Saturday, July 30, 2011

Liverpool Prepare Bid For James McCarthy

Liverpool is preparing a bid for Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy after a lack of progress in his contract talks with the Latics, according to The Daily Mirror.

As exclusively revealed by back in May, the Anfield club is interested in bringing in the Ireland international to continue their policy of building a squad based on young British talent.

The report claims that such a move is now closer than ever as McCarthy has yet to negotiate a pay increase at the DW Stadium despite contract talks having opened more than a month ago, encouraging Liverpool to make their move.

McCarthy reportedly picked Wigan over a move to Merseyside back in 2009 in order to ensure a run in the first-team; but now, at the age of 20, it would seem that the midfield playmaker feels it is time to move on.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan would prefer to keep the player at the club, but may be forced to sell, having previously admitted difficulty in keeping such talents as McCarthy at the club.

Charles N’Zogbia is a prime example of Wigan electing to sell this summer rather than lose a player for a reduced fee in January or at the end of his contract - and the report suggests McCarthy could soon be following the Frenchman out of the exit door.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is understood to be willing to make a bid of around £15 million to fend off apparent interest in McCarthy from Premier League rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.

Reds Search Close To Home To Solve Left-Back Issue

Liverpool's left back question could be right on Kenny Dalglish's door step, as Tranmere Rovers youngster Danny Holmes has been linked to the club, according to talkSPORT.

Dalglish has so far been looking abroad to the likes of Aly Cissokho for a new Liverpool left back, but the Merseyside neighbours have been harbouring a budding star suitable for the role.

Holmes is a versatile defender who can play across the back line. He has been between Southport and The New Saints and has found himself back at Npower League One side Tranmere Rovers this year, where he started his youth career.

The 22-year-old has never featured internationally at any level, but has been watched closely by neighbours Liverpool.

Holmes was named in the Welsh Premier League manager's team of the season for two years in a row before moving back to English football, after making 58 appearances for The New Saints.

Liverpool’s Ince Joins Blackpool

Liverpool winger Tom Ince will complete his move to Blackpool today.

The 19-year-old was given special permission to play 45 minutes of last night’s 1-1 draw with Latvian outfit Jelgava at Bloomfield Road, where striker Craig Sutherland scored his first Pool goal.

Ince held talks with Pool chairman Karl Oyston afterwards and is to be confirmed as Pool’s ninth summer signing today.

The son of England midfielder Paul Ince has impressed in the reserve and youth teams at Anfield since 2008. His one first-team appearance was as a substitute in last season’s Carling Cup defeat to Northampton.

He spent a successful loan spell at Notts County, where his father was in charge, scoring twice in six appearances.

Joining Ince in last night’s line-up was trialist goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

The 20-year-old Australian was released by Liverpool last month after spending much of last season on loan at Accrington Stanley.

Pepe Reina Looking To Comeback From Injury Against Valerenga

After recovering from a double hernia operation, Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is raring to make his comeback in Monday's friendly against Valerenga.

The Spaniard has played no part in the Red’s pre-season plans so far following his surgery, but now the former Villarreal shot-stopper feels confident that he can appear in some capacity in the club’s next match.

There is some work to be done for him to be ready for the Premier League opener game against Sunderland, but Reina insists he will be fully fit in time for the fixture.

"The target is to play in Valerenga, and then after Valencia there is one more week and that should be good enough to get that fitness," Reina told the club’s website.

"Just because of precaution, we didn't want to rush it - there was no point in doing that. I'm totally recovered now, training with the team as normal and looking forward. I can't wait to play again.

"It wasn't that nice because my holidays were in the same time as my operation. But after three years without having a proper holiday, I did rest a little bit more this season."

Whilst Reina has been recovering from his operation Liverpool have been busy in the transfer market, with new acquisitions such as Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson arriving at the club.

The 28-year-old believes manager Kenny Dalglish and the club has shown positive intentions in restoring the Merseyside outfit’s reputation in the Premier League.

"I think we have shown our ambitions during the window," he said. "The rest of the teams did the same and it's going to be tough to compete against them, but we are optimistic, and the season can go really well for us."

Team-mate Luis Suarez has also not been able to feature in the team’s pre-season exploits thanks to his successful campaign in the Copa America with Uruguay, a feat Reina was proud to see the striker achieve.

