Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yossi Benayoun Begging Liverpool Bosses To Keep Steven Gerrard & Fernando Torres

Yossi Benayoun has urged Liverpool to make sure superstars Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres stay at Anfield.

And the Israeli midfielder backed boss Rafa Benitez, whose future will be decided at a meeting with chairman Martin Broughton this week.

Benayoun, distraught after his extra-time goal against Atletico Madrid was then cancelled out last Thursday night, implored the Liverpool hierarchy to make the right decisions this summer.

He said: “A club like Liverpool must do ­everything they can to keep players like Stevie and Fernando.

“But a lot of things can change and, in a few weeks, we will know better.”

Liverpool, whose tame Anfield surrender to Chelsea on Sunday was their 19th defeat of the season, saw their last hope of silverware disappear in the Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico.

The 2-0 loss to Chelsea meant they will not even finish in fourth place in the Premier League, missing out on the Champions League.

And Benayoun added: “It is difficult to speak about next season.

“We don’t know what changes there will be with the players and the staff. Personally I don’t know whether I will be here or if I won’t.

“A lot of things can happen. We will have to wait and see. Liverpool is a great club and I enjoy it. But a lot of things are happening and we will have to see.

“If it depended on me, I would stay and retire here. The fans are the best in the world, but it depends on a lot of things. It will be very clear soon.”

Broughton has been appointed by unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to oversee the club’s sale.

Benitez, in charge for six years and wanted by Italian sides Juventus and AC Milan, has been frustrated by the in-fighting and a lack of transfer funding.

The word at Anfield on Sunday was that Benitez will go possibly even before the last game at Hull on Sunday.

Benayoun said: “When you are at a big club and things go bad, it is normal for the pressure to be put on the manager.

“We have tried to do our best, but it hasn’t been good enough.”

Jamie Carragher Set To Be Fit To Face Hull City With Liverpool

Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher should have recovered from an ankle problem in time to face Hull City in the Reds' final game of the Premier League season at the weekend, according to a report from The Liverpool Echo.

The defender turned his ankle in the weekend home defeat by Chelsea and completed the squad's lap of the pitch to say thank you to the fans at the end of the game in a pair of flip-flops to ease the pressure on the injury.

However, the injury is not believed to be serious and Carragher should line up for the Reds at the KC Stadium.

Should Carragher play in East Yorkshire then it will be his 630th appearance for the club, putting him seventh in the list of Liverpool's all-time appearance makers.

The player himself is happy that he has once again managed 50 games over the course of the campaign.

"My target at the start of every season is to play in 50 games so I'm glad that I have achieved that again," he said.

"You have to have a bit of luck with injuries to make sure that happens and I have been fortunate throughout my career not to suffer with little niggles.

"At a top club like Liverpool, there are always players who want to take your place, so to play 50 games (a season) here is something that I am proud of."

Fernando Torres May Miss World Cup Group Stage Because Of Knee Injury

Liverpool and Spain striker Fernando Torres may not be fit for the entire group stage of the World Cup because of fears a rushed return may cause him long-term knee problems.

The Reds medical team is monitoring Torres' rehabilitation from knee surgery after he tore the cartilage in his right leg against Benfica in the Europa League last month.

And despite initial reports suggesting the star striker would be back in time for the World Cup, Liverpool's new head of sports medicine Peter Brukner cast doubt on his participation in Spain's opening matches.

'You can't be absolutely certain of anything but at this stage, if he continues to progress the way he is, he should be fit to play at some stage during the World Cup,' Brukner explained.

'Whether he'll be fit for the first game or not is uncertain.

'We're anxious not to hurry him along too much because we want the long-term benefit, but we're aware he's got the short-term goal of playing in the World Cup.

'Hopefully we can get a compromise between those two where he plays in the World Cup and he's fit and well for Liverpool next season.'

After an injury-ravaged campaign for Liverpool in 2009/10, Torres himself raised fears over his long-term fitness if he continues to play in the Premier League - leading to speculation over a possible move this summer.

