Friday, March 25, 2011

Rick Parry Defends Decision To Sell In 2007

The former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has defended the decision to sell the club to George Gillett and Tom Hicks in 2007.

It has been widely-reported that Hicks and Gillett assumed control of the club despite a rival offer from Dubai International Capital (DIC) but Parry, who along with then chairman and owner David Moores made the decision to sell to the American duo, insists that DIC were not in the running.

"It wasn't a case of us rejecting Dubai," Parry told London's Evening Standard. "They were the preferred bidder but they walked away."

The reign of Hicks and Gillett, which ended when Fenway Sports Group bought the club last year after a bitter court battle, was punctuated by public arguments between the two owners, between Hicks and Parry and disagreements between then-manager Rafael Benítez and the owners.

The much-heralded new stadium in Stanley Park failed to materialize and the club struggled under the weight of the large amount of debt which was placed on the club by Hicks and Gillett. Parry believes much of the difficulty stemmed from the fractious nature of the relationship between the owners.

"I think one of the fundamental [problems] was that they actually didn't get on terribly well with each other," Parry explains.

Parry left the club in 2009 and, despite the often haphazard nature of the Hicks and Gillet era, he feels that for a period of time at least things were going well.

"Don't forget and certainly until I left – which was 2009 – we were second in the league. The business plan was a net spend of £20m on players. And they'd over delivered on that. They took us pretty close to winning the Premier League in 2008-2009, within four points of Manchester United with a huge points total.

"So it wasn't all doom and gloom. Then, in 2009, for whatever reason, there didn't appear to be any net spend at all on the players. By which time they clearly realized that they probably needed to sell completely."

Parry also stressed that despite what seemed to be a hostile relationship, he remains on good terms with Benítez.

"You don't get into the business if you want people who are easy," he said. "You want people who are winners. He's very demanding and he's a perfectionist. But I'm still friendly with Rafael."

Liverpool Target Eljero Elia Set For Summer Hamburg Sale

Liverpool winger target Eljero Elia is set for a summer exit from Hamburg, according to reports.

The Dutch speedster was linked with a string of clubs across Europe in the summer, with Liverpool the most heavily connected to a move for the 24-year-old.

Elia has continued to be linked with the Reds despite a change of manager at Anfield, and new Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish could now land the player for €12 million if reports in German newspaper Bild are to be believed.

A product of the Ajax academy, Elia made his name at FC Twente in the Eredivisie before making an €8.9 million move to Bundesliga outfit Hamburg in the summer of '09.

The player's progress has continued since the move, and with 17 international caps and a string of impressive cameo appearances for Holland during the World Cup to his name, the future looks bright for the former ADO Den Haag starlet.

Liverpool has been linked with a number of wingers in recent months, with Ashley Young, Matt Jarvis and Charles N'Zogbia all speculatively placed on the Anfield radar.

Dalglish has hinted at a number of squad changes for the Merseysiders this summer, with a left back and winger thought to be the priorities for the Kop hero.

Elia is another potential target, with the Rothosen reportedly looking to cash-in on the player to fund their own transfer activity. The options appear to be growing for Liverpool ahead of the re-opening of the transfer window in the summer.

Lucas Lauds Luiz Talent

Liverpool midfielder Lucas admits he has not been surprised by Brazil team-mate David Luiz's smooth transition to the Premier League.

Defender Luiz, 23, made the switch to Chelsea from Benfica in January and has already proved a big hit at Stamford Bridge.

He scored a vital goal against Manchester City last weekend and has slotted into the Blues backline with ease.

Luiz joins fellow former Benfica and Brazil man Ramires in West London and Lucas is pleased to see his compatriots performing so well, despite the fact that they play for a rival team.

"I've known David since I was maybe 19 years old and we used to play for the Under 20s together," he said. "I am not surprised [with his impact].

"I am really, really happy with the way he has arrived because I know how difficult it is to adapt in the Premier League.

