Monday, May 31, 2010

Fernando Torres Should Sign For Tottenham, Says Reds Fan Charlotte Jackson

Sky Sports News babe Charlotte Jackson may be a Liverpool fan - but her views on Fernando Torres are unlikely to go down well at Anfield.

In an interview for the Mail On Sunday's Live magazine, the presenter admits even Tottenham Hotspur might be a better place for the Spain striker than on Merseyside.

Revealing a recent conversation with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, Jackson hardly got the feeling that Torres was untouchable as the club have been at pains to point out.

'I saw Martin Broughton at Chelsea's Player of the Year dinner, and he refused to tell me we weren't going to sell Torres, said the 30-year-old.

'He said: "We'll let him go to the World Cup. At the moment he's still on board, but it's going to take three years to turn the club around, and at his age..." If it's going to take three years to turn the club around, that's going to coincide with the peak of his career, and he'll want to be playing in Europe. So he should probably go and join Tottenham.'

Sportsmail have already revealed that Chelsea - the team Broughton supports - are lining up a £70million bid for Torres, while Manchester City's interest was all-but-scuppered by their failure to qualify for Champions League football.

The former Setanta presenter also admitted it was difficult to be a calm impartial broadcaster when her team were in the news.

'It's hard not to react when your team is doing well,' she said. Celebrating on-air would not go down well. When Liverpool scored against Man Utd I couldn't resist a quick celebration - off the air - but I was warned not to, just in case I did it on-air by mistake.

'I mean, everyone supports a team and looks for them to win - the problem is that Liverpool are very high profile. If I supported Tranmere I could probably get away with it.'

However, she can be excused for cheering on England in South Africa this summer and will is optimistic about the country's chances.

''I think we will win the World Cup,' she said. 'Everyone always says we fall victim to the hype and the tension, but Fabio Capello has instilled a massive sense of confidence and self-belief.

'We've got a really good draw, although I am a bit worried about the game against the United States, purely because of first-match nerves.'

Reds Urged To Up Wilson Bid

Rangers are waiting for Liverpool to make an improved bid for highly-rated teenager Danny Wilson after they rejected a £2million offer from the Reds.

The Scottish champions confirmed the Anfield club was interested in signing the 18-year-old around two months ago.

Gers manager Walter Smith has revealed the club has recently turned down an offer for the promising youngster.

"We are currently waiting to hear back from Liverpool after we rejected their original £2million offer," he told The Sunday Post.

Left-sided centre-half Wilson has refused his club's attempts to extend his contract - which has just one year remaining.

Rangers would receive just several hundred thousands of pounds in compensation should he leave Ibrox next summer.

Livingston-born Wilson made 25 first-team appearances last season and with his club resigned to losing the hot prospect, they will try and hold out for as much money as the Scottish Football Writers' Young Player of the Year could attract.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain admitted the club had rejected approaches from two English Premier League clubs back in January, with Tottenham strongly linked with a move.

Hicks And Gillett Leave Benitez's Uncertain Future To Liverpool Board

Unpopular Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will let the Anfield board decide on the future of Rafa Benitez, according to the News of the World.

There has been constant speculation over the future of Benitez, with Inter Milan the latest side linked with the Spaniard. Benitez himself recently said that he wants to stay at Anfield.

He commented last week, “I am very happy here in Liverpool.

“I have always been happy and I want to stay here for a long time – if it is possible.”

However, it appears that managing director Christian Purslow has been unable to give Benitez the financial guarantees that he wants over both transfer budget and the retention of star players.

According to the News of the World, the Liverpool board is questioning Benitez's performance in the last four transfer windows.

It is the board itself that will decide Benitez's future, as Hicks and Gillett have reportedly decided not to take matters into their own hands, given that they have put the club up for sale.

The American pair are joined by Purslow, finance director Phil Nash and commercial director Ian Ayre on the board.

Carragher - Focus On Fourth

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says the club will be concentrating on regaining their place in the top four next season.

The Reds finished the last campaign in a disappointing seventh place after facing strong challenges from the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham for the final the Champions League spot.

Spurs eventually grabbed the sought after place to break the once dominant hold Liverpool had at the top of the Premier League, alongside Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.

But off-the-field turbulence at Anfield has continued to rumble throughout the week and manager Rafa Benitez is unlikely to have the funds he desires to bolster his squad.

And Carragher says his side will focus on climbing back up the table - rather than mounting a strong title challenge - because of the shortage of cash available to their Spanish manager to strengthen.

The England stopper said in The People: "Clubs like Real Madrid and Inter Milan can just throw £100million at new players if they don't win the title.

"But Liverpool can't do that. We have to build. We can't just raid the transfer market.

"Next season, rather than thinking too much about the title, we have to concentrate on getting back in the top four."

Skrtel World Cup Boost

Martin Skrtel handed Slovakia a major boost ahead of the World Cup finals after the Liverpool centre-back completed 90 minutes in an international friendly draw with Cameroon on Saturday evening.

The Reds star turned in a commanding display for the Slovaks as the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in Austria - but he did receive a 64th minute yellow card.

Skrtel saw his domestic season with the Reds ended when he sustained a broken metatarsal against Unirea Urziceni in late February.

Slovakia begin their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on June 15.

Jamie Carragher Fouls Up Signing

Recalled England star Jamie Carragher launched a tirade of abuse as he signed autographs for six-year-olds.

He repeatedly “screamed the F-word” in front of young fans after photographers tried to take a picture of him.

Following a complaint from a devastated mum, the defender was forced to apologize.

Carragher, 32, said he was “mortified” to have upset his young fans.

The Liverpool vice-captain, who himself has a seven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, told mum Mary Murray: “I’m sorry that your children were distressed.”

But the apology cut little ice with Mrs. Murray. The mum of two said: “I will be encouraging my children to distance themselves from the example set by professional footballers in future. Clearly they don’t know how to behave.”

Carragher’s outburst happened outside a new restaurant in Southport, owned by team-mate Steven Gerrard.

Mrs. Murray, 42, who had waited for two hours with her children Kieran, six, and Jordan, 12, outside the Warehouse Brasserie for the star to arrive, said: “I was absolutely shocked and disgusted.

“He is in a very privileged position as an England football player and many youngsters look up to him.

“But as he walked towards the children he began pointing and shouting at some men further down the street.

“He was just a few feet in front of my youngest, screaming the F word. He looked very aggressive.”

Liverpool FC’s press officer Paul Tyrell apologized to Mrs. Murray in a letter, saying: “On behalf of everybody at the football club, Jamie included, I am sorry that your children were distressed by the player’s behavior. He is mortified that your children were upset.

“It was not something we would expect of Jamie, who has always conducted himself with great dignity.”

Liverpool Trio Figure In England Win

Liverpool trio Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all figured for England in a 2-1 victory over Japan in Austria on Sunday afternoon.

Johnson was handed a starting berth before being substituted at half-time in the Three Lions' final warm-up game ahead of the World Cup finals.

Gerrard and Carragher, meanwhile, played the second half at the UPC Arena.

Marcus Tanaka gave Japan a sixth-minute lead in Graz, but put through his own net after the break. A further own goal by Yuji Nakazawa secured an unconvincing win for England.

Coach Fabio Capello will announce his final 23-man squad for South Africa on Tuesday.

McMahon Ready For Fresh Faces

Reserves boss John McMahon admits he is relishing the prospect of having Academy star Tom Ince at his disposal next season.

The livewire winger, who was in scintillating form for Rodolfo Borrell's U18s side throughout 2009-10, could make the step up to the Reds second string in the new campaign - and McMahon is confident Ince has a bright future ahead of him.

"Ince might be one of the lads who make the progression into the Reserves," McMahon told

"He's been terrific for the U18s and scored lots of goals. He is developing all the time and looks a good prospect."

McMahon believes the arrival of new faces into his squad from the Academy can provide his charges with fresh impetus.

As well as Ince, the Reserves boss expects to see youngsters Conor Coady, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan feature more regularly for his side in 2010-11 after the trio all turned out for the second string last term.

He added: "You might see a bit more of the likes of Conor Coady and Jack Robinson, as well as John Flanagan who has stepped up, done really well and made a positive impression.

"The enthusiasm (of new Academy graduates) is good. It gives us more bodies and another challenge to see how they fit in and go on to progress. It always freshen things up.

"It's good for them to make the step up and it's good for us to get fresh faces and see how they react to what we're trying to teach them."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

There’s No End In Sight For The Liverpool FC Storm

The words were delivered calmly and without the slightest hint of irony, as his inquisitor asked for a general view of the situation at Anfield.

