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CISSE TO SNUB ENGLISH OVERTURES

CISSE TO SNUB ENGLISH OVERTURES

By Tom Adams - Created on 29 Jun 2007

Djibril Cisse's agent has confirmed that the Liverpool striker will snub interest from three English clubs to join Marseille.

The French international spent the season on loan with l'OM and is now set on finalising a permanent move, despite interest from the Premier League.

West Ham, Portsmouth and Bolton had all shown interest in Cisse, according to his agent Ranko Stojic.

"Marseille is definitely the choice for Djibril," Stojic told the BBC. "I think the deal will happen on Friday or Saturday.

"I have been very busy this week - I caught six planes in two days - and I am sorry for the people I have not had the chance to call back, Mr Eggert Magnusson of West Ham for example.

"The Marseille option is the best choice for Djibril because of the Champions League.

"West Ham, Bolton and Portsmouth I understand are very, very good clubs but Djibril wants to play in the top level of European competition next season."

Marseille will be looking for Cisse to play a leading role in their UEFA Champions League campaign next season after losing attacking talisman Franck Ribery to Bayern Munich.

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Rafa coy over Torres talk

Rafa coy over Torres talk

By Tom Adams - Created on 29 Jun 2007

Rafa Benitez is remaining coy over the prospect of Fernando Torres arriving at Anfield, even if the Liverpool boss insists the club are working hard to secure new signings.

Whilst The Reds have brought in a number of talented youngsters over the summer - with two more joining on Friday - a big name arrival remains conspicuous by its absence.

Atletico Madrid striker Torres is likely to be the first at a club record £27million, as the two clubs are understood to have held extensive talks regarding a transfer for the Spanish international.

The Primera Liga club have denied that Torres' exit is a done deal, but Atleti fans have been holding public protests at his likely departure and, according to reports, Liverpool must only agree personal terms to snare the highly-rated forward.

Whilst Benitez was reluctant to pre-empt any deal for Torres, the two-time UEFA Champions League finalist did admit the club were working hard to bring in some exciting names before the start of next season.

"All I can say is that Fernando Torres is one of the players we have looked at," said Benitez.

"Yes, [new signings are] the idea. We are working on this all the time.

"As I've already said, the spine of the team is in place and now we just need to add to that.

"Of course, you must always be excited at the start of a new season. You must also have confidence in your team and hopefully we will soon bring in the new players that we want to make the squad better."

Benitez has frequently called on the club's new owners to deliver some high-profile signings, but a parallel policy has been to bring a number of young talents to Merseyside.

Swedish midfielder Alex Kacaniklic has joined from Helsingborgs, as previously confirmed by skysports.com, and The Reds also recruited striker Marvin Purie from Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

They join teenagers Mikel San Jose, Nikolay Mihailov, Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon in joining the academy ranks on Merseyside.


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Sissoko signs new Reds deal

Sissoko signs new Reds deal

By Mark Buckingham - Created on 28 Jun 2007

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Mohamed Sissoko has quashed doubts about his future at Liverpool by signing a new four-year contract.

The Mali midfielder admitted at the end of last season that there was a question mark about his situation at Anfield after the January signing of Javier Mascherano.

Reports had claimed that Juventus had tabled a £10million bid for Sissoko, while Barcelona were rumoured to be showing an interest.

But the 22-year-old has now put the speculation to bed by accepting a contract to stay on Merseyside until 2011.

"It was never in my thoughts to leave Liverpool," Sissoko told the club's official website.

"I read about the speculation linking me with other clubs, but I am already at a big, big club and it's an honour for me to be able to call myself a Liverpool player.

"I feel fresh and can't wait for the new season to start. I am injury-free and although I know I'll face a battle for a place in the team as we have so many great midfielders I'm prepared to fight for a position.

"It obviously gave me a huge boost to my confidence that the manager believes in me and wanted me to stay at the club. Now I want to repay him on the pitch."

Since joining Liverpool from Valencia in a £5.6million deal two years ago, Sissoko has made over 70 appearances, but has yet to score.

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Carlos Tevez turns down Inter Milan move

Carlos Tevez turns down Inter Milan move

Jun 29 2007

Liverpool Echo

CARLOS TEVEZ has turned down a move to Inter Milan – as Liverpool keep tabs on his position in case their move for Fernando Torres falls down.

The Argentinian team-mate of Reds’ midfielder Javier Mascherano had spoken enthusiastically about a move to Serie A only 24 hours previously.

But the Italian champions imposed a deadline for Tevez to make a decision, and the player baulked.

The Argentina international, who is currently in Venezuela for his country’s Copa America campaign, is keen to remain in the Premier League.

A statement from Tevez’s representative Kia Joorabchian, said: “Inter put a deadline on the decision and Carlos’ heart is really in the Premier League, so he was not prepared to meet that cut-off point.”

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West Ham are keen to keep him and are involved in negotiations about his future, but Reds boss Rafa Benitez has also revealed that Tevez was on a short-list of his potential striking targets.

Joorabchian, who heads up Media Sports Investments, revealed reports that Tevez has been offered more than £100,000 a week by the Hammers to stay are “absolutely not true”.

“He has not been offered that sum of money to stay, but it is true we are still talking and hope to come to some arrangement.”

Juventus striker David Trezeguet, meanwhile, has signed a new deal, after declaring he spurned interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.

The 29-year-old France striker has penned a new deal tying him to the Turin giants until June 2011.

He said: “My father and agent told me I had other propositions from ambitious clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona.

“But as soon as Juventus showed their desire to keep me, I accepted immediately.”

Trezeguet, who helped the club regain their Serie A status at the first attempt following their demotion for match-fixing, was linked with a move away after manager Didier Deschamps departed to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri.

"I didn't want to leave Juve but I needed to get reassured by the officials," Trezeguet added.

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Harry Kewell raring to go after fears for his career

Harry Kewell raring to go after fears for his career

Jun 29 2007

by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post

Harry Kewell in action for Australia

HARRY KEWELL has admitted that thoughts of giving up football crossed his mind during his latest battle against injury.

