Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Liverpool Confident Steven Gerrard Will Reject Real Madrid

Liverpool believes that their captain Steven Gerrard will not consider a move to Real Madrid this summer, according to the English tabloids.

The Sunday Mirror states that Gerrard, who will lead his country at the World Cup finals in South Africa as a result of Rio Ferdinand’s injury, has rejected a possible proposal from new Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho, who wanted the midfielder to become part of his revolution at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 30-year old has indicated that he will consider his future after the tournament had ended, but although he has reportedly said no to Mourinho, he is expected to return and tell Liverpool that he wants to leave.

The Merseyside club is currently searching for a new coach after they mutually agreed a termination of Rafa Benitez’s contract. The likes of Martin O’Neill and Roy Hodgson are thought to be front-runners for the vacant post.

Benitez is thought to have had a poor relationship with the players, including Gerrard, and this was a major factor in his departure after six seasons at Anfield.

Benayoun Considering Options After Benitez Departure

Yossi Benayoun has made it clear that he wants to sign for Chelsea, and the two clubs are continuing a dialogue over his transfer.

A source close to Benayoun's proposed move to Stamford Bridge told Soccernet: "Talks are ongoing, and Yossi has made it clear that he would like to sign for Chelsea.

"However, who knows how the departure of Rafael Benitez will affect the move from Liverpool to Chelsea.

"The problem though, is that Yossi didn't play all the games at Anfield, and won't play all the time at Chelsea!"

"It is no secret that the player did not get on with the manager, and there was nothing more to it than the fact that Yossi thought he was playing well enough to have been in the starting line up far more often than he was.

"For that reason he wanted to quit Liverpool for Chelsea, but now that Benitez has gone, who knows, he might change his mind?"

It appears that Chelsea have intimated that they would make an initial offer of around £4 million while Liverpool are holding out for £6 million, so with the two clubs apparently close in valuation a deal is likely.

Benayoun is viewed as a replacement for Joe Cole, who cannot agree a new contract at Stamford Bridge.

Cole asked for £120,000 a week in wages but will now be available on a free transfer, with a number of Premier League clubs chasing his signature.

Having said no to Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham, it leaves clubs like Spurs and Manchester City still in the frame to sign Cole once the World Cup finals are over.

Benayoun has three years left on his £75,000-a-week deal at Anfield, and would be a much cheaper option than re-signing Cole.

The Israel international is due back from a holiday to finalize personal terms with Chelsea next week, along as the Blues meet the £6 million asking price.

Liverpool Look To Lippi

There are reports that Italy boss Marcello Lippi is Liverpool’s target to replace Rafa Benitez.

The 2006 World Cup winner has already confirmed he will leave his post after the tournament in South Africa, making way for Cesare Prandelli.

This week Liverpool terminated their contract with Benitez by mutual consent, so they are on the look-out for a new Coach.

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Lippi represents the kind of solidity and success rate that the new Anfield owners are looking for.

His presence would also help guarantee that stars such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will stay on at the club.

The newspaper claims that both Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush would support this appointment.

Lippi has always said that he would like an experience in the Premier League and that he wouldn’t accept another Serie A job after the Azzurri.

Rafael Benitez Wants To Reunite With Liverpool's Javier Mascherano At Inter

Soon-to-be Inter boss Rafael Benitez plans to bring Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano with him to the Giuseppe Meazza, according to Repubblica.

The Italian publication claims that Benitez has also set his sights on Edinson Cavani of Palermo and Barcelona-owned Martin Caceres.

Mascherano, 25, has been an ever-present figure at Anfield since joining from West Ham in February 2007.

He has been suggested as the Reds' player Benitez most wants to sign for Inter, and the Argentina international is believed to be eager to follow his former coach to Italy.

The former West Ham man recently refused to rule out the possibility of signing for the Nerazzurri, saying: "Me with him? I don't know about my future, but I spent great years with Benitez. My football is his football."

Cavani has been linked with a new challenge in recent weeks, with Inter and Manchester City both reported to be monitoring his situation.

Caceres, who spent the season on loan at Juventus, is to return to Barcelona after the World Cup, but he has been deemed as surplus to requirements there.

Gerard Houllier Backs Roy Hodgson To Take Over At Anfield

Roy Hodgson has been backed to become new Liverpool manager by Gerard Houllier – as Javier Mascherano dropped the biggest hint yet he wants to leave.

