Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Alonso Happy To Stay A Red

Xabi Alonso insists he would have no problem staying at Liverpool, as a proposed move to Juventus stalls due to the two clubs' inability to settle on a transfer fee.

The classy Spaniard was expected to tie-up a switch to Serie A at the conclusion of the European Championship after Liverpool intimated a willingness to sell.

Gareth Barry's long-protracted move from Aston Villa was thought to be reliant on Alonso's exit generating funds but the likely departure of Peter Crouch to Portsmouth would swell the transfer coffers significantly.

And should it be that Juve fail to match Liverpool's valuation, Alonso will be more than content to stay on Merseyside.

"I am very happy with Liverpool, the city, the people and they treat me very well," Alonso is quoted in The Sun.

"It's great to be European champion with my club and with my country but I'd love a league medal.

"It's the one that is missing."

Graeth Barry Would Be 'Crazy' Not To Join Liverpool FC

Former Wales international Mark Delaney claims Gareth Barry would be “crazy” not to move to Liverpool.

Delaney, who made 158 appearances for Villa between 1999 and 2007, believes the Champions League represents a career path too good to refuse.

“He has been Villa’s best player for the last four or five years and I am surprised it has taken this long for a big club to come along,” said the 32-year-old, who was capped 36 times for Wales.

“When that knock on the door arrived it was Liverpool and they are an unbelievable club.

“Gareth will be 28 in February. These are his ‘twilight’ years. If he goes he will win trophies and if he doesn’t go it will be crazy for his career.

“He has to give it a go. If he can’t go the opportunity may never arise again. Liverpool might not ask again.

“He has to grasp this with both hands. This choice is Champions League and England with Liverpool or the InterToto with Villa.”

Villa manager Martin O’Neill is demanding £18m to allow Barry to join the Reds, but

Delaney says O’Neill would have swapped Nottingham Forest for Liverpool in his playing days had the call come.

“Martin O’Neill knows Liverpool are a bigger club than Villa,” he said. “It hurts me to say that as a Villa supporter through-and-through. The club mean a hell of a lot to me.

“If he (O’Neill) didn’t say he would have done the same as a player he would be lying. Anyone would.

“Randy Lerner could probably match what Liverpool offer Gareth in terms of wages but this is not about money.

“And the reason Martin has probably reacted like he has is that he knows Gareth will be hard to replace.

“It is unfortunate for Villa but these things happen.”

Delaney, now a part-time coach with Villa’s Academy, admits he is a huge fan of O’Neill and the revolution that is taking place at Villa Park under Randy Lerner.

But he says Villa cannot yet hope to break into the top four.

“Gareth has been as loyal as any Villa player. The thing is, I cannot see them breaking the top four in his time,’’ he added.

“They exceeded all expectations last season. But can they do it again? I don’t know.

“If Gareth has a bad season in terms of form, or he gets injured, then there is no way Villa will get £18m.

“He loves Villa, as I do, but for his career this is the right move.”

LFC Rumourmill: More On Barry, Reds For Reira And Meir?

Liverpool's Steve Finnan could be used as a deal breaker in the on-going saga regarding Gareth Barry's future, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Liverpool are reported to be offering the Irishman to Aston Villa in a last ditch attempt to bring the 27 year old to Anfield next season.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill is said to be a big fan of Finnan's and would need the £15 million in order to see through his own transfer target - Chelsea's Steve Sidwell.

And although Finnan has given no sign that he wants to leave Liverpool there is no doubt that if he has a fan in O'Neill he would be guaranteed a first-team place.

RUMOUR RATING: Three stars - something needs to happen to break the impasse between the two clubs; everyone knows the Barry transfer is going to happen - it is just how.

Liverpool are supposedly set to reignite their interest in Spanish winger Albert Riera according to reports in The People.

The Reds reportedly had a £9.5 million plus Sebastian Leto bid rejected for the Espanyol winger. The Spanish outfit are thought to be holding out for a deal closer to about £13 million. The 26 year old caught the eye of Rafa Benitez with his solid performances over the past few seasons which have also seen him earn several call ups to the Spanish first team.

It is still unknown whether Liverpool will up their bid to the La Liga outfit's asking price.

RUMOUR RATING: Three stars - Liverpool's interest is already known but how Benitez juggles his transfer kitty will hold the key to any deal.

Liverpool duo Steve Finnan and Scott Carson could be making exits from Anfield this Summer in order to make way for Gareth Barry and Diego Cavalierei.

Rumour site Football Corner says Gareth Barry's move to Liverpool is looking ever likelier as the England international was fined and asked to sit out of preseason because of his poor media relations over the past few weeks. Steve Finnan may be used in a player plus cash deal with Aston Villa in order to secure the signature of the 27 year old.

Diego Cavalieri is another player who may be brought in this Summer, as back up for Pepe Reina. With the introduction of the £3 million Brazilian shot stopper that will almost certainly see the end of Scott Carson's time at Anfield. Premier League new boys Stoke City are thought to have an interest in signing the previously £10 million rated keeper.

RUMOUR RATING: Five stars - there will be a number of comings and goings at Liverpool this summer with the Brazilian keeper expected to sign in this week.

Liverpool are eyeing Stuttgart defender Fernando Meir, reports Tribal Football.

His agent, Roger Wittman, said: "If the club puts him up for sale, everything will happen very quickly. There's always interest in a player of his quality."

RUMOUR RATING: One star - Liverpool would seem well blessed with defenders and given the priorities elsewhere in the team, another one might seem excessive.

