Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Javier Mascherano To Be Told: You’re Staying At Liverpool FC

Rafa Benitez will tell Javier Mascherano he will not be allowed to leave Liverpool when the Argentinian midfielder returns to pre-season training later this week.

The future of Mascherano – who became a father for the second time at the weekend – has been in question throughout the summer after the 25-year-old told the Reds boss that his wife was suffering from homesickness.

But with the likelihood of Xabi Alonso quitting Anfield increasing with every passing day, Benitez would be loathe to lose Mascherano as well and see his entire first choice central midfield wiped out in the space of a few weeks.

Mascherano has been attracting interest from Barcelona with Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola keen to employ him behind Andres Iniesta and Xavi in the European champions’ engine room.

Benitez is desperate to hang on to the Argentina captain though and has already made it clear he is not looking to cash in on a player he regards as one of the finest defensive midfielders in world football.

With Mascherano due to join up with his team mates at pre-season training in Switzerland in the coming days Benitez will take the opportunity to tell the former West Ham man that he won’t be going anywhere because he is needed for Liverpool’s assault on the Premier League title in the coming season.

Contrary to reports, there are as yet no plans to offer the player a new contract as a sweetener with Mascherano just 18 months into a four year deal signed in February 2008.

Benitez is hoping that the lure of possible glory with Liverpool rather than an increased pay packet will be enough to convince Mascherano that his future remains at Anfield.

Only if Mascherano commits himself to the Liverpool cause once again will a new contract become a possibility.

Johnson Fee Is Fine - Benitez

Liverpool's new £17m full-back Glen Johnson will make his Liverpool debut in Switzerland on Wednesday with boss Rafael Benitez insisting he is worth the money.

Johnson will play in Liverpool's first pre-season friendly against St Gallen.

Benitez admits, like Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, that the transfer market has gone mad this summer.

The Spaniard said: "Yes, the money people are asking is crazy. I hear, for example, that people at Seville are asking for 41m euros for Daniel Alves. That is a lot.

"The market is crazy, but you must pay good money for good players.

"The money for Johnson is OK. He is English, an international with quality and he is worth the money.

"He is a very good attacking player. If you try to buy a winger it can be £50m to £60m at current prices, but Johnson as an offensive full-back can give us more options.

"He can be good for us, especially when we are at home and teams are defending against us. Going forward he will give us something different, something special. He is a good addition for us."

Benitez has 24 players at the club's Swiss training camp, and says: "We will try to use all the players. Our idea is to use one team in the first half and change it at half-time.

"We have the video of their recent game against Basel and they were well organised - the manager knows what to do. The main thing for us is to get the match fitness, the result is not too important even though we want to win every single game - but it will be interesting.

"The important thing is to see how the team is on the pitch and see the understanding between the players."

Apart from Johnson, Benitez will want to run the rule over a batch of youngsters with the squad. Martin Kelly, Mikel San Jose, Daniel Pacheco, Peter Gulacsi, Daniel Ayala and Krisztian Nemeth will all have a chance to impress.

Liverpool will be joined by Javier Mascherano on Thursday after he became a father for the second time at the weekend, which has delayed his arrival in Switzerland.

Transfer speculation still revolves around the Argentina captain, as well as Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso, who is due to join up with the squad on Sunday after the friendly with Rapid Vienna in the Austrian capital.

Despite Real Madrid's continued interest, Alonso is due to travel to the Far East with Liverpool for next week's two friendlies against Thailand and Singapore.

Benitez has also made it clear that Mascherano - despite interest from Barcelona -- will be expected to honour his contract, which still has over two years to run.

Benitez said recently: It is clear that they both (Alonso and Mascherano) are under contract with long-term agreements."

Alonso has asked Benitez to allow him to join Real Madrid, but the Liverpool manager will not sell below £30m.

Agent Claims Hungarian Quintet To Have Trial With Liverpool

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has reportedly offered a quintet of potential Hungarian starlets for a trial at Anfield.

The clutch of players are goalkeeper Attila Abu, midfielders Krisztian Adorjan and Patrik Vass, striker Peter Horvath and defender Patrik Poor, who are all currently playing in the youth academy at MTK Budapest.

Their agent, Tibor Pataky, claims The Reds have shown plenty of interest in his clients and it will be the second visit to England for midfielders Adorjan and Vass.

"All of the players have been observed at least three times by a Liverpool scout, what's more at the end of May the new director of the Liverpool Academy, Frank McParland, went to Hungary to check the players' abilities," the agent told Pepsifoci.

"He invited five players to Liverpool. Krisztian Adorjan and Patrik Vass go to Liverpool for the second time, a year-and-a-half ago they trained with the youth team of Liverpool and played a game in England."

Liverpool already have quite a wealth of Hungarian talent at the club, including striker Kirsztian Nemeth, goalkeeper Peter Gulasci and midfielder Zsolt Poloski.

