Rafa Benitez launches Kop Idol-style talent search - Liverpool FC latest



RAFA Benitez has launched a “Kop Idol” style search for new talent for Liverpool’s first team.

The Reds boss has called up half a dozen of Liverpool’s most promising youngsters to train with the first team squad – and challenged them to prove they are good enough to stay there.

Benitez is keen to see how much progress has been made by some of the Reds reserves during the last 12 months and is pitching them in with the senior stars in the early stages of Liverpool’s pre-season training.

Spanish trio Dani Pacheco, Mikel San Jose and Danny Ayala, Hungarians Krisztian Nemeth and Peter Gulacsi and locally produced central defender Martin Kelly are all being given a chance to stake their claim to stay with the big boys.

All six are rubbing shoulders with first team regulars including Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Martin Skrtel as the Liverpool manager puts his players through their paces.

With fellow reserve regulars Jay Spearing and Stephen Darby already established in the first team set up, Benitez is keen to give some of the younger members of his squad the chance to shine ahead of the coming campaign.

He said: “We have already had conversations with the likes of Pacheco, Ayala and San Jose and we have told them that it depends on them.

“They are now training with the first team squad and this is their chance to show what they can do ahead of the new season.”

Meanwhile, Yossi Benayoun has told of his delight after committing his future to Liverpool until 2013.

As revealed in yesterday’s ECHO, the Israeli international has become the latest Reds star to agree terms on a new contract, following on from Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Daniel Agger who have all secured improved deals.

Benayoun has wasted no time in putting pen to paper on his two year contract extension, describing it as “a dream come true”.

“I am very happy that we have reached an agreement,” said the 29-year-old.

“Of course, to be at a club like this is a dream come true and I want to keep playing here.

“Hopefully now I can concentrate on the hard work that needs to be done and try to play better and better and win some silverware.”

Benitez was equally pleased to have tied down yet another of his stars to a long term deal and praised Benayoun’s increased influence on his Liverpool side over the last 12 months.

“You know that our idea was to extend the contracts of some players and Yossi was one of those players,” said the Liverpool manager.

“He has been really good for us over the last year, scoring crucial goals and getting assists, so we wanted to keep him and I'm really pleased with the extension.”

THE ECHO