Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dalglish Won't Settle For Second Best

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists it will be "disrespectful'' to his current squad not to make top-quality signings in the summer but also did not rule out a return for some familiar faces.

Dalglish accepts there will be some movement in and out but he will not settle for anything less than the best in terms of new arrivals.

Less than a year ago the club were going through a tumultuous time with manager Rafael Benitez having left and the search for new owners still a few months away from completion.

Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett were trying to manage huge interest payments on loans they had taken out and new boss Roy Hodgson, having sold Javier Mascherano and Albert Riera and loaned out the likes of Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua, was unable to replace like-for-like in the transfer market.

The arrivals of Denmark midfielder Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky, aged 30 and 29 at the time, did little to quell the growing feeling of concern at where things were heading at Anfield, although Raul Meireles has since turned out to be a decent signing.

But since Fenway Sports Group's buyout in October the future looks healthier both on the pitch and in terms of the bank balance and Dalglish has stressed the club will no longer settle for second-best when it comes to transfers.

"The people we'll be looking at are of the highest calibre, because the players here have done really well since January,'' said Dalglish.

"It would be disrespectful to them not for us not to be looking at a higher level. We've had a great end to the season. There will be lots of work done in the close season and we'll take it from there.

"Although it might affect them, players themselves expect new faces to come in and give the place a lift. It'll happen and they know it'll happen.

"If we get some quality people in to go along with the people already here that will help everyone - it always helps to freshen up the dressing room.

"But if we're bringing anyone in they've got to be better than what we've got - and that's going to be a big ask.''

And while Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli cast their nets far and wide in an attempt to secure the best players the manager revealed some solutions may lie closer to home.

One of the first things Hodgson did when he took over in July was trim the squad, with Aquilani, Insua, Philipp Degen and Nabil El Zhar among those sent out on loan.

Aquilani's departure was the most high-profile, having arrived in a £17 million deal the previous summer, but the deadline for Juventus to sign the Italy international permanently has now passed with the Serie A side apparently unwilling to meet the club's valuation of the player.

Liverpool Move For £15m Wing Star Set To Go Ahead

Aston Villa are reportedly resigned to losing Ashley Young to either Liverpool or Manchester United this summer.

According to Metro, Villa are ready to pave the way for Young to seal a dream move at the end of the season after acknowledging that he won't sign a new contract.

The England winger has just one year remaining on his current deal, so Villa are preparing to cash in on the 25-year-old, rather than let him leave on a free transfer next June.

It was reported by The Guardian last week that Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are 'increasingly confident' of sealing a deal for the £15 million-rated midfielder, and Anfield now appears to be his most likely destination.

Liverpool has been linked with the former Watford man for several months, and Damien Comolli is understood to have been monitoring his progress with great interest.

The Liverpool director of football has previously stated that the Reds may move for Young, should he become available, and it now seems as though the Anfield club will get their wish at the end of the season.

Liverpool Ready £20 Million Offer For World Cup Winner

Kenny Dalglish has reportedly added another stellar name to his long list of potential summer recruits; that of Sevilla winger Jesus Navas.

Though Navas has been a one-club man for the entirety of his career since joining Sevilla's youth system at the tender age of 15, the Liverpool boss will be very keen to bring the 25 year-old to Anfield in the close season.

It is thought Dalglish has earmarked the eleven-cap Spain international as a perfect foil for his recently-acquired strike partnership of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Despite suffering from chronic homesickness, Navas declared himself fit to travel to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup last summer, stating, "To play for your country is the greatest thing and I hope to be able to do so."

The three appearances he chalked up along Spain's successful campaign included a cameo appearance against the Netherlands in the final.

Although Navas has been largely hampered by injury throughout this current season, restricted to just 15 outings in La Liga, he was on hand to score a rare headed goal in Sevilla's 1-1 draw with Barcelona in March.

Should he make the decision to leave the club he has played for over 300 times, he would be welcomed with open arms at Liverpool. For a start, he would be reunited with Pepe Reina, his international teammate.

