Saturday, July 31, 2010

Match Report: FK Rabotnicki 0 - 2 Liverpool

David Ngog struck twice as Roy Hodgson began his reign as Liverpool manager with a comfortable victory from a potentially tricky Europa League test.

The Frenchman found the net in each half as an under-strength Liverpool side overcame FK Rabotnicki with little alarm in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie in Macedonia.

With 17 days still to go before their Premier League opener, Liverpool were without 10 of their World Cup players but their blend of youth and experience coped well in a game of little drama. Hodgson's decision to leave behind the likes of Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole was fully vindicated.

Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Alberto Aquilani, Lucas and Ngog were the established players to start, while new signing Milan Jovanovic was handed his debut alongside David Amoo, making his first senior appearance.

Diego Cavalieri, Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing made up the team but it was a sign of the times that the side on show at the Philip II Stadium - an old arena halfway through an impressive rebuild - was still worth £41million.

Liverpool, playing in black, began with Aquilani operating in an advanced role behind Ngog on a balmy evening in sweltering Skopje.

Rabotnicki had the first opportunity but Ze Carlos' optimistic shot from a 40-yard free-kick was blocked by Lucas.

Wandeir dos Santos attempted to beat Kelly on the left but the young right-back stood up well.

Liverpool's first serious chance came when Kyrgiakos headed wide from an Aquilani corner.

The visitors took the lead in the 17th minute when Ngog raced through a static Rabotnicki defence to reach a Lucas free-kick.

The Frenchman ran into the box unchallenged and clipped the ball past a half-hearted attempt at a save from Martin Bogatinov.

Brazil-born Ze Carlos found space as Rabotnicki tried to respond but shot tamely at Cavalieri from distance.

Vladimir Tuneski also tried his luck from the edge of the box but fired wide.

Amoo made his first dangerous run after switching from the right to the left wing as half-time approached.

He reached the byline and pulled the ball back across goal but Jovanovic was unable to get around a defender to reach it.

Amoo showed a glimpse of his potential early in the second half as he set off on a run down the right after a neat turn on halfway.

The 19-year-old Londoner cut inside to beat one man and then went outside another but his cross was too long.

Another good run by Amoo created an opening for Lucas but the Brazilian's touch let him down.

Liverpool were almost caught out as Dos Santos ran onto a long ball into the box but he lost balance and Cavalieri gathered.

Liverpool countered through Jovanovic but Aquilani could not control and Lucas shot over.

Dos Santos had another chance for the hosts but missed the target from the edge of the box.

Liverpool doubled their advantage just before the hour as Ngog volleyed in a fine second.

Kelly found space on the right and whipped in a ball which the striker nimbly turned in.

Kelly worried Rabotnicki with another good run but his cross was deflected and Bogatinov claimed.

The referee played on when half of the floodlights went out with 10 minutes remaining and any fears the game might be abandoned were quickly dispelled as some of the failed power was quickly restored.

Many Rabotnicki fans knew the game was over, however, and had left long before the final whistle.

And a lot of those that remained seemed to have had enough as they tried to fool the players by blowing for time with their own whistles.

Liverpool eased to walking pace and the real final whistle eventually came to signal a winning start to the Hodgson era.

Hodgson Happy With Team Effort

Roy Hodgson hailed the performance of David Ngog after the Frenchman's double got the new Liverpool manager's reign off to a winning start.

Ngog, playing alone up front, struck in each half as an under-strength Liverpool emerged from a potentially tricky Europa League test against FK Rabotnicki in Macedonia with a 2-0 win.

Ngog's future has been uncertain since Hodgson took charge a month ago with reports linking the 21-year-old with a move to West Brom.

The player, however, has expressed a desire to remain at Anfield and Hodgson said: "I can't stop players being linked with other clubs. I certainly have never discussed him leaving.

"I think Ngog has done well in the pre-season matches so far and he has worked very hard in the training sessions.

"I was pleased that he crowned his performance with two goals.

"I thought his target play, his general movement and his ability to keep the ball for us was also very good.

"But front players need goals and that will be a very big weight off his mind.

"It will mean he doesn't have to worry too much about the coming matches."

With their Barclays Premier League opener still 17 days away, Liverpool were without 10 of their World Cup players for the third qualifying round first leg.

The likes of Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson were left to train on Merseyside while Fernando Torres, Jose Reina and Dirk Kuyt are still on holiday.

Ngog was one of only a handful of recognized senior players on duty along with Lucas, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Alberto Aquilani.

Youngsters David Amoo, Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly all took the chance to impress against a limited Rabotnicki side and Hodgson's selection was fully vindicated.

"I am very satisfied," Hodgson said. "It was a game that could have been very difficult for us.

"It was a big crowd and some of our players that played are not used to big crowds.

"I was really pleased with the way everyone went about their business and we can go back to Anfield with a margin of victory which will enable us to feel a little more comfortable."

UEFA Set To Investigate Alleged Racial Chanting In Liverpool Clash With Rabotnicki

UEFA have confirmed they are aware of claims racist chants were directed at Liverpool's players during last night’s Europa League qualifying game against FK Rabotnicki in Macedonia.

The governing body are waiting to assess reports from both the UEFA delegate and the referee before taking any action against FK Rabotnicki.

Liverpool won the first leg of their third qualifying round tie against the Macedonian side thanks to a brace from David Ngog.

But pictures emerged after the game that showed Rabotnicki fans appearing to direct so-called ’monkey taunts’ at Liverpool players.

The Reds started the game with two black players in Ngog and impressive 19-year-old winger David Amoo.

A spokesman for UEFA said: “We are aware of the matter but we are waiting for the reports from the delegate and the referee.”

Once UEFA have assessed the reports, a disciplinary case could be opened against FK Rabotnicki.

Macedonian football has had problems with racism before and their governing body was fined after England players Emile Heskey, Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell were subjected to abuse during an international in 2003.

Roy Hodgson Adamant That David Ngog Will Not Leave The Club This Summer

Roy Hodgson insists that striker David Ngog will not be leaving Liverpool this summer after enjoying an impressive pre-season.

The Frenchman’s double against Rabotnicki in Macedonia gave the Reds an impressive 2-0 win to open up their Europa League campaign on Thursday.