Reina added: "It's a great moment and I was happy texting him congratulating him, because he deserved that. And it can be really good for his confidence and the team's confidence at the same time.

"As we saw the last six months of last season, he is a top, top player, and among the best strikers in the world. He will show that, he will be a fantastic player for us."

Adam Eager To Show His Worth

Liverpool fans will finally get to discover whether the long wait was worth it when Charlie Adam makes his competitive debut next month.

The 25-year-old first emerged as a target for manager Kenny Dalglish in January after some impressive performances as captain of Blackpool.

Dalglish was frustrated not to secure the services of his fellow Scot back then, but some hard bargaining by the Seasiders delayed the completion of a £6.75million deal until July, when the Reds were in a much stronger position as Blackpool had been relegated and Adam was down to the final 12 months of his contract.

Adam finds himself battling for a place in what is already an over-stocked midfield, but it seems inconceivable he will not be given a decent run after the club worked so hard to bring him in.

The Scotland international has impressed in pre-season, but knows he has to take a significant step up when the Barclays Premier League kicks off.

He has played in the Scottish top flight for Rangers with marginal success but his displays for Blackpool, when he was the player the whole team revolved around, were the ones which got him noticed.

Adam is confident he will be able to adapt to no longer being the star turn and is realistic to understand he still has plenty to learn.

He said: "It feels like we have been playing together for a long time but Liverpool have many other talented midfielders, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles and (fellow new signing) Jordan Henderson.

"I think the competition for places will be good for the club. I thrive on that type of challenge and I'm sure the others lads will as well.

"I want to learn and there are some of the best players in the world at this club so if I can learn from them I am going to improve as a player. That is my aim.

"I see this as the perfect development for me to come here, play with such wonderful players and hopefully help the team to win trophies, because that's the most important thing."

Managing expectations is something Adam will also have to get used to.

At Blackpool their sole aim was avoiding relegation, but now he is at a club which will be challenging to regain their place in the top four and the mindset required is totally different.

Not that Adam is lacking in ambition.

"I came to Liverpool to win titles and I would trade in anything for that, even if it meant not scoring at all next season," he added.

"I can't wait to get started and hopefully this will be a successful period in my career and in the club's history.

"At the end of the day you get judged on trophies and as a footballer you want to win as many as you can. This club has had a lot of success over the years, so let's get back to doing that."

Aquilani Calls Fiorentina And Roma

Alberto Aquilani’s agent insists he will only accept a permanent transfer to Fiorentina and blasted Roma. “They would’ve been considered.”

The midfielder spent last season on loan at Juventus and is not part of Liverpool’s plans.

“Alberto has given the all-clear to join Fiorentina, but he doesn’t want to find himself in the same position of having to reconsider his position next season,” agent Franco Zavaglia told Rete Sport.

Other options for a return to Serie A included Milan and Napoli, but not hometown club Roma.

“It has to be said Roma never even bothered to call Aquilani. We didn’t expect them to, but they certainly would’ve been considered.

“At the moment he is a Liverpool player, seeing as recently he played in a friendly against Galatasaray and did well.”

Comolli Excited By Academy

Damien Comolli has revealed how a production line from the Academy to Melwood is crucial to the owners' vision of success at Liverpool.

The emergence of players such as Jack Robinson and John Flanagan at the end of last season provided proof that the work being done by the likes of Pep Segura, Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell over in Kirkby was paying dividends.

A clutch of others are on the brink of the senior squad - while more than 25 scholars regularly represent their countries at youth level.

Supporters have witnessed for themselves the potential at the Academy thanks to LFC TV airing live matches - and Comolli shares their excitement.

"It's absolutely crucial for the future of the club," said our Director of Football. "The owners came in and very early said the Academy was very important because that's the way they've been running the Red Sox with players coming through the youth development in baseball.

"They would not understand (if we said) we could not do the same here."

Comolli believes the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager will improve the chances of producing 'the next Gerrard' yet further.

He explained: "When I arrived I could see straight away the quality was there, the training was in place, very competent people were there like Frank McParland, Pep Segura and Rodolfo Borrell.

