Saturday, June 16, 2012

Henry Questions Stadium Myth

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry has warned fans it is a myth to think a new stadium will transform the club's financial fortunes.

A new stadium in Stanley Park has been an ongoing drama for the Reds with previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett committing significant sums to an abortive attempt to relocate the club.

Henry wants supporters to appreciate that a new-build could lead to increased ticket prices and that the best way to grow is through developing worldwide commercial revenue streams.

"A long-term myth has existed about the financial impact of a new stadium for Liverpool," the American wrote in an email to The Anfield Wrap website.

"A belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with (Manchester) United, Arsenal and others.

"No-one has ever addressed whether or not a new stadium is rational.

"New stadiums that are publicly-financed make sense for clubs - I've never heard of a club turning down a publicly-financed stadium.

"But privately carrying new stadiums is an enormous challenge. Arsenal is centered in a very wealthy city with a metropolitan population of approximately 14 million people.

"They did a tremendous job of carrying it off on a number of levels but how many new football stadiums with more than 30,000 seats have been built in the UK over the past decade or so?

"New stadiums increase revenues primarily by raising ticket prices - especially premium seating."

One source of funding would be to agree a naming rights deal for a new stadium and Henry reiterated that this is something he would not rule out.

"We've been exploring a new stadium for the past 18 months," he added.

"At one point we made it clear that if a naming rights deal could be secured of sufficient size, we would make every effort to build a new facility.

"Liverpool FC has an advantage in being a global club and a naming rights deal could make a new stadium a reality.

"It is something we are working on. There has been interest."

Henry accepts that the alternative - increasing capacity at Anfield - remains fraught with difficulty.

"Going in the other direction, many football clubs have successfully enlarged their seating capacity," he added.

"LFC has had plans to expand the main stand at Anfield but this avenue has been very difficult for the club over the past couple of decades.

"There are homes behind the main stand. Expansion of the main stand would have to be a priority for the city, community and immediate neighbourhood in order for that to occur.

"This issue is vital to the neighbourhood's future but we cannot and will not act unilaterally.

"While a new stadium or an expansion of Anfield is beneficial over the long-term for the club, the financial impact of adding seats and amenities should be put into perspective.

"That's why I say that it is a myth that stadium issues are going to magically transform LFC's fortunes.

"Building new or refurbishing Anfield is going to lead to an increase from £40million of match-day revenue to perhaps £60-70m if you don't factor in debt service.

"That would certainly help but it's just one component of LFC long-term fortunes.

"Our future is based not on a stadium issue but on building a strong football club that can compete with anyone in Europe.

"This will be principally driven financially by our commercial strengths globally."

Carroll Feeling Confident

Andy Carroll says England are feeling '100 per cent' confident ahead of their final Euro 2012 group game against Ukraine following the win over Sweden.

England followed up an opening 1-1 draw with France by edging out Sweden 3-2 in a thrilling tussle in Kiev on Friday evening.

Carroll rewarded the decision to hand him a start by heading England in front on 23 minutes, but he conceded a cheap free-kick early in the second half which led to Sweden's equalizer.

Olof Mellberg then scored his second goal to put Sweden ahead, but substitute Theo Walcott levelled before setting up Danny Welbeck for a 78th minute winner.

England now require just a draw against co-hosts Ukraine on Tuesday to qualify for the quarter-finals and, when asked if he is feeling confident, Carroll replied: "100%."

The Liverpool striker was delighted to score after powerfully connecting with club colleague Steven Gerrard's pass and also praised England's spirit for battling back to win.

He said: "It's a great feeling. It was a great ball in by Stevie, I got in the middle of two defenders and put it away.

"I think we felt a little bit comfortable. Obviously, I gave a foul away and they got a goal from that, and it put us on the back foot.

"We had to work hard to win the game. Just to fight back shows the team spirit and we are all sticking together. We got the two goals we needed."

Liverpool Interested In Atletico Midfielder Garcia

Liverpool have been linked with a £6.5million move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia.

The 25-year-old cost almost £9million when Atletico signed him from Osasuna five years ago, but he will be allowed to leave after falling out of boss Diego Simeone’s plans.

Athletic Bilbao are keen to sign him, but after-tax wage demands of more than £30,000 a week are hindering negotiations.

Atletico sources claim two Barclays Premier League clubs have also shown interest, with one said to be Liverpool.

Garcia impressed on loan at his former club Osasuna last season, scoring 11 goals in 32 games, and helping them to an impressive seventh-place finish in La Liga.

