Sunday, January 25, 2009

FA Cup Preview: LiverpooL vs. Everton

It’s ‘take two’ as Liverpool host Everton for the second time in the space of a week. The Reds couldn’t overcome their local rivals in league play, so they will be hoping to rectify that on Sunday.

Usually when Steven Gerrard scores the opener midway through the second half, it means victory for Rafael Benitez’s men. However, some slack marking, combined with Tim Cahill’s inimitable brilliance at set-pieces, saw 'Pool take only a single point from Monday’s derby date.

The result meant that Liverpool conceded top spot in the Premier League to their next fiercest rivals, Manchester United, whose win over Bolton Wanderers last weekend put them ahead in the title race on goal difference – with a game in hand to boot.

The giants of Anfield will be determined to set things right, although most would assume that Benitez and company would gladly swap an FA Cup triumph for three points in the league. However, the Spanish tactician is not underestimating the importance of the world’s oldest football tournament.

"The FA Cup is a massive competition," Rafa said. "It's very important for us and for the fans. We have great memories from 2006 and we want to repeat them."

Even though Liverpool are expected to rest several key players, the statistics are firmly in their favour as they prepare for their 210th meeting with Everton which is a record 21st pairing with their Merseyside nemeses in the cup.

The Toffees have not beaten the Kop kings on their (Liverpool’s) own patch since 1999, when Kevin Campbell struck to give the visitors a 1-0 league win. Furthermore, the Reds are unbeaten in the last five derbies and have only lost two of the previous 19.
Then there’s the Blues’ overall record in the FA Cup in recent years. They have not beaten top-flight opposition since 1999, when they downed Coventry City 2-1 in the fifth round, and they haven’t managed first-time away wins in both rounds three and four since 1968.

However, after scraping a point on Monday to stretch their unbeaten run to seven, albeit overshadowed by 'Pool’s 13 games without loss, the original residents of Anfield are aiming high, although they are well aware of the task which confronts them.

"I would like to win the Cup," said Everton manager David Moyes, "But there is a big obstacle in front of us and we need to overcome it before we can talk about winning the tournament."



Jan 19 Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Premier League)
Jan 10 Stoke City 0-0 Liverpool (Premier League)
Jan 03 Preston North End 0-2 Liverpool (FA Cup)
Dec 28 Newcastle United 1-5 Liverpool (Premier League)
Dec 26 Liverpool 3-0 Bolton Wanderers (Premier League)


Jan 19 Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Premier League)
Jan 10 Everton 2-0 Hull City (Premier League)
Jan 03 Macclesfield Town 0-1 Everton (FA Cup)
Dec 28 Everton 3-0 Sunderland (Premier League)
Dec 26 Middlesbrough 0-1 Everton (Premier League)



Xabi Alonso and Daniel Agger have been the major injury concerns heading into this clash. The Spanish playmaker came out of Monday night feeling his sewn-up foot, while the Danish defender has been battling a calf strain. Nevertheless, both have shown progress in training and should be available.

Rafa the gaffer is expected to rest much of his first team, however, meaning Alonso could sit out regardless to make way for Javier Mascherano and/or Lucas Leiva. Andrea Dossena could get a chance at left-back, while Robbie Keane may get another shot in attack even after his lacklustre showing in the ‘first leg’, so to speak.

The boss has also been talking up Steven Gerrard’s performance on the training track, so the skipper is most definitely in the mix.

Possible XI: Cavalieri – Arbeloa, Agger, Hyypia, Dossena – Mascherano, Lucas – Benayoun, Gerrard, Babel – Keane/Torres


Nigerian stopper Joseph Yobo missed his fourth game on the trot on Monday, but he could return to the squad as he nears full recovery from a thigh problem.

Otherwise, Moyes is expected to use an identical starting line-up to the one which held the Reds only a matter of days ago.

Possible XI: Howard – Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines – Osman, Neville, Arteta, Pienaar – Anichebe, Cahill



Ryan Babel has seen surprisingly little playing time this season, leading to questions about his long-term prospects under Benitez. But the Dutch forward should be given an opportunity against the Blues, and he’ll be determined to show that he’s worth a starting spot.


