Saturday, August 21, 2010

Liverpool Rocked As Huang Pulls Out

Kenny Huang, the Hong Kong businessman who led the first and arguably most credible bid to take over Liverpool, last night ended his interest in the club.

Huang gave no reason for pulling out, although his valuation of Liverpool at £325m is well below the figure owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett would want to cede control.

Huang had become frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations with chairman, Martin Broughton, and had engaged the former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive, Peter Kenyon, to lead talks with the board.

Negotiations had, however, not been helped by a comment from Huang's consultant, Marc Ganis, that: “What is not one of our goals is the enrichment of the current owners.” Ganis left the consortium shortly afterwards.

However, sources close to Liverpool said Huang had been slow to produce evidence of financial backing for the bid that was to be made through his QSL Sports Group and that they had a duty to examine every offer for a club that was £351.4m in debt when it was put up for sale in April. Unless £237m of that debt is repaid to the Royal Bank of Scotland by October 6, the bank will invoke a £60m penalty clause.

Huang's strategy, which was based on expanding the club brand in Asia while offering manager Roy Hodgson substantial transfer funds, was popular with some sections of the club's fans and contacts had been made with the Spirit of Shankly group. However, his bid ran into difficulties when he refused to say whether it was backed by the Chinese government.

Huang said in a statement last night: “Our strategy and unique ability to expand the fan base in Asia would have been of benefit to all. We regret we will not have the opportunity to implement this strategy.”

The spotlight will now fall on the bid led by Syrian entrepreneur, Yahya Kirdi.

Inter Pull Out Of Race For Javier Mascherano

Roy Hodgson has, temporarily at least, won his battle to keep Javier Mascherano on Merseyside after Internazionale dramatically called off their pursuit of the Argentina captain.

On the same day that the Liverpool manager authorized Alberto Aquilani's loan move to Juventus, the Inter president, Massimo Moratti, phoned Hodgson to tell him he would no longer authorize any bids for his players.

Moratti and Hodgson's relationship goes back 15 years to the time he was appointed manager of Inter and their conversation has ended what seemed a done deal. If Moratti is to be believed, it ends speculation that Dirk Kuyt would be another prime candidate to rejoin his former manager, Rafael Benitez, at San Siro.

“I believe that Inter were only interested in two of our players and they are now not going to buy them,” Hodgson said yesterday. “I spoke to Massimo Moratti on Wednesday about the fact they are not going to buy Liverpool players and Dirk comes into that category doesn't he? Moratti said they were not going to buy.”

Although it is conceivable that Mascherano will leave Merseyside, where his wife has failed to settle, he has few escape routes other than Inter. Last summer he had come very close to a transfer to Barcelona, prompting the Liverpool hierarchy to promise they would not stand in his way if he played another season at Anfield. Asked yesterday if he would still be interested in signing Mascherano, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola replied, “We will have to see.” In the context of a terse press conference, this equates to a “yes”, but the financial situation at the Catalan club makes it far from certain that Liverpool will receive an offer.

Should Mascherano, who handed in a transfer request on his first day back at training, stay for at least another six months it would represent a significant victory for Hodgson, after both Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard committed their future to Liverpool.

His insistence that he would rather run down the remaining two years of Mascherano's contract rather than see him leave Anfield cheaply, appears to have concentrated minds at San Siro, although the danger is that the midfielder, having been promised he could leave, will feel alienated.

Should Liverpool sell him in January window it would be for much less than the £25m they could command this summer.

However, the increasing likelihood that Mascherano would stay made the decision to loan out Aquilani that much easier. Yesterday, Aquilani's agent confirmed his return to Serie A was almost complete. “Talks are in progress, the offer from Juventus is in and it is one that excites us,” said Franco Zavaglia.

However, Zavaglia's statement, made two days ago, that Aquilani had Hodgson's confidence and was preparing for his “breakthrough season in the Premier League” now appears horribly wide of the mark. “Last year, he came here and hardly played,” said Hodgson. “If he has another season like that, his value will be vastly diminished but, most importantly, he will be very unhappy.”

Liverpool Table A Bid For PSV Eindhoven Striker Ola Toivonen

Liverpool have made an offer of approximately £9 million for PSV Eindhoven striker Ola Toivonen, according to

With Fernando Torres needing support up front, Reds manager Roy Hodgson has made it clear he is interested in the Swedish international.