"Then it became easier in a way because with Kenny being in charge - he's a kind of link between the two because he was at the Academy for a few years. He knows those kids by heart and coming here to Melwood, he never hesitated in promoting them.

"It is very exciting because they've seen Jack Robinson doing well last year, they've seen Flanno doing well last year, they've seen Conor Coady being involved, they've seen Andre Wisdom being involved, they've seen Raheem being involved.

"It's a very exciting time for the Academy and it's very rewarding for the people in the Academy to see the players they are producing actually being used and being played in the first team.

"They are very grateful that Kenny has decided to put those players in."

'NextGen Excites Us All'

In our first Academy column of the new campaign, Frank McParland discusses the NextGen Series as well as the adventures of our youngsters during a memorable pre-season.

First of all, it's great to be back following a productive summer both on and off the pitch for everyone involved at Kirkby.

We have implemented some important changes involving our staff, had up to seven players away at the U17 World Cup and seen a number of our lads feature for the first team as part of Kenny Dalglish's preparations for the new campaign.

Everything about the club is very positive at the moment and there is a general consensus that big progress is being made at all levels.

Rodolfo Borrell has taken charge of the reserve team which has allowed Mike Marsh to assume the U18 post. These are two coaches that we rate very highly and we have already seen some enjoyable football from both teams - even at this stage of the pre-season.

I can't wait for the new campaign to start now and I have to say I am really excited about our involvement in the NextGen Series.

It all kicks off on August 17 with a clash against Sporting Lisbon at Anfield. We have been drawn in a really interesting group as the Portuguese side have one of the finest youth set-ups in Europe. Molde have also stated that their home game against us is going to be a sell-out with over 10,000 spectators, while Wolfsburg have got a strong group of young talent coming through.

There's no doubt the boys are going to be stretched but that's exactly what we want. They will be playing against the continent's most exciting young talents and every last one of them will be hungry to make an impact, which maybe can't be said with regular reserve team football.

The NextGen games will all be played at big stadiums and I think that will help make it a great spectacle. I'd urge our supporters to get along to Anfield and watch these matches. It's all very new and will benefit our players massively.

Last season the U18s were getting 400-500 people at their matches in Kirkby. I'd never seen so many people watching us in action before, but hopefully we can get into the thousands for these eye-catching games in L4.

It would make for a fantastic atmosphere and would certainly help our young lads. We do urge everyone to come along, bring the kids, and let us entertain.

Both the boss and Damien Comolli have been massive in their support for this tournament and it will be great to fly the flag for the club in Europe this season.

I'm delighted it's all come to fruition as I was involved in the initial talks about it three or four years ago. I did a brief stint as first-team scout at Watford with Mark Warburton, who is the man who has got the competition off the ground.

He was the Academy director at Vicarage Road at the time and we often talked about how we could improve and advance youth football.

We used to throw ideas like this one around and say how fantastic it would be to pit kids from the biggest clubs in England against the giants of Europe.

Now it's become a reality and I'm delighted that Mark took this project on after leaving Watford. It's been in the pipeline for some time and I just can't wait for it to get started now.

Like I've said, this will only benefit our young players in the future and the involvement of a number of our lads in the first team's pre-season matches will also be invaluable experience.
The manager has taken players directly from the U18s as well as the reserves and given them a taste of what it's like to represent Liverpool's senior squad.

When they are right to go, they can go. But you need to have everyone on the same page. We have a plan for every player and we will only look to progress them at the right stage for both them and the club.

Not one of the young lads who have gone away with the first team has let themselves down and I'm sure the boss would back me up on that.

A few of them have been involved recently and that's great. Who knows what will happen at the start of the season. They may all be back here with us or one or two might stay at Melwood.

What we are emphasizing to them is that they look to give the same performance in training every day, whether it be with the U18s, the reserves or alongside Luis Suarez with the first team.

I'm watching that situation very closely and speaking to the boss and Damien about our players on a daily basis. We can't have someone coming back thinking they have made it because if that's the case, they won't be going to Melwood again.

It's up to them to show their quality and do it week in, week out.

I was speaking to Conor Coady the other day and he wasn't sure at that stage whether he was going away with the first team to Galatasaray.

He asked me if he could play for the reserves if he didn't travel. That's the type of attitude you are looking for.

