Monday, January 04, 2010

Torres Would Cost £140 Million To Leave Anfield

Fernando Torres will become the world's most expensive footballer if he leaves Liverpool in the summer.

Manchester City and Chelsea have made Torres their number one target but would have to splash out more than £140m in transfer fees and wages to land the Spanish superstar.

Not only has Torres' value eclipsed the £80m Real Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, he can anticipate a salary offer of around £15m a year given the current inflated levels for the most wanted players.

It would require the biggest financial package in football history to secure a deal

City offered Brazilian Kaka a staggering £280,000 a week in their ill-fated bid a year ago, and Torres would comfortably match that.

Liverpool have made it clear they won't listen to any offers for their star striker and manager Rafa Benitez recently insisted he'd resign if the player was sold against his will.

But Liverpool also know matters will be out of their hands unless the club attracts investment and finish in the top four.

After years fighting against the financial troubles caused by the American ownership, the next six months will finally bring matters to a head at Anfield one way or the other.

If Liverpool don't sort themselves out off the pitch, their rivals intend to capitalise and are now openly targeting their most prized assets.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has also been pursing Torres for the last two seasons and believes Liverpool will be more vulnerable than ever unless Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. get out of the Merseyside club.

Torres became the quickest Liverpool player to reach 50 goals earlier this week as he kick-started his club's bid to retain its Champions League status.

Sport of the World revealed last weekend how the striker's ongoing commitment to the Merseyside giants is conditional on the club proving it can continue to match his ambitions.

Kop fans have been reassured by the Spaniard's determination to help Liverpool recover their position and make interest in him irrelevant.

But the only way they can do that longer-term is by securing massive investment to ensure next season the target is winning the Premier League rather than 'managing the debt,' as Benitez recently suggested.

Benitez has 'guaranteed' Liverpool will finish in the top four. His confidence is geared at reassuring his star striker that this season's on-field problems are a one-off and warning Manchester City and Chelsea to keep their hands in their pockets.

Rafa Sets Record Straight On Dutch Duo

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has ruled out a move for Ruud van Nistelrooy and insisted Ryan Babel is staying put.

The Merseysiders have been credited with an interest in the Real Madrid striker while fellow Dutchman Babel has spoken about his desire to quit Anfield.

However, after being forced to replay with Reading in the FA Cup, Benitez stressed that, although talks are progressing well on other fronts, the January window will not map out as some had envisaged.

"I don't want to talk about individual players or names, but we are not trying for Ruud van Nistelrooy, so that will be very difficult to bring him in!" stated the Liverpool manager.

"We are working hard on getting some players in, and have had some good talks but my priority now is talking about good things with my players.

"And we are not trying to sell Ryan Babel either. On Saturday, we were thinking about using him but I wanted to play players who are focused. He has to work harder to get in the team and play if he wants to go to the World Cup.

"He will have a chance and work hard for Liverpool."

Rafael Benitez: Liverpool Aren't Looking To Sell Ryan Babel

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has shrugged aside any doubt over the immediate future of Ryan Babel, who has been widely tipped for a winter transfer.

The 22-year-old attacker has found first-team opportunities hard to come by at Anfield, having shown only glimpses of the raw talent that earned him an £11.5 million move from Ajax in 2007.

The would-be rapper has thus had to settled for a near-permanent bench role, and persisting rumours of his discontent have led to speculation of a move abroad.

Babel's precarious position in the Dutch national team has only fuelled the flames, as he is eager to impress Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

However, Benitez has ruled out the possibility of Babel quitting Merseyside this month, albeit whilst making it plain that the fleet-footed forward must put in more effort on the training track.

"He [Babel] will have a chance to play," said Benitez, according to the BBC.

"He has to work hard. He's our player and he will have his chances. At this moment we are not trying to sell him."

Babel did not feature at all as Liverpool drew 1-1 with Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday.

In-Demand Victor Moses Not Keen On Palace Exodus

Crystal Palace's in-demand young striker, Victor Moses, insists he is happy to remain at Selhurst Park despite reports linking him with a move to Liverpool, Arsenal or even Barcelona.

