Saturday, December 04, 2010

Agger Questions Hodgson's Guts

Liverpool Daniel Agger has reportedly challenged Roy Hodgson to "have the guts" to tell him if his Anfield career is over.

Agger has been a frustrating figure during his team on Merseyside, drawing comparisons to legendary Reds defender Alan Hansen with his early performances, before spending far too much of the past 18 months in the treatment room.

Hodgson is reported to be in the market for a new centre-back during the January transfer window, with Jamie Carragher out until March, and Stoke's Ryan Shawcross has been linked with a switch to Anfield.

However, the Reds are unlikely to have a war chest at their disposal in the near future, so Hodgson may well have to sell in order to fund significant signings. Agger is reportedly viewed as a possible make-weight, but the Dane has no plans to leave Liverpool.

"Liverpool can't force me out of the club even if they want to as I have got four years left on my contract," Agger told Jyllands-Posten.

"I find it strange that people who don't know anything shout everything possible. I expect Roy Hodgson to have the guts to tell me face to face if he doesn't want me and he hasn't said that."

Liverpool Confirmed In Race For £10.5 Million New Anfield Hero

Liverpool is preparing to bid for Ryan Shawcross, understands.

The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the most exciting defensive talents in the country after his imperious displays at the back for Stoke since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008.

Liverpool were thought to have originally been eyeing a summer move for the £10.5 million-rated centre-back but, after the long-term layoff of Anfield hero Jamie Carragher, they are now believed planning a January bid.

Carragher, 33, will be sidelined for three months after dislocating his shoulder as Liverpool lost to Spurs on Sunday; news which has served as a huge blow to the Anfield club.

Liverpool are worryingly short of centre-backs currently - with Daniel Agger also a fitness concern - so Reds boss Roy Hodgson is thought to be in the market for at least one more defender.

Shawcross certainly has the potential to be an England regular, and fits with the ethos of new Liverpool owners NESV after they pledged to invest in the future by bringing young talent to Anfield.

West Ham captain Matthew Upson and Birmingham centre-half Scott Dann are also reportedly on the Liverpool radar as Hodgson and NESV look to draft in reinforcements to Anfield next month.

Liverpool In Italian Fight For Out-Of-Favour Former Barca Wing Wizard

Liverpool faces competition from Genoa in the race to sign Spurs winger Giovani Dos Santos.

The Guardian reports that the Italian outfit is close to landing the player, leaving Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson with a decision to make over a potential move for the player.

Still only 21-years-old, Dos Santos has 34 caps to his name for Mexico after making his debut in 2007. At the time the player was at Barcelona, but moved to Spurs the following year for a fee in the region of £5 million.

With only 10 White Hart Lane appearances to his name, Dos Santos has spent time on loan at Ipswich and Galatasaray in an effort to get first team football, and Liverpool were linked with a move for the player in the summer.

Hodgson is thought to be keen on adding attacking options in the January transfer window, with the Liverpool chief thought to have money at his disposal following the arrival of NESV as the club's new owners.

The Anfield outfit are thought to have a transfer wishlist of 'five or six' players for the opening month of 2011, and Dos Santos could be one of the players on the Liverpool radar.

Whether Harry Redknapp would be willing to sell to a Premier League rival is unclear, but Liverpool will first have to concern themselves with Genoa as the Serie 'A' outfit look to intensify their interest this month.

Liverpool Prepare €9 Million Bid For Racing Wonderkid

Liverpool have reportedly joined the race to sign Belgian starlet Jelle Vossen.

The Racing Genk striker has scored 14 goals in 11 Belgian pro league games this season, and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is thought to have started monitoring the player.

A 21-year-old with five international caps to his name already, Vossen came to prominence during a loan spell at Cercle Brugges last season, with Roma, Aston Villa and Everton all thought to be interested.

However, reports in Belgium suggest that Liverpool are keenest to make a move for the player.

The Reds are in the market for a striker as Hodgson searches for an attacking foil for Fernando Torres at Anfield, and the Liverpool boss has been linked with a string of strikers in recent weeks.

Carlton Cole and Mirko Vucinic are the latest names thought to be in the frame, but Vossen provides a new young dimension and could represent a solid purchase for the future at Liverpool.

It is thought that a bid in the region of €9 million would be needed to take Vossen away from his homeland, and Liverpool have the funds to make the move if they want to following the arrival of NESV as the new owners on Merseyside.

Steve McClaren To Swoop For Daniel Agger

Wolfsburg are inching closer to sealing a deal for Liverpool defender Daniel Agger in January, according to a reports.

TalkSPORT believe that discussions between the two clubs have already taken place and a fee has reportedly been agreed between the two clubs.

The Danish stopper has reportedly asked Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson to confirm whether he remains in his first team plans, and is wanted at the club.

The defender was quoted by Jyllands-Posten as saying, "Liverpool can't force me out of the club even if they want to as I have got four years left on my contract.

"I find it strange that people who don't know anything shout everything possible. I expect Roy Hodgson to have the guts to tell me face to face if he doesn't want me and he hasn't said that."

Italian giants Juventus are also reportedly keen on the 25-year-old.

Liverpool Extend Contracts Of Martin Kelly & Daniel Pacheco To 2014

Liverpool have announced that youngsters Martin Kelly and Daniel Pacheco have both signed contract extensions that will see them remain at the Anfield club until 2014 at least.

