Sunday, August 08, 2010

Kenny Huang To Sweeten The Liverpool Deal

The battle for the hearts and minds of Liverpool supporters has begun in earnest after the Chinese investors seeking to buy the club outlined a series of pledges aimed at underpinning a long-term Anfield revival.

The charm offensive came as Kenny Huang and his backers drew up plans to submit a bid of about £400 million to speed up the sale process and offer owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks the chance to save face.

Huang, chairman of QSL Sports Limited, has outlined ambitious proposals through an intermediary to run Liverpool debt free, expand the club’s fan base and commercial activities in Asia and invest heavily in manager Roy Hodgson’s squad – the only high-profile arrivals this summer, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole, having joined the club on free transfers.

There is also a promise to kick-start the much-delayed plans for a move to nearby Stanley Park.

The plans will only come to fruition if Huang’s consortium take control of Liverpool and they also insisted yesterday they are not interested in lining the pockets of Hicks and Gillett.

But, after previously pitching an opening gambit of about £350m, which would only cover the club’s debts, it is understood they are ready to up the ante.

The interest of Huang is understood to have won support from Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow and director Ian Ayre. They hold the majority on the five-man Liverpool board that was created in March and which saw management control pass from Gillett and Hicks.

In effect, that means the Americans can be out-voted on what happens to the club they still own, although in that event it is possible they would consider a legal challenge which would further drag out the ownership saga.

That is why Huang’s consortium are ready to up their formal proposal to about £400m and offer Gillett and Hicks a small profit on their troubled three-year tenure.

It would still be some way short of the £500m Dubai International Capital offered in March 2008 and nowhere near the huge sum Hicks has previously spoken about when valuing Liverpool at between £600-£800m.

Marc Ganis, whose Chicago-based company Sportscorp Ltd has helped form the Chinese investment group, said: “If anybody wants to [pay that figure], good luck.

“We know what we would be prepared to do. If somebody else wants to look at it in a different way, it’s their money. That would be their business, not ours.

“What is not one of our goals is the enrichment of the existing owners. If we submit a proposal and it is accepted, it would be focused on the future and not the past.”

Liverpool wants all interested parties to submit legally binding proposals, containing proof of funding, in an effort to accelerate the sale.

That will put pressure on Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi – whose son has been training at Liverpool’s academy – to reveal where his money is coming from and make good claims he is close to a deal having spoken directly with Gillett and Hicks.

Huang has contacted Liverpool officials and the Premier League, which must be notified of any change of ownership 10 days before it happens.

“We haven’t submitted a formal proposal but we submitted the broad parameters of what a proposal would look like to see if it would be welcomed, and it was,” said Ganis.

Details of who is backing the Chinese bid have, however, emerged.

QSL is headed by Huang and Guang Yang, executive vice-president of Franklin Templeton Investments and chief investment officer of the China Life/Franklin Templeton Fund. They would be the only owners involved in the management of the Liverpool.

Other investors – potentially including the China Investment Corporation – would be passive, and each would own no more than 20 per cent.

Arsenal Launch £23m Pepe Reina Transfer Bid

Arsenal has launched a sensational £23 million bid for Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina, it has been revealed.

While Arsene Wenger is not known for parting with large sums of money, it is believed he will pay up to £25 million in order to land the Spain international and bring the club's goalkeeping woes to an end.

Last season saw several keepers, including Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski, take time between the sticks, with none securing their place as absolute first choice.

Despite the large sum of money on offer, Liverpool is unlikely to part with a player deemed to be one of the Reds' key assets and a likely future captain. Reina also only recently signed a new six-year deal with the club.

The Merseysiders' lack of strength-in-depth in the position could also dissuade new boss Roy Hodgson from agreeing to the sale.

However, Liverpool's bid for Middlesbrough's Brad Jones earlier this week, could indicate that the club is looking for a replacement for an outbound Reina.

Christian Poulsen To Sign Liverpool Deal Next Week

Juventus midfielder Christian Poulsen will ink a deal at Liverpool within the next week, according to his agent. UK revealed last month that Reds boss Roy Hodgson will target Poulsen if Javier Mascherano joins Inter.

After being deemed surplus to requirements by new Juve head coach Luigi Del Neri, the Denmark international is set for an imminent switch to Anfield.

Speaking to Ekstra Bladet, agent Jorn Bonnesen confirmed talks were under way between the sides and he expected the deal to be finalised within seven days.

He said: "It won't take more than a week before this is sorted out.

"It might be already in the beginning of next week. Christian Poulsen is Roy's man.

"He will be playing as defensive midfielder at Liverpool. I returned home with a good and positive impression."

Genoa Close To Signing Emiliano Insua From Liverpool

The Italian sports news channel believes the Grifoni are close to signing Insua, just days after Fiorentina pulled out of a deal for him.

Genoa won't stop signing players as they are about to complete a move for Liverpool's Emiliano Insua, according to Sky Sport Italia.

And, should the deal go ahead, the Argentinean defender will be the club's ninth signing of the summer transfer window.

Insua was close to joining Fiorentina after they had agreed over a fee with Liverpool.

However, on Tuesday Viola sporting director Pantaleo Corvino confirmed the player would not be joining the club after they failed to agree on personal terms.

Corvino tried his best to land the stopper, extending talks with Liverpool chiefs until 2am on Tuesday, but the player's high wage demands scuppered the move.

