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Pako Ayesteran to remain on leave

Pako Ayesteran to remain on leave

Sep 12 2007

by Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo

LIVERPOOL hope to scupper any possible move by Chelsea or Manchester United for Pako Ayesteran by agreeing a period of ‘gardening leave’ for the former assistant.

Ayesteran is in the process of severing his ties at Anfield, but it’s feared Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson are ready to pounce for his services.

Talks have been ongoing to establish whether the ex-Anfield number two will have the right to join another club this season when his period on Merseyside ends.

Anfield boss Rafa Benitez is understandably anxious to ensure his trusted lieutenant isn’t delivered into the hands of his Premiership rivals – especially as he’s been privy to so much tactical and technical information during the course of his time at Anfield.

It’s a sad end to Ayesteran’s Liverpool career as he gave the club great service, and it should be noted suggestions of Chelsea and United interest remains little more than speculation.

Benitez will be sweating over his international stars today, but he was helped by the early return of Xabi Alonso following his red card for Spain last weekend.

Alonso played in yesterday’s 2-1 reserve win against Crewe, in which Fabio Aurelio made his comeback from an Achilles injury.

Meanwhile, chief executive Rick Parry has confirmed Liverpool’s opposition to Michael Platini’s plans to revamp the Champions League.

Platini wants the fourth spot to go to the FA Cup winners.

Parry said: “Contrary to the claim only Liverpool and Manchester United oppose this in England, all the Premier League clubs at the UEFA meeting did so, and this position is supported by the Premier League itself.

“It’s not a question of self-interest by the big clubs, because if you look at the recent FA Cup winners’, all were in the top four. It’s just more of a lottery in the cup.

“There’s a strong feeling the Champions League place should be based on Premier League performance.

“Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle all feel the same way.”

Despite the protests, it’s feared Platini will be able to force through his proposals as he has the backing of the Italian FA, and most of the smaller European nations.

In future, the side handed the fourth spot is also likely to play more than one qualifying round.


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