Friday, June 06, 2008

Dossena Delight At Reds Deal

Andrea Dossena is delighted to become the first Italian international to play for Liverpool

The Udinese left-back will complete his move to Anfield in the coming days after undergoing a medical on Merseyside earlier this week.

Speaking exclusively to, Dossena's agent Federico Pastorello revealed his client's delight at signing for Liverpool.

"I understand he is the first Italian international to play for Liverpool - a great opportunity for him and he is really happy," Pastorello revealed.

Dossena is expected to finalise his transfer in the next 48 hours before being unveiled by The Reds next week in a deal believed to be worth around £7million.

"He had his medical on Wednesday and we are just awaiting the formalities of that but we would think everything will be signed very shortly," he continued.

"An agreement between the clubs was hard, but we all found it and everything is now ready."

The 26-year-old had a tremendous campaign with Udinese, which included his debut for Italy, and Pastorello admits Liverpool beat a number of clubs to seal his signature.

"There were many teams interested in him," he confirmed.

"He was the best left-back in Italy last year, arguably along with the boy [Juan]Vargas at Catania.

"So it was natural that there will be interest in the best left-back in Serie A, but to have the chance to work with a coach like Rafa Benitez was something he could not turn down.

"That was an important aspect of his decision and he cannot wait to get started."

Tom Hicks Slams Talk Of Stadium Share

Tom Hicks today hit back at claims Liverpool could be willing to share a stadium with Everton.

Reports today suggested Liverpool’s American owners might be ready to change their stance on a ground share at the behest of North West Development Agency chief executive Steve Broomhead.

But Hicks insists a shared stadium is not on Liverpool’s agenda and has no interest in even considering it.

He also dismissed speculation that a meeting is scheduled with the NWDA to discuss the matter, as did Broomhead himself who revealed the talks which are due to take place with representatives of Kop Holdings next week will not include discussions about the possibility of Liverpool and Everton moving in together.

A spokesman for Hicks told the ECHO: “There is no interest in a shared stadium and no planned meeting to discuss this.”

Broomhead will hold talks with Kop Holdings next Friday in a bid to clarify funding issues over Liverpool’s planned new stadium on Stanley Park.

The original plans for Liverpool’s £300m ground included building work to begin last year, but the scheme was revised and the construction start delayed.

Now, as the credit crunch on both sides of the Atlantic continues to bite, the NWDA is seeking an update on Liverpool’s plans.

The agency has pledged to provide funding for important improvements to community facilities surrounding the new ground.

Broomhead said: “The meeting is to update me on where Liverpool FC and Kop Holdings are with the plans to fund the new stadium.

“I want to clarify where the funding is for the new Anfield.”

Broomhead is also closely involved with Everton’s controversial proposed move from Goodison to Kirkby, which is being funded by supermarket giant Tesco but subject to vehement objections from neighbouring local authorities and retailers.

However, he denied that the subject of a shared stadium by the two clubs which is favoured by Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley but rejected by both Everton and Liverpool is on next Friday’s agenda.

Broomhead, who confirmed that neither Hicks nor George Gillett will attend the briefing, said: “I am only interested in the economic benefits of improved sports facilities for Merseyside.”

Everton chief executive Keith Wyness also poured cold water on the speculation, saying: “I can categorically state that a shared stadium is not on the agenda of either club.”

Anfield US Owners Tom Hicks And George Gillett In Liverpool-Everton Shared Stadium Talks

The chief executive of the North West Development Agency has called for a "fundamental economic appraisal" of a shared stadium between Everton and Liverpool football clubs.

Steve Broomhead told the Liverpool Daily Post the idea needed to be looked at, given the current economic climate.

He is due to meet with Kop Holdings, Tom Hicks's and George Gillett's company, which owns Liverpool FC, next week. "More and more, it looks like if we are to upgrade the sporting stadiums for Merseyside, the ground sharing option has to go back on the table," Mr Broomhead said

"A fundamental economic appraisal of a ground share is needed."

Mr Broomhead said he had seen little progress at Anfield in raising money for the new stadium.

His call follows that of Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley, who last week said the idea of a shared ground should be explored.

Last night, Everton FC chief executive Keith Wyness said he had discussed the issue with Liverpool FC chief executive Rick Parry at a Football Association meeting in Leicestershire and a shared stadium "was not on the agenda of either club".

But last night a spokesman for Liverpool FC declined to comment.

