Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rafael Benitez Tight-Lipped Over Liverpool's Reported £2m Transfer Budget

The fiscal ambiguity surrounding title-chasing Liverpool continues to dominate contemporary sports news, and Rafael Benitez's refusal to either confirm or deny the press reports released this morning that indicated the club have £2 million to play with in the summer market will do little to quell the speculation.

The Reds are believed to be struggling financially as parent company Kop Holdings Ltd. suffered losses in excess of £33 million recently, however, this was not believed to have implications on the club's recruitment policy.

Liverpool have made two high-profile summer transfers thus far, acquiring roaming right-back Glen Johnson for €20m (£17m) and Roman midfielder Alberto Aquilani for a similar price, yet they have also granted Xabi Alonso his €35m (£30m) Real Madrid switch.

Speaking at a press conference, Benitez bluntly refused to answer one journalist's probing questions about the club's budget.

"I don't want to talk about money, sorry," the Spaniard said.

"We are always analysing the market, it depends on the injuries sustained, and we will always work with the departments to see what is available."

Regarding the prospect of Argentinean battler Javier Mascherano's contract extension, Benitez said, "There is a possibility that we will talk with Javier Mascherano in private."

Skrtel Out With 'Cracked Jaw'

Martin Skrtel should return to action 'within two weeks', according to the Liverpool defender's agent.

Skrtel sustained a jaw injury in the 2-1 loss at Tottenham on Sunday after colliding with Reds team-mate Jamie Carragher.

The Slovakia international did not complete the 90 minutes versus Spurs and is now set for a period on the sidelines.

Skrtel's agent, Karol Csonto, told SITA: "It [the jaw] is not broken, just heavily cracked.

"According to the doctors, Martin should be back in action within two weeks and he should be wearing a special mask.

"I hope that they will find or create a new one for him."

Skrtel is keen to be available for Slovakia's World Cup qualifier versus Czech Republic on 5th September.

Csonto added: "He is not admitting the possibility of not playing in that game."

Fernando Torres Eager For A Strong Start At Stoke

Fernando Torres insists Liverpool must dominate Stoke from the start tomorrow or they could suffer the same frustrations against the Potters as last season.

Tony Pulis’ side managed a creditable 0-0 draw at Anfield last term, and repeated that result against the Reds at the Britannia stadium. Those two results cost Liverpool four points, the same number which separated them from champions Manchester United last term.

Torres, who looked off the pace in Sunday’s defeat at Tottenham, said: "We know them, we know last season we played against them and it was really difficult.

"We couldn’t win against them, so we are waiting for a very defensive team. They will try to score from set-pieces or from a long ball.

"But we have to be offensive and go from the first minute until the end to try to score. And if we can score in the first minute I am sure we can win.

"The best thing when you lose is having a game three days later because we have the chance to forget about Tottenham.

"It is disappointing when you cannot win, but we have to improve, we have to be positive. We can get three points and we are on our way."

Torres - who has scored 50 goals in 85 games for Liverpool - will be appearing at Anfield for the first time since signing his new contract last week, and said: "I’m very proud because when I came here from Atletico Madrid I just wanted to play some games and see if I could play in a top team like Liverpool.

"Now two years later I think I am improving a lot, and I think I can improve a lot yet. I am still young, just 25."

He added: "I’m really happy. I hope I have a lot of seasons to play here.

"Things have gone well for me, when I left Madrid I had never played in the Champions League before, and Liverpool gave me the opportunity to play against the best teams in the world.

"I am really happy to sign a new contract with Liverpool and I hope I can sign more contracts in the future here.

"I feel good because the fans are fantastic with me. Every week it is amazing to see all the fans singing my name and my song. I am very proud to play for Liverpool.

"It is one of the most important clubs in Europe, the club with the best fans in the world, I am sure about that; and one of the clubs with the most history in modern football."

Daniel Agger Out For Three More Weeks

Liverpool have confirmed they will be without defender Daniel Agger for three more weeks as he recovers from a back injury.

The Danish centre-back misses tomorrow’s home Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke, while fellow defender Martin Skrtel is still doubtful following the damaged jaw he sustained in the defeat at Tottenham on Sunday.

Skrtel trained today, but boss Rafael Benitez will make a late decision on whether the 24-year-old can be risked. Youngster Daniel Ayala could play alongside Jamie Carragher, who has recovered from the head injury he suffered at Spurs.

Barcelona And Real Madrid To Battle To Sign Liverpool's Albert Riera

Albert Riera has alerted the La Liga giants after being stunned at his exclusion from Liverpool's opening day squad.

