Saturday, 23 May 2009

Rafa bids for Napoli forward Lavezzi

Transfer Speculation

The Telegraph is reporting that Liverpool have made a bid or Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Italian media have been quick to call him the “new Maradona”, however Lavezzi himself plays this down, instead comparing himself to Carlos Tevez. The article goes on to say: “Reports in Italy that Napoli have rejected an £18 million offer from Liverpool for the Argentinean international Ezequiel Lavezzi suggest he can be added to a list of potential Benitez targets. The forward, who is thought to be keen to leave the club, wants to play in the Champions League and would be a viable alternative to either Tevez or Silva.

His agent, Alejandro Mazzoni, said: "The offer from Liverpool was genuine, and came with a £2.5 million yearly salary." Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Napoli president, insists Lavezzi "is not for sale, unless an offer too good to refuse arrives."

Setanta Sports News claim that Eduardo Rossetto is the players agent and speaking with La Gazzetta Dello Sport he said: “Napoli own the player, and they have the last word," He goes on to say "I can confirm that an important offer exceeding 20million euros was made, but [chairman Aurelio] De Laurentiis did not consider it sufficient. Will he stay? That depends on Napoli. It's like owning a car. If it's just an average motor then you don't have to spend much on maintenance. But, if it's a high spec type, then it will cost you more. Without going into too much detail, Lavezzi's wages would be tripled."

The Telegraph article also speculates about other targets that Rafa has in his sights with a list of the usual suspects heading top of the list. It goes on to say that “Benitez has already drawn up a list of transfer targets, with Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Glen Johnson his four priorities. Financing those moves will be an issue, though. He is likely to be granted just £20 million for one major signing by owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, although he may add to this through sales. Andrea Dossena, Andriy Voronin, Sebastian Leto and Ryan Babel will all be sold if appropriate offers are received."

The Guardian has Martin O’Neil asking Gareth Barry to think twice about a move to Anfield. "People have said before that we 'beat' Liverpool but that wasn't the case," said O'Neill, reflecting on Villa's resistance to Liverpool's attempts to sign Barry 12 months ago. "If they had come up with the deal and met our price then I assume it would have gone through. One of the disappointing aspects for Gareth was that Liverpool were claiming they could only afford this certain [amount] of money and then spent £20m on Robbie Keane almost overnight." Asked if that course of events upset Barry, O'Neill replied: "I'm sure if I was a player I would have been [hurt]. If someone had told me they were coming for me and the next thing they're saying they don't have it and then they go and buy someone else for £20m within a day or two, that would be a different issue."

The piece goes on to say that Barry will need to choose between his desire to play Champions League football or having to cope with the possibility of not playing every game for the Reds. The player certainly has decisions to make in the coming weeks, with the possibility he may let his contract run out and leave Villa on a free transfer next summer. "There is no rush," said O'Neill. "Gareth has got things to ponder and consider. Obviously his own thoughts, not mine, could be more concerned about his England position and obviously that's something that he is considering. He wants Champions League football. The thing to consider is that we would rotate less than other teams and Gareth is one who thrives on playing most weeks."

The Mirror says any potential deal will not be cheap and speculates that "Liverpool will still have to pay at least £10million for Gareth Barry". Barry has been priced between £8-£12 million in the past few weeks by various papers. O’Neil goes on to say: "The price obviously with a year left to run is a different issue," said O’Neill, who has offered Barry a lucrative new deal to stay. But by the same token he is an England international player, he has captained his country and he is still only 28 years old. He wouldn’t come cheaply even in this day and age."

Sky Sports News has Rafa playing down the press speculation regarding summer transfers, saying: "When you know your targets then you read things you can say, 'they have no idea'. I don't waste too much time on this. We have already had about 90 Spanish players linked with us. Today there were three names we do not even know. We have some money, not big money. But for me now it is not about how much, but how good they are for us."

Sammy Lee took Benitez’s place in yesterday’s pre Spurs press conference and confirmed that Xabi Alonso was definitely in Liverpool’s plans for the future, by saying: "The talk about Alonso (going to Real Madrid) is pure speculation. You cannot prevent talk. But we always want to keep the spine of the team, our very best players. You can't stop speculation, but we want to keep the core of our squad, the best players, here. New players will be brought in. You always want to keep improving on the field compared to what we have done this season. There is a platform now to go forward and hopefully win the title, but we have to get the best out of this squad to do it." This confirmed an interview that Rafa gave to Liverpool TV: "It's very clear - Xabi has three years left and we do not want to sell him."

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