Hodgson was pleased with the performance of his young side in Skopje, and was especially impressed with Ngog’s display.

The 21-year-old has been tipped to leave Anfield this summer, but Hodgson is adamant that Ngog will not be leaving the club.

"I can't stop players being linked with other clubs, but I never discussed him leaving Liverpool,” Hodgson told The Mirror.

"I have been very impressed with him. I think Ngog has worked very hard in training and done very well in the pre-season games, and he crowned his hard work with an impressive performance.

"The goals will be a big weight off him mind, and give him confidence. Front players need goals, and he has got them, which means he can relax.

“He has shown us that he has the movement and touch, and quality, and I'm pleased for him."

Hodgson Tipped To Land Bridge In City Exodus

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has been tipped to secure the signing of former England international Wayne Bridge in the coming days with sports bookmakers slashing odds on the former Chelsea star arriving at Anfield during the summer transfer window.

Bridge is just one of a number of City stars who look set to face the chop at the Eastlands stadium, with Craig Bellamy, Stephen Ireland, Roque Santa Cruz, Nedum Onouha, and Shaun Wright-Phillips all fighting for their futures under manager Roberto Mancini.

Mancini swooped to sign Serbian international Aleksander Kolarov from Lazio, with the 24-year-old left back expected to start for City next season. Mancini has already signed David Silva, Yaya Toure and Jerome Boateng this summer, with Kolarov's arrival increasing his spending to approximately £75million since the end of last season.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is looking to strengthen his Anfield squad with Fabio Aurelio having left the club on a free transfer, leaving only Emiliano Insua as the only recognized left back in the reds squad.

Pacheco Advised To Join Sociedad By Xabi Alonso

Liverpool starlet Dani Pacheco has been winning rave reviews for his performances at the European Under-19 championships and may now be seeking his fortune outside of Anfield.

The 19-year-old, originally poached from Barcelona in the summer of 2007, is yet to win much in the way of first-team football and is now wanted by Real Sociedad back in Spain. And Pacheco has turned to former team-mate and one-time Sociedad player Xabi Alonso for advice about heading to San Sebastian for a loan move he clearly fancies.

"He is the person who is helping and advising me. If a person such as he has been happy there, anyone can be happy," Pacheco said of the World Cup winner to El Mundo Deportivo. "I have heard very good things about the head coach Martin Lasarte. I've been told that he focuses on young people who have character, who like to play good football."

"Of course, the chance to move to Real Sociedad appeals, no doubt. It is a team where I can come in handy. I have heard great things about the club, the city, the people and if things go well, I'll be happy to play there."

Pacheco will play in Friday evening's U19 final between Spain and France after scoring four goals in his team's march to the final in Caen.

Fiorentina Resolve Contract Issues With Liverpool's Emiliano Insua

According to Violanews, Fiorentina and Pantaleo Corvino have managed to find a solution for the transfer of Liverpool's young Argentine defender Emiliano Insua.

The deal had stalled after the two clubs had agreed a deal but the hefty wage demands of the 21-year-old meant Fiorentina couldn't agree terms with the player. However, today Violanews has claimed it's "mission accomplished" and Insua will be a Fiorentina player in the coming hours, something they have published before, so only time will tell.

Issues are still being raised concerning the size of the squad with the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas, Adrian Mutu and Ndiaye Papa Wiago all being linked with moves away, for one reason or another, to trim numbers.

Stuttgart May Rekindle Interest In Liverpool's Philipp Degen

Stuttgart are allegedly interested in signing Liverpool defender Philipp Degen.

The Swabians were keen on signing the 27-year old defender in January, but never made an official offer. However, following the sale of Sami Khedira to Real Madrid, Stuttgart will be looking to reinforce their squad, and should have sufficient funds to do so.

Since arriving at Liverpool two years ago, Degen has made just 13 appearances, and following the signing of Glen Johnson, has become surplus to requirements. Recently, coach Roy Hodgson confirmed that the Swiss full-back will leave Liverpool this summer.

Inter To Use Mario Balotelli Cash To Snare Liverpool Attacker Dirk Kuyt

Inter intend to use the £25 million from Mario Balotelli's sale to reunite head coach Rafael Benitez with Dirk Kuyt, according to the Daily Mail.

The Spaniard brought Kuyt to Liverpool when he was in charge and intends to kick off his San Siro reign with his signature. With Balotelli poised for a big money exit to Manchester City, Benitez has a void to fill up front.

Kuyt's ability to play on the wings or as a striker was on show in the Netherlands charge to the World Cup 2010 final. Inter had previously targeted a more skilful replacement but Benitez is set to successfully lobby president Massimo Moratti to sanction a bid for the 30-year-old.

Kuyt has previously stated his intention to end his career at Anfield and new boss Roy Hodgson would be reluctant to let him go. Inter will hope Champions League football will sway the ex-Feyenoord man to force through the switch.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jovanovic Snubbed Real To Head To Reds

Liverpool new boy Milan Jovanovic has revealed that he turned down an offer from Real Madrid in favour of making the move to England this summer.

The 29-year-old Serbia international striker chose to join the Reds from Belgian outfit Standard Liege, having feared that he would get lost among a star-studded Real squad.

Jovanovic told reporters: "I think 99 per cent of people I spoke to told me they did not understand why I said no to Real.

"But maybe I am special. I thought if I went it would be as an ordinary player, but that, if I stayed, I would be where I felt good, where I was a star in Belgium.

"It is only a small league, but Standard Liege won two titles and two Super Cups while I was there. So I was very happy.

"Real offered me just a one-year deal with an option for two years. I said four, they said no and so I turned them down. Maybe they are the biggest club in the world, but I always knew that other big clubs would come.

"I will never go somewhere where I only play a small part. Why? It is better to be happy somewhere. Now I only want to look forward and play for Liverpool. "

Roy Riled By Young Rumours

Roy Hodgson has dodged questions regarding reports that Liverpool has made a bid to sign Aston Villa full-back Luke Young.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill earlier confirmed that he has received an offer for the former England international, but he has not revealed the name of the club.

Speculation has suggested that Hodgson has tendered £2.75million for Young, a right-back who can play on the left, as he looks for a replacement to Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua.

The Liverpool boss was therefore quizzed on the topic ahead of a Europa League qualifier against FK Rabotnicki, but he refused to confirm or deny the rumours.

