid for Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry was rejected.

Hyppia: Torres Is A Beast

Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia says that he was amazed by the impact that Fernando Torres had in his first year, and suggested that his willingness -eagerness even- to get 'stuck in' meant that he had absolutely no problem adapting to the rigours of the Premier League.

The former Atletico Madrid man has re-established himself as one of the hottest pieces of property in world football, after a stunning debut season at Anfield that saw him net 33 goals in all competitions.

"It is quite unbelievable that he scored so many goals in his first season because it's not easy to come to the Premier League and be successful right away," said the big Finnish defender

"I knew that he was a quality player, but what has surprised me is that he was very physical. I couldn't believe how much he liked to get involved when he first joined.

"He is very strong and doesn't avoid any contact, not even in training with his mates at Liverpool. In fact, he's one of the players who kicks me always.

"I tried to prepare him for the strength in the Premier League as much as possible but I think he always had it in him - he's a bit of a hard man.

"Torres is always a handful as his opponents at Euro 2008 will soon discover."

Torres is currently preparing for Spain's Euro 2008 campaign, which will see them lock horns with the Greece, Russia and Sweden in what should be a very competitive group.