The Liverpool winger now hopes the stop-start nature of his career over the past two years is behind him as he prepares to represent his country in the Asian Cup next month.

Kewell was restricted to just tree appearances at the back end of last season for Liverpool – his first action since sustaining a foot injury in last year’s World Cup in Germany.

After a torn adductor muscle curtailed his involvement in the Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005, Kewell returned to something like his best when he made his comeback the following autumn and his form continued into Australia’s qualification from the group phase of the World Cup.

But after going back to square one when he was ruled out for most of last season, the 28-year-old confessed that he feared his latest injury might just be one recovery too many.

“Thoughts like that did creep into my mind,” said the Australian winger. “There were fleeting thoughts.

“You get over one injury and then another one appears and all of a sudden you’re wound up in one big mess and you think, ‘am I ever going to be the same?’

“But I had a strong team behind me, strong family behind me and I had fantastic people working with me 24/7.

“And from the confidence I had from them, that pulled me through.”

Kewell is now poised for his international comeback on Saturday when Australia take on Singapore in a warm-up game. Their first ever Asian Cup campaign kicks off a week on Sunday when Oman are Australia’s first opponents in a group that also includes Iraq and one of the four hosts, Thailand.

And Kewell, who scored the equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Croatia that took Australia to the knock-out phase in Germany last year, is ready to make a similar impact on the international stage once more.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s hard work out here.

“It’s very hot, very humid but the team is looking well, the team’s looking fit and everything’s going well,” he said.

“Hopefully I can get a run out but we’ll just have to wait and see. We’re just working hard.

“We’re feeling great and Training’s going good for me, I’m pulling up good.”

Kewell also thinks that getting in some games in July will assist his pre-season preparations and sharpen him up for returning to the Liverpool fold after the tournament.

He added: “It’s the first pre-season I’ve done in probably a couple of years so my body is a bit stiff, but no less stiff than anyone else’s and it’s to be expected.

“I’ve just got to roll with it. I’ve got to take my time and make my way into the game.

“It’s going to be fun. I haven’t been out for this long and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve been off for 12 months now and you almost claim that as a little retirement. It’s rested my body, mentally and physically.

“Obviously with the injuries I was still working but to just step back and watch games was good for me, to step back and relax a little bit.”

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Liverpool Training Picture

The first batch of players returned to Melwood for pre-season training this week. Here's the best of the day in pictures.
To see a larger version of each picture then simply click on the image of your choice.

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

Training in Pictures

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Hartlepool sign Liverpool's Antwi

Hartlepool sign Liverpool's Antwi
Hartlepool United
Liverpool have allowed defender Godwin Antwi to join League One outfit Hartlepool on a season-long loan.

The 19-year-old is a regular in the Reds' reserve side and spent a successful two-month spell with Accrington last season.

The Ghanaian played a part in helping Stanley to preserve their Football League status.

Antwi is Pools' third signing of the summer, joining Arran Lee-Barrett and Jamie McCunnie at Victoria Park.

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Liverpool Agree on Torres

Liverpool on verge of £27m deal for Torres

By Tim Rich
Last Updated: 1:50am BST 29/06/2007

Liverpool were last night close to agreeing a fee for striker Fernando Torres that would smash the club's transfer record and bring one of the most exciting prospects in European football to Anfield.

Atletico Madrid appear to have accepted in principle Liverpool's offer of £20 million plus Luis Garcia, who is apparently happy to return to the Vincente Calderon Stadium where he spent a season before his transfer to Barcelona four years ago. The cash-plus-player deal would satisfy the £27 million release clause in Torres' contract.

The Torres deal would dwarf the club's previous record transfer - the £14 million Gerard Houllier paid to Auxerre for Djibril Cisse in 2004 - and would go a long way to providing proof that Liverpool's new owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, back manager Rafael Benitez's demands for high-quality signings.

Torres, who has the final decision on the transfer, will face fierce local pressure from fans to resist the move.

Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce fears he may suffer a "massive blow" this summer if strikers Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins invoke get-out clauses in their contracts. Arsenal are said to be interested in the pair.

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Reds face Yossi fight

Jun 26 2007

by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

Yossi Benayoun in action for West Ham

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON is hoping to hijack Liverpool’s move for Yossi Benayoun.

The Manchester City manager-elect has already earmarked his first transfer target, even before signing his three-year contract at Eastlands.

And he wants West Ham’s Israeli captain.

The Reds made an initial bid in excess of £1.5m more than a week ago for the midfielder, but it was instantly dismissed by West Ham.

The Reds have not made a renewed offer, hoping The Hammers’ desire to recruit a striker will lead to a possible exchange deal with Craig Bellamy.

And Benayoun is prepared to be patient.

The player’s agent, Ronen Katzav, said: “We are still waiting.

“The deal is still in place with West Ham. We are waiting to see if the two clubs can come to an agreement.

“I am not going to say Yossi is desperate for a move at all, but it is only natural – any player in the world would be attracted by Liverpool.”

West Ham agreed a new three-year contract with Benayoun, who Rafa Benitez sees as a replacement in his squad for the departed Bolo Zenden, but it has remained unsigned since Liverpool made their interest known.

Eriksson’s City backers believe a contract worth around £3m-a-year – terms Liverpool are unlikely to match – will persuade Benayoun to choose City.

Another Reds target, meanwhile, Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, is ready to confront club officials in an effort to break the deadlock over his proposed move.

The Spanish international striker is enthusiastic about the prospect of a move to Anfield, but fears he is being priced out of a switch.

He intends outlining his misgivings to president Enrique Cerezo.

Atletico’s £27million asking price is proving a stumbling block, although Liverpool are hoping a player-exchange could solve the impasse.

Benitez told the ECHO last week that Djibril Cisse will not be allowed out on loan again, and he could be used as a makeweight in the deal.

A move to La Liga may well appeal to Cisse, who recently bought a Spanish holiday home in Sitges.