Aston Villa Ready To Do Gareth Barry Business After Steve Finnan Sweetener

Martin O’Neill is ready to accept Liverpool’s £15 million offer for Gareth Barry now that Steve Finnan has been offered in a part-exchange deal. As Barry, the England midfield player, was expressing his disappointment at the controversial nature of his departure from Aston Villa, the manager was preparing to sign Steve Sidwell as a midfield replacement.

Sidwell is due to have talks with Luiz Felipe Scolari over the next 24 hours, when it is believed that the new Chelsea manager will confirm that the midfield player, signed from Reading on a free transfer last summer, will be told that he can join Villa for £5 million.

Villa head to Switzerland on a two-match tour today, with Barry left at home after being banned from preseason training in the wake of a critical interview in a Sunday newspaper that has left him as public enemy No 1.

Martin Laursen, the leading candidate to succeed Barry as Villa captain, has been on the phone to his friend. “I have spoken to him,” the Denmark defender said at the launch of Villa’s new kit yesterday. “He’s not happy with that [being cast as the villain]. I understand supporters want to keep their best player, but I hope that they can remember all he’s done for the club.

We’re talking about a guy who’s played here for ten years, become the youngest player to play 300 Premier League games, been our captain, done so many good things for the club. I’m sad that the fans are angry with him now and they should remember what he has done for this club.”

The £10 million sale of Peter Crouch by Liverpool to Portsmouth means that Villa can expect to receive half the fee for Barry up front, with half to follow in 12 months, while O’Neill will be delighted to acquire Finnan after being without a recognised right back last season. Liverpool will also pay add-ons if Barry wins the Champions League with them.

Laursen rates Barry highly but does not believe that he is irreplaceable. “Obviously, it’s a big loss,” he said. “He was a very good player, a nice guy, a good captain, but there are a lot of players who can do as good a job as he can. I’m sure we can bring in a player who is as good as Gareth.”

Rafa Benitez To Step Up Transfer Activity Following Peter Crouch Sale

Rafael Benitez is ready to step up his summer recruitment drive after Peter Crouch moved to the brink of a move to Portsmouth.

Crouch held talks with the Fratton Park outfit yesterday and underwent a medical after Liverpool accepted an offer for him.

The proposed deal will see Portsmouth make an initial payment of around £8.75million, a figure that could rise to almost £11m with add-ons and incentives over the course of Crouch’s contract.

“We have reached a verbal agreement with Portsmouth and have given them permission to speak with Peter,” confirmed a Liverpool spokesman yesterday.

While short of Benitez’s £15m public valuation, Portsmouth’s bid would represent a profit on the £7m Liverpool spent to sign the striker from Southampton in 2005.

Crouch, who has less than a year remaining on his present Anfield deal, has rebuffed Liverpool’s offer of a new contract and is keen to leave Anfield in pursuit of regularfirst-team football.

Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have all been linked with Crouch, but the player has always preferred a move back to the South Coast and a chance to link up again with Harry Redknapp, his manager at Portsmouth during his previous stay at the club in 2001-02.

Crouch’s departure will signal the start of an intensive period of transfer activity at Anfield.

Benitez is hopeful the Gareth Barry saga can be concluded shortly, with Aston Villa having intimated they would take Steve Finnan in part-exchange. However, the Midlanders are still holding out for an overall deal of £18m, above Liverpool’s valuation of the player.

Robbie Keane is Benitez’s first-choice replacement for Crouch, but the manager is aware of the difficulties in prising the striker away from Tottenham Hotspur.

Benitez will also intensify his search for a winger.

Valencia’s David Silva and Espanyol’s Albert Riera are the prime targets, although both Spanish clubs would have to lower their demands if any deal is to become a reality.

Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri has arrived on Merseyside with Liverpool keen to finalise a £3m deal for the 26-year-old Atletico Mineiro man, who will become Pepe Reina’s understudy with Galatasaray still interested in Charles Itandje, despite the Frenchman’s excessive contract demands.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have confirmed the signing of 17-year-old Denmark youth international striker Nikola Saric on a three-year deal.

Reds Swoop For Danish Starlet

Liverpool have signed promising Danish youth international striker Nikola Saric on a three year deal.

The 17-year-old, who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, is an Under-18 international for Denmark.

The former Herfolge player was recently on trial with SC Heerenveen at the Otten Cup tournament, hosted by PSV Eindhoven.

In 2007 Saric was named Denmark's Under-17 Player of the Year.

Saric told Herfolge's official website: "Of course, I want to join Liverpool FC.

"I will get to train with the big names over there and develop in the reserves. It is a tremendous chance for me and I am very happy.

"Since I feel the time is right and that I am mature enough for a new challenge, we have been waiting for the right club to come with an offer."

Parry: We Will Benefit From Euro Group

Rick Parry believes Liverpool and English football will benefit from the creation of a new European Club Association, of which he has been appointed a board member.

The Reds chief executive is one of 15 board members at the helm of the ECA, which replaces the now-defunct G14.

The Association is charged with tackling the game's pressing issues over the next two years – and Parry believes it has far greater clout than its predecessor.

He explained: "This body has far greater credibility than the G14, both with fellow clubs and UEFA, because G14 was always seen as an elite group.

"Now we have clubs with widely diverging interests. We wanted a proper say in the issues that affect us most and it's important that there's an English voice on the board."

Rangers director John McClelland could not disguise his pride at also becoming a board member to represent not only Scottish interests but those of all other so-called second-tier clubs.

"It's very important that clubs of our size, those that were outside G14, are represented," McClelland said. "Now we have one solid voice, including many of the so-called two-tier clubs."

Five English teams are among the 103 ECA members: Newcastle, Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool.