Sunday, August 02, 2009

Liverpool Value Xabi Alonso At €40m - Report

Real Madrid continue their quest to find quality reinforcement for the centre of their midfield, with Xabi Alonso still believed to be their number one transfer target.

However, Real and Liverpool have been some distance apart in their valuation of the 27-year-old, who signed for the Reds in 2004.

And, according to news daily AS, Liverpool are demanding a fee of €40 million: €35 million paid up front, and €5 based on the midfielder's performances.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, has reportedly given the green light to raise the club's current offer to €30 million, a figure Liverpool are believed to be interested in accepting.

In the coming days, negotiations for Alonso resume, in what has been one of the longest transfer sagas of the summer.

Liverpool To Move For David Villa Once Xabi Alonso's Move To Real Madrid Is Complete

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is expected to make a move for Valencia's David Villa once Xabi Alonso's £30 million move to Real Madrid has gone through.

With Alonso guaranteed to leave this summer having submitted a transfer request earlier this week following months of speculation, Benitez and his scouting team have been on the look out for a suitable replacement.

According to the Sun, Alonso is expected to complete his deal with Real within the next 24 hours giving Benitez enough disposable cash to pair Villa up with his compatriot Fernando Torres.

Liverpool are said to be confident of their chances of snapping up the 26-year-old, who has already turned down offers from Real and Barcelona this summer, but have prepared a back up plan should they encounter any obstacles.

If signing Villa evades the club, Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, 24 is also on Benitez's radar.

While he would not come cheap - Roma rate their home-grown star at £30m - there are signs that his club would not stand in the way of a transfer to Liverpool.

Roma's financial situation puts them in a position where they are unable to object to big money transfers, which plays into the hands of Benitez.

There is currently an ownership row surrounding the club, after the agent Vinicio Fioranelli, representing a Swiss corporation saw his takeover bid collapse.

Real Madrid Set To Lure Liverpool's Xabi Alonso With Improved Bid

The Spanish side hope an offer of £28 million, with a further £1 million dependent on the player's success at the Bernabeu, will be enough to put an end to the Spanish international's long-running transfer saga.

Florentino Perez, the Madrid president, is thought to have sanctioned the deal after coming under pressure from Manuel Pellegrini, the club's manager, and technical director Jorge Valdano to sign a player identified in June as one of the Spanish club's chief transfer targets.

Perez has remained steadfastly unwilling to match Liverpool's £30 million asking price for a player he sees as a cost, rather than an investment, but Real's pre-season displays have only served to heighten their need for a creative midfield player.

Alonso handed a transfer request in on Wednesday in a bid to expedite the move after coming under pressure from manager Rafa Benitez to end the stalemate. The Spaniard does not wish to lower his demands but is conscious of his need to plan for next season as soon as possible.

The Liverpool manager will be handed the bulk of that fee, plus the £8 million raised from the sales of Alvaro Arbeloa, Sebastian Leto, Jack Hobbs and Paul Anderson, as well as any money generated by the sale of Andrea Dossena, to strengthen his squad.

Fernando Torres: 'I Have Never Thought About Leaving Liverpool FC'

One talented Spaniard may be heading for the Anfield exit door but Liverpool’s most valuable import insists he has never been happier.

Fernando Torres will return to his homeland for tomorrow’s friendly against Espanyol looking to build up his match sharpness ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

The prolific frontman only returned from his extended summer break on the eve of the Reds’ Far East tour but he looked like he had never been away.

He produced a dazzling 10-minute cameo against Thailand before opening his account during a half-hour burst in the 5-0 win over Singapore.

After being hampered by hamstring problems last season, Torres is on a mission to make up for lost time.

“I want to forget all my injury problems from last season and I want to play in every single game this season – be it the league, the Champions League, the FA Cup or the League Cup,” he said.

“Based on the quality of this squad, we can go very far and win many trophies.

“All I want is to score more goals to help the team win more trophies.”

Much has been made about Liverpool’s lack of firepower with Andriy Voronin, David Ngog and rookie Krisztian Nemeth the only possible alternatives.

Robbie Keane hasn’t been replaced since he returned to Spurs in January but Torres insists he is happy leading the line on his own.

“Playing up front alone has its challenges but I’m used to it since my days at Atletico Madrid,” he said.

“I don’t mind playing alone or with another striker. I don’t really think about it. As a striker, you are playing for the team and what is more important is that you score goals and help your team win the game in the end.

“I don’t think we need to sign any other players. We have already bought good players such as Glen Johnson whom I believe is a good signing for Liverpool.

“We don’t need to buy new players to prove that we are capable of winning.”

Torres admits he is relishing the prospect of renewing his partnership with Steven Gerrard following the skipper’s return to the Reds squad after his court appearance.

“Gerrard is the best player in the world and is a special friend to me,” Torres said.

“We have this special understanding between us on the field. He can read my mind and I can read his.

“He is always looking out for me on the field. Once I make a move, he will try and pass the ball to me. So far our partnership has worked very well.”

Xabi Alonso may have decided he wants to cut short his stay on Merseyside and move to Real Madrid but Torres insists he won’t be lured away.

The striker, who is under contract until 2013, is desperate to win silverware and believes he will achieve his dreams at Anfield.

“I have never thought about leaving the club,” he added.

“My team in Spain is Atletico Madrid and my team in England is Liverpool.

“I don’t think I’ll play for another English club, and definitely not Manchester United.

“I’m a Liverpool player and I just want to do my best for the club.

“I strongly believe we will win at least the league title within the next two years.”

Javier Mascherano To Stay At Liverpool As Barcelona Rule Out Big Spending

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano looks set to stay at Anfield this summer as Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola has suggested that the Blaugrana may not acquire any more new players this summer.

Mascherano is thought to favour a move to Spain, with his representative Walter Tamer suggesting the transfer would suit the Argentine for personal reasons.

Barca have spent around €45 million on striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Guardiola has hinted that the Swede's signature could be the last high-profile arrival at the Camp Nou this summer.

"The market is open but very complicated," Guardiola said, according to The Daily Star.

"All the signings are very expensive and one of the options is that there won’t be any more reinforcements.

"We are rich, but not as much as others. Everyone, for whatever player, is asking for a great deal of money.

“That wise man Sir Alex Ferguson was definitely right when he said that this isn’t a year to sign.”

The former Barca player continued, “What is certain is that we’re not going to bring in someone just for the sake of it."

Emiliano Insua: Liverpool FC Left Side Role Can Be All Mine

Emiliano Insua has set his sights on making the Liverpool left-back role his own this season.

The imminent departure of Andre Dossena means Insua will be battling with Fabio Aurelio for a place in the Reds side ahead of the Premier League opener at Tottenham in a fortnight.

The 20-year-old Argentinean has made 18 appearances since he arrived from Boca Juniors in January 2007 but he is desperate to establish himself as a regular in Rafa Benitez’s side.

“It’s not easy to play in a team which is always fighting to win titles but I’m hoping this season I can play more games,” he said.

“I’m feeling really good and I believe I can do it.

“Last season was really good for me. I played 13 games and learned so much.

“There is a great team spirit here and it is great to know you have the support of your team-mates behind you.

“Rafa is a very good manager and every day he is looking at my game and trying to help me improve.

“The manager has been great for me. He brought me here and I owe him a lot.”

Liverpool FC's Martin Kelly Eyes A First Team Spot

Martin Kelly has had a taste of the big time and is hungry for more.

The 19-year-old academy graduate from Whiston, who made his senior debut against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League last season, is relishing being part of Rafa Benitez’s squad during pre-season.

The defender went on the Reds’ Far East tour and got his chance to shine with 45 minutes against Thailand and half an hour against Singapore.

“I was really happy to be out there and spend time around all the big names,” he said.

“The training was great and the game time was a real bonus. The speed of the game is so much quicker in the first team compared to the reserves.

“I enjoyed the experience and hopefully now I can get some more matches under my belt.

“It’s a squad game these days so if there are any injuries I have to ensure I’m ready to be called upon.

“First team chances don’t come around too often but when they do I need to ensure I take them.”

Kelly graduated to Melwood in the summer of 2007 and can play at centre-back or full-back.

He helped the reserves win the title in 2007/08 and had a spell on loan at Huddersfield Town last season.

But he returned determined to make his mark at Anfield and has been learning fast from experienced clubmate Jamie Carragher.

“The lads have been great to me on and off the pitch,” he added.

“Carra has been a big help. Obviously he plays in my position and in training he has been talking with me about the things I need to work on.

“There are a few jokers in the side like Pepe (Reina) and Albert (Riera). But when it comes to training everyone gets down to work seriously and the vibe around the team is great.”

James Pearce: Now Liverpool FC Must Cash In On Far East Tour

Fears about the amount of travelling and the hectic schedule were dispelled as Liverpool’s tour of the Far East was a great success both on and off the pitch.

The gruelling heat and humidity will have boosted fitness levels and the two matches were decent, competitive workouts.

But what will live long in the memory is the extraordinary reception the Reds received both in Thailand and Singapore.

It just emphasised the massive commercial opportunities there are for the club on the Asian continent.

Opportunities which must be taken if Liverpool are going to be able to compete financially with Manchester United.

What was clear is that support for the Reds is not just some passing interest in the Far East but a lifelong devotion.