Hernanes: Rafa To Replace Alonso With Brilliant Brazilian At Liverpool

Interest is mounting for Brazilian hot property Hernanes who is strongly linked with a move to Italy but has also attracted the interest of a number of Premier League sides.

Liverpool are the latest club to be linked with the playmaker in the Brazilian press with claims that Rafa Benitez will replace want-away midfield schemer Xabi Alonso with the talented South American.

The 24-year-old’s full name is Anderson Hernanes de Carvalho Andrade Lime and he currently plies his trade for Sao Paulo.

Hernanes has been linked to the likes of AC Milan and Juventus but the Italian clubs have struggled to raise the fee Sao Paulo are demanding. The midfield schemer’s club have ridiculed a recent attempt by AC to sign the player with Sao Paulo Technical Director Joao Paulo de Jesus Lopes revealing to Globoesporte’s of the Italian club’s interest in their defender Miranda and Hernanes.

He had this to say, “I need to find how much a crate of bananas is worth, as that is how much they want to give us for both players.

We know that Milan ended the season in the red and not even the £60m from Kaka’s sale to Real Madrid was enough to balance the books.”

“If an offer does come for our two players, it is more likely to arrive from Spain, as their clubs are financially stronger.”

The player himself has spoken of his love for Serie A but the financial lure of the Premier League could sway the Brazilian to our shores. Hernanes revealed to the Gazzetta dello Sport, “I’m a player who loves to think on the pitch.”

“I understood that in every player there’s the time to evaluate and do the best things. My best qualities are probably dribbling with the ball and my hard shot.

“The comparison with Pirlo is very good, it definitely pleases me. He’s a complete player, probably the best midfielder in the world.

“I especially watch constantly the matches of Inter and Milan, also because there are many Brazilians. It would be something to be proud of and a pleasure to play in Italy one day.”

Hernanes has been touted as a readymade replacement for Real Madrid star Kaka at the San Siro after impressing in Brazil. He is far from a carbon copy of Kaka but has his own attributes; technically he is regarded as one of the best in his homeland especially as he is equally adept with both feet.

The 24-year-old is also extremely versatile and has played on both flanks as well as centrally as either and attacking or defensive midfielder. Unlike some Brazilians Hernanes is very much a team player and not one to over elaborate when a simple pass is available. His work rate is another plus point which explains why he is so highly regarded.

The Times report of the Top 50 rising stars of world football rated Hernanes the best prospect back in January and it’s easy to see why. The attacking midfielder came through the Sao Paulo youth academy breaking into the first team in 2005 when he made 16 league appearances (6 starts) and scored 3 goals. The following season he was loaned out to Santo Andre where he made a further 22 league appearances (7 starts) and scored 6 goals.

However, it was in 2007 when Hernanes came to the fore for Sao Paulo making 31 league appearances (29 starts) as his club won the Brazilian title before retaining the trophy in 2008. The 2nd title win resulted in Hernanes winning the Brazilian footballer of the year title and led to his first cap for his country in a 1-0 friendly win v Sweden in March 2008.

Hernanes also played for Brazil at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he won a bronze medal. Despite only playing 80 league matches for his club (67 starts) and scoring 11 goals, Hernanes has attracted the interest from the likes of European Champions Barcelona but where he’d fit into a side brimming with playmakers is debatable.

Instead Hernanes would be a great acquisition for Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool if chief playmaker Xabi Alonso is indeed sold. As the speculation mounts regarding the future of Alonso at Anfield a move for arguably the best player playing in Brazil could prove to be a masterstroke. The club are likely to make a profit from these two deals too. One thing’s for certain Brazil’s next big export will be a global name once he moves to Europe.

Liverpool Look To Aquilani

Alberto Aquilani could be Liverpool’s replacement for Xabi Alonso, but Roma won’t part with him for less than £18m.

The Reds are looking at alternatives after Xabi Alonso reportedly requested a transfer to Real Madrid this week.

According to Sky Sport Italia, Rafa Benitez has already sent his men to ask Roma about Aquilani’s availability.

He recently penned a new contract with the club after a long saga in which he received interest from Juventus, Inter and Real Madrid.

However, Coach Luciano Spalletti hinted in his Press conference that it might not be the end of the transfer speculation.

“Having many midfielders, including Aquilani, it is possible we have a few too many players for that role.”

The 25-year-old Italian international has been beset by injuries in the last year, but is back to full fitness and ready for the new campaign.

If Liverpool want to prise the hometown boy from Roma, it will cost them at least £18m.

Manchester City Preparing Shock Bid For Liverpool's Xabi Alonso

Manchester City are being linked with a shock move for Liverpool's Xabi Alonso.

Alonso is widely expected to join Real Madrid in the near future, but, according to The Daily Mail, City have been encouraged into a move by the fact that the midfielder reportedly wants to leave Anfield.

However, Mark Hughes acknowledges that Alonso is unlikely to want to move to Eastlands, especially after holding out for a move to the Bernabeu for so long.