Hodgson has emerged as a front-runner to take over at Anfield after Rafael Benitez left the club on Thursday after six years in charge.

The 62-year-old has admirers inside the Liverpool boardroom for the manner in which he guided Fulham to the Europa League final on a modest budget last month.

And former Anfield manager Houllier is convinced Hodgson’s vast coaching experience – which includes spells at Inter Milan and the Swiss and Finnish international teams – makes him a wise choice.

“Roy has done very well with an average team at Fulham,” said Houllier.

“I would be delighted if he could coach Liverpool in his career as he deserves it. He’s used to coaching stars. Don’t forget he was at Inter Milan as well.”

While both Guus Hiddink and Frank Rijkaard appear to have ruled themselves out of the running, a clutch of another names have been linked with the vacant position in recent days.

Harry Redknapp, Marcello Lippi and Sven-Goran Eriksson can be added to a list that already includes Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Martin O’Neill and Louis van Gaal.

Fulham are keen to hold on the Hodgson after his success at Craven Cottage, but goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer admits he wouldn’t blame the manager for taking up the challenge at Anfield if offered the chance.

“How important is it Hodgson stays at Fulham? It is massive,” said Schwarzer. “The gaffer is huge for Fulham.

“He has done a remarkable job at the club during the past two-and-a-half years. It doesn’t surprise me if a number of clubs would be after him as a manager given his superb record.”

Schwarzer added: “The gaffer is at that stage of this career where he is thinking ‘will this sort of opportunity come around again?’

“I suppose in a lot of ways you can’t blame the guy if an opportunity like this came along. We hope he doesn’t go, we hope he stays at Fulham, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

But I wouldn’t blame him at all (if he decides to move), not at all. It is Liverpool you are talking about, a huge club, who normally compete in the Champions League every season.

“There are four or five such clubs in the country and there would be very few managers or players who would find it difficult to resist going to them.”

Harry Redknapp Is The Man For Liverpool FC Job, Says Robbie Fowler

Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler has backed Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp as the man to replace Rafa Benitez at Anfield.

Redknapp transformed Spurs from relegation candidates to Champions League qualifiers in the space of 18 months and Fowler believes he could have the same impact at Liverpool.

Benitez left the club last week, just one season into a new five-year contract, after Liverpool finished a lowly seventh in the Premier League.

Big-name candidates such as Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho are unavailable after taking new jobs with Turkey and Real Madrid respectively.

Redknapp’s Spurs replaced Liverpool in the Champions League after breaking into the top four ahead of Manchester City.

And Fowler said: “You want someone who has done well in the Premier League and knows how it works so you know, as a top man, why not Harry Redknapp?

“He’s done fantastic with Spurs and he would be a very good manager for Liverpool.

“I’m not saying they’ll go for him but he’s done fantastic at all the clubs he’s been at and so have Martin O’Neill and Roy Hodgson.”

Redknapp has one year left on his current contract at White Hart Lane and Fowler believes Liverpool remain an attractive prospect for any player or manager despite their struggles last season.

“Liverpool underachieved last year and Rafa set himself higher expectations with what came the years before but it was always going to be difficult to match that or beat that,” said Fowler, who has started training this week with his new team-mates at Perth Glory.

“It would be a good job for someone to take on. Liverpool’s a massive club and they have underachieved in the last few years but in terms of world football, there are really not that many bigger clubs.

“We’ve got the chance to get someone in good but it remains to see who there is, because there doesn’t seem to be many out there.”

One of the criticisms levelled at Benitez during his reign was his disappointing record in the transfer market, which is known to be Redknapp’s forte.

But Fowler insisted Liverpool cannot contemplate raising funds by selling prized assets Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

“There is obviously talk that Liverpool aren’t in a position to spend much money – but when they do get someone in, you need to give that man some money,” said Fowler.

“Both (Torres and Gerrard) are world-class and if the new manager wants to win leagues and cups you need players like that so whoever comes in will want to keep them.

“Players like that win you things. Admittedly you get a lot of money for them but if you do sell them it’s very hard to replace them.

“Torres has been phenomenal when he has played and averages nearly a goal a game – he’s up there with anyone in world football.

