Friday, November 11, 2011

Arsenal & Liverpool Expected To Make Offers For Real Madrid Winger

Liverpool, Arsenal and a host of Turkish clubs could be set to battle for the signature of winger Hamit Altintop after reports in Spain claimed Real Madrid are ready to off-load him in a knockdown fee in January.

Real boss Jose Mourinho signed the 28-year-old on a free transfer after his Bayern Munich contract expired and it was thought at the time to be a smart, low-risk move.

However, Altintop has found opportunities limited this season due to the plethora of top-quality midfielders in competition and according to, will be offered the chance to leave in January.

Arsenal are reportedly interested in the Turkey international with Arsene Wenger tempted by the low cost measured against his high level of experience.

Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is eager to boost his wide options and is thought to be considering an approach.

Both Premier League clubs will face competition from clubs in Altintop's homeland and the chance to return to Turkey may sway the former Schalke star.

Keita Flattered By Reds Talk

Barcelona star Seydou Keita has told that he is flattered by reported interest from Liverpool in him.

The 31-year-old has over three years left on his current deal at Camp Nou, having been handed a contract extension earlier this year.

But reports have claimed that Liverpool, along with Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala, is keen to land the Mali international.

Keita admitted it was good to hear about interest from Merseyside, but also insisted he was more than happy with life at Barcelona where he has started more than half of their league games this season.

"Liverpool is a great club, it is fantastic to hear that they are interested in me, but you know how I feel about Barcelona," he told

"However we are in football and nothing is an absolute, so let's wait until the end of the season.

"I want to play more games than last season, playing regularly in a winning team is very good for the player, but the Premier League is very attractive and exciting for any player.

"My contract runs until 2014, at the end of the season we will see."

Balague Breaks Silence Over Villa To Liverpool Rumour

Reports linking Liverpool with a shock move for Barcelona striker David Villa have been rubbished by SkySports' Spanish correspondent Guillem Balague, who took to his website to comment on the speculation.

According to Valencia-based paper Superdeporte, the 29-year-old Spaniard is unhappy at the Camp Nou because of the problems he is having playing alongside Lionel Messi.

The newspaper also claimed that Villa's situation was being monitored by Reds boss Kenny Dalglish - who could make a shock move for the Barca star in January.

"It's important we put David Villa's circumstances at Barcelona into context," said Balague. "First of all, yes, I do believe that there is most definitely something to the notion that the footballing relationship between Messi and Villa is not quite as good as it could be.

"Villa hasn't been finding the back of the net as frequently as he has done in recent years. [But] at Barcelona, he is playing a very different role to that of a traditional number nine and he's sharing the attack with the best player in the world."

Liverpool have been linked with a number of Europe's leading lights ever since the takeover of Fenway Sports Group at Anfield - but Balague is adamant that Villa will not be one player who moves to Merseyside.

"The player knows he's at the club where he is most likely to win things and he has no intention of leaving," he concluded. "And even if he did, Villa has never been keen on leaving Spain."

The country's premier radio station Cadena SER has reported that Liverpool made initial contact with Villa's agent in an attempt to establish whether a deal could be brokered, but latest developments now look to have extinguished those claims.

Liverpool Alerted After Inter Milan Reveal Playmaker Could Leave

Liverpool is set to be alerted to the news that Inter Milan could offload Philippe Coutinho in January.

According to, Inter are ready to sell the 19-year-old with the Brazilian struggling for fitness and form following a promising opening to the 2010/11 season under former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool are rumoured to be eager to add more creativity to their team with Bologna’s Gaston Ramirez a prime target. However, the news of Coutinho’s possible departure from the San Siro could sway attention to the Brazilian.

Coutinho has played just one Serie A match for Inter this season.

Rayo Stars Attract Interest

Rayo Vallecano have confirmed that a number of Premier League clubs have been attending their recent games.

Reports suggest that Manchester United, Liverpool and Cheslea have been checking on Rayo's midfield ace Michu, while Sunderland, Fulham and Everton were also said to be present.

Michu only joined Rayo in the summer from Celta Vigo, but he has impressed with five goals from midfield this term.

The player himself admits he is loving life with Rayo at the moment.

"I am living a dream, I had such a negative situation in the summer being without a club," said Michu.

"Then the deal arrived and I am now enjoying this moment, the project from Rayo was interesting and I am happy I made this choice.

"Rayo is a family. Our success has come not just from luck but from hard work."

Michu insists speculation about his future is positive, saying: "These rumours don't damage me, but it is normal that I am happy with this news.

"But now my challenge is to keep Rayo in the Primera Liga."

Michu's team-mates Lass and Jordi were also reported to be on the radar of the visiting scouts.

Dalglish Urges Supporters To Bite Back

Liverpool has always been concerned with tradition, and they have good reason.

The history behind their multiple European Cup wins and the tragedy of Hillsborough among other notable events means the club will always be highly thought of.

The club's relationship with the League Cup, not always a competition held in the highest regard, has led to Kenny Dalglish fielding his strongest team this term, despite the inferior opposition.

"We are pleased to be in the Carling Cup and our intention is to stay in it for as long as we possibly can," Dalglish said prior to the club's tie with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Given the competition's dwindling importance, the Scot's treatment of the tournament is admirable. Even with the club without European football, he'd be forgiven for prioritizing qualification for the Champions League.

The club's previous success means serious treatment of this competition is in the make-up of teams from Anfield. Messrs Wenger, Ferguson and Villas-Boas would do well to take note.

