Thursday, June 18, 2009

Liverpool Goalkeeper Reina Would Trade All His Clean Sheets For One Of Cech's Titles

The craving for a Premier League title engulfs Liverpool to such an extent that goalkeeper Pepe Reina has claimed that he would swap every one of his clean sheets for one title belonging to Chelsea's head-guarded glovesman, Petr Cech.

The Reds and the Blues have built up a competitive rivalry over the past five years, mainly due to their relentless pairing in the Champions League, but relations between the two goalkeepers are a little more gentlemanly due to their respective memberships of a goalkeeping union.

"Of course I'd swap the lot," Reina said without hesitation to the club's official magazine. "I had a little challenge going with Petr Cech last season where we would see who could concede the least goals.

"Despite our club rivalries, we are both in the goalkeepers' union.

"We would send text messages to each other about the clean sheets as well. I told him I would swap all my clean sheets for his league titles," Pepe claimed.

"All we want here at Liverpool is to win the Premier League. I would prefer to win every game 3-2 if it meant we won the title at the end of the season."

Liverpool won the last of their 18 titles in 1989-90, but came close to remedying their title woe last season when they challenged eventual champions Manchester United.

Pepe Reina has been linked with a £17 million move to treble-winning Spanish giants Barcelona.

Andrea Dossena: I Want To Stay At Liverpool

Andrea Dossena has revealed that he has no desire to leave Premier League giants Liverpool during the close-season.

The 27-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to Italy, with Juventus touted as a possible destination.

The left-back only moved to Anfield from Udinese last summer in a deal worth €8.1 million (£7m).

The nine-time capped Italy international made only 26 first-team appearances during his first season with the Reds, however, he has insisted he intends to remain with the Merseyside outfit and fight for a regular berth in the starting XI.

"I never said I wanted to go away from Liverpool," Dossena is quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

"I'm happy in Liverpool and I want to stay. Journalists say, 'You come back to Italy.' I want to stay in Liverpool."

The 5ft 8in defender is also optimistic of Liverpool's chances of winning their first English championship since 1990 next season, especially if Cristiano Ronaldo completes his transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid as expected.

"There's not a lot of difference between us and [Manchester United]," Dossena remarked.

"And now Manchester United have lost Cristiano Ronaldo maybe that's better for us."

MPs Bid To Topple Liverpool FC Owners Tom Hicks And George Gillett

City MPs have launched a fresh bid to topple Liverpool FC’s American owners.

They want the government to pull the plug on a crucial £350m loan to Tom Hicks and George Gillett – by taking advantage of the part-nationalisation of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

MPs said the move, prompted by fury over the apparent collapse of plans for a new stadium, would force the Americans to sell.

A parliamentary motion was tabled by Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle calling on the government to “ensure the Royal Bank of Scotland does not renew that credit facility at the end of its current term”.

Backed by West Derby MP Bob Wareing the motion was first tabled last autumn.

The new attempted “coup” comes at a crucial time – because the Liverpool loan expires on July 24.

Mr. Kilfoyle said: “My concern is for the regeneration that is planned for the area around the new stadium which will not go ahead unless it is built.

“At the current time there are a lot of conflicting demands for that money.

“That means it could be lost altogether because the stadium seems to be as far away as ever.”

Mr. Kilfoyle accepted RBS was still an “autonomous” organisation.

But he added: “The government has a great deal of influence, because it is the majority shareholder.”

Hicks and Gillett announced a one-year delay to the Stanley Park scheme last October.

Since then, the Anfield crisis has worsened with the revelation of a £42.6m loss, mainly because of interest payments on debts taken on to buy the club.

Overpriced And Overrated Johnson Will Be Just Another Rafa Defensive Howler

If Rafael Benitez pulls off the signing of Glen Johnson from Portsmouth he will probably consider it a major victory.

After all, considerably richer clubs than Liverpool - Chelsea and Manchester City - have also been seriously interested in the defender.