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Somethings Finally Stirring At Anfield

Somethings Finally Stirring At Anfield by KOPBLOG

I’m not sure what technical problems caused the site to crash for the last few days but it’s great to have it back up and running again, as I was really starting to get withdrawal symptoms. We still haven’t made any real moves in the transfer market since my last blog, but there have been some interesting developments over the last week.

We are still pretty much in the position of having to rely on rumours and speculation in regard to our transfer targets but at least the scatter gun approach of the press in linking us to just about every footballer on the planet, seems to have died down a little and we are now starting to see the same few names consistently cropping up, with at least some degree of back up. How valid these links will prove to be, remains to be seen, but I think its fair to say that something finally appears to be stirring at Anfield.

Firstly, the one player we know for sure that the club has made an approach for is Wet Spam’s Israeli international Yossi Benayoun. Although he could hardly be described as being among the more glamorous names linked with the club in recent weeks, he is nevertheless a signing that I would welcome. We all know that there is a severe shortage of creative talent in our squad at the moment and Benayoun would be a player who fits into that category. I saw him play for Israel against Ireland a couple of years ago and the bastard tore our defence apart in that game with his skilful play.

Although he may not seem to be an immediate candidate for our first eleven, he certainly has Premiership experience and I think at about £4million he would be great value. Besides this, I think we also have to keep in mind that Rafa is trying build a strong squad of players and I certainly don’t want to see us in a situation where we go limping out of the domestic cup competitions again, because we don’t have enough strength in depth.

After Benayoun things start to get a little bit sketchy, but there’s no doubt about the name of the player who is on everybody’s lips at the moment, Fernando Torres. Interestingly, I put a poll up on my Vital Liverpool site which has been running for more then two weeks, asking fans who would be the striker they would most like to see us sign over the summer, and the result was;

Torres 33% Tevez 28% Owen 10% Eto’o 9% Villa 9% Henry 5% Huntelaar 4% Bent 2%

You can count me among the 33% that voted for Torres but I would also have no objections to Tevez and I will be a very happy man if we manage to sign either. As for the other names in the poll, I don’t think Owen is Rafa’s type of player and I don’t think he will leave Newcastle for at least another season. I never really thought the signing of Eto’o was on the cards, there’s no doubting his ability but there are big question marks about his temperament and he would cost an absolute fortune.

Villa is a good player but I have my doubts about whether he could cut it in the Premiership. The links to Henry were a total joke and I’ve just heard that he has now apparently signed for Barca, things really seem to be unravelling at Arsenal. Huntelaar would be a good signing but not as our main striker and Bent of course has plenty of experience and goals to his credit in the Premiership but the price Charlton are looking for is ridiculous.

So that brings me back to Torres who I think is a brilliant player and would be an excellent signing. He’s averaging about a goal in every three games at the moment with 82 goals in 220+ games as captain for Atletico Madrid and 14 goals in 42 games for Spain. Although this may not be the most prolific of ratios, it’s not too shabby either and the guy is still only 23 with bags of ability. Its been pretty well documented that Liverpool have had a delegation over in Madrid but as ever the stumbling block is the price.

Torres has an escape clause in his contract set at £27million and it appears that Atletico are unwilling to move from this valuation (click here) . This is also the case with another of our targets, Roma’s Brazilian winger Alessandro Mancini. He is another great player and reports in Italy have claimed we have had a £13million bid rejected by Roma, who are unwilling to sell what they see as one of their key players and are in fact trying to get him to sign a contract extension (click here) . If its true that these two players are our primary targets then it would certainly explain the delay in our transfer activity.

Both clubs involved appear to be genuinely unwilling to sell and it seems that the only way they will budge is if we cough up the cash. And whether we pursue some of the other targets we’ve been linked with, such as Malouda etc, may ultimately depend on how these two deals pan out.

There are some fans who question whether we should be paying out this kind of money for players and for me the answer is quite simple, yes we should.

The price tag is not down to the player, its not down to Rafa and its certainly not down to us, it’s the clubs who set these prices and its down to them to work things out. If we are unwilling to match these kind of valuations then we shouldn’t be wasting our time pursuing these type of players and should move on to some of the lesser targets on our list.

However, if this proves to be the case then please lets not have any more of these press conferences where Gillett and Hicks are banging on about making us the biggest club in the world blah, blah, blah. To be the best, you need the best players and the best players cost the most money, and it really is as simple as that, so it’s time for our American owners to either shit or get off the pot!

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Monday’s News Round Up

Monday’s News Round Up
Written by Matt Ladson on June 26th, 2007

Athletico: No bids for Torres

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Liverpool have not tabled a bid for striker Fernando Torres. “We’ve had no offer from Liverpool for Torres,” said Cerezo. “He’s on his holiday and resting.

Athletico though have reportedly had a 17mE bid for Villareal striker Diego Forlan turned down, prompting speculation they are lining up a replacement for Torres.

Should we draw anything by the denial of a bid? If anything it proves we are in talks - so often clubs or players deny such moves and within days the transfer happens. Lets hope that happens in this case.

Rafa: No Cisse loan deal

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez has ruled out Djirbil Cisse being loaned out again this season - Marseille ahd reportedly wanted to loan him again despite having an agreement to purchase the player after last season’s loan. Bolton are currently being heavily linked with him with them facing the prospect of losing Nicolas Anelka to Arsenal.

Benitez said “The situation with Cisse is clear. If another club wants him, they must buy the player. We do not want another loan.”

Cisse though has been reported to be used aswell as Luis Garcia in the Torres deal, with Athletico reportedly wanting £24m and Liverpool only wishing to part with £20m.

Pre-Season begins this week

Liverpool’s non-international players will return to training this Thursday, with players who played in internationals after the end of the season being given another week until July 5th when they return. Javier Mascherano is away on international duty now with Argentina facing USA on Thursday in their opening game of the Copa America.

Carson staying at Anfield

According to Rafa, who has told the England international to fight for the starting spot and challenge Pepe Reina this season: “I was speaking to Scott recently and I told him he will be part of our first team squad next season. He must fight with Pepe Reina now for a starting place.”

