Monday, July 20, 2009

Rafa Looks For His Silva Lining

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is closing in on Valencia’s David Silva with the increasing likelihood that Real Madrid will land £30million-rated Anfield star Xabi Alonso.

Alonso fell out with Benitez last summer after efforts were made to offload him to Juventus to raise the money for a move for England midfielder Gareth Barry. Now he is anxious to join Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and company at the Bernabeu.

And Alonso has ignored Benitez’s call for him to stay and show some loyalty after the events of a year ago.

Liverpool have also been holding out for around £30m for the player they signed from Real Sociedad for £10m five years ago.

Now it seems Real Madrid are close to offering that figure for 27-year-old Alonso.

Importantly for Liverpool, a clause which entitles Real Sociedad to 20 per cent of any sell-on fee has now expired.

Benitez will quickly try to bring long-term target Silva, 23, to Anfield even though he may have to smash the club’s transfer record of £20m for Fernando Torres to do it.

Valencia have serious debt problems but they have still been playing hard-ball over their two prized assets, Silva and his Spanish international team-mate striker David Villa, 27, who is wanted by Barcelona and Chelsea.

They want £40m for Villa and £25m for Silva. With £30m from Alonso’s expected sale, Benitez will have the funds to try to push the deal through for midfielder Silva.

Benitez, though, is determined to resist Barcelona’s overtures for his Argentinian defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano, 25.

Lucas - Johnson Is Missing Link

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva feels that new signing Glen Johnson could propel the club to their first league title since 1990.

England right-back Johnson joined the Reds from Portsmouth earlier this summer for a fee of £18million, as manager Rafa Benitez plans for the new season.

Last campaign the Anfield club demonstrated improvement in England's top flight and finished just four points behind champions Manchester United.

Lucas is eagerly anticipating the 2009/10 term and has warned Liverpool's title rivals that they will be stronger with Johnson in tow.

"We have not been surprised by how good he's looked in training because we already knew him as a player," he told the club's official website.

"He has played at left-back but still showed his quality.

"Hopefully he will be an important player for us and help us win the title - that's what we want.

"His pace will be important and he is strong. He likes to go forward and we've already seen he has a good delivery. These are the things a full-back has to have.

"Full-backs are important in modern football and especially with the way Liverpool play. To have an overlapping full-back allows us to find space."

Liverpool To Battle Spurs For Young Signature?

Liverpool are ready to join Tottenham in bidding to sign Ashley Young from Aston Villa, according to reports in the News of the World.

The winger is one of the best prospects in the league and Villa have reportedly rejected an opening £18m offer from Tottenham, saying it is nowhere near their £30m valuation of the player.

Now the door may be open for Liverpool to get involved as their move for Valencia midfielder David Silva has stalled.

However, while Villa are bracing themselves for Liverpool's offer, manager Martin O'Neill has said he does not want to see the player leave.

O'Neill insisted on Thursday: "There have been a lot of stories about Ashley - and that's what they are - stories."

He added: "No-one has come in and asked us about Ashley Young and I have got to tell you, if they did they would get short shrift."

Robbie Fowler: Torres Can Out-score Owen

Robbie Fowler is backing Fernando Torres to outscore Michael Owen this season and help Liverpool take Man United’s title.

Kop legend Fowler says he was “surprised” when Owen joined bitter-rivals United, after leaving Newcastle on a free transfer.

But Fowler, who scored on his debut for Australian club North Queensland Fury against Wolves last week, is convinced Liverpool’s 19-year wait for the league title will end this season.

Fowler, 34, said of Owen: “I’m surprised Michael has gone to United but he’s a very good player and I hope he does well.

“But if he scores a lot of goals, I hope Torres scores even more.

“It’s a bit of a sticky situation for us, with Michael going there as I don’t want United to do well.”

But Fowler is convinced United will still lose their crown to Liverpool.

He said: “Rafa Benitez is a very good manager and he’ll be looking to put right a few wrongs last season.

“The way Liverpool finished the league last season was brilliant but unfortunately United’s finish was similar.

“But I have been saying for some time now that this will be Liverpool’s season – they will win the league.”

And his belief is also being backed up by John Barnes, though the wing king from the 1980s says fans must stay realistic.

Tranmere boss Barnes said: “Yes, Liverpool can win the title this time.

“And yes, they could have won it last season. But they over achieved. So I want Liverpool fans to be a little more cautious and not assume automatically that Liverpool will win it this year.”

Report: Liverpool Will Sell Xabi Alonso To Real Madrid For Wesley Sneijder Plus Cash

Xabi Alonso's move to Real Madrid is back on the cards, with Liverpool reportedly willing to consider a deal if Wesley Sneijder is included.

