Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool move to open talks with Andre Villas-Boas

Formal approach to be made this weekend as they still consider Rodgers despite rebuff

By Ian Herbert

Liverpool's owners are preparing to formally approach Andre Villas-Boas as they seek a replacement for Kenny Dalglish, while the prospect of them meeting Brendan Rodgers, the Swansea City manager, has not been ruled out.

With the former Chelsea manager's agent, Carlos Goncalves, in Germany negotiating a player transfer to Porto, Liverpool's interest in Villas-Boas, which The Independent reported on Thursday, may not progress until this weekend. Manager and agent are always together to do business relating to the 34-year-old.

Rodgers did not rule out the prospect of discussions with Liverpool when he yesterday rejected the "current opportunity" the club had offered him, to talk. Rodgers has not taken to the corporate-style recruitment policy, by which Fenway Sports Group are approaching a number of candidates and feels that the four points Swansea have taken off Liverpool this season obviates the need for him to take part in a beauty parade. He would be more receptive to talks with them when, after due diligence on candidates, the list has been narrowed down.

Rodgers certainly has more to lose then most managers by giving the impression that he has ambitions to join a bigger club. His chairman, Huw Jenkins, has been in Germany this week attempting to secure Gylfi Sigurdsson's permanent move from Hoffenheim and with other clubs interested in the midfielder, Rodgers knows that the prospect of his own departure may prove damaging. It may also be less straightforward to tie up players such as Scott Sinclair to contract extensions if there is any uncertainty about the manager's future at a club which will never be competitive on wages.

It is possible that Rodgers, whose new Swansea deal has given him a role in shaping the club's new training complex, may have reservations about the scale of the gamble in taking on arguably the most difficult Premier League challenge. Though he nurtures huge ambition from his very successful time at Chelsea , where he fitted in well with some world-class players under Jose Mourinho, he was badly burnt when he left Watford for Reading , lasting only six months there with a board who did not give him time. That was only two and a half years ago. Jenkins will also resist Rodgers' departure. It is believed that the Welshman pushed to have a £5m compensation clause put in the new contract Rodgers signed in January. The £2.5m Swansea received from Wigan Athletic for Roberto Martinez remains their biggest transfer fee. Jenkins knows the value of a good manager.

Liverpool's owners, FSG, continued to make initial contact with other prospective targets yesterday, with unconfirmed suggestions that Rafael Benitez has also been approached. Villas-Boas appears to accept the FSG recruitment strategy more than Rodgers, having been aware for a number of weeks that he would not be the only individual to be considered by the Americans. Roma are also a contender for his services, though he is understood to be positive about Liverpool and feels it is an opportunity to remain at the top table where he believes he belongs.

Despite the need to have Dalglish's successor installed for pre-season, managing director Ian Ayre has not ruled out the notion of securing a Euro 2012 coach. Germany 's Joachim Löw and Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk may both fit FSG's bill. "I think you would want to know who the person was and know that they could have one eye," Ayre said. "Just because they were physically not here wouldn't mean they couldn't be involved in the influencing of process."

Ayre is preparing to negotiate contract extensions for defenders Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, despite the club's larger preoccupations.

Belfast Telegraph


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