Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lucas Vows To Stay And Fight

Lucas Leiva is determined to fight for his place at Liverpool following the signing of fellow midfielders Christian Poulsen and Raul Meireles.

The Brazil international, who featured regularly under former manager Rafa Benitez, has seen a rise in competition at Anfield since the arrival of new boss Roy Hodgson.

Despite impressing former Fulham manager Hodgson in pre-season, it appears Lucas, the club's young player of the season last year, will be third choice for his preferred central spot this campaign.

Speaking after Sunday's win over West Brom, Hodgson admitted selling the 23-year-old was a possibility if a significant bid was received, but added he was disinclined to lose a player so late in the transfer window.

And, despite being linked with a move to Premier League rivals Stoke, Lucas is prepared to stay on Merseyside and battle for a first-team spot this term.

"What is the situation? I don't know. I'm still playing," said Lucas.

"At the moment, I haven't had any offers. I don't know if the club wants to sell me. I just have to wait.

"I'm going away with the national team (on Thursday) and I can't say any more than that.

"We don't have any games so we will be training for a week in Barcelona.

"If the club wants to sell me, what can I do? I just have to wait and see what will happen.

"I need to be playing and I want to be playing but I believe that I am doing well.

"The manager will choose who plays. I have a contract here and if I don't get anything good for me or for the club, then I will stay."

Tottenham Swoop For Liverpool's Ryan Babel

Tottenham have made a swoop for Ryan Babel after moves for four big-name strikers have fallen through over the last 48 hours, Goal.com UK have revealed.

Spurs have turned to the Liverpool forward after their attempts to capture Luis Fabiano, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Emmanuel Adebayor and Guiseppe Rossi all hit dead ends.

The north London club has made an initial enquiry about taking Babel on a season-long loan, but it is understood that Liverpool would only consider letting the Dutch forward go on a permanent transfer.

The Merseysiders are keen to recoup the £11.5 million fee they paid for Babel, 23, when he moved from Ajax three years ago.

White Hart Lane manager Harry Redknapp has become increasingly frustrated in his attempts to capture the big-name striker that he believes is essential to make Tottenham an established Champions League club.

Chairman Daniel Levy has money to spend after Spurs qualified for the Champions League group stages, but Fabiano signed a new two-year Sevilla deal yesterday and Huntelaar is close to clinching a £10.5m move from AC Milan to Schalke.

Levy could not agree a fee with Villarreal for £8m-rated Rossi and enquired about taking Adebayor on a season-long loan yesterday but Manchester City do not want to offload players to rivals.

City confirmed this morning that Adebayor will not be leaving Eastlands during the current transfer window.

Babel has emerged as Spurs’ latest target because they feel he has more to offer than Robbie Keane, who the Londoners want to offload in the final hours of the window when a deal is done.

West Ham, Aston Villa and Sunderland are all potential suitors for the Irishman but the Hammers are viewed as the favourites to land his signature.

Hammers Consider Cole Offer

Sky Sports News understands that West Ham are considering an official offer from Liverpool for striker Carlton Cole.

It was revealed on Monday that the Anfield club had made an enquiry regarding the £10million-rated frontman, with manager Roy Hodgson repeatedly admitting that he wants to sign a forward.

Liverpool are now reported to have progressed in their attempts to capture former Chelsea player Cole and West Ham are giving thought to a fee tabled by their Premier League rivals.

Cole has been linked with the Reds since before Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez earlier in the summer and the 26-year-old is said to be interested in a move to Merseyside.

Reports also suggest that Liverpool are prepared to offer Ryan Babel, who has been linked with Tottenham, in a part-exchange deal and they will now hope to push through an agreement before Tuesday's transfer deadline at 6pm.

Hodgson has renewed his attempts to sign Cole after he decided to end interest in PSV's Ola Toivonen prior to reaching a dead-end in a pursuit of Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez.

The shortcomings of Liverpool's squad were exposed in an extremely disappointing 2009/10 campaign when injuries to Fernando Torres left the club with only youngster David Ngog as a recognized striker.

Liverpool Complete Signing Of Fulham Left-Back Paul Konchesky

Fulham defender Paul Konchesky has completed his switch to Liverpool for an undisclosed fee on a four-year contract.

Konchesky, 29, has been reunited with manager Roy Hodgson in a deal which sees youngsters Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic head to Craven Cottage.

The club had been in the market for a new left-back all summer after they attempted to sell Emiliano Insua.

