Friday, November 13, 2009

Liverpool Set To Swoop For Real Madrid’s Rafael van der Vaart

Rafael Benitez is considering a move for Rafael van der Vaart after the Dutchman hinted that he is becoming more and more frustrated at Real Madrid.

The Liverpool manager is keen to add to his attacking options and the former Hamburg star could be made available at a knock-down price in January by Los Merengues, according to The Mirror.

Van der Vaart stated recently that he would not want to go back to his first club, Ajax, but he knew of several major teams interested in his services.

Since joining Madrid in 2008, the Netherlands international has struggled to impress and could view a move to Anfield as a great chance to revitalise his career.

Benitez could make a bid to loan Van der Vaart in the winter transfer window. He could then make the deal permanent in the summer.

Seen as a creative midfielder or as a possibility to play the supporting role behind Fernando Torres, Van der Vaart would add an extra dimension to the Reds' options.

Madrid was willing to sell the 26-year-old at the end of last season, but he was kept on after Manuel Pellegrini saw Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben leave the club.

Hodgson Could Land Anfield Job, Says England Legend

World Cup winner George Cohen fears his old club Fulham may lose manager Roy Hodgson if Liverpool decides to part company with Rafael Benitez.

Reds boss Benitez is under intense scrutiny following just one win in their last nine games in all competitions.

The Anfield club is out of the Carling Cup and is on the brink of elimination from the Champions League, as well as being 11 points off the pace set by Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Fulham, meanwhile, continue to punch above their weight in the top flight after qualifying for the Europa League last season. Last Sunday, Hodgson said he was 'not averse to the idea' of a new contract, but former Craven Cottage favourite Cohen, right-back in England's 1966 World Cup triumph, fears it may not be long before a bigger club tries to tempt him.

'Roy has done a very commendable job since he has come in and it is only natural clubs with bigger resources keep an eye on him,' said 70-year-old.

'If he is attracting attention, it means Fulham are doing well and that is the priority. Fulham mustn't fear losing Hodgson - that's the way of football - but they must strive to keep him for as long as possible because his management style is working and showing dividends on the pitch. Make no mistake, Fulham have decent players and grow with every match.'

Rafa Benitez Wants Spurs Striker Roman Pavlyuchenko On Loan

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is spending the international break considering his options for reinforcements in the January transfer window.

And while it is unlikely he will have funds available to make a permanent signing, the Anfield boss will look for a loan striker to act as cover.

The Spanish coach has sounded out advisors for Spurs forward Roman Pavlyuchenko, who indicated yesterday that he will press to leave the London club in January after failing to gain a regular first team place.

Benitez sees him as the ideal stand in for Torres, and given his international pedigree he could do a job for Liverpool to put him into the spotlight before the World Cup gets underway next summer.

Pavlyuchenko has admitted he is desperate to leave Tottenham because six months on the bench has cost him his place in the Russian team.

Asked if he was planning to leave in January, the striker said: "Yes, because it's impossible for me to stay in the present situation.

"I've been sitting on the bench for half a year now and because of that I've lost my place on the national team."

Ngog Can Cope With Pressure

Under-fire Liverpool striker David Ngog believes he has the character to cope with the pressure put on him.

Ngog has come in for fierce criticism in recent days after he dived to win Liverpool a penalty in their 2-2 draw with Birmingham on Monday.

The Frenchman believes he is still learning his way in the game and that his experiences will make him stronger in the future.

"If you can come through difficulties in life, it will make you stronger in the future," said Ngog.

"I remember at my old club PSG, we were facing relegation, there were a lot of outside distractions.

"It meant I learnt a lot about being a footballer and dealing with pressure.

"I am not 21 until next April so I have plenty of time to learn more and I couldn't be learning from a better boss than Rafa Benitez or a better striker than Fernando Torres."

Ngog concedes Liverpool's form this season has not been good enough, with Rafa Benitez's side having won only one of their last nine games in all competitions.

"Liverpool demands success so losing games like we have isn't acceptable," added Ngog.

"Liverpool is the biggest club in the world so we need to remain confident in our own ability."

Brazil Will Luc Like Champs

Lucas has vowed to put his Anfield agony behind him to drive England nuts in Doha on Saturday.

The Liverpool man is intent on a Brazil win to help rubber stamp his own World Cup hopes and prove his team can emerge as champions next summer.

Midfielder Lucas said: "This match is a friendly - but in name only.

"To defeat England would be to confirm Brazil's chances of becoming world champions, while I want to convince my coach Dunga that I should go to South Africa.

"I know a lot of the English players through Liverpool, but it's a pain Steven Gerrard won't be playing because I've bet him we'll win."

Lucas is also rattled by the Reds' slump, telling LFC Weekly magazine: "Opponents are scoring goals without creating many chances or decisions are going against us. Breaking a sequence like that isn't easy."

£20million To Bag Cole

West Ham United have told Liverpool that Carlton Cole will cost an astonishing £20million.

