Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reina Pledges Future To Liverpool

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has declared his intention to stay at Anfield next season, claiming the club is ready to compete for trophies once more.

Reina's future has been the subject of speculation and he appeared to be dissatisfied by Liverpool's struggles earlier this season. But the club have regained their status as a Premier League force since Kenny Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in January following the takeover by Fenway Sports Group.

Although European qualification might be out of Liverpool's reach for next season, Reina is pleased with the way the club is heading and vowed to be a part of what he believes could be a successful new era.

Reina, 28, told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: "I am happy, calm and comfortable here. I am looking towards the future which I reckon will bring a lot of happiness and hopefully the new project with the new American owners will be a convincing one. Obviously [Rafael] Benítez brought me here but that doesn't mean that I'm unhappy with Dalglish, quite the opposite. I think he's the ideal man for Liverpool at this moment.

"It's my understanding, and based on what I've gathered from the people here, that we will be bringing in some important players, continuing to grow and hopefully in one or two years we will be in the place that Liverpool deserves to be, which is fighting for titles."

The retirement of Edwin van der Sar at Manchester United is one factor that has sparked talk of a possible Reina exit but Liverpool fans will be pleased to hear the goalkeeper has no plans to join their rivals at Old Trafford.

"I am not going to Manchester, that is not my intention," he said. "I don't know if I am a candidate for them; I am sure that they have evaluated a lot of goalkeepers, not just [David] De Gea or Reina."

Kenny’s Keeping Up With The Jones

Kenny Dalglish is ready to go head-to-head with Alex Ferguson for £15million-rated Blackburn defender Phil Jones.

The Liverpool boss was at Ewood Park on Monday to watch the England Under-21 centre-back in action against Manchester City.

And Dalglish - at the game with director of football Damien Comolli - will certainly have been impressed after yet another wonder show from the 19-year-old.

But the Kop face a battle for the youngster, who has become one of the most wanted teenagers in the game.

Manchester United's interest is long established - they made inquiries last summer, with a view to a definite move in the close season.

Boss Fergie will have money to spend and sees Jones as the ideal long-term partner for Chris Smalling, 21.

The pair have impressed in the heart of the defence for England's Under-21s while Jones can also play as a holding midfielder.

Arsenal was knocked back with an approach last year while Chelsea has also been on his tail.

Jones signed a contract until 2016 only a month ago and Rovers chief Steve Kean would not want to lose him.

But a megabucks offer would be difficult to ignore, especially if Blackburn are relegated.

Dalglish has been told by Kop owners he will have cash to spend and strengthening his defence is one of his major priorities.

Bolton's Gary Cahill and Paris St Germain ace Mamadou Sakho are also on Dalglish's radar.

But Jones, who is also attracting interest from Europe, has rocketed to the top of the list.

Former Reds Star Set For Surprise Return To Anfield

Want away Aston Villa defender Stephen Warnock could make a surprise return to Liverpool reports the Daily Mail.

Contract negotiations at Villla Park broke down between the player and manager Gerard Houllier, before he was taken ill in hospital, and the news has attracted the attention of a number of Barclays Premier League suitors.

Warnock has been frozen out of the first-team squad, having made only 19 appearances for Aston Villa this season, and the 29-year-old now looks set to move on this summer.

Bolton Wanderers are rumoured to be considering a cut-price offer of £2million to bring Warnock to the Reebok Stadium, considerably less than the £6million ex-Villa manager Martin O'Neill paid to bring him to Aston Villa less than two years ago.

However, Liverpool are also reportedly interested and are preparing a rival bid for the former Reds trainee after Kenny Dalglish made a left sided defensive recruit the top priority this summer.

Having deemed Paul Konchesky surplus to requirements for Liverpool, Dalglish has instead opted to deploy an out of position Glen Johnson at left back for much of the season, until a recent injury curtailed his campaign.

With Fabio Aurelio also struggling for fitness, 'King' Kenny has had to utilize his squad by delving into the youth academy to promote some of Liverpool’s brightest young stars.

Warnock's career of course started at Liverpool, where he progressed through the club's youth academy before making his debut in 2004 in a Champions League qualifier.

