Monday, May 30, 2011

Masch Dedicates Win To Reds

Javier Mascherano has dedicated his UEFA Champions League triumph over Manchester United to Liverpool fans.

The Barcelona player, who spent two and a half seasons with Liverpool, won his first European Cup medal as the Catalan club defeated United 3-1 on Saturday.

Mascherano, a finalist with Liverpool in 2007, left the Reds for Barcelona in August last year and he hopes the Anfield faithful appreciate the defeat of United.

"I know some Liverpool supporters were disappointed after my exit, they were a little bit sad with me, but this is for them," he told Sky Sports HD1.

The Argentine was delighted Pep Guardiola's side were able to display the attractive possession football they are famed for in a game they controlled for large periods.

"We're happy because we were able to play the way we're known to play," added Mascherano.

"It's really good for us to win the Champions League. For any footballer it's the top title. We had a lot of chances to score and in the second-half we took them."

Guardiola sprung a surprise by dropping club captain Carlos Puyol to the bench, thought to be through injury, with Mascherano deployed as a makeshift centre-half in his place.

The 26-year-old, normally a midfielder, had no qualms about filling in the role and is happy to have contributed to the Wembley win.

"Maybe it was a strange position for me. It's a position that's not my natural one but I tried to give my best for the team and I'm happy because reached our target."

Liverpool On Red Alert Over £20m Midfielder

Liverpool are on red alert after midfield target Eden Hazard admitted he is unsure whether he will remain at Lille next season.

The Ligue 1 player of the year has been a long-time target for Liverpool, who are looking to bolster their squad during the summer months.

Hazard has been imperative to Lille this season, inspiring the French side to a league and cup double, their first league title since 1954.

However, according to, the Belgian star has spoken of a desire to test himself at a higher level, and appears ready to move on, with Liverpool and Inter Milan known suitors of the 20-year-old.

When asked about his future, the midfielder said: "I don't know.

"I have never played in the Champions League and I don't know if I will be playing in it with Lille or another great club.

"My dream is to play for a big club soon. But, football is like this. There has to be the right offer, but I am not thinking about this for now."

Hazard is seen as part of a new wave of talent to flood Anfield, with the club already signing Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January, and have reportedly snapped up Fabio Coentrao from Benfica for an estimated £25 million.

The Belgian international, who was previously voted young player of the year in 2009 and 2010, scored seven times and assisted a further nine goals this season.

Kenny Dalgilsh Hopes To Sign Diego Perotti Before He Goes Elsewhere

Kenny Dalglish is desperate to bring Diego Perotti to Anfield, and has reportedly upped his offer by £1.5 million as fears grow that the Argentinian may sign with Juventus.

Talksport is claiming that Dalglish put forward a £7 million bid to coax Perotti into moving to Liverpool, but the midfielder’s club Sevilla wants to hold out for an £8.5 million offer.

Juventus have come into the mix though, according to reports, and have 'made contact' with Perotti to offer the star a move to Italy rather than England.

The Italian giants’ involvement in the transfer is an interesting twist, considering Liverpool is already in a tug of war style talk with Juventus over the movement of on loan Alberto Aquilani.

Should the Italians snare Perotti from Liverpool, Dalglish may be a lot less willing to negotiate a lower price than the €16 million set for Aquilani’s permanent release.

Reds Facing Big Aquilani Loss

Liverpool could lose around £10million on Alberto Aquilani if they allow the midfielder to join Juventus permanently this summer.

The News of the World reports that a £14million buy-out clause in the 26-year-old midfielder's Reds contract has now expired.

Aquilani was a big hit while on loan with Juve in Serie A this season but the Old Lady is said to be willing to pay only £8million to keep him in Turin.

Aquilani's agent Franco Zavaglia has already said that he believes there is only a 50/50 chance of his client signing for Juve permanently.

Now Liverpool must decide whether to cut their losses on a player who scored one goal in 18 appearances under Rafa Benitez in 2009/10.

Skrtel: I See Great Players Here

Martin Skrtel claims the changes he has witnessed at Anfield over recent months give him every reason to believe 2011-12 can end in glory.

Few are in a better position to assess Liverpool's development over the last year than Skrtel, who was involved in every minute of his club's league campaign this term.

"When I look around I see a great team with great players," said the Slovakia international.

"I have quite mixed feelings about this season. Obviously we had two different terms. The beginning of the season was not good but this has changed with the arrival of Kenny Dalglish.

"This was a turning point of our season and we really improved under his guidance. This gives me a lot of hope ahead of new season.

"I know he has signed a new contract and I believe he is the right man for Liverpool, a true legend. You could see the results and our improvement on the pitch."

It was Roy Hodgson who rewarded Skrtel with a new contract in August of last year, though by his own admission the centre-back did not reach top form in the early stages of the season.

