Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liverpool Have Big Summer Transfers In Pipeline Already - Damien Comolli

Director of football strategy Damien Comolli wants to take Liverpool back to trophy-winning ways - and has revealed that a busy summer of big-money transfer dealings is in the offing to kick-start their re-emergence.

Recently promoted by club owners Fenway Sport Group, Comolli has been briefed to help manager Kenny Dalglish do all he can to bring in top-quality players for next season.

'The owners said from day one they want to improve things and turn things around quickly and I have said the same thing since I arrived, so I expect a busy summer,' Comolli said.

'When we prepare for the next season it's difficult to say we work to the January transfer window. We work from summer to summer.

'When the window shuts in September we are preparing for the next summer window, not the one in January because, as people say, usually not much goes on in January.

'We proved that wrong but as soon as it shuts on January 31, we are thinking about the summer and what we are going to do.

'We talk about different targets, about players we thought about in January but couldn't do and keep the scouting team working.'

A number of high-profile targets are already being linked with Liverpool, including Ipswich's Conor Wickham.

But one major obstacle facing the club next season could be the lack of European football, if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top five or six.

This could deter high-calibre players from signing on at Anfield, Comolli admitted, but he added Liverpool's heritage should be enough to quell any reservations big-name players could have about joining the club.

'I've got to say it's sometimes easier to attract players when your club is involved in European competition,' he said.

'We'll do everything to get back there. We want to be in Europe, that's where we belong.

'I think Liverpool should always compete for the best competitions and we will have the squad depth next year to compete both in Europe and domestically, if we manage to qualify for Europe.'

Darijo Srna Confirms Reds In Chase For Douglas Costa

Liverpool are one of the clubs interested in signing Douglas Costa, according to teammate Darijo Srna.

The 20-year-old's reputation has continued to grow during his time with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine, with Liverpool one of a trio of Barclays Premier League sides taking an interest in the player.

"I know many scouts have watched him. Lots of clubs are taking an interest – the likes of United, Manchester City and Liverpool. He really does stand out, he makes a difference on the pitch," said the Croatian full back.

A product of the youth system at Gremio, Costa has also impressed in the Champions League and will go head-to-head against Lionel Messi and Barcelona in the quarter-final.

It should be a good match-up, according to Srna at least.

“I’ve never seen such nimbleness – he is on a par with Messi. His speed with the ball and technique are out of this world."

The Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend that Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has taken a keen interest in the player again, with the Red Devils considering a move for the £15m-rated midfielder after having a bid rejected back in August 2009.

Anfield interest would appear to be relatively new, although Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has hinted at a number of changes on Merseyside in the summer.

Lucas, who was at Gremio during Costa's rise through the youth ranks in Brazil, could potentially play a part in attempting to entice the player to Liverpool.

Competition will be fierce though, and with the attacking midfielder's reputation growing to the point of being dubbed 'the new Ronaldinho', Liverpool will have to move quickly if they want to sign the player.

Dalglish Set To Move For Scott Dann In Summer

Kenny Dalglish is eyeing Birmingham City defender Scott Dann as a potential summer signing as he looks to rebuild his Liverpool side, according to

The Scot is looking at long-term replacements for the ageing Jamie Carragher and hopes to build his side on talented young players following the capture of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January.

Dann has impressed during his time at St Andrew's after moving from Coventry City in 2009 for £3.5 million and has formed a formidable partnership with Roger Johnson at the heart of Birmingham's defence.

However, a hamstring injury sustained in the League Cup semi-final against West Ham in January ruled him for the rest of the 2010/11 campaign.

Dalglish faces competition from other Premier League clubs for Dann’s signature including Manchester United, who have also watched the England under-21 International with great interest and are short of defensive options after Gary Neville’s retirement and Rio Ferdinand’s problems with injuries.

A move for the 24-year old could, however, be put in jeopardy with the appointment of Damien Comolli to director of football at Anfield and it is expected that the Frenchman would want to be involved in all dealings at the club.

Despite Dalglish’s wishes to bring the Liverpool-born defender to the club, Comolli may want to bring in a more experienced player from Europe.

Liverpool And Arsenal Lock Horns Over Gary Cahill

Liverpool and Arsenal are reportedly leading the chase for Bolton defender Gary Cahill.

The 25-year-old's future has been the subject of intense speculation over recent months and Metro reports that things will come to a head when the transfer window reopens in the summer.