“There has been so much misinformation put out by people who have their own agendas and it’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is,” said Thomas Ollis Hicks. “The truth is that the club is a lot better off than it was three years ago.”

During the time Hicks has spent as co-owner of one of the world’s finest sporting institutions, there have been some wild statements but this claim – which came on the day of David Moores’ open letter to Reds fans – was perhaps the most extraordinary.

In the interest of fairness, let us tackle the assertion. Liverpool, as their accounts show, are flourishing commercially and after the World Cup, their sports science department will be run by the best doctor of his kind in the world, Peter Brukner.

Aside from that, the start of next season will see the Reds have the name Standard Chartered emblazoned on their flash, new shirts, evidence of the record-breaking sponsorship deal that was penned last September.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? You might actually believe Hicks and his business partner, George Gillett, were the saviours of the club, that everything in the garden was rosy and we were just passing time before the start of a monumental new campaign.

Think again. Better off than three years ago? Don’t insult the intelligence of every Liverpool supporter who has set foot inside Anfield during the past 12 months or followed Rafa Benitez’s men on the road.

If Liverpool were better off, as Hicks claims, a miserable fug would not swirl around right now; optimism has been replaced by pessimism, excitement and anticipation have traded places with apathy and fear.

Would star players be considering their futures if the club was better off? Surely if it was better off – to use this unforgettable phrase once again – harmony would reign behind the scenes; there wouldn’t be any agendas or politics, would there?

Aside from that, if Liverpool were in such rude health, it would not be beyond the realms of fantasy for there to be one or two parties interested in investing in such a great opportunity. Again, though, fantasy and reality are two different things.

“We will sell the club but it is about selling to the right group, at the right price, at the right time and in the right way,” said Hicks.

“We will do it in a thoughtful way and try to find the right man for Liverpool Football Club. We hope it will be done by the end of the calendar year, but I don’t anticipate that it would be before the start of the next season.

“I think between £600-800m is a realistic value range, but the market is the market. We are more concerned about finding the right next owner, someone who can make the investment, get the stadium built and let Liverpool be the best club in the world.”

What jumped out at you from that little lot? In no particular order, how about “right price”, “hope it will be done by the end of the calendar year” and, last but by no means least, “between £600-800m”?

Those three excerpts suggest there is no end in sight for this particular storm; there are no new investors on the horizon and certainly none who, in this volatile economic climate, will give Hicks the price for which he is looking.

No wonder Moores felt compelled to write his letter. With each passing day that Hicks and Gillett stay in charge, he must recoil further in horror, constantly reminded by the catastrophic mistake he made.

There is no disputing the letter he wrote to a well-respected national publication was from the heart but, equally, there were a number of issues which he failed to address, not least the one surrounding Steve Morgan.

Would it be too simplistic to say that had those two men been able to agree a deal way back in 2004 that this mess would have happened? Perhaps. What’s more, there would have been no guarantee that nirvana would have arrived under Morgan.

What we do know, however, is that Liverpool are in an utterly desperate state. Just ask yourself, when thinking about Hicks’ declaration that the summer transfer window will be big, why deals for Milan Jovanovic and Danny Wilson are not done.

Ask yourself why bidding for David Silva was utterly impossible and why Rafa Benitez can’t form any clear transfer plans, so much so that it is even too much to think about moving for a player on a Bosman.

Better off than three years ago? Nonsense. The only thing you can say with great certainty is the way the Duchess of York’s friends described her after last Sunday’s newspaper sting fits in with Liverpool: desperate, fragile and in a very bad place.

Rafael Benitez Receives A Meagre £5m Transfer War-Chest

Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have reportedly handed manager Rafael Benitez a hospital pass by giving him only £5 million to try and capture his summer transfer targets.

Such a paltry figure is in stark contrast to prior promises made by Hicks, who had maintained that a "substantial transfer budget" would be made available to the Spaniard.

The Daily Mail reports the former Valencia boss held three meetings with the club's new chairman Martin Broughton regarding the issue, and that he's unaware of whether or not he will be allowed to spend cash generated from player sales.

This is believed to have put the 50-year-old in two minds concerning the potential off-loading of Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera, Philipp Degen and Ryan Babel to clubs outside England.

It is said opinion behind closed doors remains split as to whether the club should sell one of their star-assets in an attempt to raise funds to replenish the squad.

The miniature transfer kitty is also believed to be the main reason behind Benitez's struggling attempts to lure Rangers defender Danny Wilson to Anfield.

Liverpool stars Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have both conceded that the club must bring in quality players to restore lost pride, following a dreary season on the domestic and European stage, but the latest revelations appear to be another backwards step.

Fernando Torres: Steven Gerrard Is As Good As Messi And Cristiano Ronaldo

Spain sharp-shooter Fernando Torres believes his Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard will prove to be an influential performer for England during the 2010 World Cup.

The 26-year-old is adament his club captain is amongst an elite set of five players in South Africa who can win a game all on their own.

He puts the Three Lions midfielder in the same bracket as Argentina wonderkid Lionel Messi and Portugal's flying winger Cristiano Ronaldo.

Torres also believes that manager Fabio Capello will get the best out of the Merseyside-born player if he is handed an attacking role in the national setup.

"There are maybe five players at the World Cup who can win a big game on their own - Stevie [Steven Gerrard] is one of them," the Spaniard told the Daily Express.

"He's in the same league as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, that's how good he is.

"I prefer it when he plays further forward for England and supports [Wayne] Rooney. That is when England look at their most dangerous."

Jose Mourinho Overstepped Mark In Pursuit Of Steven Gerrard, Says Phil Thompson

Former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson has warned new Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho he will have a difficult task prising Steven Gerrard away from Anfield.

The Portuguese, who will be unveiled as Madrid's new coach on Monday, spoke publicly on Thursday about his admiration for the Liverpool skipper - whom he has tried to sign on at least two other occasions while at Chelsea.

"I like players in the final part of their careers (Gerrard turns 30 on Sunday)," said the former Inter Milan coach.

"They are players that you buy and you won't recover this money, but if they give you good performances for two or three years you've got your money's worth.

"Both (Gerrard and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard) are great players who always give everything."

Despite continued speculation about Gerrard's future, Thompson feels Mourinho has overstepped the mark.

"Without a doubt that is Mourinho," the three-time European Cup winner said.

"He doesn't care whether there are any rules or regulations about touting for players.

"Steven Gerrard is still a Liverpool player with a big contract and anyone else would be rapped on the knuckles."

Thompson feels the continued debate about the future of Gerrard, Fernando Torres and manager Rafael Benitez, coupled with ongoing issues regarding the sale of the club, is having a negative effect on life at Anfield.

"Just before the season finished I said I was immensely worried about what was going to happen about the manager, the owners, the finances and most of all about the players," added Thompson.

"We see every day Steven Gerrard could be going, Fernando Torres could be going, and although they are preparing for a World Cup it is following them and they are always getting questions about it.

"It is negativity, negativity, negativity all the time and this is one of the institutions of English football.

"This is all about my football club and it is all wrong. I would just like a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel."

Tom Hicks Denies He Made Promises To David Moores About Plunging Liverpool FC Into Debt

Tom Hicks has denied promising previous Liverpool owner David Moores that he wouldn’t plunge the club into debt.

The extensive borrowing of Hicks and co-owner George Gillett have sent Liverpool £351million into the red and burdened them with crippling annual interest payments.

Moores says that went against what was agreed when he sold them the club in 2007. The former chairman insists the terms of the deal were “unambiguous” and that investment bank Rothschild & Sons had guaranteed that the pair were “good for the money”.

However, Hicks denies that anyone was misled.

“In our agreement with the seller, no representation was made that the new ownership group would be debt-free,” Hicks said.

Hicks described Moores' criticism of their reign and his plea for them to sell up as a “weak attempt to deflect attention from the prior owner”.

Tom Hicks Defends His £800 Million Asking Price For Liverpool FC

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has defended his £800 million asking price for the club by claiming the valuation is based on plans for a new stadium to replace Anfield.

American businessman Hicks, criticized earlier this week by former Liverpool owner David Moores, has failed to deliver a new ground for the club since arriving on Merseyside with joint owner George Gillett in 2007.

A 'short-term delay' to the stadium project announced in August 2008 is now approaching a two-year hiatus, but despite the club's £237 million debt, Hicks insists that funds are now available to build a new stadium.

He said: "Financing for the Liverpool stadium is now available, but we decided that we [Hicks and Gillett] wanted to sell and allow the new owner to build the stadium.

"We believe the fact that the design and the permitting process are complete should be reflected in the value we receive in the sale."