The club has been drawn in potentially the tie of the quarter-final, away to Chelsea, but fixture scheduling is set to deny us of a classic.

The tie comes just two days after Liverpool take on Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League, meaning that despite having two important games back-to-back, Dalglish will be forced to choose which game he deems the more important.

Dalglish won't have a potential fine hanging over his head in fielding an under-strength side in the league, but the likelihood is when having to choose between the two, he'll opt to rest his star names at Stamford Bridge.

Such is his consternation surrounding the fixture pile up, Dalglish is urging supporters to think twice about purchasing tickets for the game, as he plans to field a youth team.

"The one thing I will say to our fans is to think carefully before buying tickets for the League Cup game. We do not want them spending their money and then we decide there is no other option but to use only young players in the tie," he said.

"It is disgraceful in this day and age that players are being asked to play a league game and then a quarter-final just 48 hours later," he added.

"If the Football League wants to devalue their own competition it's up to them.

"When we ask the Football League to move our game to a later date, we're told it's impossible. Where's the logic in that?"

Often the attraction of the fixture for a supporter comes in either the profile of opposition or simply the importance of the game in the context of a season. In many ways, on paper, Chelsea v Liverpool falls into both categories.

However, Dalglish has exchanged the club's devotion to the competition, built up through multiple successes, in an attempt to draw attention to the ridiculous scheduling of his side's match.

The time of the game has been dictated by the police, who do not want two games going on in the same area, the other being Tottenham Hotspur's game with PAOK Salonika as well as the TUC rally, while they appear perfectly happy to see the Chelsea and Arsenal's home games take place on the same evening on Tuesday, albeit in varying areas of London.

Far be it from me to judge whether the police can fulfill a fixture or not, but the Football Association should be on hand to provide alternative solutions so every club is on an equal footing.

Especially for a club like Liverpool, who has during Dalglish's reign taken the tournament with a great deal of seriousness, they deserve fair treatment.

But if Dalglish, one of the most influential figures to ever step foot in Anfield, is telling supporters to think twice about attending fixtures, this could start a dangerous precedent for the leagues and the clubs themselves.

Those counting the cash on Merseyside are unlikely to be impressed with Dalglish telling supporters which games to attend and which ones to ditch, but can sleep easy knowing that with a support like the Reds', they should sell out their allocation on this particular occasion.

How long is it before those allocations aren't sold out? How long before, to fight scheduling, that granted on this occasion is partially out of the Football League's hands, the game must be devalued. One of those guilty, the television companies, are unlikely to be interested to covering events that clubs aren't taking seriously.

So you have fans who are being told not to attend the games and television companies not wanting to spend money on showing them. Bit by bit, you'll see football being punished for selling its soul.

Carra Targets Chelsea Return

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is hoping to make his return from injury against Chelsea later this month.

The veteran centre-back has missed the Reds' last two games after picking up a calf injury in the Carling Cup win at Stoke last month.

The former England international is keen to return to full training next week and hopes to be available for the trip to Stamford Bridge on 20th November, live on Sky Sports HD1.

"I'm coming along fine," Carragher told the Liverpool Echo. "I'm working with the physios this week and if things continue to go well the plan is to get back into full training at the start of next week.

"It was always going to be tight to be fit for the Swansea game last weekend and with a two-week break after that match there was no point doing anything silly. It's important to ensure I get it 100 per cent right.

"Hopefully I'll be available for the Chelsea game but I'm not thinking about games at this stage.

"My first target is just getting back on the training pitch with the lads and that should happen early next week."

Carragher admits the injury was the first muscle problem he has had in his career and that he was happy it did not sideline him for too long.

"It's the first time I've ever had a muscle injury in my life," added Carragher

"I suppose that's not a bad record so I can't complain too much. The good thing is it wasn't a bad one and it has only kept me out for a short period.

"I was quite fortunate and it's not something that should happen again."

Murdoch's Hillsborough Apology

James Murdoch has apologized for The Sun's coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at the FA Cup semi-final.

News International's executive chairman was put on the spot by Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram as he gave evidence about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

He accepted that it was "wrong" for The Sun to have printed allegations about the behaviour of Liverpool fans under the headline "The Truth".

Murdoch told the committee: "I would like to add my full apology for the wrong coverage of that affair. I would like to add my voice to the successive editors of The Sun and chief executives of News International who since that incident have apologized.

"It was wrong to do so. It was 22 years ago and I was far away and a much younger person and had no involvement or proximity to it, but I have since looked at it and I am aware of the concerns and the hurt it caused and it is something we are very sorry for, and I am as well."

Rotheram suggested that the lack of serious repercussions for The Sun of printing the story may have encouraged a sense at News International that the company was "untouchable".

"Did the fact that The Sun got away with telling outrageous lies in 1989 lead News International into believing they could do whatever they wanted without reproach?" asked the Labour MP.

"Did the lack of appropriate corporate governance give a false sense of security that News International was untouchable?"

Murdoch responded: "I don't think there has been - certainly not in my experience of the company - a sense that anyone is untouchable.

"What we want to be is the business we aspire to be, where we are doing the good work of serious journalism and serious creative endeavour."

Rotheram pressed Murdoch to pledge that The Sun would be closed down, as the News of the World was, if evidence emerged to prove its reporters were involved in phone-hacking.

The News International executive chairman replied: "I think it is important to not prejudge the outcome of any investigation. Nor is it appropriate to prejudge any actions the company might take.

"I don't think we can rule - and I shouldn't rule - any corporate reaction to wrong-doing out. That will be a decision taken at the time, given whatever is out there."