With the Argentine now on his way to Galatasaray, Konchesky will compete with Fabio Aurelio and Daniel Agger for the position.

The Charlton Athletic youth product has racked up 317 Premier League appearances and won two England caps.

Reds Sign Young Duo

Liverpool has today confirmed a double deal for youngsters Suso and Adam Hajdu.

Spanish hot-shot Suso - full name Jesus Joaquin Fernandez Saenz De La Torre - completes his move from FC Cadiz on a scholarship agreement, subject to international clearance.

The 16-year-old forward impressed for the reserves during pre-season and even featured for Roy Hodgson's first-team as a late substitute in the friendly defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

His form prompted second-string boss John McMahon to say: "Suso is a class act, there's no doubt about it. He is a very clever player in the mould of Dani Pacheco and he is very exciting to watch."

Hajdu arrives from MTK Budapest on a temporary transfer until June 30, 2011. The deal is subject to international clearance.

The youngster is a Hungary U17 international and is teammates with the Reds' Academy starlets Patrik Poor and Krisztian Adorjan.

Insua Set For Gala Loan

Emiliano Insua looks set to leave Liverpool after statements on his Twitter page suggested he was moving to Galatasaray.

The Turkish giants are thought to be thrashing out a deal to bring the Argentine left-back to the club on a one-year loan after becoming surplus to requirements at Anfield.

Insua was thought to be joining Italian side Fiorentina this summer but despite the deal all but being done, the player's wage demands saw the transfer fell through.

The 21-year-old is unlikely to be a part of Roy Hodgson's plans following the imminent arrival of Fulham defender Paul Konchesky and the re-signing of Fabio Aurelio.

Insua is thought to be in Istanbul finalizing the details of the deal and undergoing a medical.

The player's page read: "Road to Istanbul, in search of continuity, I hope everything works out well!

"I am waiting for news about my future. Eager to play and keep dreaming big!"

Damien Plessis Arrives In Greece To Complete Panathinaikos Move

Damien Plessis has arrived in Greece to finalize his move to Panathinaikos.

The defensive midfielder was signed by Liverpool from French side Olympique Lyonnais in 2007 during Rafa Benitez’s reign.

The 22-year-old has only appeared eight times during his spell at Anfield and appears to be excluded from manager Roy Hodgson’s plans this season.

According to the News of the World, Plessis is set to complete his move to the Greek club today.

The Frenchman has not been handed a squad number this term and his previous No.28 was given to new arrival Christian Poulsen.

Barcelona Complete Javier Mascherano Signing From Liverpool On Four-Year Contract

Barcelona have confirmed on their official website that they have completed the signing of midfielder Javier Mascherano from Liverpool on a four-year deal but have not mentioned the transfer fee paid to the Premier League side.

The Argentine international successfully underwent his medical at the Camp Nou medical centre late Monday morning to seal his move from Anfield. Reports suggest that the amount paid to Liverpool is €21 million with an additional €2-3m in bonuses.

Barcelona though, has revealed that Mascherano's contract has a buy-out clause of €90 million.

Mascherano will join David Villa and Adriano as Barcelona's new signings for the 2010-11 campaign, bringing the Blaugrana's total spending in the summer transfer market to approximately €70.5 million.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Liverpool Switch Attention To £12m Spanish International Forward

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is keen on Atletico Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente and is ready to make a big money offer to bring the Spanish international to Anfield. The giant 6ft 5in striker has been a consistent attacking force for the past three La Liga seasons and is now part of Vicente Del Bosque’s all conquering World Cup winning side and could well be ready for a new challenge.

Llorente has been at the Basque club since the age of 11 and has proven a solid performer in recent seasons netting 53 times in the past three years but has seen Bilbao fail to make a move towards the European spots in the La Liga table.

Hodgson may feel that Llorente could complement Fernando Torres in a front pairing and now that the club has sold Javier Mascherano they should have funds to make an offer for the 25 year old. Having already offloaded Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera the Liverpool boss would hope to have money to further reinvest in his squad after bringing in Raul Meireles from Porto.

The fact that the Merseyside outfit has two prominent members of Spanish international side may well act as further temptation for the Pamplona born forward.

Liverpool Set Sights On £4.5m Monaco Playmaker Eidur Gudjohnsen

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has set his sights on snapping up out of favour Monaco midfielder Eidur Gudjohnsen. The Icelandic international is set to be offloaded by the Ligue 1 club who appears surplus to requirements at the Stade Louis II and the Anfield boss is looking to bring in the vastly experienced campaigner to give him added strength in depth.

