Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kuyt Admits He And Skrtel Happy To Get Away From Liverpool Turmoil

Holland attacker Dirk Kuyt admits he's likely to swap Liverpool war stories with Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel today.

Kuyt says both he and Skrtel are happy to be at the World Cup after a turbulent season with the Reds.

"My team-mate Martin Skrtel will be playing for Slovakia and we know they can defend really well," said Kuyt.

"Martin is a fantastic defender. It's a bit strange because you're used to training every day with each other, playing every game with each other, and now we play against each other.

"Everyone at Liverpool is disappointed about what happened last season. For us as players, the World Cup is now the most important thing, but after this World Cup is finished for both of us, the focus will again be on Liverpool.

"Hopefully the future at Liverpool will be brighter than last season."

Liverpool FC’s Famous Five Set To Miss Start Of Europa League Adventure

Liverpool are facing up to the prospect of kicking off their Europa League campaign without a handful of star names.

The Reds will play the first significant game of the new season in the third qualifying round of the Europa League on Thursday, July 29 – but it is looking increasingly unlikely that the club’s new manager will not be able to call on Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt for what is certainly a crucial fixture.

All players who have been involved in the World Cup are given a mandatory three-week break from the moment their countries are eliminated.

That means the earliest Mascherano, Rodriguez and Kuyt can be expected to report back to Melwood is on Monday, July 26, as they will be involved in quarter-finals this weekend.

And provided World Cup favourites Spain beat Portugal tonight in Cape Town to progress to the last eight, the same would also apply to Torres and Reina.

They, of course, would not be considered for duty so soon after returning from a break and Liverpool can expect to be similarly cautious with the players whose World Cup dreams were ended at the weekend.

Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson were due home today after flying back from South Africa with the rest of Fabio Capello’s squad but they won’t be seen back in the Reds’ fold until the middle week of July.

It’s possible that trio will join up with the party that travels to Switzerland for a training camp but they will definitely miss Liverpool’s opening three friendlies against Saudi Arabian champions Al Hilal (July 17), Grasshopper Zurich (July 21) and Kaiserslautern (July 24).

Those players who have not been involved in the World Cup, such as Alberto Aquilani, Lucas and Emiliano Insua, will return to Melwood this Thursday for the opening day of pre-season.

Liverpool will not discover the identity of their prospective Europa League opponents until the draw is made on July 16, when they enter the competition with teams such as Juventus, Stuttgart and Galatasary.

Liverpool’s UEFA coefficient means they will not get pitted against one of those big names but they could still be handed a tricky assignment, as sides such as IFK Gothenburg, Red Star Belgrade and Maccabi Haifa will be lurking in the draw.

David Villa Launches Staunch Defence Of Liverpool FC’s Fernando Torres

Spain forward David Villa has launched a staunch defence of Fernando Torres and insists he is “totally convinced” his strike partner will regain his scoring touch.

Vicente Del Bosque’s side meet Iberian rivals Portugal in World Cup last-16 clash in Cape Town with Villa having scored three goals from as many matches.

Torres, however, has yet to find the net in South Africa having only recovered from a knee injury just before the tournament.

Villa insists the squad are oblivious to negative reviews of Liverpool striker Torres’ performances so far.

“First of all I haven’t really heard any criticism of Fernando and I certainly don’t share a view of his performances being lacklustre,” said the Barcelona-bound striker.

“Perhaps he hasn’t scored a goal but he’s done spectacular work. He really is very happy in the squad, he’s made an enormous effort to help this team. Let’s remember what state he was in with his knee a month ago.

“He is supporting the team with his play, so I’m very thankful to him and I think his performances have been very good.

He is doing some excellent work, but forwards are always measured by the goals they score and I’m totally convinced that if he continues working as well as he is, he will score goals.”

Villa added: “He had that at the European Championship, he scored goals in the later stages although he hadn’t scored many at the beginning.

“He’s very happy, he’s always with us and he’s always going to be contributing very positively to the side.”

Coach Del Bosque believes the Liverpool striker’s best is yet to come.

“I think he has been very good,” said the Spain boss. “He only played 30 minutes or so in the first match and then more in the next two. I think that’s been very good because now he has fresh legs and we’re hoping he puts on a top show against Portugal.”

Fernando Torres: The Departure Of Rafael Benitez From Liverpool Was The Right Move For Everyone Involved

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres confessed that Rafael Benitez had to leave the club this summer and admitted that he could depart as well.

Benitez was fired after the Reds struggled to a disappointing seventh place finish in the Premier League, their lowest finish in 11 seasons.

The Spaniard went on to replace Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan, and Torres believes that Benitez’s departure was the right move.

“At this point I think it was best for everyone,” Torres told Spanish newspaper AS.

“He won everything, and last year they demanded too much from him.”

Benitez led Liverpool to their fifth European Cup victory in 2005 and was instrumental in bringing Torres to Anfield in 2007.