Hodgson, who appeared agitated when the subject switched away from Thursday's match, said of Young and conjecture that winger Maxi Rodriguez could be poised to leave: "They are not playing."

Hodgson was also unhappy when asked about the truth of reports that Insua's proposed move to Fiorentina had hit a snag.

"No information to be given about that," he said.

When another question was asked about the difficulties of trying to sign English players, to comply with new Premier League squad rules, in the current market, Hodgson decided to make a firm point.

He said: "We're changing the subject. I don't think it's right in a room full of Macedonian journalists to be talking about things like homegrown rules and English players.

"I think we should be talking about the game, because that is what interests people.

"The subjects you are bringing up now are subjects for a future press conference.

"It is quite important in these last seven minutes that the questions I try to answer, and I gladly will for the Macedonians, will be about the football match and not things like systems of play and future transfer targets or the long-term future of English football."

Young's Liverpool Move In Doubt Over Villa Pay-Off

Luke Young has risked the wrath of Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill by stalling on a move to Liverpool as he wants a pay-off.

Liverpool has agreed a fee of £2.5million with Villa for the unsettled versatile defender, who earns currently around £40,000-a-week.

But Young is insisting on a 'golden goodbye' from Villa Park before leaving as he would have to take a drop in wages at Liverpool.

Right-back Young, 31, joined Villa in August 2008 from Middlesbrough on a bumper contract.

And his tough stance means his relationship with O'Neill is set to plummet to a new all-time low.

Young has been unhappy for months after being played left-back before losing his right-back berth to central defender Carlos Cuellar.

And O'Neill now needs to generate funds for transfers after being ordered to sell-to-buy this summer.

O'Neill has been told to cut the club's annual £70m wage bill before owner Randy Lerner sanctions any new additions.

And the Villa boss has warned Young he may not be included in their official 25-man Premier League squad if he rejects the chance to go.

"We will see how that develops," said O'Neill, who has omitted Young from Villa's squad for this weekend's Guadiana Cup in Portugal.

"He is having a think about it. If he chooses to go that's it, if he chooses to stay then he needs to start playing because with the new rules I have to name a 25-man squad for the Premier League."

Liverpool Face Battle To Keep Daniel Pacheco As Striker Mulls Real Sociedad Approach

Daniel Pacheco has excited Liverpool fans with his performances for Spain at the Under 19 European Championship.

But the forward admits he can see little chance of breaking through at Anfield and is tempted by a move to Real Sociedad.

The Basque club is keen to strike a deal for the 19-year-old and Pacheco revealed he had been taking guidance from former Liverpool and Sociedad midfielder Xabi Alonso.

'Of course, playing for Real (Sociedad) appeals to me, without doubt,' he told El Mundo Deportivo. 'I have heard good things about the club, the city and the people, and if things move in that direction, I will be happy to play there.'

Alonso, now a key part of the Real Madrid midfield, played for five years at Sociedad before joining Liverpool in 2004.

'He (Xabi) has been helping and advising me,' said Pacheco. 'I've been told good things about the coach. They say he bets on youngsters who have character, who like to play.

'I've been told about Zubieta (the training ground), the way they work and the humilty of the club. Everything I hear is good.'

It is unclear whether Liverpool will be prepared to let go of a young talent who has helped Spain's Under 19s to the Euro final in France, but Pacheco fears for his chances at Liverpool after so far making just seven appearances in three years since being signed from Barcelona.

'I don't know much about the negotiations,' he said. 'I'd like to play in La Liga. Above all I want game time or to fight for game time.

'In Liverpool I won't get this opportunity and I would love to have it. Right now the club is signing people and I don't think I will have opportunities. At 19 years old the most important thing is to continue progressing.'

Liverpool Plot Shock Move For Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson wants Aston Villa midfield general Stiliyan Petrov as the shock replacement for transfer-seeking Javier Mascherano.

Hodgson admires the Bulgarian star's style and is ready to pay around £7 million for him as he looks to cash in on Argentinian Mascherano by selling him to Inter Milan coach Rafa Benitez.

The Kop are looking to land both Petrov and right back Luke Young in a surprise double raid as they try to bring in seasons professionals for a demanding campaign.

Petrov, 30, is one of the Premier League's most respect operators and a key man for Martin O'Neill who brought him to Villa from Celtic where he was also a legend.

The Bulgarian star is aware of the Liverpool interest and could be keen on a move to Anfield - although Villa are desperate to keep their squad together despite so many being wanted men.

Hodgson wants a proven midfield schemer to play an anchor role in the Liverpool side. He expects Mascherano to move on, which would leave just Brazilian Lucas Leiva for that position - with Xabi Alonso never properly replaced.

Petrov may not seem the most charismatic capture, but he is in the right mould for Hodgson who plans to put his own well-drilled imprint on the Anfield side this season and beyond.

Liverpool Now Making Enquiries For Two Tottenham Players

On the heels of the news recently here at The Tavern that Roy Hodgson’s search for a left back had led to him looking at Tottenham’s Benoit Assou Ekotto, it’s now emerging that speculation by The Times the other week wasn’t too shabby at all.

The new Liverpool manager has only had it confirmed in the last few days that Fernando Torres was committing. But either way, he has made an approach to Tottenham to see what their plans are with Peter Crouch.

With Tottenham’s pretty public courting of a new striker, Peter Crouch looks set to slide further down the pecking order at White Hart Lane. Defoe can seemingly do no wrong and whoever Spurs ship in this season must surely be given guarantees that he’ll start.

Crouch left Liverpool to get first team action at Portsmouth. Redknapp is a Crouch fan and one who seems to have little faith in any of his strikers other than Defoe. But the real question is how many strikers do Tottenham need on the payroll?

Liverpool under Hodgson could well play 442. How the Anfield faithful respond to this is pretty straightforward, if it works, they’ll back it. Whatever Roy’s plans are, they certainly appear to have passed muster amongst Gerrard, Cole and Torres.

Liverpool Interest Confirmed Despite Facebook Fiasco

According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid have received an enquiry from Liverpool in regards to their winger Royston Drenthe.

Earlier in the week a Facebook account purporting to be the 23-year-old Dutchman claimed he had signed for the Premier League side only for it to be exposed as a bogus account.