The England fringe player would favour a return to Anfield should Liverpool step up their interest in the summer, and Reds fans will take reassurance from the fact they know what they are getting with Warnock in terms of an industrious, hard-working, honest professional.

Liverpool Ready To Move For Sevilla Star

Liverpool has been alerted to the availability of Sevilla winger Diego Perotti after the Spanish side agreed to sign German international Piotr Trochowski in the summer.

According to reports in, Sevilla are prepared to listen to offers for the Argentinean winger who has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League.

It appears as though the Reds will have a busy summer after a host of national newspapers claimed that there could be as many as 22 deals done for players arriving and leaving Anfield.

High on the list for manager Kenny Dalglish is a winger capable of delivering quality crosses for record signing Andy Carroll who flourished at Newcastle thanks is large to the delivery of Joey Barton from wide positions.

Sevilla had hoped to keep hold of the talented 22-year-old, but now seem resigned to losing Perotti after agreeing a deal to bring Trochowski to Spain.

"Piotr will sign a four-year contract with Sevilla," confirmed Trochowski's agent Roman Grill.

While Sevilla have a €48million buyout clause in the players contract it is believed that Liverpool would be able to get their man for somewhere in the region of €14m.

Perotti has been one of Sevilla's most consistent performers this season, starting 24 league games and contributing four goals and a further three assists.

Dalglish is short of options in wide positions with Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt currently being deployed on the wings, but neither are considered natural wingers.

While Perotti is normally deployed on the left wing he has the ability to play on the right and is known for his pace and good delivery from wide positions.

Liverpool Lead Arsenal In Race For £10m EPL Wing Wizard

Aston Villa and England midfielder Stewart Downing will become the subject of a summer transfer tussle between Liverpool and Arsenal according to the Metro.

The 26-year-old Villan has enjoyed a successful season personally, turning in a string of sensational performances for the Midlands club this campaign, and is set to be named Villa Park player of the year.

The News of the World reports how Downing, who has been rated at £10million, has emerged as a target for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, having been encouraged to spend in the summer by the Gunners' new majority owner Stan Kroenke.

Downing could be tempted to the Emirates Stadium by the offer of Champions League football with Arsenal, though he is understood to have his heart set on a move to Anfield.

Liverpool have long admired Downing, and interim Reds manager Kenny Dalglish made an enquiry as to his availability in the January transfer window only for the approach to be rebuffed.

Dalglish has made no secret of his desire to recruit in the wide midfield options this summer, to provide more firepower for recently acquired strike partnership Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Having spent nearly £60million in the January window, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group look set to continue investing in the playing squad by delving into the transfer market again this summer.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is said to have given the green light for the Reds to step up their interest in Downing, but will face competition from Arsenal for his signature.

After compiling scouting reports from across Europe, Wenger believes Downing offers the best value for money in his position, and is prepared to sell the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson and Carlos Vela to free up the necessary space on the Gunners’ wage bill.

Chung-Yong Lee Linked With Summer Anfield Switch

Liverpool is once again considering a transfer move for Bolton Wanderers winger Chung-Yong Lee, according to reports.

The South Korean international originally emerged on the Reds' radar back in the summer, with former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez considering an £8 million move according to the Daily Mail, as well as various other sources.

At the time, Owen Coyle urged Lee to stay at the Reebok Stadium, and it proved to be a wise choice for the 22-year-old who is now a regular starter for the Barclays Premier League outfit.

His nationality would be an additional bonus for Liverpool, with main sponsor Standard Chartered urging Kenny Dalglish to sign a player from the Asian continent to help club connect with the market.

"The real power Liverpool could do for us, and for the Premier League, is if there was a way they could nurture foreign players from Asia," said sponsorship chief Kevin Laws.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Lee can also play on the left or behind the strikers, providing a versatility that the club is searching for in the transfer market this summer. Sportingo claim the Reds will have to pay in the region of £10 million to land the player.

Alongside Damien Comolli, director of football at Liverpool, Dalglish is thought to have created a transfer wish list containing wingers, central midfielders, left backs and strikers.

With Ashley Young, Eden Hazard and Dimitri Payet also reported to be on the Merseyside outfit's radar, a busy summer of activity now appears to be on the cards for Liverpool.