Defender Kelly has signed a three-year extension to his deal, whilst winger Pacheco signs a two-year extension.

Both players were involved in Liverpool's 1-1 draw at Steaua Bucharest on Thursday evening and Kelly in particular looks to be a promising prospect.

The Academy graduate can play anywhere across the back four missed two years of his development due to a back problem - but the young defender seems to have put those problems behind him.

Kelly is an England under-21 international and the young defender will be looking to challenge for a regular first team slot with news that Jamie Carragher will be out for months rather than weeks.

Pint-sized winger Pacheco was signed from Barcelona in 2007 and has been a regular scorer in Liverpool's reserves. The Spaniard struggled to break into the first team under previous manager Rafa Benitez but will be hoping that he is given more opportunities under Roy Hodgson.

The young midfielder has often been criticized by Liverpool fans for failing to live up to the high expectations surrounding his potential ability.

Pepe Reina Keeps Quiet On His Future At Liverpool

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has chosen not to shed any light on speculation surrounding his future at the club.

The Spanish shot-stopper has for some time been linked with moves away from Merseyside, amid reports that he has attracted interest from Arsenal and Manchester United.

The 28-year-old signed a six-year deal with the club during the summer, and does not intend to get drawn into a discussion concerning his future.

"Well if you keep asking, I am going to ignore it," Reina told Sky Sports News.

"I said it many times - I have a contract with Liverpool, that's all."

Liverpool Rush To Unearth Northern Ireland Talent

Liverpool legend Ian Rush feels the club’s first football academy outside Merseyside can prevent the cream of Northern Ireland talent slipping through the Anfield net — like George Best managed to do in the 1960s.

The Liverpool FC Football Academy was launched yesterday in Belfast by Rush and will kick-off early next year.

“Unfortunately the best player to come out of Northern Ireland, George Best, ended up at Manchester United — we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again, but it shows that football is in the blood in Northern Ireland,” said Rush, a Liverpool great who left the club in 1996 after scoring a record 229 goals in 469 appearances.

“There are a lot of Manchester United supporters in Northern Ireland and there have been a few Northern Ireland players at United recently. Hopefully our football schools will see more kids from here go to Liverpool.”

The Welshman also acknowledged the huge support Liverpool have in Northern Ireland, with thousands travelling to Anfield on a regular basis.

“There’s a great fan base of Liverpool supporters in Northern Ireland and the Liverpool Football Academy will help connect the supporters with the club even further,” he said.

“Liverpool and Manchester United are, for me, the two best supported clubs in the world. And it’s great to see so many supporters of both clubs here in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has great footballing tradition, but it’s all about the kids enjoying themselves. It’s always great to see kids enjoying what they are doing.

“The Liverpool Football Academy is not about finding the next superstar. It’s all about kids enjoying their football.

“It’s about good coaching and then kids going away to practice what they have been taught.

“Kids can then move up from one level to the next.”

And Rush pointed out that the Irish League could benefit from the Liverpool Academy.

“Some kids will end up at Liverpool and hopefully plenty more will end up playing for local clubs,” he said.

“If that happens then the Irish League will be better for it. In Wales, the Welsh League will be better for it and so on.”

And Rush stressed that it is possible to make it to the top from a smaller club, though he accepted it is more difficult to do so now than when he was a teenage goalscoring sensation in the lower divisions 30 years ago.

“I started out at Chester City and they aren’t in the Football League any more,” said Rush, who admitted he was saddened to see Chester’s financial struggles as they slipped down the football hierarchy.

“Local communities have got to try and help their clubs as best they can, particularly in these difficult times.”

With so many football clubs in financial difficulties, Rush’s emergence at minnows Chester illustrates the important role smaller clubs have to play.

Rush went from Chester to Liverpool, serving the club in two separate stints, with a spell at Juventus sandwiched in between.

And for a man who experienced the excitement of the footballing heights, his current role with the Liverpool Academy is one he is clearly relishing.

Thousands of youngsters here will be coached in the legendary Liverpool way by Anfield staff coaches.

There are already plans in place to open Academies around the world, with Northern Ireland — in association with the charity Happy Children — first up in early 2011, followed by Norway and Greece, with the aim of being able to give budding young stars the best environment in which to hone and develop their skills in a fun environment, but with carefully structured coaching sessions.

The primary school kids who attended yesterday’s launch will not remember Rush the player. Different playing style, but in terms of modern day superstardom Rush was the Fernando Torres of his day.

Rush was a great player in a great Liverpool team.

Football is all about finding the net and there were few, if any, better at that than Ian Rush.

Aurelio Return Can Put Pressure On Paul Konchesky

One major positive from Thursday night’s uninspiring draw with Steaua Bucharest was the sight of Fabio Aurelio getting 90 minutes under his belt.

The Brazilian has endured a miserable few months since re-signing for Liverpool and his latest injury problems have only underlined why the club were reluctant to offer him a new deal last season.

When fit there is no doubt Aurelio is a class act and Paul Konchesky hasn’t set the world alight so far this term, struggling again in last Sunday’s defeat at Tottenham.

With Aurelio now back and breathing down his neck, Konchesky must raise his game or face a festive period warming the bench.