Today saw the final deadline for Euro 2008 entrants to submit their final 23-man squads for this summer’s tournament, and Liverpool are set to have seven representatives on duty.
New signing Philipp Degan made the Swiss squad despite having been injured recently, and has been handed a squad number that he won’t be wearing at Anfield, number 23. Degan will officially become a Liverpool player later in the summer, when his current Borussia Dortmund contract ends
There are four Liverpool players in the Spanish squad. As for their club, Fernando Torres will be Spain’s number nine and Xabi Alonso will wear 14. Álvaro Arbeloa was handed the number 18, with Pepe Reina wearing 23. Long time Liverpool target David Villa will wear number 7.
Whether Xabi Alonso will still be a Liverpool player by the time the tournament kicks off remains to be seen, with Juve stepping up their efforts to prise him from Anfield.
It was made clear to Juve last week that if they wanted to see Rafa Benítez even consider an offer for the midfielder the offer would have to be good. The player himself has continued to deny he has any interest in leaving England for Italy, but now Juve claim they have Alonso’s agent (Inaki Ibanez) visiting them for talks, with president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli saying: “It looks like his representative will arrive today. We can’t deny that we’re interested, but there’s always the problem of getting value for money.” The money will need to be around £16m if they are to tempt Liverpool. Gigli continued saying that managing director Jean-Claude Blanc “is working on this and on other possibilities.”
None of Liverpool’s English players are involved in the Euro 2008 tournament of course, other than in punditry roles, meaning Steven Gerrard has to be content with a couple of friendlies for his country. The first of those is tonight at Wembley against the USA. Peter Crouch, still a Liverpool player for now, will be a possible starter in the game for England. Crouch looks unlikely to be a Red next season, although the £15m price tag slapped on him by Rafa Benítez is unlikely to be met by any of the interested clubs, with Crouch having only a year left on his contract.
Also in the England squad is Liverpool target Gareth Barry, who Liverpool have insisted hasn’t been lined up as a replacement for Alonso but as an additional member of the squad. If Alonso does leave, or if Barry’s signature proves too elusive, another England player is in Rafa’s sights: Middlesbrough’s Stewart Downing. Despite being linked on numerous occasions, David Bentley, another of the England midfielders, isn’t believed to be on any shortlist of Rafa’s.
One target missing out on Euro 2008 despite his country being involved is Udinese full-back Andrea Dossena. Talks between the clubs still haven’t seen an agreement reached on a fee, but a deal is believed to be close. Dossena has been quoted in the press as being interested in joining Liverpool, but it seems those quotes have their roots in the reviled Sun newspaper. If he does sign for the club, he needs to be briefed urgently on why Liverpool fans don’t buy the Sun.
Euro 2008 – Liverpool’s representatives.
Holland: 18 Dirk Kuyt, 21 Ryan Babel
Spain: 9 Fernando Torres, 14 Xabi Alonso, 18 Álvaro Arbeloa, 23 Pepe Reina
Switzerland: 23 Philipp Degen
Other countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey.