Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Anfield Jobs For Ian Ayre And Damien Comolli

Liverpool has ended their search for a new managing director by promoting from within, confirming former commercial director Ian Ayre in the role.

Owners Fenway Sports Group, led by John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, have also made Damien Comolli the club's director of football - a step up from his position as director of football strategy.

The search for a managing director has taken longer than anticipated but Ayre's appointment is recognition of the impressive work he has done on the commercial side since he joined the club in July 2007.

Henry, who together with Werner has been on Merseyside since last Thursday, said: "Ian has enormous experience gained from his work in the sports and media businesses over the past 15 years."

FSG brought Comolli to the club in November in order to bring some continuity to football operations.

"In the short time that Damien has been at the club, he has impressed us greatly with his knowledge of the sport, his work ethic and his incisive intelligence," added Henry.

"He is a clear thinker and understands exactly what is needed to form a long-term, consistent approach."

Revealed: Liverpool’s New Stadium Plans

Liverpool will announce they will be renovating Anfield rather than move to a new ground in the next few days.

Sportingo reports the club owners Fenway Sports Group will increase capacity at the famous ground to 60,000 with room to expand up to 10,000 more.

Currently the stadium holds 45,000 but Liverpool claim they could attract nearly double that if they had the room.

Old Trafford (76,000) and the Emirates (60,000) are the two biggest grounds in terms of seats and Liverpool are missing out on massive sums of potential revenue each season.

But FSG have decided against moving, despite it being the cheaper option as the atmosphere Anfield provides is almost peerless in football.

“The Kop is unrivaled,” said John Henry earlier this year. ”It would be hard to replicate that feeling anywhere else.”

FSG used a similar model when it took over the Boston Red Sox and redeveloped Fenway Park rather than move the Baseball franchise.

No dates have been set yet for work to start or be completed, but the news will come as a major relief for Liverpool fans.

Previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett guaranteed the Reds a new stadium when they bought the club in 2007 but that turned out to be empty promises.

Liverpool Emerge As Favourites To Sign Tottenham Target Jeremy Menez

Reported Tottenham target Jeremy Menez would be open to joining Liverpool, it has been claimed.

The versatile Roma playmaker has also previously been on the radar of Manchester United and has been linked with a move away from the Stadio Olimpico in the summer.

Sportingo initially reported that Spurs were monitoring the France international with great interest and there has been growing speculation in recent weeks that Menez wants out of Roma when the transfer window reopens.

According to, the 23-year-old has been unsettled since Claudio Ranieri was replaced in the Giallorossi hot seat by Vincenzo Montella and would be willing to follow the former to Anfield should he be offered the Liverpool job - as has been touted in the Italian press.

Menez has since told L'Equipe that an transfer window exit could indeed be on the cards - which is likely to alert Liverpool and Spurs to his potential availability.

He said: “I am not closed to thinking about leaving. It’s because of certain choices and certain people.”

Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli is thought to be keen on the former Monaco attacker, having previously monitored Menez whilst occupying a similar role with Saint-Etienne.

Comolli explained in January that Liverpool were on the look out for more potent wide options and - with Menez capable of operating on the wing - he could provide the Anfield club with the added cutting edge they are looking for.

Meanwhile, Spurs are unlikely to give up on the ex-Sochaux man in their respective pursuit of attaching reinforcements as Harry Redknapp attempts to bring further success to White Hart Lane next season.

Reportedly available at around €16 million, Menez is also said to be a target for Newcastle who have grand plans for the £35 million received from Liverpool for Andy Carroll.

Erik Lamela 'To Spark Liverpool, Spurs And Barcelona Bidding War'

Argentina's latest prodigy Erik Lamela is being targeted by Liverpool and Tottenham after Barcelona expressed renewed interest in signing the River Plate attacking midfielder.

Lamela could follow the path of fellow countryman Javier Mascherano, who played for Liverpool before moving on to Barcelona.

The 19-year has already been approached by the Catalan giants who reportedly offered his family £80,000-a-year to move to Spain when Lamela was just 12-years old.

A product of River Plates famed youth academy, Lamela has emerged as one of the world's hottest South American prospects which is why both Liverpool and Spurs are interested.

The youngster can play in a variety of roles and his flexibility at playing in-behind strikers or on the wing would have been duly noted by scouts looking to exploit his talents.

A dead-ball specialist with an accurate left-foot, Lamela would offer both Kenny Dalglish and Harry Redknapp a package that could be finely tuned.

River Plate won't part with Lamela easily though, and have placed a price-tag of around £15million on him.

Chelsea And Liverpool Go Head-To Head For 'New Nesta' Defensive Addition

Highly rated Slovenian prospect Luka Kranjc could be on his way to England this summer according to reports in the local media.

Liverpool and Chelsea head a list of potential suitors for the promising central defender whose situation is also being closely monitored by Serie A giants Juventus.

La Republicca is reporting that the 15-year-old NK Maribor academy graduate will likely move to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, after it emerged that Chelsea made a formal collaboration agreement with the club before Christmas.

Valued at €150,000, Kranjc is regarded as one of the brightest defensive prospects in Europe and has even been likened in style of play to World Cup winning AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta.

Liverpool are known to be in the market for defensive additions, but it is the left-back position that remains the number one priority for Reds manager Kenny Dalglish to fill.

