News from the Kop
jinx won't stop £15m bid by Roma
Exclusive: Roma will this week ask Liverpool to name their price for Steven Gerrard, even though the injury-plagued England midfielder has been ruled out of the club's fabulous February.
A glowing reference from Tord Grip, England's coaching assistant, has confirmed Roma's faith in Gerrard, who will miss next Sunday's Worthington Cup Final with a groin problem.
The injury is also likely to keep him out of Sven Goran Eriksson's first match as national coach against Spain at Villa Park three days later.
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier said: 'Steven is unlikely to be fit to play for England. I would have no objection to him being involved in the build-up to the game, where he can perhaps listen to Sven Goran Eriksson's philosophy, but he won't play.'
However, Franco Baldini, the Roma director responsible for transfers, said: 'What I want to know from Liverpool's directors is the price they would put on Gerrard because we are very interested.
I was talking to Tord Grip at Thursday's match against Liverpool and he agreed with me that Gerrard is one of the finest midfielders in Europe.
'I was left in little doubt that Gerrard will be called up for England as soon as possible.'
Roma are prepared to risk millions on 20-year-old Gerrard, despite his recurring back and groin problems.
'We are aware of Gerrard's injury troubles but we have been watching him for a while,' added Baldini. 'We know all his qualities and we like what we see. In his role, he is one of the best around and still very young at that.'
Roma lead Serie A but coach Fabio Capello's strike force seem to lose their bite in Europe, when opposing midfielders take control of central areas.
Gerrard would undoubtedly learn much from Capello and the prospect of supplying ammunition to some of the world's great strikers - Gabriel Batistuta and Francesco Totti among them - must be highly attractive.
But the player's absence for today's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Manchester City, the UEFA Cup shoot-out with Roma - Liverpool won the first leg 2-0 in the Italian capital - and the Worthington Cup showpiece against Birmingham at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium must be a bitter blow to him.
He remains, however, uppermost in Roma's thoughts this week as they seek to open informal negotiations.
Indeed, a Roma approach for Gerrard last week was only scuppered by the hooligan violence which surrounded the first leg.
Baldini said: 'The trouble was sickening and I wasn't in the mood to linger after the match. I just shook hands with the Liverpool people and went home.'
Baldini doesn't intend to squander his second opportunity to talk business when Roma's official party arrives in England for Thursday's second leg.
Given the seemingly never ending nature of Gerrard's injury problems,
Liverpool might just be ready to listen if Roma are willing, as expected,
to offer in excess of £15m.
Steven Gerrard is facing up to more England heartache with the news that he is once again set to be denied an international cap.
The Liverpool midfielder is almost certain to be ruled out of Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad for the friendly with Spain later this month after manager Gérard Houllier admitted he doesn’t expect Gerrard to shake off a groin injury in time.
Said Houllier: ‘I don’t think he will be able to play. But he might want to go along and speak with the manager and listen to his philosophies and plans.’