French striker N’Gog
By Chris Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post
On a night when he gave a 17-year-old
striker the chance to lead the line for Liverpool, manager
Rafael Benitez revealed that he is close to sealing a deal
for teenage French forward David N’Gog.
The club return to Melwood today following a three-match
tour of Switzerland and Germany which concluded last night
with a 0-0 draw at Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin.
Although Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in pre-season
friendlies to four games with the stalemate, a third victory
could have been recorded had Andriy Voronin not seen his
50th-minute penalty saved by the hosts’ substitute
goalkeeper Christian Fiedler after the Ukrainian had been
fouled by defender Kaka.
Benitez, who gave Spanish starlet Danny Pacheco his
compatriot Fernando Torres’s number nine jersey, did not
reveal the identity of his latest imminent capture but it is
Paris St Germain’s N’Gog.
After the game, he said: “We’re working hard but at this
moment we have no news.
“We have a young player and hopefully it will be done
tomorrow, I think it will be positive.”
N’Gog, who is expected to command a £1.5million fee, has
netted just once in 18 senior appearances for PSG but has
scored prolifically in France’s junior national sides.
He will be joined at Anfield by Robbie Keane whose switch
from Tottenham Hotspur is just waiting to be rubber-stamped
having already been agreed last week.
Despite the lack of excitement in the game, Benitez was
pleased with his team’s performance which extended their
unbeaten run this summer and he believes that the return of
his Spanish stars, fresh from their success at the European
Championship finals, will increase the level of Liverpool’s
performances as they head for Villarreal in a week’s time.
He said: “We made mistakes but we’ve got several players
still on holiday so it’s not easy.
“There were young players and also the new players and
everyone was trying to do their best, it was positive.
“We’ve got the Spanish players to come back and Fernando
Torres will be one of them.
“We’ll see the difference once we’ve got these players and
they’ll show the quality that they had last season.
“In this game you could see a lot of good young players and
for me they were doing a good job.
“We were well-organised and had an offensive mentality.”
as Reds are held
Andriy Voronin had a penalty saved but
Liverpool maintained their unbeaten record so far in
pre-season with a 0-0 draw against Hertha Berlin.
In front of 51,641 fans in Berlin's Olympic Stadium,
Liverpool's starting line-up included just three players who
could consider themselves first choice come the start of the
But they showed enough effort, fitness and strength -
particularly at the back - to encourage boss Rafael Benitez.
But this was very much the final dress rehearsal as far as
Benitez was concerned.
The Anfield chief has been denied his big-hitters so far
this pre-season and that has given the support cast their
chance to shine.
He has discovered that in youngsters Stephen Darby, David
Martin and Jay Spearing there is plenty of potential for the
future, and all three would benefit from a spell now out on
But Benitez will bring his squad back to Melwood on
Wednesday and has a week of intense work before they fly to
Spain for a friendly with Villarreal next Wednesday,
followed by a demanding trip to face Rangers at Ibrox four
Benitez will hope by then to have made headway on the
possible deals involving Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane while
welcoming back to training Liverpool's Spanish heroes
Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Jose Reina and Alvaro Arbeloa
- all return to training at the end of the week.
By then decisions may well have been made over the futures
of Jermaine Pennant, Andriy Voronin and Sebastian Leto.
They have all had plenty of chances over four friendlies so
far, but the pace of preperation will hot up now with a
Champions League qualifier three weeks away.
Liverpool will face that without Javier Mascherano, who is
bound for the Olympics and played his last game for the club
for a month in Berlin.
Along with Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger he showed how
strong this central axis will be next term.
Elsewhere Spanish teenager Daniel Pacheco again showed
clever flashes of talent and almost got on the end of an
Emiliano Insua cross.
Hertha came closest in the first period with two efforts
from full-back Sofian Chahed.
Liverpool changed their complete back-line at the break,
Martin Skrtel, Sami Hyypia, Philipp Degen and Andrea Dossena
And the visitors should have scored after 49 minutes after
Voronin was pulled down in the box by Kaka, who was tugging
his shirt, but the Ukrainian striker saw his spot-kick saved
by Christian Fiedler.
Cicero saw a downward header saved well by Diego Cavalieri,
who was then replaced by Martin, with Jack Hobbs, Dirk Kuyt,
Spearing and Yossi Benayoun all getting second-half