Genoa has now pounced with Sky Italia claiming they have been in talks with player and club over a deal.

On Thursday Grifoni chief Enrico Preziosi hinted at a new arrival, but didn't mention who it would be, but it seems his side has sneaked in for the defender.

Dani Pacheco Wants To Stay At Anfield

Dani Pacheco has said he does not want to leave Liverpool, ending speculation surrounding a possible exit for the youngster.

Up to seven clubs across Europe had been linked with Pacheco after he impressed during the U-19 European Championship earlier in the summer.

He arrived at Liverpool in 2008 and has struggled for first team opportunities since he came to Anfield, but he played the full 90 minutes as Roy Hodgson's side beat FK Rabotnicki 2-0 in the Europa League qualifying this week.

Pacheco told Click Liverpool that he is hoping to sit down with Hodgson and discuss his future, but he does want to continue his footballing education at Anfield.

"I really want to be here," said the forward.

"I will talk with the manager in a few days and we will decide my future. Hopefully I will stay and be able to get some games so we will see.

"I will try to work, get as many chances as I can and take them when they happen."

Following the two-legged win over FK Rabotnicki, Liverpool has been drawn to take on Turkish cup winners Trabzonspor in the Europa League play-off round.

The six-time Turkish champions could pose a tough challenge for Hodgson's men as they look to make it into the group phase of the competition.

Joe Cole: First Time I’ve Had No Stick At Anfield

New Liverpool FC signing Joe Cole admitted to being nervous ahead of his competitive debut at Anfield, but it did not show as the former Chelsea midfielder was the stand-out player in the 2-0 Europa League victory over Rabotnicki.

The 28-year-old did everything but score, providing the cross for David Ngog’s opening header before Steven Gerrard converted a penalty after the French striker was fouled just before half-time.

It secured a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Macedonians in the third qualifying round, securing them a play-off tie against Trabzonspor.

“It was good, I was nervous before the game but it’s always like that when you go to a new club,” said the England international.

“It was good to get 90 minutes in and get the win in the end.

“The main difference (at Anfield as a Liverpool player) is that I wasn’t getting too much stick.

“That’s different.

“I enjoyed it, I needed the 90 minutes. I ran out of petrol a bit with 20 minutes to go but it was needed.

“It would have been nice to have scored but I’m sure that will come soon.”

Hodgson had praise for his new signing on his home debut after starting the former Chelsea midfielder in a central role behind striker Ngog.

“Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did at Chelsea,” said the 62-year-old.

“He is an enthusiastic and effervescent footballer and the more he plays the happier he is.

“His energy and enthusiasm meant he had a really good home debut.”

Hodgson Vows To Sort Out Carra's Contract

Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher will be offered a new contract in the near future, according to Reds boss Roy Hodgson.

The 32-year-old's current Anfield contract expires at the end of this season but Hodgson has no doubts that the one-club man will be offered a new deal once the uncertainty about Liverpool's ownership comes to an end.

"I'm sure it (a contract extension) will be a priority," said Hodgson. "Quite frankly so much has happened in the last five weeks, the hours I've spent at the club are enormous, that we haven't actually got round to discussing contracts with players.

"I now know that Carragher has got one year left. That's the only contract of a player that I know about. If you asked me how many years the others have got, I haven't got a clue.

"I can see players like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard never leaving Liverpool Football Club. I can see them always being part of the club.

Fernando Torres Was Waiting For Barcelona Move Until Last Minute

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres was reportedly “waiting” for a move to FC Barcelona until the very last minute.

According to Mundo Deportivo, the Spaniard did not want to join Manchester City or Chelsea - who bid £40 million for the player as well as reportedly offering him a huge contract.

Citing a close friend of both Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and Torres – an associate who was said to be responsible for talking to the player – the paper said contact was first made with the striker before the new Nou Camp chief was elected.

Torres was said to be “excited” by the possibility of a transfer to the Catalan club, although it later emerged that Barcelona would only make a move for the 26-year-old should Zlatan Ibrahimovic leave the Nou Camp.

And according to the report, only when it became apparent that the Swede was staying put, did Torres commit his future to Liverpool.

Nevertheless, the paper added that in fact, the Catalan club has not closed its lines of communication with Manchester City and AC Milan over the possible sale of the Ibrahimovic.

Hodgson Fails To Bring Hyypia Back To Liverpool

Roy Hodgson has revealed he failed in an attempt to bring Bayer Leverkusen defender Sami Hyypia back to Liverpool.

Hyypia, 36, left Anfield last summer after ten years at the club to sign a two-year deal to play in Germany, but reports had claimed Hodgson wanted to bring him back to Liverpool in a player-coach capacity.

Hodgson, who managed Hyypia during his time in charge of Finland from 2006 to 2007, has now confirmed he made an offer but said Leverkusen would not allow him to leave.

"I can see players like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard never leaving Liverpool Football Club," he said on Click Liverpool. "I can see them always being part of the club. In the same way I'm a bit disappointed that my attempts to bring Sami Hyypia back failed.

"It only failed because he's so important to Bayer Leverkusen. We couldn't get him out of his contract. He's one I would also put in the Jamie Carragher-Steven Gerrard mould - Liverpool for life.

"Unfortunately he was let go at the end of the season before last and we can't get him back. He's too valuable to them."