Friday, July 16, 2010

Liverpool Striker Fernando Torres In Line To Start Premier League Season

Liverpool have received welcoming news ahead of the upcoming 2010-11 campaign as it's been confirmed that Fernando Torres will be able to play after three to four weeks.

The Spain international suffered a groin injury during his side's World Cup win against the Netherlands in the final on Sunday night. Initial reports suggested that the 26-year-old could be in for a lengthy lay-off, but it's now been confirmed by the Premier League side that the former Atletico Madrid forward will be back in action sooner than expected.

Speaking to on board Liverpool's flight to their training camp in Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon, the Reds' new Head of Sports Science and Medicine Peter Brukner said, "The initial assessment was he had a mild adductor tear and the Spanish medial staff didn't consider it to be too serious at the time.

"He had an MRI scan yesterday which confirmed a small tear. He should be able to resume training within two to three weeks and be able to play again within three to four weeks."

This means that Torres will definitely miss the two legs of their Europa League qualifiers but should be back for Liverpool's opening game against Arsenal in the Premier League on 15 August.

Hodgson Working Hard Over Stars

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has confessed that the club are battling to ensure that their disappointed star players do not leave Anfield this summer.

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have both been linked with moves away from Merseyside in the wake of last season's failed campaign for the Reds.

Javier Mascherano is another who appears unsettled and it seems probable that the Argentina captain will follow former boss Rafa Benitez in switching to Inter Milan.

Hodgson said when he was unveiled as Liverpool's new manager that he wanted to keep his key, inherited assets, and he maintains that stance.

But the ex-Fulham chief admits that the Reds are having to worry, saying: "We are working very hard on making certain the players we have at the club who you would call the 'good players' are going to be with us for next season.

"The board are working very hard in that area. Some players are a bit disappointed after what happened last season and we want to make sure we get that enchantment back."

As well as the reported exodus from Anfield, a host of names have been linked with moves to Merseyside as Hodgson looks to make changes to his squad.

"We are looking to add to and improve the squad, but I prefer not to talk or say what we are doing until we have something concrete to announce," he added.

"We are being linked with players left, right and centre and it amuses me that we are sometimes linked with players we haven't even heard of.

"I have great faith in the Liverpool public that they will see through the snippets of information they may read, take it with a pinch of salt and wait for an official announcement."

Arda Turan: Liverpool Re-enter Chase With Spurs For Dazzling £10M Turk

According to reports in the Turkish press and quotes from the player’s agent, Tottenham have opened talks to sign Galatasaray’s star man Arda Turan. The talented winger has been a long-term target for both Arsenal and Spurs in recent seasons but with Arsene Wenger’s interest waning, it would seem Harry Redknapp is at the head of the queue.

However, Spurs are not the only top Premier League club thought to be tracking the star as Roy Hodgson has identified the Flying winger as a priority signing for Liverpool and the player himself has often spoke of his desire to move to Anfield.

Turan’s agent Ahmet Bulut declared, “At the moment I have had no contact, unofficial or official from Arsenal or Arsene Wenger. Regarding Tottenham Hotspur there was a small enquiry regarding the player, but I have had no official contact or an official bid for the player.

“So, at the moment Arda (Turan) has two years left on his contract at Gala. And, we are waiting for an official bid for Arda from Tottenham. We will see.”

The player himself has often spoken of his dream of joining Liverpool. Turan issued a come and get me plea to the Reds last season when he said, “Of course I want to play abroad but it is our board’s decision. As I always mention, Liverpool attracts me because of their tradition. In Europe, I am a Liverpool supporter, so if I go to play in Europe, I would like to play for them.

“My dream has always been to play for one of the top European clubs, but you shouldn’t make concrete plans in your life because sometimes these plans cannot be achieved. This is my dream, but for now I’m just working on my football.”

Despite his interest in moving to Anfield, White Hart Lane may be a more likely move this summer with Spurs ready to spend. However, Hodgson is a keen admirer and knows Liverpool need more flair on the flanks and may invest in the flying Turk once Javier Mascherano is sold to either Inter Milan or Barcelona.

Harry Redknapp is looking to strengthen his squad with some top quality new arrivals as the club takes part in the Champions League for the first time. Spurs have plenty of quality on the flanks but with David Bentley likely to be sold when he returns to fitness, Arda could provide real competition for Aaron Lennon on the right as well as Gareth Bale and Luka Modric on the left.