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Liverpool yet to make Torres bid

Liverpool yet to make Torres bid
Fernando Torres
Torres scored 14 goals last season for Atletico
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Liverpool have not tabled a bid for striker Fernando Torres.

Champions League finalists Liverpool have been closely linked with the 23-year-old Spain international.

"We've had no offer from Liverpool for Torres," said Cerezo. "He's on his holiday and resting.

"I repeat that there has been nothing about Torres from any team. We're now working to create a good team for the coming year," added Cerezo.

Torres, 23, scored 14 league goals in 36 starts this season as Atletico finished seventh in La Liga.

The Spanish international's Atletico contract runs until 2009.

Torres came up though the youth ranks at Atletico and has been their leading scorer in each of the last five seasons.

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David Prentice: Shearer’s climb off the TV fence was well overdue

Jun 22 2007

by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

Craig Bellamy shows his frustration

AS a player, Alan Shearer kept his cards close to his chest.

A lot closer than his elbows, anyway.

But as a pundit, when a couple of vicious digs might have been accepted and even encouraged, the poker-face continued.

That’s why this week’s out of character outburst should be welcomed everywhere, except perhaps in the Bellamy household, because it suggests we may finally see a return to pundits expressing an opinion on our television screens next season.

For those who missed it, football’s very own Mary Poppins had a jolly holiday crudely interrupted by news of Newcastle’s apparent interest in Craig Bellamy.

“Has no-one learnt their lesson about signing Craig Bellamy?” he rapped.

“If only Rafa Benitez had rung me I would have told him exactly what he was like. I hope there isn’t anything in these reports.

“I was having a few days away in France with Gary Speed and Steve Harper and the wives and I picked up the newspaper. I was having a fantastic day.

“But when I read Bellamy for Newcastle I thought I would definitely have to have another drink. I had several.”

True, Shearer wasn’t sitting on a comfy couch wearing a smart-casual shirt while he spoke.

But after a lifetime of picking his words as carefully as a mountain goat on a precipice, it was a dramatic sea-change in personality.

When you’re paid to deliver honest opinions, by a company we support with our TV licence money, there’s an unspoken duty to try and entertain.

And so far, Alan Shearer the pundit has been anything but entertaining. Perhaps he now feels ready to give us a glimpse of the real Alan Shearer underneath. Let’s hope so, because he could be one of the best pundits around.

He was surely aware his words last week would be quoted and repeated on the back pages of papers desperate for any item of football interest in a non-World Cup/Euro Championship summer. But he still went ahead and said them.

It’s what Match of the Day, actually it’s what football coverage full stop, has been crying out for.

The football experts’ ‘panel’ was first used in this country for the World Cup finals in 1970.

And we were spoiled.

Derek Dougan and Paddy Crerand often almost came to blows, Big Malcolm Allison was flash and irreverent, while Brian Clough was, well, Brian Clough in all his outrageous glory.

Occasionally Cloughie’s words would come back and bite him on the backside.

Like the tirade, still recalled 33 years later, that Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomasewzki was “a clown.”

Cloughie was unabashed, even when the ‘clown’s’ antics left English football looking stupid and out of the greatest football show on earth in 1974.

John Bromley was the innovative ITV producer who put together that first ‘panel.’

Each member was paid £500 for a month’s work, put up in Hendon Hall Hotel – and encouraged to be ‘colourful.’

After a week a worried minion alerted Bromley to the size of Allison’s bar bill. It included champagne, Cuban cigars and expensive wine.

Bromley simply signed the bill and ordered that, for the duration of the World Cup, each member of the panel be woken with a glass of vintage champagne.

Now pundits, experts and analysts look like they’ve been force fed Horlicks before the cameras roll.

The irony is that we need insight now like never before.

It wasn’t so long ago that journalists could get close to footballers, form their own opinions about players’ personalities and give fans an insight into the players they worshipped.

But in the Premier League today, players are protected with an efficiency that would do the armed services credit.

All too often press departments act as a barrier, rather than a conduit between players and punters.

So who better than recently retired ex-players, men who have trained with, shared hotels with and enjoyed the occasional night out with the players we’re watching, to give us an insight into their character.

That’s why Shearer’s views on Bellamy are interesting.

Alan Shearer played with him, trained with him and presumably shared the occasional night out.

When Alan Shearer was a player, the story did the rounds that he celebrated winning the Premiership in 1995 by going home and applying creosote to his fence.

In his new career as an analyst he abandoned fence painting for sitting on them.

Now he finally seems to be climbing off the fence, and our television screens could be all the better for it.


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Kewell hopes for fitness fillip

By Tom Adams - Created on 26 Jun 2007

Harry Kewell hopes his long spell on the sidelines with Liverpool last season will help to prolong his career.

The Australian star only played in the final three games of Liverpool's season after sustaining a serious injury with his country in last summer's World Cup finals.

However, Kewell has now returned to full fitness ahead of the Asian Cup, and the former Leeds man believes his lengthy absence will pay dividends later in his career.

"I'm in tip-top shape. The 11 months I was out my body could relax and it allowed me to get over the injuries, but I'm back, feeling good and really raring to go," Kewell told the Australian press.

"It was tough, but the manager (Rafael Benitez) supported me through the whole thing. It wasn't something he was happy about, but it happened.

"I've got a year left at Liverpool and I can't wait to get back into it.

"In a way my injuries were a good thing because it gave me the rest I needed, as I was going for a long time up until the injury.

"I had 11 months away from the pitch, although I was working hard in rehab. But to get that rest was perfect and that could prolong my career for another two or three years maybe."

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Benayoun still waiting

Benayoun still waiting

Yossi Benayoun is still hoping he can secure a move to Liverpool.

The West Ham midfielder has agreed a new deal with the club, but Liverpool have mounted a bid for his services.

Because of Liverpool's interest, Benayoun's new contract remains unsigned.

The player's agent Ronen Katzav admits that Benayoun's future is still not decided.

"We are still waiting," Katzav told skysports.com.