Reds Miss Out On Defender

Liverpool has missed out on one of their left back targets as Nigerian defender Taye Taiwo has snubbed a move to the Premier League.

The Olympique Marseille defender had been one of a number of left-backs who have been linked with a switch to Anfield in the summer, but instead he appears to be on the way to Italy.

French daily L'Equipe reports that he has agreed a three-year deal at the San Siro outfit and will join Milan, when his current contract with Marseille comes to an end, this summer.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea had been linked with a move for the powerfully built defender but it appears they will have to turn their attentions elsewhere.

Fabio Targets Early Return

Fabio Aurelio is hoping to return from injury before the end of the season and help Liverpool in their quest to reach Europe.

The Brazilian is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained during the 1-1 draw at Arsenal, but remains optimistic he can make a comeback soon.

"I'm optimistic I will be able to play again before the end of the season," said Aurelio.

"It's the same hamstring injury I had against Manchester United in March but in a slightly different place.

"It is very frustrating but the way I look at it is God is good all the time and I still have faith that things will turn around.

"That is why I keep fighting to get fit."

In the absence of Aurelio, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly, Academy graduates John Flanagan and Jack Robinson have been given their chance by Kenny Dalglish, and Liverpool's No.6 has been suitably impressed.

"I didn't see the rest of the first half at Arsenal as I was inside being treated but I saw most of the second and Jack looked very confident," he added.

"He showed his ability, quality and personality. It was the same with John Flanagan.

"They are very young but they didn't seem to feel the pressure at all."

Reds Crash To Derby Defeat

Liverpool U18s' hopes of topping FA Premier Academy League Group C suffered a blow as they went down to a 4-0 defeat at leaders Everton on Tuesday afternoon.

Goals from Eric Dier, Hallam Hope and John Lundstram put the hosts into a commanding interval lead before Anton Forrester sealed the points with a close range finish late on.

It means the Reds are now six points adrift of the Toffees who have just one game remaining.

However, with two games in hand and a superior goal difference Rodolfo Borrell's side will still harbour hopes of landing the title, albeit with an under strength side due to the forthcoming U17 European Championships.

On a rain-soaked pitch at Finch Farm, the visitors made a sluggish start and looked a shadow of the side that had notched up 84 goals in 28 matches this season.

The inclusion of Tom Ince and Suso did little to deter a determined Everton team and after Jake Bidwell had headed a good chance over the top they took the lead on seven minutes.

A right-wing corner was swerved right into the danger area where Dier rose unmarked to bullet a header beyond Jamie Stephens.

It was a bitter blow for the away side and they were left reeling again just three minutes later when a lightning break down the left ended with Hope arriving late to steer a stunning shot into the far corner.

It was all the more frustrating for Liverpool as Joe Rafferty appeared to have been fouled in the lead up to the goal.

The Reds were struggling to gain a foothold in the game and despite half chances for Toni Silva and Suso they rarely looked like troubling Connor Roberts in the Everton goal.

Instead, all of the action of note was taking place at the other end and Anton Forrester came close to embarrassing Stephens with an audacious 30 yard curler that dipped just over the crossbar before Lundstram guided his volley straight at the Reds stopper.

It seemed like being a huge let off for Liverpool just prior to the interval but they did not heed the warning and three minutes later the home team added their third of the afternoon.

Some determined play by Jordan Barrow on the left side of the Liverpool penalty area saw the midfielder clip a cross to the far post for Lundstram to loop a fine header back across goal and into the top corner.

It had undoubtedly been the worst 45 minutes of the season for the U18s and despite dominating possession following the interval they struggled to breakthrough a well marshalled Everton rearguard.

Both Silva and Conor Coady fired way over from distance before Suso finally tested Roberts with a smart turn and shot.

Not even the double introduction of Krisztian Adorjan and Michael Ngoo could add to Liverpool's fire power and when the latter guided a free header inches wide on 75 minutes it was clear it wasn't going to be their day.

The Blues had rarely broken beyond the halfway line in the second period but with less than six minutes on the clock they caught the visitors cold when Hope crossed for Forrester to seal the points from close range.