Liverpool FC And Juventus Fans Must Move From Heysel Disaster, Says Ian Rush

Juventus held a mass on Friday in Turin 25 years after the Heysel stadium disaster, while a commemoration service to mark the anniversary was also held on Thursday in Liverpool.

The bells of Liverpool Town Hall rang 39 times, once for each of the victims of the tragedy at the European Cup final between the two teams on May 29, 1985.

Former Wales, Liverpool FC and Juventus striker Ian Rush believes both clubs have done a great deal to put past animosity behind them.

Five years ago a section of Juventus fans, at Anfield for a Champions League tie, turned their backs on a tribute to the 39 fans who died at the 1985 European Cup final when a wall collapsed after trouble flared between supporters, with the traveling Liverpool contingent receiving most of the criticism.

Rush, who with ex-Juventus star Michel Platini led the tributes that night, said he did not blame those Italians for their actions.

But he feels it is now time to move on and look towards a more positive future.

“We should never forget it happened but we need to move on as well,” he said.

Rush, who turned out for both sides in a long and distinguished career, added: “One thing you can always say about Juventus fans is they supported me when I played for them and they were very good to me.

“They made me feel really welcome and when I left they wanted me to stay.

“Even though people say it was not the best period for me – although I didn’t think it was too bad – one thing I’ll never forget is the supporters.

“I gave 100% and they were behind me. I think if I had stayed at Juventus another year I wouldn’t have come back, but Liverpool came in and were the only club I would go back for.”

The Heysel Disaster – 25 Years On

May 29, 1985 will forever remain in the memories of football fans affiliated with Liverpool and Juventus. As the clubs prepared for the European Cup final in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, fights broke out in the stands and the ensuing violence claimed the lives of 39 fans, as well as leaving over 600 injured.

The late sports journalist Arthur Hopcraft describes the way in which fans massed within football stadia in The Football Man, which give some sense to the conditions at Heysel 17 years later. “They are more evocative of the wonder of childhood than even old comic-strips are. They are hideously uncomfortable. The steps are as greasy as a school playground lavatory in the rain. The air is rancid with beer, onions, belching and worse. The language is a gross purple of obscenity. In this incomparable entanglement of bodies lies the heart of the fan’s commitment to football.”

Hopcraft’s words came at a time when hooliganism was on the increase in England. Leeds United fans attacked Bayern Munich supporters in the 1975 European Cup final, while there was violence between Roma and Liverpool fans before and after the European Cup final nine years later; former Reds player Kenny Dalglish recollects that “Liverpool fans suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of Italian fans”. There were further incidents in 1985 involving Millwall, Luton Town, Leeds and Birmingham City.

The problems within English football were well known in the build-up to the final, but blame has also been laid at UEFA’s door for the Heysel disaster as the stadium was archaic and far from fit to host the final. Liverpool asked UEFA to use another stadium on grounds of safety, but the request was rejected. Instead, a portion of the ground was cordoned off as a ‘neutral’ section – Section Z. Few police were posted near the temporary dividing fence between Section Z and Liverpool fans in Section Y as the authorities believed that the neutral fans would act as a buffer.

The scenario could not have been further from reality. The Times reported “the Belgian football union had taken the decision to sell the tickets, rather than allocate them to the two finalist clubs to increase its profits from the game.” These fell into the hands of ticket touts, who sold the majority of the ‘neutral’ tickets to Italian expatriates.

By seven o’clock, the two sets of fans were almost side by side. There was no ‘buffer’ between them. The majority of the 60,000 fans in the stadium had been drinking for much of the day. Eye witnesses recall Bianconeri fans began to launch missiles into the Liverpool sections – stones from the dilapidated terracing and pieces of crumbling steps were launched into the mass of supporters. As kick-off approached, the English fans retaliated.

The Liverpool supporters charged towards the Italians and broke through the thin chicken-wire fence that divided the two sets of fans, and in the midst of the fighting many of those in the neutral section were forced back towards the other Juventini. They were crushed against a concrete wall at the opposite end of the enclosure; some tried to scale the wall and jump over to escape the violence. The poorly constructed and antiquated wall collapsed onto the fans on the opposite side under the pressure.

32 Italians, four Belgians, two French people and one Northern Irish man were killed, crushed by the collapsing wall or trampled by other supporters attempting to escape.

Andrea Lorentini recently told of his father, who went to the match. “My father Roberto was a medic and at a certain point of the fight he noticed a young man who was wounded,” Andrea says.

“He went over to carry out CPR on him and while doing that he was caught up in the fighting of the English fans who were fuelled by alcohol. My grandfather, Otello, meanwhile, managed to save himself and was reunited with his two nephews. Not long afterwards, they tragically found Roberto, who was dead.”

Over 600 more were injured. In the chaos, more Italians attempted to reach the Liverpool fans to enact retribution, unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding. One Italian was reported to have fired a gun, though it was later revealed to be a starting pistol. Phil Neal made a plea for calm over the PA system and the game eventually went ahead, with the authorities desperate not to antagonise the situation by postponing the fixture. “I have absolutely no recollection of the match," Neal reflected. "As soon as we heard people had died we lost all interest in the match.”

Kenny Dalglish added, “We saw the Italian fans crying, and they were banging on the side of our bus when we left the hotel.”

“If this is what football has become, let it die,” read L’Equipe after the match. Het Nieuwsblad headlined with “Police powerless against British alcoholics”, but the Corriere della Sera deplored, “The culpable impotence of the police.” UEFA’s official observer Gunter Schneider remarked, “Only the English fans were responsible. Of that there is no doubt.”

27 people were arrested for manslaughter by the British police in the aftermath, 14 of whom were convicted. A blanket ban fell on English clubs’ participation in European competitions for five years, while Liverpool had to serve an extra year’s ban. Heysel was never used for a football match again until it was demolished and rebuilt a decade later. “That day we were all victims,” Ian Rush mused. “That day changed football forever.”

No official inquiry was ever undertaken. UEFA were not questioned about their decision to stage the European Cup final at the ageing venue, nor were the Belgian authorities queried on their policing or the ticketing allocation.

Efforts were made to repair relations between the two clubs when they met in 2005, with a number of gestures commemorating the event performed prior to the match at Anfield. Ian Rush and Michel Platini carried a banner that bore the message, 'In Memory and Friendship': In Memoria e Amicizia. In addition, home fans held up placards that formed the word ‘Amicizia’. Most of the travelling fans applauded the gesture, though others turned their backs on it. 25 years on, a plaque has been unveiled outside Anfield’s Centenary Stand to commemorate the deaths of the 39 fans at Heysel.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New UEFA Rules Mean Liverpool Will Find It Eenormously Difficult' To Get Back Into The Champions League

Stoke City chairman Peter Coates believes that Liverpool will find it “enormously difficult” to reclaim a place in the Champions League due to the new financial rules that UEFA are introducing.

The new rules will mean that clubs will only be able to spend money that they earn, and the Stoke chairman believes that this will just benefit those clubs already in the Champions League, increasing their financial power.

Liverpool have already missed out on an estimated £30 million for failing to qualify for next year’s Champions League and Coates believes this could prove to be costly.

"It has been great this year with Spurs doing so well but Liverpool could find it enormously difficult with these new rules to get back into the Champions League, which causes the biggest distortion in football," he told BBC Radio Five.

Coates added that whilst he agreed with the principles of the new rules, he believes that in reality, they are simply widening the gap between the top teams and everyone else.

"I have a reservation about these new rules, in that it will affect clubs who want to get into Europe because it is going to reinforce what I call a quadopoly.

"What [UEFA president] Michel Platini is recommending on the whole seems sensible and good but it means up to £50m for playing in the Champions League and it will reinforce those top clubs and make it very difficult for anyone to break into that,” he added.

Teams like Manchester City and Chelsea could be those worse hit by the new rules, as UEFA aim to clamp down on ‘sugar daddies’ bankrolling clubs with limitless funds.

Stringent checks by an independent watchdog will look to prevent owners from bypassing the rules with massive sponsorship deals. The panel will survey all deals from companies affiliated to owners to ensure that they are not paying over the market rate in an attempt to boost revenue.

Despite their failure to qualify for the Champions League this year, Liverpool are thought to be unworried about meeting the new rules set out by UEFA.

The club has dramatically increased their commercial revenue over the past three years, second only to Manchester United, according to Deloitte.

They earned £67.7m from commercial revenues last year, just behind Manchester United’s £70m, and considerably in front of Chelsea’s £52.8m.

Amoo Commits To Reds understands that Academy star David Amoo has signed a new two-year deal with Liverpool.