Torres is growing impatient and wants the opportunity to win major club honours in his career and Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City have all shown interest in a big money move for the Spain star.

The 26-year-old stated that he would be happy to stay with the Reds but wants the club to bring in more stars to help the team compete with the elite clubs in England and Europe in the coming years.

Fellow Liverpool stars Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt have all been rumoured to be on the move this summer.

With Spain’s crunch Round of 16 clash with Portugal on Tuesday, Torres left the questions about his future with Liverpool to be answered after he returns from South Africa.

“They will tell us the situation after the World Cup. At the moment we don't have a coach.

“What Torres wants is to beat Portugal. The rest, we'll see.”

Fernando Torres Turning Into The Spanish Emile Heskey

This might sound like just about the stupidest thing you've ever heard but bear with it for a moment. It's not quite as absurd as you might think. Ok, here goes ... Fernando Torres is Spain's Emile Heskey. On the face of it there is no comparison. Last season the Spaniard scored 18 Premier League goals despite missing much of the season through injury. Heskey got three. In his three years in England, Torres has scored 56 times; Heskey would have to go back nine campaigns to rack up as many. Meanwhile, the Englishman has scored seven at international level, while his counterpart has 24.

It is at international level, though, where there is a curious parallel developing between the two. Neither has scored at the World Cup. In fact, Torres has not scored for Spain since last summer, and Heskey has not scored for England since June last year. But he did at least score during qualification, which is more than can be said for Torres.

It should not have been so long. Torres wasted two wonderful opportunities against Honduras; Heskey failed to take his chance against the USA.

Not that anyone was surprised, or even especially angry. Most imagined Heskey would miss, and scoring goals was officially not his job. When Torres missed, the surprise was greater. But here's the thing: scoring is not his job either.

"David [Villa] is the goalscorer," Torres said. "He's the one whose responsibility it is to score [for Spain]. When I was 17 I would get annoyed if I didn't score but not any more."

For a man with more than 150 goals to his name, it was a startling remark, and Torres does care about getting goals himself. It could also be dismissed as an attempt to ease the pressure – and questions certainly have been asked about the Madrileño's form and finishing.

Yet the sentiment was not entirely misplaced. Both Torres and Heskey have found themselves in a situation in which they are, rarely for a forward, judged not so much on their own performances as that of the man alongside them.

Though the doubts lingered, and are ever greater now, England fans long learnt to value Heskey for something other than goals, Gérard Houllier once brandishing the figures to underline his importance, even if those figures did not include goals scored. Now Spanish fans are having similar discussions about Torres.

He has twice undergone operations this year. This might be a World Cup but he is undergoing a kind of pre-season; against Honduras he started a match for the first time in three months. "The most important thing," he said, "is that I'm progressing." The most important thing is that Spain are. And although superficial judgments suggest otherwise, Torres is a central reason why.

It is the performance of the men alongside them that means Heskey and Torres have such different horizons; and that, in turn, says something about their displays. Wayne Rooney failed to score; Villa has scored three times. Or to put it another way: Heskey failed to help Rooney score; Torres helped Villa score – an interpretation that comes as a comfort to Torres, something to which he can cling in his drought.

Heskey was dropped from and ultimately had to head for home with the defeated squad; Torres will be included as Spain face Portugal tonight believing that they can reach the final on 11 July. The reason is simple: even without getting goals, Torres has proven fundamental.

The Liverpool striker was absent from the starting line-up in Spain's 1–0 defeat in the opening game against Switzerland. When he has been included, Villa has scored three times, mostly coming in from the left. Against Chile, it was Torres's power and pace that presented Villa with the chance – if it can even be called a "chance" – to score.

The move was reminiscent of Villa's first at Euro 2008, a goal he greeted by pointedly celebrating with Torres, the provider.

The roles remain. "Torres generates a lot of space for me – anyone can see that," Villa says.

"Torres hasn't scored goals yet; he lacks pace and his finishing needs to improve, but he is very valuable," says Vicente del Bosque, Spain's coach. "He ties up the defenders, is a constant threat and opens spaces. He always offers himself, especially at the hardest moments, and causes problems with his power and pace."

Javi Venta, the Villarreal defender, adds: "When Torres plays, Villa plays better. He has more freedom, greater mobility."

The former Spain midfielder Victor Muñoz defines it in a phrase: "Torres makes the pitch longer."

Torres adds: "Look at Villa's figures, they're incredible. He's the Seleccion's goalscorer and always has been." Well, not always. The last time questions were raised about Torres's goalscoring ability, during Euro 2008, he silenced them in style. By scoring the most important goal in the country's history.

Torres: Wonderful To Be Linked With Inter

Fernando Torres admits he's flattered by Internazionale's interest.

The striker is one of the Liverpool players who have been linked with the Nerazzurri since Rafael Benitez moved to the Champions League winners.

