Thursday, January 07, 2010

Liverpool's Rafael Benítez Unlikely To Be Flush In January Transfer Window

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez is unlikely to be handed a significant January transfer budget despite hoping to raise around £15 million from the departures of Andriy Voronin, Ryan Babel and Andrea Dossena.

The Anfield club will turn down an £8 million offer for Babel, the Dutch international winger, from Birmingham and are unlikely to settle for anything but a marginal loss on the £11.5 million Benítez paid to bring the 23 year-old from Ajax in 2007.

A number of clubs – including the Dutch trio of PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and Ajax and the Italian team Fiorentina – are believed to be keen to secure Babel's signature.

Dossena, meanwhile, was due to be presented as a Napoli player on Tuesday after the Serie A side agreed a £4.4 million deal with Liverpool, as well as a further £200,000 dependent on success, but could not travel to Italy because of the closure of the city's John Lennon airport.

He is expected to finalise a four-year contract by the end of the week, while Voronin, the Ukrainian striker, is due to speak with CSKA and Dynamo Moscow over a £1.5 million move.

Liverpool plan to offer goalkeeper Pepe Reina and midfielder Javier Mascherano new contracts to secure their long-term futures at Anfield, money that will bite into Benítez's funds.

The Spaniard remains confident of securing Maxi Rodriguez this week on an initial six-month loan with a view to a permanent move, but will have to pay a £1 million fee, as well as agreeing a wage package for a player on £85,000 a week at Atletico Madrid.

Reds In Maxi Talks

Maxi Rodriguez's agent has confirmed Liverpool are in talks to sign the Atletico Madrid winger.

Liverpool have lined up a move for the Argentine international as they look to bolster their squad during this month's transfer window.

Atletico are prepared to let Rodriguez leave as he has dropped down the pecking order at Vicente Calderon and his current contract is due to expire in the summer.

Rodriguez's representative, Jose Segui, has confirmed a deal is close after rejecting speculation in Italy that Juventus had entered the race for the 29-year-old.

"We are working. It's true we have spoken [with Liverpool], but there is nothing definitive," Segui told

"Juventus? We have spoken with Liverpool and other sides, but never with Juventus.

"As for Liverpool, I don't know when the negotiation could be closed. It's up to the two clubs and to their decision.

"Anyway it would be a permanent transfer."

Torres Working On Fitness

Fernando Torres has revealed he is doing additional fitness work to ensure he remains available for selection.

The Liverpool striker missed six matches leading up to Christmas due to a groin problem and there were fears that he might need to undergo surgery.

However, he has managed to play the full 90 minutes in his last four outings and is working hard to improve his sharpness.

The Spaniard is happy with the progress he has made and admits the club's difficulties on the pitch have helped to motivate him.

"I am good now. Much better than a couple of months ago," said the 25-year-old.

"I need to keep working three, four or five hours more than the rest of the squad because I need to keep recovering for the rest of the season.

"One of the reasons I'm working really hard is because I know in this situation Liverpool need every player fit.

"It's a difficult time but it's worth it if I want to play. I do the normal training session with my team-mates but before and after I have to do treatment, exercises and gym work to make my leg strong enough.

"We are doing a good job and I'm feeling nothing bad in my leg.

"I have been able to play 90 minutes in the last four games so I'm really happy with the progression. Maybe I'll have to do this all season."

Liverpool have already lost seven times in the Premier League this season and are realistically only battling for UEFA Champions League qualification rather than the title.

Torres concedes it has been hard to watch the team struggle from the sidelines, saying: "It's frustrating because I've never been injured before - not at Atletico and only one small one during my first season here.

"The last two seasons have been the first time I've had consecutive injuries.

"Always when the team is not in the best moment it's frustrating if you can't help your team-mates.

"It's really hard watching the games from the stands.

"I'm not old but I'm not that young, so I need to look after myself with extra work.

"I know I have to work harder in order to play three games a week until the end of my career. I need to work harder than before."

