Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Torres Is My Dream Partner - Keane

Robbie Keane is relishing the prospect of teaming up with Fernando Torres after completing his £20.3million move from Tottenham to Liverpool.

Keane, the 28-year-old Republic of Ireland captain, agreed a four-year deal at Anfield after undergoing a medical at Liverpool's Melwood training ground and could now establish a mouth-watering partnership in attack with Spain striker Torres.

The pair could become one of the deadliest strike combinations in the Barclays Premier League, and Keane is a big fan of his new team-mate.

"He has been a revelation since he came to the Premier League. He was absolutely outstanding last year and also in the Euros with Spain," Keane told the club's official website.

"It is hard to leave Tottenham with some of the players they had - like Dimitar Berbatov, who I had a great relationship with - but Torres is probably the best striker in the world right now. Hopefully we can play a lot of games together and do well."

Keane should play just off Torres in the Liverpool formation, and hopes to bridge the gap between midfield and Torres.

"I see myself as a second striker," he said.

"I can play off the shoulder, link things up and play in the hole. You are always judged on scoring goals as a striker and I have always scored a lot of goals. Hopefully I can continue that here at Liverpool."

The new Reds frontman turned down Liverpool as a 14-year-old in favour of joining Wolves, and is relieved the opportunity to join the club he supports came up again.

"The last four years have been great for me and I believe I am at my peak," he said.

"I am at a good age and if I didn't come to Liverpool now, maybe the opportunity wouldn't come again. It has worked out perfectly for me and, hopefully, for Liverpool Football Club as well."

Keane is set to be handed the number seven shirt, famously worn by Anfield legends including Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez revealed: "We were talking about the number, and the big names that have had this number, so it will be inspirational for him to have it too."

Benitez expects Keane, who has also played for Coventry, Inter Milan and Leeds, to strike up a fearsome partnership with Torres.

"We were looking for a player with game intelligence and good movement who could play alongside Torres," Benitez told the club's official website.

"He can play with Torres up front and also on the right.

"He is a player who can give to us a lot of goals - normally he gets about 15 each year. We were looking for the workrate he can give to us, the game intelligence and also the goals."

No rest For Rafa After Keane Coup

Rafael Benitez will parade new £20.3million signing Robbie Keane this morning before turning his attention to trying to secure Gareth Barry's transfer.

The Liverpool boss last night completed Keane's move from Spurs on a four-year contract worth £80,000 a week to the Republic of Ireland international.

But sources at Anfield are making it clear that Benitez is as determined as ever to clinch a deal to bring Barry from Aston Villa, despite claims from Villa Park boss Martin O'Neill that his club "valued Gareth more than Liverpool do".

O'Neill, having turned down four previous bids for Barry from Liverpool, demanded last week that the Anfield club make their intentions for any further moves known to him, so he could plan his own summer transfer strategy.

Benitez, however, will not be rushed as he has to acquire more money for his transfer kitty.

He will have to sell before he can buy Barry, and that means the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Andriy Voronin and Alvaro Arbeloa may have to be moved on.

The deal could now drag on into the new season.

Arbeloa wants to return to Spain for family reasons, and he would cost around £6million, as would Voronin. Blackburn are interested in Pennant for a £4million fee.

Keane, 28, will be introduced to the media at Liverpool's Melwood training ground and then is expected to travel to Spain with the rest of the squad for tomorrow's friendly with Villarreal.

Fourteen years ago Keane turned down the chance of joining Liverpool's youth set-up, the club he supported as a boy, and instead signed for Wolves.

Ngog Takes Tips From Torres

Fernando Torres has already taken Liverpool's new French teenage striker David Ngog under his wing.

Ngog, 19, joined the club for £1.5million from Paris St Germain last week, and could well make his debut in Wednesday's friendly game against Villarreal - a match that may also see the first appearance of Robbie Keane in a Liverpool shirt.

Ngog reveals that Kop hero Torres and French legend Thierry Henry are his role-models.

Torres has already made sure the youngster is settling into life at Melwood, with an offer of advice and help.

Ngog told liverpoolfc.tv: "I am obviously looking forward to playing and training with a striker of his quality.

"To have someone like that who I can learn from will be great for me. I have already trained with Fernando and he has told me that if there is anything I need, I only have to ask.

"He is such a big star and it's nice that he took the time, but all the players have been similar - including Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. But Torres is one of my role models."

Another of the forward's idols is Henry, who after an initial settling-in period went on to be one of the Premier League's finest-ever imports.

Ngog said: "I know Henry made a massive impact in England, but I know it will not be easy for me to do the same.

"But I am still young. The French league is very good, they have good defenders there. But in England it is quicker, more intense; it impacts upon you more, physically.

"My qualities are that I am tall and quick, and technically good on the ball, but I still have to adapt to the physical side of the English game. Maybe I can be more aggressive.

"I have spoken to Rafa (Benitez) about how I can progress. He told me how I could learn from some of the other great players who are already here.

