Wednesday’s Back Pages

David Villa is the name on everyone’s lips this morning as the Spaniard scored a hat-trick to help Spain to a 4-1 demolition of Russia in their opening game of Euro 2008. Our very own Fernando Torres played a big part in the victory, before pulling up with a slight injury shortly into the second half.

Undoubtedly Villa’s form, and good partnership with Torres will fuel rumours that the Valencia striker is on his way to Anfield. I give it til this evening’s papers.

This morning, David Hytner of The Guardian comments on the Spanish front two’s play:

This was far from a one-man show, however, as Xavi and David Silva stamped their authority on the midfield while Fernando Torres was selfless and brilliant – but Villa was the difference.

And in describing Villa’s first of the evening, set up by great work from Torres, Hytner says:

The pair combined beautifully for the first goal. Torres mugged Denis Kolodin in possession, the Russian central defender having dwelt fatefully, and after surging in on goal and sensing the advance of the goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, he flicked the ball back and square for the onrushing Villa to push it into the empty net.

Meanwhile, closer to home, this morning’s Daily Mail reports that Aston Villa are demanding £14million from Liverpool to aquire the services of England midfielder Gareth Barry.

Barry’s agent yesterday confirmed that his player is looking to play Champions League football next season, but Villa aren’t backing down in the valuation of their skipper.

Aston Villa are holding out for £14million from Liverpool for midfielder Gareth Barry and want the majority of the fee up front.

A Villa statement read: ‘Liverpool’s bid for the player has been rejected.’

The Daily Mail also report that the Reds are relying on Xabi Alonso’s transfer to Juventus to go through in order to finance a deal of Espanyol’s Albert Riera.

And as reported in a few papers this morning, Benitez has reassured fans and a worried Torres that he is staying put at Anfield despite the unrest behind the scenes. Benitez talks of how the financial situation is not ideal, but remains focussed on the task at the club.

He says, “The supporters have been absolutely magnificent with me, the staff are working very hard and I would not have brought in players like Fernando and the young players we have here if I did not have a long-term vision for the club. Now is not the time to be saying goodbye. Fernando’s agent has asked about my Liverpool future and my answer is that I am 100 per cent committed.

“If we had a lot of money to spend it would obviously be better. But if we don’t, it doesn’t matter. It is not about buying the most expensive players, it is about buying the right players and we can sell some players to get the others we need.”

Today’s Euro 2008 games are Czech Republic vs Portugal and Philipp Degan’s Switzerland vs Turkey.