The 19-year-old moved to Merseyside from Millwall in 2007 and has continued to progress through the club's ranks.

An extremely fast right winger who can also play up front, Amoo is regarded as a bright prospect for the future.

His potential has not gone unnoticed and it is thought that Arsenal and Fulham were both keen to bring him in.

However, Amoo has decided to continue his development with the Reds and will hope to break into the first team over the coming years.

Rafael Benitez Switch From Liverpool To Inter Is Just Transfer Talk

Rafael Benitez's agent Manuel Garcia Quillon has dismissed reports linking his client with Inter as little more than transfer speculation.

The Liverpool coach has been rumoured to be one of the leading candidates to fill the void left by Real Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho.

Inter and Real are still some way from reaching an accord over the 'Special One' as they continue to negotiate the terms of his exit from San Siro.

But his replacement is unlikely to be Liverpool's Spanish tactician.

"I don't know anything about Inter," the agent told

"No one has contacted me. It is just transfer speculation."

Benitez himself has maintained he wants to continue managing Liverpool whenever the subject has come up in recent weeks.

Simao Sabrosa 'To Join Fernando Torres At Liverpool Next Season'

Winger Simao Sabrosa could be set for a transfer to Liverpool this summer, where he will be paired with fellow former Atletico Madrid star Fernando Torres.

The 30-year-old wide man is being lined-up by Rafael Benitez in a bid to solve the Reds' left-sided problems, with Albert Riera currently out of favour.

Despite having only three years or so left at the top level, Simao could end up costing Liverpool as much as £8million - although cash-strapped Atletico are reportedly keen to sell the player to raise funds.

Simao never actually played alongside Torres, as he arrived in the summer of 2007 at the same time as the Spanish striker left for Anfield.

Benitez believes Simao's pace and crossing threat could reduce the pressure on his star striker by adding a creative element down the left.

But the Portuguese has played down talk of a move.

'Nobody has spoken with me in the last days about this subject,' he said.

'I only say that some people in Madrid have suggested that Atletico are preparing my sale, but I don’t know too much.

’I have always been interested in playing in the Premier League, but my head is in the World Cup and I have a deal with Atletico.'

Simao has one year left on his contract at Atletico, meaning a sale could be pushed through this summer or the Spanish outfit risk losing him for free in 12 months' time.

Liverpool Show Interest In £12m Premier League Centre Back

Rafa Benitez is hoping to lure Bolton Wanderers centre back Gary Cahill to Anfield this summer.

The Liverpool boss is hoping to get significant funding from an prospective new-owners but if he fails to get the cash injection he needs then he is ready to offload some squad players to help bring in new additions and has reportedly placed the England defender on his wishlist.

The 24 year old was on the periphery of Fabio Capello’s international set up before injury set him back in his race for a World Cup place.

The former Aston Villa man has improved immeasurably since his move to the Reebok and has been linked with a move away from the Trotters for some time.

Owen Coyle has tried to distance the player from such speculation but may find it hard to prevent Cahill’s head from being turned by interest shown by the Anfield side who are looking to improve their back four and also looking to add to their ‘homegrown’ quota.

Liverpool Issue Hands Off Warning To Madrid Over Gerrard

Liverpool are determined to fend off a fourth attempt by Jose Mourinho to sign skipper Steven Gerrard.

The Portuguese manager is set to take over at Real Madrid and has once again expressed his admiration for the Reds midfielder.

During his spell in charge at Chelsea, Mourinho made a move for Gerrard in the summer of 2004, 2005 and 2006.

However, despite coming perilously close to leaving after the Champions League triumph five years ago, Gerrard opted to rebuff Mourinho’s advances and stay loyal to his boyhood club.

The Reds captain, who will play for England against Japan on his 30th birthday this Sunday, signed a contract extension last July to keep him at Anfield until 2013.

But after a dismal season at Liverpool and ongoing discontent off the pitch, his future is again the subject of intense speculation.

Manager Rafa Benitez won’t contemplate parting company with the club’s talisman and co-owner Tom Hicks has promised Gerrard will not be sold.

However, that won’t stop Mourinho from testing the player’s resolve as he starts to splash the cash at the Bernabeu following his departure from Champions League winners Inter Milan.

“I like players in the final part of their careers,” Mourinho said.

“They are players that you buy and you won’t recover this money, but if they give you good performances for two or three years you’ve got your money’s worth.

“Both (Gerrard and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard) are great players who always give everything.”

Gerrard said he was putting all contemplation about his club future on hold until after the World Cup finals. He is determined to ensure transfer gossip doesn’t distract win from his mission to help England to glory in South Africa.

But it’s clear the Reds skipper has been deeply hurt by the downturn in the club’s fortunes over the past 12 months.

And he is waiting to see if the club match his own ambition and hunger for silverware by investing heavily in the transfer market this summer.

Steven Gerrard Back In Training After Injury Scare In Austria

The Liverpool midfielder was playing in an 11-a-side practice match in Irdning, Austria, but after less than one minute he pulled up sharply and then required treatment on his right calf, lasting 20 minutes, before informing manager Fabio Capello that he could not continue.

He played no further part in the match but did return to the field to do some stretching exercises.

An England source later said that Gerrard would resume training today.

Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson missed Thursday's training session as a precaution after picking up a slight groin injury during the 3-1 victory over Mexico on Monday at Wembley.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott believes the fierce competition for places on the flanks in the England squad is bringing the best out of him in the battle for a World Cup spot.

Walcott feels Capello is facing a selection headache in terms of who to select from himself, Aaron Lennon, Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips for his final 23.

The Arsenal player started Monday's clash against Mexico, with Lennon and Johnson entering the action as second-half substitutes.

And Walcott showed a willingness to track back as well as making some of his trademark runs and crosses.

He said: "The boss wants me to stay out wide, to be an outlet with Stevie G (Gerrard) coming inside.

"But I also did a lot of tracking back. It is not always about getting forward and, when I could, I did (get back).

"People saw a different side of me, going forward and back.

"But it's not just about me. There's Aaron and Adam as well. It is great competition to have.

"It is a great thing having competition, especially in my position, because it gets the best out of you. Aaron, Shaun and Adam are among the best players in England.

"It is a headache for the manager, but a nice headache, because there are fantastic options.

"It was a nice little boost getting the chance to start in the number seven shirt, especially at Wembley with the tremendous support. It shows I had been training quite well."

Liverpool FC's Anfield Executive Boxes Get Major Refurb This Summer

Liverpool have started work on a major refurbishment of the Anfield executive boxes – but club officials insist they still remain firmly committed to moving to a new stadium in Stanley Park.

The six-figure project will create outside seating for the 31 box holders in the Centenary Stand and will be completed in time for the start of next season.

The changes will have no impact on the ground’s overall capacity with supporters in the upper and lower tiers unaffected.

However, the club hopes the upgrade will soften the blow of a £11,000 increase in the season-long hire of a box to £55,000 plus VAT.

“The feedback we got from box holders was that they wanted an outside viewing area for games so they can enjoy the atmosphere as previously they’ve had to watch from behind glass,” a Liverpool spokesman said.

“The interior of each box is being redesigned but the building work won’t increase the external dimensions of the boxes so it will have no impact on other supporters.

“It’s all part of the overall strategy to improve facilities at Anfield until we can move to a new stadium.

“While we’re at Anfield we want to make it the most pleasant experience possible for our supporters.

“But it doesn’t detract from the long term desire and plans to move into a new stadium.”

Liverpool have also defended the hefty price increase in the hire of the boxes.

The spokesman added: “Prices have gone up but it’s still very competitive compared to other football clubs and other entertainment venues.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dalglish: Reds Will Ride The Storm

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish insists the club will not go backwards despite their current ownership issues and speculation about the futures of manager Rafael Benitez and star players Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Former chairman David Moores gave a full and frank account of his reasons for selling to American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett in 2007.

After a tumultuous three-year reign the pair officially put the club, whose parent company Kop Holdings have debts of £351m with interest payments of £40m a year, up for sale last month.

That has led to increased instability off the pitch with constant conjecture about whether the manager and players will remain at Anfield.

Torres did little to quell that speculation yesterday when he side-stepped questions about his future, while Jose Mourinho, whose appointment as Real Madrid boss appears imminent, has spoken of his admiration for Gerrard.

However, Dalglish said the club was bigger than any individual.

“Liverpool FC is much more important than any one individual – it always has been and always will be,” said the Reds former player and manager, who now has an ambassadorial role with the club’s academy.

“It will move forwards and move upwards.

“It is not the greatest time in the club’s history at this time but I don’t think they will start to go backwards.”