He is a very different type of player to those current Tottenham stars in so much that he is an out and out dribbler with the ability to beat full-backs at will. Liverpool also need someone with the ability to beat defenders as the likes of Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez are not that type of player. Hodgson is eyeing the Turk to provide the inspiration that Damien Duff provided in a similar manner for his Fulham team last season.

The player was widely expected to leave Galatasaray last summer with the club finishing a highly disappointing 5th in the Turkish league, 10 points behind champions Besiktas in 2008/09. However, a move didn’t materialise. A deal is likely to be done this summer after Galatasaray once again failed to win the Turkish title finishing 3rd, eleven points behind surprise winners Bursaspor. This disappointment has resulted in Arda Turan searching for a move to the Premier League with Tottenham and now Liverpool ready to make their move.

An added bonus for Spurs and Liverpool would be the player’s versatility as he can play on either flank or even in a more central role. It’s no surprise that Tottenham are so interested with the golden boy of Turkish football as Harry Redknapp looks to add some more penetration and flair to his already strong outfit. A lot may depend on Joe Cole who is likely to join either Tottenham or Arsenal. If he joins Redknapp then the North Londoners are likely to drop their interest leaving Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson with a clear run at him.

Last season, Spurs dropped points at home as a result of away teams sitting deep and restricting the space for the likes of Lennon to exploit. However, Arda like Joe Cole is a player that thrives on beating players even with little space so could be a key component in breaking teams down at White Hart Lane. The Reds also struggled to break teams down away from home and Hodgson sees Arda as the man to provide Liverpool with a real cutting edge which would allow the likes of Steven Gerrard far more space to exploit.

The 23-year-old Galatasaray midfielder enjoyed an excellent campaign individually last season even though the team ultimately struggled after scoring 7 goals in 29 league appearances (27 starts). He has scored 7 league goals in each of the last three seasons. The player would have liked to have left the club on a high but league failure last season means the captain won’t be doing so.

Since breaking into the first team he has scored an impressive 26 goals from 115 (107 starts) league appearances and has become a mainstay of the team that won the 2007/08 Turkish title. His match-winning performances in Turkey’s superb Euro 2008 displays also intensified the growing interest in the exciting winger as well as increased his price tag. The player is expected to cost around £10m which may not be too much of a gamble for Tottenham or Liverpool if he can realise his amazing potential in England.

Arda has won 39 caps for his country (6 goals) despite his tender age after progressing from the U19 and U21 sides. The winger is both quick and two footed and has been likened to former Galatasaray legend Gheorghe Hagi in his home country, so should give you an idea of how highly he is rated. He has scored in two of his last three internationals against the Czech Republic and the USA.

If Arda does join Harry Redknapp’s team this summer then the amount of creative attacking talent at the Spurs disposal would be hugely. Arda fits the Tottenham bill in terms of creativity and technical ability. Likewise Liverpool would finally have a player in their ranks who can beat defenders with trickery rather than pure pace and power and would more than make up for the departure of Yossi Benayoun. We will have to wait and see if either of these two English giants can indeed secure the golden boy of Turkish football.

Benfica Want Liverpool Midfielder Damien Plessis

According to a report in French magazine L'Equipe, Liga Sagres champions Benfica are considering making a move for young midfielder Damien Plessis, currently under contract with Premier League outfit Liverpool.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is eager to add some more depth to his squad in order to make sure that the Aguias are ready to fight in four different competitions next season and he supposedly sees Plessis as a useful addition to his roster.

The 22-year-old midfielder has failed to secure regular first team action at Liverpool since joining the Reds from Olympique Lyonnais in the summer of 2007. Therefore, Plessis could be on his way out of the Premier League side this summer.

Plessis' current contract with Liverpool is due to expire in the summer of 2012, but the English side are believed to be ready to cash in on the former France under-21 starlet if a good offer comes in.

Roberto Di Matteo Admits He Wants David Ngog At West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion manager Roberto Di Matteo has confirmed that Liverpool striker David Ngog is a player he'd like to bring to The Hawthorns.

Albion, promoted back to the Premier League at the end of last season, would like to take the player on a season-long loan and have already reportedly had one offer for the young Frenchman turned down.

The Reds are understood to be reluctant to allow Ngog to leave before their striking options for next season are confirmed.

There are still question-marks over the future of Fernando Torres, and it has been reported that the Reds are keen to bring in two more strikers before the season starts.

Ngog scored eight goals in 37 games last season for Liverpool and Di Matteo is not giving up his pursuit yet.

"Yes, he is a player we are interested in," the Baggies manager told his club's official website.

"But most clubs wait until the end of July and the beginning of August before deciding on which players they might loan out."

