March - 2005

3003: Valencia preparing Anfield raid
3003: Newcastle enter Vignal fray
1503: Agent claims Liverpool interest in Inter...
1403: Biscan for summer move?
1303: Reds target Johnson, Wright-Philips...
1303: Reds keen on Spanish defender
0703: Reds step up Mintal hunt
0603: Italians eye Baros
0303: Atletico eye Kewell
0103: Furious Baros to quit Kop

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January February March

Valencia preparing Anfield raid

Kop Talk

Spanish outfit Valencia have reportedly short-listed Liverpool striker Milan Baros as a possible summer target and have started putting the feelers out about the player's availability and possible valuation.

It is claimed that Liverpool may be prepared to sell for around 10million but while we would obviously want to get as much cash as possible for the player, KopTalk understands that we would part with him for much less under the right circumstances.

Milan's agent Pavel Paska denies speaking to Valencia but admits there is interest from other clubs.

He said: "I know nothing of interest from Valencia. There are many teams that have asked for Baros, but I can assure you 100 percent that of Valencia I know nothing. I am not saying that they are or are not interested, but they have not transmitted it to me."

Newcastle enter Vignal fray

By Patrick Haond - Sky Sports

Newcastle United have emerged as contenders
to sign Gregory Vignal.

The French star has had a very successful season on loan at Rangers from Liverpool and is now attracting a great deal of interest.

Rangers had hoped to seal a permanent deal for the left sided ace, but they failed to agree personal terms.

Now Vignal is on the lookout for a new club, having accepted some time ago that his Anfield career was over.

Now Newcastle and Marseille are believed to be leading the race for Vignal, who has also shown that he is not just a full back during his time at Ibrox.

Lens also have an interest, but they cannot compete with Newcastle or l'OM in terms of wages.

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness is keen to bolster his left-sided options, as Celestine Babayaro and Laurent Robert are the only natural left-footed players pushing for a first team place at present.

Agent claims Liverpool interest in Inter Milan star

Kop Talk

The agent of Inter Milan midfielder Emre Belozoglu claims that Liverpool made an attempt to sign his client during the January transfer window.

Ahmet Bulut has confirmed that Belozoglu is looking for a new challenge and says a move to the Premiership or La Liga this summer looks likely. Manchester United and Arsenal have also been linked with the 24-year-old Turk but this could be just a case of his agent trying to spark some interest.

"Emre wants to leave at the end of the season," said Bulut. "I am now waiting for the offers and expect to receive them over the next few weeks.

"We expect that only the top clubs in England could afford Emre's salary and we know there has been a lot of interest there.

"Liverpool tried for him during the transfer window, so that is something we may look at again - but we are still looking at the offers."

The player was quoted on television recently saying: "I have told the Nerazzurri's officials that I'll leave in June because I want to play in another country.

"I don't want to come back to Turkey. I've received many offers both from Spain and England and I hope to go in one of those countries.

"I have another two years' contract with Inter, but I hope there won't be problems."

Biscan for summer move?

By Chris McMullan - Shankly Gates

Conflicting messages in the press regarding Igor Biscan's future at Anfield. While his agent talks of other clubs interest in the player, Biscan himself is talking about how the Liverpool fans are amongst the best in the world.

Biscans agent, Gordon Stipic, has been quoted in a German newspaper of saying:

"I know that Hamburg are thinking about him. In the next two or three weeks things could become more concrete, but first we will have to talk to Liverpool about Igor's sporting future."

Meanwhile on the official Liverpool website, Biscan is quoted as expressing his love for the Liverpool fans - something you wouldn't expect if he's looking at leaving:

"I feel warmth from the fans and it is something that makes me proud. If I'm completely honest, of course, it makes me happy," says Biscan.

"I don't know the reason for it but they have always supported me when I was playing badly and through the good times. I will always remember that.

"It is important for every player to have a good relationship with the fans. The Liverpool fans aren't just like this with me, they do it with every player, especially when they feel they are going through a bad period.

"This is why they are some of the best around, certainly in England and probably the world."

It's fair to say that Biscan wouldn't be overly missed if he did depart, but it all comes down to the manager. If Benitez believes there is a long term role for Biscan then you'd expect him to stay around, if not - then it looks like the player/agent are already planning an escape route.

Reds target Johnson, Wright-Phillips,
Ballack and Mintal

Kop Talk

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is reportedly still keen on signing Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson.

It is claimed in one report today that Rafa is still keen on Johnson, a player he sniffed around prior to January's transfer window.

Also linked with us today in the same report is Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bayern Munich's Michael Ballack and Nurnberg's Marek Mintal; a selection of players that have all been linked with us for many moons.

Unfortunately there's also a reference to Steven Gerrard possibly leaving for Chelsea or Real Madrid but it is a very speculative report with no real substance.

Reds keen on Spanish defender

By Adam Bryant - LFC Online

According to reports, Liverpool are one of a number of clubs monitoring Sevilla's highly-rated defender Sergio Ramos.