"The deal is still in place with West Ham. We are waiting to see if the two clubs can come to an agreement.

"I am not going to say Yossi is desperate for a move at all, but it is only natural - any player in the world would be attracted by Liverpool."

Reports have also suggested that Sven Goran Eriksson could make a move for Benayoun, if he takes charge at Manchester City.

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Cisse deal can raise stakes in Torres bid

LIVERPOOL will step up their attempt to sell Djibril Cisse before the end of the week – and boost their chances of landing Fernando Torres into the bargain.

It looks increasingly likely that Liverpool will have to smash their record transfer outlay by more than £10million to land the Atletico Madrid striker as his club stick steadfastly to their refusal to shift from a release clause in the region of £27million.

Manager Rafael Benitez has given no indication that his transfer budget can stretch this far on one player and is lining up a series of targets as back-up.

But netting a fee in the region of £8m for Cisse, who is Liverpool’s record buy after his £14m switch from Auxerre in 2004, will help raise the money for a bid that will capture 23-year-old Atletico skipper Torres.

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Race hots up for Forlan

By Francisco Acedo - Created on 25 Jun 2007
Villarreal's directors are set to meet in the next few days to discuss the future of striker Diego Forlan.

The Uruguayan front man has been linked with a move away from El Madrigal with Arsenal, Liverpool and Valencia all preparing to table bids.

Last week, Villarreal reportedly turned away an offer from Atletico Madrid of €17million (£11.5million) plus 28-year-old striker Mista for the former Manchester United man.

Fernando Roig, president of Villarreal, reiterated the Yellow Submarines' stance that they are not willing to negotiate on their asking price of €23million (£15.5million) for Forlan, scorer of 19 league goals last season.

He also admitted a number of clubs in England and Spain were tracking the striker but stressed the Primera Liga club had not decided whether they would sell or keep the player.

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Torres nears exit door

Torres nears exit door

Jun 25 2007

by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

Fernando Torres in action for Athletico Madrid

ATLETICO MADRID have had a 17 million-euros-plus-Mista bid turned down for Diego Forlan.

But the offer is the first indication that Atletico are preparing for life without Fernando Torres.

The 23-year-old Spanish international is wanted by Reds boss Rafa Benitez, and both parties now appear to be jockeying for position.

Torres’ agent, Antonio Sanz, has described a reported offer from the Reds of £16m plus Luis Garcia as “insufficient – if you keep in mind that Fernando guarantees you 15 goals per year, especially when Nani, an unknown player, cost Manchester United £20m.”

Another report claims that Atletico want Peter Crouch rather than Garcia, but Benitez will not part with last season’s 18-goal top scorer.

Villarreal representative Jose Manuel Llaneza, meanwhile, says any club that wants to tempt Forlan away will have to shell out more money.

“Villarreal does not want to bother negotiating for Forlan,” said Llaneza in Spanish newspaper Marca. “His value is 23 million euros (£17m).”

Reds boss Benitez initially considered Forlan himself, but decided the asking price was too high.

But he is prepared to push the boat out for Torres.

Reports in Spain suggest Atletico Madrid have been demanding 36 million euros (£24million), while Liverpool are only willing to offer 30 (£20million).

Torres’ buy-out clause in a straight-cash deal is 40million euros (£27 million).

Reds boss Benitez would like to add to his squad before the bulk of his players report back for pre-season training.

Liverpool’s non-international players report back to Melwood on Thursday.

The players involved in end of season internationals have been given an extra week’s break.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano, however, is still several weeks away from enjoying a rest this summer.

Mascherano has been named in Argentina’s 23-man squad for the forthcoming Copa America tournament in Venezuela.

The South American showpiece kicks-off tomorrow, with Argentina playing their opening game two days later against the United States. Also in their group are Columbia and Paraguay.

The Copa America is the oldest international tournament in the world. It was first contested in 1916 and, along with Uruguay, Argentina are the most successful nation having triumphed 14 times. In the last final, however, they were beaten by Brazil on penalties.

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LFC Weekend Round Up (24 June 2007)

LFC Weekend Round Up (24 June 2007)
Sun 24 Jun 07 (14:58) by Dave Needham

All eyes still on the Torres move, Rafa talks tough on Cisse and insists that Liverpool are busy in the transfer market.

United enter race for Torres?

According to some sections of the media, Manchester United want to wreck Liverpool’s hopes of landing Fernando Torres. Whether this is rumours from Atletico’s side to ensure Liverpool pay top whack, genuine United interest, media hype or a ruse from United remains to be seen.

Atletico appear to be still haggling over the details, after the reds added Luis Garcia in to the equation.

The majority of the media has swung back round to back Liverpool as the favourites, as this is believed to be the player’s preference.

If the deal goes through it will certainly smash Liverpool’s previous record transfer fee of £14 million on Djibril Cisse, another player mentioned as a potential bargaining chip in the move.

Djibril CisseRafa talks tough to Marseille

Staying with Cisse, and it had appeared that Liverpool were going to allow Marseille the right to take Djib on another season’s loan with an option to purchase at the end. How much knowledge Benitez had about this is questionable as he is furious that Marseille appear to be getting another season out of him on the cheap. With Man City’s new regime believed to be very interested in the player, Rafa feels he can settle Djibril’s career once and for all this summer.

“The situation with Cisse is clear,” Benitez told the club’s official website. “If another club wants him, they must buy the player.

“We do not want another loan.”

The club will listen to offers at around £8 million.

Newcastle over-charge on Owen

As mentioned before, Michael Owen is still highly thought of by the Liverpool board, but not by the reds boss. Speculation about a swap deal for Owen, with Bellamy AND Riise going the other way have been scuppered by Rafa. According to the Sunday Express, Benitez stepped in to put an immediate halt on the deal. Michael Owen has a £9 million release clause. It’s our opinion that both Bellamy and Riise could probably claim that kind of transfer fee each.

