Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Liverpool Demand Mega Bucks For Real Madrid & Inter Milan Target Johnson

Liverpool have slapped a huge price-tag on star fullback Glen Johnson.

The England ace is wanted by his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and also Inter Milan's new coach Rafa Benitez.

Barcelona could also come in for Johnson should Daniel Alves accept a mega bucks offer from Manchester City this summer.

The Daily Star Sunday says Liverpool chiefs are aware of growing interest on the continent for Johnson and have told intermediaries the fullback will not leave for anything less than £28 million.

Yossi Benayoun 'Set For Liverpool To Chelsea Transfer On Four-Year Deal'

Liverpool winger Yossi Benayoun is set to make a surprise move to Premier League rivals Chelsea this summer after agreeing terms on a four-year contract, according to reports in his native Israel.

The Sport 5 website claims Benayoun, 30, is set to move to Stamford Bridge after the clubs agreed a fee in the region of £6million.

The Israeli international winger enjoyed a solid season with the Reds last year despite their disappointing campaign.

And it seems Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti is to bring him in as a like-for-like replacement for fellow wide-man Joe Cole, who has been allowed to leave on a free transfer.

Last month, former West Ham star Benayoun is said to have hinted at a move back to London by claiming Ancelotti 'wants me for next season'.

'Everything depends on Liverpool,' he is quoted as saying.

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

Benayoun's future at Anfield has been under scrutiny since the departure of manager Rafa Benitez was confirmed earlier this month.

It remains to be seen if the tricky winger will be the first of many stars to leave the club this summer, with speculation also surrounding the futures of star striker Fernando Torres and club captain Steven Gerrard.

Liverpool Star Javier Mascherano Reveals He's Learning Italian

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has revealed that he is learning to speak Italian, as speculation grows that he could be set to join manager Rafael Benitez at Inter.

Reports in Italy have suggested that the Argentine, currently away at the World Cup in South Africa, has become one of Benitez's main transfer targets for next season, with Liverpool's financial situation making player sales at Anfield more likely.

Mascherano has not given any direct indication that he is set to leave Anfield, though he expects his future to be resolved after the World Cup.

"I am learning Italian while I'm here in South Africa," he told reporters.

"I don't know what I will do after the tournament. We shall see."

Inter Set To Have Discussions About Liverpool's Javier Mascherano On Tuesday

Inter director Marco Branca is set to meet with Liverpool officials on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of bringing across midfielder Javier Mascherano.

Having already lured coach Rafael Benitez from Anfield to the San Siro, the Nerazzurri also wish to do the same with the Argentine captain.

Branca will meet Mascherano's agent to inquire about the possibility of the defensive midfielder moving to Milan, according to Sky Sport 24.

Mascherano has a contract with the Reds until June 2012, with the side placing a €25 million price-tag on the star player.

The 26-year-old is currently focusing on helping La Albiceleste win their third World Cup in South Africa.

Mancini Attempts To Sweeten Cheeky Deal To Sign Gerrard

Manchester City are reportedly ready to offer midfielder Stephen Ireland in any potential deal to land Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard. Roberto Mancini has been linked with repeated hopeful attempts to land the Anfield hero and is now willing to offer players as part of any big money deal to sign the England captain.

Although any hopes of signing the 29 year old midfielder seem doomed, the Eastlands side is not ready to give up just yet and believe that offering talented Irish international Ireland into the bargain may tempt the Merseyside outfit to consider a sale.

Liverpool were thought to be interested in Ireland during Rafa Benitez’s reign but without a manager in place it seems even less likely that any deal would be accepted. Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are under immense pressure from the club’s fans after lumbering the club with massive debts and even though a sale would help repay some of the debt the ramifications of selling the talismanic player would surely be too much for the American pair to consider.

Jovanovic Features In Loss

Milan Jovanovic featured for Serbia as they opened their World Cup Group D campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Ghana on Sunday.

Jovanovic - who will reportedly sign for Liverpool from Standard Liege this summer - showed some neat touches including a cheeky nutmeg during a 76-minute outing on the left of midfield.

He should have done better, however, after getting himself in a good position inside the box on 49 minutes.

The game was eventually decided with a late penalty converted by Asamoah Gyan.

Aleksandar Kolarov and Marko Pantelic both came close for Serbia with long-range efforts in the first half, but it wasn't until the second period that the match opened up.

Ghana midfielder Dede Ayew headed wide at the back post on 54 minutes when he should have hit the target, while Gyan came within inches of opening the scoring after a giant throw from Fulham's John Pantsil

At the other end, Birmingham-bound Nikola Zigic was also wasteful, the 6'8 striker spooning a shot from four yards.

Serbia had to play the final 16 minutes with 10 men after Aleksandar Lukovic was sent off for a second yellow card. The dismissal meant Jovanovic was sacrificed as Radomir Antic looked to secure a point.

They almost snatched all three late on when Miloss Krasic and Nemanja Vidic spurned decent chances.

But it was Ghana who ended up clinching victory after a handball from Zdravko Kuzmanovic gifted them a penalty with seven minutes to go. Gyan stepped up to smash home and there was no way back.

In fact it was Ghana that looked most likely to score next, Gyan clattering the post in injury-time.