But under Dalglish the 26-year-old has been back to his domineering best.

Despite a vast improvement in on-the-field fortunes under our greatest ever No.7, Skrtel thinks supporters have yet to see the best of those currently occupying the Anfield changing room.

He explained: "I really think we have a great team and I am lucky to be with these lads. We didn't fulfil our full potential yet and believe that we can do it very soon.

"But I would like to make our fans happy and proud again so I can promise them that we will do our best in the next season."

Suso Scoops Accolade

Suso's wonderful strike away at Newcastle United has been voted the reserves best goal of 2010-11.

The Spaniard's blistering drive after a terrific turn was his first goal in a red shirt and 38 per cent of you voted it the best effort of the campaign.

Jonjo Shelvey's Anfield free-kick against Manchester United came second with 26 per cent while Daniel Pacheco's brilliant individual effort came third with 13 per cent.

Injury Ends Flanagan’s Hopes Of Making His England Under-19s Debut

Liverpool defender John Flanagan’s hopes of making his England Under-19s debut have been dashed by a calf injury.

The 18-year-old full-back was set to take his bow in their European Championship qualifiers this week but has been forced to return home from Switzerland

“I’m obviously disappointed, particularly as I’ve not played for England before,” Flanagan said.

“But I won’t let it overshadow what has been a very good season for me and I’ll be raring to go when pre-season gets underway.”

Liverpool still have five players in the England squad for the elite qualifying round matches against Montenegro, Spain and host nation Switzerland.

Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Conor Coady, Thomas Ince and Michael Ngoo are all in Noel Blake’s 17-man squad. Jonjo Shelvey was also initially selected but he’s sidelined by a knee problem

The first of three games is against Montenegro in Yverdone tomorrow and only one team will progress to the finals in Romania in July.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Sale So Vital As Liverpool FC Plan For A Bright Future

Kenny Dalglish is rightly bullish about his chances of attracting top class talent to Anfield this summer.

Liverpool’s pulling power is unlikely to be dented by their absence from the Europa League next season.

In truth the biggest challenge facing Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli over the coming months isn’t strengthening the squad, it’s getting rid of a huge amount of dead wood.

Owners Fenway Sports Group has made no secret of their horror at discovering Liverpool’s annual wage bill is in excess of £100million.

Unsurprisingly, they want better value for money and with no European football next season the size of the squad needs to be slashed back. The Reds have had a dozen players out on loan this season and few have a part to play in the future.

The only one who will considerably boost the kitty for transfers is Albert Aquilani but Juventus are continuing to stall over a deal for the midfielder.

Names like Philipp Degen, Nabil El Zhar and Emiliano Insua may feel like blasts from a past fans would rather forget but they remain Liverpool’s property.

Injury-plagued right-back Degen has spent the season at Stuttgart, while Moroccan El Zhar has been at PAOK Thessaloniki in Greece. Galatasaray have had the services of left-back Insua but none of the trio have been snapped up on a permanent basis.

Then there’s French defender Chris Mavinga who was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2009 but didn’t make a senior appearance before being farmed out to Racing Genk this season. Mavinga made headlines earlier this month when his reckless high boot shattered the jaw of Standard Liege’s Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez.

Once they’ve been dealt with Dalglish has Roy Hodgson’s mess to sort out as he tries to find homes for keeper Brad Jones and left-back Paul Konchesky. Liverpool will take a hit as they have no chance of getting back the £6million wasted on the pair.

Other decisions will be trickier as the manager weighs up the merits of youngsters who have been out on loan to gain valuable experience.

It’s difficult to see where Stephen Darby fits in following the rise of fellow Academy graduates Martin Kelly and John Flanagan. Dalglish will also have to consider the merits of Daniel Ayala, Nathan Eccleston, David Amoo and Daniel Pacheco.

If dealing with all that wasn’t enough, there are also the fringe players who remained at Anfield for the duration of the season.

If Liverpool is serious about reclaiming their top four status there can be no room for the likes of Milan Jovanovic, Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and David Ngog.

Zog Brushes Off Transfer Talk

Wigan ace Charles N'Zogbia has revealed that reports linking him with Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle have left him feeling "indifferent".

The wideman was impressive throughout the Latics' campaign and scored nine goals as Roberto Martinez's men avoided relegation from the Premier League on the final day of the season.

The French star is widely expected to leave for a bigger club in the summer but the 24-year-old says he is not interested in talk about possible transfers.

N'Zogbia told ClickLancashire: "Inevitably, these rumours leave me feeling indifferent until there is a concrete approach.

"For now, I don't care, especially since I'm good at Wigan.

"The decision to sell me, and at what price, lies with my manager and the chairman.

"Even if I do have the desire to play at a bigger club, I can't say whether I'll leave or stay.

