Friday, May 28, 2010

Dalglish: Reds Will Ride The Storm

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish insists the club will not go backwards despite their current ownership issues and speculation about the futures of manager Rafael Benitez and star players Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Former chairman David Moores gave a full and frank account of his reasons for selling to American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett in 2007.

After a tumultuous three-year reign the pair officially put the club, whose parent company Kop Holdings have debts of £351m with interest payments of £40m a year, up for sale last month.

That has led to increased instability off the pitch with constant conjecture about whether the manager and players will remain at Anfield.

Torres did little to quell that speculation yesterday when he side-stepped questions about his future, while Jose Mourinho, whose appointment as Real Madrid boss appears imminent, has spoken of his admiration for Gerrard.

However, Dalglish said the club was bigger than any individual.

“Liverpool FC is much more important than any one individual – it always has been and always will be,” said the Reds former player and manager, who now has an ambassadorial role with the club’s academy.

“It will move forwards and move upwards.

“It is not the greatest time in the club’s history at this time but I don’t think they will start to go backwards.”

Dalglish, voted Liverpool’s greatest player, also said he had some sympathy with Moores for reacting to the criticism aimed at him for selling to the Americans.

“David has got his own opinions and wanted to get something off his chest but everyone knows where David’s heart lies,” Dalglish told Sky Sports News.

Two other Liverpool greats, Alan Kennedy and John Aldridge, have joined the growing calls for Hicks and Gillett to engineer a swift sale.

Kennedy, a two-time European Cup winner, said the current state of uncertainty had affected the team this season, which saw Liverpool finish seventh – their worst league placing for 11 years.

“We have to move on. We are stagnating and it has shown in the performances of the players, who have been disappointing as well,” said the 55-year-old.

Former striker Aldridge was more outspoken, criticizing Hicks and Gillett for loading huge debts on the club and dismissing the former’s claims that Liverpool were in a better position now than they were three years ago.

“Any club that is losing £110,000 a day (on loan repayments) is in big trouble - whether they are Liverpool or not,” he said.

“We are in a massive mess. It is ridiculous to say we are in a good situation - absolutely ludicrous.”

Aldridge does take some comfort from the fact that the off-field problems may result in increased stability in the dressing room after speculation about Benitez.

“The manager’s future looks more tenable at the moment,” he added.

“There is no stability at the club and to lose the manager as well would put them in disarray.

“Would the two Americans really replace Rafael Benitez considering they don’t know an awful lot about football?”

The future of some players seems less secure and Mourinho did his bit to encourage any seeds of doubt which were growing in the mind of Gerrard.

“I like players in the final part of their careers,” said the Portuguese.

“I love to have some players who are 33 or 34 years old...they are players that you buy and you won’t recover this money, but if they give you good performances for two or three years you’ve got your money’s worth.

“Both (Gerrard and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard) are great players who always give everything.”

Tom Hicks: We Will Probably Sell Liverpool To A Buyer From The Middle East Or Asia

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks believes there are many parties throughout the world interested in buying the football club, although he believes the eventual new owner is most likely to come from the Middle East or Asia.

Hicks, along with fellow American George Gillett, is under heavy pressure to sell the Merseyside outfit as soon as possible, after a three-year tenure that has seen the club heaped with debt, fail to start work on a new stadium and fall off the pace in the Premier League.

After addressing concerns about the club's future on Wednesday, Hicks has reiterated his belief that a buyer for the struggling club will not be hard to find.

"Liverpool has a really big universe of interested buyers," Hicks told Bloomberg.

"There are a number of wealthy people all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, who are enormous Liverpool fans."

The 64-year-old also revealed he is looking to sell off all his other sporting assets, complaining about the constant attention such high-profile organizations tend to attract.

His Texas Rangers baseball side filed for bankruptcy on Monday, while his NHL outfit the Dallas Stars are also being sold off. If all goes to plan, Liverpool will be the final one to change hands.

"Sports has never been my primary business," Hicks said.

"We are systematically selling our sports assets to focus on our core businesses like private equity and real estate.

"The lack of privacy in sports is something that my family and I aren't willing to undertake any longer.

"We'll always be big fans but we want our privacy back."

Steven Gerrard Backs Glen Johnson To Play Major Role For Liverpool Next Season

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has backed Glen Johnson to play a major role for the club next season.

The former Portsmouth right-back scored his first international goal in Monday’s 3-1 win over Mexico, cutting inside from the right wing to curl the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Johnson, who also picked up the man of the match award at Wembley, has been tipped by Gerrard to star for Liverpool next year, despite his injury-hit first season with the club.

"I thought Glen had a really good game and took his goal superbly," Gerrard told the club’s official website. "He has done that a few times for us and he can do real damage with his left foot.

"He is very dangerous when he can run down the wing like he did against Mexico and cut inside. When he is in that mood, he provides England with a real threat.

"He has got great quality. Glen is one of the best attacking full-backs around and I think he has done really well for us but there is definitely better to come.

"Injuries have really disrupted him this season, but I'm sure next season he will show his best form on a regular basis, the kind he showed when he first came here."

Benitez Confirmed As Favourite To Land Turkish Delight

Turkish international Arda Turan is set to quit Galatasaray with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez the confirmed favourite to land the talented 23-year-old playmaker. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is also interested, however, the Turkish club do not see Spurs' proposed player-plus-cash offer as value for losing their talismanic captain. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is an outsider for the signature of the Turkish international with the Frenchman concentrating on the Cesc Fabregas transfer situation.

