Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rafa 'Eyes' New Rosicky

Liverpool and Chelsea are leading the chase for Czech wonderkid Vaclav Kadlec.

The 16-year-old striker, who has already been dubbed the 'next Tomas Rosicky', has been watched by a whole host of top European clubs while playing for Sparta Prague.

Kadlec, who is already a member of the Czech under-19 side, had a trial at Anfield as a child before stating his desire to return home to be with his family.

But the Merseysiders are keen to lure Kadlec back to England before Chelsea get their hands on the promising forward.

And Rafa Benitez is expected to make a move for the player when the transfer window opens at the end of the season.

Rafa Benitez Slams Liverpool Bosses But Will Sign New Contract

Rafa Benitez has accused his Liverpool bosses of leaving him "dead" because of their agonising contract dispute.

Mirror Sport understands the Spaniard is finally ready to end the discord that has threatened to rip the club apart and sign a new contract. But it only comes after the Kop manager went public on the tortured negotiations.

Benitez insisted: “Anyone who has just a year left on his contract does not have anything at all and I have only got a year-and a- half left.

When people, either within the club or from outside it, realise that the manager only has that much time left then he is dead. "I've got 10 or 12 assistants whose contracts are up in June.

How can a manager lead a project properly if the continuity of his staff is not secure for two or three years?" Rafa could not resist having one final swipe at Anfield's American owners, even though he is ready to sign a contract until 2013.

Benitez has been in dispute about the terms of the deal, and has also fought the Americans over control of all football matters, including the final say on transfers and the running of the club's academy.

That led to fiery exchanges which seemed to affect the team as they slipped off the top of the Premier League, and led to criticism of the coach from owner George Gillett.

Liverpool FC Boss Benitez A Great Mentor – Fernando Torres

LIVERPOOL striker Fernando Torres has thanked manager Rafael Benitez for bringing him to England and making him a better player.

The Spanish international scored 33 goals in a brilliant debut campaign after becoming the club’s record signing in July 2007.

This season he has struggled with hamstring injuries and has found the net just nine times in sporadic bursts.

But despite the troubles in his difficult second season, Torres has no regrets about leaving Atletico Madrid.

“English football has been good to me because of its characteristics: it’s fast, direct and there are very few stoppages, and that suits my game more than Spanish football,” said the 24-year-old.

“My natural qualities – the speed, the power – fit the Premier League.

“I play as a number nine up alongside the centre-backs.

“If I played there in Spain, maybe it wouldn’t suit me as I would hardly see the ball.

“Rafa was looking for a striker with my characteristics – someone quick who could surprise defenders and get behind them – but I had to learn too.

“For a lot of coaches the tactical side of the game doesn’t matter that much.

“But for Rafa it is fundamental; he is conscious of the way we set up, the movement, the organisation.

“I’ve learnt a lot. It’s been a real pleasure for me to work with Rafa.”

Torres added: “At Atletico I played more on instinct, doing my own thing; here I have to learn about movement and positioning, about the team.

“Liverpool’s game is based on the team, on strategy. Hitting other teams on the counter-attack with space in front of us suits me perfectly.

“And having Rafa made it easier to grasp the tactical side of things.”

Liverpool will need Torres to rediscover his best form if they are to maintain their bid for a first championship since 1990.

The club trail defending champions Manchester United, who have a match in hand, by two points.

And the two sides have yet to meet in what could be a title decider at Old Trafford in March.

Three goals in his last four matches suggest he is starting to rediscover his sharpness, but Torres knows if Liverpool are to be successful in overhauling United they need captain Steven Gerrard to stay fit.

Liverpool Can't Compete With Manchester United And Chelsea, Says Rafael Benitez

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez claims the club cannot compete with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea when it comes to money.

With United likely to go five points cleat at the top of the Premier League table when they play Fulham this week, Benitez insists Liverpool have not lost sight of the title and are in fact over achieving given their monetary situation.

"Every year United collect £60 million more than us - that means they can buy three £20 million players each season," he told the Mirror. "Chelsea will have spent £500 million over the last five years.

"We've made a team that can compete with them but economically we're inferiors and can't afford the players they can. I have enough data to bore you with but if you look at United it wasn't just spending £31m on Dimitar Berbatov - they can spend whatever it takes for what they need every year.

"Last year it was £17m on Owen Hargreaves, £18m on Nani and £20m on Anderson. In my five years I've paid less in transfer fees than I've received, even though I bought Fernando Torres and Robbie Keane."

Benitez, set to sign a new contract, added that while he always looks for the positives that come out of losses and poor performances, one factor both he and his players are trying to conquer is the pressure coming from Liverpool fans and their desperation to see the title brought back to Merseyside.

"Now we're out of the FA Cup it's necessary to look for the positives and those are that we will play fewer games and be able to concentrate more on the Premier League and the Champions League," he said.

"The title in England is very competitive, more so than in Spain, because every opponent you face will make it hard for you.

