Monday, May 24, 2010

Fernando Torres And Rafael Benitez Will Not Leave Liverpool, Says Pepe Reina

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes club and country team-mate Fernando Torres will remain at Anfield next season.

Torres has been linked with a move away from Liverpool after the club's poor campaign, with Chelsea and Barcelona supposedly in the running for the Spain international's services.

But Reina spoke to his compatriot this week and claims Torres is committed to turning the club's fortunes around.

"I am calm about Fernando," Reina told the People. "I spoke to him about his future and he has told me that he intends to continue with us.

"Fernando suffered so many blows last season, but he is a professional and has always wanted to do well for us.

"That is what he remains - committed to this club."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has also been strongly linked with a move away from the club this summer, with Inter Milan a possible destination, but Reina is equally convinced his manager will stay put.

"I am convinced that Rafa will still be with us and that is good for us because he wants revenge in the next campaign," he said.

UAE Target Liverpool Boss Rafa Benitez

The United Arab Emirates have targeted Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Benitez has been heavily linked with a move away from Liverpool in recent weeks with the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan and Real Madrid reportedly interested.

The UAE hope to raise their global profile and Benitez will be offered a five million pound “Golden Hello” and a salary to match his current deal at Liverpool.

Joe Bernstein adds in the Mail on Sunday that "The offer may be seriously considered by Benitez, whose relationship with the board and players at Anfield is at an all-time low after a fourth successive season without a trophy and failure to qualify for the Champions League."

The futures of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres have been the source of much transfer speculation recently.

This Could Be My Last World Cup With England - Steven Gerrard

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has admitted that this summer's World Cup in South Africa could be his, and several others, last chance to shine for England.

Gerrard, who will turn 30 at the end of next month, is realistic in his assessment that this may well be his last opportunity to perform on the international stage.

With team-mates Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand having surpassed that milestone already, and with John Terry and Ashley Cole not far behind, Gerrard feels that it could work in England's favour this summer.

"The feeling this is our last World Cup has got to be the attitude going into it," Gerrard told the Press Assocation.

"It could be my last chance to win a World Cup, or even shine at one, so you want to give it everything you've got."

Gerrard also believes that the disappointment of 2006 and not qualifying for Euro 2008 will prove to be a valuable learning curve this time round with several members of the squad still present in the side travelling to South Africa.

"We have underachieved in the past," he said.

"Everyone around the world knows England have the tools in their armoury to do well. The challenge is to prove it.

"It is easy to say we are one of the favourites. The difficult thing is getting out of the group, then the last 16 and the last eight. There is a mental situation with this team in the last couple of tournaments where we have failed to get past the last eight.

"If we get past the last eight then the show is going to start."

With the news that Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher has returned to the international fold, Gerrard admits that the thought of retiring from international football has not crossed his mind just yet.

"I am sure a lot of players are coming to that age now where they will consider what the next best move will be after the World Cup," he said.

"But it depends on how well we do and also what the manager is thinking. In any case, it might be taken out of your hands.

"I have never considered finishing for England."

Liverpool To Cash In On Javier Mascherano

Liverpool will cash in on Javier Mascherano after the World Cup and could spend a chunk of the £30million windfall on paying off Rafa Benitez.

That’s the likely outcome of the first of many moves at Anfield this summer – even though Benitez has now insisted his immediate future is at the club.

Benitez had been strongly linked to the Juventus job but that door has been slammed in his face with the appointment of former Sampdoria coach Luigi del Neri.

That left Benitez high and dry and after two meetings with new Anfield chairman Martin Broughton he decided to carry on in the job.

But American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are growing increasingly tired of his political games where he doesn’t discourage talk of a move away from the club.

They’ve hesitated at taking the axe to Benitez because they would have to hand over a £16m cheque for his remaining four-year deal.

But it’s now felt that the golden handshake could be financed by Mascherano’s sale, with Barcelona still an option.

Mascherano believed he was joining Barca last summer and put his early season slump down to the disappointment at not packing his bags for the Nou Camp.

Gareth Barry To Be Targeted Again By Liverpool

Gareth Barry will be targeted again by Liverpool – if Manchester City succeeds in signing James Milner from Aston Villa.

Kop boss Rafa Benitez wanted to sign Barry two summers ago – but the England star stayed with Villa before finally leaving for £12million in July last year.

And the Anfield side could make a move for Barry as doubts grow over Steven Gerrard’s future.

Barry had a great season at Citybut could be squeezed out of the starting line-up because he would be one of 13 midfielders at Eastlands, should Milner arrive.

