Saturday, April 17, 2010

Syrian Eyes Reds Takeover

Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi claims he is in advanced talks about buying Liverpool.

Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are reported to be finally willing to sell their stake in the club after hiring Barclays Capital to find new owners.

A number of potential investors have been linked with a move for the Anfield outfit and now former Syria international Kirdi is ready to end Hicks and Gillett's time on Merseyside.

Former Celtic player Andy Lynch has been brought in by Kirdi to act as a go-between in the deal and he is hopeful a takeover could be completed soon.

"Talks are on-going with Tom Hicks and George Gillett and are at an advanced stage," Lynch told the Daily Mirror.

"The planned buy-out will have massive implications for Liverpool. Liverpool aren't the force they were so this is just what they need.

"I've been to Anfield on business recently and I'm acting as the go-between in the whole deal.

"Hopefully it's not too much longer before it's all done and dusted."

Rafa Agent Clarifies Juve Talk

Rafa Benitez's agent insists there has been no recent interest from Juventus, but claims the Italian giants were keen on the Liverpool boss in January.

Juventus have reportedly made Benitez their top target to take over as coach in the summer from Alberto Zaccheroni, who replaced Ciro Ferrara earlier in the year.

The Spaniard's representative Manuel Garcia Quillon was quoted on Thursday as suggesting he had met with Juve officials to discuss a possible deal for Benitez.

However, Quillon has sought to clarify his comments by reiterating he has not spoken to the Old Lady regarding Benitez and has merely been discussing players.

"I have never said these words," Quillon told

"I have only said that, being a player agent, my duty is to go to talk with a few clubs who are asking me for information about my clients.

"I said I have spoken about players, but I have never spoken about meetings involving Liverpool's coach."

Quillon was speaking after Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett announced that they are looking to find a buyer for the Premier League club.

Benitez's future at Anfield also remains the subject of speculation and Quillon says Juventus tried to tempt the former Valencia boss away in January.

He added: "I have not received any interest [recently] from Juventus for Rafa Benitez.

"Juve approached us back in January, but we told them that the coach would not be leaving Liverpool this season."

Rafael Benitez Pleased With 'Positive' News That Liverpool Is For Sale

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has welcomed Friday's announcement that the club is up for sale, describing the news as "positive".

The Reds' current owners, Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks, have appointed Martin Broughton as chairman of the club, with responsibility to oversee the sale to new investors.

And Benitez is confident the Englishman will bring desired results, and a bright future for the club.

"We have a new chairman and he is in charge of these issues," Benitez told rerporters on Friday.

"At this moment, for me as a manager, I have to concentrate on the West Ham game [on Monday].

"I think the club is moving forward and that is positive. It is important for the club to move forward. It could be good news."

Broughton, who formerly worked for British Airways, has already moved to reassure fans that players will not have to be sold and money will be available for new purchases, regardless of how long the sale of the club takes.

"I can't see any reason for any forced sales. I think everybody concerned, fans, players and the manager, can all look forward to a very bright future," he told Liverpool's official website.

"There will be money available for transfers, but I am not going into how much."

Benitez's future has been the subject of much speculation in recent months, with a summer switch to Juventus frequently suggested. But Broughton insisted the Spaniard is a key part of the future at Anfield.

"Rafa is a good manager, we want him to stay and he's under contract to stay," he said.

New Reds Chief Predicts Bright Future

Liverpool's new chairman Martin Broughton insists there will be no pressure on the club to sell star players Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard this summer.

Broughton, the British Airways chairman, has been brought in to oversee the sale of Liverpool after American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett decided to bring an end to their controversial spell at Anfield.

Broughton said there will be cash available for transfers in the summer and that new owners could be in place before the start of next season.

The burden of Liverpool's £237million debt has led to fears that Torres and Gerrard will be sold in the summer, but Broughton insists that is not the case.

He said: "I can't see any reason for any forced sales. I think everybody concerned, fans, players and the manager, can all look forward to a very bright future.

"There will be money available for transfers, but I am not going into how much."

Broughton said any new owner would have to prove they had the funds to take the club forward and would be "crazy" not to include building the new stadium in their plans.

"What's best for the club is somebody or bodies to come in and build the new stadium, make sure that the club is properly financed and that there is enough money available to take the club forward," he said.

"I have looked at the stadium project and frankly there is an overwhelming financial logic to any buyer to proceed with the stadium. Any buyer would be crazy not to do so.

"We wouldn't get to be the winning bid with that commitment."