But if Benitez pays £17 million or more for Johnson it is more like an own goal that should be condemned than a deal which deserves a bout of backslapping at Anfield.

No matter how much Liverpool are still owed by Portsmouth for Peter Crouch, the headline figure for Johnson is exorbitant.

Any fee would eat in to Benitez's unimpressive transfer budget and it would be money wasted.

Liverpool already have defenders who haven't lived up to expectations. Indeed, they are going to have to sell one or two of them to try to balance the books after forking out for Johnson.

Benitez is clueless about full-backs - think Alvaro Arbeloa, Andrea Dossena and Philipp Degen - and allowing him to sign one of the world's most expensive even though doubts remain about his defending means Liverpool's American owners are even sillier than we thought.

Johnson is one of those players who is not quite solid enough as a defender or clever enough in midfield.

Managers can make a team work with him in it but Benitez would be better off spending what little money he has ensuring key players such as Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Pepe Reina stay than adding to his list of inadequate signings.

Liverpool's Javier Mascherano Will Cost Barcelona Over €50m

According to a report in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, Barcelona will have to pay around €52.8 million (£45m) if they want to sign Javier Mascherano from Liverpool during the close-season.

It has been suggested for some time that La Blaugrana are interested in acquiring the 25-year-old's services, and on Wednesday it was reported that his agent had flown to Catalonia to hold talks with the European champions.

Although the 48-time capped Argentina international is more than happy to remain at Anfield, it is thought his family are unsettled in England and are interested in moving to Spain.

However, Reds manager Rafael Benitez is believed to be extremely eager to hold on to the combative midfielder and wants to hold discussions with the player and his representative, Walter Tamer.

As Benitez has no plans to cash-in on one of the Merseyside outfit's most prized assets, it is claimed Barca will have to make a phenomenal bid to prise him away.

Should €52.8m (£45m) be the price-tag on the former River Plate, Corinthians and West Ham United star's head, Barcelona may have to concentrate their efforts on other targets as their financial vice-president has revealed they have around €35m to spend this year.

An exchange involving Ivory Coast international Yaya Toure has also been mentioned as a possibility.

Javier Mascherano's Agent In Barcelona For Talks

Javier Mascherano's agent is due to hold talks with Barcelona on Wednesday afternoon at the club's offices in Camp Nou regarding a move from Liverpool and the contract that could be offered, understands.

The Argentinian midfielder has been linked with a move to the Catalan giants and now Walter Tamer has jetted in to the city to meet with Blaugrana officials.

No fee has been agreed with Liverpool, but Mascherano's desire to play at Barça could have helped push the Reds into allowing his representatives to hear what is on offer.

While manager Rafa Benitez has stated that the European champions would not have enough money to buy him, compatriot Lionel Messi has claimed he would like play in the same club side as him.

If a deal for Mascherano is concluded then that could see Toure Yaya's time at Barcelona come to a close after just two seasons as talks over a new deal have yet to produce a result.

The Ivory Coast midfielder's agent, Dmitri Seluk, has told reporters that unless a deal is done by next week then his client will seek to take up one of the offers from abroad that are apparently on the table.

A swap deal could even be in the offing with Toure heading to Liverpool, but his participation in the African Cup of Nations would mean that any would-be buyer will have to be without him for a month in the new year.

Glen Bid Rests On Arbeloa

Alvaro Arbeloa has paved the way for Glen Johnson's move to Liverpool by admitting he is likely to return to Spain.

The Anfield full-back is seen as a key figure in the Reds' proposed capture of Portsmouth's Johnson, because his sale will release the funds to complete the £18million deal.

And Spain international Arbeloa yesterday offered the first indication that the process is under way, by revealing his desire to go back home.

Johnson was offered almost £4m a year in wages by Chelsea and, while the Merseyside club cannot match that, they are now ready to go close.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will sell Andrea Dossena to Juventus for around £7m, and hopes to make the rest of the fee up by selling Arbeloa to Real Madrid.