Although the report was later rubbished, Spanish daily AS claim Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has indeed made tentative enquiries for the ex-Holland Under-21 international and with Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho undecided about the winger’s future, a deal remains a distinct possibility.

Liverpool is believed to be looking for a left-sided fullback, following the departure of Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua.

Drenthe joined Real Madrid in 2007 on the back of his superb performances during the Under-21 European Championships, but his career in La Liga has stalled somewhat and reports in Spain suggest he may be line for a move to the Premier League.

New York-based Liverpool Fans Join Calls For American Owners To Walk Away

Liverpool’s New York Supporters Club have joined the calls for Tom Hicks and George Gillett to sell the club immediately.

LFCNY, which is the oldest and biggest fans club in North America, is joining forces with Spirit of Shankly to crank up the pressure on the Reds’ owners.

In a statement they labelled Hicks and Gillett as "financial parasites" and urged them to "get out of our club".

It read: "They are nothing more than financial parasites who are using the club we have known and loved all our lives for nothing more than increasing their bank balances.

"They care not for our 18 League Championships; they care not for our 5 European Cups; they care not for our 3 UEFA Cups; they care not for our 7 FA Cups; they care not for our 7 League Cups; they care not for our 3 European Super Cups.

"They care not for the Liverpool way, for the fans, for the history, for the memories, for the glories of our great club. For the glory that is Liverpool FC.

"They are not fit and proper persons to be the guardians of Liverpool FC.

"All they have contributed to Liverpool FC since that horrendous day in February 2007 is shame and dishonor.

"When they arrived, the club debt stood at £44.8 million; we were told that their debts incurred in buying the club would not be foisted upon the club. We were also told that work would begin on a new stadium in 60 days.

"This summer, the debt of Liverpool FC is £350 million and there are no plans for any stadium and the manager Rafael Benitez has been fired.

"Lies, subterfuge and debts. This has been the sad and sorry story of the tenure of Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Liverpool FC.

"In coming weeks, the LFCNY will be working closely with all the other Liverpool supporters’ clubs in North America and Spirit of Shankly to make sure that these two men will have nothing more to do with Liverpool FC.

"The people of Liverpool, the fans worldwide and the club itself deserves better than the steady diet of falsehoods and insults that have been served up by Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

"Get out of our club now and forever. You’ve done enough damage. Go before you do any more."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Europa League Qualifying Preview: Rabotnicki vs Liverpool

Nicknamed the Romantics, even the most whimsical Rabotnicki fan will not believe that the Macedonian top flight outfit stand a great chance of eliminating Liverpool from the Europa League in the third qualifying round.

Only twice in the club’s history have they made it to the first round proper of continental competition, with the likes of Inter Baku and Odense having knocked them out in recent seasons. Ironically, the last time they did reach the main event, they were drawn immediately against another Premier League side, Bolton Wanderers, and were swiftly dismissed.

When Rabotnicki met the Trotters back in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup, they certainly did not prove to be whipping boys, going out only 2-1 on aggregate, and the second placed side in last season’s Makedonska Prva Liga will be aiming to come out of the biggest European tie in their history with similar credit.

The Skopje outfit, who have a strong Brazilian influence in their ranks, will hope to take advantage of a partisan home crowd, a sultry Macedonian summer evening and their visitors’ relative lack of match practice to cause an upset in this fixture.

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson showed last season that he will not treat the Europa League with total contempt, steering Fulham famously to the final of the competition, where they were narrowly edged out by a Diego Forlan-inspired Atletico Madrid. In charge of his first competitive game with the Reds, he will want his men to lay down a marker for the remainder of the season.

Hodgson, however, is still trying to get his squad to settle down at present. The Englishman is battling rumours that suggest Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano could be on their way out of Anfield, while he is also trying to plot a successful course towards new additions. Throw in the disruption the World Cup has caused the Pool’s pre-season preparations and suddenly this encounter does not look nearly so straightforward.

Additionally, pre-season has been something of a non-event for the Reds thus far. Only two friendlies have been played, and they have yet to score a goal, losing 1-0 to Kaiserslautern last Saturday, three days after being held by Grasshopper.

With cash seemingly at a premium at the Merseyside club, any opportunity to progress deep into profitable competitions will be considered a priority, but finishing in the top four in the Premier League will be Liverpool’s primary objective this season. There are still a couple of weeks before their domestic season kicks off, allowing Hodgson to examine his players fully in an encounter they could be stretched a little in.

Fernando Torres Tells Roy Hodgson He's Staying At Liverpool

While only weeks ago it appeared as if the Liverpool squad might come apart at the seams, it's turning out to be a rather successful summer for the club.

After the Reds snapped up Joe Cole and persuaded captain Steven Gerrard to stay, striker Fernando Torres has now told Liverpool that he's looking forward to playing for the club next season.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Torres spoke with manager Roy Hodgson and managing director Christian Purslow and let them know he would be returning to Liverpool next week after his post-World Cup vacation.

“As far as I know, he is looking forward to coming back here," Hodgson was quoted by the paper as saying. "He is coming back on Monday. He is enjoying a holiday and it is a well deserved break because he hasn’t really had one for three years. He is spending time with his family.

“Fernando is keeping a very low profile and is not speaking to anybody but he has told us that he is looking forward to Monday, to coming back to work and to playing for Liverpool next season.

“That’s what I know. All other reports (linking Torres with a move away) are, I would suggest, erroneous.”

Liverpool Agree Fee Of £2.5m For Aston Villa's Luke Young

Liverpool has made a surprise move for the Aston Villa full-back Luke Young. Roy Hodgson, the Liverpool manager, tried to sign Young earlier this year when he was in charge of Fulham and he has now rekindled his interest in the former England international. Liverpool has agreed a £2.5m fee for a player who has been told he is surplus to requirements at Villa Park.

Although Hodgson's pursuit of Young might raise a few eyebrows among Liverpool supporters, the 31-year-old is able to operate in both full-back positions and was asked to represent England as recently as last November, when Fabio Capello failed to persuade the defender to reverse the decision he made earlier that year to retire from international football with seven caps to his name. He would also increase Liverpool's quota of homegrown players to comply with the new Premier League rule.