Dalglish, voted Liverpool’s greatest player, also said he had some sympathy with Moores for reacting to the criticism aimed at him for selling to the Americans.

“David has got his own opinions and wanted to get something off his chest but everyone knows where David’s heart lies,” Dalglish told Sky Sports News.

Two other Liverpool greats, Alan Kennedy and John Aldridge, have joined the growing calls for Hicks and Gillett to engineer a swift sale.

Kennedy, a two-time European Cup winner, said the current state of uncertainty had affected the team this season, which saw Liverpool finish seventh – their worst league placing for 11 years.

“We have to move on. We are stagnating and it has shown in the performances of the players, who have been disappointing as well,” said the 55-year-old.

Former striker Aldridge was more outspoken, criticizing Hicks and Gillett for loading huge debts on the club and dismissing the former’s claims that Liverpool were in a better position now than they were three years ago.

“Any club that is losing £110,000 a day (on loan repayments) is in big trouble - whether they are Liverpool or not,” he said.

“We are in a massive mess. It is ridiculous to say we are in a good situation - absolutely ludicrous.”

Aldridge does take some comfort from the fact that the off-field problems may result in increased stability in the dressing room after speculation about Benitez.

“The manager’s future looks more tenable at the moment,” he added.

“There is no stability at the club and to lose the manager as well would put them in disarray.

“Would the two Americans really replace Rafael Benitez considering they don’t know an awful lot about football?”

The future of some players seems less secure and Mourinho did his bit to encourage any seeds of doubt which were growing in the mind of Gerrard.

“I like players in the final part of their careers,” said the Portuguese.

“I love to have some players who are 33 or 34 years old...they are players that you buy and you won’t recover this money, but if they give you good performances for two or three years you’ve got your money’s worth.

“Both (Gerrard and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard) are great players who always give everything.”

Tom Hicks: We Will Probably Sell Liverpool To A Buyer From The Middle East Or Asia

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks believes there are many parties throughout the world interested in buying the football club, although he believes the eventual new owner is most likely to come from the Middle East or Asia.

Hicks, along with fellow American George Gillett, is under heavy pressure to sell the Merseyside outfit as soon as possible, after a three-year tenure that has seen the club heaped with debt, fail to start work on a new stadium and fall off the pace in the Premier League.

After addressing concerns about the club's future on Wednesday, Hicks has reiterated his belief that a buyer for the struggling club will not be hard to find.

"Liverpool has a really big universe of interested buyers," Hicks told Bloomberg.

"There are a number of wealthy people all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, who are enormous Liverpool fans."

The 64-year-old also revealed he is looking to sell off all his other sporting assets, complaining about the constant attention such high-profile organizations tend to attract.

His Texas Rangers baseball side filed for bankruptcy on Monday, while his NHL outfit the Dallas Stars are also being sold off. If all goes to plan, Liverpool will be the final one to change hands.

"Sports has never been my primary business," Hicks said.

"We are systematically selling our sports assets to focus on our core businesses like private equity and real estate.

"The lack of privacy in sports is something that my family and I aren't willing to undertake any longer.

"We'll always be big fans but we want our privacy back."

Steven Gerrard Backs Glen Johnson To Play Major Role For Liverpool Next Season

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has backed Glen Johnson to play a major role for the club next season.

The former Portsmouth right-back scored his first international goal in Monday’s 3-1 win over Mexico, cutting inside from the right wing to curl the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Johnson, who also picked up the man of the match award at Wembley, has been tipped by Gerrard to star for Liverpool next year, despite his injury-hit first season with the club.

"I thought Glen had a really good game and took his goal superbly," Gerrard told the club’s official website. "He has done that a few times for us and he can do real damage with his left foot.

"He is very dangerous when he can run down the wing like he did against Mexico and cut inside. When he is in that mood, he provides England with a real threat.

"He has got great quality. Glen is one of the best attacking full-backs around and I think he has done really well for us but there is definitely better to come.

"Injuries have really disrupted him this season, but I'm sure next season he will show his best form on a regular basis, the kind he showed when he first came here."

Benitez Confirmed As Favourite To Land Turkish Delight

Turkish international Arda Turan is set to quit Galatasaray with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez the confirmed favourite to land the talented 23-year-old playmaker. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is also interested, however, the Turkish club do not see Spurs' proposed player-plus-cash offer as value for losing their talismanic captain. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is an outsider for the signature of the Turkish international with the Frenchman concentrating on the Cesc Fabregas transfer situation.

Turan has been consistently linked with a move to the Premier League with the Reds, Arsenal and Tottenham the reported chasing pack. The 23-year-old admitted in January that it was his ‘dream’ to play for Liverpool issuing a come-and-get-me plea to the Kop. However, the rumours over the Spaniard’s future had cast doubts over whether the Merseyside club would make a move for the Turkish international. Reports this morning suggest that Liverpool are the front-runners for the player’s signature, while concerns over the futures of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, and Yossi Benayoun continue to manifest. Spurs and Arsenal are considered to be monitoring the situation.

Reports last week suggested that Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was ready to offer Mexican midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos plus an undisclosed sum for Arda Turan; a deal which the Turkish giants were planning to reject. Meanwhile Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is dealing with the Cesc Fabregas situation with the Turkish international a possible option if the Spaniard leaves the Gunners for Catalan club Barcelona.

Speaking to Arda Turan’s agent earlier this year, Ahmet Bulut revealed that his client was considering his future in Turkey, and that Arsenal and Liverpool were two of the clubs interested in the playmaker’s services:

“Well Arda still has two years to go on his contract, the interested clubs must make a serious offer to Galatasaray, and the club must accept it. His first choice is to play in England, in the Premier League. So, if the offer is a serious one than we can start to talk.

Ahmet Bulut was then asked if Arsenal and Liverpool were among the interested parties:

“There are a few clubs interested, Liverpool are one, and Arsenal. There are no official or concrete offers at the moment but two clubs have spoken about wages. However, in football you never know. The season finishes soon in Turkey, and then Arda will go to the USA with the national team and we will see after that.”

Benitez & Redknapp Go Head-To-Head For Record-Breaker

Croatian goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic is a target for both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool according to HNK Cibalia sporting director Drazen Pernar.

The shot-stopper, who has received rave reviews from respected national team coach Slaven Bilic, set a new club record last term when he went 550 minutes without conceding a goal.

It is understood that the 21-year-old could provide back-up to either Hereulho Gomes at White Hart Lane or Pepe Reina at Anfield next season with the long-term futures of current reserves Carlo Cudicini and Diego Cavilieri under scrutiny from the coaching staff at Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively.

It is understood that Antolovic could be snapped up for a fee in the region of £3 million; a risk worthy fee which could pay dividends should he establish himself as capable of dealing with the physicality of life in the Premier League.

The stopper would certainly represent a signing for the future with both Reina and Gomes earning plaudits at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur last term for their match-winning heroics between the sticks.

Speaking about Cibalia’s prized asset, Pernar is quoted by The Sun stating:

"Some of the biggest clubs are after Antolovic, like Spurs and Liverpool," Pernar said, according to The Sun.

"Every day we get more enquiries about him."

Alberto Aquilani: I Want To Make It Up To Liverpool FC

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani insists he wants to stay at Anfield as he feels he owes them more after an injury-plagued first season.

The 25-year-old joined Liverpool FC last summer in a £20million deal but was not able to make his debut until late October because of an ankle injury sustained while still at Roma.

Aquilani made just 13 starts last season but finally settled into the starting XI for the last four matches of the campaign.

And despite speculation linking him to a swift return to Italy with Juventus, Aquilani is determined to stay and prove his worth to Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez.

"I am staying at Liverpool to make up for many things," he said. "I have finally recovered from my ankle injury.

"Juve have approached me in the past and now I’m reading of their interest, but I really don’t know anything about it."

Liverpool Resume Wilson Talks

Danny Wilson's proposed move to Anfield is back on track despite the defender being ineligible under the Premier League's home-grown rule.

Negotiations between the Reds and Glasgow Rangers had stalled after it emerged that the centre-back would not qualify as a home-grown player under the new guidelines which require a minimum of eight home-grown players, with under-21s spending a minimum of three years at any English or Welsh club, per squad.

But this has undeterred Liverpool who have resumed talks over a move for Wilson following the SPL champions' rejection of a £2million offer in May.

Rangers are keen to cash in on Wilson as they face the threat of him leaving Ibrox next summer on a free transfer after failing to tie him to a new deal.

According to reports in Scotland, Walter Smith is holding out for a fee of £5million for the highly-rated 18-year-old.

