Thursday, September 25, 2008

Liverpool To Make January Move For Brazilian Prodigy Aislan?

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is considering another move for Brazilian central-defender Aislan of Sao Paulo, after missing out on the talented defender during the summer, according to reports.

20-year-old Aislan has been at the Tricolor Paulista since 2003 and despite only making a handful of senior appearances for the Brazilian club, he already has a release clause of £10.5million in his contract at the Morumbi.

The Reds made an initial approach to bring Aislan to the Premier League during the summer, but this failed to materialise due to the window closing before a deal could be struck to bring the defender to Anfield, according to Aislan’s agent Paolino Oscar.

“They had revealed interest in the past one or two months, when the window was open,” Oscar told UOL Esporte.

“Now, I find that it was more difficult because everything is closed in Europe.”

However, Oscar also revealed that Aislan would not hand in a transfer request and that any move for the defender would have to come from the Merseyside club, with it then up to Sao Paulo to decide if they want to sell one of the brightest talents at the club.

“It is in Sao Paulo’s hands and it is they who decide. If Aislan is told to leave, very well. If not, that is good also.

“I have respect for Sao Paulo and I do not do blackmail, therefore it is the club who must make the primary move."

Should Aislan join the Premiership side in the January transfer window, he would join countrymen Lucas Leiva, Fabio Aurelio and Diego Cavalieri at Anfield.

Liverpool FC Veteran Hyypia’s Wembley Ambition

SAMI HYYPIA has revealed a burning desire to appear at Wembley before the end of his Liverpool career.

The Finland international defender skippered Rafael Benitez’s side as they saw off Crewe Alexandra 2-1 on Wednesday to move into the last 16 of the Carling Cup.

Hyypia, who at 34 is now in his 10th season at Anfield, has reached the final of the competition three times with the club, winning the trophy in 2001 and 2003 and a beaten finalist in 2005.

All three games were held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, along with Hyypia’s two FA Cup final appearances in 2001 and 2006.

And Hyypia said: “I have not played at Wembley so for me personally, to go there and get a game would be great.

“Crewe made it difficult but that’s what you are always going to get against a lower division side – they fight until the end and that’s what happened.

“Maybe we could have played a bit better in the second half but it was a tough match and in the end we have to be happy to go through.”

Hyypia added: “It was a good battle and I’m happy because maybe the League Cup is a competition in which I will play, so I’m very happy we got through to the next round and hopefully it will mean another game for me.”

Tuesday was only Hyypia’s second start of the season, with Liverpool boss Benitez electing to give an opportunity to a host of the club’s players who have so far this season found themselves on the fringes of the Anfield squad.

Jermaine Pennant made his first appearance of the campaign having falling down the pecking order at Anfield.

The 25-year-old came close to a move to Blackburn Rovers on transfer deadline day earlier this month, and yesterday admitted his frustration at being forced out of the first-team picture.

“It is very frustrating to know that you’ve been a playing such big part of the team and all of a sudden you are in the shadows but that’s the manager’s choice and you just have to get on with it,” said Pennant. “There's no point complaining.

“If you get your chance you have to make the most of it and when teams come to Anfield it’s their cup final so it can be difficult.

“We have got a lot of strength in the squad, which is why it is so hard to get in the team, so I’ll keep plugging away and see what happens.”

Pennant added: “It was nice to play a game – whether it’s the Carling Cup or any game it’s good to get a run out I and enjoyed every minute of it.

“It gives another us chance to play another game and if the draw is good we can go further in the competition.”

Meanwhile, former Liverpool youth-team defender Danny O’Donnell lined up for Crewe on Tuesday night and was ecstatic to finally get to play in a “serious” fixture at Anfield.

The 22-year-old never made a competitive first-team appearance for the Reds and moved to Gresty Road initially on loan in August 2006 before the move was made permanent four months later.

“It was an awesome night – from the final whistle and having ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ sung by a packed Kop, to the way we played was a brilliant experience for everyone," O’Donnell said.

He added: “It was nice for me to come back and see some old faces and I thought I did quite well, especially when you see the calibre of players we were up against.

