Monday, January 25, 2010

Pepe Reina Set To Sign £23m Deal With Liverpool

The goalkeeper entered discussions over a new deal shortly after the turn of the year, and it is expected that he will soon put pen to paper on a five-year deal that will see him rake in £90,000 per week.

Such lofty wages may seem impossible given the Reds' ongoing financial problems, but Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun, Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt have all signed similarly lucrative deals since last summer.

And there can be little doubt that Reina belongs among Anfield's top earners, as he is now widely regarded as one of the world's finest glovesmen - with some even calling for the 27-year-old to replace Iker Casillas as Spain's No.1.

An unnamed source is quoted as saying: "Pepe's deal will reflect his position as an outstanding Liverpool player. A five-year contract will reflect how highly he is thought of by everyone at the club.

"We know he wants to stay and we want to keep him, so now talks have begun on schedule we don't expect any problems."

Milan Jovanovic Snubs Liverpool Over Fears Benitez Will Be Sacked

Milan Jovanovic is ready to snub a summer move to Liverpool – over fears Rafa Benitez will be sacked before he gets there!

Liverpool met the Standard Liege hitman’s representatives last week – and have offered a three-year deal worth £10million for the player to join them on a free in June.

Though Anfield is his first choice, the in-demand Jovanovic, also wanted by AC Milan, Birmingham and Valencia, is worried about Benitez’s long-term position.

Kop co-owner George Gillett gave the Spanish coach another vote of confidence in midweek.

Yet despite that – and Liverpool’s win over Spurs keeping them in contention for the Premier League top four – his future remains in serious doubt.

And it is that uncertainty which could leave Jovanovic no option but to reject a dream move to Merseyside.

Sources close to the Serbian star, 28, have confirmed that while no decision has been made, Benitez’s problems mean Liverpool are in danger of missing out.

A pal of Jovanovic told the Daily Star Sunday: “It’s tough for Milan. He loves the idea of playing at Liverpool but he’s wary Rafa may not be the manager by the time he signs.

“Then there is the problem of Rafa’s record of buying ­players for big money and not playing them. Milan has been warned about this.”

Robbie Keane, Ryan Babel, Peter Crouch and Craig Bellamy are just some of the star names who have fallen foul of Benitez’s controversial rotation system.

And that appears to make Birmingham the favourites to land Jovanovic this month because, unlike their rivals, they want the player now.

In an effort to seal a deal in the current transfer window, the high-flying Blues are promising to match the personal terms on offer to Jovanovic at Anfield.

St Andrews chiefs also say they are ready to cough up the £6.5m fee demanded by Liege.

Our insider added: “You simply cannot rule out Birmingham.

“They are not nearly as big as AC Milan or Liverpool but at least Jovanovic could be sure of playing every week.”

Man City Line Up £100m Bid For Fernando Torres

Manchester City are preparing to stun the football world this summer with a staggering £100million bid for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.

In a move that will eclipse Manchester United's £80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid last summer, City will flex their financial muscles and smash the transfer record for a player regarded as the best forward in the game.

And if 25-year-old Torres moves to Eastlands he'll become the first star to earn a £200,000-a-week salary in a deal that could net him £50m over five years.

Those are the astonishing figures being assembled by City chiefs who are determined to land the stellar signing who will form the figurehead of their drive to join the world's elite clubs.

Chief executive Garry Cook failed to entice former AC Milan star Kaka to Manchester exactly a year ago in a deal that would have been worth £100m.

Now though, City believe their increased profile and their intended aim of becoming a major power in the game is being taken seriously - and the time is right to turn that ambition into reality.

Blockbuster New boss Roberto Mancini has impressed City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak so much, he has already been told that if City clinch a Champions League place the club will back him with a blockbuster signing.

The word around Eastlands is that player will be Torres - with Mancini knowing a world class striker is the key to City becoming a major force in Europe once they have qualified for the Champions League.

City's interest in Torres will be a damning blow for Liverpool who have encountered major problems on and off the pitch this season.

Kop boss Rafa Benitez will fight hard to keep Torres at Anfield and may even make a stand by saying he'll walk if the Spain international is sold.

But even Benitez will recognise it would be hard for Liverpool's warring owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to refuse a bid approaching £100m - especially with the club desperate for a fresh injection of cash.

Benitez still insists Liverpool's experience and pedigree means they can fight off competition from City, Aston Villa and Spurs and clinch fourth place this season.

But if they don't finish fourth Liverpool will be more vulnerable than ever to a huge City bid for Torres.

Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez Will Offer Ryan Babel To Arsenal

According to the Sunday People, Benitez is in negotiations with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger over the proposed transfer of the Dutch international, as he seeks to offload the 23-year-old.

Babel is already believed to have rejected moves to both Birmingham City and Sunderland but could be tempted by a transfer to Arsenal.

One potential stumbling block though could be the fee. The tabloid reports that while Benitez is believed to want £11 million for Babel, Wenger is unwilling to go that high.

Specualtion is mounting that to reduce the fee, Fran Merida could be involved as part of the deal.

Merida is out of contract in north London at the end of the season and has been linked with a move to La Liga and Atletico Madrid. He could now be used as part of the package to lure Babel to the Emirates.

The Sunday People claims the two managers have been in talks for days over the deal, with Benitez hopeful of raising enough funds to bring in his primary transfer target Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland.

Eidur Gudjohnsen To Reject Liverpool And Join West Ham United

According to The Mirror, Liverpool have failed in their last-ditch bid to snatch Eidur Gudjohnsen from the clutches of West Ham United.

The former Chelsea and Barcelona star is understood to have met with Hammers officials on Friday to discuss the possibility of a loan move from Monaco.

Rafael Benitez then reportedly swooped with the promise of matching whatever West Ham offered in pay and perks, but Gudjohnsen now appears almost certain to seal a switch to Upton Park.

The Icelandic forward-cum-midfielder's close ties with former Blues buddies Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke - now manager and assistant as West Ham - are said to have tipped the scales in the London club's favour.

Zola is now expected to drop all interest in Benni McCarthy, after Blackburn Rovers allegedly knocked back a £2 million bid last week.

Owens' Youth Cup Warning

Academy manager John Owens admits he is relishing next month's FA Youth Cup tie with Watford - but warned the Hornets will be a tough proposition for Liverpool Under-18s.

After the stunning 5-1 success away at Leicester City, Rodolfo Borrell's side will meet Watford in round five at Anfield on Monday, February 8.

"It's a tie I'm looking forward to," Owens told "I saw Watford last season when they took on Birmingham as we were scheduled to play the winners of the tie in the semi-final.

"They played a good game of football, and although Birmingham ultimately went through, I did think Watford would do well this season.

"We've seen their team and had them watched, and they look to be a very good outfit.

"Maybe some fans will think of Watford as a lower team, and that's fatal. You have to treat each game as it comes and give each team merit as they've got there."

The Reds take on Watford hoping to secure a victory on the next step of their quest to reach a fourth FA Youth Cup final in five years.

Owens believes it's a competition that can play a big part in the development of young players.

He added: "We know our main role at the Academy is to produce players, but the Youth Cup does add extra spice to the season.

"All games are important because they are part of the development, but the Youth Cup offers something a bit extra for the players.

"Mainly because we get to play at some of the big grounds - and it's amazing for the lads to get the chance to play at Anfield in our home fixtures.

"It may well be the biggest game they play."

Liverpool Co-Owner Tom Hicks Agrees Sale Of Baseball Team Texas Rangers

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has finally agreed a deal to sell his major league baseball team, the Texas Rangers.

Following an extensive negotiating process, Hicks has an agreement in place to sell the team to a group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Rangers pitching legend Nolan Ryan for a price that could exceed $500 million (£310m).

Agreement was reached late on Saturday night in Texas, and came 24 hours after an exclusive negotiating window had expired.

"Together, we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement," Hicks said in a statement. "It's a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future."

The deal must still be approved by Major League Baseball and the banks that hold the debt on the Hicks Sports Group, and may not be finalised until April.

It is not clear whether Hicks intends to use any of the proceeds from the deal to aid Liverpool's troubled financial position.

Late last year, Hicks' fellow Liverpool owner George Gillett sold the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team for a reported Canadian $550 million (£323m), but has not invested that money in the Premier League club.

Liverpool, Chelsea And Manchester City On Alert As Guus Hiddink Is Clear To Return

Guus Hiddink will quit as Russia manager next week, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all likely to be prepared to offer him a job.

Hiddink is under contract until July but after Russia's failure to reach the World Cup, they are ready to release him early.

out, with new Russian Football Association president Sergei Fursenko claiming the Dutchman's £6million salary is too high.

Van den Nieuwenhuizen said: 'Fursenko wants a national manager who is cheaper.

'Guus knew nothing about this. So we are flying out there to hear the same words from the president himself.'

The agent had previously claimed he had been contacted by Manchester City about replacing Mark Hughes before Roberto Mancini was offered the job.

He also said Liverpool had been in touch.

But Hiddink's most likely return would be as technical director at Chelsea, where he enjoyed a successful spell as caretaker.