Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xabi Alonso: I Want To Quit Liverpool FC For Real Madrid

Xabi Alonso has told Rafa Benitez he wants to quit Anfield and sign for Real Madrid – but Liverpool will not grant his wish unless the Spanish giants come up with a fee in the region of £35m.

Alonso has stopped short of putting in an official written transfer request but he has made it clear to Benitez that his future lies in La Liga rather than the Premier League.

The 27-year-old is due to join up with his Liverpool team mates on Sunday after being given extended leave following his involvement in the Confederations Cup in South Africa but Alonso and his agent Inaki Ibanez are hopeful that a deal can be thrashed out with Real before then.

But with Real reluctant to spend more than £27m for the Spanish international and Benitez adamant that he will not allow Alonso to leave for that kind of figure, a compromise is some way off.

Alonso could try to force the issue by handing in an official transfer request but the midfielder believes that he deserves to be able to have his future sorted out without taking such formal measures after giving five years of service to the Reds. Real’s public pursuit of Alonso is now becoming incessant with recently appointed manager Manuel Pellegrini becoming the latest leading Bernabeu official to speak of his club’s desire to snap up the Liverpool man.

Pellegrini said: “He’s an important player as he has shown with the Spanish team.

“It’s no mystery that Real Madrid are interested in his services, but it will not be easy.”

Benitez is fully aware that Alonso’s desire to leave Liverpool will make it increasingly difficult to hold on to the former Real Sociedad man despite the fact that he still has three years of his Anfield contract remaining.

But the Reds boss is adamant that he will not let Alonso go on the cheap, no matter how much pressure Real put Liverpool under.

Benitez knows there are precious few midfielders around of Alonso’s quality and he is likely to have to re-shape his side if the Spanish international leaves - and that would inevitably be an expensive process.

So unless Real come up with the kind of money which would enable Benitez to go on a mini spending spree of his own, then the Liverpool manager will not budge.

Liverpool To Offer Javier Mascherano Mammoth New Contract

Liverpool are set to offer Javier Mascherano an astronomical pay increase in order to encourage him to remain at Anfield, and resist the charms of Barcelona.

British tabloid The Daily Mail is reporting that Mascherano's wife is unhappy in England, and did not want to return after a summer break in Argentina, leading to concern at Anfield that he may want to move soon.

As a result, the Liverpool hierarchy are set to offer him a new deal which would triple his wages, according to The Mail, as they look to keep the 25-year-old on Merseyside.

Last week, Reds boss Rafa Benitez had responded to talk of the player perhaps leaving Anfield, along with Xabi Alonso, by hinting that the two players owed Liverpool for igniting their careers in England.

"We signed Xabi when no one knew him, then renewed his contract two years ago and it seemed he was happy," Benitez said, according to The Sun.

"With Mascherano, you know the situation, so both players know they owe Liverpool a lot. They are players the fans like and they owe us, in terms of loyalty.

"We have to be very clear - we are preparing our squad for next season, not talking of selling players."

Despite those combative words, Real Madrid are still hovering with intent over Alonso, and, should the offer of a new contract materialise, it would seem that there is still some anxiety on Merseyside over Mascherano's future as well.

Real Madrid Decrease Offer For Liverpool's Xabi Alonso

Spanish sports daily Marca claims that Real Madrid have decreased their offer for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso by €3m in the face of a lack of response from the English club.

According to the Sunday edition of the Madrid-based paper, the Merengues' original offer of €27m expired on July 8, necessitating a new bid.

This offer has apparently been replaced by a decreased bid of €24m in an attempt to coax a response from the Anfield outfit.

At a weekend press conference coach Manuel Pellegrini stated that the Spanish international would fit nicely into his new-look, Galactico-studded line-up, as speculation over the ex-Real Sociedad crack's future heats up.

It is further rumoured that Xabi is keen to return to Spain, having apparently communicated these wishes to his coach, Rafael Benitez.

Martin Skrtel Believes Defensive Competition Is Beneficial To Liverpool

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel believes the competition for places at the centre of defence is pushing everyone in the squad vying for the position to their peak.

The Reds are notoriously strong in the centre back position, last season boasting Martin Skrtel, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and Daniel Agger as their four top options.

Hyypia has since departed for Bayer Leverkusen in the twilight of his career, but Skrtel says he still has plenty to learn from his remaining team-mates.

"I hope there is a lot of improvement still to come. I am 24 and Daniel Agger is also. This is still very young for a centre-back," he told Liverpoolfc.tv.

"Every day in training you can learn from players like Carra. Every day I watch Daniel, Carra and last season Sami - this helps me in my job.

"That's very important and very good for us. Hopefully when we play in the future the things we learn every day will come through in our games."

He continued: "I have been competing not only with Daniel but also Jamie and last year Sami. Always when I get a chance I try to play very well and help my team win. But all four of us do that. You just have to play for the team.

"Everyone wants to play but when you don't you just have to wait for your chance. You have to show you're a good player."

Skrtel has made 50 appearances for Liverpool since arriving during the January transfer window of the 2007/08 Premier League season.