It's all coming together nicely as we adapt to being a centre that develops youngsters as well as reserve team players.

We feel we are making good strides in what we are trying to achieve here and we are now looking forward to what we hope can be an even better year this time around.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Match Report: Galatasaray 3 - 0 Liverpool

An understrength Liverpool side lost 3-0 to Galatasaray in Istanbul, their second successive pre-season defeat by that scoreline.

Having been defeated at Hull on Saturday, manager Kenny Dalglish sent out a virtual reserve side in the first half at the Turk Telekom Arena, with only Andy Carroll considered a genuine first-team starter.

Such was the make-up of the team there were five full-backs on the pitch at the start and the disjointedness cost them as former Reds striker Milan Baros hooked home an eighth-minute volley and added a far-post header just before half-time.

The introduction of Dirk Kuyt and Alberto Aquilani at the interval improved the cohesion slightly but when former Bolton striker Johan Elmander crashed home a volley from the edge of the area seven minutes from time the visitors' difficult night was complete.

Liverpool has now conceded three goals in each of their four pre-season friendlies so far.

They play Valerenga in Norway on Monday when Dalglish is expected to field a much stronger side.

Kenny's Istanbul Verdict

Kenny Dalglish acknowledged his disappointment at seeing Liverpool go down to a 3-0 friendly defeat to Galatasaray on Thursday, but believes the game can stand his squad in good stead for the season ahead.

Two first-half goals from former Anfield forward Milan Baros and a stunning volley from Johan Elmander condemned the Reds to defeat in Istanbul.

But while unhappy with the result, Dalglish feels the workout his players were given at the Turk Telekom Arena will assist in ensuring their primed for the start of the Barclays Premier League season next month.

He told a post-match press conference: "I think they looked a bit sharper than us at the start of the game. It was the same as at the weekend in that we played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half.

"But the players worked hard and they'll benefit from the effort they put in. It won't do us any harm for the season ahead, but we've got to get ourselves a bit sharper, a bit more clued up and lively when we're not in possession of the ball."

He added: "I think the benefit is it's another game. They looked a bit sharper than us and are maybe a wee bit ahead of us. Their season was due to start but I think it's been put back for a number of days."

"We've just got to get ourselves street-wise on the pitch and get up to speed with our thoughts when we're not in possession of the ball. August 13 is a big day for us when the season starts, and we'd like to think this will stand us in good stead getting towards that date."

Liverpool named a youthful squad for the trip to Turkey, with the likes of Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger remaining at Melwood to prepare for Monday's trip to Valerenga.

Asked about his team selection, Dalglish told reporters: "It's pre-season. We've another game on Monday and we've got to pick another team.

"We'll have people back who weren't eligible for this game. For the young boys who played it will have been a great experience for them, and for the players who played it will be good for fitness.

"We don't want to lose a game, but we've got two games in four days and a long trip home tonight, so we had to take that into consideration when we were picking the team - and we'll also take it into consideration when we pick the team on Monday."

Meanwhile, local journalists asked Dalglish for his thoughts on the performance of Galatasaray star Arda Turan as well as the atmosphere inside the Turk Telekom Arena.

He replied: "It was a good atmosphere, Galatasaray played well, they were sharp at the beginning and quicker than us, but I wouldn't have picked out any of their players because we were only watching our own players."

Park Wants 'First Choice' Liverpool Move

Park Chu-Young is a target for German side Schalke, but would prefer a move to Liverpool, according to talkSPORT.

After declaring that his future lay away from current side Monaco, the South Korean is looking for a new club for the upcoming season after claiming he would refuse to play in the second tier of French football following Monaco's relegation.

Despite Schalke's advances, Liverpool is still his preferred destination.

With David N'Gog still set to leave Liverpool, Park would provide ideal back up to Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in The Reds' attack.

Park's demands means he would be available for as little as £6 million, despite scoring 12 goals last season for Monaco.

The price is expected to tempt Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur into bidding for the 26-year-old this summer.

Park's fellow countryman Ji Sung-Park is also being linked with a move away from his club, Manchester United, after he claimed he was uncertain about his future at United.

The duo both stared for South Korea during the 2010 World Cup, but United and Monaco could be set to lose two of their prized assets.