Diego Could Make His Long Awaited Move To Liverpool In June

Liverpool are preparing to table a summer bid for highly rated Wolfsburg playmaker Diego in a deal that has been labelled as the potential bargain of the summer according to The Sun.

The 26-year-old Brazilian midfielder has been valued at €10million by the Bundesliga outfit, as Diego looks set to depart Germany after a solitary season.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is looking to add more creativity to the Liverpool midfield, after finding his side struggle to break teams down at times this season.

With the January additions of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, Liverpool now have a potent strikeforce, but often lack the cutting edge to service their front line.

Diego has been linked with a move to Anfield before, but at the time Wolfsburg's €15million price tag was considered too high.

Now under the ownership of Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool carry more weight in the transfer market, as they prepare to further strengthen the Reds’ squad.

Having snubbed a place on the Wolfsburg bench for last weekend's game against Hoffenheim, newly installed coach Felix Magath has given up hope of retaining Diego's services, and as a result has slashed his asking price accordingly.

"If a club wants to sign Diego, they need to get in touch with us," Magath told German newspaper Bild.

The Brazilian international is set to be hit with a hefty fine for his latest antics, but despite that, Magath insisted nothing concrete will be decided on his future until the club speaks to the player.

"There is no new state of affair, no decision has been taken yet - neither one way or the other and there is plenty of time until pre-season to have a conversation with Diego."

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has given the green light to proceed with negotiations that could see the exciting South American star make his long-awaited move to Anfield when the transfer window reopens in June.

Liverpool Seek Hazard Swap As Lille Move For Jovanovic

Lille is chasing Liverpool striker Milan Jovanovic.

The Daily Mail says Jovanovic has played his last game for Liverpool after undergoing an operation to remove a cyst in his knee.

The Serbian is recovering in Qatar and is wanted by French league leaders Lille.

He could be used as a makeweight in a potential deal for Eden Hazard.

Kenny: I Won't Spoil Skrtel Feat

Kenny Dalglish today spoke of how Martin Skrtel has grown in stature this season as the Slovakian prepares to complete a remarkable feat of playing in every minute of every Barclays Premier League match.

Just one other outfield player can boast such a record - Everton's Player of the Year Leighton Baines.

Dalglish told reporters ahead of Sunday's trip to Villa Park: "It's a fantastic achievement but we have to wait and see if he's playing on Sunday or not! No, I wouldn't like to spoil that perfect record.

"He's been fantastic this year and really grown in stature. He's been a real asset for us.

"He gets credit from the people who really matter - the people here. He wouldn't have played every game if not."

Liverpool travel south having seen their Europa League qualification hopes dashed by a 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham last weekend.

Dalglish has been impressed with the reaction of his players this week.

"I don't think they were too happy but they've got the chance to put that right on Sunday," said the Scot.

"Training has been good - it's always good. They are looking forward to the game but the disappointment should be there.

"There were some positive vibes that came out of the game on Sunday."

Liverpool needs to better the result gained by Tottenham at home to Birmingham to qualify for continental competition next term.

On how closely he will be following events from White Hart Lane, the boss added: "Everyone knows the results from most matches whether it's the first, last or middle game of the season. You know what's going on at most places.

"It'll be no different on Sunday but we'll concentrate on our own game and see if we get any favours from somewhere else."

Some have questioned how beneficial entry to the Europa League is for clubs such as Liverpool, with participation meaning most Barclays Premier League games are shifted to Sunday.

But Dalglish won't be drawn into a debate about the competition's value.

"The most important thing for us is to win the game on Sunday and see where it takes us," he said.

"If we're in the Europa League we're in it, if we're not we just have to get on with it."

On whether not being in the Europa League would harm our chances of developing youngsters or attractive players, Dalglish added: "Maybe a couple of your points are fair, but a couple of them don't make any difference.

"On developing young players, we're going into a competition next year that will help develop young players in Europe. That's not an issue."

Aston Villa has nothing but pride to play for on Sunday having secured their top-flight status despite a serious illness to their manager Gerard Houllier.

