Friday, July 04, 2008

Rafa After Palmeiras Keeper?

Coveted Palmeiras goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri is almost certain to join a European club this summer, with Liverpool being touted as a possible destination by some sections of the Brazilian press.

The 25-year-old, who has spent his entire career so far with the 'Verdão', is very highly regarded in his homeland, and was close to signing for Inter in 2005 before they opted for Julio Cesar instead.

As the surname would suggest, Cavalieri hails from Italian stock, which means he would have the added being able to obtain an EU pass should he make the move across the Atlantic.

AC Milan are also said to be keen on the Palmeiras gem in their search for a replacement for their Brazilian flop Nelson Dida, while Benfica, Valencia, Lazio and Fiorentina have all linked with moves over the last year.

Cavalleri is reportedly in Europe right now in order to secure a work permit and will almost certainly take the opportunity to meet with some of the aforementioned suitors.

His representatives have remained coy in their latest comments, though one of his agents Juninho revealed the following: “We have signed a document with the team that forces us to keep their name secret, that’s why we can’t reveal it at the moment.

“They came to speak to me, to Palmeiras, and the negotiations are in progress," he concluded.

Parry: Liverpool FC New Stadium Building To Commence In Autumn

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has disclosed that the club is ensuring that the New LFC Stadium building work in Stanley Park, starts in the autumn.

In his column on the Reds’ official website, Parry writes: “Most fans will be aware that "enabling" work has been started in Stanley Park regarding the New LFC Stadium. This is a very important step forward.

“We have obtained licence agreement from the council to start work on the park and it's a significant moment, being the first time any physical work has been undertaken. It's all about site preparation to ensure we are ready to commence building in the Autumn with completion planned for the summer of 2011.”

Club co-owner George Gillett had recently stressed that the new stadium, which is said to be worth £350m, is unique in design, hoping that it will keep intact the Anfield magic.

The American had said: "The stadium design is unique and will be recognised across the world as the Liverpool FC stadium.

"It incorporates a Kop stand that will hold 18,000 fans and we hope that the stadium will be as noisy and atmospheric on a matchday as Anfield."

The £20m Man: Keane Can Go If Benitez Agrees To Spurs' Terms

Robbie Keane returned to pre-season yesterday to find that Tottenham have slapped a £20million price tag on his head to ward off strong interest from Liverpool.

Spurs last week rejected a player-plus-cash deal involving Peter Crouch for Keane, whose desire to move has received high-profile backing from Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

Although Spurs are reluctant to sell their top scorer, Sportsmail understands that an offer of Crouch plus around £10m would be given consideration at White Hart Lane.

Keane has informed Spurs officials he wishes to join the club he supported as a boy if a deal can be struck.

But it appears Spurs, like Aston Villa with Gareth Barry, will not countenance the transfer unless Liverpool return with what they consider to be a realistic bid.

Manager Juande Ramos needs to generate funds after spending £30m on Luka Modric, John Bostock, Giovani Dos Santos and goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Spurs remain favourites to sign Blackburn midfielder David Bentley while a move for Sevilla's Diego Capel could yet be resurrected despite the Spanish side rejecting a £12.6m bid earlier this week.

The sale of unsettled striker Dimitar Berbatov would cover Ramos' outlay thus far, if Spurs were to achieve their asking price.

However, Real Madrid are ready to pull out of the race to sign Berbatov in an attempt to appease Manchester United over their public pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo, but it is unlikely Sir Alex Ferguson will agree to the £30m fee Spurs are asking of rival Premiership clubs.

Galatasaray Claim Kewell Transfer

Galatasaray claim they have signed Harry Kewell - but the Australian's agent Bernie Mandic insists the deal has not been completed.

The Turkish club's website said Kewell, 29, had signed a three-year contract after he was not offered a new deal by Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

But Mandic said: "We have not finalised a deal for Harry and it's down to two possibilities."

Mandic added that Kewell's future may become clearer on Saturday.

Roma, Spartak Moscow and Portsmouth have all been linked with a move for the Australian international.

Kewell had five injury-troubled seasons at Liverpool after moving from Leeds.

A move to Galatasaray would end any possibility of Kewell being one of Australia's three over-age players at the Beijing Olympics.

Kewell was sent off playing for Leeds against Galatasaray in the 2000 Uefa Cup semi-final.

He scored a goal and helped set up another in Australia's 3-1 win over Qatar in June that guaranteed them a place in the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Hungarian Invasion Continues At Anfield

Liverpool’s ties with MTK Hungaria continue to blossom, with three of the Budapest side’s youngsters beginning trials at Melwood this week.