Moses, who has represented England at Under-19 level, is widely expected to leave Palace in the January transfer window as the club are looking to ease their financial problems and could cash in on the striker who has been valued at £5 million.

With five goals in his past seven games, the 19-year-old has reportedly caught the eye of a number of Premier League scouts and Manchester City are the latest team to join a long list of potential suitors that includes European champions Barcelona.

But Moses is reluctant to contemplate leaving Palace at present and has underlined his loyalty to the Championship club at the start of what will no doubt be a busy month for the youngster.

"I'm under contract to the club until 2011 and at the moment talk of my departure is just speculation," Moses told the Sunday Mirror. "I just want to go out and play football. It would be easy to allow all of this to get to me but the vast majority of it just goes over my head.

"The truth is, until someone tells me differently I'm just going to keep working hard at my game and hopefully help Palace to get promoted.

"I have seen the speculation linking me with numerous clubs but to be honest I don't take a great deal of notice of it. I would be a liar if I said I had no interest in playing at the highest level in the game and if an offer came in for me that Palace felt was too good to turn down I would have to seriously consider it.

"But to be honest, I'm very grounded and I have a very supportive group of people who help me keep my feet firmly on the ground. While I'm flattered by the interest from other clubs, I am very happy at Palace.

"Players are frequently accused of being disloyal to their clubs but I wouldn't count myself among them. I owe a massive debt of gratitude to Palace. The chairman and manager have bent over backwards to help me and I have the utmost respect for them.

"Neil Warnock has been a joy to work for. He has supported me throughout and shown immense faith in my ability. I am a deeply religious boy and a day doesn't pass when I don't consider how fortunate I am."

Inter Boss Jose Mourinho Targets Liverpool Star Steven Gerrard

rpool captain Steven Gerrard is to be the target of a £40 million bid from Inter boss Jose Mourinho, according to a report from the Daily Star Sunday.

The Portuguese is a known admirer of the England international, who came close to linking up with Mourinho whilst he was manager of Chelsea back in 2004.

Now, the Inter boss believes that Gerrard could be tempted away from Anfield should the Reds fail to qualify for next season's Champions League, and may see his next challenge as playing abroad.

Whether £40m would be enough to tempt the Reds to sell such a talismanic player remains to be seen.

Liverpool Manager Rafa Benitez Admits New Signings Are A Must During The January Transfer Window

Rafa Benitez has been working hard in an attempt to lure 'quality players' to Liverpool during the January transfer window to bolster his club’s injury-plagued squad.

The Reds failed to reach the first knock out stage of the Champions League and currently sit 12 points behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League, as enforced absences to stellar performers Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres took their toll.

Benitez told the club’s official website: “Yes, we are working hard [on transfers] and trying to do our jobs, and we’ll see if we can do something.

The Spanish tactician is ready to bolster his wafer-thin resources this month and a full-back is top of his priority list with Glen Johnson currently sidelined due to a knee injury.

Greek international full-back Vasil Torosidis and Malaga defender Ivan Gonzalez have been linked with a winter switch to Anfield.

“We are looking in the market but it’s not easy to find good players available because the majority of them are playing in top sides.

"But we are trying to find solutions if we can,” he added.

It is believed Liverpool are currently in negotiations with Athletico Madrid playmaker Maxi Rodriguez, while other players including Galatasaray’s Arda Turan, Crystal Palace youngster Victor Moses and Standard Liege striker Milan Jovanovic have also emerged on the club’s radar.

However, any dips in to the transfer market must be funded and Benitez may be forced to offload the likes of Andri Voronin, Ryan Babel and Andrea Dossena in an attempt to generate funds for any future acquisitions.

Benitez added: “We have some good players who people are interested in because they’re not playing too many games for us, but we have to manage [the situation] carefully.”

Liverpool Plan £3 Million Swoop For Aston Villa Striker John Carew

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is set to launch a surprise move for Aston Villa centre-forward John Carew, according to a report from the Daily Star Sunday.

Ready cash is in short supply at Anfield, but the powerful Norwegian could be prised away from Villa Park for £3 million. His current contract expires in 18 months' time, and there has not yet been any indication that manager Martin O'Neill is to offer him a new one.

