Benitez to take Torres and Mascherano to Juventus
Transfer Talk: Liverpool’s manager is set to jump ship with two of the club’s biggest stars
A sensational report in the Corriere dello Sport suggests that not only will Rafa Benitez will leave Liverpool this summer for Juventus, he'll take Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano with him. According to the Italian paper, the club's deputy director general Roberto Bettega was in touch with Benitez last week while in England to see Juventus crash out of the Europa League to Fulham. "We must not ignore the current situation but at the same time it would be wrong not to think of the future," Bettega is quoted as saying. "My task is not saying what is Juve's problem but acting on it. It's not a question of names, but of certain choices and ideas. I have those clear in my head."
Juventus have not had the best of seasons. Having exited the Champions League at the group stage, they were then dumped out of the Europa League by Fulham, and their domestic form has been similarly alarming. Juventus are by no means certain to finish in the top four of Serie A (which would mean automatic qualification for next season's Champions League) and they are desperate to get a big name manager installed as soon as possible.
Corriere dello Sport also said that Spanish striker Torres, who last week publicly stated his dissatisfaction with the Liverpool squad, and Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano would join Juventus. Mascherano and his representatives have been holding talks with Liverpool about a new contract, with the Daily Mirror reporting that Mascherano has been offered a £90,000 a-week deal that would keep him at Anfield until 2014
One player that won't be offered a new contract by Liverpool, according to the Daily Mail, is Albert Riera. The Spaniard, who in an interview last week with a newspaper in his native country, described the club as a "sinking ship" will be sold to Spartak Moscow by the end of the week. With Russia's transfer window remaining open until the second week of April, the Mail says that Liverpool will offload the Riera to Moscow and hope to "recoup the £6m" they paid Espanyol for the winger's services in 2008.
In other news, the Sun carries an interview with Chelsea's unsettled star Joe Cole in which he admits contract talks with the Blues have broken down. The former midfield maestro, who became a dad last week, bleats to the paper: "I've never spoken publicly about contracts before... but this time it's different. We can't seem to find common ground and it's distracting. At the moment there is no offer on the table, so I know where I stand. I still hope to talk in the summer."
Cole has been at Stamford Bridge for seven years but when his current contract runs its course this summer he'll be a free agent. Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City have all been linked to the 28-year-old, who has struggled of late to recapture his form of previous seasons.
Finally, the very protracted saga surrounding Franck Ribery has taken another twist with his Bayern Munich teammate Arjen Robben telling the French winger to join Barcelona. Ribery has been the focus of intense speculation as to where he'll be playing next season with the 26-year-old's name linked to a host of clubs including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea. But Dutchman Robben, who hasn't enjoyed the best of spells at Bayern, told the German media that if he were Ribery would chose Barcelona over Real: "If he will not renew with us, let him go to Barcelona. The atmosphere at Madrid is not good for him." ·
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