Zsolt Poloskei, David Keleman and Norbert Ode have joined up with the Reds reserves for pre-season training, where they will hope to sufficiently impress Rafa Benitez and thus earn an Anfield contract.

The 16- and 17-year-olds follow in the footsteps of compatriots Peter Gulacsi, Andras Simon and Kristian Nemeth, who made the switch from Budapest to Merseyside after successful trials last summer.

Nemeth in particular has proved a hit during his short and injury-interrupted spell so far, the 19-year-old's intelligence and finishing ability earning comparisons to Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.

Hence, Benitez and co are excited at the two clubs’ growing relationship, as they believe they have discovered a potential goldmine of unheralded talent.

Parry On Rafa, Transfers And Pre-Season

It is extremely busy behind the scenes at Anfield right now as Rafael Benitez and myself work hard on the club's summer plans.

This relates to buying and selling and putting the finishing touches to our pre-season schedule which is crucial to our Champions League preparations.

We are spending a lot of time together. It is always a little frustrating when deals take longer than you might have hoped because of the complexities of transfers these days. However, fans can rest assured that we are putting in the hours to make things happen.

We remain upbeat about the way things are going and will keep fans in touch as things progress.

Having announced six away friendlies as part of pre-season build-up, we are now close to finalising a prestigious home game against Lazio at Anfield on Friday, August 8. The visit of the Italians will be an attractive proposition for our supporters who will remember the Rome side coming here for a friendly in July 2002.

We had a spell a few years ago when we arranged a number of games of this calibre against teams like Parma and Inter. Ironically, Rafa's former club Valencia was probably the last of those.

Gerard Houllier used to quite like matches at this level as part of his preparation and Rafa sees the value in the build-up to our vital Champions League qualifier in August.

The away games already confirmed are against Tranmere Rovers, FC Lucerne, Wisla Krakow, Hertha Berlin, Villarreal, Glasgow Rangers and Valarenga. We will take a lot of fans to Ibrox where I know we will get a great welcome.

It will also be the first opportunity on UK soil to salute our Spanish players after their tremendous success in the European Championship, not least matchwinner Fernando Torres. His world-class qualities were there for all to see against Germany.

Fernando's winning goal in a well-deserved 1-0 victory was a classic piece of finishing. Liverpudlians know all about his pace, determination and skill. All of these qualities played a part in a superb strike that stunned his marker Lahm. The defender looked favourite to win the ball, but he was caught out by Fernando's explosive speed. We all remember Kenny Dalglish's famous dink over the keeper in the 1978 European Cup final against Bruges. Spaniards everywhere will never forget the Torres equivalent as he clipped the ball into the back of the net over the advancing Jens Lehmann.

Our striker had already warned the Germans with a great header that came back off the post. Congratulations must also go out to Xabi Alonso who came on as a substitute to play his part and also squad members Pepe Reina and Alvaro Arbeloa who picked up medals as members of a talented Spanish group.

* Most fans will be aware that "enabling" work has been started in Stanley Park regarding the New LFC Stadium. This is a very important step forward. We have obtained licence agreement from the council to start work on the park and it's a significant moment, being the first time any physical work has been undertaken. It's all about site preparation to ensure we are ready to commence building in the Autumn with completion planned for the summer of 2011.

Liverpool Boss Benitez Hails Attacking Qualities Of Philipp Degen

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez believes new signing Philipp Degen will provide the width to facilitate the attacks, from the full-back position and bring about increased competition for places.

The 25-year-old Switzerland international right-back completed his Bosman move to Anfield on Thursday and met his Reds team-mates for the first time on Friday.

Benitez told “I'm really pleased (to sign Degen) because we were working to try and find this kind of player in the full-back position with the ability to push forward, so I think he is a good signing. It was another good acquisition through the scouting department because it is another Bosman player.”

Elaborating on the qualities of the former Borussia Dortmund player, Benitez said: “He's very strong. He likes to go forward; he's very offensive and will give us options on the right-hand side. People talk about wingers but he will give us width from the full-back area and that is important too.”

The Spanish tactician also disclosed that there are couple of areas that they focused on and the reason to bring Degen was to get more firepower in these regions. And now with the new addition, and Steve Finnan and Alvaro Arbeloa in the squad, the competition is bound to be severe.

Benitez said: “Yes, clearly. It is important for me to have one, two or even three players who can play in one position or different positions and compete for their place.”