Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rafael Benítez Holds Second Round Of Talks On His Liverpool Future

Rafael Benitez has held a second round of talks with the Liverpool chairman, Martin Broughton, as he seeks assurances that money will be available to revitalise the squad and challenge for a Champions League place next season.

The Liverpool manager met the British Airways chairman, who has been installed to sell the club on behalf of its co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, at Anfield today.

Both parties have agreed to keep their discussions confidential, although Benítez has said he wishes to continue as Liverpool manager providing the club can compete in the transfer market this summer.

He wants guarantees that any money raised through player sales will be reinvested in the squad, even if those sums are inflated by the potential loss of their prize asset Fernando Torres.

Juventus are still awaiting a definitive answer from Benítez having courted the Spaniard all year and have now turned their attentions towards Luigi Del Neri of Sampdoria and the Fiorentina coach, Cesare Prandelli.

Chinese Tycoon Quiet On Reds

Chinese internet gaming tycoon Zhu Jun has refused to deny claims he is interested in buying Liverpool.

Reports have claimed that Zhu, chairman of Nasdaq-listed online game company The9 Limited, has held provisional talks about purchasing the Premier League club.

Zhu, who already owns Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua, is said to have met with Barclays Capital, the investment bank hired to handle the sale of the Reds, in Hong Kong in late April and more recently in Shanghai.

Officials at Shanghai-based The9 would not confirm the talks had taken place, with company spokeswoman Phyllis Sai saying: "So far we have no comment on this."

Zhou Liang, Zhu's assistant, also gave an enigmatic response about whether the 44-year-old had held discussions with Liverpool about making a bid for the 18-time league champions.

"I cannot tell you any information at this moment," Zhou added.

"(The report) was information from the English side. Information moves very fast but there are some entities that need vehicles to travel. As soon as they arrive in China, we will let you know."

Lucas Wins Young Player Award

Lucas Leiva, often the butt of many Liverpool supporters’ jokes in the past, has ended a successful season for him personally, if not us as a club, by being named the Young Player of the Season.

The Reds midfielder collected 48 percent of the votes on to win this award.

A meteoric rise from a bit part player to a first team regular has seen the 23 year old feature in all but three of our Premier League matches with only Dirk Kuyt, Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher making more first team appearances than the Brazilian this season.

Lucas most likely wouldn't have played as much for the Reds if our situation off the pitch had been different however he's taken his opportunity well to become one of the few successes of a poor season.

In my honest opinion I'd still like to see him play further forward of the withdrawn role he is often played in though.

Emiliano Insua, who has also been a regular and made his Argentina debut, was the runner up with 20 per cent of the vote.

Torres In World Cup Fitness Race

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres remains a major doubt for Spain's World Cup opener against Switzerland - but is putting in the hours in a bid to be fit.

The 26-year-old underwent an operation on his right knee last month and is now working six hours a day in a bid to face the Swiss on June 16.

"Right now, we cannot say whether Fernando will be ready in time for the first match against Switzerland," said Spain team doctor Juan Jose Garcia Cota.

"He has started to work outside and is still doing gym work to improve the muscle tone around the knee.

"It takes a long time but the process we are following is still very good. We cannot say for sure but we are optimistic.

"There are still many days and the injury evolves day to day."

Torres, who netted the winning goal for his country in the Euro 2008 final against Germany, was yesterday named in Vicente del Bosque's preliminary 30-man squad.

After tackling Switzerland in South Africa, Spain will play further Group H games against Honduras and Chile.

Liverpool Keeper David Martin Joins MK Dons

Karl Robinson has made Liverpool goalkeeper David Martin his first signing as MK Dons manager.

The 24-year-old, who began his career with the Dons, will return when his Anfield contract ends on 1 July.

Martin, who had loan spells with Tranmere, Leeds and Derby this season, has agreed a three-year contract.

Robinson said: "He left the club as a boy but he's come back a man and I think he has all the qualities to be a future England goalkeeper."

Martin made 25 appearances for the Dons before joining Liverpool in December 2006.

He said: "It's a dream come true to be back here and I'm grateful to the manager and chairman for giving me the opportunity."

Aquilani Exit Talk Quashed

Alberto Aquilani's agent has laughed off speculation the Liverpool midfielder will return to Italy in the summer after just one season on Merseyside.

Reports in England have linked the 25-year-old with a speedy return to Serie A after joining the Reds in the summer from Roma for £20million.

After a disappointing year at Anfield, some have suggested Rafa Benitez is willing to offload the injury-prone Italian in a cut-price deal, with Juventus and Fiorentina said to be interested.

But Aquilani's representative Franco Zavaglia has shunned claims his client will leave the Premier League underachievers.

"A return to Italy? It seems a journalistic shot of the British tabloids," Zavaglia told "I don't know anything, because Alberto is well in Liverpool.

"There is talk of Juventus and Fiorentina but the Bianconeri have to define the structure of the club before thinking about the market.

"Equally, Fiorentina has the issue of Cesare Prandelli to resolve.

"Aquilani has recovered well from his ankle injury and for this reason I think Liverpool won't get rid of him."

Liverpool Plan £8m Raid To Sign “Argentine Alonso”

Rafa Benitez has set his sights on snaring Valencia’s impressive young Argentine midfielder Ever Banega. The former Boca Juniors man has previously been targeted by fellow Merseysiders Everton but the Liverpool boss believes he can persuade his former club to sell to the Anfield side this summer.

