Monday, 31 May 2010

KopStuff 31/5/10 - Wilson Move Under Threat / Mascherano Move Off?

Monday 31st May.

Danny Wilson move under threat / Inter’s Moratti: ‘Rafa is good’

Just a day to go before Fabio Capello names his final twenty-three man World Cup squad, and a number of current and former Reds will be waiting anxiously by the phone. Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson would look certainties, with former keeper David James assured of a spot, if not a starting position. Jamie Carragher looks likely to be on the plane, as does Peter Crouch, but former players Emile Heskey and Stephen Warnock will be hugely worried. Warnock failed to play in England’s final two warm up games, and the big striker was guilty of some woeful misses against Japan.

Still, there’s always 2014 boys.

News: The worst kept secret of the summer has finally been revealed, with Jose Mourinho installed as Real Madrid manager. Interesting quotes from Reuters about the resultant vacancy at Inter, with president Massimo Moratti revealing his admiration for Red’s gaffer, Rafa Benitez. In what is either good news or bad news, depending on your stance, Moratti states that whilst he has always thought that Rafa was ‘good’, he is also ‘tied to Liverpool’. Statements like this can only help quash the tabloid rumour mill, and help the Red’s management team and board prepare for next season – although it would be nice to hear this kind of commitment from inside the club itself.

News: The Daily Mail continues it’s daily coverage of the Danny Wilson saga. Readers will remember that the move has been off for ‘homegrown eligibilty’ concerns, financial concerns, and now it would appear, because the Red’s offer is too low. Rangers manager Walter Smith has confirmed that a concrete offer from Anfield has been turned down, as it does not match the club’s valuation of the 18 year old defender. The bid is believed to be in the offer of £2million, which is substantially more than the Ibrox club will receive if the teenager walks out at the end of his contract in twelve months time.

Rumour: More from the Mail, with reports that Barcelona are to ditch plans for a big-money bid for Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano. The Spanish side have long been linked with the tough tackling midfielder, but the suggestion is that they have moved their attentions to Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. Any move for Fabregas would cost Barca in excess of £40million, making a further £30million bid for Mascherano highly unlikely.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Kopstuff 30/5/10 - Reds Ready for South Africa / Carra 'Top Four Priority'

Sunday 30th May.

Which current players and ex-Reds will be on the plane to South Africa? Has Mourinho moved his attentions to Lampard?

The first World Cup games are less than a fortnight away, and several current and former Liverpool players will be hoping to impress against Japan today. Fabio Capello states that he already has twenty of his final twenty-three man squad in mind, and today’s run out hands players their last chance to cement their place. Only Glen Johnson (returning from his groin injury) and ex-Reds keeper David James will start the game, but Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard may see second half action. Former Reds Stephen Warnock, Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey will also be desperate to prove their worth and secure a ticket to South Africa, although for Villa defender Warnock, the game may have come a few days too soon.

Rumour: Our first rumour is not explicitly Liverpool related, but today has been an unusually quiet Sunday in the world of Anfield gossip. Several papers, including the News of the World, are running stories about Jose Mourinho’s expected summer dealings at Real Madrid, with the former Inter man expected to be handed a bank-busting transfer budget. The majority of the tabloids focus on his desire to capture his former Chelsea charge Frank Lampard, a deal which would surely cast further doubt on any proposed move for Steven Gerrard. It has been long suggested that the two are incompatible in the national side, and it would seem unlikely that Mourinho would look to add both players to his squad, especially with the wealth of talent that Madrid already has in the central midfield area. Any move for the Blues midfielder would be dismissed outright by the London club, but the player himself may want to rejoin his former boss, in the knowledge that he has won all he can with Chelsea. Adios, Lumplard!

News: Jamie Carragher took a break from England training to comment on the Reds title chances next season. Carra was not getting carried away in his interview in The People (I’d forgotten that paper existed), maintaining that a top-four finish ‘is the priority’. Liverpool fans may be disappointed, with all the talk last season being of the Premiership crown, but as the defender points out, the Anfield club are being priced out of the transfer market. Liverpool may not have the distraction of the Champions League next season, but money worries may necessitate a decent run in the Europa League. Ironically enough, this could add more games to next season, stretching an already tight squad and harming our chances of breaking back into the top four, never-mind winning that elusive first Premiership trophy.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

KopStuff 29/5/10 - Aquilani to Prove His Anfield Worth / Transfer Funds in Doubt?

