Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Gerrard Still Wants Barry At Anfield

Steven Gerrard has reiterated his desire to see Aston Villa midfielder and England team-mate Gareth Barry make the move to Liverpool this summer.

And the Reds skipper admitted the next batch of signings made by Rafael Benitez will be crucial if they are to finally overhaul Manchester United in the race for the Barclays Premier League title next season.

Gerrard issued the "come and join us" plea to Barry during England's end-of-season trip to Trinidad 12 months ago only for Liverpool to stall on meeting Villa's £18 million asking price.

Now Barry is about to enter the final year of his current contract with speculation again already rife over his future.

And Gerrard is hoping he will finally get the opportunity at club level to reunite the partnership that has flourished under Fabio Capello ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan on Saturday.

Gerrard said: "Would I still like to see Gareth Barry join Liverpool? Yes. He is a top player. Top players improve your team and squad. He is a Liverpool type of player.

"He is very clever but he is still an Aston Villa player and I don't want to disrespect Martin O'Neill. If it happens, then great.

"If it doesn't, hopefully we get players in of Gareth's standard.

"When you watch Villa, Gareth is their main man, their captain, their leader. He scores good goals, creates chances. I've enjoyed working with him at England.

"He is English and you need English players at your club now."

Gerrard admits he is hurting at Liverpool's failure to win a trophy during the 2008-2009 campaign but believes a few more quality players could end the wait to take the Premier League title.

He said: "Has the season been a success or failure at club level? I think failure is a bit strong but you've got to be realistic and look at the big picture.

"We've finished the season without a trophy which hurts. But from a Liverpool point of view, a lot of progress has been made.

"We are getting really close to becoming champions. Our next two or three signings as far as we are concerned are crucial to push on and try and go one better than this year.

"I am certainly not sitting here proud of not winning a trophy."

In addition to Barry, Gerrard would like more players to arrive of the quality of striker Fernando Torres at Liverpool.

He said: "How do we go to the next step? Get more players of Torres' level. He is a massive player for us. You saw the impact he made in his first season and how good he has been when fit this year.

"If we can keep Torres fit, and had a little bit more quality to our squad, we can become champions.

"Manchester United won the league because they had that spark coming off the bench, that little bit more strength in depth."

Gerrard is also confident that his former Liverpool colleague and close friend Michael Owen could still have an England future.

Owen has been overlooked by Capello after an injury-hit spell at Newcastle.

Gerrard said: "I'm a big fan of Michael Owen, a good friend of his. I'd love to see him get a move from Newcastle to a big club and get his England career back on track.

"I do believe he can play for England again. He has suffered a lot with injuries for the past couple of years but I believe a fit Michael Owen has got the ability to be involved in the squad.

"I'm sure he will be desperate to get back playing football again, staying fit and scoring goals. That is what he loves doing."

Kleber Claims Liverpool Are Trying To Sign Him

Cruzeiro forward Kleber has claimed Liverpool are attempting to sign him.

The Brazilian striker ruled out moving to Anfield on Sunday, but yesterday performed a u-turn by insisting negotiations were taking place and, according to local reports, the Reds would pay £6m for his services.

When SporTV channel asked him whether he was going to play for the Merseysiders in the Barclays Premier League, Kleber said: "I don't know yet. They are talking."

The player, however, would like to stay in his homeland.

"Cruzeiro have been made an offer," he added. "I've always said I wanted to play in Brazil and make history here because I know it is possible.

"But I also know the team need to transfer players as they have commitments. We'll see."

The 25-year-old, nicknamed 'Gladiator', was signed by the Belo Horizonte side from Dynamo Kiev when the Ukrainians paid five million euros plus Kleber for Guilherme.

"I want to stay, but if Cruzeiro can afford it," Kleber said.

Liverpool Star: We Played Better Than United

Jose Reina has become the latest Liverpool player to defy the Premier League table by suggesting they played better football throughout the season than Manchester United.

The Spaniard, recently called in the national squad along with Anfield colleagues Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Albert Riera, and full-back Alvaro Arbeloa told Setanta: “Sincerely, I understand that Liverpool played better football than United in the league, including during our huge win at Old Trafford.”

“Not finishing the work off in decisive moments was a blow. We conceded too many draws, and at the end of the day it made a difference compared to Manchester United’s campaign.”

“Right now it is time to analyse what went wrong, what is the reason why we are not the champions. Then, we will correct our mistakes and start next season like a rocket!”

“The squad cannot be happy with this vice-champion finish, as a trophyless season will always be a failure for The Reds.”

He added: “To my mind, the difference between United and us is very thin, just three or four points after 38 games is nothing, just a game. I want to say that our squad is capable of winning the Premier League title.”