Having completed a successful loan spell at White Hart Lane last term many believed the former Barcelona and Chelsea man would complete a permanent move to north London but a deal fell through leaving the 31 year old to wonder what his next move would be.

The adaptable performer, who was very successful as an out and out forward in his Stamford Bridge days, can now play across the midfield and behind the strikers in a number of positions and could be a very useful addition to Hodgson’s squad as they look for success on a number of fronts.

A move for Gudjohnsen would cost around £4.5m and the Monaco man would surely jump at the chance of a return to the English top tier where he has netted 106 goals in 349 appearances and is of course a double Premier League winner during his time at Chelsea.

Roy Hodgson Expecting To Complete Signing Of Paul Konchesky From Fulham By Tuesday

Paul Konchesky looks to be heading from Fulham to Liverpool with Reds boss Roy Hodgson confident the left-back will be arriving before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.

Asked if he expected the deal, which sees Liverpool youth player Lauri Dalla Valle go the other way, completed before Tuesday, Hodgson told reporters: "I hope so.

"One of our young players, a very talented young lad that Fulham have fancied for a long time, is going in the other direction and that's holding it up a little because he has to have a medical.

"I'm sincerely hoping it's just a technical hitch and that Paul will sign in the next couple of days."

"I didn't have a strong opinion on him [Dalla Valle] one way or another but Malcolm Elias [from Fulham's academy] did. The lad's got the quality to go into a first-team contingent."

Mario Gomez Wishes To Leave Bayern Munich For Liverpool

Germany international Mario Gomez has expressed his desire to leave Bayern Munich, if reports from Kicker are to be believed. In recent days, rumours of a potential move to Liverpool have gained momentum, reaching their apex today.

"When a club like Liverpool inquires, their interest cannot be pushed off the table," his advisor, Uli Ferber allegedly told Kicker.

Gomez is out of favour in Bavaria, and would "just like to play football again", according to Ferber. Liverpool allegedly would like to sign Gomez on a year-long loan spell, and are willing to pay the player's salary.

Gomez, 25, moved to Bavaria last summer for a record fee estimated to be between €30-35m He struggled in his first year in Munich, scoring just 10 goals in 31 appearances.

Hidgson Cool Over Lucas Exit Link

Roy Hodgson is not ruling out selling Lucas Leiva, but is not planning to let anyone leave Liverpool before Tuesday's transfer deadline.

The Reds boss has confirmed the club would entertain a significant bid for the Brazil international, whose first-team place is under threat after Raul Meireles' £11.5 million switch to Anfield over the weekend.

The rumour mill has linked Lucas with a shock move to Liverpool's Premier League rivals Stoke, who are keen to bolster their first-team squad before the transfer window closes

But Hodgson insists he is not planning to offload the 23-year-old midfielder, who struggled to get a foothold in Sunday's 1-0 victory over West Brom.

"If someone came in and offered us £20million for him and he wants to go we would consider it but it is a bit late in the day, that's for sure," said the Reds boss, who is understood to have made an enquiry for West Ham striker Carlton Cole.

Hodgson added on the club's official website: "I'm not anxious to be getting rid of any players this late in the day.

"I'm certainly not looking to move anyone out now because if they are moved out now the chances are they won't be replaced because the transfer window is nearly closed."

Agger: We Need The Competition

Daniel Agger today welcomed the imminent arrival of a new left-back - and insisted he would battle to hold onto his place in Roy Hodgson's team.

The Danish international has been operating on the left side of the Reds' defence in the early weeks of the season as the manager continues to look to strengthen that area of his squad.

With Hodgson admitting he is hopeful a deal to sign Paul Konchesky can be completed before the transfer window slams shut, Agger knows he could soon have a fight on his hands to remain in the starting eleven - especially given the excellent early season form of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel in the heart of the defence.

"I've done the job but it's not really my place in the team," said Agger. "The boss knows it and I know it. But as long as the boss wants me to play there, I will do it.

"I won't complain. I will do the job for the team. If he thinks that I am the best man for that role, I will keep doing it.

"It will be good if and when he (Konchesky) comes in. He is a specialized left-back and I'm not. It all means that it is good for the team.

"We need the competition. It has always been there and it always will be. It will be good for going forward."

The Reds got their first win of the league season on the board on Sunday thanks to Fernando Torres' volleyed Kop end winner against West Brom.