“It is always wonderful to be linked with big clubs. I can’t help but be pleased and flattered,” Torres told Radio Marca.

“It seems to me fairly normal that the big clubs should be interested in the top players of sides who are struggling.

“For example, Liverpool is out of the Champions League, while Valencia are in a terrible economic situation.

“Aside from rumours, as far as I know there’s nothing concrete.”

Torres is currently in South Africa with Spain, who have qualified for the round of 16.

Liverpool FC Shirt Sponsor Standard Chartered In ‘Excellent Shape’

Liverpool FC’s new shirt sponsor has delivered an upbeat trading statement.

Banking group Standard Chartered said it was in “excellent shape” in its pre-close trading update covering the half year period to June 30.

The group, which is predominantly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, revealed that by the end of May its income and profits were ahead of the same period in 2009, thanks to double digit growth over the second half of 2009.

Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands said: “The group has continued to see very good appetite for its name” and reported that during April and June the bank managed to raise £2.6bn of new funding.

Mortgage income is up strongly on a year-on-year basis and some 850 new staff have been recruited within the group’s commercial and wholesale divisions.

A four-year performance-related shirt sponsorship deal worth up to £80m was unveiled by the company and Liverpool FC last September.

Culture Minister Slammed For Hillsborough Comments

A former minister branded Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s remarks on the Hillsborough disaster a "disgrace" in the Commons today.

Labour’s Derek Twigg said relatives of the 96 people killed in the April 1989 incident were "deeply distressed" by Mr. Hunt’s comments.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the judicial inquiry into the disaster had been "absolutely clear" that no Liverpool supporters were to blame and she agreed to meet representatives of the families.

Mr. Hunt’s remark came during an interview about England’s poor performance in the World Cup.

He said he was "incredibly encouraged by the example set by the England fans. I mean, not a single arrest for a football-related offence, and the terrible problems that we had in Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us".

He later apologised to Liverpool fans and the families of those killed and injured. The 96 fans died and hundreds more were injured after a crush developed in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

During Commons question time, Mr. Twigg (Halton) told Mrs. May: "You will be aware of the comments by the Culture Secretary this morning linking the Hillsborough disaster to football hooliganism - this is a disgrace.

"I’ve just recently spoken to some of the families who lost loved ones at Hillsborough - they’re deeply distressed by this and angry about what’s happened.

"How can they have trust in the Government that they will see through the proper release of the Hillsborough files given that that’s the view held in high parts of the Government?"

He asked Mrs. May to meet "urgently" Mr. Hunt and the families of those killed to discuss the matter.

The Home Secretary pointed to Mr. Hunt’s apology, adding: "The judicial inquiry was absolutely clear on this point - the Taylor Report cleared Liverpool supporters of any allegations they were to blame for the terrible events that took place at that time.

"The families of those who sadly lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster have conducted a very dignified campaign over the years to try to ensure that the information is released and that they are able to see all the details of what happened at that time.

"I have already met the Bishop of Liverpool to discuss the work that his panel is doing in looking at these issues. I would indeed be happy to meet representatives of the Hillsborough families."

Lord Justice Taylor’s official inquiry into the disaster, which reported in 1990, criticised senior police officers on duty at the match for a "failure of control" and recommended the introduction of all-seater stadiums.

A group set up to study previously secret documents relating to the Hillsborough tragedy met for the first time in February.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, led by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, will oversee the public disclosure of archives held by the emergency services, the city council and other public bodies in Sheffield.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roy Hodgson Seeking Guarenteed Transfer Funds Before Commiting To Become Liverpool Manager

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson insists that he be guaranteed funds to help strengthen Liverpool’s squad this summer before he is appointed the Reds new manager.

Liverpool are set to agree to terms with the Cottagers over compensation for Hodgson to replace new Inter Milan boss Rafael Benitez.

However, Hodgson want some assurance that the Reds will give him the funds to go into the transfer marker and improve the club before he commits to lead Liverpool next season, according to The Mirror.

The Reds are coming off of a very disappointing season, finishing in seventh place in the Premier League and being eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League.

Hodgson is concerned that the financially burdened club, who are currently about £400 million in debt, may not allow him to spend this summer.

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is the favourite to replace Hodgson at Fulham.

Klose: Germans Rate Liverpool Midfielder Gerrard Bigger Tthreat Than Rooney

Bayern Munich veteran Miroslav Klose says the Germans rate Liverpool ace Steven Gerrard as England's biggest threat.

Klose says they're more wary of Gerrard than Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

Klose told the Daily Star Sunday: “I personally like Steven ­Gerrard as a player. In many ways I see him as more ­important than Wayne Rooney as he can create everything for England in the ­middle of the park.”

Klose, 32, who won the Golden Boot at the 2006 World Cup, knows all about Rooney as he plays for Bayern Munich, who beat Manchester United over two legs in the Champions League semi-finals in March and April.

