Thursday, June 05, 2008

Redknapp Won't Pay Over The Odds

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp insists he will not be held to ransom over a summer move for Liverpool striker Peter Crouch.

Liverpool have slapped a £15million price tag on the England international, a fee which Portsmouth are refusing to pay.

Redknapp admits he is keen to bring the striker back for a second spell at Fratton Park, but will not pay over the odds in order to get his man.

Crouch is desperate to find regular first-team football, while Pompey are keen to boost their attacking options.

"I don't know if the avenue for Peter Crouch is shut or not," Redknapp told The News.

"If Liverpool are asking £15m for him it is certainly shut.

"I like Peter, but he belongs to Liverpool at the moment.

"If the price is right something could happen. If they wanted £10m it would certainly be more interesting. We do need another front man.

"At the moment we have David Nugent, Kanu and Jermain Defoe. We need another one up there, at least.

"You need to have at least four strikers. So I need another good one up there."

Redknapp confirmed that his search for new faces has been restricted to the domestic market so far, but refused to rule out the possibility of branching further afield in an attempt to find players of the required quality at a price the club can afford.

"We're looking around at a few things at the moment," he said.

"We are still making enquiries. They have mostly been at home in England, to be honest.

"We are seeing what is possible."

Liverpool Stay In Hunt For Ramsey

Liverpool are considering challenging for Aaron Ramsey’s signature after the Cardiff youngster’s move to Manchester United was thrown into doubt last night.

United announced they had snapped up for the 17-year-old winger before Cardiff issued a swift response denying a deal had been done. Arsenal joined the chase after City gave permission for £5million-rated Ramsey to open contract talks with Barclays Premier League clubs.

Liverpool are understood to have made an initial offer that fell short of that valuation, but are now considering a deal involving cash and a season’s loan of two youngsters, wide men Paul Anderson and Adam Hammill.

“We can confirm that on Tuesday, June 3, Cardiff City have received formal bids from three top Premier League teams for Aaron Ramsey and that he has been given permission to speak to two of these teams,” said a Cardiff statement. “One of these teams is Manchester United, as has been reported, although at this stage we can confirm that no deal has been done and the player has not yet agreed terms.

“More details will be made available as they are released to us.”

Ramsey, who has also interested Everton, has been labelled the next Ryan Giggs – something Manchester United were predictably only too keen to rush out when they released an official statement on their website.

It read: “Manchester United is delighted to announce it has agreed terms with Cardiff City for the transfer of Aaron Ramsey, subject to contract terms being agreed and the player passing a medical.

“Ramsey, who has attracted plenty of interest from the best clubs in England, is considered one of his country’s brightest prospects in recent years and follows in an impressive line of left-sided Welsh players, including Gareth Bale and his idol, Ryan Giggs.”

Cardiff manager Dave Jones said: “Whatever happens, the move must be right for Aaron.

“I am sure he will make the right decision.

“When it came to this deal, we have always maintained that, of course, it had to be right for Cardiff City, but it also had to be the right move to continue Aaron’s development.

“He will become one of the best Welsh international players in history, but it is up to the kid now.”

Caerphilly-born Ramsey came to prominence this season and played his part in the Welsh club’s run to last month’s FA Cup final, which they lost to Portsmouth.

He overtook John Toshack as Cardiff’s youngest-ever senior player when he came on aged just 16 years and 123 days against Hull the season before last.

He was called up by national coach Toshack for Wales’ friendlies in Iceland and Holland last week, but is still to win his first senior cap.

Andrea Dossena Flies In To Sign Liverpool FC Deal

Andrea Dossena was today undergoing a medical ahead of his expected £7m move to Liverpool.

The Italian left back is due to get married this weekend but such is his desire to sign for the Reds he has taken time out from his wedding preparations to fly to Merseyside to undergo his medical.

A fee in the region of £7m has been agreed with Udinese and terms have also been agreed with the player who was revealed as Rafa Benitez's number one target for the left back position last month.

The deal to sign him was held up by Udinese's initial demands with the Serie A club seeking up to £8m for the 26-year-old but a compromise has now been reached and, barring any last minute hitches, Dossena will become Liverpool's second signing of the summer following the arrival of Swiss right back Philipp Degen.

Dossena's agent Federico Pastorello admitted: "Everything is confirmed and we have already exchanged all the documents via fax. The deal is practically done."

Although Dossena has not made the Italian national squad for the forthcoming European Championships in Austria and Switzerland, he is considered one of the most improved players in Italy over the last 12 months and his impressive displays for Udinese led to him being awarded his first full cap in a friendly against South Africa last season.

His form alerted Benitez, who had made the recruitment of a top class left back one of his priorities for this summer.

With the out of favour John Arne Riise having been told he has no future at Anfield, the Reds boss is hopeful of recouping the majority of his outlay on Dossena by selling the Norwegian defender – with AS Roma and Newcastle leading the chase for his services.

Dossena only recently signed a new four and a half year deal with Udinese but that has not stopped Liverpool from coming to an agreement with his club and Benitez will be delighted that another piece of his summer rebuilding programme now looks set to fall into place.

Meanwhile, Fernando Torres is confident of being fit for Spain's start to Euro 2008 despite struggling with an ankle injury.

The 33-goal Reds marksman is hopeful of featuring in tonight's warm-up clash with the USA despite reports suggesting he could miss Spain's opening fixture against Russia on June 10.

