Friday, October 29, 2010

Hodgson Hopes To Keep Duo

Roy Hodgson has told Manchester United and Arsenal that Jose Reina is not for sale and is hopeful of convincing Fernando Torres to remain with Liverpool, despite both Spanish internationals having release clauses in their Anfield contracts.

Reina only signed a six-year deal with Liverpool in April while Torres, who is under contract until 2013, pledged to stay at Anfield following extensive talks with the club’s then managing director, Christian Purslow, in the summer.

The pair have get-out clauses in their existing contracts but, although Reina and Torres are concerned over Liverpool’s ability to return to the Champions League, the club are unperturbed at claims the clauses could be invoked in January.

New England Sports Ventures’ €340 million takeover has removed pressure to sell players and the new owners are adamant they will improve the squad, not diminish it, during their first transfer window in charge.

Hodgson conceded last week that his club could be vulnerable to a January bid from United for Torres, albeit before Wayne Rooney signed a five-year contract. But the Liverpool manager also said: “I don’t believe we will lose him. We will do our best to ensure he stays.”

United are looking, too, for a replacement for Edwin van der Sar and Arsenal are keen on the €23 million-rated Reina but the Liverpool manager has insisted the 28-year-old will remain.

“Pepe is fantastic here, he is lifeblood of this team,” Hodgson said. “Everything he does around the club is excellent. He is always lively in the dressing room, he is always first class in training and he always wants to do more to improve. He demands better from those around him, he is always pushing people on. He is a player who we hold in the highest esteem.

“We have heard nothing from Manchester United and, more to the point, we don’t want to hear anything from Manchester United. If (Alex) Ferguson is looking around at the end of the season and he has got lots of money to replace Van der Sar, he might very well want Pepe Reina because he is the best around. But we do not want to sell him. I would like to think we are going to become a successful club once again and Pepe is crucial to that.”

Dirk Kuyt could be fit for Chelsea’s visit to Anfield on Sunday week, having made good progress in his recovery from an ankle injury. The Dutch forward feared he could be sidelined until January but Hodgson said: “He shouldn’t be as far advanced as he is but he’s looking good. I don’t think he’ll be fit for the weekend (at Bolton Wanderers) but maybe the weekend after.”

Glen Johnson has an outside chance of returning for Sunday’s trip to the Reebok Stadium following a thigh strain.

Liverpool Ready To Raid Roma For Wantaway Striker

Liverpool are ready to offer Roma's wantaway striker Mirko Vucinic an escape route in January, according to reports in Italy.

Montenegro international Vucinic, 27, has reportedly clashed with Roma manager Claudio Ranieri in recent weeks and reacted badly to being substituted after only 57 minutes of the goalless draw against Parma at the weekend.

Vucinic, who recently hit the headlines with a bizarre goal celebration where he took his shorts off and put them on his head after scoring on international duty with Montenegro, is contracted to Roma until 2013.

He is currently valued at around £16.5m but reports in Italy have suggested that Vucinic is available for a cut-price £13m because he is unhappy, with Liverpool interested in the striker.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has been short of options up front this season and is bidding to buy a forward in January to ease the burden on Fernando Torres.

Liverpool Boss Keen On Move For Charlie Adam

Liverpool are rumoured to be lining up a January move for Blackpool star Charlie Adam. Roy Hodgson has reportedly been scouting the former Rangers man this season and after the 24 year old put in a great performance to help his side to a famous win at Anfield the chances of a bid from the Merseyside club have significantly increased.

The attacking midfielder has also apparently fallen out with his Bloomfield Road club over unpaid bonuses which could give the talented Scot the excuse he needs to leave the club he helped to a surprise promotion to the Premier League last season.

Charlie Adam clearly realizes that he has become the focal point for Ian Holloway’s side but also knows that the chance of a move to high profile club such as Liverpool does not come around very often and his unhappiness with the club’s attitude towards a £20k owed payment could spark his desire to leave the club.

Roy Hodgson has been looking for ways to add creativity to his brittle side and could well feel that the in form Dundee born midfielder could be just the man for the job. Adam netted 17 goals last season and helped create just as many and his vision and flair appear to have led to his being placed on the under fire Liverpool boss’s transfer wish-list.

Liverpool Offered Argentinian Lopez

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is being offered Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez.

Lyon may be willing to allow the Argentinian forward to leave and clubs are being sounded out.

Hodgson is eager to strengthen his strike force and give his squad more options as they are relying heavily on Fernando Torres.

But it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will be afforded transfer cash by the club's new owners to go and buy new players.

Former Porto striker Lopez's agent Fernando Hidalgo said: "He is happy in Lyon but a big offer could change that."