"It was important to get the win and it was a great goal from Fernando," added Agger. "He will only get better and better from now.

"It was a hard day but a good day. We knew it would be tough as West Brom are a good team; luckily we got the three points."

Roy Hodgson: I Hope Spain Rest Fernando Torres In Upcoming Euro 2012 Qualifier Against Liechtenstein

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has sent out a plea to his Spain counterpart Vicente del Bosque, asking him to rest Fernando Torres during the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifier against Liechtenstein.

Spain open their qualifying campaign against Hans-Peter Zaugg's men on Friday, and have an international friendly against Argentina next Tuesday.

The hitman has only just returned to competitive football as he continues to recover from a knee problem.

Torres had not scored for either club or country for almost 500 minutes before an excellent volley owing to an assist from Dirk Kuyt saw him open his account in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the former Inter boss believes that it would be wise to leave the 26-year-old out of the national squad for the moment, to allow him to continue training on Merseyside and regain full fitness.

"We hope Spain will not call upon his services and give him the chance to continue his pre-season because he needs training more than matches," Hodgson said, according to The Mirror.

"It would be very nice if Del Bosque would look kindly on us because there's no doubt that he would prosper from two weeks of serious training, hard training, to continue his pre-season work.

"If he's going to go away with them and play matches, that's quite a different kind of training and preparation. That's not what he requires at this moment in time and he requires a much more rigorous training program.

"We also want to keep an eye on the knee, which caused him so many problems in the build-up to the World Cup.

"We can't say he's unfit to play football because we've just seen him play 85 minutes of football [against West Bromwich Albion]."

Hodgson added: "I will speak to the manager of the Spain team, although I don't know if it will be Del Bosque himself. We can only propose this for the player that this is the best thing, but we don't have the right."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion

Liverpool will be desperate to build on Thursday's Europa League play-off triumph over Trabzonspor by recording their first win of the 2010-11 Premier League season against newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Reds fans will undoubtedly still be reeling after the club's dismal 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in their last league outing, although the 2-1 win out in Turkey, without influential twosome Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, will have helped repair the damage.

While only two games into the new domestic season, Roy Hodgson will no doubt be under pressure to deliver a victory at Anfield with the Merseyside outfit already five points off the pace and having only picked up one point against two potential rivals for a top four finish.

With Javier Mascherano on his way to Barcelona and Dirk Kuyt committing his immediate future to the club, the Reds can now begin to focus on the challenges that lie ahead this term, albeit with the signing of a left-back before the close of the current transfer window seemingly still a priority.

West Brom's start to life back in the Premier League has been something of a mixed bag, although following the 6-0 trouncing at the hands of Chelsea on the first weekend of the season, boss Roberto Di Matteo will be delighted to have recorded a 1-0 win against Sunderland last Saturday.

The Baggies will be hoping for more of the same from recent signing Peter Odemwingie following his winner against Steve Bruce's side, and after the capture of former loan star Marc-Antoine Fortune from Celtic, Di Matteo certainly has options up front.

Albion haven't recorded a victory over Liverpool since 1981 and they will be hoping their luck will change at Anfield, where they have failed to grab a win since way back in 1967. The last time the two sides met on Merseyside, Robbie Keane grabbed a brace as the Reds triumphed 3-0 in the Premier League back in 2008.



Having been kept back for the trip to Trabzon, both Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard should return to action at Anfield on Sunday.

Javier Mascherano's protracted move to Barcelona appears to be coming to a close and the Argentine will almost certainly be left out of the Reds' squad for the third consecutive game.

Joe Cole will definitely miss out as he serves the second game of his three-match suspension following his red card against Arsenal, while Daniel Agger and Milan Jovanovic could return to the side having missed out against Trabzonspor.

Possible Starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger; Kuyt, Lucas, Gerrard, Jovanovic; Torres, Ngog.

West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies made a number of changes for their League Cup victory over Leyton Orient on Tuesday and there will likely be recalls to the starting XI for the likes of Peter Odemwingie, Chris Brunt and Graham Dorrans.

New signing Marc-Antoine Fortune may have to settle for a place on the bench if his international clearance is granted in time, while Jerome Thomas (ankle), Joe Mattock (foot) and Ishmael Miller (thigh) look set to miss out.

Possible Starting XI: Carson; Jara, Olsson, Tamas, Cech; Barnes, Morrison, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Brunt; Odemwingie.