However, the signing of Kranjc would represent one that is very much for the future as Liverpool owners NESV have outlined a contingency plan to capture the brightest young talent that Europe has to offer.

The appointment of Liverpool Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli signalled their intentions when he was tasked with pinpointing potential stars of the future and asked to lay the foundations ahead of any possible future transfers to Anfield.

Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti is also under instruction from owner Roman Abramovich to identify relevant up and coming talent that will help strengthen the academy, also with a view to 'freshening up' an ageing Chelsea squad.

It’s likely that Kranjc will become the subject of a bidding war this summer and so the player will have to make a decision on a move to either Chelsea or Liverpool, depending on where the rising star and his representatives feel his long-term future will be best suited.

Liverpool Remain In The Race For Bojan

Liverpool continues to be linked with Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic, while Napoli has reportedly now joined the race for his signature.

Juventus are also reportedly monitoring the situation for the 20-year-old as he struggles to displace Pep Guardiola's preferred front trio of David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro.

According to Spanish publication Sport, Napoli are ready to rival other potential suitors in pursuit of La Masia graduate and are considering a summer move for his services.

Sport has also claimed that Liverpool are monitoring the Spain international and will mull over a considerable offer when the transfer window reopens at the end of the season.

Marca has since claimed that Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli is 'confident' of signing the Bojan - but Barca is reported to only be willing to sanction a season-long loan.

Liverpool are known to be in the market for attacking reinforcements to offer extra goalscoring options alongside Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez but will have their work cut out in the race to sign Bojan.

Arsenal and Tottenham will allegedly battle with Liverpool for the €20 million-rated forward and a deal for Bojan would undoubtedly represent quite a coup for any of his reported suitors.

Brazilian Playmaker Wants Liverpool Move

Wolfsburg midfielder Diego is thrilled by the interest of Liverpool.

Liverpool have been linked with the Brazilian, who only moved to struggling Wolfsburg in August from Juventus.

Diego has been watched by Reds football chief Damien Comolli and is aware of the rumours linking him with a move to Anfield.

“I am honored that such a club has set their eyes on me,” said Diego.

“They are one of the most prestigious teams in the world. Playing for them would be an honour.”

Carra Bites Back At Nani

Jamie Carragher has hit back at Nani, claiming his much-maligned tackle was the first he has had to hold his hands up for in his career.

The Liverpool vice captain has come under fierce criticism by the Manchester United camp for his challenge on the Portuguese winger during the Reds' 3-1 victory at Anfield.

Nani was left with a severe gash on his leg from the studs of a robust Carragher challenge and claimed the tackle did not belong in the sport.

But the Liverpool stalwart insists he has never been called up before for a mis-timed tackle of this nature.

"I apologized for it and said it was a poor tackle so I was pleased to see he was back in training six days later," Carragher said in The News of the World.

"I have played nearly 700 games and for 15 years in a position where you have to make dozens of tackles every week and that's the first time I've made a challenge that did not look so good.

"Nani mis-controlled it slightly and the ball was in mid-air as I got to him. I thought I could get the ball and I mis-timed it.

"There have been a few comments from Nani and Sir Alex Ferguson since but it certainly wasn't intended to be malicious."

Carragher is smarting at Liverpool's latest European woe after being eliminated by Braga in the last 16 of the Europa League.

But the 33-year-old defender believes the Merseysiders are capable of bouncing back, starting against Sunderland on Sunday with the club more stable than 12 month previous.

"It is much different now to when we went out of Europe a year ago," added Carragher.

"I feel that the worst is over. Since the new owners arrived, Kenny Dalglish and Steve Clark came in and Damien Comolli joined the club, you get a sense there is a clear direction and things are moving forward.

"The owners have not made a decision yet on the manager long-term yet, but the current set-up has worked well.

"The ownership is tight and the management team is right, so it is just on the pitch where we need to get it right again and there is a belief we will be back competing for a Champions League spot next season."

Reds Quartet Close To Return

Liverpool first-team coach Steve Clarke is hopeful Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly, Fabio Aurelio and Jonjo Shelvey will return to training next week.

Reds skipper Gerrard is currently recovering from groin surgery he underwent earlier this month.

Kelly has been out of action since picking up a hamstring problem in the defeat at West Ham, while Aurelio also suffered a hamstring strain in the 3-1 win over Manchester United.

Midfielder Shelvey has been out action since February after undergoing a knee operation.

The quartet is all making good progress with their injuries and Clark hopes they can step up their recoveries next week.

"They're all improving," Clarke told the club's official website.

"Fingers crossed, we will have Martin Kelly and Steven Gerrard back training by the middle of next week. We hope the same for Jonjo Shelvey, who has been out for a long time.

"Fabio Aurelio is also making good progress.

"They're our four longer-term injuries, the ones that have been causing us a bit of concern recently, but hopefully they'll all join in training next week."

Clarke is unsure if the quartet will be available to come back into the squad for Liverpool's clash at West Brom after the international break.

"We'll have to look at the situation when we get them back and see what shape they're in," added Clarke.

"If they're in contention (for West Brom) it's a bonus for us, but if they're not we've got other difficult matches coming up next month and if they're ready for them then it will be good for the football club."