Saturday, March 12, 2011

Czech Star Kadlec Wants Liverpool Transfer

Bayer Leverkusen left-back Michal Kadlec has said he would welcome a summer move to Liverpool.

Czech Republic international Kadlec, 26, claims Liverpool had scouts present at a game earlier this season and would relish the chance to play in England.

"I know that they were present at our early season game against Dortmund, which we won 2-0, but I don't know whether there has been any progress since then," he said in the Daily Mirror.

"To be connected with such a big club flatters me. Who would not be tempted to play in the Premier League?"

Leverkusen beat Dortmund in August, prior to the arrival of Liverpool's director of football strategy Damien Comolli.

Liverpool Chase £20m Rated Spartak Moscow Winger Aiden McGeady

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is interested in signing Spartak Moscow winger Aiden McGeady this summer and is closely monitoring the Irish international’s situation in the Russian capital. The former Celtic star has done well since his move to the Luzhniki in August but the 24 year old has begun to be linked with interest from Zenit St Petersburg and Juventus amid reports that he could be sold if a significant offer was forthcoming.

McGeady cost Spartak £9.5m just over six months ago but apparently Juventus are willing to offer as much as £20m and it is clear that any sale sanctioned by the Moscow club will more likely be to a side not competing in their own league, hence a move to Zenit being highly unlikely.

Liverpool appear keen on adding more natural wide options having seen the likes of Maxi, Dirk Kuyt, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole all fail to make an impact. Kenny Dalglish is thought to be looking for an out and out winger who can help provide ammunition for his new front pairing of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Aiden McGeady enjoyed six successful years at Celtic before making the brave move into the relative unknown and has become a player well rated by supporters and pundits alike but the Glasgow born wide man would surely be tempted by a move to the Premier League and to Liverpool in particular given the obvious links between the current boss and the Parkhead side he represented so effectively.

Liverpool’s owners appear more than willing to finance significant moves in the transfer market and a move for McGeady, though expensive could well add another dimension to the club’s attack that could help the club push onwards and upwards next term.

Liverpool Still In The Hunt For Borussia Dortmund Strike Lucas Barrios

Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios continues to be linked with a summer move to Liverpool.

The Paraguay hotshot has been in fine form for the Bundesliga leaders this season - scoring 12 times in 29 appearances - and is reportedly the subject of interest from a number of clubs.

Liverpool is alleged to be tracking the 26-year-old, and now CrunchSports claims that the Reds will consider making their move when the transfer window reopens.

Should Liverpool formalize their reported interest in Barrios, then an offer of around €20 million has been suggested as enough to get Dortmund to consider a potential sale.

Despite signing Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to the tune of £58 million in January, the acquisition of attacking reinforcements is said to remain a summer priority for Liverpool.

Liverpool has also been linked with moves for Barcelona youngster Bojan Krkic and Napoli star Ezequiel Lavezzi in their pursuit of new recruits.

Liverpool Striker Target Poised For Summer Switch

Liverpool striker target Nolito is set to leave Barcelona in the summer, according to reports.

The 24-year-old has had limited first team opportunities at the Nou Camp, appearing just twice for the first team under Pep Guardiola. Liverpool are thought to be keen on bringing the player to England.

Prolific for the Barca B team, Nolito has struck 13 times for the team so far this season in the Spanish Segunda, sparking interest from a number of clubs across Europe.

Club vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken of the club's efforts to keep the player, but admits that an exit could be imminent after failing to agree fresh terms.

"We have offered him a contract extension, but he didn't accept it. We would love to keep him at the club, but he has turned us down," Bartomeu told ONA FM.

Liverpool have monitored the player closely in the past, according to talkSPORT, and are keen to acquire the services of another striker in the summer.

Kenny Dalglish spent big in the summer on forwards, bringing in Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a combined total of over £55 million at Anfield. NESV proved that they are willing to back the Liverpool boss financially, and will look to do so again in the summer.

Whilst a defender is thought to be the priority for the Liverpool legend, Dalglish has hinted at a number of squad changes as he looks to make his mark on the team.

Cole Keen To Shine For Reds

Joe Cole has signalled his intention to change his luck at Liverpool through sheer hard work.

The 29-year-old has failed to live up to his pre-season billing for the club and has struggled for form, fitness and confidence.

Cole played the full 90 minutes against Sporting Braga on Thursday on the left of midfield, where he has often found himself deployed for his new club.