Broughton would not be drawn on how much the club will cost. Hicks and Gillett spent around £220million on buying Liverpool in 2007 and have set an asking price of £500million, though it now looks as though they will have to lower that.

The new chairman said merely that the Americans were seeking a "reasonable price".

Broughton admitted the uncertainty over the ownership had been "hanging over the club".

He added: "This will make a difference, this will clarify the ownership position.

"What's been hanging over the club is the ownership, the debts etc; so this will be a very good thing for Liverpool."

Broughton also made it clear that he wanted manager Rafael Benitez to stay - the Spaniard has been linked with Juventus in recent weeks.

"Rafa is a good manager, we want him to stay and he's under contract to stay," he said.

The announcement of the sale comes after banks RBS and Wachovia agreed to extend their loans until the end of the year.

Hicks and Gillett had been forced into a corner after RBS had demanded the club repaid £100million of the £237million debt this summer.

The cashflow problems were further intensified by the club's almost certain failure to qualify for next season's Champions League.

In a statement announcing the handover, Liverpool said the club's revenues had increased by 55% and operating profit by 60% since the Hicks/Gillett takeover.

Hicks and Gillett, who have been the target of an angry campaign by some fans' groups, said: "Owning Liverpool Football Club over these past three years has been a rewarding and exciting experience for us and our families.

"Having grown the club this far we have now decided together to look to sell the club to owners committed to take the club through its next level of growth and development."

The end of the Hicks/Gillett era at Anfield also focuses the spotlight on the problems that leveraged buy-outs - where owners take out loans to buy clubs rather than putting in their own money - can have on clubs.

The same issue is being experienced at Manchester United, where a group of wealthy fans called the Red Knights are planning a takeover bid from the Glazer family, also Americans, who have saddled the club with £700million debts.

Mascherano: I'm Still Waiting

Javier Mascherano has spoken of his determination to end his wait for silverware at Anfield.

The 25-year-old has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world since arriving from West Ham three years ago.

However, Mascherano has no trophies to show for his efforts and is desperate to put that right.

There is still a chance he could do so this term if Liverpool can navigate Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semis over the next two weeks.

"I don't want to leave Liverpool having won nothing. For me, that would be a failure," Mascherano told LFC Weekly.

"I often think about how I will look back on my career when I've finished.

"I talk about this with my teammates all the time and we all understand how important it is for the club and the city to give something back.

"It is clear to me that Liverpool fans and the people of Liverpool have been fighting all their lives for the good of the club and that is something that inspires me when I step on to the pitch.

"I would like to look back at the end of a long career with Liverpool with lots of winners' medals and trophies."

The Argentina captain has once again reiterated his desire to stay on Merseyside to help secure a first Championship since 1990 - a target he thinks is achievable in the next few seasons.

"Liverpool know that I want to stay," said Mascherano. "I will be really proud if I can spend another six or seven years playing for Liverpool.

"I think there aren't too many clubs in the world with the history and supporters that Liverpool have. I am very aware of that.

"All of the senior players still believe we can win trophies here and make the supporters proud."

Volcanic Ash Delays Liverpool Forward Fernando Torres' Return To Action

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is reluctant to risk Fernando Torres in first-team action until he has had another assessment of his sore knee — but might have to wait until the cloud of volcanic ash covering Europe disappears before he can get his wish.
The 50-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, wants the striker to meet again with Dr Ramon Cugat, the specialist who assessed his knee earlier in the week.

But the volcanic ash cloud, which originated from an Icelandic volcano and has kept flights grounded across the UK, has also prevented Torres travelling back to Spain to visit Dr. Cugat.

With the Reds set to play West Ham United on Monday, Benitez doesn't want to play the 26-year-old until Cugat has given the all-clear.

"We had some problems with the flights so we have kept him here but he needs to see the specialist," said Benitez in his Friday press conference.

"Talking with him before he was thinking about West Ham and the rest of the games but against West Ham I think it will be difficult.

"Everything is fine but we have to wait for the diagnosis and we've had to delay the meeting with the doctor.

"If the flight is available he has to go and see the specialist to make sure everything is fine."

If he misses the game against the Hammers, Torres will be anxious to be available for Thursday's Europa League semi-final against his former club, Atletico Madrid.

Sampdoria Have Not Made A Move For Krisztian Nemeth

Sampdoria have not made contact with Liverpool-owned striker Krisztian Nemeth, according to the player's agent.

Nemeth is considered a rising star in European football and was a major factor when Hungary claimed third place in the Under-20 World Cup in 2009 and is reportedly on the radar of the Italian club.

