Liverpool set for a busy week of wheeler-dealing?

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With Liverpool players expected back in training on July 7, manager Rafa Benitez will continue to put things in place for the coming season.

This week, a number of deals could well be sorted.

The Guardian reports on Monday that Xabi Alonso and John Arne Riise will finalise moves to Italy. Roma is the likely destination of Riise and Juventus are reportedly on the verge of signing Alonso.

The moves have stalled as both clubs seek to negotiate a lower price.

John Arne Riise reckons there’s still a chance he could remain at Anfield.

“At the moment it’s looking fifty-fifty that I’ll be changing clubs,” Riise told Norwegian tabloid VG. “But a lot can happen before training starts in England.”

With Alonso and Riise heading for the exit, many Liverpool fans are hoping Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry, 27, will sign.

Martin O’Neill, the Villa boss, has been pushing for something in the region of 20 million for Barry, and it remains to be seen whether cash-strapped Rafa will sanction such a move.

If Barry doesn’t sign, Benitez may well set his sights on Portsmouth’s Lassana Diarra, who is also being targeted by Man City (Guardian).

Most of the rumours this week are likely to focus on Liverpool’s current and future strike force.
Even with Liverpool striker Fernando Torres dismissing talk of a big-money move to Chelsea, expect the rumours to continue all week.

Torres has now come out and said: ‘I want to say very clearly that I’m not on the market and that it’s my desire to continue at Liverpool.’

But the Chelsea rumour machine is likely to roll and roll until Big Phil Scolari takes up residence in London and finalises his squad.

And as Torres and Valencia striker David Villa continue to impress for Spain at Euro 2008, expect more Villa-to-Anfield rumours to emerge. Especially, if the lad himself continues to talk up a move.

At the weekend the want-away Spanish striker hinted he was thinking about a possible move to Merseyside when he told reporters:

“Liverpool have a Spanish coach and I also have a lot of friends there.”
“When Rafa was coach at Valencia and I was at Zaragoza there was contact about me joining Valencia but I couldn’t arrive until the year after he left there.” (News of the World)

No doubt a lot of Reds will be hoping Benitez can sweet-talk Villa into signing, but it remains to be seen if the club have the financial clout to persuade Europe’s clubs to release top players this summer.

Personally, with Europe’s eyes firmly focused on Euro 2008, I’m expecting a frustrating week for Liverpool fans with things going on behind the scenes, the Torres/Villa rumours dominating but basically nothing major being confirmed.

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