Liverpool And United Fight For African Strike Sensation

Manchester United is set to run the rule over AIK Solna striker Teteh Bangura who has also attracted interest from Liverpool according to talkSPORT.

The 21-year-old forward is one of the hottest properties in Sweden with his goalscoring record of 15 goals in as many games attracting interest from a host of top European clubs.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is known to be on the lookout for the brightest up and coming talent the world has to offer, and is reportedly keen to bring Bangura to Anfield at the earliest opportunity.

Having already recruited the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Alexander Doni, Liverpool could take their spending over £50million with the addition of the African ace.

Bangura only joined Solna on a three-year deal in October 2010 after previously impressing in the lower leagues, and it hasn't taken long for interest to rise again in the talented star.

With a host of Barclays Premier League rivals also monitoring Bangura, Manchester United are the next side to take a look at the Sierra Leone international, with Sir Alex Ferguson's brother and, Red Devils chief scout Martin expected to be in the stands for Solna's league game against Elfsborg this weekend.

Ferguson has been made aware of Bangura's potential through reported interest from United's domestic rivals, and doesn't want to miss out on the chance to bring another promising star to Old Trafford at the expense of Liverpool.

Liverpool Facing Merseyside Fight Over England Ace

Everton is the latest club to be linked with a move for Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.

The England international has been on the radar of a handful of clubs this summer as speculation mounts that he could leave Eastlands.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish was reportedly considering a move less than a fortnight ago, with the Daily Star Sunday claiming the Scot has taken a keen interest in the former Middlesbrough man.

Anfield interest first swelled back in March, with claims in The Sun that Johnson would be willing to consider a move to Liverpool.

Despite securing the services of Stewart Downing on Merseyside for £20 million, Liverpool continues to be linked with wingers, with Juan Mata another player speculatively placed on the radar.

As with the Spaniard, Liverpool would face stiff competition to secure another signing this summer, and competition for Johnson comes in the shape of Everton.

The Daily Mail claims the Toffees are preparing 'an ambitious loan move' to bring the 24-year-old to Goodison Park, offering regular first team football under David Moyes.

AC Milan Join Fiorentina In Race For Alberto Aquilani

AC Milan is closely monitoring the situation of Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani as they consider the addition of the former Roma and Juventus midfielder, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

The 27-year-old is surplus to requirements at the English side and initially appeared to be on his way to Fiorentina.

Nevertheless, the Tuscans would prefer to take Aquilani on loan, while the playmaker has set his sights on a permanent move. Although the player's agent is adamant that the deal could still go ahead, the Italy international is believed to be looking at other options and would be open to a move to San Siro.

Milan is eager to add some fresh impetus to their midfield ahead of the 2011-12 campaign and have previously been linked with players such as Ganso, Marek Hamsik and Riccardo Montolivo.

When asked about a possible move for Aquilani, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani refused to extensively comment, but hinted that the Liverpool man could be an option: "Aquilani our 'Mister X'? Well, that could happen," he remarked.

Nevertheless, Milan won't make a move for Aquilani just yet, as Galliani revealed earlier this week that the Serie A champions will only approach a new midfielder in the closing stages of the transfer market in an attempt to get their man for a reduced price.

Dalglish Poised To Snatch £12m Defender From Relegated Rivals

Fresh reports linking Liverpool with a move for Scott Dann have emerged this morning, speculating that Kenny Dalglish could steal the Birmingham City defender away because of his current employers’ dire financial situation.

Due to the legal trouble that Carson Yeung, the owner of the Midlands club, now finds himself in, it seems as if the Blues could struggle to make any headway in the transfer market prior to their season in the Championship.

24 year-old Dann has been an alleged target for Liverpool and Arsenal throughout this summer, though Arsenal are thought to be far more interested in the potential acquisition of Phil Jagielka.

Indeed, just today Arsene Wenger has made a £15 million bid for the Everton centre-back.

Dann is a lifelong Liverpool fan and would understandably jump at the chance of a move to Anfield to work under Kop legend Dalglish, who is a known admirer of him.

The Liverpool boss is looking to bolster his defence after injuries last season saw his back-line stretched for large parts of the year.

Although the academy players who stepped in - namely Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan - themselves well, Dalglish is keen to add more experienced defenders.