Liverpool are also short of options in the full-back positions because Emiliano Insúa is set to join Fiorentina and Fábio Aurélio has left the club on a free transfer. Philipp Degen, the Switzerland right-back, has also been told that he can look for another club after meeting with Hodgson last week.

Villa have been keen to offload Young as he is one of the club's higher earners and has three years remaining on his contract. Sunderland had also expressed an interest in signing Young this summer but were unable to match his personal terms. Andy Evans, Young's agent, said: "A fee has been agreed with Liverpool. We're now in discussions about Luke's contract."

Villa's decision to make Young available for transfer came as a disappointment to many of the club's supporters. Having joined Villa from Middlesbrough in a £5.5m deal two years ago, Young performed well in his first season but his start to the following campaign was curtailed through a combination of injury and personal tragedy, when Andre, his 17-year-old half-brother, was found dead on holiday.

Young eventually came back into the Villa side but made only 14 Premier League starts and was ultimately unable to dislodge Carlos Cuéllar, an orthodox central defender, from the right-back position. He remained a popular figure among the Villa supporters, however, and was given a standing ovation when he appeared as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in the final match of the season.

Insua's Viola Move In Doubt

Liverpool defender Emiliano Insua's move to Fiorentina is in danger of falling through, according to the Serie A club.

Fiorentina fear the player's wage demands could put the Argentine's switch to the Artemio Franchi in jeopardy.

Insua seemed set to leave Liverpool after Fiorentina agreed an undisclosed fee with the Merseyside side for the left-back.

However, Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino has warned Insua that he might have to take a drop in wages to tie up the move to Italy.

"We have an agreement with the English club, but we have to find an understanding with the player in terms of wages," Corvino told

"We cannot guarantee him the figures that he gets at Liverpool."

Liverpool Linked With Porto Wing-Back Jorge Fucile

Liverpool are being linked with Porto wing-back Jorge Fucile.

The Uruguay international is attracting interest from Liverpool and Schalke, according to Lisbon sources.

Porto want £7 million for Fucile, who is aware of the Liverpool rumours.

But he said: "I have great respect for the president, the club and the fans.

"This is a great club to play for."

Inter To Offer Liverpool €15 Million & Sulley Muntari For Javier Mascherano

Inter have wasted no time in throwing together a move for Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano, who is intent on quitting the Merseysiders.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson confirmed the Argentinian has expressed a desire to leave Anfield on Tuesday, and Inter are first in line to entice him away from the Premier League.

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Inter are eager to use Mascherano's stance on leaving for their own gain, but president Massimo Moratti is not keen on spending €25-30 million on the midfielder.

The latest indications from Milan suggest the Italian champions will offer Sulley Muntari, who has become peripheral to plans, plus a €15m lump sum in exchange for Mascherano.

The Ghana international had a decent World Cup and is admired by Hodgson, who wouldn't mind having him at the club as a replacement for the outgoing 'Masch'.

Inter are now expected to speak up with the Reds, as dialogue becomes resonant over a prospective deal.

Espanyol Set To Complete Loan Swoop For Liverpool Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez

Liverpool have told Maxi Rodriguez he can leave the club and the midfielder is expected to complete a loan return to Espanyol, according to El Mundo Deportivo.

New Reds manager Roy Hodgson is understood to have told the Argentina World Cup 2010 star he is surplus to requirements at Anfield. This has alerted his former side to him and a temporary deal could be rubber stamped in the coming days.

The only obstacle to the move is Liverpool's demands for a permanent transfer. Espanyol are keen to borrow the player next season before buying him outright.

Rodriguez struggled to make an impression at Anfield last term after he completed a £1.5 million switch in the New Year. The 29-year-old enjoyed a three-year spell at the Barcelona-based team from 2002-2005 and is keen to reinvigorate his career there.

Liverpool Defender Danny Wilson Delighted With Move

Liverpool defender Danny Wilson says his move to Liverpool has capped off a "crazy" 12 months for him.

The 18-year-old moved to Anfield after impressing at Rangers last season.

"This time last year I was with the Rangers reserve team over in Northern Ireland playing pre-season friendly games," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"From there I went on to play 24 games for Rangers. It's been a crazy 12 months for me, but to get this move to cap it all has been fantastic."

Wilson was voted the Scottish Young Player of the Year last season and moved to Liverpool as they look to re-build under new manager Roy Hodgson.

The youngster is very aware of the battle he has to gain a place in the Reds starting line-up.

"I think if you'd ask any player they'd rather play than not play," Wilson continued. "I'm not going to sit here and say I deserve to push all these star players at Liverpool out of the team, it could take a while.

"It's going to take a lot of learning from me. I've noticed in training it's a faster pace down here and it's a different style.

"But at the end of the day you're a footballer and you're playing football and it's the same game. My main aim is to do as well as I can.

"I've not set myself any targets, but when it happens, it happens and if not, I'll just keep working hard and try and make it happen."

The Scotland youth international admits he knew of the Reds interest in him and he could not turn down the opportunity.

"I heard a few months ago that there was reported interest from Liverpool but nothing concrete," said Wilson.

"Once I heard that I started to get a bit excited but tried not to get ahead of myself. Once I heard of that I thought if there was a chance I could come to this club then I definitely would.

"Everybody knows Liverpool everywhere you go in the world, both the football club and the city. They've won five Champions League titles and 18 league titles and you can't argue with a record like that, especially in such a difficult league like England."

Cole: We Can Be Great Again

Joe Cole is convinced Liverpool are not that far away from a return to the great days after he admitted Anfield was always the hardest away ground to play at for Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League.

Liverpool's new No.10 has settled in quickly to his new surroundings and can't wait to parade his skills in front of the Kop.

"Look at all the pictures around this place and you want more of that," said Cole.

"The whole club is built on success. I can feel the hunger and the desire here, and that's a great base to come from.

"The gaffer's experience and organization are another positive and with all the quality players they have here, I am convinced we will do better than last season.

"When I had decided to leave Chelsea I didn't want to rush into a decision, you only get one career, but my first thought was Liverpool and my last thought was Liverpool. Now I want to concentrate on helping this club gets back up again.

"As soon as I walked into this place I loved it and I believe we can do something special here.

"I'm not one of those players who walks into a place and says I've always supported them, but I have always thought a lot of the supporters here.

