Friday, August 01, 2008

Babel: I'll Be Fit And Ready

Holland striker Ryan Babel has given the nation’s fans a lift with the news that he will be fit for the Olympic tournament, which kicks off in just over a week.

The Liverpool striker risked the wrath of Rafa Benitez by joining up with the Dutch squad after tearing ligaments in his ankle during the build up to Euro 2008 in May, sidelining him for the competition in Austria and Switzerland.

The 21-year old was also expected to miss the start of the Premiership season, but the forward has now reiterated that he will be fit for Beijing after recovering quicker than anticipated.

“It is doing okay. I didn't have any moments throughout the game when it felt bad. It is definitely getting better,” Babel said.

“Last week I would say I was at about 85 per cent fitness and it has been difficult but it feels better.

“I think one more match and I will be ready for the Olympics.”

The player’s sentiments were given further credence as he came off the bench in Holland’s pre-Olympic match with Cameroon, scoring and setting another goal up as the side emerged 2-0 winners.

Hotshot Torres: Keane And I Will Fire Liverpool To The Title

Liverpool's mouthwatering strike force of Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane have yet to play alongside each another, yet the Spanish striker is convinced that the pair will fire the Reds to their first title since 1990.

Torres, who scored 33 goals in a glittering first season at Anfield, knows all about the weight of expectation since his £20million move from Atletico Madrid.

The arrival of £19m Keane on Merseyside has led to the Spaniard praising his new team-mate for his all-round game.

'Robbie really wanted to come to us and you can already see he is going to bring us an enormous amount - hard work, goals and experience,' Torres said.

'He will bring the level of the team up a notch. Keane has a proven record and great mobility and versatility. He can play on the wing or a bit behind the striker.

'It is very good for the team to have a player who can get in between the opposition's midfield and defence and score goals,' the Spaniard told the club's official website.

And Torres himself is hoping to follow up last season with another blistering, goal-filled year.

'My aim is to score more than last season, that is what I am working towards..

'I, at least, have to aim to equal last year's figure because it is very important to bring goals to the team,' Torres said.

Villa Captain Barry Will Be A Liverpool Player At The Weekend

Gareth Barry believes his £19million move to Anfield will be finalised over the weekend once Aston Villa accept a re-structured offer.

Barry, thought to have already found a house to rent in Cheshire to be close to Liverpool's Melwood training ground, trained with Villa yesterday but did not figure in a behind closed doors friendly against Notts County.

However, despite Villa's public insistence that he will be staying, the England international is confident his protracted move is imminent.

Villa accepted Liverpool's bid of £17.5m plus £1.5m-rated defender Steve Finnan on Wednesday but after a bank guarantee failed to arrive at the agreed time they told Liverpool the deal would have to be paid in two instalments instead of the originally agreed three.

Liverpool, who will find out their Champions League opponents in today's draw in Switzerland, have since been working with their banks to make the deal happen while friends say Barry, 27, is furious with Villa's attitude.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill has been angered by the manner of Liverpool's approach and is determined to put up a fight, though.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez made his interest public in May and Barry's outburst in a Sunday paper, attacking Villa boss Martin O'Neill and confirming his desire for Champions League football with Liverpool, inflamed the situation.

Benitez, who has raised £20m from the sales of Peter Crouch, John Arne Riise, Scott Carson and Danny Guthrie, believed he would have to sell again to finance any other buys. But owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett authorised more borrowing to secure Barry. He will, however, raise a further £5m by selling Jermaine Pennant to Blackburn - failing any last-minute intervention from Portsmouth. Pennant, 25, joined Liverpool from Birmingham for £6.7m two years ago.

Blackburn boss Paul Ince, meanwhile, confirmed a season-long loan deal for YouTube sensation Carlos Villanueva.

The Chilean Footballer of the Year could wrap up a permanent £4m move from Audax Italiano if he impresses at Ewood Park this term. And Ince admits that Villanueva's skills have already been spotted on internet site YouTube by his new team-mates.

Ince said: 'Some of the lads have been watching him on the internet. He looks different class on there.'

Ince also insisted it was time to look to the future after giving the green light to David Bentley's sale to Spurs.

He said: 'I've got fed up with talking about David Bentley. For everyone's sake, I think it was best to get it out of the way. The transfer window is a bit of an inconvenience when clubs are trying to nick your players!

'It's bang out of order and it winds me up.'

Fenerbahce To Beat Inter & Arsenal To Liverpool's Alonso?

Turkish giants Fenerbahce appear to have emerged as the favourites to sign Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso.

Fenerbahce have emerged as the front-runners to sign Liverpool’s Spanish International Xabi Alonso, with Serie A Champions Inter Milan and Arsenal also being linked with the midfielder.

The Reds have not given up on clinching a deal for England International Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, with it believed that Liverpool need to sell EURO 2008 winner Alonso to finance Barry's move to Anfield.

26-year-old Alonso had been linked with a move to Juventus all summer, but La Vecchia Signora refused to meet Liverpool's valuation of Alonso and chose to sign Christian Poulsen from Sevilla instead.

Inter apparently made an offer of £10million (€12.7m) for Alonso, which is considerably less than the offer by Juve so it is unlikely for the Spaniard to end up at the San Siro next season under Jose Mourinho, with Arsenal also being linked, although manager Arsene Wenger has not declared his interest in public.

This leaves Turkish giants Fenerbahce, who are now managed by former Spanish boss Luis Aragones, who has already brought in Spanish International Daniel Guiza and is rumoured to be looking to increase the Spanish contingent in the Turkish side.

Reds Keeper Rejects Move

Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje has revealed he has turned down a move to Galatasaray and is holding out for a switch to Paris Saint Germain.

The Frenchman has been made available for transfer after just one season at Anfield.

The 25-year-old has failed to impress on Merseyside and Reds boss Rafa Benitez is willing to offload him having brought in Brazilian Diego Cavalieri earlier this summer.

Galatasaray agreed a fee with Liverpool for Itandje, but the former Lens custodian has rejected their overtures.

Itandje also claims three Premier League clubs are keen on signing him, but he is hoping to win a move to PSG.

"I refused to join Galatasaray, even if I was very close to leave, because the Champions League challenge was appealing," Itandje told France Football.

"We reached a very advanced stage during the talks, I even terminated my phone lines.

"But I have other interest in England. Three Premier League clubs are attracted.

"I explained to my coach I wanted to leave to get more first team opportunities. So the club has prepared my departure. We will see what will happen in August.

"I am the solution to PSG's trouble! Of course there is already a keeper there, but Paris is a club that attracts me a lot, as I was born in the Ile-de-France.

"Even when I played in north of France, I came to Parc des Princes to see matches. If something concrete will happen, we will see."