Rafa Benitez claimed the Spanish winger was unavailable due to fitness issues but Riera has been left perplexed by his manager's decision.

Reports in The Mirror claim the 27-year-old has the World Cup in his sights and will not accept a place on the Reds' bench.

Riera believes he should be a regular starter and could not understand why Ryan Babel was picked ahead of him against Tottenham Hotspur.

Barcelona and Real Madrid were alerted to the possibility of snaring Riera when the Spanish international admitted, "I would like to come back to Spain at some point," whilst on duty with his country.

The former Espanyol star signed for Liverpool on transfer deadline day last summer for £8 million and had previously spent a spell on loan at Manchester City in 2006.

Riera has made 40 appearances for the Anfield outfit, scoring five goals.

Andrea Dossena: I Want To Stay At Liverpool

Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena has insisted he wants to remain at the club, despite rumours linking him with a move away from Anfield this summer.

The Italy international joined the Reds from Udinese last year but failed to cement a place in the first-team as he faced stiff competition from Fabio Aurelio.

It had been suggested Dossena would make a return to the country of his birth, with Napoli previously interested in his services.

However, it now appears he is determined to stay and fight for his place in the Reds' squad.

"I've heard a lot of rumours about my future this summer but the truth is I want to remain at Liverpool," the Italian told The Liverpool Echo.

"I'm happy with my team-mates, with my coach and with the club.

"I have never wanted to leave."

Dossena watched Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane from the bench, with manager Rafael Benitez fielding Emiliano Insua at left-back.

Liverpool Join Hunt For Newcastle's Steven Taylor

Newcastle United's much coveted centre-back Steven Taylor has gained another potential suitor in Premier League runners-up Liverpool.

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle claims the Reds are keen on the former England Under-21 captain, but will join Aston Villa and Everton in the battle for his signature.

Everton manager David Moyes has kept a close eye on Taylor as the Joleon Lescott transfer saga rumbles on but has also sounded out Arsenal over the availability of Swiss defender Philippe Senderos.

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has reportedly been alerted to Taylor's discontent with the situation at Newcastle by former Toon stars James Milner and Habib Beye.

Whilst Taylor has not expressed any desire to leave Newcastle he is widely regarded to be playing in a level below that of his ability.

Transfer turmoil has caused the departure of many players from Tyneside this summer as the appointment of manager-in-waiting Alan Shearer failed to materialise.

However Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias confirmed the club are in talks with local businessman Barry Moat and two other interested parties regarding the sale of the club.

A quick sale and immediate appointment of Shearer as manager could help the Magpies hold on to Taylor and other stars at the club.

Newcastle's staggering wage bill has been slashed with the exit of big earners Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Mark Viduka and Damien Duff, who completed a move to Fulham on Tuesday.

Reds In Shock Greek Link understands Liverpool are closing in on a shock move for former Rangers defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos.

Liverpool are in the market for defensive reinforcements and it is believed they have lined up a move for AEK stopper Kyrgiakos.

The Reds have been linked with the likes of Stoke's Ryan Shawcross and Hull's Michael Turner, but Kyrgiakos appears to be a cheaper option for Rafa Benitez.

With reports of Benitez having his transfer budget restricted Liverpool have switched their attentions to Kyrgiakos and they are believed to have agreed a €3million (£2.5million) fee with AEK for the 30-year-old.

Kyrgiakos is understood to have said his goodbyes to his AEK team-mates and is now thought to be travelling to England to hold talks with Liverpool officials and undergo a medical.

Jay Spearing: My Friendship With Stephen Darby Will Help Our Liverpool Careers

Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing is confident that he can develop into a first team regular at Anfield, with the friendship of fellow prospect Stephen Darby helping him along.

The two Merseysiders - Darby was born in Liverpool, Spearing just across the river in the Wirral - feel that having each other at the club providing mutual support gives them each a massive boost.

"We can always tell each other where we think the other one hasn't maybe had their best game or where they can improve," Spearing told the Reds' official website.

"Whoever is on the receiving end will take it on board and the friendship's always strong. We can have words and within about 90 seconds we're back to being great mates again."

Darby backed his team-mate's view, echoing the view that the honesty of the relationship was why they remained good friends, even if a few harsh words had been necessary on the field of play.

"Yeah, he can shout at me, or I can shout at him, and we just accept it and get on with it," he affirmed.

Both players made their senior debuts last season, with Spearing earning plaudits for a dynamic cameo appearance in Liverpool's 4-0 hammering of Real Madrid at Anfield in the Champions League.