Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hodgson Rules Out Fernando Torres Sale

Roy Hodgson has reiterated that Liverpool have no intention of selling Fernando Torres after holding talks with the Spanish striker.

It is reported that Torres is considering his future at Liverpool following the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League and Chelsea are believed to retain an interest in the World Cup winner.

However, Liverpool are reluctant to lose any of their leading players this summer and Hodgson has firmly stated that as far as he and the club are concerned, Torres will not be leaving Anfield.

"I have met with Fernando. I found him to be a very pleasant man and we had a nice conversation," Hodgson told reporters. "As far as we are concerned he is a Liverpool player and we want him to remain a Liverpool player. He is not for sale and we don't welcome any offers for him.

"We want to keep him. My conversation with him was only short because I had to leave to come to the training camp in Switzerland. We spoke about football, the World Cup, his injury, and I told him how much I am looking forward to working with him.

"[Managing director] Christian Purslow was also at the meeting and chatted to Fernando for a lot longer after I left but my chat with him was only about football matters."

It is a similar situation for captain Steven Gerrard, who has been linked with a possible move to Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid over the summer.

Roy Hodgson: Wantaway Midfielder Javier Mascherano Has Refused To Return My Telephone Calls

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has admitted Javier Mascherano has blanked his telephone calls as the midfielder angles for a move to Inter.

The Argentina captain, who led his side to a quarter-final exit at this summer's World Cup, has been linked with a reunion with ex-Reds supremo Rafael Benitez at the San Siro all summer. These rumours follow his attempts last year to engineer a transfer to Spanish giants Barcelona.

Speaking to reporters on the club's pre-season tour to Switzerland, Hodgson brushed off the hard man's refusal to make contact with him.

"I've tried to contact him. I've left him voice messages and text messages but I haven't had a reply," Hodgson said.

"That's because, to be fair, he had a very tough World Cup and went back to Argentina, I guess, it's not always as easy to get back in touch.

"I've tried to reach him and made it clear to him I'm very happy to talk to him at his convenience but as of yet we've not had that conversation."

The former Fulham boss also blanked quotes from Mascherano's agent that declared his client's desire to make the switch to Inter.

He responded: "As far as I know we've had no approach from Inter and I don't understand where those quotes come from."

Nice Striker Loic Remy Set For Liverpool Medical After Agreeing £12.5m Transfer

Liverpool are on the verge of signing French striker Loic Remy on a five-year contract for a fee of around £12.5 million [€15m], UK understands.

The 23-year-old is expected to travel to Merseyside in the next few days to undergo a medical before joining Roy Hodgson’s squad at its training camp in Switzerland, according to sources at Remy’s club, Nice.

Remy had been tempted by offers from Tottenham and West Ham, whose directors, David Sullivan and Karen Brady flew to the south of France in an attempt to negotiate a deal, but it was Liverpool’s history that tipped the balance and a deal has agreed in principle.

“Liverpool is a legendary club,” Remy told Nice Matin today. “I am very excited by the thought of playing there. It has a magnificent stadium and a fantastic public.”

Liverpool is expected to pay Nice £7.5 million [€9m] upfront with the rest to follow in installments.

The Nice president, Gilberto Stellado, is believed to have sought reassurances about Liverpool’s financial situation before agreeing to the move. Nice paid Olympique Lyonnais a club record €8m for Remy, although after two seasons and 25 goals they have accepted they can no longer hold on to a striker who but for an ankle injury might have gone to Arsenal in the January transfer window.

"I absolutely rely on him but we have resigned ourselves to his leaving," said the Nice coach, Eric Roy. "We had a verbal agreement that he would spend two seasons at Nice so it was always likely he would leave if an offer came along that matched what the club expected."

It comes after Remy's agent Frederic Guerra revealed he was in talks with Liverpool.

"Yes, Liverpool are interested in Loic and Loic is interested in Liverpool," he told Sky Sports. "There has also been interest from West Ham and Tottenham and it is now up to Nice. Loic has always said he is keen to play in England and Liverpool is a massive club."

He added: "I believe if Loic comes to England he will be a massive success. He is like Thierry Henry, but I believe if he comes to England he could be even better than Henry. He is a sensational player, he is very strong, very quick and two-footed. He is the complete player and Liverpool would love him."

Liverpool's new manager Roy Hodgson has made bolstering his team's forward line a priority, amid uncertainty over whether Fernando Torres will stay at the club.

Danijel Pranjic: ‘Dream Club’ Liverpool Back In For Flying Croat Left-Back

Reports in the German and Croatian press are gathering pace regarding a move to Liverpool for Danijel Pranjic this summer. The Bayern Munich star was a reported target for the Reds last summer prior to his move to the Bundesliga but after struggling for a game, Roy Hodgson is expected to test the Champions League runners-up resolve to keep the Croatian international.

The former Heerenveen star spoke out before his move to Bayern Munich regarding the increased speculation over interest from Liverpool and his comments suggest he would welcome a move to Anfield.

The Croat told Omroep Friesland when questioned about Liverpool interest, “I still don’t know, that is a difficult question to answer.”

“I have to wait until the transfer period and then I will see.

“In every newspaper they called me and I was live on television and they heard something about Liverpool but I cannot say anything about it.

“It was in the newspaper that is all I know. Yes of course [it would be a dream club].”

Despite Bayern Munich’s fantastic 2009/10 season, Pranjic was not a first choice in the side and lost his place at left-back to German World Cup star Holger Badstuber for much of the campaign. The Croatian made 20 league appearances but only started 14 games, he is thought to be frustrated but knows that after Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua’s departure from Liverpool, he would be first choice to fill in at left-back.

The 28-year-old previously played Dutch outfit Heerenveen in the Eredivisie where he spent 4 seasons. He is able to perform any left-sided role and enjoyed a superb campaign in Holland in the 1998/99 season after scoring an impressive 9 goals in 33 League appearances. Pranjic has bettered that total this season with 16 goals in 29 League appearances which prompted interest from Liverpool and ultimately his move to Bayern. His overall League record for the club reads 32 goals in 129 (all starts) games. Roy Hodgson is keen to bring in not only experience but also quality into his squad and with funds limited, a £6m bid could bring the highly versatile player to Anfield.

Pranjic is an experienced international with 30 caps for Croatia and his ability to play left-back, left-midfield and central midfield would be a huge boost for Liverpool. He is pacy, an excellent crosser and has a keen eye for goal which would surely make him a fans favourite in no time. The player has spoken positively of his future at Bayern but his agent is thought to be seeking a move at the earliest opportunity with Liverpool heading the queue. The Reds only just missed out on the player last summer but it would seem Pranjic’s move to his ‘dream club’ could be back on. He said, “I’m not expecting to be in the team at the start of the season. But I’ll try to take my chance when it comes.”

Croatians have proved to be a big success in the Premier League so it would not be a surprise if Liverpool sealed a move for Pranjic to join his compatriots in England next season.

Insua Talks Continue

Talks over Emiliano Insua's potential switch from Liverpool to Fiorentina are ongoing, the latter have confirmed.

The Argentine left-back has been linked with a move away from Anfield this summer following manager Roy Hodgson's arrival.

A fee in the region of £5million has been mooted, and the Viola have hinted at their optimism that a deal will be struck.

Fiorentina sports director Pantaleo Corvino told "There is a negotiation for Insua, we've been talking (with Liverpool) for a few weeks.

"We are interested in player, we'll see how it will end."

Insua's agent Solomon, meanwhile, has refused to deny that he is in Italy holding talks with Fiorentina.

He told "Yes, I'm one of Insua's agents, I take care of managing the various negotiations.

"Fiorentina? I don't want to comment, but I cannot confirm or deny I'm not in Florence."

Hannover 96 Manager Mirko Slomka Admits Interest In Liverpool Youngster Krisztian Nemeth

Hannover 96 manager Mirko Slomka has admitted to admiring Liverpool striker Krisztian Nemeth and could be prepared to snap him up at the right price.

Nemeth, 21, has yet to make the breakthrough into the Anfield first team despite being a highly-rated young player. After grabbing three goals in 17 appearances while on loan at AEK Athens last season, Italian side Lecce are understood to have bid £1 million to bring him permanently to the club.

Speaking to Bild, Slomka confirmed he could be prepared to challenge the Serie A new boys for the Hungary international.

"He is a good player with decent speed and he has been on loan at AEK Athens recently," Slomka said.

"He did not play many matches in recent campaigns and I am not aware if he is affordable."

But Hannover general manager Jorg Schmadtke commented: "I am not aware of that player."

Lille Star Gervinho Hints At Liverpool Desire

For the first time since speculation first arose that Liverpool could swoop for Lille winger Gervinho, the winger has responded in a positive manner to the Reds, indicating that a move could be possible.

Previously the Cote d’Ivoire international had rejected speculation that he could leave les Dogues, but in an interview with France Football, he has hinted that there is a possibility he could instead move to England.