"He is on loan at AEK Athens and has a contract with Liverpool," Tibor Pataky told tuttomercatoweb.

"At the moment I haven't had direct contact with Sampdoria, which is an interesting club. He likes Italian game along with English football.

"This year he's with AEK Athens, then Liverpool will decide."

Juventus Have Not Made Contact Over Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt's agent insists Juventus have not made an approach for the Liverpool striker.

Italian reports have tipped Kuyt to join the Old Lady at the end of the season, especially if they lure current Reds boss Rafael Benitez to Turin as part of a summer overhaul.

However, Karel Janse, Kuyt's agent, claims the Dutch international will remain at Anfield, closing the latest chapter on the Juve link.

"At the moment there is nothing," Jansen told

"No one has contacted me. Kuyt has an excellent relationship with Benitez, but it's also true that he is well at Liverpool, and has a contract there until 2012.

"I think it's early to speak about the future."

Reds Crash To Clarets Defeat

Liverpool Reserves slipped to a third consecutive defeat as they were beaten 3-1 by Burnley at Turf Moor on Friday night - leaving their title hopes hanging by a thread.

Alex MacDonald gave the hosts an early lead when he deflected Neil Yadolahi's powerful header beyond Martin Hansen from yards out.

Frederic Nimani made it two soon after following a mistake by the Reds' goalkeeper before Nikola Saric reduced the arrears with a smart finish, benefitting from good play by David Amoo.

However, a costly error by Chris Mavinga sent Nimani through on goal, with the striker making no mistake just before the interval, and the visitors were unable to muster a second-half fightback as Burnley saw out the game to claim the win.

The result leaves Liverpool nine points behind Manchester United with just three matches remaining.

The Reserves went into the clash in Lancashire determined to return to winning ways following consecutive defeats to Wigan Athletic and United.

The 1-0 reversal against United allowed the Old Trafford side to open up a nine point cushion on Liverpool at the top of the Barclays Premier Reserve League North - though with Reds having two games in hand at the start of the day, McMahon insisted no-one at Anfield would be throwing in the towel.

And the visitors fired a statement of intent inside four minutes. Amoo flicked Gerardo Bruna's pass into the run of Saric, who drilled narrowly wide of the post from the edge of the area.

However, Burnley took the lead in the seventh minute as Yadolahi powered a header towards Hansen's goal from a corner, which found the back of the net via a deflection off MacDonald.

It was 2-0 within moments when Hansen flapped at a corner, allowing Nimani to head home from close-range, with Steven Irwin's attempts to clear off the line ultimately in vein.

Hansen went some way to atoning for his error, blocking Nimani's low strike following a mazy surge into the box by the on-loan Monaco striker.

Nimani was causing all sorts of problems and it was his cross that found Benjamin Hoskin, whose stinging volley was turned around the base of the post by Liverpool's goalkeeper.

It was proving to be an open contest and Alex Kacaniklic perhaps should have done better when Francisco Duran's piercing through ball played him in behind Jake McEneaney, though his final shot was off target.

The whirlwind start showed no signs of letting up as the Reds pulled one back on 20 minutes.

Amoo used his strength and pace to hold off two Burnley challenges down the right and delivered a dangerous low cross to the near post, which was expertly converted by Saric.

Back came Burnley and Christopher Anderson thumped a header over the crossbar after more good work by Nimani.

Saric felt he should have been awarded a penalty as half-time edged closer. Latching on to a ball forward, the Dane tried to control inside the box and though his first touch took the ball away from goal, he was sent crashing to the ground by Kevin Long's barge.

It proved a key moment as Burnley extended their lead when Mavinga's attempted header towards his own area from the half way line sent Nimani bearing down on goal. The French U21 international retained his composure to slot beyond Hansen.

Burnley started the second half in similar fashion - with Nimani again at the hub. This time his deep cross sort out Adam Kay and the midfielder struck an effort goalwards, only to see Alex Cooper produce a fine block.

However, the tempo of the game had significantly dropped off after such a busy opening 45 - McMahon opted to introduce Finnish hotshot Lauri Dalla Valle into the action just after the hour mark in an attempt to bolster the Reds' cutting edge.

It was fellow substitute, Nicolaj Kohlert, who had Liverpool's best chance of the second period on 75 minutes when the Danish starlet nodded an Irwin centre wide when well positioned.

Amoo headed against the crossbar from a corner as time ebbed away, but McMahon's side were unable to test 'keeper Daniel MacDonald as Burnley continued to control the game.

In fact it was the Clarets who looked the more dangerous in the latter stages as they condemned Liverpool to their second defeat of the week.