"Liverpool was always the hardest away game in our fixtures, harder than going to Old Trafford. If we can make that the base and a fortress again, and get some points on the road, anything can happen.

"I don't want to come up here and end up going back south every day off. I want to immerse myself in the place.

"Someone once gave me the advice that when move, you should always make sure you are part of the club.

"It's a big challenge for me, but I will do that here."

At the age of 28 Cole believes his best days are yet to come and his big hope is to play a major role in helping Roy Hodgson's side get back to what Liverpool are renowned for - winning trophies.

"I left a mark at Chelsea, being part of great teams that won things, Player of the Year and stuff, and I am proud of that," he added.

"Now I want to leave my mark at a massive club like this as well - I'm really excited about it.

"I wanted to come to somewhere at the start of something and it was easy to come here because it's such a massive club. It's all pointing in the right direction."

"I want to be part of a team, a successful team. I know what a successful team's about and what an unsuccessful one is too.

"I know what it takes to win titles, all I need here is time to settle in, regular games and to get used to playing with new players.

"When you've been at a club as long as I have, coming to a new one, with a different style, takes time but we will roll on from there. It's a long process and we have to be realistic, but we are double positive."

The England international also revealed he is fully recovered from the knee ligament injury he suffered in January 2009 and wants to make up for lost time by giving his best years to Liverpool.

"Last year was tough," he added.

"I was trying to get my match fitness back and prove I should be starting, maybe trying too hard, but it just wasn't happening.

"But I still made an impact and still proud of the part I played in a difficult season. Now this is a fresh start. I just need match fitness but my body is strong.

"The important thing is getting the back to back games and just playing regularly.

"The last time I played 90 minutes was February and I need to be able to do that week in week out, and I will do that.

"Roy made it very clear he wanted me as a player and what he wanted from me. All I need is time and patience."

Roy Hodgson Expects More Signings To Arrive Before End Of Transfer Window

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is confident of further adding to his squad before the end of this summer’s transfer window following the captures of Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Jonjo Shelvey, and Danny Wilson.

Hodgson, who will take charge of his first competitive game as Liverpool manager on Thursday in the third qualifying round of the Europa League against Macedonian side Rabotnicki, has spent a little over £3 million in transfer fees this summer, and the former Fulham boss is hoping there will be more new arrivals at the club.

"I am very excited and happy for the club that we have been able to sign three players of this quality," Hodgson explained at the unveiling of Cole, Jovanovic, and Wilson.

"It was important we made some signings early on and made clear to everyone that our intentions are very serious.

"I think it is clear from the players alongside me we are serious and we have been fortunate enough to acquire their services."

"We're still interested in some other players. I hope this won't be the last of our signings.

"The aim of the club, the aim of the board, Christian Purslow and everyone at the club, is to try and make this squad as competitive as possible."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hodgson To Decide On Liverpool FC Euro Squad

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will not try to protect senior stars like Steven Gerrard when the club’s Europa League campaign gets under way this week.

The 62-year-old will decide today whether the England captain, and his international team-mates Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, should be included against Rabotnicki in the third qualifying round tie.

Liverpool’s medical team have advised the Englishman it is too soon to use those players who were on World Cup duty after just over a week back in pre-season training.

Hodgson has to weigh up whether it is more risky to leave the task of getting through into the competition proper in the hands of a reserve side who have not scored a goal in two warm-up matches.

But if he does select the likes of Gerrard he will at least respect their stature in the game by naming them in the starting line-up rather than keeping them on the bench for an emergency.

“I don’t know what to do at this stage,” he said.

“I will have to liaise with them and (head of sports science) Peter Brukner and make a decision by Tuesday on what sort of team I can put out.

“It is going to be a difficult discussion between myself and Peter because his feeling is we shouldn’t use any of them and I am going to be tempted to say I want to use quite a few of them.

“The only players I will take will be the ones that I definitely think will play a valuable part in the game.

“If we are talking about senior players, it would be players prepared to start the game. I would not take Steven Gerrard there to play for the last 10 minutes as a substitute.”

Liverpool Defender Jamie Carragher Expects Steven Gerrard And Fernando Torres To Stay At Anfield

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes star players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will stay at the club this summer.

The duo have been strongly linked with moves away from Anfield following the Reds’ poor form last season which saw them finish seventh in the Premier League, failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Torres has been attracting interest from Chelsea and Manchester City, whose manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed his interest in the striker, while Gerrard has been linked with Real Madrid.

Carragher says he is sure the duo will stay at Anfield and believes the club should be aiming to finish in the top four.

"There's been a lot of negativity and it's been like that for a while," he told ZOO magazine.

"I'm sure that Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will still be involved at the club next season.

"If they are, then the aim for Liverpool must be to get back into the Champions League."

The 32-year-old admits Liverpool’s expectations have been lowered after their campaign last season and says winning the Premier League is not their aim.

"Liverpool aren't a club like Real Madrid, who can just throw £100 million at it if we don't win the title," he said.

"For clubs like Real Madrid and Inter Milan, it's a disaster if they don't win the league, so they go out and spend big money on new players.

"Liverpool can't do that - we have to build. Next season, rather than thinking too much about the title, we have to concentrate on getting back into the top four.

"It's a rebuilding process again and hopefully we can get ourselves right up there.''

Mascherano Set To Leave Liverpool After Talks

Javier Mascherano has been told he can leave Liverpool, according to ESPNsoccernet sources, having held talks with the Liverpool hierarchy on Monday.

Mascherano, who captained Argentina at the World Cup, spoke with manager Roy Hodgson after returning from holiday, having previously ignored the new manager's attempts to contact him.

A source close to Mascherano told Soccernet: "The talks were extremely amicable. It was all done in a very nice way. Javier made it clear that he wanted to leave a year ago when he had the chance to go to Barcelona.

"He was asked to stay on for one more year, he agreed, so now it is time for him to go. It was all very pleasant and it is now a question of the two clubs who are interested in him making an acceptable offer to Liverpool."

Hodgson held talks with skipper Steven Gerrard and convinced him to stay, but has failed to convince Mascherano, who now looks likely to rejoin former manager Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan or seal a move to Spanish champions Barcelona, who are looking to replace Yaya Toure after admitting defeat over Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas.

