Friday, June 03, 2011

Liverpool Plan Summer Clearance Sale To Fund Top-Quality Signings

Liverpool's owner, Fenway Sports Group, is anxious to rid the club's wage bill of several expensive transfer errors this summer to maximise Kenny Dalglish's budget for "highest quality" signings.

FSG has sanctioned a substantial outlay on recruits at Anfield, with an approach having been made for Sunderland's Jordan Henderson and interest in the Aston Villa pair of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young expected to develop after their commitments with England. While FSG is willing to spend heavily on transfer fees it is, however, reluctant to increase an already inflated wage bill and wants several high-earning players to make way for the additions.

Liverpool had the fourth-highest wage bill in the Premier League in 2010 – £121m – but failed to qualify for the Champions League next season and last. FSG inherited a host of financial burdens from the previous owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and the former managers Rafael BenĂ­tez and Roy Hodgson, and faces the dual problem of needing to improve Dalglish's squad – "We want to get the highest quality of player in that we can," the Scot has said – while starting to comply with Uefa's fair play regulations.

As John W Henry, the club's principal owner, said recently: "The worst surprise [following FSG's takeover last October] was the lack of depth in the squad. Our biggest concern in taking on this responsibility was this issue and it was a bigger issue than we feared. There was a huge multi-year payroll for a squad that had very little quality depth."

The free signings Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic, for example, earn £100,000 and £120,000 a week at Liverpool respectively, although the latter's astonishing salary includes a signing-on fee payable over the first 12 months of his contract. Cole made nine Premier League starts last season and Jovanovic five. Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen and Brad Jones, who cost £5m, £4.5m and £2.3m respectively and were also part of a disastrous transfer policy last summer, are surplus to requirements too but are liable to deter potential suitors with their salaries. Philipp Degen, Nabil El Zhar and Emiliano InsĂșa also remain on the payroll.

Liverpool must pay a final instalment of €5m (£4.4m) to Roma for Alberto Aquilani by the end of June and must decide whether to accept a major loss on the Italian midfielder or bring him back to Merseyside after a season's loan to Juventus.

Juventus have offered only £6m for a player who will cost Liverpool a total of £17.6m, with Roma to receive 5% of any fee agreed, although the 26-year-old's agent has insisted a compromise deal is possible. Franco Zavaglia said: "All season Juventus have always given me the necessary guarantees that they want to keep Alberto. The next 24 hours will be decisive. Any eventual economic agreements will follow after Juventus make their decision. If Juventus can't do a deal for Alberto and he has to return to Liverpool, then Milan would certainly be a destination that he would accept."

Full English Is On Liverpool's Menu This Summer

Kenny Dalglish wants Jordan Henderson to be the new, young English face of Liverpool.

Liverpool's £13million offer for Henderson underlines the shift in transfer policy at Anfield towards buying young and buying British.

Fenway Sports Group were shocked by the Reds' bloated wage bill when they took over last autumn and the Americans felt the squad was carrying too much dead wood.

They do not want any more expensive mistakes like Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen and have told Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli to target young British talent.

This new emphasis was behind their willingness to sanction the blockbusting £35million move for Andy Carroll in January and the striker perfectly fitted their new profile, being 22 and English.

Henderson, 20, also ticks all the boxes for the Americans and Liverpool believe they can do a deal for the England midfielder below Sunderland's £20m asking price.

Sunderland's valuation highlights the one big problem of buying British - home-grown players are always marked up by the selling clubs.

Ironically, Liverpool's £35m payment to Newcastle for Carroll fuelled the price inflation of British players and £20m now seems to be the starting point for any up-and-coming talent, be it Henderson or Jack Rodwell of Everton.

Liverpool are undeterred and Henderson is understood to be keen on a move to Anfield, while Steve Bruce has lined up Manchester United's Darron Gibson to bolster his midfield numbers at the Stadium of Light.

The Reds are determined to stick to their new age policy - despite high transfer fees - and it is no coincidence that out of all the players they are eyeing up this summer, Stewart Downing is the oldest at 26.

Ashley Young, Sylvain Marveaux, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique and Emiliano Izaguirre are 25, while James McCarthy is just 20.

Fenway Sports want to get away from signing older players from overseas who just seem to see a move to Liverpool as securing their pension. They only want young, hungry players with a resale value.

That view will only be strengthened at the end of this month when the club pay Roma the £4.4m final instalment for Kop flop Alberto Aquilani.

Rafa Benitez's most expensive gaffe will have cost the Reds £17.6m, meaning his 28 appearances will have stung them to the tune of £630,000 per game.

This does not include his £80,000-a-week wages, which Liverpool have started paying again since his loan spell at Juventus officially ended on Tuesday.

The Reds are keen to cut their losses on Aquilani and had hoped Juve would exercise the clause in his loan agreement to sign him permanently for £14million last month.