The 18-year-old right-back is regarded as one of the most exciting young players in La Liga.

A bid of around 10m could secure the youngsters services, although Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid are also interested.

Reds step up Mintal hunt

By Vasek Kadlec - Sky Sports

Liverpool have reportedly stepped up their interest in Nurnberg's free-scoring midfielder Marek Mintal.

The Slovakia international's stunning exploits this season are rumoured to have caught the eye of Reds boss Rafa Benitez.

Mintal has scored 19 goals in 24 Bundesliga appearances this term, despite operating in midfield and playing in a team just outside the relegation zone.

He was first linked with Liverpool during January's transfer window, with German media reports claiming the Premiership club had contacted Mintal's agent.

But renewed speculation suggests The Reds have increased that a notch by lodging a 4 million (2.75 million) offer for the player.

Nurnberg, though, would be reluctant sellers after officials at the club admitted Mintal is their shining light.

"Mintal is our jewel," Nurnberg chief Michael Roth told the club's official website. "He is the shop window of our club."

Nurnberg boss Wolfgang Wolf, who also eulogised about the 27-year-old, conceding it would be virtually impossible to snare a replacement for Mintal.

Wolf said: "Marek is irreplaceable for us and, in addition, his market price increases with every goal he scores."

Mintal joined Nurnberg from Zilina in 2003 and is under contract until 2008, but the Bundesliga side's resolve may be tested in the summer.

With doubts persisting about the future of Reds captain Steven Gerrard, Benitez may perceive Mintal to be an ideal replacement for his talisman.

Italians eye Baros

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Italian side Palermo are planning an ambitious raid for Liverpool striker Milan Baros.

Palermo are surprise contenders for a UEFA Champions League place after a superb run in Serie A this season.

The club are already planning on making some new signings to step up a level in the summer, and have targeted Liverpool's Czech republic ace.

Baros was upset at being left out of the Liverpool starting Xi by Rafa Benitez for the Carling Cup final - sparking rumours he wanted to leave Anfield.

Benitez has now told Baros to prove himself on the pitch, and Palermo are one club waiting in the wings to see if the situation develops.

"We will monitor the situation," said Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini.

"When a player of this quality becomes available, we will of course be interested.

"There has been no contact but should the situation remain the same, then we will contact Liverpool."

Baros has rubbished reports he wants to leave, but Palermo are not the first Italian team to show an interest in him, with Fiorentina already linked with a move.

Should Benitez decide that Baros is not in his plans at the end of the season, there will be no shortage of takers for Euro 2004's top scorer.

Atletico eye Kewell

By Francisco Acedo - Sky Sports

Spanish side Atletico Madrid are thought to be monitoring Liverpool winger Harry Kewell.

The Australian wide-man has had a troubled season at Anfield, with injuries not helping his chances of impressing Rafa Benitez.

The Anfield boss has said that Kewell could be an important player for the future of his side, but the former Leeds man continues to disappoint.

Kewell has shown only glimpses of his undoubted talent since swapping Elland Road for Anfield, and his future on Merseyside could be in the balance.

Benitez is looking to make wholesale changes in the summer, and Atletico would be very interested should Kewell become available.

Coach Cesar Ferrando is an admirer of Kewell's and believes he would add great quality to his side, forming an extra supply line to star striker Fernando Torres.

Atletico sporting director Toni Munoz refused to confirm that Kewell was a target, saying that they were monitoring a number of potential signings.

"We are preparing fundamental pieces for the team of the future. Ours scouts are looking at several players all over the world," said Munoz.

Munoz was quick to point out that any new attacking arrival would not be to cover for the departure of Torres.

Their star man has been linked with Chelsea in the past, while Benitez's Liverpool could look to do business if Kewell goes the other way, but Atletico insist this is not the case.

"At no time would any operation be prepared as an option of exit to England of the striker Fernando Torres."

Furious Baros to quit Kop

By David Maddock - Daily Mirror

Milan Baros is on his way out of Liverpool after a bust-up about being axed for the Carling Cup final.

The Czech Republic striker was fuming with boss Rafa Benitez for picking Harry Kewell ahead of him for the showpiece game with Chelsea. Baros had angry words with the Anfield coaching staff about the selection and was furious about being left out, as he had been for the final two years ago under Gerard Houllier.

The Kop star was so upset that there was even a fear that he would walk out and head back to Merseyside rather than be a sub.

Benitez then left Baros on the bench and made two changes before bringing him on last - and too late to make a difference in the dramatic extra-time defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

Now Baros is planning to quit in the summer as this latest setback has left him unhappy with his role at the club. After his success at Euro 2004 and Michael Owen's departure, Baros has fought to become first choice this season.

However, Fernando Morientes has arrived, Baros's form has dipped and Benitez prefers the Spaniard - and, apparently, even injury-jinxed Kewell.

Thor Zakariassen