Premier League Rumours: Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Burnley, Roma, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth’s Phil Smith brings guest coverage of the Premier League’s hot gossip. 

Liverpool have hit a sticky patch in their quest for Premier League and Champions League glory, but it hasn’t stopped energetic manager Rafa Benitez from scouring the transfer market, even though the window won’t be open again for another three months.

Benitez has emerged as favourite to snap up Burnley youngster John Cofie, who’s earning rave reviews in the Championship. Benitez has jumped to the head of the queue, ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United, by doing a spot of homework – and discovering that the Cofie family are all mad about Liverpool. Watch out for a £1m deal in January.

The Liverpool boss also plans to reinforce his policy of picking up exceptional young talent by taking 16-year-old James McCarthy to Anfield from Scottish club Hamilton Accies. The youngster spent some time with Liverpool during the summer and has impressed Benitez sufficiently to offer him a contract.

Manchester United’s sensational Portuguese youngster Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that, despite his icon status, he still gets the hair-dryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson if he under-performs (Daily Mail).

Sporting sunglasses to cover a four-stitches cut over his left eye, picked up in the Champions League win over AS Roma, Ronaldo acknowledged that his manager did his very best to protect him from some of the more unscrupulous defenders out to nail him. “But if you do bad things, the boss will kill you,” he said.

“But he’s still a warm person from whom I’ve learned a lot,” added last season’s Premier League top award winner, who has just signed a new contract putting him alongside Rio Ferdinand as United’s top earner on £110,000 a week.

Martin Jol has been having a rough time of late, but he believes Spurs are just beginning to turn the corner, and things will get even better when Ledley King returns to action. Trouble is, he doesn’t know when that will be.

Key defender King hasn’t played this season, and weekend reports suggest that it will be the New Year before he dons the first team shirt again. “I can’t rush him,” Jol said. “I can’t wait for Ledley all the time because I have other players to focus on. When he returns it will be a big bonus for us.”

And Jol is standing by under-fire butter-fingers goalkeeper Paul Robinson whose errors gifted Aston Villa two of their four goals in Monday’s 4-4 Premier League draw, “He’s still pretty confident. He had that awful situation against Croatia but has still kept eight clean sheets out of nine.”  Spurs fans aren’t quite so positive.

Celtic’s Czech midfielder Jiri Jarosik could be returning to the Premier League. The former Chelsea man is attracting attention from Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Fulham, according to the Daily Mirror.

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