And he said: “I know a lot of hope is on Wayne Rooney for the England team but we won't give him any special attention. Yes he is a good player and we will mark him like we would any good player – but we won't be doubling-up on him or ­anything like that."

DIC Return To Negotiating Table With Liverpool

Dubai International Capital are again in takeover talks with Liverpool.

The Sunday Express says while managing director Christian Purslow has been concentrating on finding Rafa Benitez’s successor, chairman Martin Broughton has been focused on attracting buyers to take over from George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

One of Broughton’s tasks has been to knock down Hicks’ claims that the Americans were looking for £800million.

He has been in advanced talks with parties in the Middle East, including Dubai International Capital, and believes a deal could be done for £500m.

Fernando Torres Still A Dangerman, Says Spain Coach Vicente Del Bosque

Fernando Torres has yet to hit top form in the World Cup but Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque insists the Liverpool striker is still a major threat.

Torres had to play catch-up with regards to his preparations for the World Cup after missing the majority of Spain’s build-up having undergone knee surgery in April.

His only appearance in the warm-up matches came during Spain’s final friendly against Poland, and although he managed to score in a 6-0 win in that match, he has failed to get off the mark in three games in South Africa.

But Del Bosque said: “What’s important is that he’s played in the three games and has progressed in his preparation.

“He’s a player who, even though he hasn’t scored goals, he benefits us as someone who makes it hard for opposing defences and who is always a threat to the other team. He’s a very dangerous player.”

Torres himself admits he is not yet back to full fitness, saying: “I’m still lacking a bit – it’s not easy to return after an operation.

“I think I’m still a little away from being 100%, although I’m close.”

Spain face Portugal tomorrow, and Torres said: “We’re ready for whatever comes. We are where we wanted to be, living the opportunity that we dreamed of.

“We only need to look ahead, be optimistic, positive and show the people what we are capable of. We have confidence in ourselves.

“We’ve all seen the level that this team have and we know we haven’t reached that yet.”

Liverpool Prepared To Sell Kuyt

Liverpool are prepared to sell Dirk Kuyt.

The Daily Star Sunday says the word from within Anfield is that Kuyt, in Holland’s team at the World Cup, is for sale.

The new boss at ­currently managerless Liverpool – ­expected to be Fulham’s Roy Hodgson – could reverse that decision.

But there is a feeling that the manager-elect has already sanctioned the sale of Kuyt, 29.

The versatile Kuyt has been at Anfield for four years. He joined from Feyenoord for £10million after scoring 71 goals in 101 games.

And Liverpool are hoping to receive £8m from his sale.

England And Liverpool FC Captain Steven Gerrard Anticipates Changes After World Cup Exit

Skipper Steven Gerrard expects there to be changes in the England squad for the Euro 2012 campaign but he has urged Fabio Capello to remain as manager.

The chances of the so called 'Golden Generation' to win a major tournament may have ended after England were beaten 4-1 in their World Cup second round match by Germany in Bloemfontein. #

The likes of Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Emile Heskey are already over 30 while David James will be 40 in August.

"Everyone in the dressing room is hurting, the coaching staff and the players.

"We'll go away in the summer and analyze things personally and the team," said Gerrard.

"We'll have to see what the future holds. We've got an experienced team and players who are getting on.

"I'm sure they'll be changes by the time the next tournament comes around. But they're questions you'll have to ask the manager."

As for Capello's future, Gerrard said: "I'm sure Fabio will stay and he'll address his own situation very soon.

"I don't know when. Personally I'd like him to stay as I think he's a fantastic manager but that's my opinion."

Gerrard refused to lay the blame for England's failure down to the match officials not allowing a 38th minute equalizer when Frank Lampard's shot had clearly crossed the goal-line.

He said: "If you look at the game as a whole we've been beaten by the better team. At 2-1 if Frank's goal would have counted it could have been a turning point in the game, but we can't use that as an excuse.

"They've scored four goals and we only got one, which tells it's own story.

"We made too many mistakes as a team. Germany were more organized than us and were more clinical. They got in five or six times and scored four goals so you've got to give them credit. Germany was the better team over the 90 minutes, but even at 2-0 and 2-1 I had confidence we could win the game. The third goal was the killer."

Gerrard: No Excuses

Steven Gerrard refused to use the excuse of England's wrongly disallowed goal as the main reason behind their World Cup exit at the hands of Germany on Sunday afternoon.

The Three Lions suffered their worst ever defeat in a World Cup as Joachim Loew's side progressed to the quarter-finals after a 4-1 win.

However, at 2-1 down the major talking point was Frank Lampard's disallowed effort, which television replays showed clearly crossed the line.

While the skipper admitted the decision was hard to take, he acknowledged that Fabio Capello's side was not good enough on the day.

"There were big key decisions in the game, at 2-1 we had a goal disallowed," said Gerrard.

"At 2-1 we were hurting them and we were still in the game.