Saturday 29th May.

Alberto Aquilani pledges future to Anfield / Transfer kitty in doubt?

News: Alberto Aquilani has reportedly rejected the overtures of Juventus, stating that he intends to ‘prove his worth’ at Anfield. FootyLatest runs the story, suggesting that the Turin outfit have made multiple advances towards the £20 million rated Italian. Aquilani had a stop/start first season at Anfield, but despite negativity in the press, quickly became a player that most Kopites wanted to see on the team sheet, with most, if not all, preferring him to the ineffectual Lucas. News of his determination to impress next season will be well-received, but now deflects transfer speculation to fellow midfielders Mascherano and Gerrard.

Rumour: Readers on Thursday would have been delighted to see that co-owner Tom Hicks had pledged ‘substantial investment’ this summer, in an attempt to bolster the red’s squad. Not so, says the Mail today, suggesting that Rafa Benitez has a transfer kitty of just £5million. The story itself is a masterpiece in creative journalism, ignoring many of the facts to back up a preposterous headline. Riera and Babel to be sold to ease cash-flow problems? Really? Two of Anfield’s most unsettled and outspoken stars are unlikely to bring in any real money, but their departures would go a long way towards quietening any unrest or dissent in the dressing room. Furthermore, suggestions that Liverpool’s move for Rangers defender Danny Wilson is under threat for financial reasons would appear to be wide of the mark – hilariously so – as it was the Mail itself which ran the story about doubts over Wilson’s ‘homegrown’ status souring the deal.

News: The S*n follows up yesterday’s Gerrard injury scare story with confirmation that the Liverpool skipper has now missed his second successive England training session. FA chiefs, it reports, are denying that there is any long term problem, but speculation grew after Gerrard received treatment from head physio Gary Lewin, instead of one of England’s fitness coaches.
One Liverpool player back in training is Glen Johnson, who has recovered from his calf problem to produce some ‘excellent finishing’ in England’s shooting session.

Friday, 28 May 2010

KopStuff Fri 28th May - Heysel 25th Anniversary / Simao to Liverpool?

Friday 28th May.

This weekend will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Heysel Stadium disaster, when thirty-nine fans lost their lives at the 1985 European Cup Final. A two minutes’ silence will be held today at Liverpool Town Hall, followed by a service in remembrance of the victims of the tragedy. The town hall bells will ring thirty-nine times in their memory, with a repeat tomorrow, the anniversary day.

These are just part of a series of events being held in the run up to Saturday’s anniversary, following on from the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at Anfield on Wednesday. Representatives from Liverpool and Juventus were present at the corresponding service, including former captain Phil Neal and Juve Centre back Sergio Brio, both of whom played in the final.

Rumour: The Daily Star runs will a fairly interesting - and reasonably believable - rumour, that Rafa Benitez is weighing up a move for Atletico Madrid’s Portuguese winger Simao. Benitez has been linked with a move for the wide man before, with the left side of midfield proving to be a difficult position to fill. With just a year left on his contract, Atletico may just be interested in cashing in on the 30 year old, although Red’s fans will perhaps question an outlay of £8 million on a player who may not have too many seasons left in him.

News: TeamTalk covers the ongoing sale of the club, with co-owner Tom Hicks reported as stating that there are a large number of ‘interested buyers’. The Texan claimed yesterday that any sale could take up to twelve months, a timescale which will not be popular amongst Reds fans. Whilst none of the ‘interested buyers’ are named, Hicks hinted they may come from Asia or the Middle East where there are, apparently, ‘a number of wealthy people’. Whoever it is will certainly need big pockets, with the Americans still holding out for £800 million for the debt-laden club.

Rumour: The Guardian carries a story about future Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho’s summer transfer targets, naming Red’s captain Steven Gerrard as top of his wish list. The news will come as no surprise to Liverpool fans, as Mourinho has long been an admirer of Gerrard, attempting, unsuccessfully, to lure him to Chelsea three years ago. Whilst Benitez and the board remain adamant that Gerrard and Torres will be with the club next season, it will be interesting to see their resolve if a big money bid is tabled. Gerrard himself will look for assurances that the club intends to invest in new talent over the summer – otherwise, our talismanic captain may have his head turned by the lure of Champions League football in Spain.

