Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cavalieri Passes Merseyside Medical

Reports from Brazil claim that Palmeiras goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri has already passed a medical at Liverpool and will make the switch official later today.

Brazilian newspaper Folha claims Cavalieri travelled to Merseyside in the last few days and has successfully completed his physical examination, with the signing to be finalised later today.

The keeper’s agent, Juninho Parmigiani, said: "We will conclude everything tomorrow. He's already had the necessary medical examinations, talked with some of his new team-mates and has been impressed by what Rafael Benitez had to say to him."

Palmeiras’ sporting director, Toninho Celilio, added: "I spoke to him today. He has completed the examinations and is very happy. There are some clauses still being discussed but nothing that can block the deal."

The 26-year-old’s arrival will effectively end the Reds’ supposed interest in Fulham shot-stopper Antti Niemi, while simultaneously signalling the departure of Charles Itandje to Fenerbahce.

It is believed Cavalieri will cost in the region of ₤3million, although no specific fee has been mentioned as yet.

Liverpool Boss Benitez States Valencia's David Villa Is No.1 Target

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has admitted that CF Valencia and Spain forward David Villa is top of his list of potential targets this summer after England striker Peter Crouch's transfer to Portsmouth.

26-year-old Villa excelled for Spain in the Euro 2008 Finals and, despite picking up an injury, scored four goals in the tournament to help Spain’s La Furia Roja win their first major trophy in 44 years.

Villa performed well in tandem with Fernando Torres in the EURO 2008 Finals in Austria/Switzerland last month and Villa could provide an excellent partner for Torres, who had a spectacular debut season for The Reds.

24-year-old Torres moved to Anfield last summer in a club record deal from Atlético Madrid and went on to become the Reds’ highest goal-scorer for the 2007/08 season, scoring 33 goals to set a new record for a foreign striker in his debut Premiership campaign.

Whereas the other Liverpool strikers – Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Andrei Voronin - only managed a combined total of 17 goals last season, with Benitez desperate to bring in an out-and-out striker to Anfield.

"We have Torres, Voronin, Kuyt, Babel and Steven Gerrard, who can play as a second striker," said Benitez.

"But we will try to bring in another option.”

David Villa had another excellent season for Los Che, scoring 18 goals for the Primera Liga outfit, but there is competition to sign Villa, not only from Premiership sides Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, but also from the Continent.

Villa has already stated that he would feel comfortable with a move to Liverpool, saying recently to the Daily Mail: "Liverpool and Chelsea are both big clubs with lots of attraction.

"Liverpool have a Spanish coach and I have lots of friends there.”

Benitez has also now confirmed his interest, and knows the challenge ahead if he wants to convince Villa to make a move to Anfield.

"Villa we know all about. He is on our list. But maybe it will be difficult," said Benitez on Tuesday.

Liverpool FC Back In Talks To Seal Gareth Barry Move

Liverpool are in further negotiations with Aston Villa in an attempt to finally seal the transfer of Gareth Barry.

The Midlanders have sent their Anfield counterparts a letter outlining their demands for the England international midfielder.

It is understood the asking price remains at £18m, with Villa manager O’Neill prepared to lower that to £17m if Steve Finnan heads to Villa Park in part-exchange.

While Liverpool value Finnan at £2m, Villa believe the right-back is worth only half as he has already entered the final year of his contract.

Any agreement will also hinge on the method of payment, with Villa insistent that Liverpool follow the traditional Premier League structure of half the money down immediately and the rest in 12 months’ time.

Rafael Benitez has previously been unwilling to spend £18m on Barry, valuing the player nearer the £15m mark.

However, O’Neill is confident the situation will soon be resolved.

“Liverpool have come back to us and we have responded to their proposal with a letter,’’ said the Villa manager yesterday. “We’re still waiting to hear back from Liverpool after putting that proposal to them. It’s really up to Liverpool. I really don’t know how it’s going to work out at the moment.

“I’m sure there will be some sort of resolution at some stage or another.”

Villa have already made plans for life without their skipper Barry, with Steve Sidwell expected to be unveiled today after finalising his move from Chelsea.

Meanwhile, newly-promoted Stoke City are reportedly ready to raid Liverpool as they seek to bolster their squad for their first-ever Premier League campaign.

Manager Tony Pulis has been monitoring goalkeeper Scott Carson’s situation, although Moroccan international Nabil El Zhar is a more attainable target.

The Reds’ youngster Lucas Leiva has been included in Brazil’s squad for the Olympic Games football tournament next month in Beijing.

And with Javier Mascherano having already been named in the defending champions Argentina’s squad, it means Liverpool are poised to be without both their South American central midfielders for the start of the new Premier League season, which begins with a trip to Sunderland on August 16.

Yossi Benayoun: I’m Staying At Liverpool FC

Yossi Benayoun says he is determined to stay at Liverpool – because manager Rafael Benitez “loves” him.