"I think it (the disallowed goal) had an effect but we cannot use that as an excuse with being beaten 4-1.

"That would have been a big goal for us. It's all ifs and buts. Germany are a fantastic team and they deserved their win.

"You go away and you have a think about what went wrong and why we didn't progress further in the tournament.

"As a team we've made a big mistake today and we've been beaten by a good team.

"They were more clinical in front of goal and they made fewer mistakes than us and we got punished for that today."

Frustration For Reds Ace

There was frustration for Liverpool FC's racer James Walker as car problems ruined his chances to make a real impression during round five of Superleague Formula in Nurburgring, Germany, on Sunday.

After a top six finish in the first race, Walker's luck ran out when he was forced to pull into the pits after the parade lap with a compressor failure.

He battled on bravely but was forced to retire soon after as his mechanical team couldn't find a way to fix the problem.

Despite the disappointment, Walker stays in eighth place in the Superleague Formula Championship.

After suffering brake trouble during Saturday's qualifier, he showed his true qualities in the first race when he finished sixth.

Meanwhile, AC Milan's hopes of winning the 2010 Superleague Formula by Sonangol title took a significant boost in Nurburgring, as the Italian Serie A giants scored maximum points in race one, thanks to a faultless drive from their Dutch star Yelmer Buurman.

In race two Alvaro Parente claimed victory for FC Porto after holding off a late-race challenge from Bordeaux's Franck Montagny.

Incredibly Chris van der Drift gave Greek club Olympiacos its second Super Final victory in seven days as the young New Zealander produced another superb performance.

Having scooped the €100,000 prize for winning the five-lap dash-for-the-cash in Jarama last weekend, van der Drift repeated the feat in Germany thanks to a brilliant start from fourth which saw him dive down the middle of front row starters AC Milan and Galatasaray into the lead.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dirk Kuyt Warns He Will Show No Mercy To Liverpool Teammate Martin Skrtel

Dirk Kuyt has warned his Liverpool team-mate Martin Skrtel that nothing is going to stop Holland storming into the World Cup quarter-finals.

Kuyt comes face to face with his Anfield pal when the Dutch take on Slovakia in Durban on Monday.

'We have a lot of confidence now because not only have we won all our qualifying games but all our games in the group stage as well,' said Kuyt.

'We can still do a lot better. Martin is a fantastic defender but I'll be ready for him. I already played against Daniel Agger in the group and we beat his Denmark team.

'It's a bit strange because you're used to training every day with each other, playing every game with each other, and now we play against each other.

'But that's the World Cup. The best players are here and we have to make the best of it and I think we will do well.'

Didier Deschamps To Snub Liverpool As He Plans To Extend Marseille Stay

Olympique de Marseille coach Didier Deschamps has declared that he is hoping to stay in charge of the French club in the future.

The retired midfielder has been linked with the Liverpool hot-seat after masterminding Marseille's league success in his first year at the helm of the club. UK revealed earlier today the Reds had turned to Deschamps after negotiations with Fulham boss Roy Hodgson hit a brick wall.

However, Deschamps has revealed he is not seeking a move away from OM and stressed he has already begun talks with the club's hierarchy to prolong his stay.

"We have held discussions," Deschamps told La Provence. "I am happy at OM, I am not there for just one year. A coach must be there for the long haul, and that is my wish."

Anfield Is Ready For Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson will be appointed Liverpool’s new boss in time to welcome some of the players back for pre-season training on Friday.

It is believed the majority of Liverpool’s senior players are happy with Hodgson’s impending arrival, but they won’t be back at Anfield until the end of July following a break after the World Cup.

While managing director Christian Purslow has been concentrating on finding Rafa Benitez’s successor, chairman Martin Broughton has been focused on attracting buyers to take over from George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

One of Broughton’s tasks has been to knock down Hicks’ claims that the Americans were looking for £800million.

He has been in advanced talks with parties in the Middle East, including Dubai International Capital, and believes a deal could be done for £500m.

Kuyt Reveals Reds Doubts

Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt has admitted he is unsure where his future lies after rumours suggested he could be about to leave the club.

The Dutchman - currently on duty with his national team at the World Cup finals - has been linked with a move to Serie A side Inter Milan.

Any switch for the front man to Italy would see him work under Rafa Benitez, who left Liverpool in the close season after six years at the helm to take over the job vacated by Jose Mourinho.

The Reds have yet to announce the Spaniard's successor, leaving Kuyt in limbo and unsure as to where he will be plying his trade next season.

"I'm just focusing myself on the World Cup," said the 29-year-old.

"I still have a long-term contract with Liverpool and I'm just focused on the World Cup. What happens at Liverpool, we'll see.

"I haven't spoken to him (Benitez). I've had a few text messages but they were more like 'good luck for the games' and 'well done'."

Benitez's exit from the Anfield hotseat has led to uncertainty over several of Liverpool's star names, including captain Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres.