Instead, the Italians let that deadline pass and have told Liverpool they are only prepared to offer £6m for Aquilani, even though he still has three years left on his Anfield deal.

The Turin club are trying to drive a hard bargain as they feel Liverpool are in a weak bargaining position because they do not want Aquilani back at the club.

Aqulani's agent, Franco Zavaglia, is hopeful a compromise deal can be reached and also claims AC Milan are also keen on the Italy midfielder.

"All season, Juventus have always given me the necessary guarantees that they want to keep Alberto," he said.

"The next 24 hours will be decisive. Any eventual economic agreements will follow after Juventus make their decision.

"If Juventus can't do a deal for Alberto and he has to return to Liverpool, then Milan would certainly be a destination that he would accept."

Liverpool Striker Target 'Monitored By Scouts'

Reported Liverpool target Danny Ings is on the summer shopping list of a number of clubs in the Barclays Premier League.

The 19-year-old striker impressed with his quick feet and eye for goal after being drafted into the Bournemouth side for the second half of last season - scoring five times in the final seven games of the campaign to seal the Cherries a spot in the npower League One playoffs.

And, despite missing a penalty in the semi-final first leg against Huddersfield, Ings netted in the second fixture - although it wasn't enough to seal Bournemouth a place in the final.

TalkSPORT had previously suggested that Liverpool scouts had been to watch Ings at close quarters and now, GiveMeFootball can confirm, the young striker has indeed been monitored by top flight clubs.

"He's got unbelievable potential to go up to the highest level, which has obviously been proven by the people that have been watching him," a Bournemouth insider told GMF.

"Premier League teams have been watching him, and that speaks volumes."

Along with Liverpool, Fulham and Newcastle have also been linked with the promising forward and a transfer scrap for Ings' services could potentially ensue during the transfer window.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have previously outlined their intention to invest heavily on youth but, whether or not they decide Ings is worth the risk remains to be seen.

A jump up two divisions to Liverpool, Fulham or Newcastle would represent quite a challenge for Ings, but people in the know at Dean Court feel he has the ability to one day play at the highest level.

Bolton Wanderers Rival Liverpool For Unsettled Monaco Striker

According to reports Bolton Wanderers are interested in Monaco forward Park Chu-Young.

L'Equipe claims Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is monitoring the South Korean’s situation.

However, it seems he will face competition from his Liverpool counterpart Kenny Dalglish for the striker who wants a move away from the French club.

It is understood Park Chu-Young is eyeing a move to England after Monaco’s disastrous season in which they were relegated from La Ligue.

On his future Park said: "I would like to have new challenge in a stronger team capable of competing in bigger Europe-wide tournaments like the Champions League.” His agent has since confirmed he is looking for a move away.

Wanderers have the advantage of already having a fellow countryman on their books in the shape of Lee Chung-Yong.

Dalglish Primed For Swoop To Snatch £10m Premiership Midfielder

Wigan midfielder James McCarthy is edging closer to a move to Liverpool when the summer transfer window opens for business according to Chairman Dave Whelan.

McCarthy has been in impressive form for the Latics since his £1.2million move from Hamilton Academical in 2009.

The 20-year-old has been on the radar of Kop boss Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli for the past few months now an a move is looking likely to be on the cards.

Dalglish is keen to add some midfield spark to the squad in the summer and sees McCarthy as an ideal option.

The Republic of Ireland international will cost in the region of £10m and Whelan's latest announcement will also alert Arsenal and Chelsea who have also shown an interest in McCarthy.

Whelan said: "James is a quality young player and the intention is to be keeping hold of players of that calibre.

"In the end, of course, you have to let them go, there's no question about that. It's how long you can keep them here and it also depends on what the lad himself wants to do."

McCarthy who won the Scottish PFA Young Player of the year award in 2009, was a vital member of the Wigan side that avoided relegation on the final day of the Premier League campaign.

The Ireland midfielder made 27 appearances and scored five goals in all competitions.

Liverpool FC Donate More Than 1,000 Items To British Red Cross

More than 1,000 items of Liverpool FC merchandise will hit the charity shops this month.

The club is donating top players’ new and worn shirts, as well as sweatshirts, tracksuits and other valuable merchandise to help raise funds for those stricken by the earthquake in Japan.

Ian Ayre, managing director of Liverpool FC, said: “Our hearts go out to everyone in Japan who has suffered as a result of widespread destruction caused by the tsunami earlier this year. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Red Cross to help raise funds that will contribute towards rebuilding the country’s economic and social infrastructure.“

Red Cross teams have been providing first aid, emergency healthcare and psychological support, as well as assisting the Japanese authorities with evacuations near nuclear plants and staffing shelters for evacuees.