But Brukner believes the second of Torres' two knee operations this year will see him back up to full speed to continue his Liverpool career next season.

'In the first few minutes of the Benfica game here at Anfield, he hyper-extended his knee and re-injured it,' said Brukner, who will join the Merseysiders' medical team permanently after he serves on the backroom staff for Australia at the World Cup.

'We felt even with a period of rest it wasn't going to heal by itself and it needed another telescopic surgery just to trim the area that's been torn.

'That would enable him to fully recover and play, not just in the World Cup but for many years to come for Liverpool.'

Inter Milan Make Liverpool's Fernando Torres Their Top Summer Target

Inter Milan are planning summer swoops for one of the Premier League's leading striker, according to reports from Italy.

According to SportItalia, Inter chairman Massimo Moratti believes the recent confirmation that Liverpool will not be in the Champions League next season has opened the door for Fernando Torres to leave the club.

Despite the Spaniard's reported £70 million transfer tag, Moratti is not scared and will lodge a bid for a player he has long admired at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, according to Mediaset, Carlos Tevez's recent run-ins with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini have alerted the Nerazzurri to his availability, and they will look to lure him to the Giuseppe Meazza in the summer.

The reports suggest that out-of-favour Inter forward Mario Balotelli might well be used as a makeweight in either deal, depending on which club they can persuade to take him.

Rafa Benitez Wants To Stay At Liverpool, Claims Agent

Rafa Benitez has still not received any offers from Juventus or any other club and wants to stay at Anfield, the Liverpool FC manager's agent claims.

Speculation in England and Italy has linked Benitez to a move to Turin and the 50-year-old is believed to be the number one candidate to succeed coach Alberto Zaccheroni this summer.

Benitez is also a reported target of Real Madrid, but his agent has insisted the Spaniard does not intend to leave Liverpool FC.

"We have not received any offers from any club," Manuel Garcia Quilon said on Tuesday.

"Benitez’s aim is to remain at Liverpool and try to help the team improve with new owners.

"He is under contract and his wish is to remain at Liverpool."

Benitez, who is under contract at Anfield until June 2014, has a meeting scheduled with new Liverpool FC chairman Martin Broughton this week to discuss the plans being put in place for next season.

Broughton, the chairman of British Airways, has been brought in by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to oversee the sale of the club.

Last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea ended Liverpool FC’s hopes of playing in the Champions League next season.

Juve will also miss out on playing in Europe’s elite club competition as they have no chance of finishing in the top four in Serie A.

Ian Wright: Liverpool May Have To Wait Years To Play Champions League Football Again

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright is not optimistic about Liverpool's prospects of bouncing back quickly from their disappointing season.

The former England international reckons the Reds supporters should prepare themselves for what could be a lengthy period of transition, with Champions League football becoming a distant dream rather then a regular reality.

And Wright believes that Manchester City are waiting in the wings to take Liverpool's place in the big four.

"They've won it [the Champions League] five times, as their fantastic fans love to remind us," Wright told The Sun.

"But the stark reality is Liverpool may have to get used to life outside the Champions League.

"England's most successful team in Europe's elite competition will finish sixth at best in the Premier League this season and be reduced to playing in the Europa League.

"And if Wednesday’s game at Eastlands goes the way I expect it to, I fear it could be five years or even longer before the Kop are able to muscle their way back into the top four.

"If Tottenham win, they will secure fourth spot and finally be able to get that lasagne-eating monkey off their backs and hold their heads up high in the company of Arsenal fans, who have taunted their north London rivals about their European inadequacies for so long."

But Wright believes it will be City who will prevail, and beat Tottenham Hotspur at Eastlands on Wednesday night to put themselves in the box seat for fourth place heading into the final weekend of the season.

Should the Citizens achieve the feat, Wright anticipates a rush of summer activity at the City of Manchester Stadium.

"Stars moving to Eastlands on bank-busting contracts would no longer have to use money as a reason," he explained.

"They would be able to say they were joining to play Champions League football.

"It would make the blue machine even more unstoppable in their quest for domestic, European and, dare I say it, global domination.”