Man City Told Liverpool To Forget About Signing Micah Richards

City boss Roberto Mancini is not prepared to sell the former England defender, 22, despite him not always being a first choice.

With Germany's World Cup star Jerome Boateng joining from Hamburg for £10.5million, there is even more competition for places at Eastlands.

But a club source insisted: "Micah is a key part of Roberto's plans and is part of the future at City. He will be going nowhere."

Richards' club-mate Joleon Lescott reckons the pain of failure will fire City to glory this time.

Mancini has splashed more than £60m this summer as he looks to challenge for the title and secure a Champions League spot.

Spain's World Cup-winning midfielder David Silva was completing his medical last night before sealing his £24m move from Valencia.

More star names are expected before the big kick-off on August 14.

Lescott, 27, said: "We don't need to make any major changes.

"The experience of missing out on fourth spot last season means we'll try that bit harder.

"Any team can look back and wonder if they had only done this or that.

"It's hard when you drop points to Hull and Burnley at home.

"We beat Chelsea twice to prove we can do it. A lot of our players have come from clubs where they have won things."

Lescott missed half of the season with injuries that also destroyed his World Cup hopes.

He added: "Being injured was difficult but I wasn't overly happy with my performances so I will be looking to find more consistency."

Liverpool FC Boss Roy Hodgson Calls For Transfer Patience

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has urged the club's supporters to be patient as he steps up his summer player hunt.

The Reds boss has yet to make any forays into the transfer market despite the Anfield side being continually linked with a host of names.

Only Milan Jovanovic has sealed a move to Merseyside since the end of the season, though the deal to bring the Standard Liege striker was already in place before Hodgson took over from Rafa Benitez.

Hodgson has hailed the arrival of the Serbian international striker, who scored against Germany in the World Cup, and hopes Jovanovic's signing will be the first of many.

Reds fans have been asked to trust that the manager will do his utmost in keeping the best of the current crop whilst adding quality from outside.

"We are working very hard on making certain the players we have at the club who you would call the 'good players' are going to be with us for next season," said Hodgson.

"The board are working very hard in that area. Some players are a bit disenchanted after what happened last season and we want to make sure we get that enchantment back.

"We are looking to add to and improve the squad, but I prefer not to talk or say what we are doing until we have something concrete to announce.

"We are being linked with players left, right and centre and it amuses me that we are sometimes linked with players we haven't even heard of.

"I have great faith in the Liverpool public that they will see through the snippets of information they may read in the newspapers, take it with a pinch of salt and wait for an official announcement.

"I'm very pleased we have got Milan," said Hodgson of the 29-year-old who us unlikely to feature against Al-Hilal on Saturday.

"He looks a very keen and enthusiastic player and it's good to have players who are desperate to play for the club.

"I was not responsible for signing him but I was pleased to hear the club had taken the initiative to get a player like him. I've seen him a lot during my time at Fulham and we were watching him.

"He's a natural wide player who can play through the middle. He's more of an attacking winger than a wide midfielder and he's a goalscorer. He scores goals for club and country and I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of him.

"He scored in the World Cup, he's done well with Standard Liege at Champions League level, so he's no stranger to the big games.

"He only joined us last night, so I don't think we'll use him at the weekend. He looks fit, but at this stage I think I'd prefer to use the players we have been working with all through pre-season."

Jova: Deal Never In Doubt

Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic today insisted the departure of Rafael Benitez never made him doubt his decision to sign for Liverpool.

It was the former Reds boss who secured Jovanovic's signing on a free transfer from Standard Liege during the summer, but even when Benitez left Anfield Jovanovic knew exactly where he wanted his footballing future to lie.

"I chose to sign for Liverpool Football Club, and that is it. It's very simple," he told in an exclusive interview in Switzerland earlier today.

"Liverpool was always my biggest wish and to be here is a great day in my career and in my life. I knew they were following my games for Standard Liege and also the Serbian national side and when they first made contact with me I was very happy. Liverpool was my only choice and I'm pleased the negotiations were successful. Now I want to do as well as I can for the club over the next three years.

"When you speak about Liverpool you are speaking about one of the biggest clubs in the world - maybe for me, the biggest. You are talking about an historical club which has won the Champions League five times."

Having arrived at the Reds' training resort of Bad Ragaz in Switzerland last night, Jovanovic met his new manager - and new teammates - for the first time this morning.

He joined in a full training session, although spent the early part of it working through an individual fitness program with one of the club's medical staff.

Despite now returning to training after the World Cup with Serbia - during which he netted a famous winner against Germany - he won't be considered for his first-team debut when the Reds take on Al-Hilal at the weekend.