Alonso is seemingly intent on a move to the Bernabeu, but thus far the two clubs have failed to reach an agreement over a transfer fee.

According to The Times, however, Liverpool are now willing to accept a cut-price deal, if Wesley Sneijder is included in the package. The Reds are currently demanding €37million, a fee that Los Merengues are unwilling to match.

Despite the belief that all the Dutch players at Real Madrid are for sale, Manuel Pellegrini has stated that he considers Sneijder to be a vital part of the side. However, he might be willing to part with the Dutch midfielder in order to land Alonso.

It is expected that Alonso will not join the Liverpool squad on their pre-season tour to Asia, as both clubs continue to negotiate.

Xabi Alonso Set For Showdown Talks With Liverpool

Xabi Alonso’s future may take a step closer to being resolved today, as the midfielder is set to meet up with manager Rafael Benitez.

The Spaniard remains a transfer target for Real Madrid but Liverpool are loathe to sell one of their key players meaning the situation is currently at something of a deadlock.

However, according to the Mail on Sunday, the player and his manager are due to meet up today with the player’s future expected to be the main topic of conversation.

Indeed, today’s meeting offers the chance for a resolution to be found, as both player and manager attempt to determine whether the Spanish international will remain at Anfield next season.

Although both Alonso and Benitez have reportedly been in contact over the last few weeks, today’s meeting will be the first time the two men have come face-to-face since the end of last season.

The outcome, of course, will be eagerly awaited in Madrid, with the latest reports suggesting that Real are ready to conclude a €36 million deal.

Meanwhile, Liverpool face Austria Vienna in a friendly today and, following the game, will jet out to the Far East to continue their pre-season preparations.

It remains to be seen whether Alonso will join his colleagues on that flight.

Real Madrid Eager To Conclude €36m Deal For Liverpool's Xabi Alonso

Real Madrid have sent representatives to England to conclude the transfer of Xabi Alonso from Liverpool.

The saga has played out all summer, but Los Merengues finally appear to be closing in on their man.

According to Sport, Madrid have sent representatives to Merseyside to seal the deal, with the intention of paying €36 million for Alonso's services.

The newspaper goes on to claim that the midfielder will not travel with Liverpool on their pre-season tour to Asia, and that Madrid want him to join their pre-season camp in Ireland, which ends on Wednesday.

However, reports in the British press indicate just the opposite: that Xabi will link up with his fellow Reds for the trip to Thailand and Singapore, and will stay on at Anfield for another season.

Another obstacle could come if Inter decide to launch a last-minute bid, assuming the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona goes through. Jose Mourinho is a big fan of Alonso, and could use the money to submit a higher bid than Madrid's.

Therefore, Los Merengues are eager to finish the deal before their arch rivals sign Ibrahimovic and throw another spanner in the works.

Liverpool Will Push For Aston Villa's Ashley Young And Keep Xabi Alonso

Rafa Benitez has been given the go ahead to push for the signing of Aston Villa's Ashley Young, according to the News of the World - which also claims that the Spaniard has been assured his compatriot Xabi Alonso will not be joining Real Madrid.

Young has been linked with a number of clubs all summer, but now Benitez and Villa boss Martin O'Neill could be set to wage war once again - as they did in the Gareth Barry saga last summer.

The newspaper claims that the England winger is a major piece in Benitez's Liverpool project for the coming season.

However, what 'Pool want and what Villa will countenance are likely to be two entirely different propositions. To deter potential interest, the Villans recently slapped a £30 million price tag on Young.

Will that put off the Reds' American owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks? The financially challenged pair were not prepared to sanction a considerably lower bid for Barry 12 months ago, so it will be interesting to see if there is genuine mileage in this News of the World story.

Meanwhile, the paper says that Alonso will now reject a move to Real Madrid to stay at Anfield. He was apparently set for a £27m move to the Bernabeu, but is now prepared to stay at Liverpool for at least one more season.

This suggests a dramatic change of mind by Alonso, who had seemed determined to join the Spanish giants. The News of the World implies that because he has joined his team-mates in Vienna, he has decided to stay.

However, the Daily Mail suggests that the situation is far from resolved. According to that paper, Alonso's future will only be decided after talks with Benitez.

The Liverpool party are due to fly from Austria to Bangkok after Sunday's friendly with Rapid Vienna, and if Alonso accompanies them to Thailand, the likelihood of a move to Real Madrid will diminish sharply.

But The Mail adds that Alonso and Benitez have barely communicated since the end of last season, and that sources in Spain believe their chilly relationship will persuade Alonso to sign for Real.

Of course, it could be that by selling Alonso to Real, Benitez will realise the funds with which to mount a determined bid for Young.