"But he is already scoring a lot of goals and maybe people were not expecting this. And they have been important goals as well so I am happy with the way he is playing.

"Ramires is also doing really well and we are happy because I know how difficult it is for a Brazilian player to come to the Premier League and do well.

"Hopefully more Brazilians will come and help teams in the Premier League."

Lucas also believes that former Red Fernando Torres, who also joined the English champions in January, will prove a big hit at Chelsea once he breaks his scoring duck.

"We know it was a big change for him," he added. "He did really well for Liverpool and scored a lot of goals.

"I think as soon as he scores the first goal he will shine the same as he did at Liverpool."

Brazil take on Scotland in a friendly clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday and Lucas is looking forward to his time with the national squad.

"The new manager is trying to give opportunities to the young players and trying to build a new team so a lot of new faces are here," he remarked.

"But we just have to take the opportunity to try and be in the squad all the time and look to the Copa America."

Leiva - Kenny Motivation For Success

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has praised the atmosphere at the club under manager Kenny Dalglish and urged his team-mates to push up the table in the Barclays Premier League run-in.

The Reds have endured a tumultuous season after struggling for the most part under previous incumbent Roy Hodgson and the financial constraints under which he worked. However, Dalglish's return to the Reds has resulted in an upturn of fortunes that has propelled the side to sixth position in the top flight.

"Everyone can see the atmosphere is very good at the moment," said Lucas. "The results at the moment are also better than before."

He added: "We know how important it is for the club and for the fans so we believe we can do a lot more. We now have just eight games left to play and hopefully we can finish well this season and then see what happens.

"Then we can look to the next season."

Speaking ahead of Brazil's international friendly with Scotland on Sunday, Lucas was also keen to defend former team-mate Fernando Torres.

Much has been spoken about the Spain international since his £50 million January move to Chelsea and his subsequent inability to find the back of the net for his new club.

However, Lucas backed his former comrade and preferred to look to the future with new Liverpool attacker Luis Suarez leading the line.

"Fernando was a very good player for Liverpool," he said. "The atmosphere is very good but it was very good with Fernando as well.

"I don't like to talk about my friend because he is a friend of mine. I hope he will be happy at Chelsea and of course we are now looking at Luis and the player that came is already shining."

Liverpool Keen To Sign Roma Defender Philippe Mexes

Liverpool will attempt to secure the signature of the French international defender Philippe Mexes on a free transfer this summer should Kenny Dalglish’s prime defensive target, Gary Cahill, spurn Anfield in favour of Manchester United.

The Scot sees the Bolton defender as the ideal long-term replacement for Jamie Carragher, but knows he would be forced to pay a premium price — as much as £18 million — to see off United, persistent suitors for the 25 year-old, who has become one of the most coveted players in the Premier League.

Should Cahill indicate that he prefers a move to Old Trafford, Liverpool will turn their attentions to Mexes, whose £75,000-a-week contract at Roma expires this summer.

Liverpool's newly-promoted director of football, Damien Comolli, is a long-term admirer of the former Auxerre player and is thought to be confident he can strike a deal despite interest from Arsenal and AC Milan.

Talks over a new deal at Stadio Olimpico have been ongoing for 18 months but Mexes, a cornerstone of the French national side under new manager Laurent Blanc, has thus far failed to agree terms, with Roma’s boardroom engulfed in similar chaos to that which afflicted Liverpool before the arrival, last October, of Fenway Sports Group.

Thomas DiBenedetto, himself an investor in FSG, is expected to complete a takeover of the Serie A side in the coming days after nine months in which the club has been controlled — and half-owned - by UniCredit, the Italian bank.

The American billionaire, though, is unlikely to arrive in time to stop Mexes calling time on seven years in Rome.

The club are unlikely to return to the Champions League next season and face another summer of upheaval, with caretaker manager Vincenzo Montella likely to be replaced and several senior players, including Daniele De Rossi, keen to depart.

