Monday, July 12, 2010

Benayoun Slams Benitez After Exiting Reds

Former Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun has launched a stinging attack on ex-Reds manager Rafa Benitez, who he says forced him to quit Anfield and head to Chelsea.

Benayoun spent three seasons on Merseyside and scored 29 goals in 134 appearances, but was unhappy with the way he was treated by Benitez, who has also left the club to take charge of Internazionale.

He told The News of The World: "I made up my mind to leave a long time ago because of Benitez. He never treated me with the respect I deserved.

"If I played well, I never felt he gave me credit. When I scored, I still expected to be out of the team the next game.

"There are many examples of him treating me badly. Last season, against Fulham and Lyon, the fans booed when I was subbed.

"They thought I was playing well, but Benitez told me he was surprised they booed because I was not good enough. It was as if the fans' reaction worked against me.

"He told me I was a better player as a substitute instead of starting in the team. He tried to destroy my confidence. You can't treat a player like this and expect him to be happy.

"I felt so unhappy, but out of respect to the club I never spoke out. The players and the people at the top of the club knew how I felt.

"I was sure he wanted me to attack him in the press during the season so he could turn the fans against me, so I kept quiet.

"I felt he was waiting for me to make a mistake so he could use it against me."

David Villa: Torres Will Never Join Manchester City

David Villa last night insisted that fellow Spanish superstar Fernando Torres would NEVER join mega-rich Man City.

Villa, who will spearhead Spain’s attack in Sunday’s World Cup Final against Holland, says the Liverpool hitman is obsessed by trophies – not money.

And Villa, who has just moved from Valencia to Barcelona for £33million, says if Torres quits Anfield it will probably be to join Chelsea.

Looking ahead to tonight’s big game and talking about his pal’s struggle to regain his best form, Villa said: “Nobody is worried about Fernando’s form. He is still the most complete striker in the world.

“And the fact he hasn’t scored for a few games does nothing to change that.

“If there is one player you would back on Sunday to score the winning goal, it would be Fernando.

“He is a big-game player and everybody wants him to start the final. I am not sure where his future lies – but he knows like me he must win trophies at club level.

And scoffing at rumours that Roberto Mancini’s project at Eastlands could be where Torres goes next, Villa said: “He isn’t money-focused so he would never join Manchester City.

“But sure, Barcelona and Chelsea would be real options for him. He has proven he can score goals in England and Chelsea are the number one team there at the moment, so I suppose it’s the option that makes the most sense.

“He has been fully focused on the World Cup but in the back of his mind he knows he needs to be competing for the very highest honours and if Liverpool can’t do it he will have to move.”

Villa, in sensational form in South Africa, cannot wait for English referee Howard Webb to get the big game under way on Sunday when a new country’s name will be added to the World Cup trophy.

He said: “We deserve to be at the final, we have worked hard. The semi-final against Germany was one of our best results ever, and I felt that over the 90 minutes we were by far the superior team.

“Germany disposed of great teams with great players like England and Argentina so easily we knew it would be tough.

“But we believe ourselves to be the best in the world and it’s that kind of performance which shows we are.

“The Dutch play some wonderful football and, from a neutral point of view, it should be a very attractive final.”

Villa knows that Holland are a side bristling with skill and talent and he warned: “I don’t like to single players out but if you look at Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben you have two of the top-three footballers in Europe this year, along with Lionel Messi.

“They are dangerous but our midfield and defence is very tight. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are very tough and do not let people past them easily.

“If you look at the players that both sides have on view it should be the most exciting ­final in many years.

“I know Sneijder and myself are tied in the race for the Golden Boot but it’s not something I am thinking about.

“If I win it then it will be great but the World Cup is on offer here, that’s the real prize. I won’t be playing selfishly. If I score and win the Golden Boot then that is great but in truth it would give me just as much pleasure to see Fernando score the winner.

“Our aim was to get to the final but now we are there our aim is to be champions of the world. Nothing else will do.”

Liverpool Winger Nabil El Zhar Wants To Leave

As new Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson scurries about trying to persuade Anfield want-always to stay at the club, one player he probably shouldn't waste his time on is Moroccan winger Nabil El Zhar.

El-Zhar told reporters in his home country that he has made up his mind and wants to move on for first-team football, despite Hodgson's appointment.

"I want to leave Liverpool," he said. "I do not play often enough. I'm 23 and I cannot afford to only play a few bits of games."