It is a position that he has seldom looked comfortable in but he is determined to prove his worth to the fans and caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish.

"I am just going day by day. I am enjoying my football and I love to go into training with a smile on my face," said Cole.

"I'm trying to get a run in the side and trying to get back to where I need to be.

"If you work hard you get a bit of luck here and there and I am sure my luck is around the corner.

"This is a cracking club and I really think we are going in the right direction with Kenny Dalglish, Steve Clarke (first-team coach who also worked with Cole at Chelsea) and Damien Comolli (the director of football strategy)."

Andy Carroll's recovery from a thigh injury was stepped up as he made just his second appearance for Liverpool since completing his record £35million move from Newcastle.

Last week against Manchester United, he played for 16 minutes, while on Thursday evening this was increased to 31.

His introduction coincided with Liverpool's best spell in the game and having played with another target man in Didier Drogba at Chelsea, Cole is backing Carroll to be a hit.

Cole added: "He is only a young lad but he reminds me of a young Didier Drogba.

"I have played with both of them and I think he has all the attributes to become that type of centre-forward."

Steven Gerrard Out For Four Weeks Following Operation On Groin Injury

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has been ruled out for four weeks with a groin injury.

The 30-year-old underwent successful surgery on the problem and will not return until mid-April on the advice of a specialist.

Reports suggested the Reds captain could miss Sunday’s win over Manchester United after he was believed to have picked up the injury in training last Friday, but he played in the match before being left out for the Europa League loss to SC Braga.

Gerrard will now miss the return leg against Braga, Premier League matches against Sunderland and West Brom, England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales and an international friendly against Ghana.

A statement on Liverpool's official website read: "LFC can today confirm that Steven Gerrard has undergone successful surgery on his groin and will be out for up to four weeks. The decision was made following consultation with a specialist."

The midfielder has made 24 appearances for Liverpool this season, scoring eight goals.

Spurs Ready To Offer Struggling Cole Escape Route

Joe Cole faced up to the reality of his uncertain Anfield future, by admitting last night he must take things 'day by day'.

The England midfielder has endured a tough time since his high-profile move to Liverpool last summer and already there are suggestions the writing is on the wall for him at the club, with Tottenham rumoured to be a potential summer destination.

Harry Redknapp rivalled the Reds when Cole left Chelsea at the end of last season, and he is believed to be still willing to offer the 29 year old a route out of his current torment, despite being snubbed last time.

After a bright start on Merseyside, a succession of injuries have left him struggling desperately for form and fitness, and Cole has found it impossible to hold down a regular first team place, let alone stake an international claim.

He has been reduced to scrubbing around in the Europa League, desperately hoping for some more minutes on the pitch in a competition clearly viewed as second rate by his club.

For a player of such natural talent and obvious quality, the former Chelsea man has suffered the indignity of making more starts in Europe's second grade competition than in the Premier League. In fact, he has started 10 times in Europe, but incredibly, only six in domestic football.

Given that Liverpool has played their second string virtually all the way through the competition, it does not bode well for his long term future at the club.

And Cole clearly knows that. When pressed about his future on Thursday night after defeat in Portugal to Braga, he admitted that he cannot afford to look beyond the next day, and his body language suggested he may well be on the move shortly.

'The whole set-up, the players are gelling, you can just feel this club's going in the right direction, but for me I will just take it day by day,' he confessed.

'Do I think I made the wrong decision to come here? As I say, it's day by day. I'm proud to play for Liverpool, every day in every training session I am working hard and enjoying myself.

'It has been difficult this season, and I find myself playing these Europa League games trying to catch up, but I am still nice and positive, still myself - I know what a great job it is playing football for a living, but what will be, will be.'

Cole understands the painful irony of his situation. While he is obvious unsure of his next step at Anfield, he also believes the club has now turned the corner towards a brighter future.

Despite the setback in Braga on Thursday, he is convinced Liverpool is heading back towards their rightful place at the summit of English football.

And he believes they now have the right manager, and the right set-up to become one of the Premier League's big guns again, even if he far from he will be part of that potentially glorious future.

'We've got good players, the club is looking really positive, going in the right direction and I am proud to be part of it,' he insisted.

'I just think we have the right man here in Kenny Dalglish, the fans love him. Damien Comolli's come in and brought in some fantastic players, while I know Steve Clarke from Chelsea and I don't think there is a better coach around.

