November - 2008

3011: Benitez wants to bring
          Owen back to Liverpool

2911: Benitez to ’sign new deal by Christmas’
1611: Stoke boss Pulis eyes Pennant


Benitez wants to bring
Owen back to Liverpool

By Will Wood -

Liverpool are lining up a £2 million swoop for former Kop idol Michael Owen in January, a move that the England international is likely to favour ahead of offers from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, according to the News of the World.

With the future of Newcastle United as yet undecided due to Mike Ashley's failure to find a buyer for the club, Owen is one of just a number of players tipped to leave St James' Park.

While current incumbent Joe Kinnear has repeatedly stated his desire to keep hold of the striker's services, Rafa Benitez is keeping tabs on Owen as he looks to bolster Liverpool's Premier League title bid, and he is aware that a cut-price deal could suffice with the 28-year old entering the final six months of his contract.

Benitez would be required to sell first, with Jermaine Pennant cited as one player who could leave Anfield, but rumours suggest the Spaniard has now placed Owen ahead of original target Emile Heskey.

“I don’t know how much I can spend because we have not really talked about it," Benitez said.

“It could be OK if I bring nobody in but I might be able to sell some players. It depends on the interest.”

Several first-teams at Liverpool are also approaching the end of their current deal, including Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio, and Benitez added that his main priority is to secure the future of such players first.

“The first thing we want to talk about is my contract.

“Once we finalise this we can talk about the future. We have more than a couple of players that we have to decide about for the future.”

Benitez to ’sign new
deal by Christmas’

By Matt Ladson - This is Anfield

Former Liverpool Echo journalist Chris Bascombe claims Reds manager Rafa Benitez will sign a two-year extension to his contract by Christmas.

The Spaniard’s current deal expires in summer 2010, having signed a one-year extension on the deal he first signed when he arrived at the club in 2004.

It has been well documented that Benitez himself wants stability at the club and is keen to sign a longer contract to secure his future, and reportedly those of many players whose futures are dependent on the manager’s.

Bascombe, now a journalist for the News of the World, writes:

“Following talks with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, both parties are confident a deal will be struck before Christmas.“

Although Bascombe was highly criticised on Merseyside for his defection to the NoTW, he remains a source of good information, having broke the news of the American owners’ approach for Jurgen Klinsmann and essentially lifting the lid of the rift between them and Benitez almost a year ago.

Further good news for Liverpool supporters arrives in the form of Bascombe claiming the contract extension is “directly related to their plan to sell the Anfield club.” Claiming they have been advised that any uncertainty over the manager will make the club unattractive to prospective buyers.

Bascombe states:

“Hicks and Gillett know they must sell before July because of their £350million debt — and key players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will also be in line for deals in 2009.”

Liverpool fans will be hoping both parts of the report are true and look forward to Benitez remaining at the club and Hicks and Gillett moving on.

Stoke boss Pulis
eyes Pennant

By John Percy - Daily Mirror

Tony Pulis has lined up a cut-price £4million move for Liverpool outcast Jermaine Pennant.

Stoke boss Pulis is ready to rival Blackburn in a scrap to sign Pennant in the New Year, with Rafa Benitez finally ready to cut his losses on the winger.

Pennant, 25, was all set to join Rovers in the summer but the move collapsed just before the transfer deadline over personal terms.

But Pennant has been a top target for the Potters ever since their promotion to the Premier League and they will try again in January.

Pennant, 25, has not made a league start for Liverpool this season and was axed from the squad for the Carling Cup clash with Spurs last week.

Stoke are also targeting Pennant's Liverpool team-mate Sami Hyypia, Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood and Southampton winger Andrew Surman.

Thor Zakariassen ©