Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gunners Eye Crouch Move

Superagent Vincenzo Morabito claims Arsenal are considering Peter Crouch as a possible replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor.

Barcelona and Milan are battling to persuade the Gunners to cash in on Adebayor, with a fee in excess of £30million mooted for the Togo striker.

Milan have confirmed the former Monaco forward is their top target, but have acknowledged the difficulty in tempting Arsenal to sell.

Morabito, who is among the agents working on the deal for the Italian giants, appears optimistic that Adebayor will move to the San Siro.

However, Morabito claims Arsenal will not sanction the transfer until Arsene Wenger has brought in a replacement.

Liverpool striker Crouch is among Wenger's targets, according to Morabito, along with Blackburn Rovers' Roque Santa Cruz and Stuttgart frontman Mario Gomez.

"Arsenal are looking for Adebayor's replacement," Morabito told Italian TV show Studio Sport.

"The names being talked about are Peter Crouch, Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz and Germany forward Mario Gomez.

"Until that search is over, the negotiations won't reach the final stage, but I am fairly optimistic.

"What are the chances of Adebayor joining Milan? At this stage, we are at 70 per cent to 80 per cent."

Arsenal boss Wenger, though, is remaining calm about possible player departures, with Alexander Hleb also being strongly linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium.

Wenger said in The Independent: "I know a lot has been written about us, but I am very calm. Why? Because I don't know why I should be nervous.

"It's like when you take a penalty, if you are nervous it doesn't help. I will approach it with my usual calm.

"My biggest challenge is to make sure I have a competitive team next year no matter who it is."

Benitez Won’t Be Held To Ransom Over Gareth Barry

Gareth Barry will be kept waiting on his dream move to Anfield with Liverpool set to infuriate Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill further by telling him to “get real” over the valuation of his unsettled captain.

The England international made it clear that he wanted to leave Villa Park at the end of last season in the search for European football with Anfield his preferred destination.

However, with his skipper still under contract, Villa manager O’Neill, who is preparing for an Intertoto Cup campaign with one of the Premier League’s smallest squads is determined to squeeze as much out of any suitors for his prize asset.

Backed by American owner Randy Lerner, O’Neill, livid at the Anfield outfit’s public chase for Barry has stubbornly dug in his heels and rejected Liverpool’s first three bids.

With Villa valuing Barry at £20m, Liverpool are now set to ask the Midlanders to introduce some ‘realism’ into negotiations as Benitez looks to seal a deal.

O’Neill’s valuation of Barry is based on the £18m fee paid for Javier Mascherano last season but Barry, 27, is more than three years older than the Argentine star.

The Ulsterman is so annoyed with the way negotiations have been conducted that has now severed all contact with Anfield, leaving Lerner’s assistant Paul Faulkner to conduct talks.

For the first time, Liverpool have admitted that they fear that the stalemate could last much longer than they’d hoped unless a compromise can be reached and Barry now faces the prospect of having to report for the start of Villa’s pre-season training at Bodymoor Heath.

With the clubs also unable to reach an agreement over Scott Carson’s asking price, any part-exchange involving the keeper who was on loan at Villa Park now seems unlikely, with O’Neill eyeing Paul Robinson.

Man City Linked To Liverpool's Peter Crouch

Manchester City have entered the race for Liverpool striker Peter Crouch – but the Anfield club will have to lower their £15m valuation for the player.

New manager at Eastlands Mark Hughes is attracted by the England striker’s recent European experience ahead of City’s Uefa Cup campaign.

Anfield chiefs are still waiting on an official bid following City’s initial enquiry but Hughes will have to fork out an eight-figure fee for the 27-year-old after Portsmouth had a £9m offer rejected.

The substantial funds available to the City manager from Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra are believed to be a major factor in ambitious Hughes’ decision to come to the club from Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers, but despite having the kind of transfer budget which has seen major world stars such as Ronaldinho linked with a move to

Eastlands this summer the Welshman is determined not to pay over the odds for Crouch.

Hughes still faces stiff competition for Crouch’s signature from FA Cup winners Portsmouth.

The Fratton Park outfit are now pursuing Reading’s England international left-back Nicky Shorey but despite having a £9m bid for Crouch knocked back earlier this week, manager Harry Redknapp insists the 6ft 7in frontman remains his number one striking target as he looks to bolster his frontline ahead of the club’s first ever European campaign.

Meanwhile, Andriy Voronin is relishing the prospect of his second season with Liverpool and has promised supporters that his best is still to come.

The Ukraine international admits that he did not feature as much as he would have liked during his debut campaign at Anfield but insists that he is now happy with life in England and determined to show the club’s supporters just what he can do.

“When I first arrived here I didn’t find it easy because I’d lived in Germany for 12 years,” he said.

“I didn’t know the language but I’m gradually getting there.

“My wife had a baby here and, thank god, everything was okay. So I am getting more and more used to life here everyday.