However, the 24-year-old has refused to comment on speculation surrounding him with a move from Holland.

The Swede appeared against Sibir Novosibirsk in PSV’s Europa League Cup tie which makes him ineligible to play for Liverpool in Europe if he was to make the switch to Anfield.

Krisztian Nemeth Set To Join Olympiakos

Krisztian Nemeth arrived at Liverpool lauded as a hugely exciting youngster, but he has left for Olympiakos after failing to break through in three years at Anfield.

The 21-year-old will sign a three-year contract with the Greek giants, subject to a medical, after the Reds agreed an fee believed to be £1million.

Nemeth - who had also interested Panathinaikos and Lecce - opted for a return to Greece after spending last season on loan at AEK Athens, where he scored three goals in 17 games.

Liverpool will take a 25 per cent of any future sale of Nemeth, who follows Albert Riera in leaving Anfield for the club in Piraeus.

The Greek club said on their website: 'Olympiakos announces a deal with Liverpool for the acquisition of Hungarian international player, Krisztian Nemeth, who will sign a three-year contact with the club.'

Juventus Have Reached An Agreement To Take Alberto Aquilani On Loan

Il Corriere dello Sport have claimed that an agreement has been reached and the former Roma star will join Juventus on loan for the 2010-11 season with an option to make the transfer permanent at the end of the campaign for €17 million.

The player's agent, Franco Zavaglia, later confirmed a deal is in place.

"It will be a loan, with the right of Juventus to buy the player at the end of the season. The wage of Aquilani will be paid by Juve," he revealed to Sportitalia.

All the required contracts have reportedly been signed and an official announcement is expected in the near future.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has revealed that midfielder Alberto Aquilani could return to Italy on loan, with the player's agent claiming that a deal with Italian giants Juventus is on the verge of being completed.

Aquilani was absent from the Liverpool squad for their 1-0 Europa League victory over Trabsonspor at Anfield on Thursday night and afterwards Hodgson confirmed via the club's official website that the player may be set to leave to guarantee first team football and preserve his value.

The former Roma midfielder joined the Reds in a €20 million move last summer as a replacement for Xabi Alonso but after spending much of the season overcoming injury, he failed to make a telling impact on Merseyside and Hodgson has acknowledged that he is not guaranteed regular football at Anfield this season so a loan move may be in the 26-year-old's best interests.

"At the moment we are considering possibly loaning him to an Italian club, but nothing is sure about that yet," Hodgson revealed, before hinting the player still has a future at the club beyond the current campaign.

"I didn't want to use him tonight just in case the loan goes through because for Aquilani this year it's very important that he plays regular football, every week as the number one man on the team sheet.

"I can't promise him that here so if a loan move to Italy could help him in that respect it might be good for all parties.

"It would certainly be what he needs, it would certainly protect the value of the player and when he does return to Liverpool no doubt we will see the Aquilani that we signed before he came here injured last year."

Inter In Talks With Liverpool Over Deal For Dirk Kuyt - Agent

Inter have agreed a deal to take Dirk Kuyt from Liverpool to Serie A, according to a report from De Telegraaf.

The report claims that the move was agreed earlier this week and could go be concluded today.

Kuyt was omitted from Liverpool's Europa League win over Trabzonspor at Anfield, with Reds boss Roy Hodgson claiming that the Dutchman was being rested.

However, that omission means that Kuyt is not cup tied for European competition and it seems that he is heading for a reunion with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez at the San Siro.

Benitez is a known admirer of Kuyt, and during his time at Anfield made little secret of the value he places in the hard-working and versatile Netherlands international.

Kuyt's agent, meanwhile, acknowledged that his client was considering Inter's offer carefully before deciding on anything.

"Yes, there is real interest from Inter, but Dirk has not decided yet whether he does want to leave Liverpool. He must think carefully before leaving," Kuyt's agent Rob Jansen told Voetbal International.

Jansen also acknowledged that the move might not be that straightforward to complete quickly.

"This is also a complicated transfer. Dirk Kuyt is a Liverpool player," he explained.

"He has an ongoing contract and was recently in the World Cup final. There will be a transfer fee involved. The deal can not simply go ahead. "

Kuyt does seem to be in a strong personal position about the possible move.