Tiny Tim Cahill earned his side a point on Monday with a trademark header, making him the first Evertonian since Dixie Dean to score in three Anfield derbies. The Australian midfielder sits on 99 career goals, and wouldn’t he love to rack up his ton on Sunday.

The Day The Magic Walked Out Of Anfield

Eighteen years have elapsed since Everton and Liverpool met in the FA Cup, but for Peter Beardsley, that rare specimen of a man revered on both sides of the Merseyside divide, it is not too late to set the record straight. The former England international admits he "cannot lose" when the rivals meet in the fourth round today. Back in 1991, however, he could not win.

There is hope at Liverpool, courted by Kuwaiti billionaires and finally ­presenting a genuine title challenge under Rafael Benítez, of a new era of prosperity at Anfield. Today's FA Cup encounter, though, revives memories of when something special undoubtedly ended. Liverpool did not lose just the tie when they last faced Everton in the FA Cup, they lost Kenny Dalglish and their authority over the English game went with him. Beardsley, though it may be hard to believe now, was cited as a principal cause.

Hindsight has brought perspective to the reasons for the Scottish manager's resignation two days after an epic 4-4 draw at Goodison Park, with Hillsborough and the exhaustion of 20 years as a talisman for Celtic then Liverpool chief among them. Yet the Liverpool rumour mill of the time concerned a dressing-room revolt over Beardsley's demotion behind David Speedie and Jimmy Carter, and a major clash with a striker Dalglish had enticed from Newcastle with the promise of his own No7 shirt.

Beardsley responded to a recall by scoring twice in that derby, then found himself cast as the villain of the piece in some quarters within 48 hours. Even 18 years later it is a transformation he struggles to comprehend. "I got the blame for a lot of what happened, which was wrong," the 48-year-old insists. "I never fell out with Kenny other than being devastated at being left out of the team. Kenny is a good friend. I got involved in his wife Marina's charity last year, we played in a charity game together against Celtic and Kenny played in my testimonial. If I had any problem with him I wouldn't have invited him. It is wrong for people to say we fell out.

"We lived next door to each other and Kenny and Marina were different class. In fact, Kenny was the one who told me to ask for more money when I was negotiating my move to Liverpool. I was going to ask for less than I eventually got. He told me I was the club's record signing at the time and so I should be asking for wages that reflected that. I would do anything for that man. The man is a genius."

Liverpool were training on Luton's plastic pitch on Friday 22 February 1991 when their ashen-faced manager announced his departure at Anfield. "We didn't have a clue it was coming," Beardsley admits. Dalglish has since revealed he regretted his decision within a fortnight and would have returned had an invitation arrived. "I needed the break, I needed the rest," the Scot said. "After two weeks I got what I needed and I'd have been ready to go back, but the phone never rang. No one ever asked me how I was doing or whether I'd reconsider and the club went on and appointed Graeme [Souness]."

Beardsley believes a more profound cause triggered Dalglish's departure from Liverpool. He explained: "I might be wide of the mark, but my own theory is he left because Hillsborough took its toll. Kenny went to at least half the funerals. I went to one. I am not embarrassed to say it, but I just couldn't cope. I went to one in Burnley with Kevin MacDonald and it was completely soul-destroying.

"What Kenny and Marina did at the time was unbelievable. They had three young kids of their own and did everything they could for everyone involved. I know he left two years later, but I think, in the end, everything caught up with him. He was going to as many funerals as he could. He went to Sheffield several times. He was sensational. I have never known a man do so much for so many people in such a short space of time. Kenny should be knighted for what he did after Hillsborough alone."

Liverpool were champions when Dalglish left although, as the signings of Speedie and Carter indicated, a painful transition had already commenced. One week after the manager's exit another Scottish mainstay, Alan Hansen, confirmed his retirement with a knee injury. With a brief exception under Roy Evans, and until this season's drive under Benítez, Liverpool have rarely threatened to capture their 19th title. It illustrates Dalglish's standing in the eyes of Beardsley that the Scot remains a reason for a 19-year drought.

"Kenny going had a far bigger impact on Liverpool than most people realise, certainly at the time," Beardsley says. "To be fair to Graeme Souness, he tried to the right thing, won the FA Cup and did OK in Europe, but it didn't work out for him. When you lose someone of Kenny's pedigree and personality from a club it takes a long time to recover. We had the same problem at Newcastle when we lost KK [Kevin Keegan] for the first time. Only when Bobby Robson came in did we recover.