Jose Mourinho Hoping To Make It Third Time Lucky With Steven Gerrard

Twice, he failed. As he stands on the cusp of taking over at Real Madrid, he seems determined to make it third time lucky.

Mourinho first approached Liverpool's captain after taking charge at Stamford Bridge in 2004, offering the player a £125,000-a-week contract to leave the club he had been attached to since the age of eight.

But the player's father, Paul, convinced his son to remain at Anfield, despite suggestions Gerrard had even gone so far as texting Mourinho to confirm his intention to join him.

A year later, in the aftermath of the miracle of Istanbul, he came closer still, handing in a transfer request after Liverpool seemed to stall on an improved contract.

Rick Parry, the then chief executive, even went so far as to admit that the player had "made it clear he wants to move on and it looks pretty final."

The next day, Gerrard signed a new, £100,000-a-week, four-year deal, with both sides blaming a breakdown in communication as reason for the stand-off.

Despite persistent links with Inter Milan, Gerrard has not come close to leaving Liverpool since. Now Mourinho is preparing, it seems, another assault, hopeful of a more successful ending.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tom Hicks: Club Does Not Need To Sell Steven Gerrard Or Fernando Torres

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has hit back at David Moores’ criticism of his ownership of the club, insisting that they are in better shape than when he took over three years ago.

“I’m disappointed because I think we’ve done everything we can to improve the club in so many ways over the past three years from the way it had been run before,” the American told Sky Sports News.

Hicks believes that he and co-owner George Gillet have assembled a good management team during their time at the club, streamlining the club’s commercial ventures and improving hugely on predecessor Moores’ running of the club.

“I think we have a great management team now led by Christian Purslow. The commercial director Ian Ayre has done a great job. We have a strong financial director in Philip Nash.

“We’ve grown our sponsorships from £40 million annually under the last year of Moores’ ownership, to this coming year we’ll do close to £100 million, so all those extra sponsorship revenues are resources for the club to use to support the wage bill to be competitive,” he added.

Hicks went on to reassure the club that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will not be leaving the club in the summer and that both he and George Gillet are committed to finding the right owners to move the club forward.

“We have no intention of selling any of our top players. We have a substantial transfer budget in place. There’s so much misinformation about transfer spending.

"It’s more than doubled under the ownership of George and myself from the past three years and we will make significant investment this summer, but it’s really about getting the right players.

“We will sell the club. We’re not going to sell it to the wrong group, we’re not going to sell it for the wrong price. We’re going to take our time and do it in a very thoughtful way and try to find the right steward to own Liverpool Football Club.

“We hope it gets done by the end of the calendar year. I don’t anticipate that it will be done necessarily before the beginning of the next season.

"I think £600-800 million is not an unrealistic value range but, you know, the market’s the market. We’ll see.

"We’re more concerned about finding the right next owner, somebody that can make the investment in the club to get the stadium built and let Liverpool Football Club be the best possible football club in the world.”

David Moores 'Hugely Regrets' Selling Liverpool FC To Gillet And Hicks

Former Liverpool FC owner David Moores admits he "hugely regrets selling the club" to George Gillett and Tom Hicks, calling on the American pair to "accept their role in the club’s current demise" and sell up.

Moores was bought out by the duo three years ago after several failed attempts to sell the club to more financially powerful owners.

However, in that time the current co-owners have fallen out with both the fans and each other, while prompting serious concerns over the club’s debt and overseeing a woeful seventh-placed finish in last season’s Premier League.

In a letter to The Times, Moores insists he sold to Gillett and Hicks in good faith - following assurances about their financial status - but accepts "honest mistakes" were made despite him acting "in the best interests of the club". The lifelong Reds fan admits, however, he "hugely regrets selling the club" to the pair.

In his letter, Moores said their offer "was laid out in unambiguous terms, the document pledged there would be no debt placed upon the club, and significant funds would be made available for investment in the squad and the new stadium".

He added: "I call upon them to stand back, accept their role in the club’s current demise, and stand aside with dignity."

Fernando Torres Casts Doubt Over His Liverpool Future

Fernando Torres has cast doubt over his future at Liverpool by refusing to commit himself to the club and claiming he "didn't read" quotes from his agent on Wednesday, which stated that the striker would remain at Anfield next season.

It has been widely speculated that Torres would leave Liverpool this summer following a hugely disappointing season in which the team finished seventh in the Premier League and struggled in Europe.

Such a possibility appeared less likely after José Antonio Peton, Torres' agent, told Punto Radio in Spain that his client "will continue at Liverpool next season", but the man himself was less forthcoming in his commitment when speaking at Spain's World Cup training camp this morning. Torres suggested that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Liverpool would play a part in his decision.

"I didn't read them," said Torres when asked by the Guardian about Peton's remarks. "The most important thing for me now is the World Cup. My future is the World Cup and then we'll see later. For now and hopefully for the next two months the only thing I am thinking about and talking about is the World Cup."

Asked about the ownership of Liverpool, the 26-year-old added: "That is one of the ways we need to improve. I know the situation, I speak to the chief executive and Rafa [Benítez, the Liverpool manager] every week and I am aware of what is going on. But because I am focusing on the World Cup I don't know what the situation is right now."

Torres is confident he will recover from a knee operation in time for Spain's first match at the World Cup 2010, which is against Switzerland on 16 June.

"I feel better," he said. "I have been training on my own for five weeks with just me and the fitness coach. Hopefully next week I'll be training with the rest of my team-mates. If all goes well I'll be in normal training on Monday.

Liverpool Join In Mauro Boselli Race

Three of the Premier League's other biggest clubs - Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool - will challenge Manchester United in the race to sign Estudiantes striker Mauro Boselli.

According to reports in South America, the 24-year-old is attracting significant interest from England with several scouts keeping close tabs on the Argentinean international.

Despite having only one cap to his name, Boselli could be heading to the World Cup this summer as a surprise choice in Diego Maradona's squad after an impressive season - having scored 24 goals in 34 games.

Several European clubs - including Italian giants Roma and AC Milan - are keen to snap up the pacey striker, although the leading bids are likely to come from the Premier League.

Previously, Manchester United were heavily linked to Boselli after reports that out-of-favour Dimitar Berbatov is set to be sold off to make room for a new crop of forwards alongside star man Wayne Rooney.

United have already announced the signing of Javier Hernandez from Mexican side Chivas, and Boselli could be brought in at the same time to ease the transition of the two players from the Americas.

However, Old Trafford bosses are facing some serious competition from the Premier League's other big-hitters with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini already aware of Boselli's talent.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti are also thought to have expressed an interest, which could lead to a pre-World Cup scramble for the player.

Reports of bids from multiple clubs could also increase Boselli's price-tag, which at the moment is thought to be as low as £5million.

Yossi Benayoun Set For Surprise Return To West Ham From Liverpool

Unsettled Liverpool winger Yossi Benayoun is being linked with a shock return to former club West Ham this summer as new boss Avram Grant's first signing.

Former Portsmouth manager Grant is due to take over at Upton Park in the next few days once he has thrashed out personal terms with owners David Gold and David Sullivan.

And he has targetted Benayoun, who has been in and out of the Reds first-team since his move to Anfield in 2007, as the first signing of his new regime.

Benayoun enjoyed two very successful seasons with the Hammers following his move from Racing Santander in 2005.

And although he is well regarded among Liverpool fans, manager Rafael Benitez appears unconvinced and has been reluctant to give him an extended run in the starting XI.

The Israeli international also raised doubts over his future earlier this month, saying: 'We don't know what changes there will be [this summer].

'I don't know personally even if I will be here or not.

'A lot of things can happen, so we have to wait and see. It will be very clear soon.'

Engineering the return of Benayoun, who remains a firm fans' favourite in east London despite contract issues clouding his departure, would endear Grant to the Boleyn Ground faithful immediately.

And Gold and Sullivan, who yesterday raised their stake in the club to 60 per cent and revealed plans to enable fans to invest in future, are hopeful of bringing in more new signings to boost spirits.

Last season ended in turmoil after narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League, before the departure of well-regarded manager Gianfranco Zola after reports of unrest with the boardroom.

Pepe Reina: Owners Must 'Move Quickly' To Sell Up And Stop Club's Current Decline

Pepe Reina isn't totally happy about things at Liverpool at the moment, and wants to see the sale of the club sorted and some investment in the first-team.

The Spaniard told reporters on Wednesday that he was confident Fernando Torres would stay at Anfield, but added that he was "worried" about the status of the Merseyside club.