"The only certainty is that I will be in England next season. I have this league in my blood."

Juventus To Rival Liverpool For Sevilla Ace

Liverpool will face stiff opposition from Italian giants Juventus for Diego Perotti.

The midfielder was said to have been the subject of a £7m bid from the Anfield club, but current club Sevilla are holding out for at least £8.5m.

But now Juve have entered the equation, and reportedly made contact with the La Liga side, a bidding war could start over the 22-year-old.

The winger has recently pledged his future to Sevilla, who he joined in 2007, but they could be tempted to sell if their valuation is met.

Liverpool are already believed to be in negotiations with Juve over Alberto Aquilani, who has spent the season on loan at the Olimpico do Torino, which could give them a position of power when negotiating for Perotti.

Coentrao Quashes Liverpool Rumours

Benfica defender Fabio Coentrao has revealed he wants to join Real Madrid - quashing reports in the Portuguese press today he has signed a deal with Liverpool.

Tabloid newspaper Correio da Manha had claimed the left-back had agreed a big-money deal with the Merseyside club, however the 23-year-old has expressed his desire to seal a switch to the Bernabeu.

Speaking at a training camp in Portugal, Coentrao said: "What I want is to play for Real Madrid. It is the best club in the world and the only place I would leave Benfica for.

"Madrid has the best players in the world and I have many friends there. Nothing has been done but I hope the signing will go ahead.

"Benfica understand my decision and I intend to make it a good deal for them. I will be grateful to them all my life."

Coentrao's decision to leave Portugal has been in-part fuelled by the influence of his international team-mates already playing for Real, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Carvalho.

"Of course I have spoken to Cristiano, Pepe and Carvalho. I'm still a Benfica player but my interest is to sign for Madrid."

Academy Ace Nets Award

Raheem Sterling has been voted the top Academy player of 2010-11.

Rodolfo Borrell's U18s enjoyed a great season scoring 91 goals and there were some exceptional performances.

We set up an exclusive online poll asking you to vote for the best Academy player of the season and Sterling picked up 44 per cent of the vote.

The England U17 winger finished ahead of hot-shot Adam Morgan (23 per cent) and Conor Coady (15 per cent).

A youngster with a lot of potential, one of his most memorable displays came at Anfield when he netted five goals during the 9-0 mauling of Southend United in the FA Youth Cup.

Reds Sign With Honda

Honda Motorcycles, the number one motorcycle and lifestyle brand in Thailand, today announces a three year partnership with Liverpool FC.

The partnership will see Liverpool FC kicking off A.P. Honda Co. Ltd's marketing campaign in Thailand - where The Reds enjoy the support of millions of football fans.

"Honda Motorcycle is the number one motorcycle brand in Thailand and after demonstrating strong business growth this year, we are launching our new fun lifestyle marketing campaign called 'Discover Your Fun', said Mr. Chiaki Kato, the President of A.P Honda Co. Ltd. "We look forward to kicking off this campaign through an innovative partnership with Liverpool FC."

"Over recent years, we have supported a number of campaigns in football including being an official sponsor of Liverpool FC's Asia Tour 2009 in Thailand and sponsoring the live broadcast of World Cup 2006 plus Euro 2008."

"On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of A.P. Honda Co. Ltd, I am honoured to announce Honda as Official Partner to one of the world's most famous teams. They are supported by many football fans in Thailand. Honda Motorcycle will be using the team to bring the 'Discover Your Fun' campaign to fans throughout Thailand."

Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC's Managing Director added: "We know that Liverpool FC has a strong fanbase in Thailand which was highlighted by the excitement generated by our Tour to the country in 2009. This partnership with A.P. Honda Co. Ltd will enable us to engage with that fanbase in a fun and exciting way through the 'Discover Your Fun' campaign. We look forward to a long and successful association with one of Thailand's leading lifestyle brands."

The "Discover Your Fun" campaign is the brand message by A.P Honda Co. Ltd inspiring people to have an element of fun in their lifestyle. The campaign will be included in the promotion of a range of motorcycle models to engage with the young target audience. As a lifestyle campaign based on style, image, personality and community, A.P. Honda Co. Ltd will be demonstrating that they are about more than just the technology in the motorcycle.

Youngster Eyes Fresh Start

Youngster Karl Clair has paid tribute to Liverpool's Academy as he prepares to embark upon a new life away from his boyhood club.

The tricky forward was seen as one of the Reds' brightest prospects until injury curtailed his development following an appearance in the 2009 Youth Cup final.

Since then the 18-year-old has battled to overcome a serious knee problem and will now attempt to kickstart his career at Loughborough University's Nike Academy following the end of season tour in the Caribbean.