And the defender hinted that was a possibility when he said: "Going back to Spain is always an idea that's in my mind.

"I'm happy in Liverpool but I'd like to go back as I've barely had a chance to play in the top flight over there.

"It's always nice to be thought of by important teams, more still when it's this Real Madrid which Florentino (Perez) is building.

"They are making a big effort to build a great team. I have a year left at Liverpool but anything could happen.

"Certainly I will go back one day because, outside of football, I miss everything I have in my country."

But while Real are interested, they do not want to meet Liverpool's £10m asking price for an 'unglamorous' defender.

With time running down on his contract, Arbeloa must be sold this summer or be lost on a Bosman free transfer.

Now Madrid have reached a stand-off with Liverpool over what they see as unrealistic prices, after also being quoted a staggering £33m for Xabi Alonso.

That could present real problems for Benitez, as he needs to be sure he can offload Arbeloa before he can sign Johnson.

Rafael Benitez To Fight Off Barcelona Bid To Sign Pepe Reina

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is getting ready to fight off a new round of unwanted advances from Barcelona – this time for goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Barely a week after Benitez issued a robust hands off warning over midfielder Javier Mascherano, the Catalan club is being linked with a summer swoop for goalkeeper Reina.

Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo claim that Reina may favour a return to La Liga after four years at Anfield.

The story surfaced after Barcelona’s current keeper, Victor Valdes – whose contract has only a year to run – reportedly demanded wage parity with Xavi Hernandez and a deal worth £150,000 a week. Nou Camp officials are unwilling to budge from an initial offer of £100,000 a week, and Valdes was immediately linked with a move Manchester United.

The promising but inexperienced Sergio Asenjo, 19, is Barca’s back-up keeper, but a Reina return to Catalunya would be appealing in Spain.

Reina rose through the Barca ranks and made 30 first team appearances before leaving to join Villarreal in 2002.

Reina, however, has only recently spoken of his happiness at Anfield.

“I am only 26 so still have a pretty long way to go. Hopefully that will be with Liverpool,” he said.

A regular winner of the Premier League’s Barclays Golden Glove prize, he missed out by one shut-out last season to Manchester United’s Edwin van der Sar, the first time in his Anfield career he has not carried off the clean sheet award.

It would have been nice, but it wasn’t to be,” he explained.

“It makes me happy that people cannot remember too many big mistakes I have made. I was personally unhappy with myself in the Champions League quarter-final at Chelsea. I shouldn’t have been beaten at the front post like that.

“But apart from that and the penalty at Old Trafford, I can’t think of many other games where I was really unhappy with my performance last season.”

Reina insists he has unfinished business at Anfield, with the Premier League title still his major priority next season.

“I had a little challenge going with Petr Cech last season where we’d see who could concede the least goals,” he explained.

“Despite our club rivalries we’re both in the goalkeepers’ union.

“We’d sent text messages to each other about the clean sheets as well. But I told him I would swap all of my clean sheets for his league titles. “All we want here at Liverpool is to win the Premier League. I’d prefer to win every game 3-2 if it meant we won the title at the end of the season.”

Benitez Target: I’m Being Denied My Dream Move

Croatian winger Danijel Pranjic has hit out at current club Heerenveen as they hold out for more cash from Bayern Munich thereby putting in jeopardy the 27-year-old’s dream move to the Allianz Arena.

The free-scoring Eredivisie star could now search for other alternatives with Liverpool already known to have been monitoring his progress this term.

Earlier this month Bayern announced that they had agreed personal terms with Pranjic, offering the player a three year contract. However, with half a million euros separating the asking price and the Bavarian’s offer it appears the player has grown increasingly frustrated at the greed displayed by his Dutch owners.

“This is a disaster. Heerenveen are playing games," he told Voetbal International.