Carson to Black Cats

Roy Keane’s newly promoted Sunderland have entered the race to sign Scott Carson. Carson has been overshadowed at Liverpool due to the arrival of Pepe Reina, and is deserving of first team Premiership football. Liverpool look unlikely to keep hold of the player, and with Reina signing a new five year contract, the Mackem’s have joined a long list of Premiership clubs chasing Carson’s signature.

Let’s hope the reds get a decent price for a player who could be England’s national keeper for a long time to come.

Benitez insists no problems, yet

Rafa has also spoken out to halt the criticism’s of the Anfield board. There have been suggestions every day that Benitez’ is not being backed in the transfer market and is considering leaving. The gaffer actually said,

“We have a number of targets, and I am receiving interesting phone calls all the time. We are monitoring situations all the time and there is no urgency yet.”

“If we bring in players from Spain, they only finished playing a week ago so they will need a longer break, but I would like somebody in before we start pre-season training.”

Hopefully, next week should see more transfers both in and out being concluded as the pre-season approaches on the horizon.

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Varney clarifies Bent situation

Charlton Athletic chief executive Peter Varney has spoken to Sky Sports News in order to clarify Darren Bent's situation, amid reports that he is poised to sign for Tottenham.

Speculation has been rife in Sunday's press that the England striker has all but wrapped up a switch to White Hart Lane, with Charlton and Spurs having come to an arrangement over the fee.

However, on the contrary, Varney has confirmed that Charlton have not struck an accord with any club, other than West Ham, who Bent rejected the opportunity to join.

West Ham had a bid accepted by Charlton that was thought to have been in the region of £17million and, while Tottenham are known to be vigorously pursuing a deal, they are not willing to match this valuation.

This has not, though, stopped speculation that has claimed Bent is close to making the switch across the capital to join Martin Jol's Tottenham.

"West Ham matched out valuation," Varney told Sky Sports News.

"As a result of that, we gave them permission to talk to Darren but he declined to join them.

"No other club has matched our valuation and therefore, despite all the speculation in the press today, that remains the situation."

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Rafa: No new loan for Cisse

Rafa Benitez insists Djibril Cisse will only leave Liverpool on a permanent basis this summer.

Cisse spent last term on loan at Marseille and the French club are keen to hold on to the striker next season.

Marseille would prefer another loan, but have confirmed talks are ongoing regarding a deal in the region of £8million.

Bolton Wanderers are also reported to have expressed an interest in Cisse, and Reds boss Benitez outlined the club's stance on the France international.

"The situation with Cisse is clear," Benitez told the club's official website. "If another club wants him, they must buy the player.

"We do not want another loan."

Marseille chairman Pape Diouf remains upbeat about the chances of agreeing a deal with Liverpool for Cisse.

Diouf told his club's official website: "I hope that, some time next week, we will be able to find an adequate solution.

"Our wish, clearly stated, is to keep Djibril Cisse with us and his wish is to remain with us.

"It is a deal which we wish to carry out quickly in the long term."

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Liverpool likely to raise bid for West Ham's Benayoun

Liverpool likely to raise bid for West Ham's BenayounBy Jason Burt

Published: 22 June 2007

Liverpool were last night preparing to raise their bid for Yossi Benayoun to £4.5m - with West Ham United keen to do a deal if they can persuade Craig Bellamy to move to Upton Park.

The revised offer from Liverpool, who had initially offered £3m, comes close to the £5m that West Ham hoped to receive for the Israel international. The likelihood is that Liverpool will eventually agree to pay especially as Benayoun is desperate to join them.

West Ham have grown frustrated with the 27-year-old midfielder after he reneged on a verbal agreement to sign a lucrative new contract. That offer has subsequently been withdrawn but it will be tabled again if Benayoun, who has two years left on his current deal, pledges his future to West Ham when he returns from holiday next week.

Benayoun has been trailed by the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for some time. The Spaniard came close to making a bid last summer, as did Arsenal, and The Independent revealed earlier this month that Benitez was now determined to sign Benayoun, who first came to prominence at Racing Santander before joining West Ham two years ago for £2.5m.

Benayoun had threatened to hand in a transfer request when he held talks with West Ham at the end of the season. However, it had appeared that a new deal - doubling his pay to around £50,000 a week - and reassurances that he will play more regularly had persuaded him to stay. But once he became aware of Benitez's renewed interest Benayoun informed West Ham that he wanted more time before signing.

West Ham were determined to keep the player but after losing out on Darren Bent, with the Charlton striker changing his mind at the 11th hour on a £18m move, they have turned their attentions to Bellamy. The Welsh international can leave Anfield although his £12m valuation - twice what Liverpool paid Blackburn last summer - has scared off potential bidders.

West Ham will hope that if they offer a reduced fee plus Benayoun for Bellamy, then it will help secure the deal especially as they will also increase his wages. They regard Bellamy as an ideal partner for Dean Ashton, which further indicates that Carlos Tevez is leaving.

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Guthrie set for Bolton loan move

Guthrie set for Bolton loan move
Liverpool midfielder Danny Guthrie
Guthrie made his Liverpool debut last season
Liverpool midfielder Danny Guthrie has agreed to join Premier League rivals Bolton on a season-long loan deal.

The 20-year-old, who came through the ranks at Anfield, will complete the paperwork on the deal when he returns from his summer holiday.

"Danny is a dynamic midfielder who is very comfortable on the ball," said Bolton manager Sammy Lee.

"He has a tremendous work-ethic and has got a great engine. He is a good passer and will suit our type of football."

Shrewsbury-born Guthrie spent part of last season on loan at Southampton and also made three substitute appearances for Liverpool.

Guthrie will join Jlloyd Samuel, Gavin McCann, Blerim Dzemaili, Gerald Cid and Zoltan Harsanyi as new arrivals at the club.


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Garcia could be makeweight in Torres bid

Jun 21 2007

by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

Fernando Torres celebrates scoring for Spain

LUIS GARCIA could be the makeweight which convinces Atletico Madrid to part with their skipper, Fernando Torres.

As reported in yesterday’s ECHO, 23-year-old Torres has leapt to the top of Rafa Benitez’s summer wish list.