'I am happy, I like the lads, I like the training now, the manager has come in and been a breath of fresh air.

'Of course I still think I can make it here. There's nothing stopping me but I just have to take it day by day, step by step and we'll see where we go.'

Cole was disappointed with the result in Portugal, especially because he believes he should have had a penalty when he was felled by Braga defender Kaka.

But the midfielder is still confident Liverpool can turn the tie around in the second leg next week, especially with the help of Andy Carroll and the inspiration the big striker will provide for the Kop.

'Andy came on and looked a real threat, a real handful. The fans will be really looking forward to seeing him at Anfield and he can make a big difference? Cole added.

'With the punters behind us at Anfield we will keep going and it will be a big night, and we will see if we can keep ourselves in the competition.'

Match Report: Braga 1 - 0 Liverpool

Liverpool failed in their attempts to equal a club record 14-match unbeaten run in Europe with a 1-0 defeat against Braga in their last-16, first-leg Europa League tie in Portugal.

The location of the AXA Stadium is no stranger to displays of hard labour, having been carved into the face of the former Monte Castro quarry.

But Kenny Dalglish's side were so devoid of movement at times they appeared to be taking inspiration from the huge chunks of rock still visible at one end of the unique ground.

They lacked pace and creativity without injured captain Steven Gerrard and the ineligible livewire forward Luis Suarez, who was instrumental in terrorizing Manchester United in Sunday's 3-1 victory.

Even a European debut for £35million record signing Andy Carroll after half-time could not turn things around after Brazilian Alan had converted a 17th-minute penalty.

The omens were there from the start with a side featuring three defensive midfielders - albeit with Jay Spearing patrolling the right side of a 4-2-3-1 - which still never looked comfortable or particularly solid.

They spent much of the opening quarter of an hour chasing possession, although the hosts never came close to threatening Jose Reina's goal.

They were just getting into their stride, however, and in the 17th minute when Mossoro raced onto a through-ball to the right of the penalty area he was brought down by Sotirios Krygiakos' mis-timed tackle.

The spot-kick was expertly slotted away by the Brazilian, who must have one of the least exotically-sounding names of all his countrymen.

Raul Meireles was given a hard time by Braga fans on his return to his homeland, having moved to Anfield from nearby Porto.

He had a rare shooting opportunity from a 25-yard free-kick but drilled his effort into the wall.

Pressure was growing on Liverpool though and centre-back Kaka, almost lived up to the reputation of his more illustrious namesake when he attempted a cheeky shot from a narrow angle after taking a corner but drilled the ball into the side-netting.

Left-back Silvio went even closer with a thunderous 35-yard volley which beat Reina but rattled back off the crossbar.

The visitors were crying out for some creativity and pace to be injected and to that end all seven substitutes were sent out to warm-up during the interval.

Ten minutes after the restart Carroll was sent on for Christian Poulsen, with Spearing dropping back into central midfield and Meireles moving to the right.

His early involvement saw him head over Meireles' corner, although he was adjudged to have committed a foul in the act, and then had a shot deflected for a corner.

Carroll's arrival certainly livened things up, with Braga unable to handle his aerial power; Liverpool's problem was they were not proving him with decent enough crosses to threaten the hosts' goal.

When Meireles did whip one in from the right it was Dirk Kuyt who controlled it and volleyed over the crossbar.

The closing stages became increasingly scrappy as the Reds pushed for an equalizer.

Carroll continued to win headers with confident regularity but they were mostly in non-threatening positions from Reina's long punts up field, with absolutely no service coming from either flank with Cole cutting a particularly inconsequential figure.

Braga by no means look like a side who will pose a significant danger at Anfield in a week's time but Liverpool's greatest problems are of their own making.

They have scored once in five away matches in Europe this season. Their home record is much better, and they need it to be if they are to turn things around.

Dalglish Admits Sloppy Liverpool Were Fortunate To Escape Lightly

Should Liverpool reach the Europa League final, the club's commercial department may be tempted to release a DVD of the full campaign. The away legs will, however, need to be fast-forwarded or cut out. Thus far, they have travelled through the Netherlands, Italy, Romania, the Czech Republic and now Portugal, amassing thousands of air miles and a single goal.

It was difficult to imagine that this was practically the same team that had taken Manchester United apart at Anfield. It was like coming across an old friend who has had Botox; they looked familiar but various bits were not moving as they should.