Liverpool Youngster Jonjo Shelvey Can Learn From Steven Gerrard

Roy Hodgson has given Liverpool youngster Jonjo Shelvey a boost by likening him to captain Steven Gerrard.

The Reds boss believes the starlet has the perfect role model at Melwood in his quest to become one of the country's top midfielders.

And the experienced Hodgson says that Shelvey should look at Gerrard and learn from him in training.

Liverpool signed the 18-year-old from Charlton Athletic in the summer and he has impressed fans with his dynamic style during appearances against Northampton Town and Napoli.

He has also become England Under-19 captain and Hodgson doesn't believe there is any danger of the youngster resting on his laurels.

"He's very good. He's a player who's come here with the right attitude and humility," he told the club's official website.

"He realizes it's a massive step from getting in the Charlton first team early on and receiving a lot of plaudits.

"Those things earned him a move to Liverpool and he's come in and worked very hard.

"He's got a lot of players around him who can help and be an inspiration to him. With the way he likes to play, the level of his passing and technical ability, I'm sure he's looking at Steven Gerrard and thinking, 'Could I become as good as that?' It's nice to have that kind of role model.

"Jonjo is also a team player, as he has shown on several occasions by playing in different positions."

Roy Hodgson Confident Raul Meireles Will Get On Scoresheet For Liverpool Soon

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is confident Raul Meireles will soon show his worth to the fans as the club look to climb the Premier League table.

Hodgson signed the Portuguese international from Porto and Meireles arrived with a big reputation as an all-action midfielder.

He has yet to score for his new club but Hodgson insists it's only a matter of time before he hits the net.

The Reds boss told the club's official website: "Meireles is a very good player and is a good striker of the ball.

"I'm sure his first goal for the club won't be too far away.

"He will get goals for us and he is a class act that gives this team something different.

"Meireles is the type of player we need to bring more of to this club in the future."

'We Want World's Top Starlets'

It's fair to say a lot has happened at Liverpool Football Club since Rodolfo Borrell breezed through the Academy entrance in the summer of 2009.

A new first-team manager and a change in ownership represent just two of the seismic ripples in the club's timeline; the result, an altogether different environment for the former Barcelona man.

The dawn of a new era is very much underway in L4, but while all around him seems to have shifted, Borrell has remained a constant, tirelessly applying the principles that served him so well during his time in Catalonia.

And few could argue with a CV that boasts the names of Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta; testament to the Spaniard's innate knack for moulding players into first-team stars.

Alongside Frank McParland, Kenny Dalglish and Pep Segura, he has spearheaded a new approach to the club's youth system, one that has already begun to pay dividends.

Last season Jack Robinson became the youngest player in Liverpool history while this year the likes of Tom Ince and David Amoo have had brief flirtations with Roy Hodgson's starting XI.

Borrell admits he is pleased with the progress they have made so far but insists there is still much work to do if Liverpool are to achieve their goal of having one of the best youth systems in Europe.

"When you look at the level of the Academy when I arrived here and the level at Barcelona then you can see that it takes time to get anywhere near that," he told when we caught up with him at the Academy earlier this week.

"In the 15 months we have been here players have developed. That is obvious, everyone is talking about that.

"The new owners will have plans for the first-team and that is a priority, but my own opinion is that if we got a little bit more investment we could make the squad more competitive and ensure the very best young talent is found in Kirkby."

Borrell clearly has well defined ideas on how to take Liverpool's Academy to the next step, but that's not to say he underestimates the strides they've made so far.

"We have been working very hard," he continued.

"It's not just what myself and Pep Segura have done. Frank McParland and Kenny Dalglish have been massive in the progress since I arrived and, on a personal note, they have been tremendously helpful in helping me to settle into life here.

"That's important because all of the people involved in our youth set-up must share a vision. That is essential if we are to develop young players that are of the quality that Liverpool's first-team demands. It's impossible if there is a division.

"I think you can see the unity here and the result is the great progress we have made. All of the teams play with the same style, the same philosophy.

"This ensures continuity from team to team and coach to coach."

The summer departure of Rafael Benitez, the man who tasked Borrell with revamping the U18s, could have resulted in a complete change of emphasis.

However, the charismatic Spaniard has been delighted by the input of Hodgson and feels that the youth system in place will continue to improve under the new regime.

"Obviously Roy's main focus is the first-team and the majority of his time is spent planning with his squad," said Borrell.

"But I do speak to him regularly. Sometimes here, sometimes at Melwood.

"He knows we've got some good players coming through.

"Andre Wisdom is showing big standards and then there are the likes of John Flanagan, Jack Robinson and Tom Ince. There are several players making progress towards the first-team. Of course, I'm pleased about that because my main target is to develop players.

"That is what I have been doing all of my life and that is why Liverpool brought me here."

Under the leadership of Borrell, Liverpool's U18s have emerged as one of the most stylish sides in the FA Premier Academy League.