Manchester City and Tottenham are both keen to recruit the Israeli international midfielder, but Benayoun believes there is no chance of Liverpool cashing in on him.

He said: “Even before the season ended, we determined that I would be staying.

“Benitez told me unequivocally that he brought me here, that I had a very good season, that he’s depending on me and that there’s no way I’ll leave Liverpool.

“I have very good chemistry with Benitez. He loves me. He bought me. I really enjoy being with him – moreover, I had an excellent season. I even surprised myself.

“Benitez didn’t want to hear and isn’t prepared to hear about any possibility of letting me go at any price.”

Benayoun scored 11 goals in 48 appearances in his debut season with Liverpool, although he regularly had to settle for a place on the bench.

But he says the only circumstance in which he would leave the club would be if he was told he was no longer wanted.

He added: “Liverpool is good for me, and it was always clear I want to stay and Liverpool wants me. I got better offers financially, but these tempting offers don’t change my mind.

“If Liverpool wouldn’t want me, I’d leave there in seconds. Even if I had a contract, if I understood they didn’t want me, I’d get up right away and leave. But I’m not leaving Liverpool.”

Meanwhile, Benitez has challenged the club’s youngsters to show him during pre-season they are ready for a first-team call.

The Reds boss knows the likes of Krisztian Nemeth, Damien Plessis, Emiliano Insua and Daniel Pacheco have made great strides over the last 12 months – now he wants them to take another step forward.

Their task will be made easier over the coming weeks as Benitez uses the full contingent of his playing staff during pre-season trips to Switzerland, Spain, Norway and around the UK.

However, a slight complication arises from the fact Nemeth, Andras Simon, Mikel San Jose, Dean Bouzanis and Peter Gulacsi will all be appearing in the European under-19 Championships in the coming weeks.

The manager said: “Clearly some of the young players will be involved in some of our games during pre-season and this is an opportunity for them to show what they can do, although some of them are so good they will play some games with their national teams.

“But we have a lot of confidence in them so if they can be with the first-team players and work with the coaching staff I am sure it will be good for them.

“It is important that they develop their experience at this stage of their careers and afterwards we will see, but it is clear that they have a chance.”

Hungarian trialist Zsolt Poloskei will spend a season-long loan at Liverpool, the club has confirmed.

The midfielder was one of three MTK Hungaria teenagers to arrive at Melwood for pre-season trials.

Having impressed staff, the 17-year-old has already been handed a loan deal and will battle it out for a place in Gary Ablett’s reserves during 2008/09.

Poloskei’s settling in process will be helped by the presence of Peter Gulacsi, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon, who all arrived from MTK a year ago.

Benitez Admits: I'll Be Sorry To See Crouch Go But I Still Have Torres, Voronin, Kuyt, Gerrard - And Maybe Even Villa

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has admitted he wanted to keep Peter Crouch as the England striker prepares to complete his move to Portsmouth.

Crouch has completed a medical at Fratton Park and the finer points of his £11million move back to the south coast are almost complete with Pompey likely to formally confirm the move tomorrow.

But Benitez has preempted Crouch's final departure from Merseyside by saying: 'He is a good professional and a nice person, and we would have wanted him to stay. We offered him a new contract.

'But sometimes you have to understand the player. He wanted to play a lot more, and with Fernando Torres now first choice, that was always going to be difficult.

'I can understand Peter's situation. But he did very well for this club and we always supported him when people doubted the decision to bring him to Anfield.'

Benitez made it clear that he will now try to sign a replacement striker, and refused to rule out a possible move for Spanish star David Villa.

He said: 'We have Torres, Andriy Voronin, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard, who can play as a second striker.

'But we will try to bring in another option. Villa is a player we know all about and he is on our list. But maybe it will be difficult.'

Benitez now hopes to complete the drawn-out saga of Gareth Barry's move from Aston Villa, which the club still hope to have sealed by the weekend.

Whether that will be in time for Liverpool's first pre-season friendly at Tranmere on Saturday is debatable.

But Benitez would wish to have the midfielder on board for the training camp in Switzerland which starts on Sunday and includes three matches before a return to the UK ahead of the trip to play Rangers in Glasgow on July 26.

Peter Crouch Agrees Personal Terms With Portsmouth

Peter Crouch has agreed personal terms with Portsmouth and is expected to complete his £11 million move to Fratton Park in the coming days.

The Liverpool forward is expected to undergo a medical today before completing his move to the club he left in 2002. While the 27-year-old hopes the move will reinvigorate his England career, Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, hopes the influx of cash will allow him to secure his top targets.

Liverpool accepted Portsmouth's offer on Monday, of which £2m is conditional on his success at Fratton Park. And far from being worried by a perceived drop in class, Crouch, who scored 19 goals in 39 appearances in an earlier spell at Portsmouth, is delighted with the move, having been frustrated by Benítez's selection policy last season.

The striker believes that regular first-team football will help his England career, having yet to start a match under Fabio Capello, the manager.