Friday, May 07, 2010

Reina Makes Owners Plea

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina admits the club need to find new owners in order to keep the best players at Anfield.

A number of Reds stars have been linked with moves away following their failure to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League with vultures circling over Fernando Torres' head.

Reina is adamant it is vital to the club's future to keep hold of Torres and improve the squad if they want to be challenging for honours again after a massively disappointing campaign this term.

"It is important players like Fernando [Torres] see the club moving forward," Reina told the Daily Express.

"Let's see how it goes with the owners and the sale of the club. Once we are done with that, let's build a proper team, a proper squad, a competitive squad."

Reina, who recently signed a new six-year deal at Anfield, insists he has no regrets about pledging his future to the club despite the turmoil surrounding the side.

"Liverpool are one of the best clubs in the world. I see no reason to leave," added Reina.

"I've decided to play many years for Liverpool and I have no regrets at all with that.

"Any kind of player around the world will feel attracted by Liverpool.

"We are a massive club. Of course players will want to come."

Rafa Set For Anfield U-Turn

Rafa Benitez could shock Liverpool fans with a dramatic U-turn to spurn Juventus' advances.

The Anfield boss seemed on the verge of quitting this week, and there were even fears that the Spaniard could be gone before Sunday's final game of the season against Hull.

But Juve are wavering in their pursuit of the Liverpool manager, and have now changed the terms they have offered to the 50-year-old.

And sources close to the Spaniard have suggested that he may now turn down the Italian club, and instead concentrate his energies on securing assurances about his future at Anfield.

Juventus are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Spanish coach, after earlier talks that convinced them he would move to Turin.

They had offered him an unprecedented deal which would have ripped up the traditional model of Italian management, to instead allow him extended powers in the style of an English supremo, at a massive cost.

But since those initial talks, there has been a change in the power structure at the Turin club, and new president Andrea Agnelli has a very different view of how he wants the business to be run.

His first move was to appoint a director of football, which is anathema to Benitez, and was a role that he insisted couldn't exist if he is to become boss.

That director, Beppe Marotta, formerly of Sampdoria, is known to favour the appointment of an Italian coach, and has already sounded out Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti, and the highly regarded Sampdoria coach Cesare Prandelli.

Juve are still talking to Benitez, but they have reduced the role they will offer to that of a coach working with a director above him, and they also want to pay significantly less for the reduced role.

They have told Benitez that they will now refuse to pay a big compensation figure for him, and that he will have to get himself out of Anfield within the next few days with an agreement Liverpool will release him for nothing.

But the manager is having second thoughts about such a reduced role, and now he will consider staying at Anfield, if he can negotiate the terms he believes will allow him to resurrect his side's fortunes.

Benitez will speak to new chairman Martin Broughton before the weekend, after twice cancelling meetings with the executive, and he will look for clarification of the club's position.

The Spaniard is aware that Fernando Torres is likely to leave this summer, and he will demand the money from that sale - upwards of £70million - to spend on new players. He will also ask for any money from the possible sale of Steven Gerrard.

Benitez also seems likely to demand that he wrestles power at the club from MD Christian Purslow, who he wants to be restricted to a commercial role.

The Liverpool boss seems unlikely to go to Juventus even if Broughton can't meet his demands, but that does not mean he won't quit Anfield.

There has been interest in the Champions League winning coach from AC Milan, and if Jose Mourinho goes to Real Madrid, then he would be a contender for the Inter job.

Liverpool Open Talks With Real Madrid's Rafael van der Vaart Over Possible Move

Liverpool have begun preliminary talks with Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart regarding a possible move to the Premier League, according to a report from The Daily Mail.

The report also claims that the Reds are eyeing possible moves for Van der Vaart's club-mates Royston Drenthe and Guti, though any deal for the latter is believed to be highly unlikely, despite the fact that the player would be available on a free transfer.

However, any transfer dealing at Anfield is likely to be put on hold for the moment until the future of manager Rafael Benitez is decided.

There is also massive uncertainty at the club regarding Fernando Torres, who has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester City this week.

Until the striker is sold or decides to stay at Anfield, it will be difficult for the Reds to formulate any clear transfer policy in a close-season where rebuilding is key.

Liverpool Ready To Offer Player Swap To Snap Up £14m Marseille Hotshot

Liverpool boss is hoping to make a successful move to bring in Marseille striker Mamadou Niang to Anfield. Rafa Benitez is counting on prospective new owners will hand him a cash boost in the summer so that he can correct his faltering squad. If he can’t get cash injection he is looking to offer players in return for the Senegalese international.

The 30 year old OM captain has had a great season, finishing as joint top scorer in Ligue 1 but Benitez may feel that he can persuade the adaptable forward to make a move to the cash rich Premier League. Niang has great strength and the ability to hold up the ball well and could work very well alongside Fernando Torres.

The £14m rated Marseille man has plied his trade in France ever since turning pro at Troyes almost 13 years ago and Benitez may feel that he may be ready for a fresh challenge. Liverpool are ready to offload the likes of Albert Rieira, Ryan Babel, Philipp Degen and Yossi Benayoun and if the French club shows an interest in any of those deemed ’surplus to requirements’ at Anfield then this would greatly aid any bid for Niang.

Melwood Injury Latest

Sammy Lee admits Jamie Carragher and Maxi Rodriguez face a race against time in order to be fit for Liverpool's final game of the season against Hull City on Sunday.

Carragher sustained a twisted ankle during the clash with Chelsea, while Maxi picked up an adductor injury.

Both players limped off against the Londoners and are yet to resume training.

"They picked up knocks on Sunday and haven't trained with the team as yet," Lee told

"It's still early days and we're not too sure whether they'll be ready for the weekend, but we're just taking it day by day."

