Thursday, May 20, 2010

Inter Milan Deny Interest In Rafa Benitez

Inter Milan have strongly denied claims they have contacted Rafa Benitez with a view to him replacing Jose Mourinho at the San Siro.

While Benitez's future at Liverpool has been the subject of much speculation this year, Mourinho is favourite to take over from the under fire Manuel Pellegrini at Real Madrid.

The former Chelsea boss has said he will make a decision on his future after Saturday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu.

Should Mourinho head to Madrid on a permanent basis, Benitez is likely to be on Inter's shortlist to succeed him in Milan.

When asked about Benitez, though, Inter's sporting director Marco Branca told Sky Italia: “We absolutely have had no contact with Benitez.

“Our coach is Jose Mourinho.”

Benitez has also been linked with Juventus in recent months but the Turin club's interest in the Spaniard has now cooled and they have turned their attention to former Sampdoria manager Luigi Del Nieri.

Del Nieri stepped down at Sampdoria earlier this week just 24 hours after securing a Champions League place for the Genoa based club.

The 59-year-old is now expected to replace Alberto Zaccheroni at Juventus, whose contract expires this month.

A statement from Sampdoria read: “Sampdoria announces that in the 2010-11 campaign, they will not continue with the services of first team coach Luigi Del Neri.

“The club wants to thank the coach and his staff for the professionalism and dedication shown this season and wishes them the best of luck in their future careers.”

Rafa Benitez Pleased With Ryan Babel’s Improved Attitude

Rafa Benitez believes Ryan Babel can maintain a prominent place in Liverpool’s squad next season if he maintains his new-found focus.

Having looked at one point during the winter transfer window as if he was on the verge of joining Birmingham City in a £9m deal, the Dutch international knuckled down to feature in all bar two of the Reds’ final 23 games.

It was a huge turnaround for Babel, as he had previously clashed with Benitez over a decision to be left out of the squad that drew 1-1 with Stoke City on January 16 – the player used the social networking website, Twitter, to reveal the manager’s plan.

He was then sent home from training for showing a poor attitude shortly after that but after clear-the-air talks, Benitez decided to give Babel another chance, rather than send him to Ajax on loan.

A number of clubs in Europe are still monitoring Babel’s situation and it’s quite possible Liverpool’s resolve will be tested when the window formally opens for business but Benitez has given the impression he is not ready to hurry him away.

So long as he keeps his focus, Benitez has indicated he would be willing to provide a platform for Babel to showcase his talents and is pleased with the attitude he has shown.

“We had a meeting with him in January,” said Benitez, who brought Babel to Anfield in the summer of 2007. “I expressed my ideas and he expressed his ideas about the future.

“I was very clear that I wanted to keep him because he is a player who has the ability to make a difference in games.

“He told me that he wanted to be playing games and working hard. I then told him there was no problem because we both had the same ideas.”

Babel suggested at one point towards the end of the season that he was hugely self-critical, a trait he picked up after strict upbringing in Holland.

But Benitez – who has been linked with Inter Milan post currently occupied by Jose Mourinho – believes will gain more confidence and faith in his ability if he learns to relax a little more.

“It was good for him to get chance and good for the team,” said Benitez.

“When we signed him, we met his family and you could see they were good people, who wanted him to do well.

“Ryan has had problems but he is growing and I think at the end of the season he was much better.”

Liverpool Preparing Double Swoop For Experienced Duo

Despite being broke and the club in turmoil, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is not only staying at Anfield but intends to bring in new players even if he has to now seek approval from the clubs chairman Martin Broughton.

Liverpool will have a modest transfer budget for next season according to reports from financial websites (yes from financial websites) who have been reporting on Liverpool’s precarious financial state all season and the club will not be selling either Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres but actually strengthening the squad with experienced Internationals.

Rafa Benitez is keen on Manchester City’s Steven Ireland and Chelsea’s Joe Cole, reports had surfaced that Liverpool could not meet Cole’s wage demands, however with Tottenham also baulking at Cole’s demands and his current club Chelsea not prepared to pay Cole what he wants the player now has to lower his financial demands.

The only problem for Liverpool is that Cole wants Champions League football something that Liverpool can no longer offer, that however is seen as a mild stumbling block and while Spurs remain favourites to end up with Cole, he could still end up at Anfield now that Benitez’s future is sorted and the almost certainty that Torres and Gerrard will remain Liverpool players.

Stephen Ireland wants out of Manchester City desperately, he is unhappy there and Liverpool have been linked with the player on a regular basis, City are prepared to listen to offers for Ireland who has accepted that he will not figure in Roberto Mancini’s plans next season and again Benitez will face stiff competition from Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham.

The advantage this time for Liverpool though is that Ireland wants to remain in the North of England and that has put Liverpool in the driving seat but and it is a big but, Man Utd are also said to be interested in the Man City midfielder and a move from Sir Alex Ferguson is seen as a bigger obstacle than a bid from Tottenham.

It at least appears that things are starting to settle down at Anfield, he club is now looking forward with a more positive outlook and the doom merchants that were writing off both Rafa Benitez and Liverpool may find that they have jumped the gun somewhat.

Babel Worried Over Holland Spot

Liverpool forward Ryan Babel admits he is no certainty to make Holland's final cut for the World Cup finals this summer.

The 23-year-old was a member of the Dutch squad that reached the last 16 in Germany four years ago when he made just a single substitute appearance.

But after struggling to impose himself at Liverpool in recent times Babel is not counting on playing at the tournament again this time around.