Liverpool's transfer policy of recruiting young British players - highlighted by the £35m purchase of Andy Carroll and the recent buys of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing - means Dann certainly fits the profile.

Hull City Ponder Daniel Ayala As Cover For Paul McShane

Hull City could re-sign Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala on loan to cover Paul McShane, who will be out for several weeks with a calf injury.

Boss Nigel Pearson told BBC Humberside: "To pick up an injury at this point in pre-season is disappointing for us and him. We'll have to deal with it."

Ayala, 21, made 12 appearances for Hull during a loan spell last season.

Pearson added: "There are always different criteria that will dictate whether we can or can't make the deal."

Hull rejected a loan bid for Republic of Ireland international McShane, 25, from Reading earlier this summer as the club's owners have refused to subsidize any loan deals away from the club.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preview & Matchday: Liverpool vs Galatasaray S.K.

Three games down, three left, and with the new Premier League season just over the horizon it wouldn’t be surprising to see many key players get more than a half of action when Liverpool heads to Istanbul to take on Galatasaray later today. While Istanbul is hardly unfamiliar territory for Liverpool, the sold-out Turk Telekom Arena will be new, as the modern, state of the art stadium that took the club out of its old haunts and dropped it next to a freeway on the city’s outskirts only opened in January.

While no news has been released on Liverpool’s traveling squad yet, rumours have Pepe Reina and Steven Gerrard far from match fit and remaining in Liverpool, while Raul Meireles (ankle) and Daniel Agger (unknown) are believed to have stayed behind nursing slight knocks as well. Martin Skrtel, however, is expected to be available to make his first appearance of the preseason after a 2010-11 campaign that saw him regain something of his old form after the arrival of defensive guru Steve Clarke alongside Kenny Dalglish. No matter how many minutes he gets, it’s obvious that signs of a tighter defence will be integral for Liverpool as they build towards the new season.

Elsewhere, despite recent talk that he could be one of the players to head out on loan to free up space in Liverpool’s crowded midfield, Jay Spearing will be with the team, too, after talking about his determination to stay and fight for a place. Meanwhile, after saying that his client was definitely staying with Liverpool this season, over the weekend Alberto Aquilani’s agent changed his mind and started spreading rumours that the player was heading to Fiorentina on a loan similar to the one that sent him to Juventus last season—only this time around it would be even worse for Liverpool, as the agreed end of season fee the Italian club would be free to walk away from would be set at £10M and Liverpool would be picking up 20% of the player’s wages in the meantime. Needless to say, if Liverpool actually were to go through with such a deal it would be right to question the sanity of those involved, but as the days slip by with nothing happening it’s quickly turning into the reverse of the Charlie Adam saga: Nobody’s sure if he’s gone or not yet but most assume it will happen sooner or later. Maybe. Unless his agent changes his story again.

With the preseason friendlies at their half-way point, many will be eagerly awaiting team news to find out if the Italian has made the trip or not. Without any whispers of injury, if he hasn’t headed to Turkey with the club it would add credence to the recent rumbling that his future indeed lies elsewhere. Either way, though, with the bulk of Liverpool’s incomings this summer sorted and most of the squad approaching match fitness, at the very least an improved performance compared to the tired outing on Saturday against Hull will be expected—and as brought up earlier in the week, despite talk of it only being preseason the actual result might offer more insight into Liverpool’s future fortunes than many would guess.

As for Liverpool’s opponents, Galatasaray have started slowly through three preseason matches of their own, having so far registered a 1-1 draw at 2. Bundesliga side SpVgg Greuther Fürth, a 0-0 draw at home to Inter Milan, and a 1-0 loss on the road to FC Twente.
Their manager Fatih Terim, who was named the seventh best manager in the world in 2008 after taking Turkey to the semi-finals of the European Championships, returns for his third spell managing the club he earlier spent a decade playing for. After a tumultuous 2010-11 season that saw them go through Frank Rijkaard, Gheorghe Hagi, and finally Bülent Ünder, the return of a familiar face who once led the club to four Super Lig titles and one UEFA Cup sees Galatasaray back in steady—and popular—hands.

