Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Signing Milan Jovanovic To Wear Liverpool's Iconic Number 10 Shirt

Liverpool have handed new signing Milan Jovanovic the iconic number 10 shirt for his first season at Anfield.

The 29-year-old, who joined the Reds from Standard Liege this summer on a free transfer, will wear the same number as Anfield legends such as John Barnes, Terry McDermott and John Toshack.

The last man to wear the number at Anfield was Andriy Voronin, and Jovanovic, who scored Serbia's winner in their 1-0 win over Germany at the World Cup this summer, will be hoping that his spell on Merseyside works out better than that endured by the Ukrainian.

Steven Defour: Roy’s Liverpool Reign Begins With £8.5M Belgian Playmaker

Reports in the Belgium press suggest Standard Liege will be selling two of their prized assets this summer after a highly disappointing season. Midfield pair Axel Witsel and Steven Defour has been the driving force behind the club in the last few seasons as Standard won back to back league titles. However, with the club finishing in the Belgian top division and a staggering 46 points behind leaders Anderlecht, both players are looking to leave with a host of Premier League clubs including Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and Aston Villa all showing an interest. Standard’s captain Defour is reportedly in negotiations with Roy Hodgson over a move with the new Reds manager eager to seal the Belgium as his first signing at Anfield.

Standard’s captain Steven Defour has had no shortage of admirers in the last few seasons with Rafa Benitez, David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson all reported to have tracked his progress. In fact, Sir Alex sent the talented midfield playmaker a letter after Defour picked up a serious injury that kept him from playing from September until January. In the letter the Manchester United manager wrote, “You must be feeling quite down and are no doubt asking yourself all sorts of questions. But don’t worry: everything will work out. You will have to work hard to come back and I am going to follow your performances. I will remain in contact with Standard. I am writing this letter because one of your fans drew my attention to your injury.”

Defour was quick to play down speculation that this letter meant he would definitely join the Red Devils but it does show United’s interest is real. The player said told Het Laatste Nieuws ,”I don’t want to talk about it too much.”

“I would like to make it clear that he [Ferguson] followed the official procedure, i.e he went through Standard. It’s a really nice gesture but I wouldn’t want people to get the idea that I think I’m already a Manchester United player. Far from it.”

In fact, rather than join United, it would seem Defour is more likely to join their main rivals Liverpool as Roy Hodgson looks to make his mark at Anfield with the talented playmaker seen as the ideal signing.

Due to injuries, Defour only played 13 league games last season (12 starts) and his absence played a big part in the failure of Standard’s campaign. The 22-year-old star certainly put himself in the shop window with his European displays against both Merseyside giants Liverpool and Everton in Europe in the last few seasons. The player obviously impressed both clubs and David Moyes has made at least two official moves in the past to sign the young starlet. Defour has spoken about the rejected bid, he told HLN at the time, “How high was the bid? I do not know, you would need to ask Luciano D’Onofrio [Standard vice-president] that question.”

“For now I wait quietly, I feel good at Standard, especially now we are in the Champions League,” he said.

“But I would be ready to move abroad, but the transfer will come when all parties are happy.”

Defour will be more than aware that Standard are not even in Europe this coming season and is actively seeking a move. Liverpool have also been tracking the talented playmaker for some time with Rafa Benitez a firm admirer in his talents. The Belgian was strongly linked with a move to Anfield when Xabi Alonso was consistently being chased by Real Madrid but instead he moved for Alberto Aquilani. That interest has been stepped up by Roy Hodgson who knows that a cheap deal could be pushed through after the player’s injury-hit season.

Defour is fiercely ambitious and declared in January 2009 he was ready to leave Standard. The Belgian international admitted, “I have achieved what I wanted to achieve with Standard.”

Before adding, “Maybe it is best for my career to make an upward step. I feel the time is right for me to move on.”

It’s of little surprise as the 5 ft 8 playmaker’s career has gone from strength to strength. Defour is now a permanent member of the Belgian national side with 24 caps and 1 goal to his name despite his tender years. He also captained the Belgian champions Standard (two successive titles) as well as won the 2007 Golden Shoe Award as most outstanding player in the Jupiler League. These achievements perfectly illustrate why Liverpool view him as the ideal signing to complement Steven Gerrard in the Reds midfield.

Defour began his career at Racing Genk where he made 30 League appearances (25 starts) and scored once. Despite breaking into the side at just 16-years-old the playmaker was soon one of the integral members of the side and his ambition led to a move to Standard. His departure caused such a commotion at Genk that the Chairman at the time Jos Vaessen stood down from his post.

He led Standard to the Belgian championship for the first time in 25 years in the 2007/08 season and has now made 97 League appearances for the club (91 starts) and scored 10 goals.

Defour is of a similar mould to Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes which explains Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest while Liverpool struggled to replace midfield schemer Xabi Alonso last season. Defour is very good at dictating the tempo of his team’s play which would be of great benefit to Roy Hodgson as Liverpool missed having someone to link midfield to attack and to release both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres last season. It would seem an £8.5m deal is on the cards with Defour set to be the first signing of Roy Hodgson’s reign at Anfield.

David Ngog Wants To Stay At Liverpool Despite Interest From Elsewhere

Liverpool striker David Ngog will not be leaving Anfield this summer, according to his agent Bruno Satin.

The Frenchman had been linked with a loan move away from the Reds, with reports today suggesting that the Merseysiders had rejected a loan offer from West Bromwich Albion because they are short of cover at centre-forward.

The Reds apparently want to bring in two new strikers before the season begins, and Ngog is needed in case that plan does not come to fruition.

And Satin maintains that Ngog is happy to stay at Anfield and fight for his place.

"There has been interest in David, but he will not be leaving on loan," Satin told

"He is only 20 years old and he played in 37 matches for Liverpool last season, so why would they let him go?

"I know Roy Hodgson likes him as a player as he mentioned him before at Fulham. David wants to stay at Liverpool and fight for his place this season."

Rafael Benitez Cools Talk Of Move For Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano

Inter coach Rafael Benitez has cooled talk of a move for Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano.

The Argentina skipper has been linked with a reunion with his former boss and had looked likely to complete a move to Italy in the near future.

However, Benitez insisted his influence of the transfer market will not outweigh that of Massimo Moratti and Marco Branca, before offering his view on the future of Manchester United and Manchester City target Mario Balotelli.

"Mascherano to Inter? All top level players are those that Inter have had their eyes on for some time. We know Mascherano well, but that responsibility is down to the president and Branca. I want to work with players we have here already, like Balotelli, who is important," he told the press.

"I want to get to know Balotelli and evaluate him, just like all the players.

"The team has people who have responsibilities. My job is to know players, then we will see what happens.

"Balotelli is a top level player who wants to play and win. This is important. The situation has not changed.

Panathinaikos Striker Djibril Cisse Wants To Return To Liverpool

Panathinaikos striker Djibril Cisse is hoping that he can make a return to the Premier League and rejoin his former club Liverpool.

The 28-year-old previously spent two seasons with the Reds before making a move to Olympique de Marseille in 2006. A spell out on loan at Sunderland followed, before the Frenchman joined the Greek heavyweights on a permanent transfer in 2009.

He has since rediscovered his form, scoring 23 goals for the Athens-based club last season.

Now, however, Cisse insists that he is ready to make a return to the big time, and hopes to be the answer to questions concerning the depth of the Merseyside club's strike force.

"At Liverpool I didn't have my chance, at Sunderland I had a good time but I fancy coming back to Liverpool - that would be nice," he told Sky Sports News.

"I like Arsenal, because my friends are there, Manchester is nice, but my club is Liverpool - from my club point of view, England is one of the best if not the best."

Concerning his hiatus from English football, Cisse added: "I was missing enjoying football, and a lot of things - I needed to go away for a bit."

Chelsea Still Looking To Make A Move For Injured Liverpool Star Fernando Torres

Chelsea are still interested in a move for Liverpool and Spain striker Fernando Torres despite the fact that a groin tear suffered in the World Cup final could keep him out for the start of the Premier League season.

Torres will be checked out by Spain’s medical team in Madrid on Tuesday, but it is expected that he will miss the beginning of the season after suffering his third major injury in less than a year.

Despite the injury problems Chelsea is still looking to bid for the 26-year-old and hope to take advantage of the doubts about his future at Liverpool to complete a deal for the Spaniard, according to The Mirror.

The World Cup winner’s knee operations in January and April cost him a huge chunk of time this season, which led to a disappointing tournament in South Africa in which Torres did not score a goal.

Barcelona are also interested in Torres, but Manchester City have given up their pursuit of the Reds star as Chelsea and the Catalan giants can offer Champions League football next season, something that the Eastlands club and Liverpool cannot.

Liverpool Medical Team To Assess Fernando Torres In Next 48 Hours In Spain

Following his injury in the final minutes of Sunday’s World Cup final, a Liverpool medical team will jet out to Spain in the next 48 hours to assess Fernando Torres.

Liverpool’s star striker pulled up towards the end of Spain’s historic victory with what looked to be a hamstring problem. However, it has since emerged that the injury is an adductor problem which will be assessed during a scan today.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the club’s new Head of Sports Science Peter Brukner has held discussions with Spain’s medical team and a delegation from Anfield will fly out to see Torres at some point in the next 48 hours to assess his fitness.

New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson will hope that Torres will be sidelined for weeks rather than months, presuming that the Spaniard remains at the club following rumours that he could be sold.

Torres scored a remarkable twenty goals in 32 games during an injury-plagued season at Liverpool last term.

Alberto Aquilani Finally Fit Ahead Of New Premier League Season

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani has completely recovered from the ankle problem which hampered his first season at Anfield, according to the club's new medical chief.

The Italian had to wait more than two months for his Liverpool debut following his £20million move from Roma last year and then endured an indifferent campaign.

The 25-year-old is now back, with the club for pre-season training and has already made a positive impression on newly-appointed head of sports medicine and sports science Peter Brukner.

Brukner told LFC Weekly magazine: "Alberto's ankle, which was a problem last year, is now 100 per cent healed.

"He has been training and has looked very sharp. He'll have to keep working on his injury prevention program and if he does, I'm sure the supporters will see the best of him because last season was very frustrating for him injury-wise."

Brukner's next task is to assess the fitness of star striker Fernando Torres, who pulled up with an adductor injury in Sunday's World Cup final in South Africa.

Torres has now returned to Madrid with the rest of the victorious Spain squad and Liverpool staff are to fly out to meet him this week.

The 26-year-old is due to have a scan today before beginning his summer break.

Torres has been plagued by injury in recent months. He struggled with a groin problem before Christmas and his domestic season ended prematurely after two knee operations in the space of four months.

He returned to action at the World Cup but looked well short of match sharpness throughout the whole tournament and failed to score.

Torres has been linked with big-money moves away from Anfield this summer but his latest injury may go some way to quelling speculation about his future.

Brukner is generally pleased with the health of the squad but the group is only coming back together slowly because of varying lengths of involvement at the World Cup.

"Staggering pre-season presents a challenge," he said. "I'm guessing that the World Cup guys will be pretty fit anyway.

"You don't lose a lot in three weeks and they've all been in contact with us to speak about their program over that period."

Liverpool Boost Medical Department With Five New Arrivals

Liverpool's injured stars will receive additional expert treatment next season after five new arrivals were welcomed at its Sports Science and Sports Medicine department.
The club's website has announced that two physiotherapists from the Australian 'Socceroo' national team, Darren Burgess and Phil Coles, have joined newly appointed Head of Sports Medicine and Science Dr. Peter Brukner at the Melwood training complex.

Dr. Zaf Iqubal has also been poached from Tottenham Hotspur, while Jordan Milsom has joined the backroom team as sports scientist. The club will also be working with John Moores University through sports science consultant Barry Drust.

The new recruits have been welcomed to the club by manager Roy Hodgson and will be faced with the immediate task of getting injured superstar striker Fernando Torres back into shape after his abductor injury that was picked up in the final seconds of the World Cup 2010 final.