Its volunteers have also been distributing relief, including personal hygiene kits and blankets, as well as providing hot meals, clearing debris and transporting injured people.

But this effort takes vast resources and Liverpool FC is determined to do its bit to help out.

Among the thousand items will be 360 new and used players’ shirts once owned by the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Jose Reina and manager Kenny Dalglish.

And while some of the more valuable items will go to auction, the majority will be spread across the network of Red Cross shops in the North West, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Karen Butterworth, retail manager at the charity’s Birkenhead outlet, said: “It’s great for Liverpool FC and excellent for the Red Cross.

“All the items will be displayed on the shop floor.

“I’m sure it will be popular with customers and raise the profile of the work we do.”

The items should be on display around Red Cross shops by June 13.

Sue Radcliff, British Red Cross retail field manager, said: “We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation by Liverpool Football Club.

“The stock is rare and will be sold at some of our shops throughout the North West, helping us to raise thousands.”

Kenny Dalglish Set To Swoop For Sunderland Pair But Alberto Aquilani Deal Flounders

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is considering bidding for Sunderland’s £10 million-rated midfielder Lee Cattermole.

Dalglish is keen to bolster his midfield with young English talent and is an admirer of both Cattermole and his Sunderland team-mate Jordan Henderson, who is valued at £14 million. He has made informal inquiries about Cattermole, 23, and is set to follow them up with an official offer.

But Alberto Aquilani’s disappointing move to Liverpool is set to cost the Anfield club a further £4.4 million later this month – 10 months after his return to Italy on a season-long loan to Juventus.

The 26 year-old, who has started just 14 games in all competitions for Liverpool since his £17.6 million arrival on a five-year contract from Roma in Aug 2009, could be forced to return to Anfield next month after Juventus failed to take up an option to seal a permanent £14 million deal for the midfielder.

Liverpool must pay the final £4.4 million instalment of the £17.6 million transfer fee to Roma by June 30, even though Aquilani, whose last appearance came in the Europa League qualifier against FK Rabotnick last August, does not figure in Dalglish’s plans.

The financial drain caused by the balance of Aquilani’s transfer, combined by the substantial wages of out-of-favour players such as Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Emiliano Insua and Paul Konchesky, is unlikely to halt Dalglish’s pursuit of Cattermole and Henderson.

But further moves into the transfer market are likely to depend on how much Dalglish can trim from the club’s £120 million wage bill and generate by offloading those players viewed as surplus to requirements.

The financial black-hole surrounding Aquilani’s future is the most pressing at Anfield, however. The player has admitted his desire to remain in Italy, but despite interest from Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, Liverpool’s £14 million valuation is likely to prove prohibitive, with Juventus only prepared to offer £6 million for the player.

Liverpool, who is due to pay Roma five per cent of any money generated by Aquilani’s sale, could be forced to sell at a substantial loss or choose to loan him again next season, which is an unlikely option due to the prospect of his value diminishing further in 12 months’ time.

Aquilani’s agent, Franco Zavaglia, remains hopeful, however, that a deal can be struck between Liverpool and Juventus.

Zavaglia said: “All season, Juventus have given me the necessary guarantees that they want to keep Alberto.

“The next 24 hours will be decisive. Any eventual economic agreements will follow after Juventus make their decision.

“If Juventus can’t do a deal for Alberto and he has to return to Liverpool, then Milan would certainly be a destination that he would accept.”

Liverpool Are Reportedly Set To Bid For Juan Manuel Vargas

Liverpool is on the verge of bidding for Peruvian winger Juan Manuel Vargas, according to reports in Italy.

Corriere dello Sport claims the Reds are willing to pay as much as €20 million for the Fiorentina winger, who has been linked with an Anfield switch in the past and was rumoured to be subject of a bid in Janiuary.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is a known admirer of the player, whose versatility has seen him play at both full back and central midfield for both club and country.

Vargas moved to the Viola back in 2008, with the Serie 'A' side beating Real Madrid to the €12 million signature. His stock has continued to rise at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, and now a number of clubs across Europe are believed to be interested in the player's services.

Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool side is thought to be leading the race, although Manchester City is also thought to have been tracking the player for several months now.

Whilst the Merseysiders can't match the financial power of City, manager Dalglish has been promised transfer funds by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group.

Ngoo Fires In England Win

Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo fired as England U19s continued their quest for European Championship glory with a 3-2 victory over Switzerland on Thursday afternoon.

The 18-year-old bagged his goal on 44 minutes against the host nation, with Luke Williams and George Thorne also finding the net for Noel Blake's boys.

The result means England are well placed to reach the last eight heading into Sunday's final group game with Spain.

Four Academy products started for the Three Lions - Ngoo, Conor Coady, Jack Robinson and skipper Andre Wisdom.

Tom Ince was an unused substitute.