Friday, December 10, 2010

Dirk Kuyt Hails Lucas Leiva Improvement

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has hailed the strength of character of midfielder Lucas Leiva after the Brazilian's emergence from a difficult spell at Anfield.

The 23-year-old was given a hard time by fans in his first three seasons after arriving from Gremio in a £6million transfer.

However, towards the end of last campaign and the start of this Lucas has been one of the club's best players, and Kuyt believes he is now becoming a great asset.

"Lucas has done really well recently and is developing into a great player," Kuyt said.

"He waited for his chances to come along and stayed focused on what he had to do.

"He has shown a lot of character to come through that and I'm sure all the experiences he's had so far have made him stronger, not only as a footballer but as a person as well.

"There isn't a player in the world who doesn't have good and bad times.

"You just have to make the best of it. When things aren't going the way you want you just have to keep working and Lucas has done that.

"In the last couple of weeks he has really clicked with Raul Meireles; with Lucas as the holding midfielder and Raul as the passing player it has worked really well.

"That's been a big plus for us. Lucas has also got himself into the Brazil team and deserves a lot of credit."

Roy Hodgson Confirms Liverpool Are Planning To Offer Lucas New Contract

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has revealed that the club has plans to hand midfielder Lucas a new contract.

The 23-year-old has been impressive for the club this season, and has forged a good partnership with Raul Meireles in the centre of midfield in the absence of skipper Steven Gerrard.

And their partnership has even sparked talk as to whether the Reds captain should return to his previous position of playing behind Fernando Torres when he returns from injury.

"I think there are plans to give Lucas a new deal," Hodgson was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Daily Post.

"[Directory of football strategy Damien Comolli] mentioned to me about getting in touch with his agent to get a new contract sorted out.

"Certainly if you ask me the question 'is Lucas welcome at the club and would we like to keep him?' then the answer is a resounding yes."

Liverpool Striker 'Wants To Leave Anfield In January'

Liverpool youngster Dani Pacheco wants to out on loan in order to gain more first team experience.

The 19-year-old - who just signed a new long-term deal to keep him on Merseyside until 2014 - has his sights set on a temporary move in January which, he says, will 'be best for everyone'.

“I’m delighted to have signed a new deal. I’m being sincere when I say that I see my future here, I’d like it to be so; but in order to get some playing time, and if it suits the club, the best thing would be for me to go out on loan," the Liverpool starlet told respected journalist Guillem Balague.

“I had talks with [Liverpool director of football strategy] Damien Comolli when signing a new contract and he told me that young players like myself and [Liverpool defender] Martin Kelly are central to his vision for the club.”

“I’m training well and [Liverpool manager] Roy Hodgson is happy with me; he’s seen what I can do in the Europa League. However, we will have to see how things stand in January and if the club is in agreement, then a loan move might be best for everyone."
Pacheco is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Europe; impressing during his time in Spain's under-19 squad as well as with the Liverpool reserves.

The teenager joined Liverpool in 2007 from the Barcelona youth academy where he earned the nickname El Asesino ("The Assassin") for his goalscoring prowess.

He his part of a growing crop of exciting young players at Liverpool along with compatriot Suso, striker David Amoo and hotshot Adam Morgan - each are whom have been tipped to become Anfield stars of the future.

Hodgson Rules Out Possibility Of Moves For Ronaldinho And Luis Suarez

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has dampened speculation that AC Milan midfielder Ronaldinho and Ajax striker Luis Suarez are transfer targets.

Hodgson also suggested the club will not be seeking a quick-fix when it comes to the January transfer window.

The former Fulham boss dismissed reports linking him with moves for the duo but did admit that Aston Villa winger Ashley Young has been on his radar.

"Ronaldinho and Suarez are players who we have never even thought about but I would think there is not a manager in the Premier League who has not given Ashley Young a thought at some stage or another," Hodgson told reporters.

"But giving a player a thought and thinking 'This is a good player' and signing him are two vastly different things.

"I could give you quite a long list of players in the Premier League who I admire and think are very good.

"But there is no truth in the rumour. If you are asking if there are any negotiations taking place between Aston Villa and Liverpool, then there aren't."

The 63-year-old has been impressed with the new owners and added: "They are very interested in pushing the club forward but they want to push it forward in the right way.

"I have been impressed with their thoughts when we have discussed the squad, players and transfers.

"But at the moment we haven't got to the stage where we have sat down and said we are going to do this or that - that will certainly feature in our discussions while John and Tom are in the country.

"Going out and splashing a load of money on players who may or may not be the ones for us in the future might not just be the right way."

Juventus Move For Liverpool Duo Daniel Agger & Glen Johnson

Juventus have announced their penchant for Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson directly to Liverpool in a meeting between Giuseppe Marotta and Damien Comolli.

Part of those talks centred around Alberto Aquilani as Juventus want to keep him permanently, but the majority of attention focused on the two defenders.

Il Corriere dello Sport claims Marotta has asked Liverpool about Agger and Johnson as Juventus are eager to bolster in January.

They have made no secret of a will to expand. Marotta himself said he was watching for chances to strengthen.

However, Agger has been linked with Wolfsburg, whereas Johnson is valued at €14 million - mechanisms which could weaken interest or force Juve to reconsider.

Tottenham, Bayern Munich & Juventus Tracking Liverpool Full-Back Glen Johnson

Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Juventus are interested in acquiring the services of Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, according to the Daily Express.

The former Portsmouth right-back did not take criticism from Roy Hodgson well after the Reds boss questioned his performances, and reacted by calling the former Fulham manager's style of football "boring".

The Reds have since been reported to be pursuing Rennes full-back Rod Fanni as a replacement. UK exclusively revealed last month that the defender has told friends he expects to leave Anfield and join Inter in January.

Glen Johnson Is Not For Sale, Says Roy Hodgson

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has dismissed rumours linking Glen Johnson with a move in January.

The Reds’ interest in Rennes right-back Rod Fanni has led to reports suggesting Johnson will be sold during the transfer window.

However, Hodgson said: “As far as I am concerned Glen Johnson will be a Liverpool player certainly until the end of his contract and possibly beyond it.

"We are very happy with him, he is a top class player, an England international, so why should we want to lose him? Maybe his agent has other ideas.”

Liverpool FC Owners NESV Keen To Develop Academy

Liverpool FC’s owners New England Sports Ventures are keen for their youth teams to play a bigger part in the club’s future, according to academy director Frank McParland.

Last month McParland received a visit from principal owner John Henry, who was keen to talk about what role the site at Kirkby could perform.

"He spoke to me for a good hour and then spent time chatting with Rodolfo Borrell (under 18 coach) and Pep Segura (academy technical manager)," said McParland.

"His knowledge of the academy was really impressive. He had a lot of information about what we have been doing here.

"He knew how long I had been back at the club and told us how pleased he was with the work we have implemented.

"He was also keen to discuss plans for the future and he seemed really interested in what the academy can offer.

"I know from reading about him and his other ventures, that the Red Sox (NESV’s baseball team) place a big emphasis on getting young players through to the first-team.

"That’s what he wants to do here."

McParland believes the appointment of director football strategy Damien Comolli will help assist that process.

"He has great experience, has an in-depth knowledge of players across Europe and I’m sure he will be a great acquisition for this football club," he added.

"His philosophy is to bring through young talent and he’s since told me that we will be seeing a lot of him here at the academy.

"That can only be good news for us. He has a strong interest in young, elite players and we are already in the process of looking to sign some very talented teenagers.

"He has a great network in Europe and when you combine that with what we already have in place here, it promises to be very exciting times for us."