Clair told "The Caribbean tour was superb. It's a great way to go. It was a really nice gesture from Rodolfo (Borrell) and the staff to take me because they could have just said that I'm leaving the club so I don't need to go.

"But they didn't and I've had a great time. It was the perfect way to bring a close to my seven years at the club.

"It's sad to say goodbye to these lads because they are a good bunch. I spent the week with Conor (Coady) in St Vincent and he's a top lad. Hopefully he'll get some minutes with the first-team next season.

"There's a lot of talent in this group and it'll be interesting to see how they get on in the future.

"I'm taking a different route but won't give up."

Clair's knee injury ultimately put paid to his hopes of making a big impact upon the U18s this season and he has been forced to look on as his teammates have enjoyed one of the finest campaigns in the Academy's history.

He admits it has been hugely frustrating to watch from the sidelines but feels he is now ready to move on thanks to the help of the medical team in Kirkby.

He said: "It started off as patella tendonitis in my left knee. It muddled on for nine months or so. I came back for pre-season this year and I just didn't seem to be able to get back to the level that I was at.

"I fully understand why I haven't played. At the beginning of the season I was a bit wary of it and didn't want to push myself in case it went again.

"But I feel good now and I'd like to thank Andy Renshaw and Dave Galley as well as all of the other staff who have helped me in some way because they gave me the chance to develop as a player.

"I've played a few games recently so I feel like I'm getting back to where I want to be. Hopefully I can come back like Adam Hammill did.

"I still love this club and the lads will always be my mates. But I've got a new challenge in Loughborough.

"Our Education and Welfare Officer Clive Cook arranged it all for me. I didn't know much about it beforehand but it looks like it's a good way for me to stay in the game and try and find another club.

"It's mainly about football but has some courses involved too. Fingers crossed I can impress and find a new club in the not too distant future."

Clair's departure illustrates the other side of the Academy and the lengths the staff go to ensure that all of the players they bring through have something to aim for when they leave Kirkby.

Head of Education and Welfare Phil Roscoe said: "All the staff and players wish Karl all the best for the future.

"Karl is a player who has had to overcome a serious injury and this has severely affected his development as a player. He has received the very best treatment from Dave Galley, Andy Renshaw and Liam Kershaw over the past two seasons to help him regain his fitness.

"However, being injured for this amount of time is obviously an extremely difficult time for any player. Through this Karl has shown tremendous character and mental toughness to help him get to where he is now and also to be able to accept that he must look to further his playing career elsewhere.

"We all hope Karl will now have a consistent period of injury free time now and can hopefully re-enter the professional game at some point in the future.

"Every second year scholar who has not received a professional contract at Liverpool has now been able to continue their football career in various ways. Michael Ihiekwe has recently signed a professional contract at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Alex Whittle has joined the Glen Hoddle Academy, Marcus Giglio has become a full-time professional at TNS and Karl Clair, as highlighted, has signed a one year contract at the Nike academy which will be based at Loughborough University.

"Having players furthering their careers at other clubs or in different programs gives just as much satisfaction to all the staff here, as a player who is able to achieve a professional contract at Liverpool.

"I would like to say again, well done to all the players mentioned and they will continue to receive all the guidance and help they need from the staff at Liverpool."

Liverpool Physio Chris Morgan Stunned By Fans’ Response

As well as curing aching limbs at Melwood, Liverpool physio Chris Morgan has raised a remarkable £21,000 for The Christie – Europe’s largest cancer centre.

Morgan secured sponsorship from Kopites around the world via Twitter before running the Manchester 10k in an impressive 44mins 11secs.

The Manchester hospital was his chosen charity as it’s where his friend and former Liverpool defender Gary Ablett was treated after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year.

Morgan, who also auctioned off signed shirts donated by Reds stars, was blown away by the response.

“99% of the people who sponsored me have never met me, but they did it because of the Liverpool link and because they recognized it was for a really good cause,” he said. “I’d like to say thanks to everyone who sponsored me.”

Auction Joy For Japanese Reds

The Japanese LFC Supporters Club have hailed a charity event in aid of the victims of the earthquake and Tsunami disaster as a 'huge success'.

Chairman Keiko Hirano revealed that over 150 Reds fans had turned out to participate in a fun-filled auction on May 21, a day that saw them raise approximately £2800 courtesy of LFC gear donated by fans across the globe.

Hirano said: "Thanks to the autographed Liverpool shirts and other valuable LFC souveniers from all over the world, we raised JPY 377,162 on the day alone.

"We will shortly be sending the amount to the Tsunami fund via Civic Force.

"The hundreds of messages we have received from the Liverpool FC family after the disaster mentioned that the famous anthem was to remind us how to walk through this terrible storm. We thank you again for the messages which have made us hold our heads up high and the donations which will help those people who are still suffering in the rain.

