Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Liverpool Insist Benitez Has £15m To Spend This Summer

Liverpool have moved to reject reports their summer transfer kitty is empty, and insist manager Rafael Benitez has £15 million to spend.

The Anfield outfit was rumored to have less than £5m to splash in the transfer window, after failing to qualify for the Champions League last season and accruing debts of £473 million.

According to the News of the World, the club's hierarchy have handed the under-fire Spaniard the money to spend, as well as giving him permission to invest any cash generated from player sales.

Yossi Benayoun has been tipped to leave the club in the summer, while Benitez will also look to offload the likes of Albert Riera as he attempts to rebuild his squad.

There will be no big-money splashes on superstar names though, as Liverpool feel the pinch after a season to forget on and off the field.

Steven Gerrard Shrugs Off England Injury Worry Ahead Of World Cup 2010

Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard has played down concerns that he will be carrying an injury with him into the World Cup.

Gerrard sat out two training sessions last week as he struggled with a calf strain. He also hurt his knee during the Three Lions' 2-1 win over Japan on Sunday in Graz.

However, the Reds skipper, such a vital component of Gabio Capello's side, has insisted that there will be no issue with his fitness at June's tournament.

"It's OK, it'll be all right," Gerrard told reporters.

"It won't be a problem."

England boss Fabio Capello is already sweating on the fitness of Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry, another key man, who is trying to shake off an ankle injury in time to be fit for the tournament.

Gerrard is ranked fourth among English midfielders in the Castrol Rankings, at No.140 overall, while Barry is further down at No.407 overall.

Reds Chief Fernando Torres Hint

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton has cast fresh doubt about Fernando Torres’ future by suggesting his career could be better served elsewhere.

Sky Sports newsreader and Liverpool fan Charlotte Jackson has claimed that Broughton said it will take three years to transform the club’s fortunes.

“I met Martin Broughton and he refused to tell me we weren’t going to sell Torres,” said Jackson in a newspaper interview.

“He said, ‘At the moment he is still on board, but it is going to take three years to turn the club around, and at his age.”

Broughton’s boyhood club, Chelsea, remains interested in signing Torres, 26, and will also look to tie up a deal for midfielder Yossi Benayoun this week.

Joe Cole Likely To Leave As Chelsea Make Bid For Yossi Benayoun

Joe Cole's days at Chelsea appear to be numbered as the Blues have made their interest in Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun official by making a formal offer for the Israeli.

Chelsea’s first bid of £4 million was rejected by the Reds but if the offer is improved £6m it could be enough to purchase the 30-year-old, according to The Guardian.

Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen to bring Benayoun to Stamford Bridge after contract talks with Cole stalled and the England international is expected to leave on a free transfer this summer.

With Cole struggling to earn regular first-team football under Ancelotti at Chelsea, Champions League qualifiers Tottenham Hotspur are the favorites to get the 28-year-old, who has been with the Blues for seven years since making a £6.6m move from West Ham United.

Spurs and West Ham have also shown interest in Benayoun — who played for the Hammers before moving to Anfield — but the 30-year-old believes that he will move to Chelsea in the next few days.

"Ancelotti wants me for next season and now everything depends on Liverpool," Benayoun said.

"Chelsea will have to pay some £6m, but I believe that, in the end, I'll be moving there."

Barcelona To Renew Interest In Javier Mascherano

Barcelona are set to make a run at Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano — but their move for Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas could hinder any prospective deal.

The Catalan giants tried to bring the Argentina international to the Nou Camp last summer and with Yaya Toure likely to leave in the off-season, Barcelona will have to fill the void left at defensive midfield.

However, the Reds will be seeking about £30 million for the Argentine captain, which could test their transfer budget as Arsenal also want over £40m for Fabregas — with the Gunners midfielder the club's main priority.

Selling Toure, who has garnered interest from Chelsea, could earn Barcelona around £20m but with the La Liga champions having already completed a big money move for Valencia striker David Villa it is unlikely that they will be able to sign both Mascherano and Fabregas this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

Mascherano is also on Chelsea’s radar but Liverpool would prefer not to send the 25-year-old to a Premier League rival.

Liverpool To Demand £10m For Yossi Benayoun

Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun plans to leave Anfield if Rafael Benitez is still the manager next season, Goal.com UK can reveal.