Liverpool Told £7m Is Enough To Land Barcelona Forward

Barcelona have made it clear that they will not sell Cristian Tello for less than £7million as a number of European clubs look to secure the signature of the talented youngster.

The Daily Mail has reported that Liverpool are just one of the clubs that are interested in signing the 20-year-old who broke into the first team last season under Pep Guardiola.

Tello made 15 appearances in La Liga last season as he forced his way into the front three alongside Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez, though this way largely thanks to the injury David Villa suffered.

The young forward came through Barcelona B before moving to Espanyol where he made a handful of appearances in the B team, before returning to Barcelona in the summer of 2010.

He made his debut in the league in January this year and was quickly trusted to make an appearance in the Champions League where he scored two on his debut against Bayer Leverkusen.

However, next season it may be more difficult to make first team appearances with Villa set to return from inure, while other Barcelona B graduates Pedro and Isaac Cuenca will also be pushing for a start.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will almost certainly be looking to strengthen the squad after the Reds finished eighth last season and the young Barcelona forward, who has been valued at £7million, has already displayed his potential.

Tello only has 12 months remaining on his contract and it seems there are a number of clubs interested, with Valencia, Malaga and Benfica also linked with the forward.

Liverpool Enter Into Negotiations With Juventus Winger

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hoping to land his first signing of the summer after entering into negotiations with Juventus misfit Milos Krasic.

The Serbia international was merely a spectator last season as he was forced to watch from the bench as Juventus went unbeaten for the entire season to win the league.

Krasic made just seven appearances and fell out of favour with Antonio Conte, despite playing 33 games the season before and scoring seven goals after moving from CSKA Moscow.

The Daily Mail has reported how Liverpool hope to sign Krasic for £6million and have opened discussions with the Serie A club in order to try and tempt the winger to the Premier League.

Tottenham have previously been linked with the midfielder, in particular in January of this year when he was struggling to get into the Juventus side, however, he decided to stay and battle for his place.

A decision he revealed he regretted earlier this year, telling Vecernje Novosti: "At the end of the transfer window in January, there were offers from Tottenham and Zenit for a loan deal,"

"I decided to decline those options in the belief that I would be given chances at Juventus. That has proven to be a mistake and it would have been better if I had accepted one of those offers."

The Reds are short of options in wide areas after the sale of Dirk Kuyt, while Stewart Downing also failed to impress in his first season with the club.

Striker Open To Liverpool Move

Salomon Kalou would reportedly be open to a summer move to Liverpool, according to his agent Rodger Linse.

The former Chelsea star, who left the club after six years of service, will be available on a free transfer, after failing to agree terms over a new deal.

According to reports on Sky Sports, Kalou's availability is of interest to new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers who worked with the Ivorian during his time coaching at Chelsea.

While Liverpool's transfer plans are not yet confirmed, it is believed that Rodgers would at least consider a move for the 26 year-old.

When the possibility of a move was mooted to Kalou's agent, he said: "There are conversations going on, and of course when that is happening then you must be careful what you say.

"Liverpool can speak for themselves, and Schalke can speak for themselves. That is fine.”

Kalou is thought to be carefully considering his next move, with rumours that both Newcastle United and Bundesliga giants Schalke are potential destinations.

Linse continued by praising Liverpool's reported interest, but refused to give anything else away.

“Of course Liverpool is a very big club, in terms of support and in terms of history,” he said.

"It is definitely positive to hear that a big club like them are showing an interest in Salomon, though it is too early to say anything definitive at this stage."

During his time at Chelsea, Kalou won four FA Cups, the Premier League, League Cup and most recently the Champions League.

Rodgers Won't Hijack Gylfi Deal

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping a close eye on Gylfi Sigurdsson but says he will honour the agreement former club Swansea have with the midfielder.

Hoffenheim man Sigurdsson impressed while on loan at the Liberty Stadium in the second half of last season under former Swans boss Rodgers.

The Welsh side agreed a club-record fee of £6.8million for the 22-year-old Iceland international last month and confirmed he had accepted personal terms.

However, Rodgers' move to Anfield has thrown the potential deal into doubt, with Sigurdsson tipped to follow him to Merseyside.

The youngster revealed earlier this month he is now unlikely to sign at Swansea following the manager's departure.

But Rodgers, while still keen on Sigurdsson, insists his former club must be given the chance to persuade the midfielder to stay in South Wales.

He told Liverpool's official website: "First and foremost, Gylfi is a Hoffenheim player.