But Atletico will not let the striker leave without a £24m buy-out clause in his contract being activated.

Liverpool are loathe to pay that kind of cash, but Garcia could be used as a bargaining chip.

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LFC News Round Up (20 June 2007)

LFC News Round Up (20 June 2007)

Fernando Torres - Liverpool bound?Another day - same old squad.

Can you hear the Kop Fernando?

Fresh from Henry, Malouda, Eto’o, Bent and Benayoun the media have today switched all eyes on to Fernando Torres with his magical release clause of around £23 million. The media appear to have re-hashed three old stories - the first being that Atletico haven’t qualified for Europe, the second that Torres famously wore a captain’s armband with You’ll Never Walk Alone written on the inside and thirdly that Rafa is a long-term admirer of the 23 year old Spanish striker.

Last week Darren Bent was Liverpool’s number one target - if so why are the reds not moving faster to purchase him for half the price of a Torres?

Liverpool are playing their cards close to their chest, if they do have any cards that is. One theory is that the bank have asked for us to cut them up…. Torres is a great striker, plenty of potential but Rafa is seriously considering splashing that amount of money on a relatively lightweight striker then the player will have to perform. Enlarged transfer fees at Anfield will increase the pressure on our Rafa to land the title.

Cisse - another loan

Are we about to finally get some of our millions back that we spent on Djibril Cisse? Of course we aren’t. It looks like after discussions between Marseille and Liverpool, the player will stay at Marseille for another year with a then option to purchase for a pre-determined transfer fee. My opinion is simple, and Liverpool should stick to their guns and grow a bigger pair of balls: Purchase the player for a sensible fee or he will arrive back at Anfield. At this rate - he could be our biggest summer signing.

Craig Bellamy isn’t welcome

Not the words of the owner of the Portugese hotel in which Craig wielded golf clubs earlier this year - but the words of Mr. Newcastle United, Alan Shearer. Apparently he nearly had a coronary when he heard the Welshman with no neck was linked with a return to St. James Park’. Pulling no punches, big Al’ said:

‘Has no-one learnt their lesson about signing Craig Bellamy?’

‘If only Rafa Benitez had rung me I would have told him exactly what he was like. I hope there isn’t anything in these reports.

‘I was having a few days away in France with [former Newcastle team-mates] Gary Speed and Steve Harper and the wives and I picked up the newspaper. I was having a fantastic day.

‘But when I read Bellamy for Newcastle I thought I would definitely have to have another drink. I had several.’

Newcastle United have not commented. Rumours that they have been busy building a brand new shoebox for their trophy collection have not been confirmed.

Poor old Scott

Scott Carson’s 30th England Under 21 cap ended in disappointment. England were leading Holland 1-0 until near the end when the equaliser from the Dutch sent the game in to extra time and then penalties. An amazing penalty shoot out followed with both sides taking a mammoth 16 penalties. Scott Carson even took one and scored. But Holland knocked England out of the semi-final winning 13-12. Carson only managed to save one of the pens in a thrilling shoot-out.

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LUCAS EAGER FOR ISTANBUL REPEAT

LUCAS EAGER FOR ISTANBUL REPEAT Paul Eaton 20 June 2007
Lucas Leiva will require an Istanbul style miracle if his Copa Libertadores dream is to be realised in Brazil tonight.
The Gremio midfielder - who will arrive at Anfield in time for pre-season training after agreeing a move to Liverpool - is hoping to inspire his side to an unexpected victory in the South American equivalent of the Champions League final, despite opponents Boca Juniors recording an emphatic 3-0 first leg lead last week. Inspired by Argentinian star Juan Riquelme, Boca took firm control of the two legged final and are overwhelming favourites to complete the job this evening and deny Gremio their third South American crown - and their first since 1995. But goalkeeper Sebastian Saja is drawing inspiration from Liverpool's incredible comeback in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan. "I don't remember Boca ever allowing three goals in a decisive match like this," Saja said. "But Gremio has to do what it has always done, trust in its quality and seek one goal at a time. "I still remember what happened to Milan in the Champions League final against Liverpool, which needed only 30 minutes to erase three goals. It's hard, but not impossible."

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Roberts defends put-upon Bellamy

Roberts defends put-upon Bellamy
Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy is thought to be a Newcastle target
Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy is thought to be a Newcastle target
Former Wales striker Iwan Roberts says Alan Shearer was wrong to warn Newcastle United that it would be a mistake to re-sign Craig Bellamy.

Wales and Liverpool striker Bellamy has been linked with a move back to St James' Park despite leaving the Magpies two years ago after a turbulent time.

"It's a bit of a shock that he (Shearer) has come out in the papers and hammered Craig," Roberts said.

"When Craig was in the Newcastle side they were a much, much better team."

Roberts played with Bellamy, 27, both at club level with Norwich City and with the Welsh national side.

He recognises Bellamy's fiery temperament, which led to bust-ups with then Newcastle boss Graeme Souness, coach Terry McDermott and also an alleged criticism of Newcastle and England legend Shearer.

"They (Shearer and Bellamy) have had their differences in the past, incidents have happened," Roberts told BBC Sport Wales.

"Obviously Shearer still feels very bitter about that, but it's not like him to criticise somebody in public.

"It is a hammering to come out with a statement like that, that he had to go out and get drunk when he heard Newcastle could be coming back in for Craig."

New Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce is still seeking to strengthen his squad and is not scared of taking on players who have had disciplinary problems at other clubs.

The former Bolton boss paid £5.8m for Joey Barton last week despite a list of misdemeanours at Manchester City.

Bellamy has his own list of troubles, the latest an alleged fracas with Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise in February at a training camp.

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Kewell's not lazy - what he needs is an injury-free run

Jun 20 2007

Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo

I DON'T think Harry Kewell is lazy and just after the money.

Alex Ferguson is supposed to have asked him before he signed for Liverpool to go to United instead (probably with a big pay rise!) but he still chose us.

The reason was he wanted to play for Liverpool.

If a player wants to play for us and has the talent then we should keep him. He's been so unlucky with injuries and that affects players psychologically as well.

