RVP not interested in rest

Borussia Dortmund’s general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke has told

Bayern Munich to come clean about their interest in Robert

Lewandowski.

Several German newspapers and television channels have claimed a

deal has already been struck between Lewandowski and Bayern, and

that the transfer will be announced after the two sides meet in the

quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal later this month.

Both sides have rubbished the reports, Dortmund more vehemently

than Bayern, leading Watzke to demand Bayern make their intentions

clear.

“The whole issue is really getting on my nerves,” he said.

“There are two scenarios: the first is that Bayern have no interest

in Robert, in which case it’s all a load of rubbish.

“The other scenario is that they are interested, and then they

have got to lift their cover at some stage and come to us with an

enquiry.

“Bayern are usually correct and if they have any interest in a

player, they will make contact.

“When they do that, they will get an answer. Maybe that would

even surprise them, but as long as they carry on saying they have

no interest or for as long as they don’t do anything, then we don’t

care.

“Robert is playing here, playing very well too, and there is

nothing more to say.”

Lewandowski’s contract with Dortmund still has 18 months left to

run on it, but Watzke is starting to accept that he does not want

to extend that deal and that there could indeed be something behind

the speculation.

“He has had the chance (to extend) and we have got to be

realistic and if he has not taken that chance up to now, then the

probability of him doing so is not getting any higher,” he told Sky

television.

“But that has nothing to do with whether he plays for us next

season or not.

“That is entirely dependent on us, considering the contractual

situation, which is why we are pretty relaxed about the whole

thing.”

Bayern, for their part, have tried to ignore the issue this

weekend with their director of sport Matthias Sammer saying he has

nothing to add on the subject.

“We’ve not said anything about it in the past and we are not

going to say anything now, and not tomorrow either,” he said.

“There is absolutely nothing to say about the issue from our

side. I have said what I wanted to say and what had to be

said.”

With Liverpool set to miss out on Champions League qualification

for a fourth successive season, Rodgers knows the likes of Luis

Suarez and Daniel Agger will be targets for other clubs come the

summer.

But the 40-year-old, while admitting he is prepared to ward off

interest, says it is part and parcel for any club.

Rodgers said: “Even clubs that have won the league are faced

with having to keep hold of their players.

“So there’s always going to be speculation about players here

and we expect that to happen again.

“I am a realist. We’ve got some outstanding players here who

other clubs will show interest in but I can only speak from my

experience of working with the players here and I think they are

all happy.

“Last summer was a pivotal time. A lot of players could have

left and we did lose a lot of experience when Maxi Rodriguez and

Craig Bellamy left.

“But the rest of them decided to stay and some even signed new

deals. They all seem happy. They seem to want to be here as we move

the club forward.”

The 32-year-old was an unused substitute in the 1-0 Europa

League last-32 first leg win over Sparta Prague on Thursday,

despite being available again following a setback in his recovery

from a knee injury.

Terry has made two starts and one substitute appearance under

Benitez, having been injured at Liverpool prior to the Spaniard’s

appointment, and the interim boss will only select the former

England captain if he can train fully.

“He has to train normally three, four training sessions to be

ready for the games,” said Benitez, who has named Terry on the

bench without using him five times.

“Then if the others are playing well he has to compete (for

selection).”

Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic were deployed in central

defence in Prague, with Terry warming up frequently on a sub-zero

evening in the Czech capital.

A fierce competitor such as Terry would be keen to play in any

game, but managing his fitness and not his character is Benitez’s

concern.

“The main thing is the knee,” Benitez said.

“If he’s fine, after we have to manage the other things. The

main thing is if he can train every day he can be ready for every

game. After we will see.

“The good thing is we have now Cahill and Ivanovic playing well

and also David Luiz as an option.

“We now have four options at centre back. We have Terry, David,

any of them they can complement (each other) really well.

“If everything is fine, they have to compete. If something is

wrong we have different options.

“All the players, they know, that at this level when you play so

many games you have to train and you have to keep fit.

“It’s not a question of ‘no, I can carry on and play’ and after

not train. Everybody knows they have to compete and everybody knows

we have good players now.”

The Brentford clash will be FA Cup holders Chelsea’s 45th game

of the season, meaning squad rotation is a must.

As well as Terry and Ashley Cole, who was also an unused

substitute on Thursday night, Luiz, Demba Ba, Victor Moses and John

Obi Mikel are poised to return.

Griffin Park at the end of January might have come as a shock to

some of Chelsea’s most cultured players, with a 2-2 draw the

result, but Benitez believes it gave them a flavour of the

uniqueness of the FA Cup.

Benitez, who lifted the trophy with Liverpool in 2006, said:

“The atmosphere was quite good for the local team. I’m sure they

(the Chelsea players) were impressed and hopefully they will be

ready when we play at home and the atmosphere has to be good for

us.

“Because we have seen them we know now what we can expect. I

think that it will not be a surprise for anyone.

“In a cup competition that you know you cannot make mistakes.

It’s important to be sure that you approach the game without any

complacency.

“From the first minute you have to concentrate and do the right

things.”

With the second leg of their Champions League tie against Real

Madrid to come and a Premier League title within their grasp, the

Dutchman could be forgiven for hoping for a day off on Monday when

United face Reading in the FA Cup.

But that is not the way the 29-year-old sees it.

“I have found out that when you play for Manchester United,

every game is a big game,” he said.

“There are some extra-special matches – like when you play City

or Liverpool in the Premier League and Real Madrid in the Champions

League – but the so-called smaller games are important also because

winning those games makes you champions.

“Personally, I love to play all of the games.

“You get into a rhythm. I get used to having a game every three

days and when you don’t play for a week, it can take maybe 10 or 15

minutes to get your rhythm back.

“I want to play against Reading. I want to keep going, playing

all of the games.

“I love the intensity of playing for United. It is great to be

involved in huge games when you don’t know what is going to

happen.

“You get more out of it when there is a thin line between

winning and losing.

“I love the buzz, the drama, the excitement. I live for that. I

can’t imagine the day when I have to stop playing. I know I will

miss the buzz so much.”

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