"We sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the end of the charity event on what was a fantastic day."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dalglish Confident Of Attracting Star Names

Kenny Dalglish is confident Liverpool can still attract top-quality players despite missing out on European qualification for next season.

The Reds' manager believes the five-time European champions' reputation throughout football will be enough to draw top players to Merseyside.

Liverpool missed out on a Europa League berth on the final day of the Premier League season after they were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur defeated Birmingham City.

"I've heard people say us not playing in Europe means we won't be an attractive proposition for some players. I disagree," the Scot told LFC Weekly.

Dalglish turned around the Reds' season after taking over from Roy Hodgson in January and also oversaw the arrival of striking duo Andrew Carroll and former Ajax star Luis Suarez.

"The history and tradition of this club makes us attractive whether we are or aren't involved in European competition. If a player thinks otherwise we are better off without him."

Liverpool Closing In On £10m Deal For James McCarthy

Liverpool is closing in on making James McCarthy their first summer signing after the midfielder told Wigan Athletic he has his heart set on a move to Anfield, can reveal.

Kenny Dalglish is a huge admirer of the 20-year-old and the Reds are believed to be willing to spend as much as £10 million to land one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League.

Chelsea are also understood to have registered an interest in McCarthy but understands the player has told Wigan executives he wants them to reach an agreement with Liverpool.

Wigan had initially asked for £16m for the Republic of Ireland international but there have been indications that they are now ready to soften their stance, with manager Roberto Martinez promised he can re-invest money raised from player sales.

“It is 90 per cent done, all sides now seem to accept it is going to happen and it's a matter of everyone trying to get the best deal,” a source close to the talks told

McCarthy turned down a move to Merseyside before joining Wigan for £1.2m from Scottish side Hamilton Academical in 2009 as he felt regular football would be better for his development. He now believes he has proven he is ready to take the next step and leave the DW Stadium.

McCarthy is under contract until 2014 but Wigan are regarded as a selling club by other English sides following the high profile transfers of Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively.

While the Latics' financial game plan is based on selling players for a huge project, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group want to build a squad based on the best young British talent.

McCarthy, who was born in Glasgow and can play either centrally or wide, fits that billing and Reds director of football Damien Comolli agrees with Dalglish that he will be a star of the future.

“Liverpool has shown the most interest for quite a while and have convinced him that it will be the best move to fulfil his potential,” the source added. “Being a Glaswegian from a Celtic-supporting family, working with Dalglish is obviously a big factor as well.”

Anfield legend Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in January and is planning significant moves in the summer transfer market after signing a three-year contract last month.

Along with Comolli, the club has identified a number of targets as they look to bolster the squad by signing at least two wide men, a central midfielder, a left-back and a centre-back.

Aston Villa star Ashley Young is their No.1 target as Dalglish looks to bring in a new winger, with Sylvain Marveaux also expected to arrive from Rennes on a free transfer. The Reds have also registered an interest in £20m-rated Eden Hazard, the attacking midfielder at Lille who is a target for a number of leading European clubs.

Liverpool have shown a strong interest in Bolton centre-back Gary Cahill and Blackburn's Phil Jones, while Newcastle star Jose Enrique is their first choice left-back.

Liverpool FC Put £8m Price Tag On Striker David Ngog

Liverpool has slapped an £8million price tag on striker David Ngog.

The Reds are prepared to sell the 22-year-old Frenchman who is keen to secure regular first team football.

There have been a number of enquiries from clubs across Europe, including Newcastle United, but there have so far been no bids matching Liverpool's valuation.

Ngog has scored 19 goals in 94 appearances for the Reds since his £1.5million move from Paris St Germaine three years ago.

The former France Under-21 international made 18 starts and a further 20 substitute appearances this season but his chances were severely limited following the Reds' £57.8million swoop for strikers Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January.

Ngog was handed just two starts under Kenny Dalglish and both of those came in the Europa League. Five of his eight goals this term came in Europe.

A fee of £8million would represent a big return on Liverpool's investment but they believe it's a fair amount for developing Ngog from an unknown rookie into a relatively experienced top flight frontman.

As well as listening to offers for Ngog, Liverpool is set to step up their pursuit of Aston Villa's Stewart Downing after he shelved contract talks.

The England winger has said he's at “a major crossroads” in his career and has no interest in discussing a new deal with Villa.

Dalglish Given Green Light To Chase £39m Argentinian Assassin

Athletico Madrid chief executive Minguel Angel Gil Marin insists Real Madrid won’t be making a deal with Sergio Aguero.

Gil Marin said that the relationship between Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid means that Aguero won’t move between the clubs.

“[Florentino Perez] has told me he has no intention of signing Aguero and I do not doubt him,” Gil Marin told Spanish newspaper AS.

“Firstly, due to the good relationship we have personally and secondly, due to the clubs' relationship.''