On Sunday, Andy Carroll had made his Liverpool debut as the United game turned into a triumphal procession. Here, football's most expensive Englishman caused Braga rather more problems than anyone else before receiving an elbow in the face from Kaka Рnot the one everybody has heard of but a Brazilian defender signed on loan from Hertha Berlin. "I'll do my impression of Ars̬ne Wenger and say I didn't see it," his manager, Kenny Dalglish, commented afterwards. There was much, much more he would have wanted to avoid viewing again.

Braga's stunningly designed stadium is known as "The Quarry" and it would be tempting to say that Liverpool need digging out. True, they were beaten and the electronic scoreboard in front of the Monte Castro rock face was showing 67 minutes when home goalkeeper Artur was required to make his first real save, tipping over a drive from Dirk Kuyt. However, they were not buried alive, as perhaps they might have been.

Dalglish thought Liverpool fortunate to have only been beaten by a single goal. Celtic and Arsenal lost rather more comprehensively here this season, although significantly Braga were beaten at Celtic Park and humiliated at the Emirates Stadium. As he takes his side to a training camp in the Algarve, Dalglish might fancy Liverpool's chances of overturning this result on their return to Merseyside next week.

"Not if we start the way we did here," he interrupted. "Nobody can be pleased with the performance or the result. We won't be able to assess if we have contributed to our downfall until Thursday night."

Braga has a reputation for being the most conservative city in a conservative country, the Tunbridge Wells of Portugal, although their football team plays in a stadium that is positively radical – two vast stands each holding 15,000, with one goal framed by the side of a quarry, the other by a grassy bank.

It looked as if Liverpool were playing a spectacularly wealthy Sunday League side, an impression reinforced when the goalscorer was announced as Alan.

Perhaps appropriately given the setting, Sotirios Kyrgiakos demonstrated a caveman's touch when attempting to challenge Mossoro, conceding a penalty that Alan Osorio da Costa Silva, known simply as Alan, put away in the goal in front of the grassy knoll. The Alan known as Shearer could not have buried the spot-kick any more emphatically.

Braga deserved and should have scored a second when, after Liverpool failed to clear an inventively taken free-kick, Silvio unleashed a superlative volley from outside the box that clattered against Pepe Reina's crossbar. A few inches lower and Silvio would have scored one of the goals of this European season.

Much of Braga's best midfield work was carried out by Hugo Viana, which may have caused a quizzical eyebrow to be raised at Newcastle United. At roughly the same time, English football's two managerial knights, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alex Ferguson, bought Sporting Lisbon's two most glittering talents. One is on half the billboards in Portugal, the other is not, but there were times yesterday evening when Viana's game did not seem so very different from Cristiano Ronaldo's.

Only if Braga show more resistance than they mustered at Arsenal, the club that inspired their foundation, will this result be seen in its full context. "We are optimistic," said their manager, Domingos Paciencia. "But we have to be very careful when we go to Anfield because Liverpool are one of the sides that can win this competition." Not on this evidence.

Segura Given Reds Reserve Role

Liverpool has replaced reserve team coach John McMahon with academy technical director Pep Segura.

The Spaniard takes over the role on a temporary basis until the end of the season as the club prepares for a proper restructuring of their youth system this coming summer.

Segura has a reputation for aiding some of the finest players in the game with their development, helping to bring Spanish stars Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas through Barcelona's youth academy.

Liverpool's Under-16s coach Steve Cooper will assist Segura for the remainder of the reserves' season.

"The club has conducted a thorough review of all operations based at our academy as part of our overall strategy to constantly improve our youth and professional player performance," said a club spokesman.

"We have a clear vision of the way ahead and a number of changes will now be put in place to help us to build on the considerable progress already made.

"Pep Segura will step in as reserve team manager on a temporary basis for the remainder of this term only, before a revised structure is put in place this summer.

"He will be assisted over the next few months by Steve Cooper."

Gary McAllister's Anfield Stay Was Brief But Memorable

Gary McAllister MBE was one of the most influential yet under-rated players in Liverpool’s recent history. The only time I saw Gary Mac live was after his retirement. It was during his appearance in Carra’s testimonial last summer against Everton. Upon his introduction the fans instantly broke into song....