“You want him to play in as many league games as you can and if he plays those, he’s going to score goals.”

Fowler admitted he would love to manage Liverpool – but not yet.

“That is a route I want to go down but on the level of Liverpool I’m years and years and miles and miles away from being anywhere near that,” he said.

“Maybe one day, but I think I need to start a bit lower down.”

Maxi Rodriguez’s Performances For Liverpool FC Key To Making Argentina’s World Cup Squad

Maxi Rodriguez was handed a surprise call-up to Diego Maradona’s Argentina squad.

The 29-year-old midfielder had been out of favour with the national team but his form for Liverpool following his move from Atletico Madrid on a free transfer in January put him back into contention.

Rodriguez impressed Maradona during a two-week training camp and scored twice as they defeated Canada 5-0 in their final warm-up match in Buenos Aires.

Maradona will be hoping Rodriguez can repeat the heroics he produced in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

He famously settled their second round match with Mexico with a moment of breathtaking individual brilliance.

Rodriguez controlled a cross-field pass from Juan Pablo Sorin on his chest before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed volley into the top corner from outside the penalty area.

It was voted FIFA’s goal of the tournament and Argentinean sports daily Olé described it as “a goal worthy of Maradona”.

Born in Rosario, Argentina, Rodriguez began his career at Newell’s Old Boys and broke into their first team when he was just 18. It was while in the youth ranks at his local club that he earned the nickname ‘La Fiera’ (The Beast) which has stayed with him throughout his career.

He explained: “It was a nickname that I got when I was seven or eight. A coach said that when I went out on to the pitch I used to run about like mad, from side to side, all over the place. He said I was like a ‘fiera’ and the nickname has stuck.”

His World Cup call-up came as no surprise to Reds teammates Fernando Torres and Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard.

“Maxi is a fantastic player,” said Gerrard.

“He’s got good movement and as a footballer it’s a pleasure to play with good players and that’s what Maxi is. He is a fantastic player. He is an intelligent player and he can unlock defences.”

Torres added: “Maxi is the kind of player that is always up to the challenge. The more his team needs him, the more he offers.

“Maxi is hungry and when you have his hunger you can achieve anything.”

Liverpool FC Star Martin Skrtel’s Relief After World Cup Injury Scare

Martin Skrtel breathed a sigh of relief last night after learning an ankle injury will not keep him out of the World Cup.

The Liverpool defender limped out of Slovakia’s 3-0 friendly win over Costa Rica after only 16 minutes on Saturday and was then taken to hospital for scans.

But after a nervous 24-hours, Skrtel has now been told he needs only a few days’ rest before he returns.

“It is not too bad, it is just a gash,” Skrtel declared.

“I think that in a few days it will be okay.”

And Skrtel was also encouraged by his team-mates’ efforts as they brushed Costa Rica aside.

“I saw the second half,” he added.

“I think we will have delighted the fans.

“We wanted to win this match to put ourselves in a good place before the World Cup and we managed that.

“Perhaps the only negative is my injury, because to go off after quarter of an hour is not nice.”

Slovakia kick-off their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on June 15.

Rafael Benítez Must Not Be The Only One Who Is Shown The Door At Liverpool

Rafael Benítez looks to be heading to Italy after all. How different history would have treated him had he steered Liverpool across the Premier League line a year ago, a season in which his league graph peaked agonisingly short of Manchester United's.

The near miss was seen as the catalyst to a first title since 1990. The momentum was with them. Chelsea were under new management, United weakened by the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tévez and Arsenal by the loss of Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré.

For reasons known Liverpool did not kick on. It was an excruciating unravelling, with Benítez seeking to protect himself before his team. He will consider a multi-million pound pay-off and an interview with the European champions a smart week's work. Benítez is clearly a front-rank coach.

A fifth European Cup for Liverpool, two Champions League finals and an FA Cup victory are proof of that. His assault on United a year ago demonstrated his mettle, facts and all.

The leveraged purchase by sporting speculators brought Liverpool low, not the manager. He made eccentric buys, but who has not? Sir Alex Ferguson bought Eric Djemba Djemba and Kleberson, for goodness' sake.

The chat rooms are largely positive towards Benítez. Anger is absorbed by anti-American sentiment. Benítez has left, but fans know the problem will not go until George Gillett and Tom Hicks follow him out of the door.