August - 2008

2908: Nantes eyeing Voronin swoop
2608: Liverpool in talks to sign Riera
2408: Downing in £14m Liverpool link
2408: Pennant in £6m Rovers link
2308: Toffees chasing Reds target Riera
2108: Liverpool to turn to Porto's
          Quaresma as Riera alternative?

2108: Future of Liverpool FC
          target Barry 'not resolved'

2008: Reds set to renew Downing interest
1908: Riera back on Reds radar
1608: Alonso tells Liverpool
          manager he wants to go

1208: Liverpool join Aston Villa
          in Chelsea's Cole link-up

1108: DIC back in the frame
1008: Barry overpriced as Reds eye Silva
0808: Barry swoop on the rocks
0408: Liverpool FC won't drop
          £18m price tag on Alonso

0108: Barry will be a Liverpool
          player at the weekend


Nantes eyeing Voronin swoop


Reports are claiming FC Nantes could be ready to mount a last minute swoop for Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin.

The French club is keen on bolstering their strike force for the new season with the addition of a new striker.

The arrival of Robbie Keane and David Ngog in the summer puts Voronin’s future in further doubt. The Ukrainian wasn’t even on the bench for the game against Standard Liege.

Liverpool in talks to sign Riera

By Saj Chowdhury - BBC Sport Online

Liverpool are holding talks with Espanyol with a view to signing left-sided midfielder Albert Riera, BBC Sport understands.

It is believed a decision will be reached on Wednesday.

Reports in Spain suggest the fee would be in the region of about £9m for the 26-year-old, who has also been courted by Merseyside rivals Everton.

Riera, who spent a spell on loan with Manchester City in 2006, has also played for Real Mallorca and Bordeaux.

This week, Espanyol's sporting director Paco Herrera claimed that the club had received two offers, believed to be from Everton, who met their valuation for the player, and Liverpool, who are understood to have offered less.

However, reports suggest that the Spain international does not want to move to Goodison Park.

"There is a team which is offering what we have asked and another one which isn't, but the player is interested in the one which is offering the least," Herrera told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. "We will not lower our asking price."

In May, Riera was left out of Spain's Euro 2008 squad despite helping the national side qualify for the tournament.

Later that month he stated his intention to leave Espanyol.

"I do not want to be part of a club that does not take care of or protect its players," Riera said.

"I do not know if I will go to Liverpool or any other team.

"It would be best for everyone concerned because I know that my transfer would clearly be beneficial. I do not want to cause any problems."

Downing in £14m Liverpool link

Lancashire Evening Post

Stewart Downing will plead with Middlesbrough to listen to any £14million bid from Liverpool.

The winger, a sub in England's midweek draw with the Czechs, believes his ambitions will be aided by a move to a Champions League club, the News of the World claims.

Rafa Benitez has been considering an offer all summer, but with his focus on the Gareth Barry saga, Downing's hopes of a transfer appeared increasingly unlikely.

The Anfield boss has also been in talks with Espanyol for Albert Riera, having given up on Valencia's David Silva.

Now Rafa is ready to make a last-ditch attempt to solve his left-sided problems — with both Riera and Downing on his agenda.

Pennant in £6m Rovers link

Lancashire Evening Post

Blackburn plan to bid for Jermaine Pennant this week — but have been told they must pay at least £6million.

Rovers are in informal talks with Liverpool over the 25-year-old winger.

But Kop boss Rafa Benitez is no longer in a rush to sell as he is unsure there is enough time to replace Pennant.

Rovers boss Paul Ince wants the ex-Arsenal man to come in for David Bentley, who moved to Spurs.

Toffees chasing Reds target Riera


Everton have made a move to beat Merseyside rivals Liverpool to the signing of Spanish international midfielder Albert Riera.

Reports across England and Spain revealed Everton's interest in the winger and it is now understood that talks are at an advanced stage.

David Moyes' men are ready to agree terms with Espanyol - something their city rivals Liverpool have been unable to do.

The Toffees seem prepared to pay £12million for Riera, which is better than Liverpool's package which is believed to have included Andriy Voronin in exchange.