"I don't think Liverpool have had a better chance of winning the league since than they have now."

Kenny Dalglish: I Was Waiting To Be Asked Back To Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish has spoken this week of the FA Cup derby which forced his shock leaving of Liverpool.

And he admitted he is disappointed he was never asked back.

Dalglish's decision to resign just 48 hours after the incredible 4-4 draw in 1991 was one of the most sensational stories in Anfield history.

Rumours and wild speculation spiralled around the city - but the truth was that the intense pressures of management left him in a position where he felt his head "was going to explode."

He quit on February 22, 1991.

Seven weeks later Graeme Souness was appointed manager.

But Dalglish admits he had regrets within weeks of standing down.

"Aye, I regretted leaving," he said.

"This game against Everton for Rafa and the boys has brought back to me a time, probably for the first time in my career, when things weren't the happiest for me.

"I needed the break, I needed the rest. After two weeks I got what I needed and I'd have been ready to go back, but the phone never rang.

"No-one ever asked me how I was doing or whether I'd reconsider returning and the club went on and appointed Graeme.

"I went on the Friday after the 4-4 draw and then Alan Hansen went the week after me.

"But two weeks later I was ready to get back to it. I needed the break, though.

"This is the first FA Cup game against Everton since 1991 and my resignation, so there's all sorts of memories and feelings floating to the surface."

Kenny admits that it was the 4-4 draw with Everton which convinced him he needed a break.

"I knew that night I had to go," he explained. "After we took the lead for the final time I was standing on the touchline and I knew that I had to make a change to shore things up at the back.

"I could see what had to be done and what would happen if I didn't do it, but I didn't act on what I knew I had to do. That was the moment I knew.

"The wife was busy planning my 40th birthday and I just came in that night and told her I was done. I needed the break. I was shattered and Marina was stunned.

"I never fell out of love with the game, even now I still love it and you get those pangs of regret and thoughts of what might have been.

"I just needed to get away from the pressure. The club did offer some sort of extended break, but I didn't know when we had that conversation how long I needed.

"If I'd asked for a week, then needed another, and another after that then how were the club going to contend with that?

"Who was going to take over for that time and what was going to happen to results with uncertainty hanging over the whole of Anfield?

"That's why I felt it was better to resign while I got my head together. Big Alan Hansen went the week after me, going because of an injury.

"I suppose that it was an injury that finished my own Liverpool career in the end.

"Big Al's injury was a physical one and mine was more of a mental injury. Mine was something that healed.

"Leaving Liverpool was the first decision I'd made in my life, in more than 20 years. That was for the good of Kenny Dalglish and the Dalglish family and not the football club.

"That's how momentous it was for me.

"I took the break and felt refreshed and more like my old self after just a couple of weeks. But no-one from Liverpool called.

"I thought, maybe, considering what I'd been through and what I'd given to the club - with the success we had enjoyed - that someone might have called to see how I was and whether a return might be possible.

"But the club had other ideas, clearly, and went in another direction.

"I understood, but Liverpool had been my life and parting was one of the hardest things I did."

"I ended up at Blackburn feeling maybe like I had a point to prove - to myself as much as anything."

Liverpool Need Not Walk Alone If They Can Win It Together

There is a theory among sports psychologists, bizarre as it may sound, that sometimes people just do not want to win. They are unwilling or not coached to go through the emotional pain and struggle it takes to prevail and cannot cope with the attention that challenging for a title brings. And so they find excuses as subconsciously they prefer the comfort zone of mediocrity where anonymity and safety reside.

It is most marked in individual sports, like tennis and golf, particularly these days when even lowly ranked players can make millions without ever winning anything. It can occur, though, in team games, too; sometimes to the collective and sometimes to a few members who can thus undermine the whole group. And, as we know in the modern Premier League, players can also make millions there without ever winning anything.

You have to wonder whether the dynamic is starting to apply to Liverpool. Ever since they hit the top of the table, there have been a series of events that render it more than coincidental that results tailed off and they ceded the leadership to Manchester United, who in the 19 years since Anfield last saw the title, have pulled to within one win of equalling their record of 18.