The Reds were boosted by the return of Martin Skrtel to training on Wednesday, though Lee admits the Hull game could come too soon for the Slovakian.

"Martin Skrtel joined us for training yesterday, which was a nice plus," said the assistant boss.

"The weekend may come too soon for him but it's good to have people coming back."

Jamie Carragher Lines Up Charity Testimonial Match

Liverpool will play an Everton XI in Jamie Carragher's charity fund-raising testimonial match on 4 September.

The 32-year-old former England defender supported the Toffees as a boy before joining Liverpool's youth set-up.

All proceeds from the game at Anfield will benefit local charities through Carragher's 23 Foundation.

"It has been in the pipeline for four or five months and I'm delighted now that I can start to talk about it properly," he said.

"Everton were always my first idea. If we had gone for a foreign team, they would have incurred appearance fees and travel costs.

"But that is not what this game is going to be about; the money we raise is for the city of Liverpool and Merseyside in general.

"Everyone knows I was an Evertonian when I was a kid and I thought it would be appropriate for the two teams in my life to have a game of football."

Former Liverpool stars Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Dietmar Hamann, Jamie Redknapp and Michael Owen have all confirmed they will take part.

Hicks: I Have Paid A Terrible Price

Tom Hicks says he has paid a 'terrible price' during his co-ownership of Liverpool but has implied it could take two years to sell the club.

The American businessman and co-owner George Gillett are ready to listen to offers for the Reds after appointing new chairman Martin Broughton to help find buyers.

But when announcing plans to sell, Hicks also indicated that he believed the club has tripled in value under his control to an asking price of effectively £800million.

This suggested the Texan will not be willing to accept a cut-price, quick conclusion to his turbulent time at Anfield, which began in February 2007, and he has now reinforced that fact.

"From discussions we've had over the last two years, there are plenty of those people [potential investors in Liverpool] out there," Hicks said in The Times. "We've owned it three years. We won't own it for five.

"I can still be a fan. But I've paid a terrible price. I'm 64 years old. I don't want that any more.

"Jerry Jones [the Dallas Cowboys owner] is a good friend of mine, but his life and his family's life is the Dallas Cowboys. Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks are his life. This isn't my life."

Rafa Must Make Intentions Clear - Smith

Liverpool legend Tommy Smith has labelled the Reds' campaign as "the season from hell" and pleaded with Rafa Benitez to clarify his future.

Liverpool are in turmoil both on and off the pitch, having failed to qualify for the Champions League and with uncertainty regarding the Anfield outfit's future ownership.

And speculation continues to link Benitez with a move to Juventus at the end of a season that delivered another hard blow with Liverpool's elimination from the Europa League in the semi-finals last week.

It has all been too much for Smith, who spoke out in his Liverpool Echo column.

"Rafa has always said he loves the club, the fans and the city. For the sake of all three, he must now come out and make his intentions clear - one way or the other," Smith said.

"Rafa has said nothing publicly to suggest he is still up for the challenge, ready to try and sort out the problems and go again. That is only adding to the anxiety and fuelling more controversy.

"We all know the problems the American ownership has brought - and at times caused the manager. It can't have been easy for him to a degree but in truth he has made mistakes which cannot be blamed on (Tom) Hicks and (George) Gillett.

"Not only has this campaign been the season from hell, with 19 defeats, the manager is giving every indication he has had enough and wants out.

"One word sums up the whole, sorry state of affairs at Liverpool these days - embarrassing.

"Granted, Rafa's bought some really good players - but others seem happy to pull on the red shirt yet have no idea what it means to wear it.

"This squad isn't good enough and does not have enough depth to it. That is a crying shame because we've had such a strong spine with players like (Jose) Reina, (Jamie) Carragher, (Javier) Mascherano, (Steven) Gerrard and (Fernando) Torres to have built around."

Smith, who made 638 appearances for the club, believes the fans deserve better.

He added: "These Liverpool supporters are always there through thick and thin - and right now it is very thin times indeed for them all.

"The manager must first come out and make his intentions clear. Then we have to pray that soon the club is sold to owners who have the clout to invest in it and get us back on track.

"For the sake of those wonderful fans, I hope they get some good news soon. Because they deserve it."

Jamie Carragher Only Wants To Play For Liverpool FC

Jamie Carragher will discuss his Liverpool FC future at the start of next season but the defender has stressed he does not want to play for anybody else.

Reports in March suggested the 32-year-old would walk out on the club he joined as a youngster if he did not get a new contract offer with terms that suited him.

However, Carragher said he wanted to finish his career with Liverpool FC and had already broached the subject with manager Rafa Benitez, whose own future remains in doubt after a disappointing season and speculation about a move to Juventus.

"I’ve spoken to the manager about it and we both agreed that it would be better if we talked about it at the start of next season," said the centre-back.

"There was an interview with a national newspaper and the headline was a bit misleading, saying that I would be prepared to leave Liverpool.

"Really, I said that if Liverpool didn’t want me, I’d be forced to sign for someone else because I’d have no other option.

"I don’t want to retire yet. I understand at my age, you can only make decisions season by season.

"But I want to finish my career at Liverpool. I don’t want to play for anyone else."

Carragher is keen to take up a coaching role when his playing days are over but does not feel his temperament is suited to youth development work.

"I’ve passed the UEFA B coaching badge and I’m considering the A badge at Lilleshall this summer," he said.

"I still haven’t made my mind up what I’m going to do when I’m finished, but I’m doing this so I’m prepared and to see if I enjoy it.

"If I did go into coaching, it would have to be at a senior level.

"I’m passionate about football and all I’ve ever wanted to do is win.

"I’m not really the kind of person to have the patience to improve the kids at the Academy."