Everton are yet to sign any players this summer, but Riera could represent a big breakthrough for Moyes after failed bids for Joao Moutinho and Tiago.

Riera's arrival on the left would also give Moyes the opportunity to reshuffle his midfield - as the likes of Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar could then be moved across into the centre or right.

Espanyol are now assessing the deal although they are also considering the sale of Luis Garcia - and may not be willing to sell both their prized assets, but Everton are hoping their straight cash bid will persuade the Barcelona outfit to do business.

Liverpool to turn to Porto's
Quaresma as Riera alternative?

By Jake Briggs - Premiership Latest

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is ready to turn his attention to Portuguese International Quaresma at FC Porto after failing to land Gareth Barry from Aston Villa and being priced out of a move for Albert Riera At Espanyol, according to Portuguese Daily Abola.

24-year-old Quaresma had been heavily linked with a move to Serie A Champions Inter Milan, but interest cooled when new San Siro coach Jose Mourinho opted to sign Sulley Muntari from Portsmouth.

With it now believed that Benitez is ready to step in with a bid to bring the winger to Anfield.

However, Benitez would have to find in the region of £20million (€25m) to lure Quaresma away from the Estadio do Dragao, which could prove to be the stumbling block after the Reds American owners reluctance to back their manager in his summer long quest to sign England International Barry.

Future of Liverpool FC
target Barry 'not resolved'

By Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Martin O’Neill believes Gareth Barry’s future is “not completely resolved”.

The Anfield hierarchy’s refusal to meet Villa’s £18m asking price has forced Benitez to look elsewhere.

But Villa manager O’Neill said: “We want him to stay I think that’s obvious. I think the fans want him to stay and for the length of time it has gone on it is hard to pre-empt anything. At this minute it’s not completely resolved.”

Benitez remains keen on bringing in another player before the transfer window slams shut on Monday week.

However, a move for Stewart Downing seems unlikely, while Espanyol are asking £16m for Albert Riera.

Reports in France claim Benitez is again keeping tabs on Grenoble’s Sofiane Feghouli.

Reds set to renew Downing interest


Liverpool look set to renew their interest in Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing after Espanyol demanded £16million for Albert Riera.

Having failed to raise the funds to buy Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, the Reds were hoping to buy Riera for around £9m, but the Spanish club have reportedly invoked a £16m release clause for the winger.

Riera's agent, Magico Diaz, told the Liverpool Echo: "Liverpool want Riera but are reluctant to meet Espanyol's demands."

That means that Liverpool are instead likely to turn back to Downing, who could be available for a more realistic £12million.

Riera back on Reds radar

Sky Sports

Albert Riera could be on his way back to the Premier League, understands, and Liverpool remain favourites to claim his signature.

The 26-year-old has previous experience of playing in England with Manchester City after he spent the latter part of the 2006 season at Eastlands.

Riera impressed with City but he returned to Espanyol where he has flourished ever since.

He has since gone on to become a full Spanish international and has attracted interest from a number of clubs, although Liverpool have been leading the chase all summer and remain very interested.

Former Spanish boss, Luis Aragones, now in charge at Fenerbahce, is trying to lure him to Turkey - but England remains his most likely destination.

Riera demanded a transfer earlier in the summer and, although he has since settled his differences with the Barcelona-based club, a move back to the Premier League is still a big attraction.

His possible arrival at Anfield would solve Rafa Benitez's left-sided midfield problem, although they are not the only English side interested.

However, Riera has made no secret of his desire to link up with Benitez and should they make a renewed bid - as expected - then they would be firm favourites to tie up the deal.

A move for Riera could also finally see Benitez call-off his long-winded pursuit of Aston Villa's Gareth Barry.

Alonso tells Liverpool
manager he wants to go

By Ian Doyle - Daily Post

Xabi Alonso has told Liverpool he wants to leave Anfield – but is likely to be priced out of a move to Arsenal.

The Spanish midfielder’s future has been the subject of debate throughout the summer, particularly with Rafael Benitez intent on signing Gareth Barry.