The Mestalla outfit are continuing to experience significant financial worries and will have to sell some of their star performers this summer but could well opt to offload some of their ‘lesser’ lights rather than having to lose the likes of David Silva or David Villa.

Banega has a great season at Valencia but has had issues with the La Liga side in the past and was almost forced to join the Toffees when he returned from his season long loan at Atletico Madrid last term. The 21 year old Argentine international has been likened to former Reds favourite Xabi Alonso.

The youngster is an excellent distributor of possession and has a great eye for a raking pass and would no doubt be keen on a move to join his fellow countrymen Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insua at Anfield.

Sevilla Tracking Liverpool Winger Yossi Benayoun

Primera Division outfit Sevilla are closely monitoring the situation of versatile Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun, according to a report in The Guardian.

The Nervionenses are eager to add some fresh blood to their squad in the summer transfer window and they've supposedly made Benayoun one of their primary targets on the transfer market.

Benayoun joined Liverpool from West Ham United in the summer of 2007 and has since made over 90 Premier League appearances for the Reds. The 30-year-old has never been an undisputed first team player though and could therefore decide to leave the club this summer.

The attacking midfielder appeared to be on his way to Dynamo Moscow last winter, but the transfer eventually collapsed for unknown reasons.

Sevilla face stiff competition from Premier League outfit Aston Villa in the race for Benayoun's signature.

Liverpool Set To Sell Alberto Aquilani At Cut-Price £10m To Juventus

Liverpool are set to unload midfielder Alberto Aquilani to Juventus, according to a report from The Sun, and could sell him for £10 million.

The midfielder cost a reported £20m to bring to Anfield from Roma in the summer. However, he arrived shortly after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury and struggled to regain full match fitness throughout the campaign.

Aquilani made only 13 starts all season, showing his quality only in flashes. Now it looks as though he will lead something of a summer clear-out at Liverpool, with the future of manager Rafael Benitez still in some doubt.

Fiorentina are also interested in the player, but are not prepared to pay more than £7m for his services, according to a further report in The Daily Mirror.

Liverpool's Youngest Ever Player Jack Robinson Describes Debut As A 'Dream Come True'

Liverpool left-back Jack Robinson became the club's youngest ever player at 16 years and 250 days when he came on as a substitute for Ryan Babel against Hull City on Sunday as the Reds drew their final game of the Premier League season 0-0.

The 16-year-old played just two minutes - his only contribution was sliding a ball infield to captain Steven Gerrard, a move which lead to the England international hitting the woodwork - but described the brief moments as a dream come true.

"It was an amazing feeling to get on and a very exciting moment," Robinson told Liverpool’s official website.

"I only found out for certain that I was in the squad on Saturday morning but it was completely unexpected.

"It's a dream come true.

"Sammy Lee called me on Saturday and when he told me that I was going to be in the squad, I just went into shock.

"I knew it was going to be a great experience and just sitting on the bench would have been good enough but it became even better to get on.

"It was the first time that I have ever travelled with the squad and I'll never forget it; I still can't believe that I've made a little bit of history."

Rafa Benitez May Need To Go, Says Liverpool FC Legend Robbie Fowler

Anfield legend Robbie Fowler says the time may be right for Liverpool FC boss Rafa Benitez to leave the club.

The future of Benitez has been the subject of much speculation in recent months following a below-par campaign that saw Liverpool FC finish seventh in the Barclays Premier League and miss out on a Champions League place.

With owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks also now searching for a new buyer there is much uncertainty surrounding the club and Fowler - who was brought back to Anfield by Benitez four years ago - thinks the time may be right for him to move on.

"With Rafa, what you see is what you get. I think he’s quite shrewd and keeps everything to himself," Fowler said.

"I was always grateful to him for bringing me back, so I always have a bit of a soft spot for him, but at the end of the day it’s a big club and no one is bigger than the club.

"First and foremost we want to be winning trophies and to be the top dogs. It’s a tricky situation. I don’t want to be sat here saying he has got to go - everyone is entitled to their opinion.

"I just want Liverpool to do well, whether it’s Rafa there or someone else there I don’t really mind. First and foremost Liverpool is Liverpool and I think we deserve to be top of the table every year.

"Whoever is in charge has a big job on their hands."

With his own playing days coming to a close, Fowler revealed he is looking to turn to coaching himself and has ambitiously pointed to the top job at Anfield as his dream appointment.

The 35-year-old striker is currently playing in Australia’s domestic league where he is contracted for at least one more season with Perth Glory, so any move into coaching is still some way off.

Fowler is also yet to earn his coaching badges and while he admits his dream to manage Liverpool FC is "a million miles away" should it one day happen it would not be the first time he has made a shock return to a club where he is revered.

"When I do finish playing, the coaching side and the management side is something I would probably go down," he said.

"I would like to go down that route and in an ideal world I would go back to Liverpool.

"I’m a local lad and I’ve played for the club. I’m not saying for a second that I’m going to be the next manager, but it would be nice.

"I’m not kidding myself, I’m a million miles away from managing Liverpool.

"I’m still playing. Maybe in the future I’ll do all my badges and go through the lower leagues and become a manager that way.

"As a player you always aspire to be the best and as a manager you probably need to start at the bottom. Once you start on that little ladder then you can aspire to be the best and in terms of management you really can’t get higher than Liverpool."