According to Metro, 'serious' interest from Liverpool will galvanize Arsenal into spending upwards of £18 million in order to land the centre-back, while Bayern Munich are also expected to register an enquiry.

Both Liverpool and Arsenal are thought to be in the market for defensive reinforcements, with the latter seemingly more in need of bolstering their ranks at the end of the season.

Arsene Wenger's defenders have struggled with injuries and consistency this season and Arsenal are thought to be pursuing a number of potential acquisitions.

Arsenal was reported to have been chasing Cahill during the January transfer window but was ultimately fruitless in their alleged attempts to sign him.

When questioned on whether he was indeed planning to make a move for the former Aston Villa man, Wenger remained coy in his response.

"I think Gary Cahill is a very good player but I cannot tell you more,” he said.

"We like to keep our transfer negotiations very secret. It puts more pressure on when you go public so you understand we don't want to speak publicly about that."

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has also previously been ousted as an admirer of the imposing England international and could be prepared to go toe-to-toe with Arsenal in pursuit of Cahill.

However, a priority for Liverpool remains the signing of a recognized left-back as Glen Johnson continues to deputize until a solution is found.

Liverpool have been linked with Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre and former Anfield favourite John Arne Riise in their search for a new full-back, while Newcastle ace Jose Enrique is also reportedly on their radar.

Wilson Reveals Reina Bid

Arsenal legend Bob Wilson has revealed Arsene Wenger made "a big bid" for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina last summer.

Reports emerged in the press last summer that Arsenal had made a substantial bid for Reina, with The Sun claiming it was worth £23 million and the Daily Mail putting it at £25 million.

Wilson has now confirmed that Wenger - who has faced criticism for his failure to sign a top-class goalkeeper - did make an offer for the Spain international.

"Arsene tried like mad to buy not only a goalkeeper but what he considered to be the most consistent in the country, so he made a big bid for Pepe Reina," Wilson told talkSPORT.

"That didn't come out because that's not Arsene Wenger's way of doing it and it's not Arsenal's way of doing it, but he did attempt to do that."

While an injury crisis has forced Wenger to re-sign Jens Lehmann on a rolling contract, the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny has at least provided hope that Arsenal now has a goalkeeper capable of establishing himself long-term.

Wilson believes that Wenger would have had to have allowed Szczesny to leave the club had Reina joined.

"I think he would have lost, without any doubt, the young kid Szczesny, who I believe is going to be the future," Wilson added. "It's most unfortunate he has had this injury and in the game that he had it, but I happen to think Szczesny is going to be a great goalkeeper. The boy is ready now - you ask Arsenal fans."

Derby County Sign Brad Jones On Loan From Liverpool

Derby County have signed Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones on loan until the end of the season.

The Rams have brought in the 29-year-old as a replacement for Matt Duke, who has been recalled by his parent club Hull City.

Manager Nigel Clough told the Rams website: "Brad fits the bill perfectly.

"He has Premier League experience, Football League experience and most importantly big game experience."

Jones joined Liverpool from Middlesbrough for £2.3m in August and has made two appearances for the Anfield club.

The Australian, who has also had loan spells with Stockport, Rotherham, Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday, was in goal as Liverpool were beaten by League Two side Northampton in the Carling Cup.

"We have some big games coming up between now and May and he will be our number one in them," added Clough.

"He hasn't had much first-team football this season, so I am pretty sure he will be looking forward to the challenge.

"Liverpool has done us a big favour and I would like to thank Kenny Dalglish and the other officials at Anfield for agreeing to loan another of their players to Derby County."

Last month, the Rams secured the services of Daniel Ayala on loan until the end of the season.

Pacheco Heading Out

Liverpool are set to allow young Spaniard Dani Pacheco leave the club on loan and join Norwich until the end of the season.

The deal has yet to be rubber stamped by the FA as he is currently away on international duty with the Spanish under-21 side but he looks likely to join the Championship promotion hopefuls on his return.

Norwich boss Paul Lambert said: "Dani Pacheco is a lad we've seen playing for Liverpool's first team this season and I've been talking to Kenny Dalglish about him for a few weeks now.

"He's technically very good as you'd expect having been with clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool and the fact that he's away with Spain's Under-21s side at the moment speaks volumes for his ability and potential."

Comolli Sees A Golden Sky

Damien Comolli believes that Liverpool's decision to sell Fernando Torres meant that there was a 'bright new sky' over Anfield.

The Premier League side accepted a record-breaking £50million fee in January for the now-Chelsea striker and used the funds to make former Newcastle star Andy Carroll the most expensive British footballer in history.

