Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stewart Downing Set To Hand In Aston Villa Transfer Request To Force Through Liverpool move

Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing is set to hand in a transfer request in an attempt to speed up his protracted move to Liverpool, according to reports in the The Mirror.

Downing has been the subject of keen interest from Liverpool, and the England winger is keen on joining Kenny Dalglish’s team - although Aston Villa are reluctant to lose the former Middlesbrough winger after seeing Ashley Young join Manchester United.

The 26-year-old has two years remaining on his current contract but has no intention of renewing his deal. However, Liverpool must find a compromise with Villa, who has slapped a £19 million asking price on the player.

Downing has 27 caps for England but believes a move to Liverpool would help boost his chances of securing a more regular starting role in the national side.

Aston Villa are keen to keep the player but it is thought they would reluctantly accept a sizeable fee as they look to raise some transfer funds for new manager Alex McLeish, who has been linked with moves for Scott Dann and Ben Foster from his former club, Birmingham City.

Unsettled Diego On Anfield radar

Liverpool is reportedly considering bidding for Werder Bremen playmaker Diego.

Diego was this list week fined a massive €500,000 (£443,000) for storming out of the club's hotel when learning he was not to start the club's final game of last season. The Brazilian international is said to be keen on leaving the Bundesliga side whom he joined last summer.

The unsettled playmaker is said to be on Anfield director of football Damien Comolli's transfer wish-list and the 26 year old may be offloaded by Wolfsburg boss Felix Magath. The former Juventus man also was fined earlier in the season for taking a penalty, which he subsequently missed, which he was not designated to take.

Diego's overall form over the last campaign was mixed but the pint sized midfielder did weigh in with crucial performances that eventually help steer Wolfsburg away from relegation in what was a very poor season for the club overall. The Volkswagen backed side had won the title back in 2008/09 but finished last season in 15th spot in the Bundesliga, during which time Steve McClaren was fired and star striker Edin Dzeko was sold to Man City.

Liverpool is keen to bring in more creative talent and are said to be closing in on Blackpool talisman Charlie Adam and having already signed Sunderland youngster Jordan Henderson, Kenny Dalglish is expected to bring in further signings to help push his side back into the top four next term.

Diego had been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool during Rafa Benitez's spell at the club and the much traveled midfielder may be looking for a fresh start after stuttering seasons with Juventus and Wolfsburg.

Tony Pulis Eye Possible Double Swoop From Liverpool

ClubCall announced that Stoke City Manager Tony Pulis is possibly interested in a double move for Liverpool's Christian Poulsen and David N'Gog.

Poulsen never got his career off the ground for the Reds, despite reiterating desire to fight for his place he will most likely move on this summer.

David N'Gog has seen an offer from Sunderland recently but it looks to be that he will refuse as they will not match his wage demands.

Pulis had great success with former Liverpool wide man Jermaine Pennant, whom he signed permanently last season, and could be seeing an opportunity to make good on some other Reds outkasts.

Mata Shrugs Off Speculation

Juan Mata has sought to distance himself from mounting speculation regarding his future.

The Valencia winger is currently away on international duty with the Spanish U21 side, as they go in search of European Championship glory.

Mata is determined to add that prize to his collection, having formed part of the senior Spain squad that lifted the World Cup in 2010.

A number of eye-catching displays have helped the U21 side to make it through to Saturday's final, where they will meet Switzerland.

Mata has also drawn plenty of admiring glances for the manner in which he has helped guide Spain through the tournament.

Reports suggest he could be the next high-profile departure from Valencia, following the sales of David Villa and David Silva last summer.

The likes of Liverpool and Barcelona are reported to have expressed an interest, but for now the talented playmaker is keen to put transfer talk firmly to one side.

He told AS: "I would rather focus on the final against Switzerland at the moment.

"I don't know if it will be a long summer. At this point I am only thinking about winning the European championship and hopefully returning to Spain with a title that will allow me to enjoy my holidays."

Boudebouz Snubs Liverpool

Reported Liverpool target Ryad Boudebouz says he has no interest in leaving Sochaux and believes he needs another year in France.

The Reds are thought to have been weighing up whether to offer £5million for the Algeria international after his impressive season in Ligue 1.

The 21-year-old scored eight goals as Sochaux secured a place in the Europa League.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is thought to have gone to France in January in the hope off securing the midfielder during the winter transfer window.

However, Sochaux knocked the Reds back at the time and it looks as though they will miss out again after he stated his intentions to stay with his current club for at least another season.

"I would want to stay here for a further year," said Boudebouz.

"It is for the president to decide. It is true when I say that I'm with Sochaux 100% but we know that things happen fast in football so all I'm going to say for now is that I'm not looking to leave."

Lucas Eyes Up Trophies With Brazil

Lucas Leiva is ready to step into the lion’s den and spearhead Brazil’s push for an historic triumph. The Liverpool midfielder is in Argentina preparing for the Copa America which gets under way next Friday.

It will be Lucas’ first senior tournament with the Samba stars who are gunning for an unprecedented hat-trick of South American titles.

Coach Mano Menezes’ young side has been unconvincing in their warm-up games and is guaranteed a red-hot reception in the backyard of their fiercest rivals.