City would want at least what they paid for Barry – and that £12m fee fits into Liverpool’s limited budget after they failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Chelsea Set To Bid £20m For Liverpool Midfielder Mascherano

Liverpool midfield hard-man Javier Mascherano could be on his way to Chelsea if Carlo Ancelotti has his way.

The Chelsea boss is prepared to bid £20million for the Argentine to strengthen his midfield, The People reported on Sunday.

Contract negotiations between Mascherano and the Anfield outfit have stalled, and although he had reportedly been holding out for a transfer to Barcelona, the La Liga champions’ bid to secure the services of Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas has dented the Argentine’s hopes of playing at the Nou Camp.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is keen to keep Mascherano, but a significant transfer fee will be difficult to turn down.

The midfielder made 47 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League and European competition last season, scoring one goal and picking up 11 yellow cards. His contract is up in two years.

Chelsea are expected to boost their midfield this summer with the exits of Michael Ballack, Joe Cole and Deco on the cards.

Liverpool Eye Edin Dzeko As Replacement For Fernando Torres

Liverpool are lining up Wolfsburg hit man Edin Dzeko to replace Fernando Torres, should the Spanish international leave Anfield this summer according to the News of the World.

Dzeko, 24, was the leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season and his goalscoring exploits have attracted interest from a number of top clubs including AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City.

However, the report claims that new Wolfsburg coach Steve McClaren, may look to get as much as he can for the German side's star player.

Sources suggest that Liverpool will offer both Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel plus cash, for a player valued at around £30 million.

If the Merseysiders were to make a move, it would be the clearest indication yet that they expect Torres to leave this summer.

Rafa Benitez Hopes To Find Funds For Micah Richards Move

Rafa Benitez is looking to make a summer move for Manchester City defender Micah Richards. The Liverpool boss is hoping to bring in the 21 year old by offering him the carrot of regular first team football and a way back into the England set up.

The Anfield manager is hoping to get cash injection this summer to help bring in new additions but given the precarious financial state the Merseyside club finds itself in Rafa may have to sell before he can buy. Micah Richards has found his first team chances limited of late and as a result has fallen down Fabio Capello’s pecking order.

Even though Liverpool did not manage to secure a Champions League spot the chance of a move to Anfield and the chance to re-ignite his career may tempt Richards who can usefully play effectively both at right back and in the centre of defence and for that reason Benitez considers him one of his top summer targets.

The likes of Albert Rieira, Philipp Degen and Yossi Benayoun may be offloaded in order to garner the funds for new signings such as Micah Richards.

Aston Villa's James Milner Set To Snub Manchester Move For Liverpool

Aston Villa midfielder James Milner is ready to reject a move to either Manchester United or Manchester City, after reportedly telling a close friend he wants to join Liverpool, according to the News of The World.

Villa rejected City's advances earlier this week, after the Citizens tabled an offer of £20 million, with manager Martin O'Neill keen to hold on to the reigning PFA Young Player of the Year.

However, sources close to Milner have reportedly told the tabloid: "Being born in Leeds, there is no way James wants to play for Manchester United.

"His preferred Premier League club in Liverpool."

With manager O'Neill linked with the post at Anfield, should Rafael Benitez leave, it would be a heavy blow for Villa to lose both their coach and star player.

A source close to O'Neill is quoted as saying: "Martin doesn't want to start the summer feeling like he's pushing a rock up a mountain because the club have let Milner go too cheaply.

"This is a player Villa have turned into an England international, who has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League and who has discovered a whole new role in central midfield thanks to Martin.

"To let somebody of that quality and stature go without a fight and at a price City believe is a bargain would be counter-productive.

"Nobody at Villa wants to see Milner leave and the club will speak with him before he goes to the World Cup about a contract extension.

"But if his heart is set on leaving, then Villa must get the absolute top price for him."

With City set to renew their interest this week and make an improved bid, it remains to be seen how much longer Villa will be able to hold on to their man.

Stevie: I Pestered Jamie

Steven Gerrard admits he has pestered Jamie Carragher to come out of international retirement for the last three years.

Carragher decided to return to the England fold ahead of this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

He cited a desire to cram in as much top-level football as possible before the end of his career - and a keenness to work with manager Fabio Capello.

Now, as the squad prepares for a friendly with Mexico at Wembley on Monday, Gerrard's role in the u-turn has come to light.

"I put a lot of work in!" he said.

"I spoke to Jamie all the time, right from the time he took the decision to step down from the squad.

"I wanted Carra here because he is a top player but from a personal perspective it is nice because he is a good friend."