Torres Targets More Records

Fernando Torres has set his sights on rewriting the record books at Liverpool.

The Spaniard has already etched his name into Anfield folklore with his phenomenal goalscoring exploits on Merseyside.

His dramatic late winner in the Reds' 1-0 victory at Aston Villa saw him become the fastest man to 50 league goals in the club's illustrious history, taking just 72 games to reach that milestone.

Torres admits he is honoured to have joined the list of Liverpool greats in double-quick time, but hopes he will have many more accolades to celebrate in the future.

"It's unbelievable for me because Liverpool is not a small club, it's one of the biggest and most historic in the world," the 25-year-old frontman told the club's official website.

"All the players who have played here are top players who have scored a lot of goals. They've got massive records. I am ahead of them on this one now and that, for me, is one of the most important things I've done in my career.

"I want to keep breaking these records so I am always in the books and in the memories of the people.

"I am just doing my job and I want to keep breaking records and keep making people happy."

Torres has 12 goals to his name this season, despite suffering ongoing injury problems, but insists helping Liverpool secure UEFA Champions League qualification is more important to him than reaching personal targets.

"I want as many goals as we need to get fourth spot and win the FA Cup," he added.

"I never say a number of goals but I always like to score more than the season before. Hopefully that won't be difficult because I only got 17 last season after the injuries."

Marouane Chamakh In Liverpool Talks As Atletico Madrid's Maxi Rodriguez Edges Closer To Anfield Deal

Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh’s representatives held talks with Liverpool yesterday over signing a pre-contract agreement.

The Morocco ace is available on a free transfer at the end of the season and Rafa Benitez is ready to act quickly to tie up the deal.

Atletico Madrid’s Maxi Rodriguez is expected to agree terms with Liverpool over the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Andrea Dossena is on the verge of completing his £4.5m transfer to Napoli but his agent says the four-and-a-half-year deal has been held up by the weather.

‘He can’t leave Liverpool because of the snow,’ said Roberto La Floria.

Liverpool Reject £5m Offer From Olympiacos For Yossi Benayoun

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has rejected an approach from Greek outfit Olympiakos for Yossi Benayoun, according to a report from The Daily Mail.

The Greek giants apparently offered the Reds £5 million for the Israeli winger, who would have reportedly been paid £40,000 a week after tax had he moved.

Benayoun has become a key man at Anfield and has made 20 Premier League appearances for the Reds this season, netting five goals.

Benitez would be reluctant to lose such a player at a time when he is set to sell misfit forwards Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin in January.

A £9m approach for Babel from Birmingham City has been rejected by the Reds, according to reports in England today.

Benitez is also said to be in the hunt for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh, a player who has been strongly linked with Arsenal.

Olympiacos To Bid For Liverpool Midfielder Albert Riera

Olympiacos will return to Liverpool with a bid for Spanish midfielder Albert Riera after their £5 million approach for Yossi Benayoun was rejected by the Anfield outfit, according to a report from The Daily Mail.

The Spaniard has not managed this season to reproduce the fine form of his debut campaign on Merseyside, and Reds boss Rafa Benitez could be tempted to part with the left-sided midfielder.

Benitez is believed to be keen to raise cash in order to freshen up his squad this month and improve the fortunes of their faltering season.

He is unlikely to be handed massive funds by the club's owners and must apparently rely on sales to create space in his squad for new arrivals.

Riera impressed following his arrival from Espanyol in 2008. But he has struggled to match that form after suffering hamstring injuries this campaign.

VfB Stuttgart Lead Chase For Liverpool Defender Philipp Degen

Liverpool right-back Philipp Degen is set to leave Anfield this month, with Bundesliga outfit VfB Stuttgart leading the race for his signature, according to a report from The Times.

Several other German clubs are also believed to be interested in the 26-year-old Swiss, who has never managed to become a regular in manager Rafa Benitez's first team plans since joining on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2008.