El-Zhar claimed that "several European clubs" were interested in is services and said he "won’t close any doors."

El-Zhar has only made some 30 appearances for Liverpool since his move from Saint Etienne in 2006.

He is contracted to Liverpool until 2012.

Liverpool Believe Ghana Ace Asamoah Gyan Could Be Ideal Fernando Torres Replacement

Liverpool have made contingency plans for any departure of Fernando Torres this summer and have outlined Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan as an ideal replacement.

According to the News of the World, having enhanced his reputation during a successful World Cup 2010 campaign, Gyan is now said to be valued in the region of £20 million by his French club Rennes.

Despite missing the crucial penalty is his side's quarter-final clash against Uruguay, Gyan has made the shortlist of 10 players for the coveted Golden Ball award.

His displays have brought the 24-year-old onto Liverpool's radar, as they prepare for a season without their stellar striker Torres, should he decide his future lies elsewhere.

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is also reportedly working hard to bring Joe Cole to Anfield, but fears are growing that the former Chelsea man would prefer to stay in London for family reasons.

The Reds are said to be prepared to pay around £100,000 a week for Cole, and would guarantee him more first-team football than at any of the other clubs interested in the Londoner.

Liverpool Attempt To Price Striker Fernando Torres Out Of The Market With £100 Million Valuation

Liverpool have put a world record £100 million price tag on their stellar striker Fernando Torres, in a bid to warn off interested clubs making bids after World Cup 2010.

According to the Daily Mail, new Anfield chief Roy Hodgson has expressed his determination to hold on to his star goal-getter and is also desperate to build his team around captain Steven Gerrard.

Despite failing to find his best form for Spain during the World Cup, Torres has indicated all talks regarding his future are to be put on hold until he returns to Merseyside.

It is believed Hodgson is ready to dismiss the reported £30m offer from Chelsea and hold out for the record breaking fee, a sum which is £20m more than the previous record for Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid last summer.

"It seems Liverpool are trying to price [Fernando] Torres out of the market," said a source. "The impression they gave is that Torres is going nowhere."

Torres's more immediate thoughts will be on the World Cup final against Holland, having struggled to make any impact, it is uncertain whether the Liverpool hitman will make the starting line-up for the showdown at Soccer City.

A knee operation before the tournament has hampered his fitness, but Hodgson is more concerned that he remains at Anfield next season.

The former Fulham boss has already had talks with Gerrard in order to convince him to stay, despite rumours that Jose Mourinho was ready to take the England captain to Real Madrid.

Hodgson must now convince Torres that his future also remains with the Reds, although a mega bid from Manchester City is also likely to test the resolve of Liverpool's top-brass.

"Torres won't go to [Manchester] City because they cannot give him what he wants, which is to try to win a European Cup medal," added the insider.

Other reports suggest that the figure lies around £70 million, and according to the News of the World, Torres would have to hand in a transfer request if he wants to quit Anfield.

Liverpool have stated that they will not shift on their hard-line stance, but privately they have admitted that if Torres were to declare a wish to leave, the dynamics will shift and the club may be forced into listening to offers.

Phil Thompson Send Message To Steven Gerrard To Stay At Liverpool

KOP legend Phil Thompson has ­belted out a heartfelt message to Steven ­Gerrard: Winning a title away from Liverpool means nothing.
Gerrard has gone on holiday without officially committing his future to his one and only club with new boss Roy Hodgson hopeful he will stay.
But the test of that optimism will come when either Real Madrid or Chelsea slam hard cash down on the Anfield boardroom table.
Thompson is still fearful that Gerrard will do a runner as time runs out on his quest to win a title before hanging up his boots.
Gerrard, 30, is obviously deeply concerned that he won’t be able to fulfil that ambition at Liverpool.
That’s following a disastrous last season for the club and with major doubts now also hanging over the futures of his team-mates Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano.
Thompson, though, is adamant that picking up a champions’ trophy at another club will be tarnished.
Only winning one in the red shirt of Liverpool will mean anything, he insists.
That’s why Thompson would love Gerrard to give it at least one more year at Anfield where the prize he treasures can still be won.
The same goes for Torres and Mascherano to show loyalty and give something back to the club which has made them the players they are today.
Thompson, 56, said: “Stevie has held this team together with Jamie Carragher for the last six years.
“People say he ­deserves the chance to go ­elsewhere for what he’s done for Liverpool.
“But I hope he now says, ‘Do I need to move on?’ He will be thinking long and hard while he’s on holiday and wonder if he needs what’s happening to him at the moment.