Roy Hodgson Warns Doubters Not To Write Off Liverpool

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has hit back at critics of his side following their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Monday night.

The Reds began the season with a draw at home to Arsenal but were soundly beaten at the City of Manchester Stadium, leading some commentators to dismiss their title hopes, something that bemused the former Fulham boss.

"I can't get my head around why, on the second game of the season, it should be seen as such a watershed," Hodgson told Fifa.com.

The Anfield outfit bounced back by beating Trabzonspor home and away to secure qualification to the Europa League and Hodgson praised his side for their efforts in Turkey.

He continued: “We lost a football game. But we showed great character, to keep going and keep playing the right football against Trabzonspor and I was really pleased we achieved victory against a team which are notoriously difficult to beat.

"It is always important to win games and it was good preparation for Sunday.

"It wouldn't have been nice going into the game with two defeats behind us so getting a victory was important for the psychological feeling coming up to a West Brom game."

Next up for the Merseysiders is the visit of West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League and their manager is looking forward to recalling some key players to the starting line-up.

"It will be nice to play at home again and hopefully get the players who weren't in Turkey back into the fray again and maybe a little bit rested," he added.

"That will be useful. It was a very tiring pitch in Trabzon and, had we had to fight with the same XI that we had against Manchester City against West Brom, it would be very tough for them.

"It is good to give one or two of them a rest and psychologically it will be a boost we won the game because you don't want to be going in staring at the possibilities of three bad results on the trot.

"I've spoke to the medical staff; Steven [Gerrard] is feeling better and they are optimistic he will be okay. [Milan] Jovanovic will be okay, but Maxi Rodriguez is still sick and Daniel Agger is feeling a lot better too. It is really only Maxi who is a great doubt.

"This Europa League is in some ways harder on a squad than the Champions League because you get more teams from the far eastern part of Europe. Then you are playing Sunday-Thursday-Sunday, so you need a very big squad."

Carlton Cole 'Set For Liverpool Transfer' After Reds Sign Raul Meireles

Carlton Cole is the next name on Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson's shopping list after the club clinched the signing of Raul Meireles.

Hodgson hopes to use the funds from the sale of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona to rebuild his squad and began that process by bringing in Portugal midfielder Meireles.

The Reds have paid Porto £11.5 million for the 27-year-old, who is a direct replacement for Mascherano.

Hodgson now wants to strengthen his forward options by signing a target man and, according to the News of the World, has set his sights on West Ham's Cole after learning that Tottenham's Peter Crouch is not for sale.

Cole has been the subject of interest from Stoke City and Sunderland over the summer, but Liverpool hope to win the race for his signature by offering the Hammers a cash-plus-player package.

Liverpool In Hot Pursuit Of PSV Eindhoven Striker Ola Toivonen

Liverpool are in hot pursuit of PSV Eindhoven striker Ola Toivonen.

According to the Star, Liverpool ambassador Kenny Dalglish watched the Swede play against AZ Alkmaar last weekend and urged Reds boss Roy Hodgson to sign him.

Liverpool are set to offer PSV £8m for the 24-year-old forward.

And Hodgson says boosting his fire-power is now a priority.

“If the right player comes along it would be good if we could bring in another striker," he said.

“I don’t make any apologies for saying that but I would want it to be the right man. There are a lot of players we can sign and we’re linked with a lot every day because they would like to come and play for Liverpool.

“It’s important for me that if we bring someone in that he really fits the profile which I have sketched out for this player and that he fits in with our transfer policy.

“The striker I want would also be a player who has got some of Fernando’s qualities that’s for sure."

Mascherano Rejects Criticism

Javier Mascherano has denied going on strike at Liverpool as he prepares to seal his move to Barcelona.

The Argentine international is expected to tie up his move to Barcelona on Monday after Liverpool reluctantly agreed a fee for the midfielder on Friday.

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson aimed a swipe at Mascherano following a deal being agreed with Barca questioning his professionalism after the former West Ham man reportedly refused to play in last Monday's defeat at Manchester City.

However, Mascherano has blasted Hodgson's criticism and claims he was 100 per cent professional during his time at Anfield.

"I showed at Liverpool that I am always 100 per cent professional and nobody can doubt that," Mascherano told The People.

"Against Manchester City I was not right to play. I spoke with the coach and he understood my position. It was better for the team.

"I have never had any problems with the new coach - I accepted his orders and Roy Hodgson would confirm it.

"My team-mates knew it was my decision and did not say anything about it to me."

Mascherano insists his move to Barcelona is not driven by money and he is excited about joining the Spanish champions.

"Liverpool will always be in my heart, but my time there has finished and now it is time for a new challenge," added Mascherano.

"I have not left Liverpool to join Barcelona for money, just for sporting reasons. The Barca project is very exciting. They have been interested in me in the past and this second opportunity to join them was impossible to reject.

"I will for ever be grateful to Liverpool for what they did for me, but I have done all I can for them on the pitch in return.

"The fans were always brilliant with me and now I must wait to see if they view my exit negatively. That is football."

Mascherano also revealed former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez wanted to bring him to Inter Milan, but that Lionel Messi played a big part in persuading him to move to Camp Nou.

"Inter was the first option," he added. "Rafa wanted me for his new project, but my family and the challenge Barcelona provides made me choose Spain.

"Lionel Messi was also a big influence. He spoke with Pep Guardiola and told him Barcelona needed me."

Di Matteo Has No Regrets Over Turning Down Hodgson

Roberto Di Matteo has no regrets about turning his back on the chance to play for Roy Hodgson.

The Baggies boss takes his side to Anfield for today’s game against Hodgson’s Liverpool admitting he has a lot of respect for Hodgson due to the veteran manager’s time as boss of Switzerland.

Di Matteo was born and raised in Schaffhausen, in Switzerland, but opted to play for Italy, as both his parents were Italian.

His decision to play for the Azzurri coincided with Hodgson’s spell as manager of the Swiss national side between 1992 and 1995.

But Di Matteo, while respectful of the Liverpool boss, believes he made the right choice to opt for Italy over his birth nation.

Meanwhile, across Merseyside, Spaniard Mikel Arteta has offered his services to England, assuming he is eligible.

Di Matteo believes the choice should lie with the player.

“I was given a choice but I decided to retain my Italian nationality,” said Di Matteo.

“It turned out to be a good decision but it depends how he (Arteta) feels and what he thinks of his career.

“It’s a very personal decision for someone to make.

“Look at the German or Swiss teams. The majority or, at least half of the team, are second generation of immigrations.

“I’m open-minded. We live in an era where there is a European Union.

“I feel very European because I’ve lived in Switzerland, Italy and England. The choice is there.
“I know Roy Hodgson well and it goes back a long time to when he was national coach of Switzerland.

“He is a nice man. He had two fantasic seasons with Fulham and did an amazing job.

“But if you look at what he’s done over his career he’s done a great job wherever he’s been.

“He qualified for the World Cup with Switzerland. He was revered over there – he was very successful.

“I could have played for Switzerland but I had already made my choice, which I felt was right.
“But, Roy, yes I’ve known him for years.

“I wasn’t surprosed to see him appointed at Liverpool. He was the ideal candidate for the job in my opinion.

“He came from two fantastic seasons with Fulham. He’s a balanced person, knows the Premier League, he’s experienced.

“He’s coached Inter Milan, Switzerland, some big clubs along the way and now he’s got his reward with Liverpool.

“I think he will do a good job there.

“He’s a new manager in at Liverpool and is at a restructuring phase. A new manager has his philosophies, how he wants to play. Roy will do well.”

Meanwhile, Di Matteo believes the rule about home-grown players will impact on managers at the top of the Premier League as the transfer window enters its final days.

Albion have almost concluded their deals, with maybe one more player set to arrive before Tuesday’s deadline.

And all Premier League clubs are now having to make sure their 25-man squads have eight home-grown players.

Arsene Wenger described it as an artificial supression of talent.

Di Matteo believes the new directive will test those managers who prefer to do their shopping abroad. He also feels it is a mere reaction to the nation’s progress.

“The home-grown rule is an interesting one,” added Di Matteo. “The 25-man rule isn’t too bad but what will have an impact is eight home-grown players. Clubs will have to think about how they move players around.

“We’re okay here. Young players don’t have to be named in the 25 so it’s not a massive problem in that respect.

“And poaching will always go on. But this is the first step towards bringing a limit in for foreign players without contravening any European Union rules.

“Look at Inter Milan – they won the Champions League with no Italian players.

“We’ve had this before – you could only have three foreign players at one point. We had it in Italy.

“Then they change it – it usually comes on the back of a national team not doing well in the European Championship or a World Cup.

“Spain will probably not be too concerned about this right now, for instance.”

