Friday, December 12, 2008

Manchester City Preparing World Record Bid For Fernando Torres?

The super-rich Citizens are ready to test the Reds' resolve to hang on to Spanish striker Fernando Torres by offering £50 million for his services, according to a report.

British tabloid the Daily Mirror state that Premier League money-men Manchester City will offer a world record amount for Liverpool forward Fernando Torres in January.

The Blues' Arab owners are thought to be ready to offer £50 million (€57m) for the Spanish international, smashing the £46m (then €76m, at a different exchange rate) Real Madrid paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001.

However, the Citizens are prepared for 'El Nino' to reject a switch to Eastlands, in January at least, and have therefore arranged contingency plans.

With Spanish club Valencia reported to be in fancial turmoil, a bid for Torres' Spanish international team-mate David Villa is on the cards.

But rumour has it that Valencia president Vicente Soriano is ready to turn down any bids coming from Manchester, even if they were willing to part with as much as £60 million (€68 million).

Consequently, City manager Mark Hughes has sounded out Portsmouth's Lassana Diarra and Blackburn Rovers' Paraguayan international forward Roque Santa Cruz, who he brought to the club when he managed them last season, as more appropriate targets.

Benitez Unsure Liverpool Can Win Title

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has sensationally written off his team's chances of winning the Premier League title this season.

The Anfield side currently top the table, one point ahead of Chelsea and six ahead of Manchester United, although Sir Alex Ferguson's side do have a game in hand.

But Benitez doubts his team's ability to last the pace.

'For us to win the league we need Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal to mess up their season,' said Benitez.

'It is very rare that three teams all mess up.

'So there's no point waiting for our direct adversaries to slip up because it won't happen.

'They all have a lot greater financial means than us.'

And Benitez compared Liverpool's situation to that of Valencia, who we won the league with in La Liga.

'For me, Valencia and Liverpool are similar — for them to win, the bigger clubs have to do badly.

'When I won La Liga with Valencia that's what happened, Real Madrid and Barcelona were in transition, so it was easier.'

Barmby Slams Keane Critics And Says: Robbie Will Be Fantastic For Liverpool

Nicky Barmby is furious with critics of Robbie Keane. Barmby joined Liverpool having earlier played for Tottenham - just like Keane - and he sees similarities between their plights.

Former England forward Barmby, now at Hull, was a big-name signing at Anfield when he joined in 2000 but struggled to nail down a regular spot.

Barmby says Keane needs to be given time to prove himself, with the Irishman having returned to the Liverpool team for Liverpool's Champions League clash against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.

Barmby said: 'People don't realise it doesn't happen just like that. Some players it does, other players it doesn't. Robbie Keane is class and you can't buy that easily. You don't lose your ability.

'I am sure the second half of the season he will be fantastic for Liverpool but just needs time to bed down. Robbie will be fantastic for Liverpool.'

Barmby does not think that Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez doubts him as much as people think. 'They don't pay all that money if they don't think he is a good player,' said Barmby. 'He is world class.'

Liverpool's Fernando Torres More Popular Than Cristiano Ronaldo

According to a new worldwide survey of 32,000 supporters from 185 countries Liverpool's Fernando Torres - not United's Cristiano Ronaldo - is the most popular Premier League star.

The results of the Barclays Global Fan Survey show the success of the Premier League, which is watched in 611 million homes across 211 countries.

According to the poll, the Premier League is followed by 98 per cent of respondents, more than twice the level of interest in the closest rival, Spain's La Liga.

United remain the most popular club with 26 per cent of the support, just ahead of Liverpool. Arsenal have 15 per cent and then Chelsea.

Kop striker Torres admitted: "To be voted the favourite player is a massive honour."

Carragher Backing Liverpool's Local Lads To Come Good

Jamie Carragher wants the Liverpool youngsters who played in the Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven to show that graduates from their much-criticised academy can be first-team successes.

None have managed it since the centre was built in Kirkby 10 years ago at a cost of £10million. But Liverpool's vice-captain sees hope for the future in the club's young English defenders Stephen Darby and Martin Kelly and midfielder Jay Spearing, all sent on as substitutes in Holland on Tuesday.

Darby, a Liverpool boy, and Spearing, from Wirral, both 20, were in the sides that won the FA Youth Cup in 2006 and 2007, while 18-year-old Kelly hails from Bolton.

Carragher, a Liverpool lad, said: 'It is more difficult than when I started. We are regarded as one of the best teams in Europe and that makes it more difficult for the younger players who are trying to break into the team.

'Playing for Liverpool in the Champions League is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. Jay told me he received 37 text messages after the game, so that shows just how pleased his family and friends are and it's the same with all of us. We're all delighted for them.

'When you are a local lad who has come through, you have a bit of an extra feel for the club. That's not a criticism of the foreign players but the club does mean so much to the local lads and you can see that in those young lads every day in training.'

Cavalieri Hails Reina's Influence

Liverpool keeper Diego Cavalieri has praised first-choice stopper Pepe Reina for helping him settle at Anfield.

The Brazilian, who played in the 3-1 Champions League win at PSV Eindhoven, says Reina has been a huge help since he arrived in England in the summer.

