Monday 20 November 2017

Reds rocked by off-field unrest

Liverpool's preparations for tomorrow's trip to Manchester City have been overshadowed by off-field matters as Hong Kong businessman Kenny Huang pulled out of negotiations to buy the club and midfielder Alberto Aquilani headed back to Italy.

Huang walked away from talks with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett without giving a reason on Friday. And while manager Roy Hodgson was boosted by assurances from Inter Milan that they would not attempt to snatch key player Javier Mascherano away, Barcelona remain interested in buying him.

Should the Argentinian move to the Nou Camp, Hodgson could find himself short in midfield, with Aquilani agreeing a loan switch to Juventus. Aquilani will join the Old Lady for a year, subject to a medical, in a bid to gain regular first-team football.

The Italian joined Liverpool from Roma a year ago to replace Real Madrid-bound Xabi Alonso but persistent injury problems limited his impact under previous boss Rafael Benitez, who has since been replaced by Hodgson.

Former Inter manager Hodgson has seemingly warded off advances from his old team --now managed by Benitez -- for Mascherano as well as forward Dirk Kuyt.

"I spoke to Massimo Moratti on Wednesday about the fact that they are not going to buy any Liverpool players, and Kuyt comes into that category," Hodgson said. "I believe Inter were only interested in two of our players and they are not going to buy them."

Huang's decision leaves Liverpool in limbo as he was one of the few interested parties to declare a firm interest, along with a consortium fronted by Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi. "Our strategy and unique ability to expand the fanbase in Asia would also have been of benefit to all," Huang said. "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to implement this strategy."

Sunday Independent

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