Rodriguez cries out for Argentina return

Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez could be on his way back to Argentina after admitting he has always wanted to return to his boyhood club, Newell's Old Boys.

The 30-year-old came up through the youth set-up to play three first-team seasons for the Rosario-based side before moving to Espanyol in Spain in 2002.

"When I left here, I knew I was coming back," Rodriguez told the Argentine newspaper La Capital. "The president [William Lorenzo] called me and I said 'yes'. Now it depends on the contract I have in Liverpool, maybe that can be loosened a little."

Despite a successful end to the campaign with Liverpool, scoring two hat-tricks as he hit seven goals in three matches, Rodriguez is likely to be only a fringe player next season.

With manager Kenny Dalglish looking to freshen up his squad and bring in younger players, Rodriguez's age is likely to count against him – and, as he is one of the higher earners, the club's owners Fenway Sports Group would prefer to get better value for money from new signings. However, the player would have to take a significant drop in salary in order to return to his homeland.

Meanwhile, the Sunderland chairman, Niall Quinn, yesterday moved to dismiss speculation that striker Asamoah Gyan has been offered for sale. Reacted swiftly to claims that the 25-year-old Ghana international's name has been circulated to prospective purchasers, Quinn said: "The suggestion that we have spoken to an agent to sell this player on our behalf is embarrassing to all concerned.

"I hope our fans would be smart enough to realise that this is probably some other club or outside agent's way of attempting to destabilise our relationship with one of our players."

Birmingham's Craig Gardner says he is unsure where his future lies after the departure of manager Alex McLeish. The midfielder, a lifelong City fan and their top scorer with 10 goals in his first full season at St Andrew's after a £3m move from Aston Villa, is now being linked with a £5m move to Sunderland.

When asked if he was leaving or staying at City, Gardner said: "I don't know. It's a difficult one. I'm unsure exactly what is happening behind the scenes and what the board are thinking. At the end of the day, like every player, you have to think of your career. Everything is up in the air at the moment."

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