With Rafa Benítez having already lined-up one new full-back in Swiss right-back Philipp Degen, the Liverpool boss is now linked with another in Italian left-back Andrea Dossena.
26-year-old Dossena made his one-and-only international appearance for the World Champions in a friendly against South Africa last October, getting the assist for Lucarelli’s only goal of the game. Italy coach Roberto Donadoni still hasn’t named his squad for the Euro 2008 finals and is giving little away as to who might be in it, but the Udinese number 8 will consider himself a possibility.
Tottenham have been linked with the Udinese defender too, but are no longer believed to be interested. The fee quoted in reports linking him with Spurs was £8m. Reports in the Italian press claim a deal with Liverpool is close, saying Liverpool have already agreed personal terms with the player’s agent, Federico Pastorello, and are now talking to Udinese about the fee.
Udinese director general Pietro Leonardi played down the links yesterday: “We have always said that we will not change the team. For Dossena to Liverpool there is nothing concrete, he has a contract with us until 2012 and the rest is speculation.”
Dossena has been with Udinese since 2006, and has had two red cards so far in this Italian season, which ends tomorrow. Udinese visit AC Milan who are hoping for three points and favours elsewhere to get them a Champions League qualifying spot. Udinese will finish in at least seventh place and have already qualified for the UEFA Cup.
With Liverpool set to release John Arne Riise, and Fabio Aurelio’s Anfield career so far suffering numerous injury-related interruptions the need for a quality left-back isn’t in doubt. Emiliano Insua is still considered one for the future, but can expect more involvement next season than this.
Despite Scott Carson’s recent complaints about feeling trapped at Anfield because of the fee Liverpool are asking for him, fellow reserve goalkeeper David Martin has just signed a new contract, keeping him at the club for two more years from now. Signed from MK Dons in 2006, Martin, 22, knows that getting to the front of the queue currently headed by Pepe Reina will be a tall task. He’s yet to make a first-team appearance but he’s been on the bench nineteen times in his two years at the club.
Carson, also 22, said earlier this week that the £10m fee Liverpool have reportedly put on his head is too high: “It’s too much. It’s stupid money really. You pay £10million for a goalkeeper who is 27, 28 and the finished article. To be honest, I’m far from the finished article. I have got another five years of learning. I don’t think Liverpool are stupid. They know what I’m worth. They would have recouped what they paid for me in loan fees over the last couple of years.” Liverpool paid £1m for him in 2005, Villa are believed to have paid £2m for his services just for this season’s loan.
Carson clearly feels it’s time to call an end to his Anfield days, and doesn’t particularly mind where he goes: “So hopefully, they can help me out and if there is a sniff of going somewhere, then hopefully they will respect my wishes and help me that way. I would like to get settled but it’s not up to me. Whether it’s Villa or anyone else, it’s up to them to try to sort it out. I haven’t got a clue what’s happening. I haven’t even spoken to Liverpool.”
A compromise is likely to be reached eventually; whatever Carson’s true value is he would be an expensive reserve goalkeeper. And he doesn’t want to be a reserve goalkeeper: “I want to play football. I have played football for the last two seasons and I don’t think I will be content with sitting on the bench. I still don’t know what’s around the corner. I have got a couple of weeks now to think about what’s going to happen. As it stands, I go back to Liverpool but I want to be playing first-team football. Liverpool have got a great keeper in Pepe Reina and he’s going to take a lot of shifting.”
Carson seems to be as much a victim of the uncertainty that is hovering over Anfield as anyone else: “It might be the time for me to move on but I don’t know Rafa’s thoughts and I don’t know if anyone is going to agree a fee with Liverpool. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.”
One positive piece of news this week came in the small, some would say (or sing) rotund, shape of Sammy Lee. The former Reds midfield star was confirmed as the new assistant to Rafa this week and made his first appearance at Melwood in his new role, on the last day of training.
Rafa said of his new assistant: “He is a very experienced and very well respected coach in his own right and his reputation in football made him the outstanding candidate when we knew we were looking for a new member of our coaching staff. We are very pleased because he is someone who knows the club really well. He also knows about the passion of the club and about the standards that we set here so that will make it much easier for him to settle into his new role.
“But we have not brought Sammy back simply because he used to play for the club and used to work here as a coach. He will add something different to what we already have and it will be good to work with him. I already have a good relationship with him and I will be looking to build on that in the weeks and months to come.”
Lee said of his return: “When a club the size of Liverpool comes in for you, and when a manager of the magnitude of Rafael Benitez wants you, then you cannot say no. When I found out they were interested in me I was really thrilled. After the sabbatical I have had I just wish the season was starting tomorrow, but the players have had a long, difficult and demanding season and they need to get away and get their batteries recharged.
“I have been around the Melwood training ground this morning and seen a lot of old faces but a lot of new faces as well. I have shaken hands with everyone and introduced myself. There are some great people here and I cannot wait to get working with them. It is so nice to be back.”
Of his time at the Reebok Lee said: “I was very honoured and privileged to be given the position as Bolton manager. The pride and the honour I felt to be their manager was only outweighed by the sheer disappointment that it did not go well. I have to say the Bolton fans were fantastic towards me. I have not had the chance to say that before but I want to thank them. Even when results were not going well they were very supportive towards me and, most importantly, to the players.”
Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie denied his club had been talking to Peter Crouch the night before: “It’s a lot of nonsense to say we were negotiating to buy him last night. We are all concentrating on the FA Cup final.” That game is this afternoon at Wembley, against Cardiff, and unfortunately Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler didn’t quite make it back to fitness in time for a place on the bench for the South Wales side.
Blackburn winger David Bentley’s name has cropped up again as a target of Rafa’s, with Jermaine Pennant’s name again on the list of likely departures. Gareth Barry’s potential arrival won’t be as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, but Martin O’Neill needs to calm down a touch first before any constructive discussions over a fee can be had.