Monday, February 21, 2011

Alan Hansen: Liverpool Playing In Europa League Final Would Be 'Fantastic Way To End The Season'

Liverpool may sit in sixth place in the Premier League table, keeping them from playing in the Champions League tournament, but that won't keep the club from finishing on a strong note.

Former Reds defender Alan Hansen believes that a Liverpool appearance in the Europa League final would still be a respectable way to help close out the season.

"If Liverpool did get to the final in Dublin it would be a fantastic way to end the season, as it was 10 years ago when we won the competition and had a great time in Dortmund," Hansen told LFC Weekly.

"The Europa League is not the Champions League, but the winning mentality and togetherness that Kenny [Dalglish] has installed will continue to build the further we go in the competition."

Hansen also adds that although the game isn't crucial, it's still an important one to the coaches.

"In the dressing room before that match, Joe Fagan was absolutely insisting that the meaningless league game was the most important one we would ever play."

Suarez Returns To Amsterdam To Say Goodbye

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez has this weekend returned to Amsterdam to say goodbye to his former club and team mates at Ajax.

The Uruguayan left the Dutch side for a fee of around £22m in the January transfer window after 3 and a half years at the Amsterdam Arena.

Suarez, taking advantage of Liverpool’s free-weekend and having not played in the Europa League last week, was accompanied by his family as he watched Ajax take on VV Venlo. He will attend a party with team mates after the match and say his farewells.

The Ajax fans sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in recognition of Suarez’s move to Liverpool.

Juve Expect Aquilani Talks

Juventus boss Giuseppe Marotta fully expects to make the loan signing of Alberto Aquilani permanent in the summer.

The Italian is on loan from Liverpool, where he made a £20million move from Roma in 2009, and has rediscovered his form since returning to his homeland.

Aquilani has previously stated his desire to remain with the Turin giants and that now appears likely as Marotta plans a meeting with the Reds in the near future.

"Aquilani is a player of value and is doing very well, we're happy," said Marotta.

"He has to feel comfortable because the fact that we took him on loan didn't mean that we had to evaluate him.

"His qualities have been known since he played in the youth of Roma and in the national team.

"In due time we'll meet with Liverpool and we will do everything to keep him with us."

With doubts surrounding the future of club legend Alessandro Del Piero, whose contract expires this summer, Marotta has calmed fears the veteran could leave.

"The doors at Juventus are open for Del Piero," Marotta said of a possible contract renewal.

"Alex is a great professional, our captain, and has given so much to Juve. We are discussing the economic aspects but we are making progress and we are optimistic.

"Del Piero is not out of shape, in addition to the technical qualities he also possesses human and professional qualities."

Liverpool's Comolli Watches Town

Liverpool’s director of football strategy Damien Comolli was at Portman Road on Saturday to run the rule over Town striker Connor Wickham. Liverpool has long been linked with the 17-year-old, although Spurs, who were also represented at the 1-1 draw with Hull, are understood to be the frontrunners for the youngster's signature.

Tottenham’s academy manager John McDermott and their assistant technical coordinator Chris Ramsey watched the match along with former Town coach Charlie Woods, who also now works at White Hart Lane.

Meanwhile, one of Sunday morning’s papers reports that Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are also continuing to keep tabs on the England U21 international.

Elsewhere, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has praised the quality of players coming through in the Championship: “It looks more and more that there are many good young players coming out of these clubs too.

“Look at Nottingham Forest for example – they are all good young players. Derby too, and Ipswich, who we played recently, have produced Connor Wickham. So there are good young players down there.

“Maybe the academy rules help them too, because teams cannot take young players from other clubs’ areas.”

Liverpool Plot £7m Move For West Bromwich Albion Winger

Liverpool’s interest in bringing in natural wide men to complement their new strike pairing of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll has led to their interest in West Brom wide man Chris Brunt, a player they look likely to bid for this summer.

The 26 year old left winger has been at the Hawthorns for three and a half years and a move to Anfield will greatly interest the Northern Ireland international who may feel that the summer would be the right time to move on, not least if the Baggies fail to avoid relegation.

Successive Liverpool managers have failed to find effective players to provide attacking support from the wings. The likes of Dirk Kuyt, Maxi, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole have been failed to fill the slots adequately as did Dutch international Ryan Babel, before he was offloaded to Hoffenheim.

£7m rated Brunt is an old fashioned style winger who apparently interests Kenny Dalglish and the former Sheffield Wednesday man’s ability to consistently put good crosses into the box as well as his set piece abilities could well be of good use to the Merseyside outfit.