Mr Broomhead's intervention follows Liverpool, Sefton, West Lancashire, and St Helens councils opposing Everton FC's plan to relocate to Kirkby.

The £400m scheme, which includes a Tesco superstore and 50 shops, will go before Knowsley council's planning committee on Monday.

The huge amount of opposition to the scheme and the fact it runs contrary to town centre and retail policies, increases the likelihood of the Government calling a public inquiry.

Last night, Mr Broomhead would not be drawn on whether the plans should be "called in" for a public inquiry.

Meanwhile, Liverpool FC received planning permission for a new £350m, 60,000-seater stadium on Stanley Park last month.

The club is understood to have £60m to get started on the new ground, but work is yet to start.

Mr Broomhead said: "We continue to watch this with interest. We are not seeing any real progress at Anfield in raising the money for the new stadium.

"I have been invited to discussions at the end of next week with Kop Holdings."

He said he was looking forward to hearing about the ownership of the club and financing for a new stadium on Stanley Park.

"We also continue to talk with Everton FC and Tesco."

He said the agency continued to support both Liverpool FC and Everton FC in their endeavours to build new stadia.

"But you have to wonder about the vast amounts of money being spent, given the current market conditions for investment."

Last night, Mr Wyness said: "Having discussed the matter with my Liverpool counterpart Rick Parry, I can categorically state that a shared stadium is not on the agenda of either club.

"We have a series of criteria which any prospective stadium must meet, and a shared stadium does not meet that criteria.

"When Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett took over Liverpool FC, they made it perfectly clear they were not interested."

He said he still believed that moving to Kirkby was the only viable option for Everton Football Club.

Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley said: "The idea seems to be gathering momentum, and a lot of people are looking at it.

"I think the feasibility should at least be looked at."

Liverpool Labour opposition leader Joe Anderson said the idea would have been "inconceivable" 18 months ago.

"The fact is we have got to work in the real world and both clubs are struggling financially.

"Maybe that's uncomfortable for both clubs and fans, but it is something that should be considered."

Liverpool Go Cool On Aaron Ramsey

Liverpool’s interest in Aaron Ramsey is unlikely to lead to a formal offer being made for the Welsh wonderkid.

The Reds have monitored Ramsey’s progress for more than a year and Rafa Benitez is an admirer of his obvious talent but the Liverpool manager knows his priority is to improve the first team this summer and is reluctant to spend a sizeable chunk of his transfer budget on a teenager with just 22 games to his name.

Cardiff City have accepted bids in the region of £5m for the 17-year-old midfielder from Man United, Everton and Arsenal but at that price, Liverpool’s interest is likely to cool.

Benitez has identified several areas of his squad which he is keen to strengthen with the full-back and wide positions being top of his list and Liverpool’s transfer activity will be centred on those areas.

Philipp Degen has already been snapped up and Liverpool are waiting for the formalities of Andrea Dossena’s medical to be completed before finalising his transfer from Udinese.

The £7m fee Liverpool have agreed with Udinese is based on an up front payment of £6m with add-ons and incentives.

Though Benitez would like to be able to move for Ramsey he is not willing to sacrifice other transfer targets whom he feels will have a more immediate impact.

As the Reds boss reshapes his squad ahead of the forthcoming campaign there is no shortage of interest in those members of his squad who have fallen out of favour.

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has admitted for the first time that he would like to take Peter Crouch back to Fratton Park, although he is unwilling to meet Benitez’s £15m asking price.

While Roma have firmed up their long standing interest in John Arne Riise with an opening offer for the Norwegian only for it to fall short of Liverpool’s valuation.

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

Meanwhile, Steve Finnan has revealed he is considering coming out of international retirement to play for new Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

The Ireland manager is keen to persuade the Reds right back to return to the international fold and Finnan says he is planning to hold talks with Trapattoni.

“We’re going to have a chat,” he said. “When a new manager comes in that's normal, and out of respect you have to do so.

“The opportunity to work with someone of that experience is very tempting. He's got a great CV and he’s done really well at lots of clubs. Everyone in my position would consider it.

“No deadline's been put on making a final decision but I take it he'll want to know before the first World Cup qualifier.”

Rafa Benitez Steps Up Chase For David Bentley

With Gareth Barry expected at Anfield next week to fulfil his desire for Champions League football, Rafael Benitez is expected to step up his chase for another England international in David Bentley.