"I know I have to work very hard in order to get to the stage where I am playing a lot of games."

He added: "I am really looking forward to wearing the shirt for the first time. It will be a very proud moment for me, and I will try to do my best for this club.

"Liverpool were my English team - I supported PSG in France - and I love this club. I will do my best to prove myself here and to help the team win matches."

Dutch Play Down Babel Fears

Holland Olympic team coach Foppe de Haan has dismissed concerns that Ryan Babel's participation at the Olympics has put the winger at risk of further injury, instead insisting he will return to Liverpool in peak condition.

The 21-year-old was called into the Olympic squad having recovered quicker than anticipated from an ankle injury which denied him the chance to play for his country at Euro 2008.

However, Reds boss Rafael Benitez admitted he is disappointed to be denied the services of the former Ajax player for the start of the season, as well as expressing concern that such a quick return to competitive football could have a damaging effect on his recuperation.

But De Haan has moved to allay any fears that Babel is taking an unnecessary risk by playing in the Olympics.

"I am very happy with Ryan Babel," said the 65-year-old.

"He is a very good player and is important for us at the Olympics.

"His recovery is going well, sometimes he still feels a little bit of pain but it isn't much and it is getting better.

"Looking to the future for Babel, playing in this tournament should be very good for him as he will go back to his club in good shape.

"A normal pre-season lasts around six to eight weeks and part of that preparation for him is being at the Olympic Games."

Holland are currently in Hong Kong preparing to take part in the ING Cup this week, a competition that also features the United States, Ivory Coast and Cameroon Olympic teams.

Babel came through a training session unscathed on Sunday and is set to play some part in the Dutch side's first game of the tournament against Cameroon on Wednesday.

"I am hoping he can play half a game on Wednesday and then on Saturday hopefully he can play a little more," added De Haan.

"Once the Olympic Games come round I am certain he will be ready."

Babel himself believes he is well on way to a complete recovery and admitted he is relishing the chance to help his country capture a maiden Olympic gold.

"It's exciting to be in Hong Kong, as we're getting closer to the Olympics and I expect to be fully match-fit by then," he said.

Keane Completes Liverpool Switch

Liverpool have completed the signing of Robbie Keane in a deal worth £20.3million but the fall-out with Tottenham over the transfer continued following more comments from Daniel Levy.

Spurs chairman Levy has dropped his complaint against Liverpool to the Premier League but insisted he did not "regard it as a transfer deal" due to the way the deal was conducted.

He said: "I was incredibly disappointed when I first heard, not only that Liverpool had been working behind the scenes to bring Robbie to Anfield, but that Robbie himself wanted to go and he submitted a transfer request to this effect."

The initial concerns over the comments of Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and accusations of "working behind the scenes" effectively accused Spurs' Premier League rivals of tapping-up.

The official complaint was withdrawn after an apology and a donation to the club's main charity, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

Levy added: "I have already made my opinion clear on the nature of this transaction. I don't regard it as a transfer deal - that is something which happens between two clubs when they both agree to trade - this is very much an enforced sale, for which we have agreed a sum of £19million as compensation plus a potential further £1.3million in additional compensation."

Keane issued a statement on Monday night, which read: "I would like to place on record my thanks to the board, players and fans of Tottenham for the past six years, which were the best and most enjoyable of my career to date.

"I will never forget them. I would specifically like to thank chairman Daniel Levy for understanding, that, as a fan, joining Liverpool is a lifelong dream of mine and one I couldn't let pass me by.

"I hope one day the Spurs fans, who have been brilliant to me, can understand this too.

"I have only good things to say about my time at Tottenham and expect them to go from strength to strength under Juande Ramos and Daniel Levy."

Keane, the 28-year-old Republic of Ireland captain, has agreed a four-year deal at Anfield after undergoing a medical at Liverpool's Melwood training ground and could now form a mouthwatering partnership in attack with Fernando Torres.

With the possibility of midfielder Xabi Alonso now staying at the club, Benitez may have to sell Jermaine Pennant, Andriy Voronin and Alvaro Arbeloa to balance to books. It

That could mean that Gareth Barry's transfer saga from Aston Villa may drag into the new season.

Spurs assistant boss Gus Poyet told Setanta Sports 1: "It's difficult to take because Robbie was everything to Spurs and we thought he would be here for a long time. We hope to get a player to replace Robbie."


1980: Born Robert David Keane in Dublin on July 8.

1994: Chooses to join Wolves, then being managed by former England manager Graham Taylor, despite interest from top-flight clubs.

1997: Signs professional contract for Wolves in July. Scores twice on his first-team debut in 2-0 win at Norwich on the opening day of the season.

1998: Makes his international debut for the Republic of Ireland as a substitute against the Czech Republic. Wolves beaten 1-0 by Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final with Keane left on the bench by manager Mark McGhee.

Wins rave reviews for man-of-the-match performance in his second appearance for the Republic in a friendly against Argentina. During the summer, helps his country win the European Youth Championship in Cyprus.

