Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pompey Parried In Crouch Bid

Portsmouth may be forced back to the drawing board after Liverpool rejected their ₤9million bid for Peter Crouch.

The England international has only a year remaining on his contract at Anfield and has expressed his desire to leave after receiving limited opportunities last season.

Harry Redknapp is keen to team up the beanpole striker with Pompey poacher Jermain Defoe, who in turn has revealed his excitement at the prospect of partnering his sometime international colleague at Fratton Park.

But the Daily Mail reports that Reds boss Rafa Benitez, who initially slapped a rather ambitious ₤15million price tag on Crouch, has turned down Redknapp's ₤9million offer.

Benitez may be holding out for offers from Aston Villa and Newcastle United, who have also been linked with the 27-year-old.

Yossi Benayoun May Be Sold To Raise Cash

Liverpool will consider cashing in on Yossi Benayoun if they receive any concrete offers.

The Israeli playmaker, bought for £5million from West Ham last summer, has not previously been on the list of players manager Rafael Benitez is looking to offload as he continues to seek the funds that will land him his targets.

But with Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp admitting an interest, while also expressing doubts over raising the necessary cash to take striker Peter Crouch from Anfield, Liverpool’s hand could be forced.

Benitez would prefer to retain Benayoun as a useful squad member as the player is happy on Merseyside despite his apparent lack of first team opportunities.

He recently said: “There are three or four clubs in England willing to buy me after the season I have just had.

“But I want to stay at Liverpool until the end of my career.”

He did play in 30 Premier League games last season but started in only half of those, while his biggest impact came in the Champions League group stages when he scored a hat-trick in the 8-0 win over Besiktas.

He also hit a treble in the FA Cup win over Havant & Waterlooville but generally found it difficult to force his way into Benitez’s preferred attacking formation for much of the campaign.

Bids of £6m would be well within range of the likes of Portsmouth and other reported potential suitors such as Manchester City and Middlesbrough.

And with Benitez’s attempts to raise money from other squad members currently stalling, any hope of snaring enough cash to bring in both Gareth Barry and David Silva could rest on what they would be able to get for Benayoun.

No headway has been made in negotiations to agree a fee with Aston Villa for Scott Carson, while Liverpool have still to reach the Midlands side’s £18m valuation of their captain Barry.

Juventus are expected to make their move for Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso after both the club and the player hinted they wanted a deal to be done.

But even the minimum £10m Benitez hoped to get for Crouch could be in jeopardy after Portsmouth manager Redknapp admitted he is cooling to the idea of bringing the striker back to Fratton Park.

But he did admit an interest in Benayoun despite bringing in winger Glen Little from Reading, albeit on a free transfer, last week.

Redknapp said: “Of course I’d like to have someone like Yossi Benayoun.

“He’s a top player. I don’t know what the chances are of getting him out of Liverpool.

“It’s known I like Crouchie, too. But it doesn’t look like anything is happening there. I think Liverpool want a bit too much money for him.

“If that’s the case then we’ll move on to the next option.”

Liverpool have added another friendly to their pre-season programme by confirming a game against Norwegian side Valerengen in Oslo on August 5 (6pm).

Liverpool’s confirmed friendlies are: July 12 v Tranmere (a); July 16 v FC Lucerne (Grenchen); July 19 v Wisla Krakow (Friborg); July 22 v Hertha Berlin (Berlin); July 30 v Villarreal (Villarreal); August 2 v Rangers (a); August 5 v Valerengen (Oslo).

Skrtel Has Found His Mersey Paradise

Martin Skrtel claims he is loving life in Liverpool – even though there is no escape from Kopites in the city.

The Slovak international arrived at Anfield from Russian side Zenit in January and has since proved a massive hit with the Kop.

Skrtel insists the feeling is most definitely mutual.

"I think because of the skinhead and my accent I am not too hard to pick out on the street," the centre-back told LFC Magazine.

"From the bits of conversation I understand between us then I have to say that they have been amazing to me.

"I have signed more autographs since touching down in Merseyside than in the rest of my professional career. But, for the support I have had individually, and that we get as a team, signing some autographs is not a problem."

Skrtel's popularity is in no small part down to his no-nonsense brand of defending, a style which saw him start 20 Liverpool games in less than five months.

He added: "That's just the way I play. I am a defender and sometimes that means you have to put your body on the line to prevent an opposition player scoring a goal.

"I like tackling. It is one of my main strengths. And yeah, I can hear the supporters cheering and getting excited when I go in for a 50/50 challenge. It's beautiful to me to hear that the Liverpool fans appreciate what I do.

"It means a lot to me because these are early days in my Anfield career. To know that I have made an impact is pleasing because I am in a new country and playing a new style of football.

"The English style suits me very well. I enjoy physical battles with forwards and I have had plenty of those in England so far. I am sure over the course of my stay here in Liverpool, which I hope will be a long one, I will have many more.

"Every game in this country is tough; there is no such thing as an easy game in the Premier League."

Rafa Benitez To Demand £50m To Strengthen Liverpool Squad

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is to request a £50 million transfer kitty from the club's owners as he bids to bring three major signings to Anfield this summer.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett have reportedly ended their feud and are back on speaking terms, after a year of infighting.

With peace seemingly returned to the board, Benitez believes now is the best time to ask for cash.

The Spaniard wants to land David Villa, David Silva and Gareth Barry. However, asking for such a considerable sum has sparked fears that Benitez is heading for another run-in with the Americans.

Benitez came close to losing his job last year when he spoke out against the transfer restrictions imposed by Hicks and Gillett.

He has already signed Philipp Degen on a free and £7m right-back Andrea Dossena, but is convinced another £50m is needed.

Barry will cost £15m, with a deal for the Aston Villa midfielder expected to be completed within weeks, while Valencia are asking £20m for Villa.

The Spain international has shone at Euro 2008 and Liverpool will face stiff competition for his signature from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid.

Villa's compatriot, Silva, will also cost in the region of £20m.

To help raise funds, Benitez has already sold John Arne Riise to Roma for £4m, while Xabi Alonso has been linked with a £14m move to Juventus.

Benayoun Bats Off Anfield Exit Talk

Yossi Benayoun says he wants to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career despite interest from "three or four clubs" including Portsmouth.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp has confirmed his interest in the Israeli and Manchester City are thought to be among the other clubs monitoring Benayoun's situation.

Benayoun struggled to hold down a regular place in the Liverpool side last season and is aware of interest from other clubs in his services.

But he has no plans to leave, telling the Jewish Chronicle: "There are three or four clubs in England willing to buy me after the season I have just had.

"But I want to stay at Liverpool until the end of my career.

"It really moves me when I go out on to the pitch at Anfield and the crowd start singing."