“I must admit the heart raced a bit when I saw (Fernando) Torres coming on and then Robbie Keane. They are top-quality players and to play against them is something I will never forget.”

Liverpool Flop Jermaine Pennant Vows To Rescue Anfield Career

Jermaine Pennant is hoping his first taste of action this season can resurrect his Anfield career.

The Liverpool winger has been cold-shouldered by boss Rafa Benitez since he refused a move during the summer.

But he was finally given a first-team outing in Tuesday's 2-1 Carling Cup win over Crewe and turned in an impressive performance.

"From my own point of view it was just nice to get 90 minutes under my belt," said Pennant. "It doesn't matter whether it's the Carling Cup or another competition to me, it's good to get a run out and I enjoyed every minute of it.

"When you're at a club like Liverpool you are going to have to fight for your place so I'll keep plugging away."

Liverpool To Line Up Move For Tottenham Defender Gareth Bale

Tottenham defender Gareth Bale will be top of Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez's wish list when the January transfer window opens, according to the Sun.

Spurs have endured a terrible start to the season and currently sit rock bottom on two points from their opening five matches.

Having already lost Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane over the summer, Spurs coach Juande Ramos will be loathe to lose another of his key players.

However, Benitez is ready to test the water with an initial £15 million bid for a player whom former Wales coach Mark Hughes rates as having the best left foot in football.

It is thought Benitez is lining up Bale as a replacement for Spaniard Fabio Aurelio.

Aaron Lennon is another Tottenham player being linked with a move to Anfield, as Benitez looks for symmetry on the flanks.

With deadline-day acquisition Albert Riera providing previously absent width on the left wing, the Liverpool manager is now lining up a wide man for the right and sees Lennon as the most viable option.

The 21-year-old has found himself warming the bench recently, following David Bentley's £15m move to White Hart Lane, and it is believed a bid in the region of £8m will be enough to land the England international.

Meanwhile, Benitez is currently preparing his side for the Merseyside derby this Saturday, and goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes it is a must-win game if Liverpool are to be seen as genuine title contenders.

He said: "This derby means so much to me and the other players.

"I have been living in Liverpool for some years now and I understand how the supporters feel. But we need to win not only to beat our rivals, but also to prove that getting to the top was no accident."

Skrtel Loving Life At Liverpool

Tough-tackling Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel says that he already feels perfectly at home in Merseyside despite barely being at the club for eight months.

A long-term injury to Daniel Agger convinced Rafael Benitez to sign Skrtel from Zenit St Petersburg as cover in January and since then the Slovakian has managed to exceed expectations by striking up an excellent partnership with Jamie Carragher in the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Skrtel, who has been warmly embraced by the club's fans, told Liverpool FC's official magazine: "I picked things up relatively quickly when I came into the team in January, but you don't have the chance to train intensively during that part of the season.

"We were playing most midweeks as well as most weekends so you cannot do much on the training pitch except recover, keep yourself fit and focus on your next opponent.

"But this summer I feel I have settled more into the team, he added.

"Having a pre-season alongside my team-mates has been an enormous help. If I have started the season well then this is probably the main reason for it.

"Now I can say that on the pitch I am one of the lads."

"I am happy at Liverpool, I feel like I belong here. I feel that I have improved a lot since I came here and I will continue to grow as the season progresses."

Steve Cooper Leaves Wrexham For Liverpool FC Academy

HIGHLY-rated Wrexham head of youth development Steve Cooper has accepted an offer to join Liverpool.

Cooper has been involved at Wrexham for 12 years, starting as a player, before moving into the coaching set-up and eventually taking the position as head of youth development.

And because of his work with the Dragons, he has been offered a role within Liverpool’s schoolboy development set up.

But Cooper admits it was a tough decision to leave Wrexham after being at the club for so long.

“I have had to think long and hard about the move, but it was just something I couldn’t refuse,” he said.

“The hardest part of leaving was telling the young players we have at the club.

“I have grown up with them and you develop a bond with them, which is very hard to break.

“Wrexham is a very big part of my life I live in the town and will continue to do so. My kids were born here, so this is a big step for me.

“It’s an exciting offer from Liverpool, but also a doubled edged sword in that I will be leaving a club which I feel very much part of.”