1999: Injury hinders second half of season and Wolves are furious after Keane is called up by the Republic for Under-20 World Championships in Nigeria.

Despite interest from Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, Keane starts the season with Wolves and scores only goal of the game in the opening match of Division One campaign at Manchester City.

With Wolves holding out for £6million in face of £5.5million offer from Aston Villa boss John Gregory, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously quoted as saying he would only pay £500,000 for Keane.

August - Joins Coventry for £6million to become the most expensive teenager in the Premiership and scores twice on his debut as Derby are beaten at Highfield Road.

November - scores for the Republic in the first leg of their Euro 2000 play-off against Turkey in Dublin, but misses the second leg after picking up a booking in the 1-1 draw. The Republic are held 0-0 and go out on away goals.

2000: February - Nets a late winner in the Republic's 3-2 victory over Euro 2000 hopefuls the Czech Republic in a friendly in Dublin.

April - Scores what would turn out to be the last of his 17 goals for Coventry in the 2-1 win over Middlesbrough at Highfield Road.

June - Gains more international experience on a tour of the United States, playing against Mexico and South Africa.

July - Joins Italian giants Inter Milan for £13million in a five-year deal.

September - Bags the opening goal in the Republic's 2-2 draw against Holland in the 2002 World Cup qualifier in Amsterdam, taking his international tally to seven in 22 games.

October - Marcello Lippi is sacked after a poor start to the Serie A season and failing to qualify for the Champions League. Keane finds himself on the bench after failing to score in four starts.

November - Former club Wolves have a speculative bid to take the youngster back to Molineux on loan turned down.

December - After Reggina have a bid to take Keane on loan rejected, Inter president Massimo Moratti rejects reports that a fee has been agreed with Chelsea. However a few days later, Leeds secure Keane on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent £12million switch in the summer.

2001: Makes a superb start to his Leeds career, bagging nine goals in 14 appearances before an ankle injury two games before the end of the campaign curtails his season.

September - scores as Leeds win 2-0 at Charlton in the Premiership, and follows that with a hat-trick in United's 6-0 Worthington Cup demolition of Leicester.

November - Hits the target in Ireland's World Cup qualifying play-off first leg against Iran, which the hosts win 2-0.

2002: April - Injury, together with the arrival of Robbie Fowler from Liverpool, reduces Keane's appearances in the first team, leading to rumours of a move away from Elland Road.

The Irishman insists however he wants to stay, and he ends a six-month league goal drought with a strike in a home win over Sunderland.

May - Selected for the Republic's World Cup squad. Involved in a minor training ground bust-up with team-mate Niall Quinn, during which Keane threw a punch at the then Sunderland man.

June - Snatches a last-minute equaliser in Ireland's World Cup second Group E match, against Germany.

Follows that up with a goal in the 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia and a crucial late, late penalty to force extra-time against Spain in the second round. Nets in the penalty shoot-out, but it ends in heartbreak as Ireland lose 3-2.

July 2 - Leeds agree a fee with Sunderland for the player but he decides against the move.

August 31 - Joins Tottenham for £7million.

2003: January 12 - Scores first hat-trick for Spurs in a thrilling 4-3 Premiership victory over Everton at White Hart Lane.

2004: Spurs have a tough season battling against relegation but Keane finishes the season as the club's top scorer with 16 goals - including a hat-trick against former club Wolves.

2005: April - Storms from the dugout towards the end of the game against Birmingham after all three substitutes had been used in the match. Was fined £10,000 and forced to train with the reserves after the outburst.

May - Finishes the season with 17 goals despite being frequently selected behind the likes of Jermain Defoe, Freddy Kanoute and Mido.

November - After initially being a bit-part player at the start of the 2005-06 season, Keane takes his chance when handed a start by Martin Jol.

2006: March - Signs a new four-year contact and is rewarded for his maturity by being given the vice-captaincy.

May - Finishes the campaign with 16 league goals - making him the Premier League's joint fourth top goalscorer.

December - Suffers a knee ligament injury against Middlesbrough after a slow start to the 2006-07 season.

2007: April - Following a return from injury he forms a lethal partnership with Dimitar Berbatov and is jointly awarded the FA Premier League's Player of the Month with the Bulgarian.

May 13 - Ends the season with a total of 22 goals in all competitions - the highest season tally of his career.

May 28 - Signs a new five-year contract with the club.

2008: January 2 - Steve Staunton hands Keane the captaincy of the national team following his appointment as Republic of Ireland manager.

January 19 - Scored his 100th competitive goal for Tottenham in the 2-0 win against Sunderland - only the 15th Spurs player to achieve the feat.

February - Wins his first major honour as a Spurs player as part of the side which claims an extra-time victory over Chelsea in the League Cup final.

April - Makes his 250th appearance for Spurs in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

May 11 - Finishes joint top scorer for Spurs in the 2007-08 season with Berbatov on 23 goals.

July 28 - Joins Liverpool in a deal worth £20.3million, signing a four-year contract.