Liverpool showed Championship winning form in the second half of the season, scoring more goals than Manchester United, while also losing fewer games.

They became the first club to lose just two games and not win the Premier League, yet still finished four points adrift of Manchester United.

Five Down, Two To Go In Liverpool Summer Exodus

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is set to face another summer without some of his top players with Spain and Brazil set to take part in the Confederations Cup in June.

The Spanish national side has confirmed that Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Albert Riera and Pepe Reina will all join up with Vicente del Bosque ahead of the South Africa based tournament.

Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas makes up the six English based contingent in the Spain set-up. It is also expected that Lucas Leiva and Fabio Aurelio will be named in Dunga’s Brazil side ahead of the showpiece tournament.

Egypt, New Zealand, Iraq, South Africa, Italy and the USA will also take part in the tournament which is scheduled for June.

Arranged every four years, the Confederations Cup is organised by FIFA and features the winners of each of the six FIFA confederation championships (CAF, CONMEBOL, UEFA, AFC, OFC, CONCACAF), along with the FIFA World Cup winner and the host country, to bring the number of teams up to eight.

Liverpool Fall Behind In Race For Tevez

Liverpool's negotiating position has placed them behind Manchester City in the pursuit of Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez. Rafael Benitez does not appear to be willing to match the £25.5m the Argentinian's representatives are seeking from United for the settlement of the loan of the player, under a deal which expires at the end of this month.

The wages being offered by City are also superior to Liverpool's which would seem to make them a prime contender for his services. Chelsea and Real Madrid are also understood to have matched the requirements of the investment consortium, headed by Kia Joorabchian, which holds the player's rights – though Chelsea's pursuit of Kaka reveals that Tevez could not expect to command the regular first-team football which he so craves.

There was still little optimism from Tevez's representatives yesterday that a meeting tomorrow with United chief executive David Gill may pave the way to a deal to secure the player's services permanently. If the player does not stay, United may reflect that £25.5m is better spent reinforcing the midfield which was so clearly outclassed against Barcelona last week.

Real Madrid Set To Offer Striker As Bait In Xabi Alonso Switch

Real Madrid are ready to use highly-rated striker Alvaro Negredo as bait in their attempt to lure Liverpool into parting with Xabi Alonso.

Speculation over Alonso’s future has intensified with Florentino Perez yesterday confirmed as Real Madrid president for the second time after no other candidate put themselves forward for election before the May 31 deadline.

As part of his campaign, Perez, who has appointed Villarreal’s Manuel Pellegrini as new coach, has vowed to sign a number of top names of which Alonso has become the most immediate priority.

Reports in Spain over the weekend suggested Gabriel Heinze, a former Liverpool target, could form part of a prospective deal worth around £23million.

But it has now emerged Negredo would be the more likely offering, with the striker having earned rave reviews while with Almeria during the past two seasons.

Real Madrid sold the 23- year-old to Almeria two years but are poised to activate the buy-back option they negotiated as a condition of the transfer.

Benitez, who is seeking to bolster his strikeforce in the summer, has previously assessed Negredo.

And the player admits his future is reliant on the Bernabeu outfit, while expressing his excitement at a possible move to Anfield.

"To play next to Fernando Torres at Anfield is a dream and any player would accept that," said Negredo.

"But I prefer to talk about reality and I have not spoken with Rafa Benitez, but I do know that some contact exists between the clubs. My future depends on Real Madrid, but I believe that this summer I will be out of Almeria.

"I am grateful to Almeria because they have given me my chance to play in the Primera Liga.

"But it is logical that I am interested in playing in the Premier League and especially Liverpool. I believe that playing in England would be a great chance for me as this league is a sensational place for forwards."

Liverpool Could Replace Dossena With Juventus' De Ceglie - Agent

Carlo Pallavicino, the agent of Juventus starlet Paolo De Ceglie, has revealed that Liverpool may bring in the 22-year-old to replace the unsettled Andrea Dossena.

Coincidentally, Juventus are reportedly interested in signing the Liverpool left-back, so a swap deal could be in the works.

"De Ceglie is of real interest of Liverpool," he explained to Radio Gol on Monday. "You will see that if they cede Dossena, they will replace him with De Ceglie.

De Ceglie, who can also play in midfield, is considered a rising talent in Europe and has been included in the Italy Under-21 side that will play in the European championships in Sweden in the summer.

Meanwhile, Dossena endured a difficult inaugural season with the Reds, only making 16 appearances in the Premier League in 2008-09 and failing to make an impact under coach Rafa Benitez.

The former Udinese man has spoken about his desire to return to Serie A throughout the course of the campaign.