If Terim will be familiar to Galatasaray fans, there are a few names on the playing side who most following Liverpool will themselves be well acquainted with. Johan Elmander, their big signing of the summer so far, will be familiar to many, with the Swede looking to make a fresh start after moving to Galatasaray from Bolton on a free. Elmander only managed 18 goals in 92 appearances across three seasons while in the Premier League, but he and his new club will be hoping that a change of scenery brings back the form that saw him playing an important role for Toulouse and Brondby earlier in his career.

And of course there’s Milan Baros, who was an important part of Liverpool’s squad when they headed to Istanbul in 2005 for the Champions League final. As much as anything, he’ll be remembered by Liverpool fans for dropping the trophy during the celebration, leaving a lasting dent that the club decided not to repair. After he left Liverpool, he bounced from Aston Villa to Lyon to Portsmouth before finding a home in Turkey, but following a strong start for Galatasaray in 2008 he has spent much of the past two seasons injured. He’s fit now, though, and will expect to play against his old club.

Meanwhile Arda Turan will also be looking to impress against the side he’s publicly talked of wanting to move to in the past. He hasn’t been linked as often to Liverpool this summer as in other years, but the young captain was Juan Mata and Enrique Lavezzi before Juan Mata and Enrique Lavezzi were—a player who thanks to some small scrap ends up becoming a short-term obsession for half the people following Liverpool, even though in the end it seems likely the club was never in for him in the first place. In any case, if earlier preseason performances by Turan and Galatasaray are anything to go by, today’s affair will be a tight and chippy one. Though of course if Liverpool’s earlier preseason performances are anything to go by a sloppy goal-fest could be on the cards.

Kenny Dalglish Hopes Memories Of 2005 Will Inspire Liverpool FC In Galatasaray

Kenny Dalglish is hoping returning to the city of one of Liverpool’s greatest ever triumphs will bring out the best in his players tonight.

The Reds face Galatasaray at the new Turk Telekom Arena as they continue their pre-season preparations.

It will be the third time Liverpool have played in Istanbul since their stunning comeback to beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

“It’s a great game for us and everyone is looking forward to it,” Dalglish said.

“It’s a shame we’re not playing at the Ataturk as that stadium will always have a special place in everyone’s hearts.

“But everyone has great memories of Istanbul after what was achieved here back in 2005.

"That was a fantastic achievement.

“This game is only a friendly but we will try to get the maximum we can out of the game.

"We’re playing at a new stadium and Galatasaray will pose a decent test for us.”

Dalglish fielded a different side in each half of last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Hull City.

However, he is set to make fewer changes tonight with a number of players saved for Monday’s trip to Oslo to face Valerenga.

“We’ve got two games in the space of a few days and the players need to get more minutes in than they’ve had so far,” he added.

“But we will do whatever the situation dictates and we won’t leave players on longer than needed just for the sake of it.”

Highly-Rated Striker 'Signs Pre-Contract' With Liverpool

Mexican starlet Marco Bueno has signed a pre-contract agreement with Liverpool, his current employers Pachuca have confirmed, and he will now have a trial at the Kirky Academy before a permanent deal is agreed.

The 17-year-old has been linked with a move to Merseyside for the past few weeks and, should he impress Reds representatives on trial, Bueno is expected to sign a five-year contract.

"A pre-contract with the parents and Bueno was signed to be sent to Liverpool," Pachuca vice-president Andres Fassi said.

"So we are accepting the 10-day trial and the conditions, if the English decide to keep him."

Bueno's trial will commence in mid-August - reports the Liverpool Echo - and the youngster is ready and waiting for his chance to shine.

"I feel very happy and very motivated," Bueno said. "I am wearing the shirt of Liverpool. I have my family behind me and that's enough to face any challenge.

"I have to face it with great motivation and commitment to represent the country in the best way, and with faith that everything is achievable.

"It's a life experience that I will never forget. I'm very excited about that and will give my best. Where the opportunity arises I will make the most."

Bueno - who has been compared to compatriot Javier Hernandez - was a an integral member of Mexico's under-17 World Cup winning squad earlier this month, and will come to Anfield with a reputation that is growing with each passing day.

Gunners Join Liverpool In Copa America Champion Chase

Arsenal are being linked with a summer move for Uruguay defender and reported Liverpool target Alvaro Pereira.

The Porto full back has been linked with a move away from the Estádio do Dragão following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, with Juventus also thought to be keen on the 25-year-old.