Bentley is believed to have been unsettled at Ewood Park for several months after he was left with nearly a full season without European football following Blackburn’s early exit from the Uefa Cup at the hands of Greek minnows Larissa.

With FA Cup winners Portsmouth and Carling Cup winners Tottenham finishing below the Lancastrians in the Premier League table, a seventh-place finish was not good enough to get Rovers back into continental competition again next season – even via the Intertoto Cup.

This week’s departure of manager Mark Hughes to Manchester City – another side who have finished below Blackburn but will be tasting Europe this summer via the Fair Play League – is set to spark an exodus of several major names at Ewood Park and Bentley is set to be leading the queue at the exit door.

Benitez is finally expected to snare Villa skipper Barry, who has served the Midlands club for 11 years, next week with the midfielder now back from international duty in Trinidad where he scored his first goal for his country.

The Anfield manager has already prepared for Barry’s arrival by allowing his compatriot Xabi Alonso to leave the club with the Spanish international having agreed terms over a move to Italians Juventus although the two clubs are yet to formalise a fee which could vary between £14-16m.

With the expected £10m plus deal for Barry potentially cancelled out by possible moves in the opposite direction for Peter Crouch, Scott Carson or even John Arne Riise, Benitez, who expects to tie up a move for Andrea Dossena today ahead of the Italian full-back’s wedding this weekend, will be expecting a considerable warchest from the club’s American owners to land a big name like Bentley to attempt to close the gap on Manchester United who can potentially equal Liverpool’s record of 18 League Championships with a title victory next May.

Since arriving from Valencia in 2004, where he won two domestic Spanish titles, Benitez, despite his success in European competition, has struggled to mount a serious charge for the Premier League crown.

That fact, combined with the looming threat from Fifa president Sepp Blatter that club sides may soon be forced to field six nationals in their starting line-ups, has prompted the Spaniard to try and attract more high profile English players to Anfield.

On average, Liverpool had just two English players – Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard – in their starting line-up last season, a figure which was the second lowest in the Premier League after Arsenal.

Ironically, Bentley, 23, who is now one of the hottest properties in the Premier League and regarded as the long term successor to David Beckham, left the Gunners after becoming frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities under Arsene Wenger whose multinational squads feature few homegrown stars.

Meanwhile, one of Liverpool’s big success stories from overseas, Fernando Torres, who netted 33 goals in his debut season at Anfield, has revealed that he believes Premier League centre-halves tend to rely on brut force rather than skill although he believes there is at least one exception among his opponents.

He said: "John Terry is captain (At Chelsea) so gets a much higher profile. But he’s only secondary to (Ricardo) Carvalho.

"The central defenders (in the Premier League) are usually big, strong, aggressive lads but Ricky is superb. He has every quality that is needed."

The Spanish striker, who eclipsed Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for the most goals by a foreign striker in his debut Premier League campaign, certainly had the measure of most of the defences he has declared that a lot of his success is down to an unfamiliar source – Liverpool goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero.

"We’ve a Spanish goalkeeping coach and he has been a genius at telling me every week exactly what kind of task lies in front of me in the following match," said Torres.

"Nobody has ever worked with me like this before. It’s outstanding. Basically, I know days before the next game exactly the best way to finish a chance against the keeper I’m about to face.

"Xavi Valero tells me precisely what each keeper tends to do – stay big, go down early, if they have a preferred side they try to push you to. It’s vital information. I’ve refined the way I take chances as a result.

"This Liverpool side also works its socks off. Dirk Kuyt, for example, is spectacular in how cleverly and how hard he works to make sure I get top-quality possession near goal."

Liverpool Face Competition For Thiago

Monaco have declared their firm interest in Brazilian defender Thiago Silva, who is also reported to be a target for Rafa Benitez's Liverpool.

Thiago has been in stellar form for Fluminese, and his rapid development has not gone unnoticed by Carlos Dunga, who has rewarded him with call-ups to the national squad.

Monaco boss Ricardo, a former Fluminese player himself,had this to say about the highly promising 23-year-old: "He is a huge player, an ace.

"If we can attract him at Monaco, we will be good in defence. I will do my best to have him."

If Thiago does opt to sign for the French Principality club, they would actually become his third European team. In 2004, FC Porto signed the player, but he ended up being sold to Dynamo Moscow after one year of play in the second team.

Milan, Villarreal and Bayer Leverkusen are also known to be keen on Thiago, along with his former club Porto and their Portuguese rivals Benfica.