Jamie Carragher Backs Liverpool FC Team-Mate Steven Gerrard For England Holding Role

Jamie Carragher believes England’s World Cup skipper Steven Gerrard can play the holding midfield role “as well as anyone in the world.”

Gerrard scored England’s opening goal in the tournament during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the United States, slotting home a perfectly weighted pass from Emile Heskey.

But the 30-year-old also showed his worth in making several vital tackles and interceptions when dropping back.

Carragher, who replaced the injured Ledley King at half-time, said: “It’s a great achievement to captain your country at the World Cup and I thought Stevie was outstanding.

“That was not just because of the goal but because he was snapping into tackles as well.

“Sometimes people say Stevie and Frank Lampard can’t play in that role – but Stevie can play the holding role as well as anyone in the world.

“He can play right back, off the front man, central midfield, attack.

“At times that’s a problem for us because he can play so well in so many different positions. He leads by example and that’s what he did against USA.”

Carragher feels England will benefit from having played at altitude in terms of their fitness for the rest of the tournament. He said: “We will look at the game, look at the video look at the statistics and different things.

“But, at the end of the season and at the end of a match like that, everyone’s going to feel it and that’s both teams.

“Maybe it (adjusting to the altitude) will improve as we go on. It is always the same at the World Cup.

“As you go on, you adjust more to the conditions. You don’t look 100 per cent in the first game.”

Carragher admitted he had to pull out of a tackle on USA striker Jozy Altidore when he burst through on goal for fear of being sent off after having already been booked.

It needed a fine save from Robert Green to deny the player who spent last season on loan at Hull and partially atoned for his goal-costing error in the first half.

Carragher said: “It was good play by him (Altidore) but I probably got a bit too tight to him.

“I had been booked early on so I couldn’t afford to make the tackle because I was worried about being sent off.

“But credit to Rob Green he made a great save that shows the mental strength and character of the man after what happened with the goal.”

Carragher also admits he expects to learn a lot from England coach Fabio Capello during the next month after being coaxed out of international retirement by the Italian.

He said: “It’s a learning curve for me. I might be 32 now but you never stop learning. He has been one of top managers over last 15-20 years so over the next four or five weeks I’m sure I will learn a lot from him.

“It is a similar way of working to Rafa (Benitez) really, so I’m used to that and I think the players want that sort of intensity.”

Johnson: We're Looking Forward

Glen Johnson insists England's focus has already turned to Friday's clash with Algeria following the disappointment of their 1-1 draw with USA.

Steven Gerrard's early strike appeared to set Fabio Capello's men on their way to the perfect start in South Africa, but Clint Dempsey's leveller - aided by Robert Green - salvaged a point for the Americans.

Slovenia's victory over Algeria means they lead Group C going into the second round of games, but Johnson believes there were enough positives to take from England's display in Rusetnburg to signal a change in fortunes as the tournament progresses.

"It's disappointing we didn't win the game but the lads are quite happy with the performance and we look forward to the next game," said the Liverpool defender.

"The manager said he was happy with the performance and felt we were unlucky not to win the game," he added.

"The Algeria game is the most important now and we'll worry about that first and see what happens."

Jamie Carragher Insists England’s World Cup Dream Isn’t Over

Jamie Carragher today insisted England’s dreams of World Cup glory are still intact – as he targeted a first competitive start for his country since October 2006.

Liverpool’s vice-captain played the second half of England’s deflating 1-1 draw with the United States on Saturday in Rustenburg and accepts the result leaves Fabio Capello’s squad with no margin for error.

Slovenia’s victory over Algeria yesterday means England must win both their remaining games in Group C if they are to progress but Carragher remains confident of reaching the last 16.

After returning to his hotel in Sun City in the early hours of yesterday morning, he watched a DVD of the match again and is adamant England played better than the result suggested.

“The first game you play is always so hard,” said Carragher. “Look back at the tournaments in which England have done well – the World Cups in 1966 and 1990 and Euro 96 – and you will see they all started with draws.

“I always remember Gerard Houllier saying before the start of the season when we won the treble was that the most difficult game we would play would be the first and he was right; that day we needed a late goal from Emile (Heskey) to beat Bradford.

“No matter how well your preparations have gone, or how good your squad is, you are never going to win 4-0 or 5-0 in the first game – unless you’re Germany! Of course it was disappointing to draw after Stevie had put us in front but the USA are a good side.

“We could have won but credit to them as they fought back and probably deserved the draw. We’ve got a point and now we have just got to make sure we win our remaining games.”

Ledley King’s groin problem has ruled him out of the game against Algeria in Cape Town on Friday and Carragher would love the chance to slot in alongside John Terry, if Capello gives him the nod.

The last time Carragher began a meaningful international fixture was when England were beaten 2-0 by Croatia in Zagreb almost four years ago but, with Michael Dawson also pressing, he is not getting ahead of himself.

“It is up to the manager,” said Carragher. “I realised when I came out here that I was part of the squad, not part of the starting line-up; I was just hoping at one point I’d get a chance to come on.

“To come on so soon was a bonus. I don’t know whether Ledley is going to be out or what the manager’s plans are but, of course, I’d love to start against Algeria. We’ll just have to see what happens.”