Milan Jovanovic Confident He Will Be A Success At Liverpool FC

Milan Jovanovic is confident he has the physical attributes to be a success with Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Serbian midfielder has enjoyed his first few weeks training with the club in pre-season and he has a track record of success when playing English clubs.

In 2008/09 he scored against Everton in the Europa League and last season he found the net against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Jovanovic exclusively told LFC Weekly: “I scored against Arsenal last season. We lost the game 2-3 but that and my goal against Everton shows that I have done well against English teams so I hope this will continue!”

On World Cup duty with Serbia, Jovanovic had the opportunity to quiz international team-mates like Nemanja Vidic and Branislav Ivanovic about the Premier League.

The 29-year-old doesn’t think it will take long for him to adapt to English football.

“I did speak to some of my team-mates in the national team. I know that physically it is a demanding league but when I thought about this characteristic, I thought: ‘this is me.’

“I think I can do everything I need to play at the top level here. It is a long season and if you count games with the national team as well, you can be looking at 60 or 70 games but I feel okay and of course I am really looking forward to it.”

Jansen Committed To Hamburg

Germany full-back Marcell Jansen is committed to Hamburg despite interest from Liverpool, according to his agent.

The 24-year-old joined the Bundesliga club after an unsuccessful stint at rivals Bayern Munich for £7million in 2008 and was part of Germany's World Cup squad that finished in third place.

Jansen scored the opener in the Germans' 3-2 win over Uruguay and has reportedly caught the eye of Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson following his performances for Hamburg.

The Reds are looking for a left-back after selling Emiliano Insua to Fiorentina and releasing Fabio Aurelio, meaning they have no senior cover for the position.

Hodgson has been linked with moves for Paul Konchesky, Maynor Figueroa and Carlos Salcido, but so far none have come to fruition.

Jansen's ability to play as a left winger could be a reason behind a possible bid, but agent Gerd vom Bruch stated that the player was committed to his current club.

"The interest in him is a credit to Marcell," he told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper.

"But he is under contract with Hamburger SV and will be respecting this."

Real Sociedad Tracking Liverpool Starlet Dani Pacheco

Young Liverpool attacker Dani Pacheco has attracted the interest of Primera Division outfit Real Sociedad with his excellent performances for Spain at the under-19 European Championships, if a report in Marca is to be believed.

The newly promoted outfit is looking to add some more firepower to their ranks ahead of the start of the new season and head coach Martin Lasarte supposedly considers Pacheco to be the perfect addition to his attack.

The 19-year-old attacker came through the ranks of the Barcelona youth academy, but left the Catalan side for an English adventure at Liverpool in the summer of 2007. He made his official debut for the Reds in the Champions League match against Fiorentina in December 2009.

However, Pacheco has failed to secure regular first team action at Liverpool so far and could therefore be farmed out on loan in order to gain valuable first team experience.

Liverpool In Chase For Ipswich Town Starlet Connor Wickham

Liverpool are prepared to go toe-to-toe with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to land England youth international Connor Wickham, according to The People.

The 17-year old is rated as one of the best young strikers outside the Premier League and Ipswich Town are rumoured to have already knocked back a £8 million bid from Spurs this summer. With Arsene Wenger also a fan, Wickham was expected to be playing his football in north London in the immediate future.

Reds manager Roy Hodgson is determined to beat those clubs to the target man's signature and has requested his board submit an £8.5 million to Roy Keane's side.

The former Fulham boss plans to use Liverpool's status to buy the centre forward, after being knocked back when he tried to snap him up last season.

Pacheco Lands Accolade

Dani Pacheco's irrepressible form for Spain at the U19 European Championships has seen him crowned's World Player of the Week.

The Reds' No. 47 has struck three times in his country's march to a semi-final showdown with England and the football website has been quick to acknowledge his impact for La Rojita. wrote: "Central to Spain's cause has been Liverpool attacker Dani Pacheco.

"The former Barcelona cantera prodigy scored a brace to overturn Portugal and followed that up with an impressive showing against Italy on Saturday.

"Pacheco scored to send the Spaniards towards a semi-final showdown against England."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aquilani Fit For Liverpool's Europa League Opener

Alberto Aquilani will be fit to take part in Liverpool's opening game of the season when they face FK Rabotnicki in the Europa League on Thursday.

Aquilani, who was restricted to just nine league starts last season due to injury, missed a 1-0 friendly defeat to Kaiserslautern on Saturday after suffering a knee problem.

However, with Liverpool missing a number of players following their World Cup commitments, Roy Hodgson has welcomed the news that Aquilani will be available.

"Peter [Brukner, head of sports medicine and sports science] told me he ran for the first time on Saturday," Hodgson told the club's official website. "So I would expect him to be fit for Thursday."

Liverpool's medical staff have advised Hodgson not to use any members of the squad who were involved at the World Cup finals, although with a place in the Europa League proper at stake, Hodgson has hinted he is ready to ignore their advice.

The likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have only just returned to the squad but could be called upon if Liverpool require their services.

"I don't know what to do at this stage," Hodgson said. "I will have to liaise with them and Peter Brukner and make a decision by Tuesday on what sort of team I can put out. I can promise the Liverpool fans we will put out the best possible team, without compromising the future."

New striker Milan Jovanovic, whose Serbia side were knocked out in the group stages in South Africa, is in contention after making his debut against Kaiserslautern. He performed in an unfamiliar role in the friendly defeat but is happy to do so again if Hodgson asks him to.

New Liverpool Signing Milan Jovanovic Willing To Play In Any Position

Liverpool newcomer Milan Jovanovic says he is willing to play in any position for his new club.

The 29-year-old moved to Anfield this summer on a free transfer from Standard Liege, and could make his competitive debut for the club in Thursday’s Europa League qualifier against FK Rabotnicki.

The Serbia international hopes to feature as much as possible for the Reds and would play on the left wing again - as he did in Saturday’s pre-season friendly with Kaiserslautern - if he was asked to by boss Roy Hodgson.

He told the club’s official website: "It doesn't matter which position I play. That is a question for the coach. Of course, I have my own opinion but it won't be a problem if I have to play on the left wing again.

"Maybe with a bit of time and when I know all the small things about playing in that position, then it will help me.