The news that Aguero is no longer moving to Real will no doubt excite Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who has been connected with the Argentinian on a number of occasions.

Aguero has a clause in his contract which states that if a club is willing to offer £39 million, according to the Metro, it will trigger a release in the striker’s contract to allow him to leave.

Chelsea is also in the mix for the star, with Roman Abramovich reportedly seeing Aguero as a good partner for Fernando Torres, and a replacement for Didier Drogba should the striker choose to exit the club.

Manchester City has also shown interest in Aguero, though Liverpool are said to be front runners for the 22-year-old’s signature.

Liverpool Target Could Stay At Wolfsburg

Liverpool target Diego could yet stay at Wolfsburg despite falling out with the management staff.

The Brazilian playmaker, who is understood to be a transfer priority for Liverpool, looked set to leave the Bundesliga after storming out of a team meeting earlier this month following manager Felix Magath's decision to start him on the bench for their next game.

Magath even suggested the club would consider taking legal action against the midfielder, whose conduct came the day before their crucial relegation clash against Hoffenheim which they needed to win to stay up.

Following the incident, Diego was even reported to have said: "I will not stay at Wolfsburg, the whole world knows this."

But Magath has now revealed that Diego's departure is not a foregone conclusion and has hinted that the former-Juventus star still has a future at the Volkswagen Arena.

Magath said: "I'm not interested in his comments.

"I expect him to be there when we start training."

English Eyes On Auxerre Ace understands a host of English clubs are tracking Auxerre midfielder Delvin Ndinga.

Ndinga has impressed at Auxerre in the last couple of seasons after being snapped up from Congolese side Diables Noires.

The 23-year-old caught the eye during Auxerre's Champions League campaign this season and he is establishing himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe.

Ndinga's performances have not gone unnoticed among Europe's top clubs with Manchester United and Liverpool credited with an interest in the powerful midfielder.

The Congo international is under contract with Auxerre until 2014, but they could face a fight to keep hold of him this summer if any of his suitors firm up their interest.

Ndinga's agent, Milan Calasan, has confirmed a number of English clubs are keeping tabs on the midfielder.

"I know a lot of English clubs are watching Delvin," Calasan told

"Delvin has impressed in the Champions League and a lot of teams are keeping an eye on him.

"I believe Delvin would be ideal for England as he has all the attributes to be a success in England and he would love the chance to play in the Premier League."

Dalglish Expects Fergie Plan

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has tipped Sir Alex Ferguson to show his tactical nous in Saturday's UEFA Champions League final.

Manchester United is aiming to win the Champions League for a third time since Ferguson became manager when they face Barcelona at Wembley.

The Spanish champions are expected to win by the majority of the football community but Dalglish remains cautious about the outcome.

The Anfield legend, who helped the Reds win the European Cup three times, told Sky Sports: "Saturday is a huge game for both clubs. Obviously Barcelona you would imagine would be favourites.

Barcelona's strength was emphasized in the World Player of the Year awards with Lionel Messi finishing top with team-mates Andreas Iniesta second and Xavi third.

While Dalglish recognizes the trio's quality, he complimented United's front two of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.

Dalglish said: "When you have three players from one team in the running for World Player of the Year you are a useful side.

"Wayne Rooney is not a bad player either and Javier Hernandez has had a great season. So we can sit back and relax and watch it. It doesn't matter to us."

Benfica Set Coentrao Price

Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira insists Fabio Coentrao would only be allowed to leave for €30million (£26m).

The attack-minded Portugal left-back has been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid, Manchester City, AC Milan,Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

But Benfica are unwilling to allow Coentrao to leave for anything less than £26million.

The club's president, Luis Filipe Vieira, told Portuguese media: "Coentrao can only leave if a club pays €30m, which is his value in the market."

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha has reported that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has already agreed a deal for Coentrao.

But Real and Manchester City would have the financial clout to outbid the Anfield outfit if it becomes clear that the 23-year-old is available.

Eljero Elia: I Want Liverpool Move Because They Are The Biggest Club In England

Hamburg winger Eljero Elia wants to move to Liverpool because they are the biggest team in England.

The Daily Mirror reports the 24-year-old was the subject of interest from Reds’ manager Kenny Dalglish in January but Hamburg would not let him go.

Dalglish is reportedly still keen on the wide man and will consider another bid this summer.

The Holland international is still keen on a move to Anfield but Liverpool will face competition from Juventus and Everton for his signature.

Elia shot to prominence under Steve McClaren at FC Twente and secured a £6.8million move to the Bundesliga club in 2009.

But he has now fallen out with head coach Armin Veh and is adamant he will wants to move to either the Premier League or Serie A.

“My agent asked what was going on. It became clear that the management wanted me to play, but Veh refused to play me,” he told NUsport.

“There was enough interest. Liverpool, Everton and Juventus wanted me in the winter, loaning me out initially with an option to buy. Wolfsburg immediately offered €20 million and a top salary.

“Wolfsburg was fighting against relegation, my old coach Steve McClaren was under pressure. However, my instinct said no.”

“Liverpool remains England’s top team and Juventus are still the biggest club in Italy. Bigger than AC Milan, Inter and the rest, but Hamburg did not want to let me go.”

Flanagan's Pride At Award

John Flanagan today spoke of his pride at being named Liverpool's best reserve-team player of 2010-11.

The right-back held off competition from the likes of Suso, Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom and Daniel Pacheco to claim the award, as voted by the fans in an exclusive poll on this website.

Flanagan picked up 41 per cent of the vote to finish ahead of Suso (30 per cent) and Pacheco (eight per cent).

Speaking exclusively to, Flanagan said: "First of all I would like to thank all the supporters because it is special having them vote for me, especially with me being a local lad.

"It's been a fantastic season for me and the fans are always brilliant with me.

"I would also like to thank Frank McParland, Rodolfo Borrell and Pep Segura at the Academy and our former reserve-team boss John McMahon. They have all been a big help for me."

After being nurtured at the Academy in Kirkby, Flanagan was given his first-team debut by Kenny Dalglish against big spenders Manchester City on April 11 at Anfield.

In what was seen by many as the best debut by a full-back since Rob Jones's display at Old Trafford in 1991, Flanagan played his part as the Reds won 3-0.

He was assured and confident - and such was the level of his performance that he remained in the starting XI for the rest of 2010-11.

He also picked up a Golden Samba, which was presented to him by Red All Over the Land after our final home game of the campaign against Tottenham Hotspur.

Flanagan is currently with the England squad preparing for the UEFA European U19s Championships Elite Qualifying Round Group 2, which takes place in Switzerland between May 31- June 5.

The opening game is against Montenegro on Tuesday, May 5, followed by matches against Switzerland (June 2) and Spain (June 5).

The right-back is joined in the squad by Anfield teammates Thomas Ince, Jack Robinson, Conor Coady, Andre Wisdom and Michael Ngoo.

He added: "At the start of the season I was enjoying playing regular football in the reserves and to then end up in the first team was just amazing.

"The manager Kenny Dalglish has been absolutely brilliant and shown a lot of faith in me. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to play for him and this football club and I will keep working hard in the future.

"I would also like to thank Jamie Carragher, who has been a big help for me. He always talks to you during the game and is a big inspiration to me."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Liverpool Dive Into Northern Ireland Pool Of Talent

Take a walk along a corridor at Liverpool FC's Academy and on the walls you are surrounded by lines of framed pictures of kids who have come through the ranks to break into the first team.

A baby faced Steven Gerrard is there. So too a mischievous looking Jamie Carragher. And Jay Spearing, with wonderment in his eyes. They may have to extend the corridor soon because more than at any time in recent years, youngsters are progressing from the Academy to senior status.

This season alone Liverpool fans have been excited to witness the progress of Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson.

More will follow with high hopes for gifted young winger Raheem Sterling, who made a name for himself earlier this season scoring FIVE goals in an FA Youth Cup fixture.

Earlier in the season, with Roy Hodgson in charge and defeats and dreadful displays becoming the rule rather than the exception, there was a sense of doom and gloom enveloping Liverpool.

But on a visit, just before Liverpool’s season ended, to the Academy and Melwood, where the first team players train, it was clear to see the mood had changed.

Smiles lit up the faces of big name footballers and staff, the atmosphere was relaxed rather than tense and hearts were filled with hope once more. It's evident that a feelgood factor is oozing through the club.

Kenny Dalglish is the manager again, results improved in the second half of the campaign and talented kids emerged thanks to the outstanding efforts of Academy Director Frank McParland and his team.

There is a genuine belief amongst the fans that Liverpool could become a force once more in England and beyond.

For all the Kopites, including thousands in Northern Ireland, they’ll feel that’s not before time having had to put up with stick from their Manchester United loving friends and colleagues, whose favourite number is now 19.

United, of course, have a rich history of players from this part of the world making an impact at Old Trafford.

George Best will forever be regarded as the greatest of them all, but others like Harry Gregg, Jackie Blanchflower, Sammy McIlroy and Norman Whiteside would all be considered big heroes at the club, while in the present day Jonny Evans is maintaining the tradition.

It's amazing to note Liverpool have not had a Northern Ireland international in their first team for almost 80 years.

Aghadowey native Sam English was the last. In fact the club has only had three men in total who have represented the Irish FA. Billy Lacey and the great Elisha Scott came before English.