Carew played for Benitez at Valencia, and the Spaniard is said to still be an admirer of the 30-year-old, who is apparently unhappy about slipping behind England striker Emile Heskey in the Villa Park pecking order.

Forwards Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin are set to be sold in the next month as Benitez looks to raise some cash and move to strengthen his striking options.

Rush In Talks Over Reds Return

Liverpool are lining up Ian Rush for a shock return to the club as a striker coach.

Rush has held talks over the position he previously held under Gerard Houllier.

The Kop legend would work mainly at Liverpool's Academy as part of an ongoing strategy to encourage ex-players to work with youngsters, but he would also assist current stars such as Fernando Torres once a week.

His comeback would follow Kenny Dalglish's recent appointment as a club ambassador, as he's also closely liaising with the Merseysiders' youth staff.

Kop Four For Reds

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp has backed Liverpool to finish fourth in the Premier League this season and claim an all important Champions League spot.

The Merseysiders currently lie seventh in the table, four points behind Tottenham after a disappointing first half of the season.

Many pundits, including Redknapp tipped Rafael Benitez's men for the title this season after they finished second last year with 86 points - their highest ever total in the Premier League.

However, injuries and loss of form have seen one of the countries most decorated sides competing with Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City for a place amongst Europe's elite next season, and the financial rewards it brings.

Redknapp admitted it was not easy watching his former side struggle, but was convinced they will be playing Champions League football next season.

"It's so frustrating," he told Soccer AM. "The last two results have really helped them, beating Wolves at home and Villa away, but I have to be honest at the start of the year when I was asked 'who do you think will win the league?' I said Liverpool but I couldn't have been more wrong.

"I think they've conceded too many goals and at the back they're not quite as good as they have been. A lot of people have been saying they won't finish in the top four but I honestly still believe they will finish fourth."

Former Liverpool legends, including Graeme Souness have speculated what will happen to the club if they do fail in their task to secure a place in the top four, with some suggesting an exodus of star names from Anfield, including captain Steven Gerrard.

Former Reds midfielder Redknapp admitted it was a worry, but believes Gerrard will finish his career at Liverpool.

"I can't imagine Steven Gerrard playing for anyone else," he said. "I genuinely couldn't see him in another football kit. But I can see Fernando Torres, if Liverpool don't make the Champions League for a few years. He's cut a frustrated figure of late I think."

Liverpool's inconsistent form has been further highlighted by the rise in prominence of Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa this season.

All three teams have beaten a team from the big four this campaign and Redknapp told Helen and Max that the gulf between the sides at the top and the rest is closing.

"If you take Cristiano Ronaldo out of your team who's the best footballer alongside Lionel Messi in the world, of course (Manchester United) are going to be weaker.

"Chelsea are stronger this year because they have had (Michael) Essien back and fit, although he isn't at the moment. And if you look at Liverpool they lost (Xabi) Alonso, although I think there's more to it than just losing one player, but it certainly weakens you.

"It's great though because Tottenham and Aston Villa are doing well and Man City have spent fortunes so they're obviously going to be a better team and I think it definitely makes for a better league."

Rafa Admits Replay Relief

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted he was satisfied just to still be in the FA Cup following the 1-1 draw with Reading.

The Royals have been struggling in the Championship of late but they upset the form book to earn a replay at Anfield later this month.

Simon Church tapped in to give Reading an early lead but Liverpool drew level courtesy of a Steven Gerrard effort before half-time.

The Reds then found themselves on the back foot for much of the second period and Benitez was glad to hear the final whistle.

"I'm relieved," said the Spaniard.

"To play in front of the TV and against Liverpool I think was a massive boost for them and you could see they played really well.

"They were pushing and working very hard from the beginning until the end so we had to do our job.

"It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that we will play another game at Anfield."

Benitez selected a strong starting XI including both Gerrard and Fernando Torres and he has vowed to try his best to win the competition.

"We know that we have two clear chances to win trophies - the Europa League and the FA Cup - so we will try our best in both and keep improving in the league," he said.

"This is the way now so we try to win.

"Our aim is to win trophies so we have to start winning these games."