Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Liverpool Monitoring Renato Augusto, Reports Claim

Liverpool is reportedly interested in Bayer Leverkusen attacker Renato Augusto.

The Brazil international has been compared to compatriot Ronaldinho and has been lighting up the Bundesliga with a series of cultured displays.

According to sources in Germany - as rehashed by - Liverpool is one of a number of clubs monitoring the 23-year-old, who is said to be keen on a move to the Barclays Premier League.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is allegedly an admirer of the versatile forward and the former Flamengo star could provide the Anfield club with extra dynamism in attack.

Comolli is understood to be monitoring a number of potential goalscoring acquisitions and Liverpool is to invest heavily in their playing squad again when the transfer window reopens.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group made their mark on the transfer window in January when £58 million was spent to capture Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez and a busy summer at Anfield awaits.

Liverpool Winger Ince Wanted At Juventus

Liverpool winger Thomas Ince is a target for Juventus.

Ince, the son of former Liverpool and Inter Milan midfielder Paul Ince, is off contract in June and yet to settle on new terms with the Reds.

Tuttosport says Juventus are aware of Ince's situation and are monitoring developments closely.

Juventus’ General Manager Beppe Marotta is well aware of Ince's talents and confident he can settle quickly in Turin after his time in Italy as a child.

Mihaylov: Reina Wants To Leave

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov has claimed Pepe Reina has wanted to leave the club for "one or two years".

Bulgaria international Mihaylov, 22, was signed by the Reds in 2007 and loaned out to FC Twente in a bid to secure a work permit.

He has since joined Twente on a permanent deal but, as he has now become a regular for his country, he has claimed Liverpool retain an option to take him back to Anfield.

"Liverpool is a huge club," he told Darik Radio. "It wasn't possible to get a work visa when I went there but now there'll be no such problems because I'm playing regularly in the national team."

Asked about Liverpool's option to re-sign him, Mihaylov said: "I think it's absolutely real. The option was made when Rafa Benitez was in charge."

Mihaylov believes Liverpool will be in need of a new goalkeeper in the near future as Reina has a desire to return to his home country.

"I know from my agent Pepe Reina wants to go back to Spain," he said. "His desire dates back one or two years.

"It's not difficult to see this. I know him well - he's one of the best 'keeper in the world but his current form is not as it should be in a club like Liverpool."

Skrtel Rules Out Summer Move From Liverpool

Martin Skrtel has distanced his name from the group of players expected to leave Liverpool this summer, insisting Kenny Dalglish has changed the mood of the football club.

Following the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson have both been linked to summer departures, but Skrtel will not be following suit.

Skrtel's future was the subject of speculation back in January when he was enduring a poor run of form but the 26-year-old is happy at Anfield.

''Why would I go anywhere else? I know I am at a huge club - one of the biggest in the world, with a history and a set of supporters that no other club can really match,'' he told LFC Weekly.

''We have great players like Stevie Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. Not everybody gets to experience this. I am very proud to be here.

''I have a contract for the next three-and-a-half years. I am happy here, so if the manager and people at the club are happy with my work, I'm happy to be here too.''

Skrtel believes Dalglish's man-management skills have been key in turning around their failing season. Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in early January after his disastrous six-month spell in charge and, since then, the Reds have accrued 20 points from 10 matches, losing just twice. That has put them within touching distance of fifth place - and the final qualifying spot for Europe - in the Premier League.

The Scot has still to have a permanent contract offered to him by owners Fenway Sports Group, having originally been appointed until the end of the season only, but Skrtel would welcome him being given an extended deal.

''He knows how to take the pressure away and protect the squad,'' said the Slovakia international. ''A lot has changed at the club recently, but the most important thing has been confidence. Kenny has given us that. 'With confidence in football you can achieve great things. Everybody is happy now, looking forward to every single training session, every match.

''If he gets a contract for a long time, I'll be very happy. Every day he makes work interesting and enjoyable. We are winning games now. You can tell Kenny is a winner.''

Suarez - I'm Not A Hero Yet

Luis Suarez insists he has not been at Liverpool long enough to be considered a 'real hero' by the club's fans.

The Uruguay ace has made an immediate impact at Anfield since signing from Ajax in January, scoring two Premier League goals in five appearances.

The 24-year-old striker has also been an instant hit with the Liverpool faithful, who have already given him his own song.

But Suarez is adamant he has work to do on Merseyside if he is going to become a true idol at the club.

"I've only been here a month-and-a-half and it's good to see the fans are happy," Suarez told LFC Weekly.