Equal doubt remains over who will be managing the Merseysiders next season, as reports suggest Roy Hodgson, Frank Rijkaard and Didier Deschamps are the key contenders to land the position.

The financial situation also adds to the turbulence and Kuyt refused to rule out making an exit after seeing the man who brought him to the club also leave.

Kuyt was a £9million buy from Feyenoord in 2006 under Benitez and the player conceded the managerial position - as well Liverpool's ability to mix it in the transfer market - could be prevailing factors in his decision.

When asked about a move to Inter to link up with Benitez, Kuyt said: "We have to see what happens. I also have a great time at Liverpool and I still have a two-year contract."

He added: "My focus is on the World Cup but I'm still happy to play at Liverpool. But who knows what happens in the future? We have to see.

"If the possibility is there...we have to see what happens with the new manager at Liverpool. Hopefully we'll get new players but we'll see what the future is for me."

Inter To Offer Cambiasso To Liverpool In Mascherano Deal

Inter Milan are willing to offer Esteban Cambiasso to Liverpool as a makeweight to sign Javier Mascherano.

The Treble winners are expecting to sell Brazilian full-back Maicon to Real Madrid for some €28-30 million in the coming days, and Inter boss Rafa Benitez’s want to use the available cash to snap up the Argentine hard-man.

However, Inter Milan are not prepared to meet the £30-million asking price for Mascherano, and will offer the Anfield outfit Cambiasso in a bid to get Liverpool to drop their demands.

Barcelona are also apparently interested in 26-year-old Mascherano as a replacement for Manchester City-bound Yaya Toure.

Although Liverpool are expected to allow Mascherano to leave, the club's managing director, Christian Purslow, has said that no one will go anywhere until the new yet-to-be-appointed manager gives his approval. Cambiasso, 29, was left out of Diego Maradona’s World Cup squad but he is still considered to be a top-class central midfielder.

His contract at Inter expires in 2013, and he is valued at € 15M-20M.

Inter Milan Boss Rafa Benitez Wants Agger, Lucas And Johnson

Newly installed Inter Milan boss is rumoured to be planning an audacious triple Anfield swoop as he looks to make his own mark on his San Siro squad. The former Liverpool boss is also worried that a number of his Champions League winning side may head to Real Madrid to re-join Jose Mourinho at the Bernabeu and is therefore looking to the Merseyside club for potential additions.

The Spaniard is also looking to help reverse the ageing look of the Serie A side and after six years at the Anfield helm he is understandable well aware of the talents some of his former charges possess. With Brazilian right back Maicon supposedly set for a move to Real Madrid Rafa is hoping to persuade England man Glen Johnson to leave the financially stricken Premier League side to join him in Italy.

He also hopes to bring Danish international centre back Daniel Agger and Brazilian midfielder Lucas to the club and believes that the period of uncertainty may make potential purchases a distinct possibility. Benitez will be handed a large transfer budget in the hopes that he can continue the fine work Mourinho was doing at the Milan giants.

Christian Purslow has insisted that no player will be sold until a new boss is brought in and that may be when Benitez decides to make his interest known officially. The trio cost Liverpool a combined total of £29.8m but could not command a far higher valuation but the Italian club are reportedly financially well off enough to make bids that could well persuade Messrs Tom Hicks and George Gillett consider a sale.

The Little Boy Who Met Torres

When Rameez Mahomed entered the McDonald's player escort program, he didn't realize it would lead to his meeting his soccer hero, Fernando Torres.

The little boy from Johannesburg was one of 23 children who escorted the Spanish and Honduras players on to Ellis Park on Monday.

Cameras trained on Torres captured the Spanish talisman as he struck up a conversation with Rameez, 10. The two were pictured conversing animatedly from inside the tunnel.

Rameez said holding Torres's hand was something he had been hoping for ever since he was told he would be an escort, but he never dreamt it would happen.

"The players came out and they were all mixed up. I was standing third in the line and I was supposed to be holding Sergio Ramos's hand. Then I felt someone grab my hand and I looked up and it was Torres."

Rameez says the Spanish striker initiated the conversation by asking him his name and from there they continued talking about a range of topics, including Torres's nickname, his boots and Rameez's soccer knowledge and traded questions about each other's hairstyles.

The Grade 4 pupil at King Edward V Preparatory School, said he began to "have a feeling" that he would be the one to hold the hand of the iconic player.

"While we were on the bus I started to feel nervous. I thought, my dream is going to come true."

A fan of English premiership side Liverpool as well as Spain, Rameez said he took the opportunity to ask Torres a burning question - would he leave Liverpool for Manchester City next season?

"He told me he would never go to Manchester City because his heart was with Liverpool and also because he gets along well with Steven Gerrard."

Rameez's mother, Sabera, said she was stunned to see her son walking out with Torres. "He idolises Torres. As a mother, to see that, it was really an overwhelming moment. My hands were shaking so badly you can see it on the video I took," she said.