All seemed to be going well in December when the brinkmanship of their victories in autumn looked to have disappeared with heavy defeats of Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United.

Then came Steven Gerrard's Southport shenanigans, which are likely to hang over the club for the rest of the season with him being bailed on Friday until March 20, the week following Liverpool's confrontation with United at Old Trafford and the day before a game against Aston Villa.

To follow that, there was Rafael Benitez's berating of Sir Alex Ferguson for venturing to suggest that Liverpool might lose their nerve. Much of the conflict since has been internal but spilling out on to a public stage. Benitez wants full control of transfers before he signs a new contract, reopening his rift with chief executive Rick Parry. Daniel Agger is awaiting a contract offer, while Emile Heskey is allowed to slip through the net and join Aston Villa.

Amid it all, they have failed to profit from United's trip to Japan for the World Club Championship by drawing games they should have won. Now they face an in-form Wigan away in midweek before hosting Chelsea next Sunday.

Topping it all are yet more manoeuvring and machinations with the owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, as they court a buyer in the Kuwaiti billionaire Nasser Al-Kharafi.

Cue yet more glee at Old Trafford. Can Liverpool do anything more to sabotage themselves? From boardroom to boot room, it seems as if they need to ask themselves: Do we really want to win this?

If so, Hicks and Gillett, Parry and Benitez need to assemble for a meeting to set aside differences and renew their vows of silence. Benitez, 'surprised' at the ownership moves, needs to concentrate anew on instilling in the dressing room a winning mentality if the title is not to slip away.

Anfield has always housed the finest singers in the English game in its stands. Perhaps they could lend those inside the club their song sheets. That way, they might all be singing from the same ones.

Rafa Benitez Backs Mascherano To Return To Top Form

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has backed Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano to get back to his best form after suffering a slight lull in his performances this season.

Mascherano was arguably one of the Reds top performers last term, but he has only started six games this season after returning from the Beijing Olympic football tournament in the summer.

However, Benitez is not unduly worried and has backed the player to return to his imperious best soon.

"I think he is ready again after the Olympic Games," Benitez explained to the club’s official website.

"He said there was a difference and everyone could see that. But little by little he is getting better, the same as Ryan Babel.

"In training sessions you can see they, along with Fernando Torres and Martin Skrtel, are getting better.

The Spaniard continued, "When I use Mascherano depends on the games. Xabi Alonso was playing well this season so you try to keep the balance, and sometimes if you need a more offensive midfielder you can use Lucas or Steven Gerrard.

"But Mascherano is the perfect man for giving balance to any team in the world.

"Javier has not spoken to me about not playing as much at home, he is a very good professional and he knows he just has to train well."

Hamburg To Tempt Liverpool With Babel Offer

Bundesliga title hopefuls Hamburger SV have €20 million (£17m) burning a hole in their pockets following the sale of Nigel de Jong to Manchester City, and are reportedly eager to spend a good chunk of it on Ryan Babel.

The Dutch international winger-cum-striker is said to be unhappy at Anfield as he has been denied as much playing time as he would like to get. In 19 appearances so far this season, the versatile Dutchman has started only six matches, leading him to request a loan move next month - a request which Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez rejected.

If British tabloid The Daily Mirror are to be believed, Babel would like to play somewhere else and reports emanating from Germany suggest that HSV are willing to put up €14 million (£12m) to change Benitez's mind.

The 22-year-old speed demon joined the Anfield side in 2007 from AFC Ajax and delivered some top class performances, but has failed to find himself a regular place in the Reds starting XI as a result of his lack of consistency.

Ronaldo's A Show Off, Gerrard's The Best - Guud Hiddink

Tsar Hiddink believes his colleagues were fooled by hype, glamour and a fancy haircut when voting for the best player on the planet.

To most observers, Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo was the obvious choice for the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year award.

The Portuguese star netted 42 goals in all competitions as he helped the Red Devils champions of England and Europe, and even those - and there are many - who despise him as a person cannot overlook his footballing exploits of last year.

Russia boss Guus Hiddink, however, reckons the rest of the international game's coaches and captains were duped by the 23-year-old's flashy style and magazine-cover appearance.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is a good-looking footballer, he looks fit and, oh yes, his hair is always in place. But him winning the award is too much about glamour," Hiddink said in The Daily Mail.