"I came here to work hard for the team and to do my absolute best. If they are singing my name maybe it shows I'm doing my job well.

"But there are a lot of games and there is a lot of time to go before I am a real hero. It's too early for that."

He added: "I think the fans at this club play a major role, bigger than at some other clubs.

"The only part of the song I can recognize is my name.

"Although I might not understand what exactly they are singing, I know my name is mentioned. That's important to me."

Cole Still Feels Privileged

Joe Cole has insisted he will never take for granted how lucky he is to be a professional footballer playing for a club of Liverpool's stature, while he has also stated that new team-mate Andy Carroll has the potential to emulate Didier Drogba.

The signings of Carroll and fellow striker Luis Suarez have fuelled excitement among the Anfield faithful about what the future could hold for the club.

Cole's own arrival last summer was also greeted with enthusiasm but the campaign has not gone smoothly for the experienced midfielder.

He has struggled to show his best form and currently finds himself well down the pecking order under manager Kenny Dalglish.

However, the former Chelsea man has not lost sight of how fortunate he is to have such a career, and is especially honoured to be a part of such a club like Liverpool.

"I'm privileged to play for Liverpool Football Club and privileged to be a professional footballer," he told LFC Weekly.

"The best thing you can do as a player is make sure that you don't take that for granted every day because it's a great lifestyle. There is nothing you would want to change.

"It's been a bit stop-start for me this season but football's all about ups and downs and sometimes you just have to ride the rollercoaster. I just try to have a positive outlook and keep going.

"I'm enjoying my football at the moment and taking every day as it comes, making sure I work hard every day from the moment I come in to the moment I leave."

Cole admits there is a sense of optimism around the camp and has credited the appointment of his former Chelsea coach, Steve Clarke, as having a major influence.

"I don't think you'll find a better coach around than Steve Clarke," he said. "The lads really enjoy training and I am coming into work with a big smile on my face every day.

"I think all the lads are happy and results have picked up."

Cole played alongside Drogba for several seasons at Stamford Bridge and sees a similar type of striker in Liverpool's big-money January recruit, Carroll.

Cole even feels that Carroll is ahead of Drogba in terms of his development at this stage of his career.

"He's very much like Didier Drogba," said Cole.

"Andy's 22 - we all know what a cracking player Didier is, but he wasn't playing at this level at that age.

"There's still a lot of developing for Andy to do so he can get better and better.

"He's a good lad and I think you'd have been hard pressed to have found two better signings in January than Andy and Luis Suarez."

Capello Hails Carroll Display

Fabio Capello is confident Andy Carroll's first international goal will help to ease his transition to the England stage.

The £35million striker's first-half strike looked like earning England a Wembley victory until Sunderland's Asamoah Gyan levelled for Ghana in stoppage time.

It was a fitting conclusion to an evening of immense promise for England, with Capello delighted by Liverpool frontman Carroll's contribution on his second senior international appearance.

Carroll has only recently returned to club duty after a thigh injury and Capello was pleased with hisreturn.

"It is important for the strikers to score goals," Capello said. "He was the same player that I saw before he got injured.

"He ran a lot but he needs games. He is a big person, so it is impossible for him to recover quickly, like Jack Wilshere or Aaron Lennon."

Carroll's was just one of a number of pleasing performances that kept the crowd entertained.

Stewart Downing and Ashley Young also turned in outstanding displays, leaving Capello pleased.

"I am really happy because I saw a fantastic game," the England boss said.

"It was not a friendly game. Every tackle was a fight. The players did very well and the new players did very well.

"It is interesting for me to know the value of the players when they have a match at Wembley."

The crowd also got to see Danny Welbeck, who was introduced for his debut to huge boos from the vast visiting contingent after he snubbed the opportunity to play for Ghana, the birthplace of his parents.

However, Capello has denied handing Welbeck his debut just to keep him out of Ghana's clutches.

"Absolutely not," said Capello, when asked whether he was merely blocking Ghana from picking Welbeck in the future.

"I work for England. I always select the best players for England. Yesterday, Aaron Lennon was injured. That is why I picked Welbeck.

"Danny Welbeck is going to be a very important player for England and Manchester United," said Capello.

"I monitored him last year. He was an important player then. I went to see him three times but then he got injured. However, he is a really good player."

Richard Keys Insults Scousers

Richard Keys has sparked more outrage by accusing Liverpool fans of seeking revenge before the Heysel Stadium disaster.

Richard Keys suggested the ugly riot that left 39 Juventus fans dead was part of a payback for beatings Liverpool fans took from Roma fans.

Tragedy struck when a wall collapsed as fans clashed before the 1985 European Cup Final at the Brussels ground.