In his absence caretaker boss Gary McAllister has overseen some impressive results, including a victory against Arsenal last weekend.

Dalglish added: "The illness to Gerard doesn't help but they are both fantastic footballing people and they've done the most important thing - keeping Aston Villa in the Premier League.

"I'm sure Gary would much rather have Gerard in the role he was meant to be in when he went there, but fate took over. He's done well to keep them up.

"Villa had a fantastic result last week at the Emirates. It's their last home game and I'm sure they'll want to finish the season on a high. They'll be well up for the game."

Dalglish Would Welcome Aquilani

Kenny Dalglish has refused to rule out the possibility of Alberto Aquilani playing a part in Liverpool's revival.

The 26-year-old has been out on loan at Juventus this season having failed to impress since he was signed in the summer of 2009 for £17million.

However, Dalglish is a known admirer of the talented playmaker and it now seems more than likely he will return to Anfield for the new season.

Juventus have missed the deadline by which a deal for the Italy international should have been concluded and the Reds boss has stated he would welcome him back.

"There's a distinct possibility he could be back here. He's a quality player," he said.

"He got off to a bad start here with his injuries and never really got going after missing pre-season.

"He went out on loan and has done very well over there. If he was to come back here, for me that would be like a new face coming in."

As well as Aquilani, Emiliano Insua, Philipp Degen and Nabil El Zhar will all return after being sent out on loan by former boss Roy Hodgson.

The reshaping of the Liverpool squad is further complicated by what to do with fringe players like Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic.

But Dalglish insists he will not make any rash decisions on players and that everyone will be judged on merit.

"They are still our players unless someone comes and takes them away from us," he added.

"We've got to assess what we need, and that includes the players who have been out on loan.

"They'll assess where they've been and the other club will assess them.

"Alberto is the highest profile but we've got decisions to make on those players but it may be dictated to by someone else making up their own mind.

"We've not had time to sit down and discuss the players who have been out on loan apart from Alberto."

Dalglish Happy Enough If Carroll Is Picked For U21s

Kenny Dalglish says he would have no problems if Liverpool striker Andy Carroll is called up by England for the forthcoming Under-21 European Championships.

Controversy has surrounded Stuart Pearce's squad selection for the summer tournament, with Arsene Wenger warning that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere should not be picked - especially if Carroll, a player in a similar situation, is excused from action.

But Dalglish insists he has no problem with the £35 million striker being selected for the event, believing it to be part and parcel of international football.

He also paid tribute to Carroll's team-mate Jay Spearing, who is one name almost certain to be included in Pearce's final squad when it is named next week.

"We will wait and see if he [Carroll] is picked on Monday," Dalglish said. "At the moment Jay is in the squad and he's not had a mention.

"If he gets into the Under-21 squad it is a fantastic reward for what he's done.

"If any other of our players go then fine."

Dalglish also hopes midfielder Raul Meireles will be fit for the final game of the season, as the Reds face Aston Villa.

"He is training, so I think we should have him in and around the game for Sunday," the Scot added. "We won't take any chances, but we expect him to be fit."

Poulsen Sees His Future At Liverpool

Christian Poulsen says he is determined to stay at Liverpool and fight for his place, despite failing to hold down a first team place this season.

The Danish international midfielder was brought in by Roy Hodgson last summer, but weak performances has made him struggle to break into the first team – although he has made 21 appearances for the Reds.

Poulsen hasn’t been in action since the Reds went out of the Europa League to Braga in March.

He has been strongly rumoured to be one of the players on Kenny Dalglish‘s exit list this summer, but the 31-year-old believes there is a future for him at Anfield.

“Of course it’s been a difficult season for me,” he said. “I came under Roy Hodgson and halfway through the season he left but I have still had some good times here.

“I am feeling settled here with my family. I have three kids now and we had a baby in February who was born in Liverpool.

“What I miss of course is playing more but I hope the future will be brighter for me at Liverpool.

“I have two years of my contract left so yes I think my future will be here.”