The East Londoners are desperate to keep hold of the England striker, who only signed a lucrative four-year deal at the club 12 months ago.

Cole, 26 today, has been a revelation since Gianfranco Zola's arrival last season and is firmly in the running for a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad.

But Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is desperate to ease the pressure on injury-stricken star striker Fernando Torres.

Cole has six goals already this term and Hammers chiefs are confident of keeping hold of their leading scorer in the January transfer window.

We Mourn The Loss Of Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia And Alvaro Arbeloa For Liverpool FC

Plenty of people have mourned the departure of Xabi Alonso.

He was a great player but hopefully Alberto Aquilani having made his home debut now will start to fill that gap.

But the two players I think we should have kept are Sami Hyypia and Alvaro Arbeloa.

Ok, it’s possibly with hindsight but we’re missing a dominant centre half – as evidenced by Birmingham’s equaliser – and Sami is I’m told playing his socks off for Bayer Leverkusen, who are top of the Bundesliga.

Arbeloa may be having a few problems at Real Madrid but if he’d still been at Anfield I’d be quite happy. Not because I don’t rate Glen Johnson, who is terrific. But because with him pushed further and Arbeloa behind him we’d be stronger on the right.

Glen is such a natural raiding right midifield player – even possibly an out and out winger – that I can’t help but wish we’d kept Arbeloa and big Sami.

Certainly now the club have to find real funds for Rafa Benitez to strengthen this squad in January. And Rafa has got to get his transfer calls spot on.

If we get the right players in there’s a lot that can be put right and improved quickly.

But perhaps if those two were still around, we’d have no need to go looking just yet.

New Anfield Deal For Ayala

Liverpool youngster Daniel Ayala has extended his contract with the Anfield club.

The 18-year-old defender, who made his debut for the first team on the opening day of this season at Spurs, has signed a new deal which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2012.

Spaniard Ayala has made three first-team appearances this term.

He joined the club in September 2007 from Sevilla Atletico and was part of the Liverpool team which reached the FA Youth Cup final last season.

Meanwhile, Andriy Voronin remains confident of kickstarting his Liverpool career despite recent woes.

The Ukranian enjoyed a successful loan spell in the German Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin last season but returned to Anfield in the summer.

He has since failed to score and missed a glorious chance during last week's crucial Champions League tie with Lyon - a match which ended 1-1.

Voronin told the club's official website: "Last season was good for me because I wanted to play more matches.

"I went to Hertha Berlin, played a lot of games and scored goals. I was happy there.

"But I always wanted to come back to Liverpool because they are a massive club.

"It is very important for me to be here. I've spoken with Rafa and I want to take my chance, work hard and play for Liverpool.

"I hope in the next game I play, I can give the Liverpool supporters more."

Fabio Aurelio Adds To Liverpool Injury Curse While Yossi Benayoun And Albert Riera Face Three Weeks Out Of Action

Liverpool have been dealt yet a further injury blow after it emerged that Fabio Aurelio has been cut from the Brazil squad because of his calf injury.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez has also announced that Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera could be out for at least three weeks with hamstring injuries, adding to a lengthening injury list which includes star players Fernando Torres and captain Steven Gerrard.

Left-back Aurelio did not train with Brazil in Doha today and it is suggested that he did not even join up with the squad after suffering a further muscle strain in his left calf.

However, the Brazilian federation would not confirm that the 30-year-old had been removed from the squad until receiving the relevant paperwork from Liverpool.

Aurelio had been expected to make his international debut against England on Saturday but could now face a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

Benayoun and Riera both limped out of Monday's Barclays Premier League draw against Birmingham at Anfield, adding to manager Rafael Benitez's injury concerns.

Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson also suffered injuries in the same game.

Manager Rafael Benitez said of Benayoun and Riera: "We will have to wait and see how they progress but hopefully in three weeks they could be available.

"We are disappointed because there are too many things at the moment that we can't change.

"Both players are wingers as well and for them to be out at the same time is bad news for us.

"Daniel Agger felt something in his back after the Birmingham game and didn't go with Denmark after we spoke with their doctor and manager.

"I think he could be back training again in a few days.

"Glen Johnson's was a strange situation because he finished the game on Monday and then travelled to London to be with England.

"He felt something in his hamstring and came back to us for a scan. Hopefully it's not too serious and he could be available again in a week."

Torres missed the game after beginning a rehabilitation programme on a niggling groin problem but Gerrard appeared as a substitute and scored the equalising goal in the 2-2 draw after overcoming his groin injury.

Benitez said: "With Fernando Torres we are talking about two or three weeks of treatment and working with the physios.

"I was talking with him this morning and he is doing well. Hopefully he can be running in a few days and we will see how he progresses.

"It was good to have Steven Gerrard back on Monday night. He is feeling OK and should be training fully with the other players we have here in a few days.

"Sometimes a break comes at a bad time because you don't like to see your players flying all over the world, but this time it gives us a chance to get some players back."

The international break will also give Liverpool some respite from a dreadful run of form, the Reds having won just one of their last nine games in all competitions.