Despite focusing on the World Cup with Spain, Reina admitted he couldn't keep Liverpool off his mind at the moment.

"I'm worried about the situation at the club," he told Sky Sports News.

"We have to be optimistic but move quickly and anything that happens has to be right now.

"As long as we build a competitive squad we don't have to fear but it's looking like it's not yet so we need to be ready to be less optimistic than the last few years and get ready for setting other targets maybe.

"If we don't strengthen the squad its going to be a really tough task to be in the top four so we'll have to set different targets and that's not good for Liverpool."

I'll Keep Fernando Torres Injury-Free, Says Liverpool FC's Dr Peter Brukner

Liverpool FC’s new head of sports science Dr Peter Brukner hopes to be able to keep star players like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard injury-free by revolutionising training methods at the club.

The Australian, who officially takes up his post after travelling to World Cup 2010 in South Africa with the Socceroos, intends to introduce new techniques when he returns to Liverpool FC.

Liverpool FC were badly hit by injuries during the 2009/10 season with Torres, Gerrard, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Yossi Benayoun, Fabio Aurelio, Emiliano Insua, Daniel Agger, Alberto Aquilani and Javier Mascherano all sidelined for varying lengths of time.

That undoubtedly impacted on a campaign which produced the club’s worst Premier League finish for 11 years - seventh - but Brukner hopes to be able to keep injuries to a minimum next season.

"The players will notice an immediate difference come the start of the 2010/11 season," said Liverpool FC’s head of sports medicine and sports science, who plans to divide players into groups depending on their injury history and then target them with specific work.

"Our plan is for the players to do a 15-minute session before they start training.

"This will be purely on injury prevention - working on hamstrings, groins, thighs, calves and so on.

"The other thing we’ll be doing more of is monitoring their general well-being, health and workload.

"We’ll be able to modify their programs depending on how much they play and how quickly they recover.

"You can’t stop all injuries. There are certain injuries which are inevitable - like when someone gets a kick or something.

"But I think we can certainly reduce the amount of injuries - particularly what we call soft-tissue injuries.

"Things like hamstring muscle, groin muscle, calf muscle and tears."

Rafa Considers Audacious Move For Manchester City’s Onuoha, Richards & Johnson

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is considering moves for three Manchester City players who do not appear to be part of Roberto Mancini’s long term plans. The Anfield manager is working hard to bring in new additions on a shoestring budget and has already snapped up Jonjo Shelvey and Milan Jovanovic for next to nothing and now appears ready to tempt stars Nedum Onuoha, Micah Richards and Michael Johnson.

Benitez is keen to add more ‘homegrown’ players into his squad ahead of the new regulations set to be enforced by the Premier League next season and has therefore earmarked moves for these three Englishman who have all represented their countries at various levels, with defender Richards being the only one of the trio to have earned full international honours.

The Spaniard has been linked with moves for Michael Johnson for some time now but could consider this summer to be the right time to nab a player has had a string of problems both and off the field over the past two seasons during which time he has managed just three Premier League starts.

Micah Richards has been fighting for a regular first team spot for some time now and has been linked with moves away from the club with both Tottenham and Aston Villa reportedly expressing an interest in the player who was a regular in the England set-up when Steve McClaren was at the helm. Nedum Onuoha was a player that Mark Hughes rated highly and the Nigerian born former England Under-21 international put pen to paper on a five year contract last summer but since found himself out of the first team reckoning when Mancini arrived, consigning the defender to just five starts last term.

Whilst Liverpool may not be able to afford moves for all three of the players seemingly deemed ’surplus to requirements’ at the City of Manchester Stadium, Rafa will apparently look to pounce for this £22m rated trio this summer, dependent on how much money he can make from offloading some of his squad players.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fernando Torres 'Will Continue At Liverpool Next Season' – Agent

Fernando Torres's agent has said the striker "will continue at Liverpool next season".

There has been speculation that the player would leave Anfield this summer after a disappointing season, with many of Europe's top clubs – such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona – linked with making a move.

However, José Antonio Peton told Punto Radio in Spain: "For the moment I can assure fans that Fernando will continue at Liverpool next season. Everything is down to Liverpool's attitude but for the time being Fernando is happy at the club and has a good contract.

"Liverpool have not spoken to us about his future, so he is just concentrating on playing at the World Cup."

Maxi Rodriguez Scores Twice For Argentina But Goes Off Injured

Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez hit two goals last night as Argentina signed off for their trip to the World Cup Finals with a 5-0 triumph over Canada in Buenos Aires.

Rodriguez hit the first via a free-kick in the 16th minute and put his country two goals up just past the half-hour following a pass from Carlos Tevez.

Rodriguez did not play the second-half after a foul from Canada’s Josh Simpson. just before the interval left him limping with an injury to his right ankle.

The knock was later described as minor.

By that point, the home side were 3-0 up with a fine strike from Angel Di Maria. Tevez netted Argentina’s fourth just after the hour mark before Sergio Aguero rounded off the comfortable win for Diego Maradona’s team 20 minutes from time.

Wilson Move In Doubt

Danny Wilson's dream move to Liverpool has stalled - because the young Rangers defender does not meet a 'homegrown' quota system being introduced by the English Premier League.

Now the cash-strapped Ibrox club could lose out on up to £3million if the 18-year-old remains in Glasgow next season before leaving when his contract expires.

Sportsmail understands Wilson had proven particularly attractive to the Merseyside giants because they are planning for new regulations which will demand eight homegrown players in every topflight club's 25-man squad.

Liverpool initially believed it applied to footballers from across the whole of the British Isles, but their interest has now cooled after it emerged only youngsters brought through at English and Welsh clubs will qualify.

This has forced a hitch in the projected Wilson deal, which had seen Liverpool offer a £2.5m down payment, with a further £1.5m in add-ons.

While it is believed they still want to sign the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year, it will not be with the same urgency as before. Wilson has rejected all offers of an extension to his contract with Rangers.

And it's understood that, if no agreement can be struck with Liverpool at the moment, he will resolve to remain at Ibrox next season before becoming eligible to sign a pre-contract elsewhere in January.

Any club signing Wilson would then have to pay only around £650,000 in compensation under FIFA rules relating to players under the age of 24.

FA Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said: 'All clubs must declare their 25-man squad at the end of August after the close of the transfer window.

'No more than 17 of those players can be over the age of 21 and not home-grown.

'The definition of homegrown is trained for three years under the age of 21 by somebody in the English and Welsh professional system. It is not in a club's interests to stockpile players. It will make buying home-grown talent more attractive.'

Rafa Benitez has already started to adjust Liverpool's staffing levels, with young Englishman Jonjo Shelvey signing from Charlton Athletic.

Fabio Aurelio To Exit Anfield After Turning Down New Contract

Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio has turned down the offer of a new pay-as-you-play deal and will leave the club next week, manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed.

The Brazilian's career at Liverpool has been littered with injuries and his final year was indicative of that.

He missed the start of the campaign after sustaining a freak knee problem while playing football with his children and a thigh problem at the end of February prematurely ended his season.

Because of his fitness record the club offered the 30 year-old a flexible deal based on the matches he played but Aurelio wanted the security of a more permanent arrangement and has chosen to end his four-year stay at Anfield.

"Fabio's contract is nearly finished and he is going to leave us," said Benitez.

"We had been trying to work something out with regards an extension but it was a pity that we couldn't.

"He has given us absolutely fantastic service. The one problem we had with Fabio was that he suffered too many injuries and it was such a pity because he has great quality."

Aurelio's absence placed additional pressure on 21 year-old left-back Emiliano Insua as there were times when Benitez wanted to rest the player but had no other back up and, as a result, the Argentinian played 44 matches before he too succumbed to injury late in the season.

LFC Eye Brazilian Forward Diego Tardelli

Liverpool are running the rule over highly-rated Brazilian forward Diego Tardelli.

Anfield scouts have watched the 25-year-old striker, who plays in his homeland league for Atletico Miniero and would be available for around £6m.

Tardelli played three times for Brazil in their World Cup qualifiers and was named in their preliminary 30-man squad for the forthcoming finals in South Africa, but failed to make coach Dunga’s final cut.

The striker was a product of Sao Paulo’s youth system and had spells on loan in Europe with Real Betis and PSV Eindhoven before spending a season at Flamengo.

Turkish side Fenerbahce and Saint-Etienne of France are among a clutch of clubs to have been linked in recent years for Tardelli.

West Ham United have also been tracking the forward, who has scored 42 goals in 58 games and was rated among Brazil’s brightest young talents when he burst on to the scene as a teenager.

Rafa Wants Former United Star

Liverpool boss is reportedly considering making a move for former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi this summer.