However, Tuttomercatoweb now claims that Arsenal are keeping tabs on the left back, with the former CFR Cluj player thought to be seeking a new challenge away from Portugal.

With Gael Clichy making a move away from the Emirates earlier in the month, Arsene Wenger is believed to be in the market for a player in the position at Arsenal.

Carl Jenkinson has already joined in a £1 million move, although the Arsenal boss is likely to be after experience with Kieran Gibbs the only left back with experience on the books.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has also been linked with a move for the player, with the Reds to bring a player in the position to Anfield as they look to replace Paul Konchesky.

A handful of players in the position have already been linked, but when questioned on the subject Pereira admitted he was yet to hear anything concrete from Liverpool.

"Liverpool? I do not know, I cannot say anything. My only wish is to celebrate Uruguay's big win [at Copa America]," he told A BOLA on Sunday.

"After this, I will return to Porto, my club, and then we will see what happens."

Milan Jovanovic Will 'Definitely' Sign For Anderlecht - Agent

Milan Jovanovic's agent Dejan Veljkovic believes the midfielder will "definitely" join Anderlecht from Liverpool.

The Serbian winger has been told that he is surplus to requirements at Anfield, despite only joining the club from Standard Liege last summer, scoring just two goals in 18 appearances.

Anderlecht have already announced their interest in Jovanovic but the Belgian club’s general manager Herman van Holsbeeck has revealed that his wages, reportedly £65,000 a week, could prove to be a stumbling block.

However, Jovanovic’s agent is sure that his client will sign for Belgium’s most successful club side, and is confident any difficulties in the deal can be solved.

"Milan will definitely come to Anderlecht," Veljkovic told Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium.

"We are talking again and everything looks good: the sporting aspects, financial, contributions.

"We are still a few solutions [away] but there is movement."

Jay Spearing Ready To Fight For Liverpool Place

Liverpool's Jay Spearing is ready to fight for his place in an overcrowded midfield this season.

The 22-year-old signed a new long-term contract towards the end of the previous campaign after impressing manager Kenny Dalglish.

An injury to captain Steven Gerrard meant the Wirral-born player was given a chance in the final three months of the season and he seized the opportunity, starting the final nine matches of the Barclays Premier League season.

With Gerrard returning to fitness and the summer arrivals of England Under-21 international Jordan Henderson and Scotland's Charlie Adam, midfield is an area where Dalglish is now blessed with a surfeit of talent.

However, it is not a concern for Spearing.

"I've got more competition to fight against now but that doesn't bother me," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"When you are at a club of this stature you know that in the transfer window they are going to spend money on buying top-class players.

"I'm delighted with the signings we've made. Adding Adam and Henderson to the squad is a massive improvement for us, they are both great players.

"From a personal point of view, I wouldn't say them coming in puts extra pressure on me but it makes me fight more.

"I know I need to step up again and prove I can play alongside them or in front of them."

Spearing has been linked with a loan move to Premier League rivals Wolves, but having just had his best season for the club with whom he lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2006 he is not thinking about leaving Anfield.

"The first I heard about the Wolves stuff was in the papers and it's not something that's been discussed," he added.

"I'm just getting on with giving everything for this club.

"Last year was a massive season for me. (Former manager) Roy Hodgson gave me a lot of games and I owe him a lot for that.

"Then as soon as Kenny came in he showed confidence in me straight away.

"I've got a lot of thank Kenny for. Hopefully I can now kick on, even with the signings who have come in."

Alberto Aquilani’s Move To Fiorentina From Liverpool Collapses

Alberto Aquilani’s proposed loan move to Fiorentina from Liverpool has fallen through, according to Sky Sports.

The two clubs had been in talks over a loan deal with a view to a transfer at the end of the season, but the Italian midfielder is believed to have stalled on the move and is holding out for a permanent switch away from Anfield.

Fiorentina were also unwilling to match Liverpool’s asking price for the 27-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Juventus, and the deal has now collapsed.

Gazzetta dello Sport also report that Fiorentina have now turned their attentions towards Santos midfielder Arouca.

The news will come as a blow to Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, who had hoped to use any money raised from Aquilani’s transfer to further reinvest in his squad.