"I can join Bayern Munich, an absolute dream club, but Heerenveen won't let me go because they want half a million euros more.

"I just don't understand it. For many years I have given this club my utmost, everything. I have been loyal towards Heerenveen and now this club won't grant me this dream transfer.

"I spoke with director Yme Kuiper, but he is standing firm when it comes to the transfer fee. Heerenveen want to get the maximum for me.

He added: "At the moment I have no more words. I don't understand what is happening and I am terribly disappointed."

Rafa Linked With Move For Lodeiro

Highly-rated Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro is said to have caught the eye of Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

The 20-year-old Lodeiro is currently contracted to Primera Division Uruguaya side Nacional.

Lodeiro shone when representing the Uruguay Under 20s in the South American championship played this year in Venezuela.

The playmaker is currently owned by the company BBC Sport, who bought him in February among other young players of the Uruguayan U20 national side.

No Bid Yet From Juventus For Liverpool FC Defender Dossena

Juventus have yet to make a decision on whether to sign Liverpool left-back Andrea Dossena, according to the player’s agent.

The Italy international has been linked with a return to Serie A this summer after just one season in the Premier League.

Juve have reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring the 27-year-old but no offer has been made so far by the Turin giants.

Dossena’s agent Roberto La Florio said: “At the moment, there are no updates.

“The Bianconeri club (Juventus) have yet to decide whether to consider my client or (Lyon’s) Fabio Grosso.

“If they decide to target my client then we would evaluate the offer.

“He (Dossena) is happy at Liverpool but Juventus is Juventus, and he’s a little nostalgic for Italy.”

Dossena, who is under contract with the Reds until June 2012, joined Liverpool last summer from Udinese.

Benitez Could Be Unhappy About Liverpool FC Fixture List

Rafael Benitez looks set to once again be thumbing through his diary after the announcement of the fixtures for the 2009/10 Premier League campaign landed Liverpool with some tough scheduling after European games.

The Reds boss was embroiled in a row with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last season, during which he claimed Liverpool were “handicapped” by the timings of matches – even quipping his rival should perhaps “organise the fixtures and everything in his office and send them to us”.

The debate for the campaign ahead is likely to once again centre on which of the ’Big Four’ teams play at home and which have to travel following potentially testing midweek European ties.

Arsenal, who finished fourth, have already had their Premier League match against Bolton on August 18 postponed because of the need to go through a two-legged qualifier.

It is, though, Liverpool who could perhaps feel somewhat aggrieved at the way some of their domestic games have been allocated.

After the opening games of the new Champions League season on September 15/16, the Reds are set to travel to West Ham, while all of their rivals will be at home – United involved in the Manchester derby which could well be switched to a Sunday kick-off giving the league champions more recovery time.

On matchday two, Liverpool head to title rivals Chelsea, while again United and Arsenal are also at home.

Benitez and Ferguson will go head to head at Anfield on October 24, which follows the third of the opening Champions League group games.

Chelsea are at home, while the Gunners, should they qualify, would face only a short trip to West Ham.

Not until after matchday four do the Reds appear to get a break, when they host Birmingham, while United travel to Stamford Bridge that weekend and Arsenal are at Wolves.

The small matter of the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park follows Champions League matchday five on the weekend of November 28, when Arsenal will host Chelsea.

Liverpool find themselves involved in another ’Big Four’ encounter when Arsenal visit Anfield directly after the concluding group matches in early December.

With the second leg of the knockout round scheduled for either March 09/10 or 16/17 next year, the Reds could be faced with a trip to Old Trafford on March 20 – again another potentially decisive fixture in the domestic title race so soon after a European game.

United and Chelsea are scheduled to clash immediately after the Champions League quarter-finals first leg on March 30/31.

If still involved by the semi-final stage, which swiftly follows the FA Cup semi-finals, then Liverpool are set to travel to Chelsea – who knocked them out of Europe last season – over the penultimate weekend of the Premier League campaign.