Turan has been consistently linked with a move to the Premier League with the Reds, Arsenal and Tottenham the reported chasing pack. The 23-year-old admitted in January that it was his ‘dream’ to play for Liverpool issuing a come-and-get-me plea to the Kop. However, the rumours over the Spaniard’s future had cast doubts over whether the Merseyside club would make a move for the Turkish international. Reports this morning suggest that Liverpool are the front-runners for the player’s signature, while concerns over the futures of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, and Yossi Benayoun continue to manifest. Spurs and Arsenal are considered to be monitoring the situation.

Reports last week suggested that Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was ready to offer Mexican midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos plus an undisclosed sum for Arda Turan; a deal which the Turkish giants were planning to reject. Meanwhile Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is dealing with the Cesc Fabregas situation with the Turkish international a possible option if the Spaniard leaves the Gunners for Catalan club Barcelona.

Speaking to Arda Turan’s agent earlier this year, Ahmet Bulut revealed that his client was considering his future in Turkey, and that Arsenal and Liverpool were two of the clubs interested in the playmaker’s services:

“Well Arda still has two years to go on his contract, the interested clubs must make a serious offer to Galatasaray, and the club must accept it. His first choice is to play in England, in the Premier League. So, if the offer is a serious one than we can start to talk.

Ahmet Bulut was then asked if Arsenal and Liverpool were among the interested parties:

“There are a few clubs interested, Liverpool are one, and Arsenal. There are no official or concrete offers at the moment but two clubs have spoken about wages. However, in football you never know. The season finishes soon in Turkey, and then Arda will go to the USA with the national team and we will see after that.”

Benitez & Redknapp Go Head-To-Head For Record-Breaker

Croatian goalkeeper Marijan Antolovic is a target for both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool according to HNK Cibalia sporting director Drazen Pernar.

The shot-stopper, who has received rave reviews from respected national team coach Slaven Bilic, set a new club record last term when he went 550 minutes without conceding a goal.

It is understood that the 21-year-old could provide back-up to either Hereulho Gomes at White Hart Lane or Pepe Reina at Anfield next season with the long-term futures of current reserves Carlo Cudicini and Diego Cavilieri under scrutiny from the coaching staff at Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively.

It is understood that Antolovic could be snapped up for a fee in the region of £3 million; a risk worthy fee which could pay dividends should he establish himself as capable of dealing with the physicality of life in the Premier League.

The stopper would certainly represent a signing for the future with both Reina and Gomes earning plaudits at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur last term for their match-winning heroics between the sticks.

Speaking about Cibalia’s prized asset, Pernar is quoted by The Sun stating:

"Some of the biggest clubs are after Antolovic, like Spurs and Liverpool," Pernar said, according to The Sun.

"Every day we get more enquiries about him."

Alberto Aquilani: I Want To Make It Up To Liverpool FC

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani insists he wants to stay at Anfield as he feels he owes them more after an injury-plagued first season.

The 25-year-old joined Liverpool FC last summer in a £20million deal but was not able to make his debut until late October because of an ankle injury sustained while still at Roma.

Aquilani made just 13 starts last season but finally settled into the starting XI for the last four matches of the campaign.

And despite speculation linking him to a swift return to Italy with Juventus, Aquilani is determined to stay and prove his worth to Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez.

"I am staying at Liverpool to make up for many things," he said. "I have finally recovered from my ankle injury.

"Juve have approached me in the past and now I’m reading of their interest, but I really don’t know anything about it."

Liverpool Resume Wilson Talks

Danny Wilson's proposed move to Anfield is back on track despite the defender being ineligible under the Premier League's home-grown rule.

Negotiations between the Reds and Glasgow Rangers had stalled after it emerged that the centre-back would not qualify as a home-grown player under the new guidelines which require a minimum of eight home-grown players, with under-21s spending a minimum of three years at any English or Welsh club, per squad.

But this has undeterred Liverpool who have resumed talks over a move for Wilson following the SPL champions' rejection of a £2million offer in May.

Rangers are keen to cash in on Wilson as they face the threat of him leaving Ibrox next summer on a free transfer after failing to tie him to a new deal.

According to reports in Scotland, Walter Smith is holding out for a fee of £5million for the highly-rated 18-year-old.

Jose Mourinho Hoping To Make It Third Time Lucky With Steven Gerrard

Twice, he failed. As he stands on the cusp of taking over at Real Madrid, he seems determined to make it third time lucky.

Mourinho first approached Liverpool's captain after taking charge at Stamford Bridge in 2004, offering the player a £125,000-a-week contract to leave the club he had been attached to since the age of eight.

But the player's father, Paul, convinced his son to remain at Anfield, despite suggestions Gerrard had even gone so far as texting Mourinho to confirm his intention to join him.

A year later, in the aftermath of the miracle of Istanbul, he came closer still, handing in a transfer request after Liverpool seemed to stall on an improved contract.

Rick Parry, the then chief executive, even went so far as to admit that the player had "made it clear he wants to move on and it looks pretty final."

The next day, Gerrard signed a new, £100,000-a-week, four-year deal, with both sides blaming a breakdown in communication as reason for the stand-off.

Despite persistent links with Inter Milan, Gerrard has not come close to leaving Liverpool since. Now Mourinho is preparing, it seems, another assault, hopeful of a more successful ending.