"And it would also leave Liverpool out in the cold."

Martin Jol Flattered To Be Linked With Liverpool Job

Reports linking Ajax and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol with Liverpool have been welcomed by the Dutchman.

There is speculation that Reds boss Rafael Benitez could be leaving the club in the summer with Juventus reportedly interested, meaning the Anfield job will be vacant.

Jol guided Ajax to a 15-match winning run at the end of the season but it was not enough to win the Eredivisie as Steve McClaren’s FC Twente held onto top spot.

"Liverpool are one of the best clubs in Europe and it is flattering to be linked with them," Jol told the People.

Benitez is holding talks with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton this week to assess his options for this season.

Regarding his future, Benitez said: "Everyone is asking about my future but the future of the club is more important.

"Still I do not know what is going on in the club. I don't know if we will have any investors so there are a lot of questions - not just, for me, one question.

"For me the club has to answer a lot of questions. We have to wait and see what is going on. The future is maybe tomorrow or maybe one week; at this moment it is something we don't know."

Benitez Set Deadline To Accept Juventus Deal

Rafael Benitez was coming under renewed pressure from Juventus to take or leave their job offer last night, and, with the Spaniard growing increasingly fearful of Fernando Torres' departure this summer, he wants assurances from the club's executive chairman that money generated from star players leaving will be his to invest.

Though Benitez rejected Roberto Mancini's claims two weeks ago that Manchester City can afford the probably £50m-plus it would take to buy Torres, the Liverpool manager does seem to view that prospect as a genuine risk, with Liverpool reduced to Europa League football, and wants an imminent meeting with the club's executive chairman, Martin Broughton, to address it. "I would like to have a meeting with the chairman sooner rather than later to know his idea about the future," Benitez said last night, in a significant sign that his heart is on Merseyside if he can overcome his doubts.

"Still we are working hard and planning for the future. Liverpool is a massive name in England and again in Europe. Everybody knows about the history of the club and our fans, so we can attract players and improve the squad."

Benitez will also want to discuss with Broughton the Spaniard's own relationship with the club's managing director, Christian Purslow, as well as to know what realistic chances there are of a change of ownership to ease the financial gulf between the club and those in the European elite. Benitez is so in the dark about the running of the club, that he is still unsure who appointed Broughton and where the chairman sits in the chain of command. Benitez must weigh the answers he gets quickly, with Juve making it clear that they want a decision this week on the four-year contract worth £3.5m a year after tax which awaits him in Turin. Though Purslow insists that his relationship with Benitez is in good order, the feeling does not seem to be mutual.

The odds still seem balanced against Benitez staying, given the growing sense yesterday that Liverpool's general state of chaos may see the club hemorrhage players this summer. In the aftermath of the 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea two of the club's best contributors over the past eight months hinted they expect departures and one of them, Yossi Benayoun, indicated that he might be ready to leave Anfield this summer.

"It's very difficult to speak now about next season. We don't know what changes there will be – the players, the staff. So it's too early to speak," the 29-year-old said. "Liverpool is a great club and I enjoy it but a lot of things are happening in this moment and we will have to wait and see. I can't say much. [Rafa] brought me here and I'm grateful for this, but there are people who decide. I don't need to speak for Rafa because he's proved himself during his time here that he's a big manager. The people above will take the right decision for the club."

The Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva reinforced the feeling of uncertainty. "Everyone is aware of the doubts over Rafa's future," he said. "We do not know what is going to happen or if some players will come and some will leave. We can only wait."

It is unclear what stance Broughton will take with Benitez on the issue of reinvestment, given the continued uncertainty over a prospective new owner, the £20m loss in income which accrues from Liverpool's failure to qualify for the Champions League and Liverpool's apparent willingness to see the Spaniard go. The club will not sack Benitez but will not stand in his way if he decides that his future lies elsewhere, though there are suggestions that Liverpool's owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are keen that the meeting Benitez has requested with Broughton should go ahead and that they, at least, have some desire to see him stay as the pursuit of a new investor continues.