Speculation round-up

Vladimir Smicer to Charlton or Birmingham, Didi Hamman to Hamburg, Chris Kirkland to West Brom and Milan Baros to join ex-Reds boss Gerard Houllier at Lyon. These are just some of the latest stories surrounding the future of Liverpool players.

Czech start Smicer is out of contract at Liverpool at the end of the month, and there’s been no change of heart from Rafa Benitez over the decision not to offer him a new deal. Vladi says he wants to stay in England if possible for the sake of his family. Speaking to CTK, he said, "Charlton and Birmingham are really interested, but Lens and Bordeaux have the same interest. But I have to admit my family prefer to stay in England."

The player ended his Reds career in style making sure he’ll always be fondly remembered at Anfield – he scored Liverpool’s second in open play plus a penalty in the shoot-out as Liverpool took the prize in the Champions League final. He admitted that he had fancied joining the Redknapps at Southampton, but they aren’t in a position to offer him a deal now after their relegation: "What a pity that Southampton are relegated, I would have gone there."

Liverpool supporters are pleased that Vladi finally had a chance to prove himself. He’s been one of the most unfortunate players at Anfield from an injury perspective, after suffering countless setbacks. Many times he’s started a good run of form only to be back out of the team with a problem of some kind. He missed most of this season through injury, but the Champions League medal he now owns means that’s all forgotten now: "It makes me more self-confident – It’s a big motivation for the next few years."

Another hero of Istanbul with an uncertain future is Dietmar Hamann. Hamann came on for the second half after an injury to Steve Finnan, and scored one of the penalties in the shoot-out. He’s also revealed that the broken foot that’s forced him out of the Confederation Cup was incurred during the Champions League final – he said he felt it during extra time but wanted to continue.

Now Hamburg have revealed that they want to take him back to his homeland.

Hamann isn’t likely to move over to Germany though – he’s had offers from Premiership clubs and like Smicer would prefer to stay in England for the sake of his family. Hamburg sporting director Dietmar Beiersdorfer was speaking after they had signed Dutch international Rafael van der  Vaart from Ajax: "We haven’t yet finished our activities in the transfer market. I reckon that we will sign another one or two players. Our squad last season was quite small. I have spoken to Hamann, and I can imagine him playing for us.

The biggest sticking point is the length of the contract – Hamann is said to have been offered deals of three-years in length by some Premiership clubs. Beiersdorfer continued:
"We don’t want to offer him a deal of that length. We will have to wait and see how things develop over the next few days."

Hamann is said to have been offered a renewed deal at Anfield, not as long as the deal he’s been offered by Bolton, but very tempting to him.

Chris Kirkland is another Reds player to suffer the curse of injuries. He’s been out most of this season and will be worried about his future after Jerzy Dudek’s Champions League final performance, Scott Carson’s emergence and the reported imminent arrival of Jose Reina. Now Bryan Robson’s West Brom are said to be looking to take him on loan for a season. The club survived in the Premiership on the last day of the season and want to try and improve their squad to avoid struggling again.

Finally there are numerous reports that Gerard Houllier wants to make Milan Baros his first signing for new club Lyon, but this does seem unlikely. Baros was signed for Liverpool by Gerard Houllier, but was rarely picked to play for the Reds when Houllier was in charge. His performance at Euro 2004 last summer left many wondering why Houllier hadn’t picked him to start more games for the Reds, although his low tally of nine goals this season perhaps explains why to some extent. Baros is valued at £8million in most reports, so he wouldn’t be the cheapest striker available to Houllier.