One sticking point to such a move could be the fact that former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is not in situ as Baggies boss but he may well still not look to stand in Brunt’s way should a decent offer come in for his services.

Liverpool Plot Move For United Target After Dalglish Scouting Trip

Liverpool is reportedly ready to join Manchester United in pursuit of Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre.

It was initially reported by the Mirror that the Barclays Premier League leaders had been monitoring the Honduran and now it appears their great North West rivals are also keeping tabs on the 24-year-old.

Click Liverpool reports that Reds boss Kenny Dalglish watched Izaguirre in action as Celtic beat Rangers 3-0 on Sunday and is considering launching summer bid to bring him to Anfield.

Izaguirre is one of a number of left-backs Liverpool is thought to be eyeing as they look to fill the problematic position in the summer.

Paul Konchesky was brought in by the previous regime last August but was subsequently loaned out to Nottingham Forest after failing to make a lasting impression at Anfield, while Fabio Aurelio appears to be out-of-favour with Dalglish.

The Liverpool manager is instead persisting with Glen Johnson - naturally a right-sided player - in the seemingly problematic role but a more long-term solution is expected to be acquired when the transfer window reopens.

Newcastle’s Jose Enrique has emerged as a leading candidate to fill the position at Anfield and – like Izaguirre – the Spaniard is also a reported target for Manchester United.

And, after learning of the reported interest in his signature Enrique revealed he would be open to a move in order to enhance his career.

“It is flattering that Liverpool is interested. I’ve also heard that Manchester United and Aston Villa have asked about me," he said, according to

“They are both big teams and I’m not closing the door on anyone. I’m ambitious and want to play in the Champions League. I want to win things. I’m OK at Newcastle but I aspire to more."

Enrique was initially seen as a potential replacement for United full-back Patrice Evra who had been linked with a summer move away from Old Trafford.

However, the Frenchman is set to end speculation that he could leave United for Real Madrid by penning a new four-year contract on Monday.

Martin Skrtel Linked With Summer Wolfsburg Switch

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is being linked with a summer Anfield exit.

The Slovakian centre back has been in-and-out of the side at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, and now Wolfsburg are reportedly keen to add the player to their ranks.

Bundesliga champions under Steve McLaren just two seasons ago, the German outfit have struggled since, but have money to spend after the sale of Edin Dzeko to Manchester City.

Skrtel has been targeted as a player who can bolster the club’s defence, according to the Star on Sunday, and the club is reportedly ready to test Liverpool with a bid in the region of £5 million.

A former Zent St Petersburg player, Skrtel move to Merseyside in 2008, with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez bringing the 26-year-old to the club for £6.5 million.

The left-sided centre half formed a solid relationship alongside Jamie Carragher during his first few seasons at Anfield, and has made over 100 appearances for the club in all competitions for Liverpool thus far.

It’s unknown if Liverpool legend Dalglish will consider letting the player leave for the reported price in the summer, with the club relatively short on cover in the position at the current time.

The additional transfer funds could go towards ‘King Kenny’ revamping the Liverpool backline as the Scot looks to put his own stamp on the team, and a sale would suggest that the manager is keen to make several key changes at the club.

Deschamps Reveals Reds Offer

Didier Deschamps claims he was offered the opportunity to take over at Liverpool last summer but felt he had to stay loyal to Marseille.

Deschemps admits he was flattered to be interesting a club with such rich history, but he had given his word to Marseille that he would see out his contract at Stade Velodrome.

Deschamps, who won 103 caps for France, had another year on his contract with Marseille and was not about to walk out on the club early.

With the Ligue 1 pre-season just around the corner he felt the timing of his possible exit would have been a hammer blow to the club.

"I was immensely flattered to receive Liverpool's offer but there are two principal reasons that made me stay at Marseille," he told The Sun.

"I thought about it for more than two seconds, I won't lie to you. Believe me. It's not every day Liverpool come knocking on your door.

"It was not an easy decision, I tell you, not easy. But I had given my word here.

"I had a year left on my contract and committed myself to staying, giving my promise to the president, the fans and the players.

"There were players who came here for me. Then Liverpool's offer came two days before we started pre-season at the end of June.

"As I am a man of my word, I couldn't do it.

"At the same time we also had the controversy of the French team at the World Cup in South Africa and I couldn't see myself adding to that by dropping Marseille in it two days before pre-season and saying 'That's it, I'm going to Liverpool'."