"Our biggest problem is in the great expectations of the success that surrounds us. All we ever hear from the fans is 'The League the League, it's 19 years since we had it'. Since I've been at the club we've won four trophies.

"I feel we're where we need to be but the problem for us now is the anxiety around us - we must handle it and that's not easy."

Benitez concluded by insisting his rant earlier this year directed at Sir Alex Ferguson was entirely justified and long overdue.

"Ferguson controls everything in this country," he added.

"These are the facts as everyone knows. When he decided to talk about Liverpool I knew I had to respond to him."

Juventus The Latest To Move For Liverpool’s Agger

The Bianconeri have become the third Italian side to be linked with a move for the Danish defender.

According to The Daily Mail, Juventus are the latest Serie A club to express their interest in Liverpool’s 24-year-old defender, Daniel Agger. The future of the Danish player continues to be shrouded in confusion, as now Milan, Inter and Juve are all lining up for his services.

The battle for Agger’s signature has been between the two Milan clubs over the past few days, but the recent inclusion of the Bianconeri in this race is sure to heat things up.

Delays over a new contract, as well as a lack of first-team action this season due to the good form of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel, has led to the defender declaring he wants out of Anfield.

Nothing came of his desire to leave in January, though, but it is highly likely that Agger could be leaving Liverpool at season’s end.

There have been no suggestions as to how much Juventus are willing to offer the Reds for the centre-half, although Milan reportedly were unsuccessful with an €8.5 million bid back in January.

Gerrard On Course For Euro Return

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is on course to appear in next week's Champions League tie with Real Madrid after returning to training.

Originally ruled out for three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against Everton at the start of the month, Gerrard made his comeback in training on Monday.

According to the Guardian, the midfielder is 'optimistic' of meeting his scheduled recovery date at the BernaƩu next Wednesday.

Hereford Land Reds Starlet

Skysports.com understands Hereford have tied up an emergency loan deal for Liverpool defender Godwin Antwi.

The promising stopper spent the first half of the season on loan at League One club Tranmere, making six starts for Ronnie Moore's Rovers.

In a bid to garner more first-team experience he has agreed a switch to Edgar Street, initially on a one-month deal with Graham Turner's side.

Antwi was part of Liverpool's FA Youth Cup-winning side in 2006 after joining the Reds from Spanish side Real Zaragoza the year before.

He spent time with Accrington Stanley before enjoying a season-long loan at Hartlepool last term, where he scored one goal in 27 appearances.

Voronin Reveals Hertha Talks

Andriy Voronin claims he has opened talks with Hertha Berlin over extending his loan spell from Liverpool.

The Ukrainian is on a season-long loan deal from the Anfield club and scored twice in the 2-1 win over Bayern Munich at the weekend which sent Hertha top of the Bundesliga.

Voronin reportedly met with club officials, including general manager Dieter Hoeness and head of player licence Michael Preetz, on Sunday to discuss the possibility of him staying at the Olympiastadion beyond the end of the campaign.

"Yes, we have spoken for the first time," Voronin told the Bild newspaper.

"It was a good talk. I think we are on a positive path," his agent Andrey Golowasch added.

Hoeness admits Hertha would like to keep hold of the forward.

"There is a willingness on both sides to continue further," he said. "We value Andriy's performances very much - his goals, presence and experience.

"He also says Hertha are his top priority because he feels very happy with us and in Berlin. Now we have to look for solutions together."

Fernando Torres: Liverpool Need Steven Gerrard

The Spain striker thinks that the England midfielder is absolutely vital to Liverpool's title challenge this season.

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres thinks that Steven Gerrard is "irreplaceable" for the Reds and hopes that his skipper makes a swift return from the hamstring injury that is currently keeping him on the sidelines.

Gerrard suffered a slight tear in his hamstring during Liverpool's recent FA Cup exit at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park, and it is suspected that he will miss around 21 days of action. The Spaniard is hoping that Gerrard's return to fitness will be swifter than that.

"The news was that he would be out for three weeks, but we hope that he’ll be back playing again sooner," Torres told The Liverpool Echo today.

"But you never know how things can turn out with a hamstring injury – and I speak from experience.

"It was a good sign that he asked to be substituted as soon as he felt the twinge. If a hamstring goes completely, you don’t get to walk off the pitch."

Gerrard returned to training at the end of last week, and the initial prognosis of three weeks for his period of absence looks like being correct. The Reds’ Champions League tie with Real Madrid on February 25 has been pencilled in as a possible return date for the 28-year old, whom Torres admits brings more to the Liverpool team than merely his awesome skills.

"I hope and wish that he will be back soon," the Spaniard continued.

"He has no natural replacement. Every side has a main reference, a home-grown player, someone who lives and breathes the club.

"Other players come and go, but that player remains. Here, our reference player is Gerrard. Liverpool FC is Gerrard plus ten more. He’s irreplaceable."