Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Agger Pledges Loyalty To Liverpool

Daniel Agger insists he wants to stay at Liverpool despite the turmoil currently surrounding the club.

Liverpool remain up for sale, but there is little evidence to suggest a takeover deal is close and there are widespread reports they could cash in on their star players this summer.

Agger, currently on international duty with Denmark, says he is shocked that Rafael Benitez has left the club but insists he wants to stay at Anfield.

"I'm a little surprised because I didn't see it coming," Agger said in the Liverpool Echo. "Of course there has been a lot of talk about it but I didn't see it happening right now. The time with him was good.

"He is a good manager, he knows his stuff and he knows what football is about. When I return from my summer holiday, I'll see what is new, but his exit has no bearing on my future. I'm committed to Liverpool."

Fulham Insist Liverpool Have Yet To Make An Official Approach For Roy Hodgson

Liverpool have not yet made a formal approach for Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, the London club confirmed today.

As speculation increases that the Merseysiders will open talks with Hodgson before he heads off to the World Cup on Wednesday to act as a pundit for the BBC, Fulham said there has not yet been any contact from Anfield.

“We have had no official approach from Liverpool about Roy Hodgson,” a club spokesperson told UK.

Although Cottagers owner Mohamed Al Fayed has been quoted as saying he is confident of holding on to the manager, it is expected that Liverpool will step up their search for Rafael Benitez’s successor by contacting the 62-year-old before he heads out to South Africa.

But Fayed, who appointed Hodgson in December 2007, believes Hodgson has no reason to leave Craven Cottage.

“I don’t think he’ll leave me,” Fayed said. “I’m sure he’ll have lots of approaches from other clubs, but I give him anything he wants to reach results and we have a very good relationship.”

Hodgson, who guided Fulham to the Europa League final this season and has previous experience across Europe, including two spells with Inter Milan, has a 12-month rolling contract, negotiated last summer.

However, it contains a clause which allows him to leave a top club for a compensation figure of around £2.5 million.

Despite the expectation that Liverpool’s directors will give the green light to approach Fulham, there is a growing clamour among Anfield supporters for club legend Kenny Dalglish to take over for a second spell at the club.

Dalglish, the current club ambassador given the task of helping managing director Christian Purslow to find Benitez’s successor, has told friends that he would like the job, although he is not willing to compromise the board in any way by making his interest in the position public.

Liverpool FC Deny Agreeing Deal To Sell Want-Away Midfielder Yossi Benayoun To Chelsea

Liverpool dismissed suggestions they have agreed a deal to sell want-away midfielder Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea.

Several reports emerged last night which claimed Benayoun had effectively wrapped up a move to Stamford Bridge by negotiating a four-year contract.

Though it is almost certain the Israeli midfielder will leave Anfield this summer, Reds officials have moved quickly to make it clear they have not entered into discussions with their Chelsea counterparts – nor are they in any hurry to do so.

With Chelsea allowing Joe Cole to leave on a free transfer, they are eager to bring in a midfielder with craft and guile and their search has brought them to Benayoun.

The 30-year-old – who only put pen-to-paper on an improved deal at Anfield 12 months ago – is understood to be anxious to leave Merseyside and has been linked with several clubs, including Serie A side Roma, in recent weeks.

Benayoun, ironically, first cast doubt on his Reds future after Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by Chelsea on May 2, when he stating that “he couldn’t say for sure” whether he would be at Anfield on the opening day of the new campaign.

But Liverpool, however, are not simply going to step aside and let Benayoun quit the club without a fight; for starters, they would be anxious to consider the views of their new manager – Roy Hodgson remains the favourite.

Yet they are also realistic to know that Benayoun, clearly, has his heart set on securing one more lucrative move before the end of his career and it now seems all the more apparent that the former West Ham has played his last game for the club.

Benitez Takes Liverpool Target To Inter

Serbian winger Milos Krasic is set to seal a move to Inter Milan in the coming weeks after the Italian club lodged a firm offer with CSKA Moscow ahead of talks in the Russian capital. It is understood that Rafael Benitez is the driving force behind the move for the tricky wide man and had been intending to take the 25-year-old to Anfield. Manchester United and Manchester City have also been heavily linked with the player after he impressed in the Champions League this season.

Tipped to provide competition to Nani and Valencia at Manchester United and as a replacement for Martin Petrov, Robinho and Craig Bellamy at Manchester City it looks as though Benitez had formally contacted Krasic’s representatives as he looked to strengthen the wide positions at Anfield. However, having had his transfer budget slashed by Liverpool’s American owners and having failed to secure Champions League football, the Spaniard left Merseyside to take over at reigning European champions Inter Milan.

Having added the Champions League title to a domestic double, Inter are flush with cash from both prize money and television revenue. Already promised funds to shape the Nerazzurri in his own image it has been confirmed that Krasic has been approached by Benitez and is open to a move to Italy. The news of the continental competition will come as a blow to Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, while for Liverpool supporters it is just another dent in their aspirations to wrestle back their status as one of England’s top clubs.

"Rafa wanted Milos when he was at Liverpool and now he is at Inter they have made a written offer," said Krasic's agent Dejan Joksimovic.

"We have been in negotiations with Juventus as well, but Inter are coming to Moscow to speak to his club about him in the next few days.