"I am still not sure if I'm going to be in the squad but that is the aim for me to play in the World Cup finals for Holland," Babel told

"The World Cup is something special for every footballer. I was 18 when I was in the squad in 2006 and it was a great experience."

Babel was named in boss Bert van Marwijk's provisional squad last week, but the Dutch boast a number of top-class attacking options that could see him left out.

Babel is in competition with his Reds team-mate Dirk Kuyt, the fit-again Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, but regardless of his own position Babel believes those players ensure the Oranje will be strong contenders in South Africa.

"I think we have a good squad," he added.

"If everyone is fit then we have a great team that can give anyone a game."

Holland begin their World Cup campaign against Denmark in Johannesburg on June 14 with Japan and Cameroon making up the rest of Group E.

Liverpool And Juventus Prepare Swap Deal For Outcasts Alberto Aquilani And Felipe Melo

Liverpool and Juventus are prepared to set-up a swap deal to end the nightmare spells of Alberto Aquilani and Felipe Melo at the clubs, according to Tuttosport.

Both endured a troubled spell since making their big money moves last summer. Aquilani spent the majority of last season on the treatment table after his £20 million switch from Roma, while £22 million man Melo endured a fractious relationship with the Old Lady support as the team sunk to seventh place in Serie A.

The players could now each be offered a fresh start. Italian international Aquilani is seen by new Juventus boss Luigi Del Neri as the missing link in attacking midfield, while Melo could help fill the void at Anfield left by Xabi Alonso.

England Call Was Too Strong For Carragher

Jamie Carragher has admitted he could not turn down the chance to play for England again.

Three years after announcing his retirement from the international scene, Carragher is back, attempting to be one of the 23 players Fabio Capello will rely on to bring the World Cup back to Blighty in July.

"This opportunity to try to get into the 23 has come up again now and was something I couldn't turn down," he said.

It was a staggering about-turn, which Carragher accepts he never thought would happen, especially given much-publicized comments in his autobiography highlighting how England's fortunes paled alongside those of his beloved Liverpool.

But, the 32-year-old freely accepts, with Liverpool's fortunes taking a nose-dive, and Capello making such a big impression since replacing Steve McClaren in December 2007, he started to look at the Three Lions in a whole new light.

"I made my decision a few years ago for different reasons," he added.

"Fabio Capello is one of the best managers, not just the England team have had, but in world football over the past 10 or 15 years.

"I was always asking Steven Gerrard what the manager was like when he came back from England duty. That was a massive reason behind it."

Liverpool Outcast Albert Riera Launches Fresh Attack On Rafael Benitez

Liverpool rebel Albert Riera has fired a fresh broadside at manager Rafael Benitez and has accused him of having too much control at Anfield.

Riera was suspended for three days in March and frozen out of the first team after describing the club as a "sinking ship" on Spanish radio while blasting Benitez's management style. A move to Russian giants Spartak Moscow was lined up, but the winger's wage demands scuppered his chance of gaining the playing time necessary to make Spain's World Cup squad.

Now the 28-year-old has attacked Benitez once again, this time bemoaning the manager's power at the Merseyside club.

"I want to leave. English clubs are run differently that Spanish clubs. In England you have a manager at the club, and the board of the club has done nothing for me," Riera said, according to the Liverpool Echo.

"The club has not put up any fight for me. I do not want to quarrel with somebody, but if a club doesn't fight for you that mean that they don't want you. I do not want to be in a place where I am not wanted.

"I did not play the last two months and right now my objective it is to go to a club were I can feel appreciated and where I can win trophies.

"I am not worried about the money now or the country I go to."

Rafael Benitez Targets Future Stint As Spain Boss

Rafael Benitez has targeted a future spell as Spain manager despite being "very happy" at Liverpool.

The Reds supremo has endured a troubled season on Merseyside. Rumours have constantly linked him with an exit to Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Juventus after he could only guide the side to seventh place in the Premier League.

Speaking to AS, the Madrid native refused to draw the curtain on his Anfield reign, though he professed his desire to coach La Roja one day.

Benitez said: "Right now I have four years left in my contract with Liverpool and I am very happy there.

"But, of course, in a few years, once [Spain coach Vicente] Del Bosque ends his work, I would like to be Spain coach.

"All of the Spanish coaches would like in the future to become national team manager."

Rafa Benitez The Right Man For Liverpool FC, Says John Barnes

Liverpool FC legend John Barnes has backed manager Rafa Benitez to bring success back to the club after a season of underachievement.

The Reds finished seventh, their worst Barclays Premier League position for 11 years, and suffered early exits from the Champions League and FA Cup.

There has been widespread speculation about Benitez’s future but former Liverpool FC winger Barnes said it would make no sense in changing the manager at this point.

"I’m a Rafa supporter and believe he is the right man to be at Liverpool," said the ex-England ace, who won two league championships and two FA Cups during his 10-year spell at Anfield.

"Liverpool is a club now without any money. Why change the manager?

"What’s a new manager going to do without any money? If a new manager comes in to work with the same players is that the way to improve?"

Barnes, who scored 108 goals in 407 appearances for Liverpool FC, said things had to be put in perspective and this season should be viewed as a blip rather than a sign of terminal decline - a defence put forward by Benitez himself.

"We underachieved in terms of finishing seventh this season," Barnes said.

"We overachieved by coming second the year before. But if there’s no investment I can’t see the point in changing the manager at all.

"Rafa is a good coach. He’s a good manager. He’s proven it in the past and I believe he will do so in the future.

"Hopefully he will be able to bring some new players in this summer. We need more players - we need more quality."