(Sung to the tune of Alouette)

“Oh Gary Macca, Gary Gary Macca,

“Gary Macca, Gary Gary Mac

“Oh we love yer baldy 'ead (Oh we love yer baldy 'ead)

“Yer Baldy 'ead (Yer Baldy 'ead)

“You're Gary Mac, (You're Gary Mac)”...

Then “Shooot!” we bellowed at his every touch. It was obvious that Gary Mac was still a hugely popular figure at Anfield.

The man from Newarthill, Motherwell, was a throwback to the old days – a slightly built and elegant midfielder that pulled the midfield strings with crisp passing and robotic vision. Macca played an intelligent game and also packed an explosive shot.

Aged 35, Macca arrived at Anfield on a Bosman free in 2001. Though his ability was never in doubt, many questioned Gerard Houllier’s judgement in bringing in a player that was seen to be enjoying an Indian summer in what was very much the twilight of his career. The “Enforcer” proved all the doubters wrong with two splendid seasons culminating in the Scot forcing himself into Liverpool’s hall of fame.

Macca was hugely influential as Liverpool picked up the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. A dead ball expert and inspired proponent of free kicks, Macca’s influence was central to Liverpool’s style of play. His influence, professionalism and authority were also great examples for Liverpool youngsters Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

Macca had arrived at Anfield with a proven pedigree - 57 caps for bonny Scotland and five goals. He’d skippered his country and Leeds United at Wembley in the League Cup Final of 1996. It was at Leeds that Macca became part of the famous quartet of Strachan, Batty and Speed that captured the League Championship for Leeds in 1991-92.

Throughout his career the midfield schemer possessed the uncanny ability to dominate and control the pace of the game. He was similar to legendary Celtic Skipper Paul McStay, another one of my all time favourites and one who I wish had worn the Red of Liverpool.

His finest career moment was when he scored in Dortmund as Liverpool defeated Alaves 5-4 to lift the UEFA Cup in 2001. Macca was rightfully awarded the Man of the Match and it was his extra time free kick that was deflected in for Liverpool’s Golden Goal winner.

Despite this perhaps his most memorable football moment was when he scored that 44 yard free kick in the Mersey Derby at Goodison Park.

Macca’s golden streak continued as he netted a charity shield winner against Manchester United during the season’s curtain raiser.

Houllier singled out Macca as his ‘most inspirational signing’ and proclaimed that had Liverpool had him ten years earlier they would have won the Premier League.

John W Henry Back In Billionaires Club

Liverpool FC owner John Henry has rejoined one of the world’s most exclusive clubs.

After a year’s absence Mr. Henry has made a comeback into Forbes annual list of world dollar billionaires. His return to the prestigious ranking is directly attributed by Forbes to his acquisition last year of the Anfield club.

Ranked joint 1,140th richest person in the world, the 61-year old American financier only just scrapes into the list, with his wealth valued at exactly $1bn.

He dropped out last year when his wealth was judged by Forbes’ editors to have dipped below the $1bn threshold for inclusion.

Mr. Henry, whose address is given as Boca Raton, Florida, is ranked 410th richest American.

Forbes writes: “The former global futures trader ... is once again a billionaire thanks to his October acquisition of Liverpool soccer club.”

Mr. Henry was part of the Fenway Sports Group that paid £300m for the club when it was bought from former owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks in a deal engineered by British Airways chairman Martin Broughton.

As well as Liverpool, Mr. Henry and his business partners own baseball team Boston Red Sox, which they paid $700m for in 2002.

But one local football finance expert cast doubt on the idea that the purchase of Liverpool could, on its own, lift Mr. Henry’s fortunes.

James Dow, a partner in Cheshire based corporate finance firm Dow Schofield Watts and who has advised Everton, Barcelona and Ajax, said: “The only reason he can be back in the list is that he has made a profit on the purchase of the football club.

“That’s not all that plausible. If he has made a profit then Mr. Hicks may have a justifiable complaint about the price at which the club’s shares changed hands.

“I don’t think the prospects for the club or its valuation have materially changed in the last few months.”

Other English Premier League football club-owning American billionaires listed by Forbes include Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer, whose personal wealth is estimated at $2.6bn. Forbes values Manchester United at $1.8bn.

The 82-year old, who is a resident of Florida, also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an American football team that Forbes says is worth $1bn.

In 2002, Mr. Glazer’s wealth was put at $700m.

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner’s wealth is estimated to be the same as Mr. Henry’s, meaning he is also ranked at 1,140th and is worth $1bn.