Monday, June 30, 2008

Rafa Benitez set to ring changes at Anfield

MAURICIO PELLEGRINO is poised to return to Anfield as Rafael Benitez attempts to bring Robbie Keane to Merseyside.
Argentinian Pellegrino, 36, who played 12 games for Liverpool in 2005, has been approached by Benitez for a second stint at the club, this time as part of his coaching staff.
Liverpool are also trying to prise Keane, 27, away from Tottenham Hotspur in a swap deal involving Peter Crouch.
Anfield insiders have confirmed that Benitez's interest in the Republic of Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer is genuine, but admit that it could prove difficult to reach an agreement with the north London club.
Keane, who netted 23 goals last season, is a big favourite with the White Hart Lane supporters, who voted him their player of the year having helped inspire Spurs to a Carling Cup victory.
Pellegrino's expected arrival will be part of Benitez's rebuilding of his backroom staff after a couple of high-profile departures.
The Spaniard's partnership with long-time assistant Pako Ayesteran ended last season.
Although the 45-year-old fitness expert's contract at Anfield doesn't officially end until today, he has not been present at Melwood for several months.
Ayesteran, who has been linked with several coaching positions both in England and Europe, also worked with Benitez at Tenerife and Valencia.
Former first team coach Alex Miller also left at the end of the season, to become manager of Japanese club JEF United Chiba, ending his nine-year association with Liverpool, having been brought in by former manager Gerard Houllier as chief European scout.
Benitez has already brought another former Liverpool player and staff member back to the club in Sammy Lee, who has been appointed assistant manager having worked as coach under Houllier. Although Pellegrino, who is back at Valencia as youth team coach, only played 12 games for Liverpool in the second half of the 2004/05 season and was generally considered to have lacked enough pace to adjust to the Premier League game, he was always a big favourite with Benitez. The pair had great success together at the Mestalla - winning two Spanish titles - and Benitez remains adamant that it was Pellegrino's run-outs during his short spell on Merseyside that enabled Sami Hyypia to stay fresh ahead of Liverpool's Champions League final victory.
Meanwhile, Anthony Le Tallec has finally formally ended his Liverpool career by signing for French First Division club Le Mans UC 72.
The 23-year-old, who can operate either as an attacking midfielder or striker, has spent the past four seasons away from Anfield out on loan at St Etienne (2004-05), Sunderland (2005-06), Sochaux (2006-07) and Le Mans (2007-08). Starting his career with Le Harve, Le Tallec impressed former Liverpool manager Houllier at the World Under-17 Championship in 2001 and arrived at Anfield two years later alongside Florent Sinama-Pongolle. However, neither player was able to hold down a regular first team place and Le Tallec made just 17 appearances for Liverpool.

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