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.

Juventus To Ask Liverpool For Daniel Agger As Part Of Christian Poulsen Deal

Juventus want Liverpool's Daniel Agger as part of a player and cash deal that could see Christian Poulsen join the Reds.

Goal.com revealed on Friday how Reds boss Roy Hodgson is keen to move for the midfielder as a replacement for Javier Mascherano, who has been linked with Inter.

And with the unpredicatble transfer market continuing its domino effect, Tuttosport claims Juventus will send Poulsen to Anfield, but only if Liverpool agree to sending Agger the other way.

On Friday the Bianconeri drew a line under the need to strengthen their defence, and Agger fits the bill.

However, the transfer would favour Liverpool as Juventus would have to offer Poulsen plus around €5 million to land the Danish stopper.

The alternative remains Nicolas Burdisso, but Roma are haggling with Inter for the Argentinian who spent last term on loan with Claudio Ranieri's side.

Aly Cissokho has also got the beacon flashing in Turin, but Lyon are likely to demand a high transfer fee after paying €15m for him last year.

Real Madrid Star Confirms: "I Will Soon Be Joining Liverpool"

Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe has reportedly told the Daily Star that he will shortly be joining Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool.

The former Holland Under-21 international has endured an underwhelming spell at the Bernabeu since moving there from Feyenoord in 2007, and according to the Daily Star, he has confirmed that he is all set to join Liverpool in the next few days via his personal Facebook page.

Drenthe was once considered one of the finest young prospects on the continent, but since his move to La Liga, the youngster has found himself increasingly marginalized amongst Madrid’s glut of world class stars and it appears Jose Mourinho has deemed the wing-back surplus to requirements.

The Daily Star quote the Dutchman, saying: “I will soon be joining Liverpool”

“I hope I will have a good season.”

New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has already sold Emiliano Insua having lost the out of contract Fabio Aurelio, and he has also confirmed his intention to sell another defender, Philip Degen.

Rafael van der Vaart Flattered By Interest From Liverpool

Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart is eyeing a move to the Premier League with Liverpool.

The 27-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernabeu and the Holland international has been linked with a move away from the club.

And Van der Vaart admitted that he would welcome a move to England in his search of guaranteed first-team football.

"I have heard of the interest from Liverpool - and that is very flattering," van der Vaart told the Daily Star Sunday.

"If Liverpool is willing to offer me first-team football, I will be honest that it would be very hard for me to not listen to what they had to say.

"I think I have the relationship with Madrid where they understand my position and would let me hold talks.

"I expect the majority of transfers to be concluded in the next two weeks, and if Liverpool wanted to talk with me I would at the very least listen to what they have to say.

"Liverpool is a very big club, and if they could offer first-team football it may prove impossible to turn down.

"I wouldn't be willing to play for any clubs in Spain out of respect for Madrid, so in my eyes the only other place to go would be the Premier League.

"It's the only league that competes with the standard of La Liga."

The Netherlands international found himself on the substitutes' bench for the majority of the World Cup, although he was called upon to come on in most games, including the final against Spain.