However, the one advantage City have is that they could potentially trump any Real Madrid offer for the player, both in terms of fee and wages.

Liverpool are thought to want around £35 million for Alonso, but that is a reduced figure arrived at after weeks of negotiations.

Liverpool FC Legend Robbie Fowler: I Could Never Join Man Utd Like Michael Owen

Robbie Fowler wished his old Anfield team-mate well last night, but the Liverpool hero admitted he could never have made the same decision as Michael Owen.

Owen was unveiled as Old Trafford’s new number seven yesterday.

But, speaking from Australia, where he is hoping to make a long-awaited debut for Queensland Fury tomorrow, Fowler was asked if he could ever have joined Manchester United.

“No, I don’t think so,” he declared.

With both England and Australia in Ashes frenzy, it was only fitting that Fowler should try to straight-bat questions about his former Liverpool partner’s controversial decision.

But like far too many of England’s top order, his best efforts came up short.

Fowler joined Australian side North Queensland Fury in February and after three months battling hip and groin injuries, the one-time Kop idol will get his first run-out with the A-League side in Perth tomorrow against Premier League newcomers Wolves.

But while happy to wish Owen all the best on a personal level, the man they called ‘God’ was yesterday reluctant to extend the goodwill.

“Obviously I want Michael to do well but I don’t want Manchester United to do well,” said Fowler, who used to taunt United fans by signalling Liverpool’s superior European Cup tally to their bitter rivals whenever he scored against them.

“It’s a sticky situation and I don’t want to get drawn into things with Michael and Man United. Everyone knows I’m a Liverpool fan,” he added.

“But if Michael scores a lot of goals then I hope Fernando Torres scores a lot more.”

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was once a big admirer of Fowler’s predatory instincts which saw him score more than 200 Premier League goals. But asked if he could have made a similar move to Owen, the striker said: “No, I don’t think so.

“I don’t want to go down that route as I leave myself open to criticism but Michael has done what he’s done and it’s not for me to judge what he should do or shouldn’t do. He’s a big lad.

“His record over the years has been fantastic. Again, I hope he scores a few goals but I hope they concede more.”

Fowler has been linked with another of his former team-mates, new Tranmere boss John Barnes, but he again dismissed talk of a move back to Merseyside.

“If people want to write stories that’s nothing to do with me,” he said. “The good thing is I quashed it straight away so it showed what my intentions were. Hopefully I’ve put a lot of things to bed.”

Townsville-based Fury, managed by former Rangers great Ian Ferguson, signed Fowler as their marquee player and he is one of the biggest names to join the A-League, which begins its fifth season next month.

And Fowler says is keen to make his mark.

“The last few months have been horrible,” he said.

“In terms of kicking balls I’ve not been able to do that, so hopefully there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve got something to look forward to.”

Liverpool Boss Rafa Benitez Asks For Xabi Alonso Transfer Request In Writing

Xabi Alonso's link with Real Madrid grows stronger by the day as reports surrounding the Spaniard's future at Liverpool continue to circulate.

British sources such as the Guardian and the Mail have said that Alonso has indeed vocalised his wish to become a Galactico under Florentino Perez, with Rafa Benitez adamant that the player must first hand in a formal transfer request.

The Reds boss has made it abundantly clear that, even if Alonso does request a transfer to La Liga, he is not for sale for a sum any lower than £35 million. However, Madrid have recently reduced their original offer, which is now said to be around the £25 million mark.

Los Blancos coach, Manuel Pellegrini had this to say on the subject of the Spain international: "It is no mystery that we are interested, but it will not be easy."

Alonso: Benitez Doesn't Want Me

Xabi Alonso will force showdown talks over his future after failing to be convinced he is wanted at Anfield.

The Liverpool midfielder has made clear his desire to move to Real Madrid following two successive summers where he felt manager Rafa Benitez was trying to sell him.

The Spanish midfielder has yet to officially ask for a transfer but he doesn't believe he can remain at Anfield after a breakdown in his relationship with the Liverpool boss.

Alonso was devastated last summer when Benitez openly tried to sell him to Juventus, and then put him on general sale at around £15million.

He worked hard to save his Anfield career and was voted the club's player of the season.

But Benitez put a £35m asking price on his head when Real Madrid made an enquiry at the start of this summer, and that has persuaded the midfielder his future lies elsewhere.

The Anfield manager has made no secret of the fact he will sell Alonso at the right price, and now the Spanish international will seek showdown talks to resolve the situation.

Alonso believes the price set is too high, given that he was touted around at just £15m last summer.

He will this week ask Benitez to be more reasonable and allow him to return to Spain after five years at Anfield.

If Benitez gets his asking price then it will be £25m more than he paid for the elegant midfielder when he snatched him from Real Sociedad for £10m in 2004.

Alonso is due back in training this weekend but hopes to have his future resolved by then.

He believes that he isn’t wanted at Anfield, and that the current stance from his manager is merely to inflate what he will argue is an over-the-top valuation.