Having left Old Trafford back in 2007 the New Jersey born Italian international has gone from strength to strength at La Liga side Villarreal and has been named in Marcello Lippi's provisional World Cup squad.

Rafa Benitez is keen to bring in new attacking options to help carry the burden that is placed almost entirely on the shoulders of Spaniard Fernando Torres and the Anfield boss may well be able to pick up the impish 23-year-old for a fee of around £12m.

Rossi has had three consistent seasons at Villarreal where he has managed 45 goals and made himself one of the most dependable strikers in Spain. His efforts have not gone unnoticed and fellow Premier League side Manchester City are also reportedly interested in snapping up his services.

The Liverpool manager could also tempt the Spanish side with the possibility of offering expendable Albert Rieira as part of any deal.

Rafa Benitez Considering Albert Riera For Nikola Zigic Swap

Valencia striker Nikola Zigic is interested in a move to the Premier League and has garnered the interest of a number of English clubs including Liverpool.

Reds manager Rafa Benitez is keen to make an offer to los Che that could kill two birds with one stone. He is pondering a swap deal that would send out of sorts winger Albert Riera to Spain in return for los Che's towering striker, according to AS.

If such a deal were to materialise, Liverpool would be obligated to pay an additional €3-4 million in addition to Riera.

Other teams have their sights set on Zigic as well, which could play a role in the proceedings should Liverpool drag their feet. Aston Villa and Birmingham are two possible suitors for the towering Serbian as well.

Skrtel: I Must Prove Myself

Martin Skrtel is desperate to prove his fitness to earn a place in the Slovakian squad for what will be an historic World Cup for his nation.

Skrtel suffered a metatarsal injury in February, missing the climax of Liverpool's season, but is in Slovakia's provisional squad for South Africa 2010.

The defender now has two warm-up games against Cameroon and Costa Rica to demonstrate he's ready to be tested on the biggest stage in global football in what will be Slovakia's first ever World Cup finals.

He told LFC Weekly: "Those two games will be very important for me. My aim is to try to train every day to be ready for these two matches and maybe they will show me how I feel and which level I can play at.

"First I must get my fitness and then try to get my form back to the level it was at before my injury. That will help me to be ready for the World Cup."

Skrtel says there is a growing expectation among his nation's population of just over five million.

He added: "Because it is the first World Cup for Slovakia, it is a big thing for all Slovakian people. So we are all looking forward to the competition and I hope that we will show our best and produce some good results there."

Liverpool Owner Tom Hicks Files For Bankruptcy At Texas Rangers

Tom Hicks has hardly been popular amongst Liverpool FC fans, but his problems at Anfield are nothing compared to the issues facing the Texas Rangers, who have now filed for bankruptcy.

Hicks arrived at Liverpool with co-owner George Gillett in 2007 with grand plans for a new stadium to allow the club to move from Anfield, but the stadium is yet to materialise and, this season, Rafael Benitez's team has failed to secure qualification for the Uefa Champions League, casting further doubts on the club's financial viability.

Things are even more difficult for Hicks on the other side of the Atlantic where, on Monday, the Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the aim of hastening the US$575 million sale of the team to a group of investors that includes former pitcher Nolan Ryan.

The deal will see the Rangers pay the US$75 million of the franchise's debt tied up in Hicks Sports Group, allowing the team to be sold by protecting it from the creditors of HSG.

"I did not want to put the baseball future of the Texas Rangers in jeopardy or uncertainty for an extended period of time," Hicks told Bloomberg. "This action is all about creating an end to the impasse in allowing this team sale to go forward."

New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez heads the list of creditors. He is owed US$24.9 million in deferred compensation six years after leaving the Rangers. Bloomberg notes: 'The next five on the list are also current or former players: Kevin Millwood ($12.9 million), Michael Young ($3.9 million), Vicente Padilla ($1.7 million), Mickey Tettleton ($1.4 million) and Mark McLemore ($970,000).'

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gerrard Paves Way For Successor

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard believes that Manchester City winger Adam Johnson has proved in training that he is worthy of a place on the plane to South Africa despite not yet playing for England at full international level.

The former Middlesbrough man has been an impressive top flight force since his £8 million move to Manchester City, fully proving his ability to take the step up from the Championship to the Premier League.

A regular under Roberto Mancini, the 22-year-old is now being tipped to fill a wide left berth for the Three Lions; a position which Liverpool and Anfield hero Gerrard has made his own under during the Capello era.

Liverpool star Gerrard remarked:

"Adam has looked fantastic in training. He is a typical left-winger; he gets good crosses into the box, and is exciting on the ball.

"We will have to wait and see what players Fabio goes with in the final 23.

"But I am sure Adam has got a fantastic chance of going to the World Cup because he is a very talented player."

Fabio Capello has just over a week before he is forced to trim his 30 man provisional squad down the requisite 23 directed by FIFA regulations.

It is believed that Johnson's performance this evening and during Sunday's final friendly against Japan will be decisive in determining his chances of making the trip to South Africa.

Joe Hart, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gareth Barry are the other City squad members keeping their fingers crossed over the next seven days.

Rafael Benitez Shrugs Off Reports Linking Him With Coaching Role In UAE

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has refuted reports that he was about to be offered the role of national coach of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE were apparently set to offer the Spaniard a £5 million ‘golden hello’, and a house on Dubai’s exclusive Palm Island, in addition to an annual salary of £4m to try and tempt him away from Anfield.

But Benitez insists that he has no intention of leaving Anfield after holding discussions since the end of the season with the chairman Martin Broughton and managing director Christian Purslow about the future direction of the club.

"I was very surprised to read about this story but it seems more and more as if they keep happening from somewhere," said the Reds gaffer, according to The Liverpool Echo.

"I am very happy here in Liverpool.

"I have always been happy and I want to stay here for a long time – if it is possible."

Liverpool Set For £12 Million Swoop For Micah Richards

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is set to launch a £12 million bid for Manchester City defender Micah Richards according to

The Reds' boss is looking to entice the England man away from Eastlands with the promise of regular first-team football and a chance to break back into the international set-up.

The Anfield manager is hoping for an injection of cash this summer in order to land his man, but given the precarious financial situation the Merseysiders face, he might be forced to raise the funds through sales.

Despite missing out on Champions League football, the attraction of regular football may be enough for Richards to make the move, after seeing his career slightly derailed in the past season through injury and competition for places at Eastlands.

It is speculated that the likes of Phillip Degen, Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera will be offloaded to raise the required fee for Richards.

Steven Gerrard Could Be Mourinho's Second Pick For £30M Move To Real Madrid

Steven Gerrard could find himself only Jose Mourinho’s second pick for a £30m move to Real Madrid.

The Liverpool star admitted for the first time yesterday he was contemplating leaving Anfield.

That confirmed Starsport’s exclusive on January 16 which told you Real were favourites to sign him. Gerrard’s representatives contacted Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and Inter Milan earlier in the season to see about the prospects of a summer move.

But Mourinho – who is quitting newly-crowned Champions League kings Inter for the Bernabeu – has pinpointed Roma’s Daniele De Rossi as his No 1 target, with Gerrard only a back-up option.

De Rossi, 26, was a major force in Claudio Ranieri’s team who pushed Mourinho’s Inter to the wire in the race for the Scudetto.

Gerrard has become increasingly frustrated about the lack of success at Liverpool, with no trophies since the stunning Champions League success in 2005.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho built his treble-winning Inter side this season around the talents of Dutchman Wesley Sniejder.

But there is little hope of him returning to Real Madrid after just one season at the San Siro and Mourinho already has former Liverpool ace Xavi Alonso in that position.

Roma yesterday insisted they have no plans to sell World Cup-winner De Rossi, who wears the No 10 shirt for his club and country.

De Rossi scored crucial goals for Italy in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

For Roma, he plays more as a defensive midfielder but for the Azzurri he is given license to get forward in the style of Gerrard, with Gennaro Gattuso in the team to hold the midfield.

Mourinho refused to confirm he was the new boss of Real Madrid after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Bernabeu.

He said he planned to meet with president Florentino Perez today. He added: “Should I become coach of Real Madrid then this would be because Real Madrid are a club with a huge dimension. The club want the same as other clubs - they want to win.

”If you want to win important things you need this spirit and the availability of money to back the team. The team must work together. “

”This is the pride I have when I look at Inter. We became a magnificent family of football players. From the groundsman to the players, even the players who did not play for one minute, we are a marvellous family.

“I’ve seen that in other clubs I’ve worked at, when we have created a family feeling and that was the most important thing we did.”