Some have suggested that Lionel Messi could have pipped Ronaldo, due to his performances for Barcelona in the second half of the year and his success at the Olympics with Argentina last summer.

The Blaugrana sensation polled second in the award, though, while Fernando Torres took out third after a brilliant debut season with Liverpool.

But nor does Hiddink think either of these two young superstars deserved to be crowned the greatest player on the planet, for he believes Torres' skipper at Anfield should have got the nod.

"I very much preferred (Steven) Gerrard. He has superb technical and tactical qualities and I admire his spirit and attitude on the pitch," the Dutchman said.

"It has everything to do with his passion for the game and my passion for football. He is a player who fans can identify themselves with and a man who carries the love for his club on his club badge.

"There is not another player in the world who combines all those qualities. He is the type of player who appeals so much more to me than Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Of course, Ronaldo entertains the crowds and has great skills. But it is too much glamour and show. Gerrard, Barcelona's Xavi and Messi are not as much focused on themselves. They focus on the team."

No prizes for guessing who Hiddink's top three were, then.

Pennant Appeals To Milan

Jermaine Pennant admits there may have been contact with Milan for a summer switch and Emerson could switch to Portsmouth.

The former Liverpool winger bitterly blasted Rafa Benitez following his loan move to Portsmouth and confessed he was already looking to the future.

“I’m here for six months because I want regular football. It would be a great experience to play abroad and I’m not ruling it out,” said the 26-year-old international.

“It is weird I cannot get into Liverpool’s team but Real Madrid want me. It is very flattering to be linked with a club of their size because they are one of the best teams in the world.

“I did not speak to Madrid directly, but my agent may have done. I did not speak to Milan either, but again my agent may have.”

Pennant was signed from Birmingham in July 2006 for £6.7m, but has since been frozen out of the Reds squad by Benitez.

“It seems very strange to go from playing every week to training on my own on Saturday afternoons.

“But that is Rafa for you and I don’t think half the players at Liverpool can work him out.”

In the meantime, Pennant could be joined at Portsmouth by a Milan midfielder, as Sky Sport Italia claim there has been an approach for Emerson.

The former Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid star has struggled to find space in the Rossoneri side this season and is considering a loan spell in the Premier League.

It could well prompt his retirement, as Emerson’s contract expires at the end of the season.

Pennant - Rafa Confused Me

On-loan Portsmouth winger Jermaine Pennant has revealed that half the players at Liverpool do not understand boss Rafael Benitez.

The 26-year-old has switched Anfield for Fratton Park for the rest of the season after being frozen out of the Reds side.

Pennant had been limited to just five games for Liverpool this term, a stark contrast to 25 he notched up last season and the former Arsenal and Birmingham man has even trained alone during match days this campaign.

After remaining tight-lipped about his torrid time in Merseyside until now, Pennant has claimed many of the Liverpool players struggle to get to grips with the thinking of tactician Benitez.

Pennant, who is line to make his Pompey debut in front of the home fans in Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Swansea, told the Daily Express: "I felt like my career was rotting away at Liverpool.

"I found it strange that I had been linked with a move to both Real Madrid and AC Milan, but couldn't even get on the Liverpool bench.

"Some people were asking me why I was not getting a sniff, even on the bench. But Rafa was the manager, and had his team, so I suppose I could not have a lot of argument.

"I don't know what it is between him and me really, but I have to say half the players at Liverpool can't seem to work him out."

Pennant, whose Liverpool contract runs out this summer, accepts his Reds career may be finished, but the right-winger is looking forward to being valued at Pompey.

"Rafa didn't speak to me very much. I think the last time was in 2006... only joking," Pennant said.

"Seriously, though, he hardly ever spoke to me apart from saying, 'Good morning, how are you?' and I sensed I might not have a future at the club.

"I was training on my own on a Saturday when the rest of the boys were playing and you can only put up with that for a certain amount of time before you have to decide what to do.

"I don't know if foreign managers don't like the mentality of English players and the way we work.

"Peter Crouch was moved on, and now I have. You can't really knock Benitez because he has won the Champions League and a load of other trophies, but I wasn't part of his plans and it will be nice to be appreciated again."