A deal had already been negotiated for Luis Suarez before Torres left in the winter transfer window, but some of the funds from the sale of the latter will also help in paying Ajax.

Comolli, who was promoted to a role as Liverpool's new director of football on Tuesday, believes that the club benefited from the business decision by improving the atmosphere on Merseyside.

"Getting two players triggered the fact that we could sell one player who didn't want to be here and get two who did want to be here," he said.

"When you have someone who doesn't want to be here and you swap him for people who want to be here the atmosphere changes.

"It's like there is a bright new sky with no cloud over our head from the day that happened. So it's been only positive."

The decision of Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group, to appoint Comolli, initially as director of football strategy, last November was a part of the Americans' rebuilding plan at Anfield.

Principal owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner bought a club who were on the brink of administration last autumn, but their plan is to restore the glory days to the 18-time champions of England.

It is expected that Kenny Dalglish will soon be handed a permanent contract after the Kop idol's impressive work as manager since succeeding the sacked Roy Hodgson in January, and Comolli feels confident the club are moving in the right direction.

"I know there is still a lot of work to do, we're not where we want to be yet and it'll probably take a few months to do that, but I am totally confident," he said.

"All the signs are very positive and I can see only green lights, no red lights."

Comolli added: "It was a tough decision (to sack Hodgson) made by the club, but we have been looking forward since that and making other appointments with key individuals as we look to restructure the club.

"We are definitely looking forward to a bright future."

Comolli's role has been extended to oversee all football-related matters outside of first-team training and selection.

He said: "It's basically a day-to-day relationship with the manager and his coaching staff, it's also medical and sports science, performance analysis, player liaison, team travel, scouting and negotiating transfer contracts. A big part of it is the Academy."

Benitez Dreaming Of Anfield Return

Rafael Benitez admits "it would be a dream" to manage Liverpool again in the future.

The Spaniard only left Anfield last summer and while his successor Roy Hodgson lasted barely half a season, he himself was similarly unsuccessful at Inter Milan.

"I am really proud of being the manager of Liverpool Football Club and I would like to come back in the future," Benitez told Sky Sports News.

Benitez admitted Kenny Dalglish is currently doing an impressive job in his role as caretaker boss until the end of the season, and added: "You never know (when) because Kenny is doing a really good job. It's a question of time. You never know in the future.

"It would be a dream. I would be really pleased to come back in the future."

Benitez revealed he would consider other offers in England but would never contemplate managing Liverpool's rivals Everton and Manchester United.

"Fans in Liverpool know the teams I would not go (to) but I think these clubs wouldn't offer me a job.

"I'm a professional but obviously some clubs I would not go to, especially the big rivals of Liverpool. I won't say the names, but it's not difficult!"

Pep Relishing Derby Test

Pep Segura has told his young players to enjoy the Anfield experience when the Reserves take on Everton in the mini-derby tonight.

Playing on the hallowed turf used to be a regular occurrence for the second string in the 1970s and 1980s but nowadays it is very rare when a reserve team game is staged at Anfield.

The mini-derby is always a keenly contested affair and the Spaniard is looking forward to the Anfield experience.

"With the game being at Anfield it will be a special occasion for the young players and I hope we can produce a good account of ourselves," Segura told

"It's a special stadium, one of the most famous in the world and everyone would love to get the chance to play at Anfield.

"As a coach I like these derby games. Why? For the young players these are the games where they can grow a lot.

"They have to be 100 per cent focused at all times and keep their concentration and have a good mentality.

"I know what a Liverpool v Everton derby means to the supporters and our players and we hope to come out on top tonight.

"When I lived in Barcelona we always looked forward to the derby against Espanyol and they are special occasions."

The Reserves have been boosted this week by having the opportunity to train at Melwood.

"We have had some training sessions at Melwood this week which has been very good for their football education," he added.

"We have had the chance because it is international week and with many players being away it was decided to have one big group training together.

"It was a good experience for the young players because they could pick up good habits and also see what they need to do to try to get to the level of playing for the first team in the future."

Segura also spoke about the invaluable help he has received from U16 Academy coach Steve Cooper who is assisting him with the reserves.

"Steve is a fantastic friend and he is a great help to me," he added.

"This is a great opportunity for him and he can take a lot of experience from this.

"He is someone who wants to keep learning and I think in Steve Cooper Liverpool Football Club has a fantastic person as well as a fantastic coach."