"Regardless of the choice Dirk must first consider himself. He can move to Inter or just stay at Liverpool. This is a good position to be in," he added.

"It is also an option that a player from Inter will be involved in the deal with Kuyt."

Barcelona Open The Door To Liverpool's Javier Mascherano

Barcelona are set to once again express interest in luring Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano to the Camp Nou, after coach Pep Guardiola stated his desire to bolster his squad ahead of the new season.

Guardiola, in a press conference earlier today, admitted that he would not rule out any new additions ahead of the closing of the transfer window, and according to television channel TV3, the club are looking to complete a deal for the Liverpool enforcer before the deadline on August 31.

The coach said: "Somebody might come along. If not, we have 19 in the squad plus three, four, five, six, seven or eight players from the B team I can use.

“I’d rather have 24 players, but I don’t want to take players on just to make up the numbers. We’ve got 19, and we’d normally have 23 or 24, but that means you’ve got 11 or 12 who aren’t playing."

Barcelona are in the hunt for a defensive midfielder following the departure of Yaya Toure to Manchester City, and the collapse of the proposed deal for Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal, with the 26-year-old Mascherano now their number one priority.

Mascherano has publicly stated his intention to leave Anfield to further his career, and following discussions with international colleague Lionel Messi, the player believes that Barcelona would fulfill his requirements.

Last week, Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta passed comment on Mascherano, insisting that the player does not feature in the clubs’ plans for the season, but they have also been linked with an offer of €15m plus Aliaksandr Hleb to land the former West Ham and River Plate star.

Reds To Go Coast 2 Coast

A team of Liverpool FC employees are set to take part in a 'Coast 2 Coast' cycle to raise money for charity next month.

Reds coaches Stephen Hollis and Mike Yates, as well as manager of the club's Action for Help campaign Mark Haig and Parker Cycles' Barry Major, are aiming to raise funds for Claire House Children's Hospice and Meningitis UK - organizations that have special significance to the four Liverpool fans who have chosen to participate.

The 170-mile cycle begins on the Cumbrian shoreline at Whitehaven on September 1 and ends at Sunderland FC's Stadium of Light two days later. recently caught up with Stephen and Mike at Anfield, where the pair revealed the poignant reasons behind the selection of these two particular charities.

Stephen told us how close friends of his tragically lost their four-year-old boy Harvey in March after being diagnosed with Peroxisome Biogenesis disorder when he was just 9 months old.

Harvey spent four months in Alder Hey Children's Hospital with Claire House, where he was looked after and his family provided with the help that they needed in order to cope throughout such a difficult time.

It is in Harvey's memory, and in recognition of the great work and support from all the staff at Claire House, that Steve intends to complete the Coast 2 Coast challenge.

Fellow coach Mike is taking part in the cycle in to raise funds for Meningitis UK after his niece Eloise lost her five-day battle with Pneumococcal Meningitis and Septicemia last December.

In February a new vaccine was successfully launched which, had it been available two months previous, could have saved Eloise's life.

Meningitis UK is committed to the eradication of the disease through the development of such vaccines and Mike and his family see this as a crucial step towards preventing other families experiencing the terrible loss they suffered.

The two coaches will be joined by Mark, who is the manager of LFC's Action for Help Campaign and, as a cyclist, is expected to 'set the pace'.

lso taking part is Barry of Parker Cycles - who kindly donated the bikes for the journey - someone who has recently recovered from meningitis himself.

The quartet are just over a month into a rigorous training regime which has seen them cycle over 20 miles a day and the coaches admit so far it's been a challenge.

"To be honest it's been a little bit harder than we thought," said Stephen. "We're going to be doing 60 miles a day over a period of three days and it's totally different from what we're used to.

"We used to play here (at Anfield) but the training doesn't prepare you for the bike ride, you use a completely different set of muscles. You might think you're reasonably fit but this just shows you. The seat doesn't help either!

"It will be difficult but we're hoping that the reasons for doing it will help us through. When you think about it really, 200 miles is a small price to pay."

So far, the quartet have received donations via the internet and with your kind help, they hope that the amount pledged to date will be further raised over the coming weeks.

The cycles used by the team on their two-day journey will be signed by Kop stars Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Joe Cole and Fernando Torres.

After the Coast 2 Coast challenge has been completed the bikes will be raffled, with those who have donated more than one pound via the trust fund pages in with a chance of winning.