Jamie Carragher Donating £25,000 To Everton

Jamie Carragher, a boyhood Everton fan, is donating £25,000 from his testimonial fund to the club he supported.

All the proceeds from Saturday’s Anfield friendly between his Liverpool team and an Everton Xl are going to charity, with Carragher insisting that £25,000 goes to a cause chosen by Everton.

He said: “I was an Everton fan as a kid, so it’s fantastic the two teams are coming together for my testimonial.

“Hopefully it will be a game where Reds and Blues can sit together, like I did when I went on The Kop as a young Evertonian.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hodgson Demands Improvement

Javier Mascherano's departure to Barcelona leaves Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson little time to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes and so he is looking for more improvement from within.

The Argentina captain's move to the Catalan club on a four-year contract is likely to be confirmed later on Saturday after he undergoes a medical but even with the £20million banked from the transfer Hodgson may find it difficult to bring in enough new signings before the end of deadline day.

"There is only one way to get experience, one way to learn, and that is to be thrown in at the deep end and you either survive or the experience breaks you," said the Reds boss.

Fulham left-back Paul Konchesky is likely to arrive at Anfield now the Cottagers have sealed the transfer of PSV Eindhoven's Carlos Salcido, however, that still leaves a quality back-up for striker Fernando Torres to be found in four days.

Hodgson is hopeful of being successful but knows he also has to get more out of the players he has.

He was encouraged by the second-half performance of a side shorn of the likes of Torres, Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Milan Jovanovic, Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez in the Europa League play-off second leg victory over Trabzonspor.

And with the Barclays Premier League the top priority the 62-year-old feels Europe could be the ideal place for some of the squad's fringe players to prove their worth.

He added: "Hopefully you get more than one chance but every time you step into a different situation and you step up to the plate and answer the questions you feel that much better, that much stronger and it helps you about the future.

"These games in the Europa League will be very useful for us in that respect. We have a chance to give people a regular game, which they might not get if we get a stable XI together who play most of the matches.

"I am hoping we will have a strong squad this year because we are going to need it to play the Europa League and Premier League. And there were players there who did not play against Arsenal or Manchester City who then came out and did a good job in Trabzon."

Gerrard Eyes Europa Task

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is looking forward to the challenge his side face in the Europa League following the draw for the group stage.

The Reds got through the qualifying round on Thursday following a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Turkish outfit Trabzonspor, and now face ties against Napoli, Steaua Bucharest and Utrecht.

Manager Roy Hodgson has already admitted that the Europa League is not the club's priority this season, as the former Fulham boss looks to rebuild after a disappointing campaign last time out.

But midfielder Gerrard, 30, insists Liverpool want to do well in the competition even if there may be more important things to consider.

"It's a strong group and I'm certainly looking forward to the games," he said.

"The media will make us early favourites I'm sure, because of our experience in the Champions League and last year in the Europa League.

"I'm confident we can get out of the group but it will be tough. The draw has given us some difficult challenges.

"I don't think the Europa League is the priority. Everybody knows that our league position, where we finish at the end of this year, is the priority.

"But it's another trophy, it's a big cup.

"We haven't won a trophy for four years now so it's important we put a good show on in all the cup competitions and try to reward the fans with a final."

Liverpool's first group stage game is at Anfield against Romanian side Bucharest on Thursday 16th September.

Liverpool Complete £10.7m Deal For Porto's Raul Meireles

Liverpool sign Porto midfielder Raul Meireles in a £10.7 million deal to replace Javier Mascherano.

According to the guardian, the deal should be finalised over the weekend subject to a medical which would bring the 27-year-old to Anfield.

The Portuguese international, who impressed during the 2010 World Cup, is said to have agreed personal teams with Liverpool and is set to take over Mascherano's position after the Argentine completed a reported £20 million move to Barcelona.

Meireles has been heavily linked with a possible move to Anfield rivals Manchester United, however the Old Trafford owners have a policy stating a player aged 26 or over should not be bought if they have a substantial price tag.

Porto have been looking to sell Meireles as the midfielder has one year left on his contract and the Portuguese side would rather him not become a free agent.

Hodgson To Splash Mascherano Cash On New Trio

Roy Hodgson last night took a bitter parting swipe at Javier Mascherano, branding him “selfish” for going on strike.

The summer-long saga over Mascherano’s future is finally over after Liverpool agreed a £20million deal with Barcelona yesterday.

But Hodgson is still seething over the midfielder’s refusal to play at Manchester City as he forced through his move from Anfield.

