Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dalglish: No European Football This Season Could Be An Advantage For Liverpool

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish believes that a season without European competition may be good for his side as it looks to return to the Champions League.

The Reds competed in the Europa League last season but are aiming to return to Europe's premier club competition this term. Dalglish, who has invested heavily in his squad since returning as manager in January, believes they can achieve this more easily without the distraction of midweek European trips.

"We’d much rather be in the Champions League than out of it and this is the first year for many years when we’ve not been in Europe," he told reporters. “But maybe that will be an advantage to us because we will have fewer games to play and players will have a chance to get more rest. All we can say is we’ll give our best for the football club. The more games we win, the more successful we’ll be."

Dalglish went on to praise the Liverpool fans and has promised his squad will be fully committed ahead of the new season.

“We can promise everyone we will give everything for the ­football club. All we can do is give our best and, if we get results, we’ll be successful," he said. “It’s more of an honour than a burden to manage this club. The expectations are there, but we have to manage them and the supporters have to manage them. We know our fans have respect for us and commitment to the football club and we hope to get results for them.”

Liverpool Complete Signing Of Stewart Downing For £20m

Liverpool have completed the signing of Stewart Downing from Aston Villa for an undisclosed fee believed to be £20m.

The 26-year-old winger, who becomes Kenny Dalglish's fourth summer signing, said: "It's a great feeling and I'm very happy to be here. It's been a long time coming and I've had to wait a few weeks but I'm really pleased.

"With the tradition, the manager and the players they have here, there was a big temptation and once I knew of their interest, there was only one place I wanted to go. When I wanted to come to Liverpool, it was the first thing I thought of – playing at Anfield in front of those great fans. I'm really looking forward to it."

The prospect of winning trophies on a regular basis also appealed to Downing. "It would be nice to win something. I'm sure that's the same objective for everyone, not just me. My aim is to be in the team, to play well and give something back, because the manager has pushed the boat out to get me here.

Downing's arrival marked the end of a busy day for Liverpool, who also completed the signing of the goalkeeper Alexander Doni from Roma. The 31-year-old Brazilian is thought to have joined on a free transfer after agreeing terms and passing a medical. Doni, who has 10 caps for Brazil, will provide backup and competition for Liverpool No1 José Reina, a role he also played at Roma behind Júlio Sérgio.

Downing and Doni join Jordan Henderson from Sunderland and Blackpool's Charlie Adam as Liverpool's summer recruits.

Liverpool Was The Only Club I Wanted To Join, Says Downing

Stewart Downing has revealed he was desperate to secure a move to Liverpool after the winger finally signed for the Reds from Aston Villa on Friday night.

The 26-year-old winger had long been linked with a move to Anfield, with the England international finally putting pen to paper after the two clubs agreed a fee, believed to be around the £20m mark, earlier this week.

Downing, who becomes Kenny Dalglish’s fourth major signing of the summer after Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Alexander Doni, says he immediately had his heart set on joining Liverpool once he learned of their interest.

“It’s a great feeling and I’m very happy to be here,” Downing told Liverpool’s website. “It’s been a long time coming and I’ve had to wait a few weeks, but I’m really pleased to be here.

“With the tradition, the manager and the players they have here, there was a big temptation to come here and once I knew of their interest, there was only one place I wanted to go.”

Downing, who handed in a transfer request at Villa Park earlier this week, added: “It will be a great feeling to run out at Anfield. It’s always nice to come and play here. The atmosphere is always great and the fans are brilliant.

“When I wanted to come to Liverpool, it was the first thing I thought of – playing at Anfield in front of those great fans. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Liverpool Complete Deal For Roma Keeper Doni

Liverpool have signed AS Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club said on Friday as manager Kenny Dalglish continued his close-season rebuilding.

Doni, who has 10 caps for Brazil, has been brought in as back-up to Liverpool's current number one Pepe Reina.

A statement on the club's website ( said the 31-year-old former international had signed a contract after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.

Doni made 179 appearances for Roma in six seasons but has struggled to command a regular starting place at the Stadio Olimpico after falling behind Julio Sergio in the pecking order.

Liverpool's director of football, Damien Comolli, said the move would help the club's young goalkeepers gain experience.

"We are delighted to sign Doni," Comolli said. "It's a position we felt we had to strengthen because it will allow our young goalkeepers to go on loan and get some experience at some point during the season, which is crucial in their development.

"We are getting a very experienced goalkeeper who is used to handling the pressure of big games and international matches with Brazil. He had a very good end of last season with Roma, so we are very pleased," he added on the club website.

Doni is Liverpool's third summer signing following the arrival of England midfielder Jordan Henderson from Sunderland and Scotland playmaker Charlie Adam from Blackpool.

Liverpool's Bid For Keisuke Honda Could Be Thwarted By Blackburn Rovers

Liverpool winger target Keisuke Honda could be on his way to Blackburn Rovers in a shock turn of events, according to Sky Sports.

Honda is looking to leave CSKA Moscow after an unsettled start for the Russian side, with the Japanese international telling the press he is ready to move on.

“My life has been a series of ups and downs. Right now I’d have to say it is a downer. That includes my current situation at CSKA,” he said.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has been heavily linked with the player since taking over at the club in January, although CSKA have been fending off interest in the player for months.

The Reds were first thought to be monitoring the player in 2009 under the guidance of Rafael Benitez, but Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers have also been linked to the midfielder since the opening of the transfer window.

The 24-year-old’s promising European career began with Dutch side VVV-Venlo, and is still thought to have two years left on his current deal in Russia.