"He's a good keeper, a good person and has been a good help to me," Cavalieri told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"I'm very happy in Liverpool, with Pepe, the goalkeeping coach and with friends. For me it's very good"

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez signed the 26-year-old from Palmeiras for £3.5m on a four-year contract to act as cover for Reina who, for the past three seasons, has won the Premier League's Golden Glove Award in recognition of his impressive form.

Agent Unsure Over Agger Stay

Daniel Agger's agent has admitted he is unsure if the Danish defender will stay at Liverpool.

The 23-year-old's future has been the subject of speculation in recent weeks with AC Milan and Real Madrid credited with an interest in the central defender.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has expressed his desire to keep Agger, but talks over a new deal at Anfield have stalled.

Agger has just 18 months to run on his current contract and the player is reported to be seeking an improved deal to extend his stay on Merseyside.

The Danish international's representative Per Steffensen refused to confirm Agger would be staying at Liverpool.

"He still has 18 months left on his Liverpool contract, that is a fact," Steffensen told The Times.

"It's not only up to Daniel. He has said he is happy at Liverpool but there are always two parties.

"I don't know if he will stay."

Stevie: Why Christmas Is So Crucial

Steven Gerrard believes the upcoming Christmas period is the most important for a long time as Liverpool attempt to maintain their lead at the top of the table.

Rafa Benitez's men know they will stand a real chance of fighting for that elusive league title if they can enter the New Year in pole position - something they haven't done for 12 years.

Liverpool will bid to maintain - or improve upon - their one point lead over Chelsea against Hull on Saturday before a festive calendar made up of Arsenal (a), Bolton (h) and Newcastle (a).

Gerrard admits these fixtures could make or break the season.

"We're coming up to Christmas and that's when things really start to take shape," the skipper told the official LFC Magazine.

"The festive season might not be as congested as it has been in the past few years in terms of the number of games we're going to play, but the results are more critical this season than they've been for ages – because of where we find ourselves in the league."

Liverpool top the table after impressive victories over Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton, although they've struggled with form of late with home draws against West Ham and Fulham.

Gerrard is conscious of the team's achievements so far but knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

"I don't really think we've played our best football this season," said the 28-year-old. "We might have done it for 45 minutes here and there, but for a full 90 minutes, the closest we've come has been at Stamford Bridge."

That victory, courtesy of Xabi Alonso's deflected strike, ended Chelsea's 86-match unbeaten home record and heralded Liverpool's potential to win their first league title in 19 years.

"Looking back at the first half of the season, there's a lot for us to be happy with," added Gerrard.

"We've put ourselves in a position we haven't been in for a long, long time. But the fact is that the hardest part of the season is still to come.

"United are going to get stronger. Arsenal keep proving that they can't be written off. People have done that and they've gone out and beaten United at home and Chelsea away. Chelsea have had a stumble but they'll be back too."

Hull visit Anfield on Saturday hoping to emulate West Ham and Fulham's performances, and the Liverpool captain is cautious of the threat these teams pose to their title hopes.

He said: "You see from results around the country that everyone can make life tough for teams at the top. It's a cliche, but there aren't any easy games in the Premier League. We're not playing particularly well at the moment, but we know that. No-one's pretending otherwise."

Gerrard is hoping the Reds build on back-to-back wins against Blackburn and PSV Eindhoven.

"There are 40-odd thousand people at Anfield every other week and about 4,000 people who follow us all over the country and beyond," he said.

"They've seen success. We've won everything in my time at Liverpool except for the Premier League. That's the one they want.

"It's a burning desire. I know, because I share it. We all do."

Hearts Boss Wants Krisztian Nemeth

Liverpool youngster Krisztian Nemeth is attracting interest from north of the border.

Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo has revealed he would love to sign the 19-year-old Hungarian striker in the transfer window but admits the deal is unlikely to happen.

Nemeth has made his mark for Gary Ablett’s reserves since arriving from MTK Hungaria in the summer of 2007 and is tipped to break into Rafa Benitez's first team squad.

“Do I want to sign more Hungarians? Yes, if they're good enough,” said Laszlo.

“We were interested in Liverpool starlet Nemeth but his price is very high and we don't have money to waste.”

Ajdarevic Seeks Rovers Switch

Astrit Ajdarevic is hoping a trial spell at Blackburn will see him awarded a permanent contract.

The Swedish starlet is currently on the books of Liverpool's youth academy, but has grown frustrated at a lack of opportunities at Anfield.

At 18 he feels the time has come for him to be pushing for regular first-team football.

With the likelihood of that happening on Merseyside becoming increasingly unlikely, the midfielder is keen to take on a new challenge elsewhere.

He remains confident that Rovers boss Paul Ince has been impressed by what he has seen, but accepts that the uncertainty surrounding the former England international's future is causing a delay in negotiations.

"Ince has said that he is interested," Ajdarevic told Fotbollskanalen.

"His situation is not the best though. I'll just have to wait for things to cool down at the club. I still expect the situation to be resolved.

"At Blackburn, I have been training with the first-team and that has always been my goal.

"I am very pleased to have had the opportunity and everything looks good."