Premier League rivals Chelsea have been strongly linked with a move for the 30-year-old in recent days, with a formal bid reportedly having been made, however Benayoun's hopes of departing could be set back by the £10 million tag that Liverpool have placed on the Israeli.

The Liverpool hierarchy is reluctant to sanction a sale until Benitez’s own future is resolved.

Should the club feel it is time to cash in on a player who turned 30 earlier this month they will ask for £10m, double the £5m fee they paid to West Ham three years ago. However, with Benayoun desperate to depart, they may settle for around £7m rather than keep an unhappy player.

The midfielder has long had a fraught relationship with Benitez, which reached breaking point towards the end of Liverpool’s dismal campaign.

Benayoun was frustrated that he could not establish himself as an automatic first choice, or complete a full 90 minutes, and felt that he was singled out for unfair treatment by his manager.

A source close to Benayoun said: “Yossi loves Liverpool and wants to stay but he feels that Rafa does not really trust him.

“Whenever Rafa looks to make a substitution or rotate the team, Yossi always seems to be the fall guy, even when he is playing really well. He believes he would be better off playing under a manager who really believes in him.

“None of the [Liverpool] players really know if Rafa will be manager next season but Yossi says that if Rafa stays, then he will go. He feels he would get more chances at another team.”

Tottenham Hotspur, AS Roma, Aston Villa and Sevilla, as well as former club West Ham United, have also been linked with moves for Benayoun, whose contract was extended until 2013 last summer after he finished the 2008-09 season with a flourish.

Although his form faded after an excellent start to a season in which Liverpool eventually lost 19 matches, the player was still one of the team’s more consistent creative players and his contribution of nine goals from 42 matches was impressive given the stop-start nature of his campaign.

Alan Hansen: Big Name Players Still Attracted To Anfield

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen has insisted football's biggest names still want to play for the club despite last season's disappointing campaign.

Hansen, 54, enjoyed a trophy-laden 14-year spell on Merseyside before retiring in 1991. He believes current manager Rafael Benitez still has the core of a title-winning side in place, even though the Reds could only stumble towards a seventh placed finish in the Premier League last season.

Speaking to Radio City, Hansen believed Liverpool can challenge for silverware again if "two or three men" are added to the squad.

"Liverpool are still Liverpool - they're still massive and they still have the greatest support in the world," Hansen said.

"Liverpool has got to forget what's gone before and concentrate on what's ahead of them.

"It's going to be difficult but I'd look at 1986-87 when Everton won the league and we came second. I knew we were a long way short. Kenny Dalglish knew that too and he brought in Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge, Spackman and Houghton.

"That turned it around like you'd never believe. We went from not being nearly good enough to being a great side.

"Hopefully that can happen to this Liverpool side because they've got some great players. If they can just get two or three more in who can do a job."

Wisdom Scores In Historic Triumph

Liverpool's Andre Wisdom scored at both ends as England beat Spain 2-1 to lift their first ever European U17 Championships on Sunday.

The 17-year-old Academy defender gave the Spaniards a lead with an own goal on 21 minutes.

He soon made amends, however, by heading home a 29th minute leveler.

The winner came through Ipswich Town's promising striker Connor Wickham with 42 minutes on the clock.

Another Liverpool product, 17-year-old midfielder Conor Coady, had the honor of lifting the trophy after captaining the Three Lions throughout the tournament in Liechtenstein.

It is the first men's competition England has won since 1993 when the likes of Robbie Fowler, Paul Scholes and Sol Campbell clinched the European U18 Championships.

Academy Hosts Heysel Friendly

Liverpool and Juventus supporters came together at the Academy on Saturday for a friendly match to mark 25 years since the Heysel tragedy.

The match, which was organized by Reds fanzine writer Dave Usher and Liverpool-based Italian journalist Serafino Ingardia, ended 5-3 to those in red.

Ingardia said: "I always felt something more should be done to try and clear the air between the fans.

"Having lived in Liverpool for more than five years I have seen with my own eyes how Liverpool fans regret that tragic night and feel genuinely sorry for what shouldn't have happened.

"I play football with Liverpool fans every week and have many good friends who are Reds.

"I have long been discussing organizing an event which could send a positive message to both Juventus and Liverpool fans."