But Keys, 53, shocked listeners on his TalkSport radio show by making out it was Kop supporters taking their revenge after being attacked by Roma fans the year before.

The ex-Sky Sports host implied the disaster followed retribution for the beatings Liverpool fans suffered during 1984’s European Cup final, which the Reds won on penalties.

His comments stunned ex-Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar, 53, who had been discussing the tragedy with Keys and co-host Andy Gray, 55.

Keys butted in: “Liverpool fans were looking for revenge the next time they were playing an Italian team.”

Reds fan Paul Glassard raged: “He has slandered thousands of fans. It was so unbelievable what he said, to claim they took revenge by killing other fans.”

Gordon Fidler of Liverpool Supporters Club said: “There is no way what happened was revenge. Keys is talking rubbish again. The sooner he’s out of a job the better.”

The gaffe comes just two months after Keys and Gray landed the job following their departure from Sky Sports for making sexist remarks.

Keys quit and Gray was sacked for suggesting assistant referee Sian Massey, 25, did not understand offside.

TalkSPORT and Liverpool FC both refused to comment.

Liverpool Could Face A Conflict Of Interest In Europe Next Season

Will the takeover of Roma by the Boston-based private-equity investor Thomas DiBenedetto have any implications for Liverpool?

Digger only asks this question because DiBenedetto is also a stakeholder in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns 100% of the shares in the Anfield club. As the two teams' respective leagues currently stand, Roma would qualify for next season's Europa League. Liverpool is four points off qualification for that competition.

If both clubs qualify, then it is possible Uefa's rules governing the integrity of its competitions would come in to play. This state: "No individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a Uefa club competition". This is defined as "holding a majority of the shareholders' voting rights" or "being able to exercise by any means a decisive influence in the decision-making of the club", among other things.

If any clubs fall foul of these rules the lower-ranked team (in this case Roma) would be excluded from the competition. It is possible that these rules would apply in this case, though one can not be certain because it is impossible to ascertain how much of the FSG DiBenedetto owns.

Last week FSG sent out a press release announcing that it would no longer be trading under its former guise of New England Sports Ventures LLC. However, NESV is still the name of the holding company that is registered with the Massachusetts Corporations Division. This official channel has no publicly available information relating to NESV's equity structures. Neither does the Division of Corporations of the State of Delaware, where NESV is ultimately domiciled.

Usefully for investors who do not wish to disclose their identities or the nature of their investments, Delaware never does oblige them to make public this sort of information. The Premier League does oblige its clubs to make public the identities of any shareholders with stakes in excess of 10%. Regrettably, Liverpool does not do this, saying only: "The sole owner of the Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Limited is New England Sports Ventures, trading as Fenway Sports Group. John Henry and Tom Werner are generally responsible for the management of Fenway Sports Group."

Ian Cotton, the Liverpool executive who deals with matters relating to the club's ownership, could not be contacted. An email to FSG's generic address went unanswered. So Digger asked the media department of the Boston Red Sox what it knew of FSG, the parent it shares with Liverpool. It responded that it would attempt to put Digger in touch with DiBenedetto (he did not call back last night either, although he was probably quite busy putting his deal for Roma together). It also said that the identity of the clubs' shareholders and their respective stakes "is not public information".

The one little chink of light FSG has recently shed on who owns it is as follows: "Fenway Sports Group is led by Principal Owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner, with additional ownership interests being held by a select number of prestigious individuals and The New York Times." Why so secret? Surely fans are entitled to know who owns their club, whether they are baseball or football fans, because sometimes it just might have an impact on the integrity of a competition.

Liverpool Team Handed Significant Financial Boost

Liverpool Ladies Football Club has entered into a multi-year agreement with health club chain Total Fitness ahead of the start of the new soccer season.

Under terms of the two-year deal, Total Fitness will enjoy significant brand exposure at the Liverpool FC affiliate's home matches, due to be played at Skelmersdale United's 2,500 capacity stadium.

Additionally the entire Liverpool Ladies squad and staff will receive full Total Fitness gym membership.

"It's a fantastic time to be involved in women's football," said Chris Done, Total Fitness business development manager.

Liverpool Ladies FC is one of eight semi-professional women's soccer clubs competing in the FA Women’s Super League (WSL). ESPN will broadcast live WSL games and highlights programs covering the inaugural season, which is due to launch in April 2011.

Though financial details were not released, Liverpool Ladies 2009 deal with Total Fitness was estimated to be worth US$25,000 annually and the new agreement is thought to be on a similar level.