But the 29-year old admits he has already cast his mind forward to the start of the new league season - and the chance to make his debut at Anfield alongside the array of talented players at the club.

"I can't wait to play at Anfield and hear 'You'll Never Walk Alone' - the best song in the world," he said.

"I also can't wait to play with players like Torres, Gerrard, Kuyt, Mascherano and Reina - some of the best players in the world.

"It's hard for me to tell the fans what I can bring to the team, I'd prefer to leave that talking to someone else. But I know I need to be good on the pitch and show my quality when I get the chance.

"Mr. Hodgson welcomed me to the club this morning and I'm looking forward to working with him, with all the players and hopefully being successful together and winning trophies."

And how does he feel about being allocated the famous number 10 shirt at Anfield?

"Toshack, Barnes...I know the players who have worn the shirt," he replied. "But the number isn't special. It's what I do on the pitch that matters."

Krisztian Nemeth Keen To Forge Premier League Career At Liverpool

Liverpool striker Krisztian Nemeth is apparently keen to stay on at Anfield and establish himself in the first team, according to the player's agent Tibor Pataky.

The 21-year-old has already reportedly been the subject of a £2 million offer from Italian oufit Lecce, but Pataky maintains that his client wants to succeed on Merseyside, although a short-term loan deal could be an option.

"Krisztian has a very clear opinion; he wants to stay as a Liverpool player, and his wish is to be successful as a Liverpool player, if Liverpool will give him a chance to fight," Pataky told The Liverpool Echo.

"For now he is back at [Liverpool's training ground] Melwood, he is working hard and looking forward. If he feels he will get a chance to make the jump into the first team, he will do everything he can to do so. But if not, then he is happy to go for maybe half a season to another club on loan."

Nemeth spent some of last season on loan in Greece at AEK Athens, netting three goals in 17 games.

The Greek club is believed to be interested in perhaps having the player back, whilst several Serie A clubs apart from Lecce are also rumoured to be keeping tabs on the striker.

Pataky maintains that the ultimate decision rests with Liverpool, though.

“There have been no discussions with Roy Hodgson yet, but we know a lot about the philosophy of the manager from (Fulham's Hungarian player) Zoltan Gera,” he said.

“But we must stress, first it is for Liverpool FC to decide on Krisztian's future.

“He has complete faith in the club. If they want him to return to AEK, then we will think about it. If they want him to go to one of the Italian clubs who are showing an interest, then we will think about it.

“He trusts himself of course, but he is also realistic. If Liverpool says he can fight for a first team place, then he will do so. If not, he will respect their decisions."

Nemeth is also apparently keen to continue his development at international level, with the qualifiers for Euro 2012 on the horizon.

"Of course the Hungarian national team is very important to him," Pataky insisted.

"He will now fight for a place in the squad for the Euro 2012 qualification matches."

LFC's Great New Health Initiative

Liverpool FC has teamed up with partners, Mersey Care NHS Trust, Liverpool City Council and Age Concern to launch a brand new health initiative for over 55s - Half Time Score (2).

As part of Imagine Your Goals, this two-year program funded by the Barclays Premier League and Sport Relief which aims to improve social inclusion and wellbeing for people across the UK with mental heath problems, as well as tackling discrimination and stigma.

LFC's Action for Health program will present a series of six weekly programs for the over 55s builds upon the current success of the Barclays Premier League Extra Time program which LFC calls Half Time Score (2).

This new version is also a physical activity and healthy lifestyle project, but additionally it caters for those with depression, social isolation, or other mental health issues.

Each participant receives a health check and a chance to create a health plan with LFC's own health trainer. It is hoped that individuals can go on to build their confidence and make use of the Lifestyle Centres and other activities provided by the city council.

This initiative is part of the Premier League's Imagine Your Goals program with funding from Sport Relief and campaign management from Time to Change.

LFC work with Mersey Care NHS Trust and Liverpool City Council as match funders and Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton as delivery partners.

The programme is being rolled out nationally this month to 16 Barclays Premier League Club Community schemes in collaboration with Time to Change, and evaluated by the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

Participants will have health checks and assistance from LFC's health trainer to become physically active and join in with others in the Lifestyle Centres throughout the city.

Andrea Titterington, LFC's Regeneration Director, said: "All of our award-winning Action for Health programs seek to engage people in their local centres to find out about their health and ways it can be improved - through activities, a healthy lifestyle, and contact with appropriate NHS support.

"Half Time Score (2) will help to overcome social isolation and increase confidence."