If everyone gets behind every member of the team, including Kewell - and don't start complaining after every poor performance - I guarantee that they will play better.

That's all Kewell needs - a good, injury free run and some confidence back. I think he'll be one of our players of next season.

Brian Patterson, Formby

KEWELL has been unlucky with injuries.

He has talent to burn, but not too much has been burnt in the cause of Liverpool FC yet.

Brian Skinner, Huyton

THERE'S a big difference between price and value ...

The fact we are not in for a £17m player like Bent doesn't mean we can't afford him. It simply means he is not representing value for the money asked.

The same with Malouda. Lyon placed a tag of £17m on him, but there's no way we will pay so much for him.

But if we get Tevez or Torres for £17m, that is value for money, and a good return on our investment.

Chris Knightley, Crosby

BELLAMY is proven in the Premiership and has pace, but is not a great player.

He has the capability to be far better and could have scored more goals if he used his pace at the right time.

Italy could make him better, but we do not need him.

John Hurst, Birkenhead

I WOULD be happy if Bellamy stayed. He's got bags of talent.

He's hardly had a fair shot under Rafa. Then again, how can anyone get a fair shot under Rafa with his rotation policy? It's brutal at times.

Richard Galbraith, Childwall

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By Andy Hunter Published: 21 June 2007

The Premiership elite are facing another summer of frustration in their attempts to lure Fernando Torres to England, with Atletico Madrid refusing to countenance the sale of their talismanic captain.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been strongly linked with the 23-year-old forward who has a €40m [£26.9m] release clause in his contract and is considering finally severing his allegiance to his boyhood club following their failure to qualify for the Uefa Cup next season.

Rafael Benitez has reportedly made Torres his primary target as the Liverpool manager seeks a high-profile goalscorer to rectify the shortcomings he believes were responsible for defeat in the European Cup final. However, £28m is beyond the budget of the new American owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks as Benitez looks to strengthen in several departments this summer and Atletico have informed the Anfield club that Torres is not for sale. The Spanish club are expected this afternoon to state publicly their intention of retaining the Spanish international.

The former Conservative leader Michael Howard has offered to be a witness for Liverpool fans demanding compensation from Uefa after they were shut out of the Champions' League final in Athens. Howard, a Liverpool supporter who was at the game, said he was willing to give evidence in court if necessary.

Tottenham appear to be moving closer to signing the France Under-21 defender Younes Kaboul from Auxerre. The Spurs manager, Martin Jol, has signed left-back Gareth Bale from Southampton but wants to bolster his defence after having to juggle resources last season. The Auxerre vice-chairman Gerard Bourgoin said: "The negotiations are very advanced."

Kaboul, 21, is valued at around £8m. Jol also has his captain Ledley King recovering from knee surgery.

The Wigan goalkeeper Mike Pollitt has signed a new contract with the club, keeping him at the JJB Stadium for another season.

Scarborough went out of business yesterday after a long struggle with financial problems. The club were wound up yesterday at the High Court in Leeds.

The non-league club's website announced that discussions about starting a club are ongoing between two interested parties, the former chairman Ian Scobbie and fans' organisation The Seadog Trust. It added: "Both parties are urged to discuss the best way forward for a football club in Scarborough, and ensure that only one application is put forward to both the North Riding FA and Northern Counties East League."

Scarborough played in the Football League between 1987 and 1999

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Addicks play hardball over Bent

By Tom Adams - Created on 20 Jun 2007

Charlton Athletic have underlined they will not let Darren Bent leave for a penny less than £17million, as Tottenham and Liverpool reportedly circle the striker.

West Ham are the only club to have met Bent's asking price, but The Hammers were shocked when the England international turned down a reported £75,000-per-week deal to move to Upton Park.

Bent's decision to snub his former boss Alan Curbishley has opened the door to both Tottenham and Liverpool to move for the Addicks star, but the North London club have reportedly failed with an offer that falls short of the club's valuation.

Now Charlton chief executive Peter Varney has told all interested parties that Bent will not be leaving The Valley on the cheap.

"We have a valuation of Darren and we will not sell for less than that," Varney told the South London Press.

"There have been other bids and they don't meet our valuation. West Ham matched our valuation and that was why they were given permission last week to speak to Darren.

"No other club has managed that and as things stand Darren will be staying with Charlton. He is our player and under contract to us."

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Jose hits back at Reds

Jose hits back at Reds

by James Pearson - Created on 20 Jun 2007

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has hit back at 'history' taunts from Liverpool's fans by pointing out that they have not scooped the title in 17 years.

The Reds have an impressive record in the league throughout their history - winning the title no less than 18 times - although their last came back in the 1989-90 season.

While Chelsea's quest to land the UEFA Champions League has eluded them of late, Mourinho has stated at least they have won two of the last three Premiership titles whereas Liverpool have emerged empty handed.

Mourinho is undeterred in his resolve to make Chelsea champions of Europe and the successful Portuguese tactician is pleased his troops are heading in the right direction.

"Liverpool fans can continue to chant 'no history' at us but we continue to make it," Mourinho told the club's official magazine. "They have their history, we have our history.

"They are a club with a history in Europe that Chelsea doesn't have, and their history is magnificent, but I think for 17 years they don't win one championship and we won two in the last three years.

"Of the 12 pieces of silverware in English football in the last three years, Chelsea won six, Liverpool two, Manchester United two and Arsenal two, so we won the same number of pieces of silverware that the other three clubs won all together. So I think we are going in the right direction.

"The FA Cup final was a special final, an historic one, more than a normal FA Cup final. It was also the end of a period when in three years, we won every competition in English football, so it was special.

"In the future a lot of people will do it but I was the first manager to lift the FA Cup at the new Wembley; John Terry was the first captain to lift it and so on.

"At that moment we made history and the way people celebrated was magnificent. A few days later I was in London and I could feel also for the fans the feeling was special. After two Premierships and two Carling Cups before, I think at the moment we won't change this FA Cup for anything."


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