It is not clear yet as to the size of the fee involved should Degen leave, as seems likely.

Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin are also expected to leave Anfield this month, with Birmingham City and Galatasary interested in signing Babel.

Andrea Dossena's move to Napoli should also be confirmed this week, after the player was left stranded in Liverpool yesterday by snow which prevented him from travelling to Italy to conclude the deal.

Dinamo Moscow To Sign Liverpool Forward Andriy Voronin For £2m

Dinamo Moscow apparently lead the race to sign Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin and end the Ukrainian's difficult spell on Merseyside.

The Times reports that the Russian outfit are preparing a bid of £2 million for the player, who has spent much of his time with the Reds on loan elsewhere.

Voronin signed a four-year deal when he moved to Anfield from Bayer Leverkusen on a free transfer.

However, the forward has never really made an impact on the Reds' first team. He spent most of last season on loan at Hertha Berlin, where he scored 11 goals in 20 games.

He has played 27 Premier League games in total for the Reds, scoring five goals.

Ryan Babel Willing To Join Birmingham If Liverpool Agree Fee

Birmingham City's manager Alex McLeish has been told that Ryan Babel will consider a move to St Andrews if a fee can be agreed with Liverpool.

McLeish is understood to have had a £9m offer for the 23-year-old striker rejected, despite the fact that the Holland international has started just three Premier League games this season and has primarily been used as a substitute.

Although the Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez is eager to raise funds for his own transfer targets this month, Birmingham will need to bid closer to the £11.5m paid to Ajax for Babel in 2007.

Speaking to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Babel's agent Winnie Haatrecht said: "We know that Liverpool are seriously thinking about the offer from Birmingham. We would consider a deal if both clubs come to an agreement.

"In general Ryan wants to succeed at Liverpool, but if the people at Anfield conclude it's better he leaves, we have to think about the next chapter in his career. We will look then to the team, the perspectives of the club and Ryan, as well as a meeting with the manager."

With new owner Carson Yeung apparently providing a transfer budget of £40m, McLeish is being linked with a welter of players. He is believed to have failed with a £10m offer for Celtic winger Aiden McGeady, and is rumoured to be chasing the Rangers striker Kris Boyd.

He is also moving closer to landing long-term target Michel from Sporting Gijón. Sporting have authorised the £3m transfer for the midfielder as they are desperate for the funds.

The Sporting president, Manuel Vega Arango, said: "We have convinced the technical staff this is for the best, because we have to improve the financial situation at the club. I understand Manuel Preciado was keen to limit the damage to the squad, but this is what we have to do."

Jovanovic Keeps His Options Open

Milan Jovanovic has vowed to stay at Standard Liege until the summer before considering the best move for his career.

The Serbian forward will be a free agent at the end of the season and speculation has suggested Liege could be tempted to sell him this month.

AC Milan are understood to be interested in signing Jovanovic, while the player claims Liverpool and "another big European club" are also chasing him.

The 28-year-old maintains that stories of an agreement with Milan are premature as he does not want to make a decision on his future just yet.

"I will be a Standard player until June," Jovanovic insisted.

"News that I have already said yes to AC Milan are not correct. I am still waiting, I haven't decided.

"Also because AC Milan are not the only club interested in me. There is also Liverpool and another big European club.

"I repeat - my options are still very open."

Agent: No Reds Switch For Lavezzi

Ezequiel Lavezzi's agent does not think the Napoli striker will join Liverpool in the January transfer window.

The Argentina international was linked with a move to Anfield last summer but a transfer failed to materialise and it now looks like there is no chance of the deal taking place this month.

"There is interest. But it is impossible for Lavezzi to move, as Napoli want a lot of money for the striker, so it will be difficult. I don't think a transfer will happen in January," Lavezzi's agent Frederic Guerra told

One player who does look set for a move to Liverpool is Maxi Rodriguez with the Atletico Madrid midfielder's agent saying that a deal should be completed.