Jose Antonio Reyes: Liverpool Battle Everton For £4M Bargain Former Arsenal Star

Reports in Spain and Portugal claim Benfica have offered just 4m euros to buy out the remaining 75% of Atletico Madrid’s former Arsenal star Jose Antonio Reyes’s contract. The club has missed a number of deadlines imposed by Atletico in regards to the deal leaving the Spaniard’s career in limbo as he is not wanted in Madrid. Despite a spectacular fall from grace, Reyes is a talent and for such a small fee would hardly be much of a gamble for a number of Premier League clubs including his former side Arsenal.

The 25-year-old’s career has taken a downturn since leaving the Gunners in the summer of 2006 but surely a player of his age, quality and experience is well worth a gamble as the undoubtedly talented player looks to rebuild his career. Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool have reportedly enquired about his availability so a move back to the Premier League may now be on.

Reyes spent last season playing for Benfica on loan where he made 24 league appearances (20 starts) and scored just 4 goals. The Lisbon club finished a disappointing 3rd in the league although they did win a League Cup on penalties against Sporting with Reyes scoring the equaliser in the initial 1-1 draw. The Portuguese giants are rumoured to be in financial difficulty which has made a permanent deal for the Spaniard highly unlikely. This has left the Spaniard facing a return to Atletico where he struggled to start a match.

Despite being just 25, Reyes has already played for five different clubs including Sevilla, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Benfica. He began his career with Sevilla and was extremely popular after scoring 22 goals in 86 league games from a left-wing position. Reyes signed for Arsenal in a £10.5m deal in January 2004 joining a side that were in superb form and would remain unbeaten in the league leading to the tag ‘the Invincibles’. His departure from Seville caused the Spanish fans to demonstrate in protest at the sale of their cult hero. In two and a half seasons the Spaniard scored 16 goals in 69 league appearances in North London (53 starts).

An excellent start to his first full season in England saw Reyes score in each of the first five matches but his form waned and rumours of home sickness came to light. He signed a new 5-year contract in July 2005 and played his part in Arsenal’s march to the 2006 Champions League final in where he came on as a substitute in the defeat against Barcelona.

Reyes joined Real Madrid on loan that summer in exchange for Julio Baptista but struggled to break into the first team making just 14 starts in La Liga as well as 16 substitute appearances while scoring 6 goals. Despite a disappointing time at the Bernabeu, Reyes finished on a high as he scored twice on the final day of the season for Real to win the title. The Madrid giants had been 1-0 down when he came on as a substitute and scored with his first touch.

Instead of signing permanently with Real, Reyes moved to their rivals Atletico but again struggled to make an impact. He made 26 league appearances (10 starts) and failed to score. This prompted the club to loan him to Benfica last season after selling 25% of his playing rights to the Portuguese club.

Not only has the player’s club form deteriorated but he has also disappeared from the international set-up. Reyes earnt his first Spanish cap in September 2003 but failed to make the Euro 2004 squad. He was part of the 2006 World Cup squad but has drifted out of the international set-up as his club form has dipped in recent seasons. The Spaniard has won 21 caps and scored 4 goals at that level.

At 25 the player still has the opportunity to return to the top level and David Moyes may be the man to resurrect the Spanish star’s career. Everton may have shown an interest but Liverpool need cover in a number of positions and with their club packed with Spanish talent and staff, surely problems with home-sickness would not arise. Reyes could act as understudy to Torres up front or to Steven Gerrard as 2nd striker. He can also play on the wing so surely for such a low fee he could prove to be the bargain of the summer. Reyes has the pace and dribbling ability to offer something different to the current Liverpool squad without breaking the bank so could prove to be an absolute snip.

Fernando Torres And Xabi Alonso Celebrate Big Days In Their Private Lives

Two Liverpool FC stars were celebrating big days in their private lives over the weekend.

Star striker Fernando Torres and his wife Olalla were photographed showing off their newborn baby girl, Nora, outside a hospital in Galicia, Spain.

The infant, the couple’s first child, was born on Wednesday, weighing 8lb 4oz.

His Liverpool teammate Xabi Alonso married his long-time sweetheart Nagore Aramburu in his home town of San Sebastian.

Around 200 guests attended the wedding, including Everton’s Mikel Arteta and former Anfield star Luis Garcia.

Liverpool Midfielder Damien Plessis Wanted On Loan By Cardiff City

Cardiff City could be preparing for life without Joe Ledley next season as they look into the possibility of taking Liverpool midfielder Damien Plessis on loan for a year.

The Daily Mirror is reporting the Frenchman as a target for Bluebirds manager Dave Jones as the chase for Ledley's signature is hotting up between a trio of Premier League clubs.

Everton have been rumoured to be monitoring the Welshman, while Hull City and Stoke City are also said to be in the hunt.

Ledley is a highly-regarded young talent and has been a central figure in the Cardiff squad for a number of years having made his way through the youth ranks at the club from the age of nine.

He made 40 appearances in the Championship last season and has cemented his place in the Wales international setup.

The 22-year-old also scored the only goal in the FA Cup semi-final win against Barnsley, setting up a Wembley encounter with Portsmouth which they narrowly lost.

Plessis meanwhile is seen as one of the most exciting young prospects at Anfield and has made a handful of first team appearances since arriving from Lyon in 2007.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez could allow The French starlet to go on loan to gain valuable experience, should he manage to secure the futures of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.