"I took him on loan for the second half of last season and he did very, very well. He scored seven goals and made a real, positive contribution.

"I wanted to sign him for Swansea but, like I've said to him and his representatives, that has to be his first port of call.

"If he comes into the market for whatever reason - and I'm sure there'll be a number of clubs interested in Gylfi - then of course I would like to be in a position to put our case here at Liverpool to sign him.

"But I've always said, I think he's a player Swansea have had an agreement with and they have to have every chance to try and sign him. That's only right.

"If anything changes from that, we'll look at it from there."

Rodgers says he has several targets in mind as he looks to improve the Liverpool squad this summer but, other than Sigurdsson, the manager is keeping his cards close to his chest.

"I like to very much keep my counsel on potential targets," he said. "I think there are a few players who can come in and improve the group straight away.

"I know the types of player I need to bring here to make us function well and that's something myself, the club and the board will look at.

"I know what we've got, more or less, in the squad, but I also know there are a couple of signings that could really improve what we do.

"That's something we'll work together on over the course of the summer and hopefully we can get one or two in."

Cole Set For Reds Chance

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Joe Cole will be given the chance to prove himself at Anfield after a successful loan stint at Lille.

The midfielder was loaned out to the Ligue 1 side by former boss Kenny Dalglish last season after failing to make an impact on Merseyside following his move from Chelsea under Roy Hodgson in 2010.

The 30-year-old, who notched up 42 appearances for Lille, scoring nine goals, is set to rejoin the Premier League club for pre-season following a meeting with Rodgers.

Cole has made no secret of his desire to return to Liverpool and attempt to kick-start his Anfield career.

New boss Rodgers, who succeeded Dalglish at the helm last month, says he will assess Cole and other players as the Reds prepare for the new campaign.

"I met up with Joe Cole when I was in Spain," the manager told Liverpool's official website.

"I certainly know he's looking to come back. I've got to assess all the players.

"With the likes of Joe - he's a very talented player. He's obviously gone out to Lille and done very well and he has the opportunity to come back here and show his qualities.

"For me it's fresh for everyone. I'll be new into the club. Of course I know lots of the players and their qualities but Joe is obviously a player who'll want to come back and show his worth to the group.

"There are a lot of players I'm aware of and they wouldn't be at Liverpool if they didn't have the qualities.

"I suppose going forward and over the course of pre-season I just need to decide the types of players who are going to fit into the function and the philosophy and the structure of the team.

"When a new manager comes into any club, it always sparks off that renewed motivation for players.

"The cycle with Kenny was a terrific cycle but I'm a different tactician and a different type of person and that will give all the players an opportunity to perform."

Aquilani Answers Are Close

Alberto Aquilani's agent expects to be in a position to make a decision regarding his client's future 'within the week'.

The Italy international remains on the books at Liverpool and is contracted to the Premier League side until June 2014.

He has, however, been deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield in the each of the last two seasons, allowing him to take in loan spells at Juventus and AC Milan.

Reports suggest he could secure a permanent return to his homeland this summer, with a number of clubs said to be keen on acquiring his services.

He is waiting to hear what Liverpool, under new boss Brendan Rodgers, have planned for him before deciding which path to tread.

"We had a meeting with English executives but for the time being, nothing has emerged," Aquilani's representative Franco Zavaglia told

"We expect a response from Liverpool which should arrive within the week."

Speculation in Italy has suggested that Liverpool are prepared to terminate Aquilani's contract, freeing him to link up with Milan as a free agent.

Zavaglia added: "There is absolutely no possibility that Aquilani can become a free agent in order to then decide what to do.

"I don't know if he wants to stay at Milan, we shall see. We just have to wait and see what happens and what Liverpool decides."

City Scouts Leave For Anfield

Liverpool have raided Manchester City's technical staff for two scouts - although it is unlikely that Roberto Mancini will miss them.

The Merseysiders are set to appoint first team scouting and recruitment co-ordinator Dave Fallows as their new head of scouting and City's chief scout for Italy, Switzerland and Russia Barry Hunter will go with him to Anfield.

The move will not inconvenience Mancini who has been relying on his own network of contacts in the game for player recruitment - rendering Hunter less useful than before.

The 43-year-old former Northern Ireland defender, who has also worked as a scout for Blackburn and Norwich, knows Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers well from their days at Reading together.

Fallows, a former Bolton Wanderers performance analyst who has worked his way up from the bottom, will form part of the new technical team working with Rodgers after owners Fenway Sports Group shelved plans to appoint a sporting director.