Pennant is now relishing the prospect of resurrecting his career at Portsmouth, where he believes boss and former Gunners team-mate Tony Adams will get the best out of him.

He added: "Tony is just the same as when we were together at Arsenal, that's the great thing about him. He is just like one of the players, and it's easy to forget he's the gaffer."

Parry And Thrust Wound Liverpool

Liverpool go into today’s FA Cup derby against Everton with Rick Parry’s position as their chief executive under threat again after a further deterioration in his relationship with co-owner Tom Hicks.

Last April, Parry survived an attempt by Hicks to oust him and for a while the issue seemed to settle down, but fresh discontent has surfaced. Hicks is due on Merseyside this week and has signalled that top of his agenda is talking to Rafael Benitez about the concerns that led Benitez to abandon talks about extending his contract.

It is thought Benitez will express reservations about Parry’s ability to conclude transfers – over which he is seeking total control – possibly adding to Hicks’s unhappiness.

Parry has been able to survive because of support from George Gillett, who, like Hicks, owns 50% of Liverpool, but Gillett is believed to be eager to sell his stake, whereas Hicks would like to stay on the board with a reduced shareholding. That would be disastrous for Parry but welcomed by Benitez, whose relations with Hicks are cordial.

While reports of a £500m buyout of Liverpool by Nasser Al Kharafi, a Kuwaiti billionaire, are premature, it is believed Hicks’s representatives have been sounding out potential investors about buying some of his stake and/or relieving Gillett of his 50%. Philip Nash, Liverpool’s finance director, has been in the Middle East this week to seek funding for the club’s proposed £350m new stadium, but the possibility of buying club shares has been discussed with would-be backers.

Hicks and Gillett, who bought Liverpool for £218m in 2007, have a £350m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland, an extension to which expires in July, and the pair are under pressure to either sell out or acquire fresh finance before then. Al Kharafi, who was close to buying Liverpool last year, denies being in talks about a takeover but investing in the club or its new stadium has not been ruled out.

Benitez is refusing to be drawn on Liverpool’s ownership issues, repeating in his Friday press conference, “my concern is Everton”, but confirmed he is to meet Hicks and is thought to be open to restarting contract talks – providing there are signs he will get his way over transfers.

Today’s match will be the 21st FA Cup clash between Liverpool and Everton – on the 107th anniversary of the first – making it the most-played fixture in the 137-year-old competition. “It was disappointing not to beat Everton [in Monday’s league derby] and good we play them again so soon,” said Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia. Everton’s Phil Jagielka said: “Our game plan will be the same as Monday. When we haven’t got the ball we’ll look to make it difficult for them. The draw wasn’t kind. Liverpool away isn’t the kind of tie you’d pick on purpose but it wouldn’t be a big upset if we win.”

Liverpool Co-Owner Tom Hicks Broadens Search For Anfield Buyer

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks's search for a buyer for the club has not been confined to discussions with Kuwaiti businessman Nasser Al Khafiri.

Although Hicks declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations with the Al Khafiri family, it has become clear that the Texan has been conducting an increasingly desperate search for new investment since Christmas.

Hicks dispatched Liverpool's finance director Philip Nash to Kuwait this week to continue talks with the Al Khafaris, but The Daily Telegraph understands that he and Ian Ayre, the club's commercial director, have held talks with several other potential investors since the turn of the year.

Nash has been mandated by Hicks to talk to potential buyers alongside investment bank Merrill Lynch.

At least one European investor is thought to be interested in a potential purchase, and Gillett has appointed his own bankers, Rothschilds, to help with the search.

Hicks's intention is to find an investor to buy Gillett's 50 per cent stake and to pump money into the proposed £350 million move from Anfield to a new stadium.

It is thought Gillett is anxious to sell but Hicks is determined to remain on the board himself, perhaps with a reduced holding.

Sources insist that Gillett had been involved in the negotiations.

It remains to be seen if talks with the Al Khafaris continue following the revelation of their involvement. The family was close to a deal with the Americans in July last year but walked away suddenly.

The Al Khafiri family issued a statement last night denying they were in talks to buy Liverpool.

But the statement did not rule out the possibility that they were interested in taking a large stake in the club or investing in plans for the club's new ground.