February - 2007

2802: Benitez linked with move for Eto’o
2302: Barca hold Alonso liking
1702: Voronin set for Reds switch
1002: Barca consider Alonso
0902: Benitez to sign Tenerife teen Gonzalez
0402: £120m: Rafa will have cash to burn

Benitez linked with move for Eto’o

By Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Rafael Benitez has again been linked with a summer move for controversial Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o.

Television reports in Spain yesterday suggested the Liverpool manager is lining up a swoop for the Cameroon international at the end of the season.

Premiership rivals Chelsea and Arsenal also said to be tracking the 25-year-old, who has been tipped to depart the Nou Camp after a series of disagreements with Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard.

Benitez is a known admirer of Eto’o, who worked under the Spaniard when he was in charge of the Real Madrid academy, and is poised to shake-up his striking resources in the transfer window bolstered by backing from Liverpool’s new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

The Liverpool manager attempted to sign Eto’o as part of the deal that took Michael Owen to the Bernabeu in August 2004, only for the player to choose a move to Barcelona instead.

Eto’o has recently been at the centre of controversy at the Nou Camp over his return to fitness following four months out with a serious knee injury, and missed Barcelona’s
2-1 Champions League defeat to Liverpool last week.

However, he started and scored in the 3-0 La Liga win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, although he has been rested for Barcelona’s Copa del Rey meeting with Real Zaragoza this evening.

Barca hold Alonso liking

By Francisco Acedo - Sky Sports

Reports emanating from the Spanish press continue to intimate that Barcelona are eager to land Xabi Alonso in the close season.

Despite still sitting atop of La Liga, all is not thought to be well at the reigning champions, with internal wrangling said to at the root of a problem that has spread to a disenchanted dressing room.

With the previously untouchable Ronaldinho the subject of fierce criticism and the futures of both manager Frank Rijkaard and star striker Samuel Eto'o seemingly up in the air, it could be interesting pre-season that ensues.

It has been suggested that there could be big changes at the Catalan giants in the summer and it is believed Alonso is a player the club want as the heartbeat of their midfield.

Alonso has proved to be one the Premiership's more successful imports since arriving at Anfield from Real Sociedad and almost certainly, Rafa Benitez would be loath to sanction his departure.

His existing contract runs until June 2009 and it seems likely any bids from Barca would be resisted, especially given the club's healthy financial footing following the recent takeover.

Voronin set for Reds switch

By Tom Adams - Sky Sports

Bayern Leverkusen striker Andrei Voronin has reportedly clinched a deal to join Liverpool in the summer.

The Ukrainian international is out of contract at the end of the season and has reached a agreement that will see him join The Reds on a four-year contract in June.

Voronin had been linked with a move to Celtic in December but will now join Craig Bellamy, Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler and Dirk Kuyt in Rafa Benitez's plans at Anfield.

The 27-year-old has bagged six goals in 20 league appearances for the German club this season and, following Bayer's 1-0 defeat to Hannover on Saturday, it was announced that the striker will pursue a career in England come the end of the season.

Voronin is keen to widen his experiences after spending a decade in Germany since joining Borussia Dortmund as an 18-year-old from his native Ukraine.

"I have been in Germany for ten years now, that is a long time," said Voronin in Kicker. "I want to see something else."

Voronin's prospective arrival could provoke fresh doubts over Fowler's future at Anfield, as the Reds hero also sees his contract expire at the end of the season.

Barca consider Alonso

By Francisco Acedo - Sky Sports

Reports in Spain suggest Barcelona could test Liverpool's resolve over Xabi Alonso in the summer.

Barca are widely expected to tweak their midfield ranks over the summer and are being linked with a host of big names.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard is a reported target, but Catalan sources claim Alonso could become Barca's main priority.

The Spanish international is very well settled in England and is a big fans' favourite at Anfield and only last month Alonso's agent suggested a new deal could be in the pipeline.

There is also little doubting how much Rafa Benitez rates his midfield anchorman, who along with Steven Gerrard makes Liverpool tick.

Barca's sporting director Txiki Beguiristain has refused to confirm any reports on Alonso - but it is thought that the player is firmly on the Catalan club's list of summer targets and an approach could be forthcoming at the end of the season.

Another player that Barca are said to be compiling a dossier on is Ajax's Wesley Sneijder.

The young forward is one of the most feared in Holland and most of Europe's elite clubs are well aware of his skills and now Barca have joined the chase.

It is widely expected that Sneijder could leave the Amsterdam ArenA this summer and he is likely to have his pick from a host of clubs.

Benitez to sign Tenerife teen Gonzalez

By Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Rafael Benitez is ready to dip into the coffers of Liverpool’s new American owners by adding to his Spanish contingent.

The Anfield manager has earmarked a £1.5million move for Tenerife midfielder Iriome Gonzalez at the end of the season.

The 19-year-old right-sided midfielder has this year broken into the first team of the Canary Island outfit, who play in the second division in Spain.

Iriome has appeared in only six games, and with regulations in Spain stating an academy graduate cannot sign a contract until he has featured in 10 senior games, Tenerife will make sure the midfielder reaches that figure so they can command a transfer fee at the end of the campaign.

Benitez has tracked Iriome during his progress through the youth ranks, and is confident of capturing the highly-rated teenager ahead of a clutch of other interested clubs.

Iriome’s arrival would be one of several during the summer with Benitez, backed by Liverpool’s new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, expected to be busy when the transfer window reopens in June.

£120m: Rafa will have cash to burn

By Paul Smith - Sunday Mirror

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will be handed an astonishing £120 transfer budget if the proposed American takeover goes through
this week.

US tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks are set to take control at Anfield. Under formal proposals of a projected £480m takeover, additional funding will be made available to Benitez to ensure Liverpool can match their free-spending rivals in the transfer market and compete for honours.

Gillett, who owns National Hockey side Montreal Canadiens, and Hicks, who owns NHL franchise Dallas Stars as well as the Texas Rangers baseball team, will split the £700m costs, which include funding for a new stadium.

Liverpool's decision to accept the American offer in preference to doing a deal with Dubai International Capital is widely thought to have come about after Gillett and Hicks put a far more lucrative package together.

Shareholders including chairman David Moores will profit from the deal, debts will be immediately addressed and proposals over a new stadium accelerated.

But it's the activity in the transfer market that will be of primary interest to fans and should delight Benitez, who has publicly voiced his frustrations at buying within a limited budget compared with the clubs Liverpool are supposed to be challenging.

Since Roman Abramovich arrived Chelsea have monopolised the top end of the market.

But while arch-rivals Manchester United have spent £28m on Rio Ferdinand and £21m on Wayne Rooney, Liverpool's record signing remains the £14m invested in recruiting Djibril Cisse from Auxerre 30 months ago.

Most of Benitez's buys have been in the £6m-£10m price range. And he admits that some of them have been found wanting.

Both Gillett and Hicks have earned reputations for spending big to achieve their goals and Benitez will now have a license and cash to target the key players in European and world football.

Thor Zakariassen ©