"There was interest from the top clubs in England, but they weren't quick enough.

"It is almost 100 per cent Milos will be going to Italy."

Doubt has also been cast over the transfer of Standard Liege free agent Milan Jovanovic after reports in Serbia and Italy hinted that the striker’s move to Liverpool could be cancelled following Benitez’s departure. In a move which would further rankle the Kop, it is believed that Jovanovic, a compatriot of Krasic, could also move to Inter Milan.

New President Sets Sights On Steven Gerrard

Barcelona are reportedly considering a move for Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard. Newly installed president Sandro Rossell has his eyes set on Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas but if he fails to secure the Spaniard he will push for a move to bring the England midfielder to the Nou Camp.

Rossell has stated publicly that he will not be spending vast sums to bring in countless Galatico style signings but has suggested that one big name could be sought this summer and it appears that the England captain is a fall back option if Arsene Wenger manages to fend off moves for the Emirates star.

The £40m rated one club man has had something of a disappointing season but his own very high standards and the recent dismissal of Rafa Benitez along with the sorry financial state the club is in has led some to believe that Steven Gerrard would consider a move away from Anfield.

Clearly Tom Hicks and George Gillett would be very unwise to consider selling one of the clubs top performers, especially after such a torrid season, however if an offer was made and the 30 year old made it clear he was open to such an offer then that may make things problematic.

Barcelona are not the kind of club to give up lightly in pursuit of a target. They have hounded Arsenal for years in the hope of bringing their former youth team player back to the club, so if they really do push for a move to bring Gerrard to La Liga then expect the Catalan club to use any means necessary to win his signature. Real Madrid have also been linked with a move for the mercurial Reds hero.

Barcelona Set To Step Up Pursuit Of Liverpool Star Fernando Torres

Barcelona are prepared to make a £70 million move for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres this summer.

Sandro Rosell, the new Barcelona president is determined to pair Torres with his international striker partner David Villa, who the Catalan giants recently acquired from Valencia, according to The Mirror.

Chelsea and Manchester City are also ready to open their wallets for the 26-year-old superstar who suffered through an injury-plagued season at Anfield this season.

Any attempts to sign Torres might hinder Barcelona’s chance to bring Arsenal skip Cesc Fabregas to the Nou Camp as the Catalan giants would struggle to afford both players.

Torres, who played for Atletico Madrid during his time in La Liga, has acknowledged that the only club in Spain he would join would be Barcelona.

With Rafael Benitez joining Inter Milan, Liverpool is left managerless at the moment, and with the turmoil occurring at Anfield there are fears that Torres and Steven Gerrard could leave the club this summer.

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho would be very interested in bringing Gerrard with him to the Bernabeu, while a lack of Champions League football could lead Torres to leave Liverpool as well.

Benitez To Bid For Liverpool's Johnson If Maicon Joins Real Madrid

With right-back Maicon looking increasingly likely to leave Inter Milan for Real Madrid, new San Siro boss Rafa Benitez will look to replace him with Liverpool's Glen Johnson, according to Spanish daily AS.

Maicon is considered one of the world's top full-backs, particularly due to his attacking style. The Brazilian scored seven goals in 46 appearances in Inter’s Treble winning season.

There has been intense speculation that Maicon will follow Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid. The player's agent Antonio Caliendo added fuel to the rumours yesterday by stating that, "The most likely scenario clearly remains Madrid."

He added that only the fee remained a stumbling block to the deal, but he commented, "I believe that with two prestigious directors such as Moratti and Florentino (Perez), it is not difficult to reach an agreement."

Should Maicon move to the Bernabeu, Spanish newspaper AS reports that new Inter Milan boss Rafa Benitez will look to raid his former club Liverpool, to sign Glen Johnson.

Benitez brought Johnson to Anfield a year ago in a reported £18 million transfer from Portsmouth. Johnson's performances were a rare highlight in a deeply disappointing season for Liverpool.

The 25-year-old is currently starring for England at the World Cup and should his stock rise during the tournament, AS indicates that Benitez may look to take advantage of Liverpool's uncertain financial future to lure the right-back to Italy.

Jamie Carragher: The Champions League Is Better Than The World Cup

Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher believes that the Champions League is superior to the World Cup.

Carragher insists that the European Cup is a step up from the World Cup due to the fact that the big clubs around the world can buy whatever stars they please, with no national allegiance hindering the building of an all-star team.

"We talk all the time about whether the World Cup is a step up for us as players but I'm with what Jose Mourinho said the other day," Carragher told The Mirror.

"The Champions League is the highest level because teams can go and buy whoever they want.

"As far as players on the pitch are concerned, I think Barcelona and all the top teams in Europe would give Brazil and Spain a game.

The Liverpool veteran thinks that players are looser when playing for their club teams, allowing for the stars to play better and the competition to be better as a result.

"The pressure of playing [for your country] is more intense than playing for your club. Most players play better for their clubs because they are used to it and I would say the latter stages of the Champions League is the better spectacle.

"But what is different is the pressure with playing for country because you are going onto the pitch representing everyone.

"Look at what's happened to Robert Green. You are under so much scrutiny. If you make a mistake like that for your club there wouldn't be so much scrutiny."