Alonso was on the verge of a £16m move to Juventus until the deal collapsed with the Italian side signing Sevilla’s Christian Poulsen instead.

The Spain international has since been linked with interest from Arsenal, and Liverpool manager Benitez revealed yesterday that talks had taken place between officials from Anfield and the Emirates.

But it is thought Arsene Wenger is unwilling to meet Liverpool’s asking price for the 26-year-old.

Alonso is cup-tied in Europe until the new year after appearing in Liverpool’s Champions League qualifier in Belgium against Standard Liege on Wednesday night.

Alonso, who was signed for £10.7m from Real Sociedad in August 2004, was loudly cheered by home supporters during the friendly against Lazio last week. However, the Spaniard has now informed Benitez he wants a fresh challenge.

Liverpool join Aston Villa
in Chelsea's Cole link-up

Premiership Latest

Liverpool have become the latest club to be linked to Chelsea’s Joe Cole after Aston Villa were said to be planning a £15m bid for the attacker by the English media yesterday.

England international Cole’s fears over his role seem to have escalated with new boss Luiz Felipe Scolari keen to sign fellow Brazilian Robinho from Real Madrid, after having bolstered the already star-studded midfield with the signing of Portugal international Deco earlier this summer.

Cole is as such reported to be ‘unsettled at Stamford Bridge’ as Scolari’s midfield range includes Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Deco, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Florent Malouda, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel.

DIC back in the frame

By Mike Maguire -

Reports from the Middle East indicate that Dubai International Capital (DIC) are ready to re-launch their Liverpool takeover bid, as tensions mount between manager Rafael Benitez and the club's current owners.

DIC attempted to take control of the Merseyside club in March, but their £400million bid was rebuffed despite the widening rift between co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The Arab firm had planned to buy out Gillett's majority stake with the aim of then challenging Hicks for sole ownership by offering up cash for the club's new stadium, which the Americans have so far struggled to do.

But Hicks, the more prominent of the co-owners, vetoed that deal and relations have since improved between he and his business partner.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the pair's associations with Benitez.

The Spanish tactician has had to operate under strict sell-before-buy guidelines in the transfer market, and to his credit had been doing so with a minimum of fuss as he offloaded the likes of John Arne Riise and Peter Crouch before signing Andrea Dossena and Robbie Keane.

However, Benitez had been under the impression that he would be allowed to fork out the £18million required to sign Gareth Barry (pictured) from Aston Villa without selling Xabi Alonso, whose proposed move to Juventus collapsed earlier in the summer.

Either the owners have renegged on their promise or a massive miscommunication has occurred, because Hicks and Gillett have told the manager that Barry is not needed while Alonso is still in the squad.

It is not the first time during the Americans' short reign at the club that Benitez has been told certain targets are off-limits, and this latest case will only further infuriate both he and the fans - who, despite their backing of Alonso, have been equally supportive of Rafa's designs for the team's progress.

Hence, a DIC takeover would be widely welcomed, and Dubai newspaper The National claims that the firm are set to refresh their bid.

A source close to the DIC directors said: "Just because it is has been a quiet summer does not mean DIC have lost interest. They are happy that things have now become low key, and they are awaiting developments."

Barry overpriced as Reds eye Silva

By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports

The name of David Silva has aligned itself with Liverpool after chief executive Rick Parry all-but-ruled-out the signing of Gareth Barry.

Parry confirmed that Aston Villa’s asking price has been deemed too expensive by the Liverpool board – who only saw Barry as a necessary purchase when Xabi Alonso appeared to be heading to Juventus.

Alonso’s immediate future will be tied to Liverpool when he becomes cup-tied in Europe on Wednesday, with Benitez left with no other option than to play the visionary passer due to the Olympic commitments of Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva.

And that will bring Silva’s name to the top of Benitez’s wishlist, after the Liverpool manager admitted his squad if short of a left-sided player on Saturday.

Silva has snubbed a new Valencia contract, and the Liverpool board are reportedly ready to give the green light to a £16 million player whom they feel is a more necessary purchase than Barry.