Offers to break Honda’s deal with the side are rumoured to be between £12-15 million due to his playmaking and set piece ability, but the figure may well be further inflated by the potential revenue from Far East shirt sales, a market which Liverpool are known to be trying to break.

After signing Stewart Downing for £20 million this week, Liverpool will have to consider if they can spend big again on another player this summer.

Liverpool Ready To Let Keeper Leave Anfield

Liverpool will allow Brad Jones to build a career elsewhere if Kenny Dalglish can finalise a deal for Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni.

Roy Hodgson signed Jones last season as back up to Pepe Reina but the imminent arrival of Doni has cast doubt over his future.

Jones made his debut in Liverpool's shock Carling Cup defeat to Northampton Town last season and was eventually shipped out on loan to Derby.

And with Italian Doni seemingly set for Anfield, Dalglish is open to another loan deal for the 29-year-old, with the potential for a permanent move.

Jones is approaching his 30s and is keen to establish himself as a first team regular but Reina is immovable at Anfield and Doni's arrival could spell the end of his Liverpool career.

Chris Mavinga On Verge Of Joining Rennes

Liverpool defender Chris Mavinga is understood to be joining French club Rennes and has a provisional date for a medical next week, according to Ouest France.

The 20-year-old Frenchman has been a player at Anfield for two years but has yet to force his way into the first-team reckoning at Anfield, and will undergo a medical with the Ligue 1 side on Tuesday.

Mavinga finally made his entry into senior football last season while on-loan at Belgian club Racing Genk.

It is unlikely that Kenny Dalglish will use the defender next year and the youngster is thought to be looking to get out of the club to kick-start his career.

Additionally, if fellow Liverpool outcast Milan Jovanovic completes his move to Anderlecht, that would free up the Belgian club’s Mathias Suarez move to Rennes.

Pre-Season Work Pleases Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt is happy with the way Liverpool's pre-season work is going and is looking forward to Saturday's game against a Malaysia XI.

The Reds beat Guangdong 4-3 in the opening clash of their pre-season tour of Asia on Wednesday since when Netherlands international Kuyt and his team-mates have been put through several intense training sessions.

Kuyt has been particularly impressed with the reception the Liverpool players have received since arriving in Malaysia, saying: "What we are seeing over here is just unbelievable.

"We went to Thailand and Singapore two years ago and that was incredible, and this is just the same.

"We're working really hard over here and doing what we need to do to be ready for the new season. It is hard because the conditions are difficult but we know how important it is.

"We had our first game the other night and, although we won, we know we made some mistakes so it's important we keep putting the effort in now and I'm sure we'll reap rewards when the season starts.

"All we can do is give our best, but we have the quality within the squad to win games and be successful. That's our aim."

Liverpool Join Attack On City's Etihad Deal

Liverpool joined the grand coalition attacking Manchester City's £400m sponsorship deal with Etihad, with managing director Ian Ayre saying yesterday that Uefa should investigate whether it is an illegal deal under its financial fair play regulations.

Speaking in Kuala Lumpur -- where on Monday Arsene Wenger accused City of "financial doping" -- Ayre suggested that the 10-year sponsorship agreement with Etihad may be an illegal 'related-party' deal, which financial fair play specifically outlaws.

When it comes into force next year, clubs will have to record aggregate losses of no more than €45m (£39m) or face exclusion from European competition. However, clubs cannot try to offset those losses by sponsoring themselves. Since the Bin Zayed family own Manchester City and Etihad, it may be all too literally a related-party deal.

"Is Etihad, Manchester City and Sheikh Mansour a related party?" Ayre asked. "If they are, then it is up to Uefa to rule on it. When I spoke at Soccerex earlier this year, I was on a panel about financial fair play. The guys from Uefa said there would be a robust and proper process about related-party transactions."

In Boston this week, Bobby Charlton said it would be unthinkable that Manchester United would rename Old Trafford, saying the name was "too important".

In commercial terms for an airline that has never made a profit, the deal is ludicrously overpriced -- especially for a stadium that already has a generic name. Ayre argues that, although some of the £400m will be invested in redevelopment work around what will be probably still be called Eastlands, the cost of the agreement may also come into conflict with Uefa regulations that transactions must have a 'fair value'.

"It has never happened in Europe that a football club has renamed its stadium and had real value," Ayre said. "It was the City of Manchester Stadium or Eastlands for the last nine years and now it is going to be called something different -- and yet someone has attached a huge amount of value to that.

"There is no suggestion that you can rename your stadium and generate that amount of value. Mike Ashley tried it at Newcastle but nobody calls it the Sports James' Park and it certainly didn't have that kind of value."

Although the Anfield club's director of football Damien Comolli has this week overseen a series of trials in China, Ayre was cautious when asked if Liverpool would sign Asian players -- something their main sponsors Standard Chartered want them to do.

"What we wouldn't do is sign a player just because he is Asian; that won't deliver anything in the long term," said Ayre, who spent many years in Hong Kong and Malaysia before coming to Anfield, first as commercial director and then managing director.

"United have got the best value in Ji-Sung Park. He is a real player who can perform at the top level and there aren't many of them about."

With Arsenal having already played in Kuala Lumpur and Chelsea due in Malaysia next week, Liverpool know there is competition in a region that has been traditionally their domain. However, Ayre doubted that the two London clubs would truly break through.

"I believe quite strongly there are two brands in English football that are truly global -- Liverpool and the team from down the M62," he said in a week when Liverpool's two games at the Bukit Jalil Stadium are likely to draw more than 100,000.

"That is not to say people will never catch us up but it will be quite a hard thing to do. It is not just about winning trophies, it is about building a year-on-year legacy rather than just going out and signing loads of people."