The Reds boss was disappointed by the Argentina skipper’s petulant behaviour and claims players should respect their contracts.

“There are a lot of factors I don’t want to be drawn on too much, but it’s not easy to defend his actions because professionals are paid to play and when called upon to do so, they should,” he said.

“It’s a selfish situation where they want to do something and then expect the club and me, in my position as one of the leaders of the club, to bow down and accept they’re going to get their way. Unfortunately then there will be periods of time when there is a bit of unpleasantness.

“Players must understand when you sign contracts, you do so to play. If the club decides it’s going to accept an offer for you and let you go then that’s one thing. If the club say ‘you have a contract, we’re not selling,’ then they are staying.

“It doesn’t bother me as a challenge to my authority, it’s just a fact of life and one that gets exacerbated for a month in January and two or three in the summer.”

Mascherano, 26, has flown to Barcelona for his medical and will sign a four-year deal worth £85,000-a-week with the Catalans.

Hodgson will waste no time in spending his £20m transfer fee and has identified Udinese’s Swiss international Gokhan Inler as his replacement.

Hodgson will also push through Paul Konchesky’s £3m arrival from his old club Fulham and move for PSV Eindhoven striker Ola Toivonen.

Agent Reveals Liverpool Interest In Gary Medel

Boca Juniors star Gary Medel could be on the way to Liverpool to fill the gap left by Barcelona-bound Javier Mascherano, according to the Chilean international's agent.

Medel, nicknamed 'Pitbull' for his tough tackling and uncompromising style of play, can feature in midfield or defence, and Fernando Felicevich asserted today that the player is being watched by Liverpool closely as they line up a replacement for Mascherano before the end of the summer transfer window.

"We are waiting to hear something back from Gary, since he is one of the options that the coach [Roy Hodgson] is considering after Mascherano's departure," Felicevich told Radio Cooperativa in this morning's interview.

Medel is officially still part of Chilean club Universidad Catolica, but has been on loan in Argentina since June 2009.

"The subject could now be reopened, but there is still time."

As of yet there has been no official approach or comment from Liverpool regarding Medel.

Liverpool Agree £4m Deal With Fulham For Paul Konchesky

Liverpool have agreed a fee of £4 million with Fulham to sign left back Paul Konchesky with the possibility of youngsters Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic heading to Craven Cottage.

According to the Daily Mail, 19-year-old Valle and Swede Kacaniklic have been requested by Fulham who may leave Anfield on a loan deal.

While Konchesky looks to be added to the Liverpool squad, Lucas Leiva sets to make his way out of Anfield after reports suggest his family hasn’t settled on Merseyside.

Fulham Line Up Reds Pair

Skysports.com understands Fulham are in talks to sign Liverpool youngsters Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic.

The Reds duo is currently in London to have talks with the Cottagers over possible moves, where they will have medicals if personal terms can be agreed.

Striker Dalla Valle, 18, has been on the books at Anfield since January 2008 but the Finland Under-19 international has failed to break into the first-team squad.

Swedish left winger Alex Kacaniklic, meanwhile, arrived at Liverpool from Helsingborg in the summer of 2007 and has been fighting it out in the reserves.

Fulham were thought to be interested in Dalla Valle back in January, but a deal for the forward never materialised.

Cottagers boss Mark Hughes has targeted the youngsters as possible stars for the future, and former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has allowed them to leave Anfield.

Ayala Heading For Hull

Liverpool centre back Daniel Ayala will head to Championship side Hull City on loan for the season.

The 19 year old Spaniard has made a handful of appearances for the Reds and has looked comfortable when called upon but will now gain regular first team experience with Nigel Pearson’s men.

Liverpool and Pearson appear to have a good relationship, he took Jack Hobbs initially on loan as boss at Leicester before making his move permanent, and late last season gave Jay Spearing a chance as they pushed for promotion.

Pearson took over at The Tigers this summer and is looking to give the Yorkshire side an instant return to the top flight.

Ayala made his debut for Liverpool on the opening day of last season when he replaced Martin Skrtel against Spurs. He then impressed against Stoke and has made 3 appearances since. He signed a new contract at the end of last year which runs to 2012. He impressed against Burnley at the end of last season.

Liverpool has a host of centre backs with Jamie Carragher, Daniel Ayala, Martin Skrtel, Sotirios Kygriakos and new signing Danny Wilson all ahead of Ayala.