The little boy said he wasn't at all nervous. "I wasn't nervous, I was just excited to be holding the hand of one of the best players in the world and not only the best, but my favourite as well."

Ace Dreaming Of German Glory

There was mixed fortunes for Liverpool's racing maestro James Walker during Saturday's Superleague Formula qualifying in Nurburgring, Germany.

Things were looking promising for our racer until brake trouble on the car hindered his progress in the final qualifying round.

The Reds ace had been in impressive form during first round of qualifying when he was third quickest in Group A, only to then suffer a brake problem in the quarter-final showdown.

AS Roma will start in pole position for Sunday's glamour race and French driver Julien Jousse beat the in-form Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos) in the quarter final and Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) in the knockout stages of qualifying.

He was then faster than Robert Doornbos of Brazilian giants Corinthians to get pole position.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Marseille Reveal Liverpool FC Approach For Manager Didier Deschamps

Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier has revealed Liverpool have approached him about the availability of manager Didier Deschamps.

The head of the Ligue 1 champions claims that Reds managing director Christian Purslow contacted him on Thursday to enquire over the prospect of taking the reins in the Anfield dugout.

Despite Fulham manager Roy Hodgson remaining the firm favourite to succeed Rafael Benitez, Dassier insists that Deschamps is the man that Liverpool really want but were turned away as the 41-year-old is not leaving the Stade Velodrome.

He said: "It's true, Liverpool's executive director, Christian Purslow, called me Thursday morning. He speaks French very well, is very polite.

"I was expecting his call because I had heard of Liverpool's interest in Didier. He asked me if I would allow him to meet Didier and (agent) Jean-Pierre Bernes.

"I replied that I would never forbid anyone from meeting whoever. I also kindly indicated to him that there wasn't the slightest chance for him to pinch our coach. Even in his dreams.

"With Didier, we have a trusting relationship. I hope he will commit himself to us for another year. I'm not worried.

"It's true also that Didier is flattered to see a great European club interested in him."

World Cup winner Deschamps is highly regarded as one of the best coaches on the continent and led Marseille to a French league and cup double in his first season in charge.

He has previously taken Monaco to the Champions League final in 2004 and Juventus to the Serie B title in 2007.

Benitez: The People Of Liverpool Are Fighters

Rafael Benitez has spoken for the first time about his departure from Liverpool on the day that bookies have shortened their odds on Fulham manager Roy Hodgson taking over from the Spaniard in the Anfield dugout.

Newly installed as coach of Inter Milan, Benitez described how the news of his pending exit was relayed to him while he was on holiday but made clear that he maintains utmost respect for the ‘amazing’ supporters of the Reds. Liverpool won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup during the six years Benitez was in charge on Merseyside in an era which also saw Steven Gerrard persuaded to commit his future to the club and the acquisition of the exceptional Fernando Torres.

A victim of an off-field power struggle which left the club struggling to match their rivals financially, Benitez left Liverpool after his worst season in charge at Anfield. The Reds finished in seventh place in the Premier League and suffered humiliatingly early exits from the FA Cup, League Cup and Champoins League before falling in the semi-final of the Europa League.

Speaking about his time on Anfield and his ambitions for the future, Benitez revealed:

"It was really sad [leaving]. I was on holidays so it was a surprise that everything was going on in this way, but at the end of the day it has to be like this because Christian Purslow now is in charge so he decided to do it in this way, and that's it.

"But you have to move forward. I always say to my family that we cannot complain too much and the people of Liverpool are fighters. When I came here I was fighting from the beginning until the end so now I have to do the same [with Inter]. I have to think about the future.

"Again, I will say that I was really pleased here and the fans were amazing but now I cannot stand up and just complain or thinking about the good memories. I have to move forward and do the best for my new club."

Liverpool FC's Faithful Daniel Agger Is An Equal On World Stage

WHEN there is so much negativity and misery hanging in the air, it is often easy to lose sight of the good things in life.

With the memory of the way Liverpool limped across the line last season still fresh and the club embroiled in a summer of upheaval, many supporters have a deep sense of foreboding about the forthcoming campaign.

But the close season provides a chance to take stock and, contrary to popular belief, it is worth remembering Rafa Benitez has not left behind a squad full of duds – you only have to count the number of Liverpool players at the World Cup to see that.

For starters, there are the Reds’ three English Lions Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson; Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina are with Spain and a brace of Argentineans, Maxi Rodriguez and Javier Mascherano.

Then you can throw into the equation Martin Skrtel (Slovakia), Dirk Kuyt (Holland), the soon-to-be-unveiled Milan Jovanovic (Serbia), Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Greece) and – last but by no means least – Daniel Agger.

Agger might have suffered crushing disappointment, when Denmark capitulated against Japan and tumbled out at the Group stages for the first time in their history, but his own form means he can fly back from South Africa with his head held high.