“It may be time for me to leave,” he cautiously stated. “What interests me is not just leaving. I enjoy playing time and want to flourish. I will not go at any price. It takes a club more ambitious than Lille.”

Following a successful World Cup campaign on a personal basis, the African has said there will be no rushed departure from the north of France.

“I intend to resume training with the squad and I’ll see how to handle this situation,” he explained. “I know that I am still under contract with Lille. In addition, the atmosphere is wonderful there. It's a good group, a team of the future.

“My intention is not to make a hasty departure.”

Stating that “a footballer must always think bigger”, Gervinho seems to have opened the door to an Anfield move just a little.

Massimo Moratti Claims Move For Liverpool Midfielder Javier Mascherano Depends On Rafael Benitez's Needs

Inter chief Massimo Moratti has said the club's interest in Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano will become bounteous if coach Rafael Benitez gives him the nod to open negotiations.

Noise coming from Mascherano's entourage has suggested that the player is willing to swap Anfield for the San Siro.

Agent Walter Tamer said last week that Mascherano wanted to link up with his former coach, while reports claimed €30 million would be enough to convince Liverpool into selling.

Moratti appears enthusiastic with the idea of landing the player, but was eager not to uncover the blue prints in terms of how the club will move for Mascherano.

But he did make clear that Benitez's feelings towards the midfielder would influence any subsequent decision to sign him.

"I know that he has always played well and he has a strong character. He is intelligent," he told Il Corriere dello Sport.

"But, we have many players for the role who are both good and clever. We will see if he is needed on a technical-tactical level.

"Does Moratti want him? We will see. we have to see if he is needed by Benitez and if there is a chance to get him."

And talk of reinforcing the squad led to questions on whether the club can keep it's status as a force in world football building upwards from last season's achievement.

"Can we repeat the treble? We have to be careful now in relation to the UEFA's gates in terms of club economies," he added.

"But victories will arrive with hard work, spirit, sacrifice and some luck too."

Liverpool FC Says 'Days Of Clubs Taking Fans For Granted Are Over'

Liverpool Football Club has admitted to taking its supporters for granted. The frank revelation was issued by the club's head of customer experience, Jean Crisp, who says standards of customer service at Liverpool have and will continue to improve. Crisp is in charge of the club's customer experience department, set up at the beginning of last season with the aim of improving supporters' off-the-field experience when dealing with the club.

Liverpool fans have previously raised issues regarding poor customer service from the club, often regarding ticket arrangements. The new department has listened to and taken on board supporter complaints and now Crisp says all of this is set to change. She said: “I can't talk for any other clubs but I do think that in the past this club probably did take fans for granted, to some degree. “I think that was the case because clubs don't have to compete as other businesses have to attract and keep fans. Once you are a Liverpool fan, you're a Liverpool fan. Just because Arsenal offers better seating, you don't switch to support Arsenal; that just doesn't happen.

“If we were complacent, we're certainly not now and we totally understand that fans will no longer tolerate poor service. In all other walks of life, these same supporters are very demanding people, so why should it be any different when they interact with their favourite football club?” Crisp says a change in attitude towards supporters was required by the club.

Instead of simply seeing them as fans, they are now also viewed as customers “Clubs absolutely understand that we need to be much more customer focused,” she said. “Even calling supporters 'customers' is contentious to some degree but I think that it actually changes the psyche. Once you start referring to fans as customers, you change your mindset to thinking, 'We have to do better'. “Essentially, a customer has a different view from a supporter and I think that has been one of the reasons why there may have been complacency in the past. When you take your seat and the whistle blows, you're 100 per cent the supporter and you want a great football experience, but buying a program, beer or food is a customer experience and we need to make that great as well.

“We can't control what happens on the pitch, obviously, but I do think we can do everything possible to make sure that the off-the-pitch experience is a great one. The days of clubs taking fans for granted are over.” While a large percentage of supporters agreed Anfield is a good environment to bring their children to, and that they feel safe inside the stadium, ticketing was again highlighted as a problem area that Crisp says is being addressed. “There are areas that we do need to work on - our responses on ticketing, for instance, scored lower compared to other clubs,” she said.

“However, that is always going to be a challenge for a club the size of Liverpool where demand for tickets massively outstrips supply. “That will, inevitably, cause dissatisfaction. We are limited to what we can do and we're aware of that, but we have done a lot in the latter part of the season in trying to create a better service to handle that demand and the experience of trying to get tickets.”