There is a desire amongst the many Liverpool fans here who travel to Anfield every fortnight and indeed within the Merseyside club itself, that will change in the not too distant future.

Northern Ireland under-17 defender Ryan McLaughlin recently signed a three year deal for the Anfield outfit.

And more could follow him thanks to a series of Liverpool FC Soccer Schools being organized all over the country, with the kids coached by McParland’s Academy coaches.

In association with the recently formed charity Happy Children, youngsters here have already enjoyed coaching courses at Jordanstown and Magee College in Londonderry taught in “the Liverpool Way'.

In weeks and months to come the Academy coaches will impart their knowledge and expertise around the province.

It’s a move designed not just to find stars of the future, but to promote the Liverpool FC brand in Northern Ireland and more simply for boys and girls to enjoy themselves.

Academy Director McParland, who works closely with Anfield boss Dalglish, believes it is an important step for the club.

He says: “The Soccer Schools are great for us. It gives us a chance to see youngsters and also provides possibilities for the top players to have a trial and maybe even get signed.

“We are looking all around the world for bright young talent and that includes Northern Ireland.

“I should say that the Soccer Schools aren’t just about finding a brilliant young player. It’s our chance to give something back to people in Northern Ireland, where we have a great support, and for kids to come and enjoy themselves and learn about football the Liverpool Way.”

And if they get to the Academy, there is always the chance of playing with the King himself.

“Kenny has had a massive influence on the Academy,” adds McParland.

“He is very supportive and very knowledgeable about the youngsters. He knows every player involved in the reserves, under-18s and under-16s by name and a lot of the younger ones as well.

“The boss still comes down at least once a week. If the first team has a day off he comes down to watch training and wants to join in. With everything he has achieved in the game it’s amazing for the lads.”

Meanwhile, Ryan McLaughlin is considered one of the brightest prospects to come out of Northern Ireland in some time, according to Frank McParland, who will oversee his progress at Liverpool over the next three years.

Liverpool FC Academy Director McParland is full of praise for the 16-year-old defender who will leave home in the summer in a bid to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

The St Mary's CBGS pupil showed why Liverpool regard him so highly when he starred for his school in their 4-3 victory over Boys Model in the Maxol Schools Cup final in March.

That match at Ballyskeagh may have been marred by fighting on the terraces, but anyone interested in the football could see that McLaughlin was a player with a touch of class.

He scored two penalties in the game, including a late winner from the spot when the pressure was on.

McLaughlin, who like many gifted young players from the province learnt much playing for Lisburn Youth, recently signed a three-year deal to join Liverpool.

“At the end of that contract I want to have done well enough to earn a new one,” says Ryan, a determined young man.

McParland, installed as the Academy Director two years ago by ex-Reds manager Rafael Benitez, says: “We scouted Ryan over the last two years and a lot of clubs were interested in him. In fact I'd say all the top clubs in the Premier League wanted him. We worked very hard to get him.

“We've looked after him and when he comes over in July he’ll be in nice digs which his parents are really pleased with.

“He's a good player and we're very excited by the prospect of him coming to us. He will definitely learn quickly because he's an intelligent young lad.

“He's been playing above his age level for Northern Ireland and when he's been over here at the Academy for training and matches he has done exceptionally well.”

Frank, whose Scouse wit is as sharp as his eye in spotting future stars, added that Reds boss Kenny Dalglish and Director of Football Damien Comolli have already watched Ryan and been impressed with what they saw.

McParland stated: “The manager and Damien have both seen him play and they are really impressed by the level he has reached so far. We're really looking forward to seeing him develop because when he's with us full-time and playing and training here every day he'll progress even quicker.

“He's coming over in July after finishing his schoolwork which is important. His parents were keen for him to finish his schooling.

“Once he's over here with us we feel he can go through the ranks quickly. We think we have got one of the best young players to come out of Northern Ireland in the last few years.”

The man tasked with feeding the next generation of Liverpool superstars is from Crumlin in Co Antrim.

Marty McMahon moved to Merseyside from Northern Ireland five years ago and is now the head chef at the Liverpool Academy.

Starting his career at Quincys Bar and Grill in Lisburn, he worked in restaurants in Londonderry before becoming the head chef at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Now he enjoys the banter of gifted young footballers, all hoping to make their way in the game, sticking to the strict food guidelines set out by the club.

He says: “There are guidelines that you have to work with — it's a high protein, high carb diet for the boys.

“You must have a fish option on a daily basis and chicken and pasta is essential every day, post-match and pre-match, and then there will be another meat option within the guidelines coming from the nutritionist at Melwood.

“The players aren't allowed anything fried or chips, though I'm asked every day in life for chips. They are teenagers at heart and the craic is good.

“I love working at the Academy. I'm a Liverpool fan which helps. You just want to see all the lads go on and do well.”