News: Still on the topic of Steven Gerrard, the Mail reports that the midfielder limped out of an England training session yesterday, requiring treatment on his right calf. Gerrard isn’t the only Liverpool player struggling to be fit for England duties, with Glen Johnson missing training with a groin problem.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

KopStuff - Thurs 27th May. Hicks Talks Money / Stopper Antolovic Anfield Bound?

Thursday 27th May.

Tom Hicks promises 'significant' investment. Rafa in for Antolovic?

With the World Cup only weeks away, the red tops are struggling to provide their usual feast of transfer gossip and crazy news. The national press has placed country before club, putting silly season on hold until the middle of July.

News: TeamTalk reports that co-owner Tom Hicks has 'good news for Rafa', with the promise of 'significant' investment. No doubt in response to yesterday's publicised grilling from former owner David Moores, the American made the audacious claim that (seventh placed) Liverpool have actually improved under his stewardship. He furthered this with a sidewards swipe at Moores, stating that spending had actually doubled at the club in the first three years of US ownership.
With debts in the region of £351 million, it's hard to see where this promised investment will come from, and no doubt the banks with whom the debts have been repeatedly renegotiated will have some say in any spending decisions.

Rumour: The S*n offer up one piece of transfer gossip, with the suggestion that Liverpool have entered the race to sign 21 year old Croatian 'keeper Marijan Antolovic. Drazen Pernar, sporting director at Antolovic's club Cibalia, has apparently named Spurs and Liverpool as interested parties, though a cynic may suggest that this is to raise the profile, and price tag, of a hitherto unknown player. Liverpool do have space for a reserve 'keeper after the sale of David Martin to MK Dons, but any prospective player would have to be happy with being third-choice in the pecking order.

And finally: In a typical arse/elbow move, the S*n has gone back on yesterday's Torres story, choosing to run today with the headline Torres: Spain Is My Only Focus.
Despite the Spaniard's agent stating categorically that the striker would remain at Anfield next season, the S*n has decided to interpret yesterday's press conference comments as a sign that nothing is written in stone. Whether or not the Spanish public would be interested in hearing their star player discussing club as opposed to country some fifteen days before the World Cup appears to be immaterial.
If there are no stories to report, make one up.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

KopStuff - Weds 26th May. Aurelio Out / Moores Calls For Sale

Wednesday 26th May.

Fabio Aurelio shown the Anfield door. David Moores calls for Americans to sell-up.

News: TeamTalk reports that Liverpool's Brazilian left-back Fabio Aurelio will be leaving the club 'next week'. The 30 year old has been plagued with injury for the past two seasons, and had been offered a pay-as-you-play deal by Rafa Benitez. Aurelio missed the majority of last season after a freak injury which occurred whilst playing football with his children. His departure leaves a lack of cover for the left sided position, with the young Argentine Emiliano Insua as the club's sole left back.

Rumour: Hot on the back of this news, the S*n is already speculating about who will be brought in to the club as Aurelio's replacement. Reports suggest that this will be none other than Aston Villa's £5m rated Curtis Davies. Whether Rafa would be willing to lose the services of Aurelio, to take on a defender who himself only started two Premiership games last season through injury, remains to be seen.

News: The Times carries a 3,155 word letter today from David Moores, containing, amongst other things, an admission of regret over his sale of the club to Mssrs Hicks and Gillett. In keeping with the feelings of Liverpool fans the world over, Moores calls upon the Americans to sell up. Whilst Moores states that the sale of the club was done with its 'very best interests at heart', he states that the Americans should do their best to find new owners, and asks that they 'don't punish the supporters any more.'

Rumour: Football blog Caught Offside suggests that Rafa Benitez plans an audacious triple-move for Manchester City trio Micah Richards, Nedum Onuoha and Michael Johnson. Whilst the acquisition of the three City players would boost Liverpool's 'home-grown' contingent, many fans may feel that the quoted £22 million could be better spent, with Richards, Onuoha and Johnson managing just a handful of Premiership starts for City last term.

And finally: The S*n reports that Fernando Torres will be 'staying put'. Tell us something we didn't know.