The wages Mexes would be able to command at Anfield as a free transfer may tempt him to join Liverpool even if the club fails to qualify for Europe, while it is believed FSG would consider signing a player outside their preferred age bracket — Mexes will be 29 — as he would still be able to command considerable resale value.

FSG are expected to commit substantial funds to Dalglish’s rebuilding project at Anfield once the Scot’s own future is finalised — negotiations are underway on a two-year deal to appoint him as permanent manager — with Comolli stressing earlier this week that he was expecting “a busy summer”.

Dalglish remains keen on signing Charlie Adam, the Blackpool midfielder, while both Ashley Young and Matt Jarvis, of Aston Villa and Wolves, are long-term targets.

Liverpool Told They Must Pay £10m To Land La Liga Defender

Liverpool will land Osasuna defender Nacho Monreal if they meet the buyout clause in his contract, it has emerged.

According to AS, should the Reds bid £10 million for the 26-year-old, it will trigger the clause written into his deal and discussions between the two parties can then commence.

It was initially reported by the Daily Mail that Liverpool were chasing the Spaniard as they look find a recognized left-back after the departure of Paul Konchesky from Anfield.

With Konchesky failing to make a lasting impression on Merseyside, and subsequently being loaned out to Nottingham Forest, Liverpool are in desperate need of a long-term replacement - and appear to have identified Monreal as a potential successor.

With Fabio Aurelio struggling with form and injury, Glen Johnson has been forced to deputize for Liverpool and - while he seems to be flourishing in his new position - the Anfield club are expected to sign reinforcements in the summer.

As well as Monreal, Liverpool have also been linked with Newcastle's Jose Enrique and Celtic star Emilio Izaguirre in their pursuit of fresh blood.

Spanish Playmaker Reveals 'Liverpool Rejection'

Reported Liverpool target Sergio Canales has revealed he rejected the opportunity to move to the Barclays Premier League in January.

The 20-year-old has featured just nine times for Real Madrid this season and, hence, was linked with a transfer window move away from the Bernabeu, but ultimately decided to stay.

According to Sportingo, Liverpool were one of the clubs to have been rebuffed in their attempts to sign the Spanish playmaker - who believes remaining in Madrid represents the best option for his future progression.

"During January I had options to move to England, but I want to repay Mourinho and the club's trust in me," the young playmaker told Marca.

"I don't regret moving to Real Madrid and I knew that this first year would be tough. It's not great when I'm not in the squad but I want to show what I can do on the pitch."

Despite allegedly missing out on Canales in January, Liverpool are reportedly exploring the option of bringing him to Anfield during the summer transfer window as they look to bolster their attacking options.

Liverpool are also said to be pursuing Canales' compatriot Bojan Krkic, who himself is on the peripheries of the set-up at Barcelona.

It was initially claimed by Spanish publication Sport that Liverpool was monitoring Bojan 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 Damien Comolli is 'confident' of signing the Bojan - but Barca is reported to only be willing to sanction a season-long loan.

Suarez Postive On Injury

Luis Suarez has handed Liverpool a lift by revealing his injury is not as serious as had been feared.

The Uruguayan produced a starring display in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Sunderland last weekend, scoring a brilliant solo goal to seal victory. He was substituted after scoring his goal and left the field seemingly nursing a groin problem.

Suarez pulled out of Uruguay's friendlies with Estonia and Republic of Ireland, opting to remain on Merseyside for treatment.

"In Liverpool working hard to be ready for next match," Suarez wrote on Twitter. "I've been lucky, the injury isn't that bad and it should be fine.

"I also want to tell you I'm a bit sad for not playing the match with Uruguay."

Reds Stage Derby Fightback

Liverpool Reserves came from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw in a pulsating mini derby clash against Everton at Anfield on Thursday night.