“We are feeling much better than six or seven months ago. When we have time we go into town. We like it here and don’t have any problems with life in England or the town – except for the weather.”

Voronin feels he made an impressive start to his Liverpool career but added: “Obviously the injury was a setback. There are a lot of good players here. It’s competitive, so it’s difficult to get straight back into the team after an injury.

“I’ll do my best next season and hopefully I can help the team. I think I still have a lot to show the fans.”

Steve Finnan: I Will Fight For My Liverpool Shirt

Under pressure Reds defender Steve Finnan has a message to Anfield new boys Philipp Degen and Andrea Dossena: "I'm not going easily!"

After being a virtual fixture in the Liverpool starting line-up since his £3.5m move from Fulham five years ago, Finnan found himself on the sidelines for much of last season.

He started just four of the Reds last 17 matches, then saw Swiss international right-back Degen and Italian international full-back Dossena signed in the summer.

But Finnan said: "I think every player welcomes competition. I'm no different.

"If the manager wants to add more I've got no problem with that. Obviously it benefits the team and it means those of us already here have to keep improving.

"At a club like this there will always be competition for places. We're all aware of that. Nobody can afford to take anything for granted.

"Rumours about new signings appear on a regular basis, it's part of the job.

"You look at our squad now and you can see we've got two top players in nearly every position."

Prior to last season only injury kept Finnan out of the Reds starting line-up, as he saw off new signings Josemi and Jan Kromkamp.

But 2008/09 promises to be the most challenging campaign of his Liverpool career.

The battle for Peter Crouch's signature, meanwhile, has intensified - with Arsenal surprise contenders.

Super agent Vincenzo Morabito told Italian TV show Studio Sport last night: "Arsenal are exploring the transfer market for a substitute for Adebayor. The names being talked about are Peter Crouch, Roque Santa Cruz and Germany forward Mario Gomez."

Manchester City are also reported to be in the running now, after Portsmouth had a £9m bid rejected by the Reds earlier this week, and Tottenham have also been linked with a double raid on Anfield for Crouch and Yossi Benayoun.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will kick-off satellite channel Setanta's coverage for the new season - on July 12!

The broadcasters have announced that they intend to screen the pre-season friendly between Tranmere and Liverpool, their first 'live action' of 2008/09.

It is part of an intensive package which includes 27 live screenings prior to the Community Shield between Manchester United and Portsmouth.

Spurs Plan To Thwart Pompey With £15m Deal For Crouch And Benayoun

Juande Ramos has joined the bidding for Peter Crouch and is ready to launch a £15million double offer for the unsettled Liverpool striker and his team-mate Yossi Benayoun.

Still fearful he may lose Dimitar Berbatov before the start of next season, the Tottenham manager has earmarked Crouch as a ready-made replacement and put together a package he believes will give him the edge over Portsmouth counterpart Harry Redknapp.

While Portsmouth offered an initial £7million, with £2m worth of extras to follow, Tottenham are prepared to pay the full £9m asking price for Crouch and a further £6m for former West Ham midfielder Benayoun.

Tottenham’s proposal carries the greater appeal for Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who is eager not only to do business with his fellow-Spaniard and close friend Ramos but rake in desperately needed funds to finance his own transfer plans.

Redknapp still feels he is in pole position, though, after a clear signal from Crouch that Fratton Park remains his preferred destination.

The England striker has even indicated he would sooner see out the 12 months left on his contract than be forced into a move against his will and Benitez may have to wait while Portsmouth raise the additional cash to match Tottenham’s bid.

With goalkeeper Scott Carson a target for Middlesbrough and Xabi Alonso edging closer to a move to Juventus, Benitez could soon have the financial muscle to follow up his long-running pursuit of Gareth Barry and more recent interest in David Silva.

The bidding for Aston Villa midfielder Barry looks like topping £15m, while Valencia winger Silva will cost almost as much after his emergence for Spain sent his value soaring.

Redknapp has persistently refused to be hurried into meeting an opening valuation on Crouch of around £12m and is confident he is now close to landing the out-of-favour Liverpool marksman for £9m at the most.

As he attempts to build on last season’s FA Cup success, Redknapp is also considering trying to hijack Roma’s negotiations with freed Liverpool winger Harry Kewell and has been linked with a move for Strasbourg midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, as well as confirming his interest in Reading left-back Nicky Shorey.

Kewell was thought to be close to reaching an agreement with the Serie A club but is sure to consider any opportunity to extend his injury-blighted career in the Barclays Premier League.While Crouch’s arrival would be seen as further evidence of Portsmouth’s growing ambition, it may not be welcomed by Nwankwo Kanu.

The Nigerian has held off agreeing new terms since January because he believes he deserves another two years. But the presence of Crouch would strengthen Pompey’s hand in negotiations.

‘I cannot sign for just one year when I have done so much for the club,’ said Kanu. ‘Winning the FA Cup and playing well during the season should qualify me for more than a one-year extension.’