An unbeaten 10 match run at the end of the 2009-10 season was followed by a bright opening this time around.

Such success inevitably leads to call-ups to the international scene and the prospect of a lull in results, a situation that the Reds coach sees as a double-edged sword.

"Sometimes we are struggling because we have had players called up. This does not mean that those that come in aren't very good," he said.

"It just means you have younger players and the opposition are much stronger physically. It was the situation we faced at the beginning of last season and the one we have had over the last few weeks.

"When you are Liverpool, the other teams put everything into it. In the last league game versus West Brom, they included a reserve goalkeeper as one of their over-age players.

"This was the first time he featured for them - why? Because they are playing Liverpool.

"It's not an excuse, it's just the reality we face when players are called up for the international team.

"The more success we have and the more we bring through talented players, then the more call-ups we will have. This is something for the club to be proud of, great for the players and myself, but not so good for the squad.

"You are losing these players and still being asked to play league matches. That is not the case at first-team level, so I do not understand why we do it with the Academy teams.

"If we are helping the national team then I think the FA must protect them. In Spain you have the right to postpone the game. I think this makes sense and I would like someone to think about implementing a similar system here."

The cosmopolitan nature of the modern game means that the search for young talent has taken on a global scale.

However, Borrell believes that the successful ingredients Liverpool are looking for are more likely to be unearthed nearer to Southport, rather than South America.

"I don't know all of the players across the country, but I admire the characteristics of a Scouse player, he has something special," he said.

"He is a player that learns quickly, is very competitive, aggressive and disciplined. He is always ready to fight for his team. I don't think that is the case for every player in England, I think there is something different about Scouse players.

"We are investing a lot more in players from around Liverpool.

"I am happy with all of our Scousers - but if you ask me if I see players with that extra special talent, like Lionel Messi, then I have to be honest. I do not see anyone of that calibre.

"But we have players with some good ingredients that with the right focus and hard work, will go through and be competitive for the first-team of Liverpool."

Borrell's passionate analysis of what he feels makes the archetypal Liverpool player shows he has a clear affinity with the club, one that has seen him immerse himself in the local culture.

His track record and success on the pitch is well documented but what of his life away from football?

"Sometimes if I have two days off - which doesn't happen often - I like to get out and see some of the country," he said. "I've been to York, Conwy, the Lake District...

"Many years ago I visited Britain for 25 days and went to the Isle of Sky, Glasgow and Inverness among other places. It was me and three friends who drove here in a car from Barcelona.

"As you can see, I'm not a typical Spaniard. I don't desire to go home when I have time off. Last season, I only went home for one week to see my family over Christmas. I think that shows how happy I am here.

"I have recently had a son and I wanted him to be born in Liverpool so that I will always remember my time here. I'm really proud I have a Scouser as a son!

"I spoke with my wife and we did discuss the possibility of him being born in Barcelona. But we finally decided to have him here. It was more my decision I suppose but I am really happy with it.

"I want my son to always remind me that I have been a part of a club that has one of the greatest histories in football."

Such words are expressed with endearing enthusiasm and it is obvious Borrell seems more than content with life on Merseyside - both on and off the pitch.

But what of the future? Does he see himself at Liverpool further down the line?

"I hope so," he added.

"I love Liverpool and want to ensure the future is bright for this great club. I hope I can help to bring through players that the fans are going to appreciate and, most importantly, lead the club to more trophy success."

Standard Chartered Defends Its Record-Breaking Deal With Liverpool

Liverpool Football Club's shirt sponsor, Standard Chartered, has defended its record-breaking partnership with the beleaguered soccer club.

In September 2009 the bank signed a record US$132.6 million sponsorship deal with Liverpool, a club that is currently languishing in the lower reaches of the Premier League table. "To have attracted a partner of the calibre of Standard Chartered Bank says everything about where we are trying to take this football club," said Liverpool's managing director, Christian Purslow, at the time of the deal.

Since that time Liverpool Football Club has endured a lengthy and controversial sale period and, despite being successfully taken over by New England Sports Ventures (NESV) earlier in the month, the team has suffered its worst start to a Premier League season for 57 years.

However, speaking at the Brand Finance Forum 2010 in London, Standard Chartered's group head of corporate affairs, Gavin Laws, has defended the decision to enter a four-year sponsorship deal with the English soccer club.

Adopting the 'any publicity is good publicity' approach Laws has announced that the deal has paid a "significant" role in improving the bank's exposure, particular in its Asian-targeted markets where Liverpool has a large fanbase, declaring that the first US$33.15 million installment has already been recouped through media exposure.

Laws added that it was, "almost a shame that [Liverpool] had sorted out the ownership issue, as they're no longer on the front page of the Financial Times."