Mind you, similar sentiments applied when he trudged out of the KC Stadium on May 9 after Liverpool brought the curtain down on a season of woe with a dispiriting 0-0 draw at already relegated Hull City.

Though it is often said foreign players cannot fully appreciate the emotions felt by supporters, that theory does not really ring true; Liverpool’s recent history, after all, is littered with continentals who have a genuine feel for the club.

Torres and Reina, for example, are on the same wavelength as those who idolise them; similar sentiments applied to Xabi Alonso, Dietmar Hamann, Vladimir Smicer and Sami Hyppia.

Going further back, Agger’s compatriot Jan Molby, whose brogue is more Cantril Farm than Kolding, showed it was possible for a foreigner to become a local and Agger – in terms of his thoughts on the Reds – is cut from a similar cloth

Molby’s position as Liverpool’s greatest Dane, of course, remains safe for now but there is no doubt Agger has started to show in the last six months he can blossom into the Rolls Royce defender many hoped he would become.

Strong in the tackle, imperious on the ball, quick and blessed with the ability to read the game, Agger took his form to a different level in the final weeks of last season, making light of being asked to play as an auxiliary left-back.

Footballers notoriously do not like being moved from the position in which they feel most comfortable but Agger went without fuss, putting the needs of the club before his own – throughout April and May, he was a regular man of the match contender.

If that approach was impressive, so too were his words when he was asked to look into the future after he had played a starring role in Denmark’s 2-1 win over Cameroon in Pretoria last Saturday night.

“I have no thoughts about leaving Liverpool,” said Agger, when the subject of Benitez’s departure came around. “I have a four-year contract, I intend to stay and I want to stay, no matter who the manager is.

“Of course, I hope it’s a manager who believes in me. I will have to show what I can do, I know that. I like Liverpool as a club, I like Liverpool as a city and I have no reason to leave.

“And I think my team-mates feel the same way. Everybody knows that Liverpool is a big club, a great club. From the inside, I can tell you it’s a great club.”

Words can get lost in translation when players do interviews on foreign soil and some are aware they have a platform to speak their minds if they really want to, so for Agger to assume such a stance is significant.

It would be foolish to try and say things at Anfield are perfect but if others show the attitude Daniel Agger has displayed, the prospects of recovery will be all the greater.

Milan Jovanovic Will Prove His Passion By Signing Contract

It is doubtful there has ever been a transfer in Liverpool’s history that has rumbled on longer than Milan Jovanovic’s impending switch.

First spoken to in January, the Serbian striker has yet to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the three-year contract that is waiting for him at Anfield, meaning some fans are becoming anxious over whether he will actually turn up at all.

Stories linking him with Inter Milan earlier this week set alarm bells ringing but it is worth pointing out that both Liverpool and Jovanovic are committed to completing the transfer.

Jovanovic – who once scored a penalty for Standard Liege that knocked Everton out of the UEFA Cup – will be a handy addition to the squad.

Rafael Benítez Blames Christian Purslow For Liverpool Exit

Rafael Benítez has blamed Liverpool's managing director, Christian Purslow, for his departure from Anfield and the club's financial problems for last season's dramatic downturn on the pitch.

The former Liverpool manager accepted a severance payment worth up to £6m to leave Anfield this month, following a miserable campaign that yielded a seventh-place finish in the Premier League and saw the club drop out of the Champions League for the first time in six years.

Benítez endured a fraught relationship with Liverpool's co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, during his final years at Anfield and the pair tried to replace him as manager with Jürgen Klinsmann. However, the new Internazionale coach said the man responsible for his exit was Purslow, who joined Liverpool in June last year and is now overseeing the search for the Spaniard's successor as manager.

"It was really sad," Benítez said when discussing his departure in an interview with Radio City today. "I was on holiday so it was a surprise that everything was going on in this way, but at the end of the day it has to be like this because Christian Purslow is now in charge and he decided to do it in this way. That is it. It is really sad but you have to move forwards. I said to my family that we cannot stay talking too much or complain too much; we have to move forwards.

Roy Hodgson is expected to become the club's next manager once the terms of his departure from Fulham and contract at Anfield have been resolved, but Benítez said the problems of last season will not be eradicated simply by his exit. "It's strange. This year everything changed from the beginning," he said.

"People in the club changed and the approach to everything was different. Clearly it was a question in the beginning of controlling the money we could spend or not, and everything was different to the past. We were so close to winning the title the year before that everybody was expecting something more but we couldn't do it. We had some problems from the beginning with injuries and some performances, and there was a little bit of frustration. At the end the atmosphere was different and we can see now during the summer that the fans are not very happy."

Benítez kept open the possibility of a return to Merseyside, insisting he has no plans to sell his house in Wirral. He added: "I can guarantee one thing – I will not sell my house. It is our home and we will come back. I don't know when but we will come back for sure."