Torres was replaced at half-time during last Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Peru in Huelva after complaining of an ankle problem.

"My ankle is fine. It was touch and go the other day, but it's gradually improving," he revealed.

"We'll see, but at the moment I think that I'll have no problems for the USA match. The coach decides, but the important thing is that we prepare for the Euros as well as possible."

Aston Villa Edge Ahead In Race To Sign Peter Crouch

Aston Villa are edging ahead in the race to sign Peter Crouch - as Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp officially declared his interest in the Liverpool forward.

The Midlanders are considering taking Crouch back to Villa Park in a deal that could finally pave the way for Gareth Barry’s departure to Anfield.

Martin O’Neill is reluctant to lose his captain but with Liverpool lining up their next bid, the Villa manager is believed to be willing to accept Crouch as part of a £15million package.

Crouch has previously been tipped to return to another of his former clubs, Portsmouth – but Redknapp admits he is being priced out in the current climate.

“I don’t know if the avenue for Peter Crouch is shut or not,” Redknapp said.

“If Liverpool are asking £15m for him it is certainly shut.

“I like Peter, but he belongs to Liverpool at the moment.

“If the price is right something could happen. If they wanted £10million it would certainly be more interesting. We do need another front man.

“At the moment we have David Nugent, Kanu and Jermain Defoe. We need another one up there, at least.

“You need to have at least four strikers. So I need another good one up there.”

Liverpool are willing to cash in on Crouch while he seeks the type of regular first-team football manager Rafael Benitez is unable to guarantee him.

Newcastle are also monitoring the situation as they have long and short-term doubts over all their current crop of forwards and he also saw his top target Dean Ashton committing his future to West Ham by signing a new five-year deal last night.

He is also hoping to raise the funds to bring John Arne Riise from his former club.

Also close to the Anfield exit is Xabi Alonso, whose agent has claimed further talks are planned between Liverpool and Juventus with a view to the Spain international moving to Serie A.

Ignacio Ibanez said: “Juventus have expressed an interest in acquiring Xabi. The clubs have spoken and they will speak again.

“But it’s down to Liverpool to decide whether they want to sell the player or not. From my part I am waiting to see what happens.”

Alonso was one of Benitez’s first signings when he took over as manager four years ago, arriving for £10.5million from Real Sociedad.

He will feature for Spain in Euro 2008 before finalising any potential move.

One piece of business that has been done between Liverpool and an Italian club is the signing of left-back Andrea Dossena.

His £7million move will be completed after he took his medical on Merseyside yesterday.

The player’s agent, Federico Pastorello, said: “Everything is confirmed and we have already exchanged documents via fax. The deal is practically done.”

Torres Unimpressed By Defenders

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has hailed Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho as the best defender in the Premier League.

The Spaniard enjoyed a superb first season in the Premier League but he believes his job was made easier by some poor defending.

He found most of the centre-backs he came across to be more brawn than brains, and admits he was able to capitalise on some careless mistakes.

One exception was Carvalho, who Torres feels does not get the credit he deserves.

Torres rates the Portugal international above his Chelsea team-mate John Terry and thinks he is one of the most impressive defenders in world football.

"Terry is captain so gets a much higher profile. But he's only secondary to Carvalho," Torres told The Sun.

"Ricky is superb. He has every quality that is needed."

Torres added: "The central defenders (in the Premier League) are usually big, strong, aggressive lads.

"I guess it is probably because of these characteristics that the majority think they can solve problems by getting tough with me.

"But the truth is most of them lack defensive positioning as a result of their reliance on strength and aggression and leave so much space for you to take advantage of."

Fernando Torres Can Supplant Raul To Become Spain's Goal-scoring Star At Euro 2008

With Raul finally out of the picture after all these years, having been controversially omitted from the Spain squad, Fernando Torres can't have any doubts that the hopes of a nation rest more heavily on his shoulders than ever before.

For if Luis Aragones' side are to fulfil their great promise by finally giving Spain something to shout about, a striker will need to produce. And no one is better qualified, or indeed in better form, than this quietly confident 24-year-old who has had a prolific debut season for Liverpool.

Mind you, the weight of expectation doesn't seem to overly bother him. Atletico Madrid's youngest captain at the age of 19 and now bearing the goalscoring brunt at Anfield, this baby-faced striker with a mentally tough streak seems to accept responsibility as comfortably as a spinning through-ball.

And when you look at the names backing him up in Austria and Switzerland, there shouldn't be a dearth of quality passes. Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and the Barcelona pair of Xavi and Andres Iniesta can all slickly load the gun, as can clubmate Xabi Alonso.

'El Nino' might even get help up front from the hard-working David Villa if Aragones departs from the 4-3-3 shape that earned qualification. Yet those matches, plus his escapades for Liverpool, prove that Torres is more than capable of leading the line on his own, armed with a blistering turn of pace, sinewy strength and ruthless finishing ability.

It doesn't take a genius to work out, then, that if he comes out of the traps suitably prepared, if his movement and instincts prove as sharp as normal, he should cause an awful lot of problems to opponents. He should also enjoy better service than most of the forwards vying to finish as the tournament's top scorer.

You can actually get 11-1 on him coming out on top, which isn't a bad bet considering Greece, Russia and Sweden make up Group D. A couple of goals early on and Torres will quickly turn into the man everyone must stop.