But Lucas is confident they will rise to the challenge and is relishing the opportunity to showcase his development on the big stage.

“It’s my first official competition with Brazil and I can’t wait for it,” he said.

“It means a lot – to play for Brazil is the highest target you can have.

“I know how difficult it is to get into this squad when you are competing against so many good players. It’s reward for what I’ve done for Liverpool and now I want to help Brazil do well.

“When you are playing in the country of your biggest rivals that makes it more difficult. I’m sure we will have more fans against us than for us.

“We know the people in Brazil love football so much and the expectation level is always really high. There will be a lot of pressure but I’m used to that from playing for Liverpool.

“It’s our first competition under the new manager.

“We have a very young team and are building for 2014.

“That’s the big target but when you go into any tournament like this you have to go into it focused purely on winning it.

“Brazil must always be one of the favourites to win and I want to help make history.”

The Copa America comes after a whirlwind few months for the 24-year-old.

The birth of his first son Pedro Lucas was followed by recognition that he has established himself as a key member of Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool side.

A new long-term contract to keep him at Anfield was finalized before he was deservedly crowned the Reds’ player of the year.

His progress has also seen him hold down a regular spot in the Brazilian midfield alongside Chelsea’s Ramires.

Menezes, who was Lucas’ manager at Gremio prior to his £6m switch to Anfield in 2007, has entrusted him with the coveted No 5 shirt worn by the likes of Dunga and Mauro Silva.

“A lot of big players have worn that shirt,” he admitted.

“It is really important. In Brazil they think everything starts with the No 5.

“For me it’s just a pleasure to wear that shirt and have the opportunity to play for Brazil.

“The manager has known me since I was 18. He knows me well but there are no favours.

“Everyone in the squad deserves to be there because of the form they have produced for their clubs.

“I try to prove myself in every game and show that I’m capable of being in the national team.

“It will be great if I can achieve good things with Brazil.”

Menezes took over from Dunga last summer and is tasked with developing a side capable of winning the 2014 World Cup on home soil.

Brazil is a work in progress, highlighted by their two friendlies earlier this month when a goalless draw with Dirk Kuyt’s Holland was followed by a 1-0 win over Romania.

All eyes will be fixed on striking sensation Neymar.

“The exciting 19-year-old joined up with the squad on a high this week after firing Santos to glory in the final of the Copa Libertadores against Uruguayan outfit Penarol.

Neymar has been strongly linked with a bumper move to Chelsea or Real Madrid and Lucas is in no doubt about his talent.

“He’s a fantastic player and one of the biggest talents we have at the moment in Brazil,” Lucas said.

“We know Chelsea tried to sign him before but he decided to stay in Brazil. Neymar’s been doing really well in Brazil and I’m really looking forward to watching him over the next few years.

“In time I know he will come to Europe and play for a big team.”

Brazil start their campaign against Venezuela next Sunday and also face group games against Paraguay (July 9) and Ecuador (July 13). If Brazil are going to retain their grip on the trophy they are likely to face a semi-final clash with Luis Suarez’s Uruguay prior to a final showdown with arch-rivals and pre-tournament favourites Argentina.

Lucas could find himself locking horns with Lionel Messi in Buenos Aires on July 24.

“Messi is the greatest player I’ve ever come up against,” he said.

“I played against him in the semis of the Olympics in China in 2008 and then when we played Argentina in a friendly last year he scored in the last minute. We know he’s in a very good moment and it’s hard to stop him.

“Argentina has the best player in the world and they are always really strong but Uruguay will also be tough. They did very well in the World Cup and have very good players like Luis.

“Luis and I have been talking about maybe facing each other in the quarter-final or semi-final. That would be a great occasion but hopefully Brazil will do better.

“If Brazil play against Argentina in the final then the world will stop to watch. The rivalry is massive.

“It will be a very good competition to watch and to play in. I can’t wait for it to start.”

Carragher Admits He Would Like To Become Club's Youth Coach After Retiring

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has admitted he would be keen on coaching the club's youth team when he retires from playing.

The 33-year-old is keen to remain at the club he has played for since 1996, making more than 500 appearances on Anfield.

"I want to carry on playing but maybe in the future, that will be up to the club," he told Chinese reporters ahead of the club's tour to the Far East this summer. "That's something I'll look at because you want to help Liverpool in anyway you can.

"I think we've seen two new young players in the last few weeks, [John] Flanagan and [Jack] Robinson at full-backs and Jay Spearing. The youth team is very good."

Carragher also praised Kenny Dalglish after his return to the manager's seat at Anfield, he said: "Kenny has brought a lot of positivity to the club. He has been a great galvanizing figure for the club."

Reds To Visit Singapore

Singapore Reds can look forward to another memorable summer as Liverpool Football Club are returning to the country which gave us so many happy memories two years ago.

With the planned visit to Korea having been cancelled earlier this month, the Reds have taken the exciting opportunity to return to Singapore for a special training session on the third leg of their Standard Chartered sponsored pre-season tour of Asia.

Kenny Dalglish's squad will travel to Singapore - where they enjoyed an unforgettable welcome back in 2009 - immediately after their friendly game in Malaysia on July 16 and will train in front of invited supporters at a training session the following evening before their flight back to Liverpool.