“There have been smear campaigns about his private life on internet sites. I think that’s an absolute disgrace. That alone could have driven him away.

“He’s risen above that and thank goodness he has.

“Now I hope he feels that if he is to win a title he’d love to still win it with Liverpool.

“It wouldn’t be the same with any other club, whether that be Chelsea, Real Madrid or Manchester City.

“The medal would only mean something if he won it as a Liverpool player.”

Thompson believes Torres and Mascherano, both 26, should now come out publicly and commit to the Hodgson cause at Anfield.

He added: “I know it’s been frustrating for Fernando because of the injuries since he arrived at Liverpool.

“But he’s a top player who was welcomed with open arms when he came to the club.

“Liverpool and Rafa Benitez have made him into the player he is now.

“He was a big player at Atletico Madrid but now he’s a regular international footballer and one of Spain’s main strikers. I hope he shows loyalty too.

“Liverpool deserves another year from Fernando, Javier and Stevie.

“Let’s remember Mascherano was a reserve team player at West Ham when Rafa got him.

“Rafa resurrected his career and he was captain of Argentina in the World Cup.

“Stevie was captain of England. All this has come about because of their time at Liverpool.

“I would like to see them all give at least another 12 months to help Roy Hodgson get this club back to the Champions League.”

Hodgson, he believes, will never have had a tougher battle on his hands in his long-standing managerial career.

He is facing possibly the biggest rebuilding task since Bill Shankly walked through the delapidated Anfield gates 51 years ago.

Liverpool then was in the bottom half of the old Second Division.

They had been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by non-league Worcester.

Thompson said: “No one, not even Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Gerard Houllier or Rafa has faced a serious situation like this with players openly talking about quitting the club. Roy knows this is a tough test and he will need all his managerial skills to keep the club intact.

“This is the toughest since Shanks came to Liverpool’s rescue.

“This is still going to be a summer of turmoil and, to me, that is an awful prospect.

“I do fear for my club. That’s why we need to show the spirit of Istanbul and fight together.

“We need to get the fans firmly behind Roy and together we can turn around the fortunes of this great club.”

Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson Unsure Whether Fiorentina Target Emiliano Insua Will Remain At Anfield

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admits he is unsure whether defender Emiliano Insua will still be a Red next season.

The 21-year-old has been linked with a move to Italian side Fiorentina and talks at believed to be at an advanced stage between the two clubs.

Hodgson says he has been impressed with Insua since taking over as Reds boss, but as negotiations were already in place before he joined the club, he may be powerless to a possible move.

"I saw him play in the last three days and I like him both as a player and on a personal level," he said during an interview with an Italian radio station.

"However, talks with Fiorentina started before I got here, so I don’t know how advanced they are.

"I cannot say if Insua will stay at Liverpool or not. I’ll have to discuss that with the club."

Should Insua leave Liverpool, Hodgson is reportedly lining up a £5 million move for Wigan Athletic’s Maynor Figueroa as a replacement.

New Pressure On Liverpool Owners

Whatever the new management team at Liverpool can achieve to restore the club's fortunes is going to be constrained both financially and in terms of stability as long as the ownership question is not resolved. The general view is that Tom Hicks and George Gillett have set too high an asking price, given that any new owner would be expected to fund a new stadium in Stanley Park. Indeed, that is essential if the club is to progress.

Now it appears that Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is owed about £350m by Kop Holdings, is losing patience with the lack of progress towards a sale. Apparently, it would be possible for RBS to call in a large amount of the money owed in October. The move would trigger a default on the debt by the club and control would pass to the bank, just as has happened in the past week with AS Roma in Italy.

RBS, which is currently publicly owned, has no more wish than UniCredit in Italy to own a major football club. But it seems that it would be prepared to consider taking charge temporarily of the sale process to get a result.

My reading of the situation would be that RBS may be dropping hints to Martin Broughton that it wants the process of finding a new owner speeded up so that there is an outcome by the end of the summer. It wants to continue its relationship with Liverpool which has been quite lucrative given the interest payments involved (£40m last year, but not all to RBS). I do not think it would press matters to a default, but at least if there is renewed pressure to resolve the ownership issue, which is good news for long-suffering Liverpool fans.