The tour rewarded that dedication and strengthened the esteem in which the club is held among fans who rarely get the chance to see their heroes in the flesh.

There were some moans about ticket prices and the use of the absent Steven Gerrard’s image to promote the matches.

But after a low key welcome Singapore was completely won over as the Reds made numerous public appearances across the city.

The highlight was the players’ boat trip down the Singapore River.

Fans armed with banners lined the banks in their thousands to show their appreciation at the club’s first visit in eight years.

One pleaded with Pepe Reina to win them the title.

He replied: “Jump into the water and we’ll do it for you!” Thankfully, the supporter remained on dry land.

In fact the only real complaint concerned the heavy handed nature of the security team provided by organisers Profitable Group.

Why they felt the need to bring in a group of bicep bulging body builders to accompany the team’s every move is anyone’s guess?

They were intimidating and heavy handed.

The sight of two of them shadowing Xabi Alonso and Kenny Dalglish during a coaching session at a local school was laughable.

The only danger from the pack of excited teenage girls was the threat of a perforated ear drum from the high pitched screams.

Hollywood Production Of Liverpool FC Play One Night In Istanbul Planned

Austin Powers star Mike Myers could be set to star in a Hollywood film adaptation of a hit Liverpool play.

Myers, who was born in the city, is one of a number of A-list names being considered for the movie version of writer Nicky Allt’s One Night In Istanbul.

Producers have also considered recruiting heart-throb Clive Owen and Kirkby-born actor Stephen Graham to appear in the football comedy.

They want to capitalise on the growing popularity of football in the USA by releasing the film next year.

Today, Mr. Allt described his excitement at the deal and his pride at recently having two hit plays running in the city at the same time.

The Liverpool fan-turned-playwright co-wrote immensely popular Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels, which has been running at the Royal Court, and his solo debut One Night In Istanbul was a sell-out, attracting huge audiences.

He said: “It is all happening at the moment. We were really pleased with how popular One Night was and I heard there were scouts sent up from London to watch it on behalf of a film production company.

“The next minute, I got a phone call from a producer saying the scouts gave them rave reviews and they were interested in meeting.

“I went to the Village Hotel, in Bromborough, and they had booked this big boardroom.

“You could tell they meant business when I was greeted by a director and a couple of producers.

“They explained to me a well-connected film producer, who ironically is an Evertonian, is over in Hollywood and is particularly interested.

“November was even mentioned as when they would like to possibly start filming.

“When they started reeling off these massive names of big stars, my head was spinning.

“I have always written in a filmic way and my original draft of One Night was like a film script anyway.

“It gives you much more freedom when you are not confined to everything happening on a stage.

“Hopefully with the USA national team doing so well in the World Cup qualifiers, they can tap into the growing footie following over there.”

The play, catch-lined “Four Scousers, three Turks and a night full of fireworks”, centres around fans Tommy and Gerry and their sons Jamie and Joseph, who travel to Istanbul to see Liverpool play AC Milan, and the comic and dramatic events which unfold.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez attended the opening night and even appeared on stage at the end, along with captain Steven Gerrard and team-mate Jamie Carragher.

Liverpool Are Tougher Opponents Than Manchester United – Andrey Arshavin

After signing for Arsenal from Zenit St. Petersburg in the January transfer window, Andrey Arshavin took the Premier League by storm.

Despite this, he rates the quality of the opposition he has faced very highly.

“None of the teams have been easy,” he told FourFourTwo magazine.

“A lot depends on the course of the game. Fulham were a particularly difficult opponent, not fun to play against. They were very organised, very disciplined, constantly closing you down.”

The Russian then went on to compare Arsenal's title rivals and stated that he thought Liverpool were the most difficult opponents he had played against.

“But if you're talking about Manchester United and Liverpool, Liverpool were the much harder to play against,” said the Russian.

Arshavin also weighed up the impact of Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid, saying, “It's impossible to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and I hope they'll be weaker as a result."

“If there were many others like him, Real Madrid wouldn't have paid £80m.”

“On the other hand, Alex Ferguson has won a lot of titles over the years, a lot of them without Cristiano Ronaldo, so he knows how to win trophies with other players,” he continued.

“But it will take time for them to compensate for his absence and I hope that we can make use of this and overtake United.”

Commenting on Wenger's footballing philosophy the Russian said, “I don't want us to be playing for the result alone, I want us to carry on playing the way we do, the way I love.”

“I love attacking football. My own view would always be: let's score more than we concede; rather than hang back by our own goal and wait for a single chance to score,” he continued.

“Anyway, if you look at Arsenal, the squad we have isn't designed to win 1-0.

“That's why you have 60,000 coming to the Emirates, they come to see something beautiful, something memorable.”