Barry swoop on the rocks

By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool's move for Gareth Barry was today in major doubt with Tom Hicks and George Gillett still to give
the proposed deal the go-ahead.

Rafa Benitez had hoped Barry would already be a Liverpool player by now after Aston Villa gave the Reds the nod to bring the long running saga to an end last Saturday, when Martin O'Neill said he would no longer stand in the way of a deal.

But six days later the transfer is still to be done, leaving Barry in limbo and Benitez furious at the lack of progress.

It now seems increasingly likely that Hicks and Gillett will refuse to back their manager's judgement on this occasion, and the chances of the proposed £18m transfer taking place are receding by the hour.

Benitez identified the 27-year-old England man as a key signing for this summer and was even willing to sacrifice Xabi Alonso to get the deal done.

But, after months of haggling with Villa, Liverpool are still no nearer to concluding the transfer and Benitez is becoming increasingly resigned to the belief that Barry is unlikely to join the club during this transfer window.

The ECHO understands that Liverpool's American owners have major concerns about how much value the signing of Barry would give the Reds.

A proposed four-year contract would take Barry to 31 years old and Hicks and Gillett doubt he would have a significant sell-on value at that stage of his career.

They also believe the figure Villa are demanding for the England man is inflated and do not want to be held to ransom, particularly with Liverpool able to call on the services of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Damien Plessis and Lucas in central midfield.

But Benitez remains adamant that Barry would improve his squad and believes that even at a cost of £18m the deal is still worth doing as he can play in several positions and would bring vast experience of the Premiership and English football in general.

After working so hard to get a deal in place, Benitez will be devastated if it is called off at the eleventh hour, and would inevitably demand answers from Hicks and Gillett.

The situation is made even more delicate by the fact that Liverpool's pursuit of Barry has been so public and a withdrawal from the proposed transfer at such a late stage would cause severe embarrassment.

Villa had finally agreed to do business and, with Barry desperate to move to Anfield, Benitez had hoped the deal was a formality.He will not take kindly to the club failing to bring in another of his top targets.

Liverpool FC won't drop
£18m price tag on Alonso

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool will not accept a cut price offer for Xabi Alonso.

Arsenal tried to take advantage of the Reds’ need to raise funds for the Gareth Barry transfer with an enquiry over the weekend.

But they were deterred from making a formal bid by Liverpool’s £18m valuation.

The Gunners’ valuation was nearer £12m, and while Arsene Wenger hopes Liverpool’s asking price will drop as the August 31 transfer deadline draws nearer, the Reds were adamant today that will not happen.

Alonso scored from the penalty spot in Saturday’s 4-0 romp at Ibrox and boss Rafa Benitez said: “Xabi played very well and he’s a very good player.

“I’m pleased about this. The value of Alonso in the transfer market will be high and we’re really pleased with him and don’t want him to go if it’s not a very good price.”

The immediate need for funds to complete the Barry deal have eased after co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett agreed to underwrite the fee in what amounts to a short-term loan.

The Reds were waiting on confirmation from the Americans today that the funds are in place before making a fresh offer to Villa.

Once Barry has arrived at Anfield, the onus will then be on Benitez to raise cash to pay back the debt.

Barry will be a Liverpool
player at the weekend

By Colin Wood - Daily Mail

Gareth Barry believes his £19million move to Anfield will be finalised over the weekend once Aston Villa accept
a re-structured offer.

Barry, thought to have already found a house to rent in Cheshire to be close to Liverpool's Melwood training ground, trained with Villa yesterday but did not figure in a behind closed doors friendly against Notts County.

However, despite Villa's public insistence that he will be staying, the England international is confident his protracted move is imminent.

Villa accepted Liverpool's bid of £17.5m plus £1.5m-rated defender Steve Finnan on Wednesday but after a bank guarantee failed to arrive at the agreed time they told Liverpool the deal would have to be paid in two instalments instead of the originally agreed three.

Liverpool, who will find out their Champions League opponents in today's draw in Switzerland, have since been working with their banks to make the deal happen while friends say Barry, 27, is furious with Villa's attitude.

Thor Zakariassen ©