Despite the Reds' early dominance, Adam Forshaw gave the visitors the lead when he curled a brilliant long-range effort past Martin Hansen on 17 minutes.

Liverpool continued to press, but the Blues extended their lead as half-time loomed with Conor McAleny firing into the Anfield Road End goal and Michael Roberts spurned the opportunity to reduce the deficit before the break when his penalty was well saved.

However, the hosts were much improved in the second half and levelled the game up with two goals in seven minutes as Suso and Nikola Saric found the back of the net.

The Reds went closest as both sides toiled in search of a winner, but were ultimately forced to settle for a well-earned point.

Liverpool headed into the game in front of a packed Kop aiming to close the gap on Barclays Premier Reserve League Group B leaders Blackburn Rovers.

The Reds began the day four points behind the Lancashire side having played two games less.

However, Pep Segura's men were without a win in three matches and suffered an agonising last-gasp 2-1 reversal at Arsenal last time out.

It proved to be Everton who mustered the first attempt on goal inside two minutes when Apostolos Vellios pounced upon a wayward pass by Jack Robinson before having his skimming long-range strike parried by Hansen.

Nevertheless, the hosts exerted all of the early pressure without ever really calling visiting stopper Connor Roberts into action - a Thomas Ince free-kick that cannoned against the Everton wall was the Reds' best chance of the opening exchanges.

It was, therefore, somewhat against the run of play when Everton's Forshaw broke the deadlock on 17 minutes.

Collecting Vellios's knockdown from a long ball forward, the winger strode two paces forward and clipped a fine effort beyond the outstretched hands of Hansen from fully 20 yards.

Liverpool's riposte saw Suso shimmy his way beyond three Everton defenders on the edge of the box before grazing the top of the crossbar.

And the Blues' hopes of maintaining their advantage were dealt a blow on the half-hour mark when Jose Baxter was stretchered from the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Thomas Donegan was his replacement.

With the first-half minutes beginning to ebb away, Saric looped a header harmlessly off target from Steven Irwin's free-kick before the latter skewed wildly into the Kop when well positioned moments later.

The Reds were made to pay for their profligacy three minutes before the break when Everton again struck the home side with a sucker punch.

Jake Bidwell's long punt forward from a free-kick just inside the Blues' half was flicked on by Vellios and into the path of McAleny, and the striker displayed great composure to execute a deft looping finish over the head of Hansen from 12 yards.

In first-half stoppage time, Liverpool was presented with a golden opportunity to reduce the arrears when they were awarded a penalty following a challenge by Aristote Nsiala on Robinson inside the box.

Michael Roberts opted to take the responsibility, but his spot-kick was tame and easily repelled by his namesake in the Everton goal to ensure the visitors went into the break with their two-goal lead still intact.

Segura's response saw the Spaniard replace Conor Thomas with Toni Silva ahead of the second period having undoubtedly demanded an improved showing from his contingent.

There were certainly signs of more promise in their play and after Saric had teed up Suso to steer narrowly over, Silva drew a fine stop out of Roberts.

The Everton custodian then had to be alert to thwart Irwin's close-range hook as the hosts finally began to threaten.

That pressure finally told on 58 minutes when Suso found the back of the net with a perfectly placed shot from 20 yards, finding the bottom corner with unerring accuracy.

And they should have levelled the scoreline within 60 seconds as Irwin's defence-splitting through pass sent Silva bounding down on Roberts's goal, but the Portuguese winger managed only to stab wide of the upright.

But Liverpool did restore parity on 65 minutes. Saric collected Robinson's low cross inside the box with his back to goal before spinning Nsiala and striking low into the far corner.

The Reds were well in the ascendency and went close to taking the lead first through Ince, whose audacious chip landed on the roof of the net, prior to Roberts making a brave sprawling block to frustrate Silva at close quarters.

With time ticking away, Silva was millimetres away from turning Ince's cross over the line as both sides took home a share of the spoils from a lively contest at Anfield.