"The main thing at the minute is for me to get the feeling of the team. It's not going to be easy because everything is new and we don't have much time."

Jovanovic was initially given the number 10 shirt after moving to Anfield but switched to number 14 following the arrival of Joe Cole.

"Switching shirts didn't bother me," he said. "Number 14 is my favourite and it is the number I wear for the national team.

"I feel good that I have got the same number here and I hope it will be lucky for me. I hope it will bring me much success. When the switch came I was happy."

The former Standard Liege forward hopes to adjust to life in England as soon as possible and is looking forward to the arrival of his family in Liverpool.

"I expect they will be with me in Liverpool soon," he added. "We have got to choose a house but it will really help when I see them."

Mascherano Set For Talks With Hodgson

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano met up with new manager Roy Hodgson for the first time after returning to pre-season training.

The Argentina captain has been uncontactable since going on holiday after the World Cup but was back at Melwood on schedule along with compatriot Maxi Rodriguez.

Hodgson tried to speak to the 26-year-old, who has been heavily linked with a summer reunion with former Reds boss Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan, following the end of the player's involvement in South Africa.

However, the 62-year-old Englishman was only able to leave messages for Mascherano telling him he was looking forward to meeting him back on Merseyside as his calls were not returned.

Hodgson will outline his plans to Mascherano in much the same way as he has already done to senior players Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres in an attempt to persuade him he has a future at Anfield.

But there still remains a nagging doubt that the combative midfielder, who was offered a new contract in the latter stages of last season, has set his sights on a move to the continent.

Neither Mascherano nor Rodriguez will be available for Thursday's Europa League third qualifying round first leg tie against Rabotnicki in Macedonia.

However, Hodgson admits he may have to field a number of his other World Cup stars earlier than he would have liked.

The club's medical staff have warned their manager bringing the likes of Gerrard, Carragher, Glen Johnson, new signing Jole Cole and Daniel Agger back too soon may have dire effects later in the season.

Unfortunately, a largely reserve side has failed to score in two pre-season friendlies and Hodgson admits he may not be able to afford to take the risk of not using senior players.

"I don't know what to do at this stage," he said.

"I will have to liaise with them and (head of sports science) Peter Brukner and make a decision by Tuesday on what sort of team I can put out.

"I can promise the Liverpool fans we will put out the best possible team, without compromising the future.

"It is going to be a difficult discussion between myself and Peter because his feeling is we shouldn't use any of them and I am going to be tempted to say I want to use quite a few of them.

"The only players I will take will be the ones that I definitely think will play a valuable part in the game.

"If we are talking about senior players, it would be players prepared to start the game.

"I would not take Steven Gerrard there to play for the last 10 minutes as a substitute."

One senior player who will be available is midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who sat out Saturday's friendly defeat to Kaiserslautern with a knee problem.

"Peter Brukner told me he ran for the first time on Saturday so I would expect him to be fit for Thursday," added Hodgson.

Manchester City To Break Transfer Record For £70m Fernando Torres

Roberto Mancini is willing to pay a new British record transfer fee to bring Liverpool's Fernando Torres to Manchester City.

Mancini has already been busy in the transfer market during the close season, bringing in Barcelona's Yaya Toure, Aleksandar Kolorov from Lazio and Germany defender Jerome Boateng to bolster his defensive options.

Meanwhile, David Silva has arrived from Valencia bringing some extra trickery and creativity to the midfield.

However, Mancini still wants to add some more firepower to his squad in order to enhance City's chances of breaking into the top four, with Torres top of the hitlist.

The Italian manager has indicated that he would be willing to pay more than the £32.5 million spent by the Eastlands club on Robinho in 2008 to land the Spaniard, the Guardian reports.

Mancini said: "Torres is one of the best strikers in Europe and is already playing in the Premier League for three years and knows it very well.

"But it depends on his situation - his price and whether he wants to come."

Liverpool value their superstar striker at nearer the £70 million mark, but Mancini has remarked that the club will not be held to ransom despite their hefty spending power and will only pay what they deem to be the "right price".

This attitude also applies of Aston Villa target James Milner, with City thought to be preparing a final bid of £24 million, despite the Midlands club wanting £30 million for the England international.

Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli are other potential targets for City should they fail in their bid to lure Torres from Liverpool.

David Ngog Putting Off Interested Clubs With £2m Salary Demands

Premier League clubs have been put off making a move for Liverpool striker David Ngog due to his excessive wage demands.

The Mirror claims that the 21-year-old is holding out for a move which would see him earn £2 million-a-year - a demand that has made potential suitors Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United look elsewhere.

West Brom manager Roberto di Matteo declared his interest in the striker earlier this month but reportedly had a loan offer for the Frenchman turned down, with Liverpool preferring to offload the striker on a permanent deal.

Ngog, who is believed to be valued at around £6 million by Liverpool, could soon see himself further down the pecking order at Anfield, despite Fernando Torres’ injury problems, if new Reds boss Roy Hodgson can bring in any of his striking targets.

Liverpool Chase PSV & Mexico Defender Carlos Salcido

Experienced PSV defender Carlos Salcido has attracted the interest of Premier League giants Liverpool with his good performances at the World Cup, according to The Daily Mirror.

Liverpool parted company with Fabio Aurelio earlier this summer and Emiliano Insua is set to leave the Reds for Fiorentina in a deal said to be worth around £5 million.

Therefore, manager Roy Hodgson wants to add a new left-back to his squad and the former Fulham boss reportedly considers Mexico's Salcido, who can also cover in the centre of defence, as the perfect addition to his back-line.

Salcido joined PSV from Guadalajara in the summer of 2006 and has since developed into a key player at the Eindhoven side.

The 30-year-old has made 121 Eredivisie appearances for PSV, scoring three goals in the process.

The versatile defender's current contract with runs until the summer of 2012, but the Eredivisie titans are keen to cash in on Salcido this transfer window.

The report suggests he would be available for a cut-price deal worth an initial figure of just £2.5 million (€3m).

That has also alerted other top clubs, though, particularly those without big transfer budgets to spend this summer.

La Liga side Valencia and Serie A runners-up Roma are said to be the Reds' biggest rivals for the player's signature.

Wigan Athletic are also said to be interested, but may find themselves struggling to compete with the appeal of the other three clubs.