Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Liverpool FC Appoint Ex-Barcelona Coach As Reserves Manager

Liverpool have announced that Rodolfo Borrell has taken charge of the club's reserve team.

Borrell guided the Reds' under-18 side to a second-place finish in the Premier Academy League this season, with John Flanagan and Jack Robinson both graduating to the first team ranks during the final third, and will move up with many of the players to the second string.

The move comes as part of a reshuffling of personnel at Liverpool's centre of excellence in Kirkby and has put paid to plans by Barcelona to lure back Borrell as he was credited with developing several talents such as Lionel Messi during his time at the La Masia academy.

As revealed by Click Liverpool last month, the Champions League finalists were hopeful of securing the Spaniard's return had he been unsuccessful in graduating to the role.

Borrell succeeds fellow Barca cohort Pep Segura, who had taken the reins temporarily following the departure of John McMahon in March, whilst former Liverpool midfielder Mike Marsh will coach the under-18s side after a successful spell with the under-16s.
Technical director Segura and Academy director Frank McParland will now oversee matters at both youth and reserve team level.

Damien Comolli, Liverpool's director of football, believes that the moves reflect the continued growth of the club's home-grown players since the Academy's overhaul in summer 2009.

He said: "Real progress has been made this season and this has been reflected in the recognition given to our young Academy players - both at senior level within the club and also on the international football stage.

"But we have put a considerable amount of time and effort into thinking about what we need going forward and these changes reflect our desire to constantly improve the way we work.

"Stability is a key part of this process and the quality of the people already working at the Academy has been reflected in the number of internal promotions we have made.

"We've considered both the technical development of the boys at Kirkby and the way our scouting of youngsters in the first place fits into the club's overall recruitment policy."

Liverpool and Arsenal Battle For England Winger

Liverpool and Arsenal are leading the race to sign Stewart Downing, according to the Daily Mail.

The England winger, recently called into Fabio Captello's squad for the European Championship qualifier against Switzerland, has had a good season for Villa despite the teams' difficult term under Gerard Houllier.

And with Liverpool and Arsenal looking to build upon contrasting seasons, Downing is seen as the beginning of their transfer dealings this summer.

Kenny Dalglish has put a winger at the top of his transfer wish list for Liverpool this summer, while Arsene Wenger may have to look for a replacement for Andrey Arshavin.

Arsenal had their title challenge derailed by Liverpool after Dirk Kuyt's late penalty salvaged a draw for Dalglish's men, who have undergone something of a revival since Roy Hodgson's departure half-way through the season.

Liverpool Mull Over Move For Emilio Izaguirre

Liverpool are considering a move for Celtic’s impressive left-back Emilio Izaguirre but Bhoys boss Neil Lennon is determined to keep the Honduras international.

Izaguirre was named the Scottish Premier Leagues players’ player of the year after a fine debut season, and Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is believed to be weighing up a bid for the 25-year-old.

Newcastle’s Jose Enrique is another Anfield target, but Dalglish may see the Celtic full-back as the easier alternative, as Toon manager Alan Pardew continues to dig his heels in over Enrique.

Lennon though is not less bullish in his approach to hanging on to his star players, and has previously issued words of warning for any clubs interested in Izaguirre or team-mate Beram Kayal.

‘With these guys, even in the summer, the timing might not be right to sell,’ insisted the Northern Irishman.
‘We’re building a team here and it might be difficult to replace these players.

'I would be surprised if we need to sell in the summer. I haven't sat down with Peter (Lawwell) or anyone from the board on that aspect of things - but any offers that do come in will be treated with hostility.’

Liverpool To Step Up Pursuit Of Dutch Wing Ace

Frank Arnesen's first task this summer will be to try to keep Eljero Elia from Liverpool's clutches - as the Hamburg winger is back on their radar.

Arnesen left Chelsea to take up a consultancy role with the Bundesliga side this summer and he is keen on taking a few Blues youngsters with him to Germany.

But it has now emerged that Elia, the tricky Dutch forward, has caught the eye of Kenny Dalglish, who is keen to add some width to his Liverpool midfield.

Stewart Downing and Ashley Young are also targets but the latter appears to be heading to Manchester United while Aston Villa is unlikely to let both wide men go.

Liverpool failed in their bid to land Elia in January as they first proposed a loan with a view to buy option, something that Hamburg were not prepared to do.

But Dalglish is now preparing a summer move for Elia and is ready to make a cash offer. The 24-year-old starred for Holland at last summer's World Cup and Liverpool have monitored him since then and now Arnesen will have to work hard to persuade him to remain in Germany.

Elia moved to Hamburg in 2009 and talkSPORT has learned he would welcome a move to Liverpool.

Aguero Puts Liverpool And City On Alert

Liverpool and Manchester City target Sergio Aguero has publicly stated his desire to leave Atletico Madrid this summer.

The Argentina striker posted a statement on his website saying he felt he needed a move to continue his development.

"I said long ago that when I wanted to go, I would say so publicly. And the time has come," the statement said.

"So I keep to my word and here I am. I find it hard to leave Atletico. It hurts and saddens me. I've thought long and hard and I am convinced that I must be true to myself.

"I do not think I put a ceiling on the ability to keep learning, to keep growing. After five intense years, this stage for me personally is over and I have to give way to a new one.

"I'm about to turn 23 and I have everything before me. Suffice it to say that this is not an economic issue but strictly a sporting one.

"So I want to clearly express my appreciation to the club for the efforts they have made for giving me a salary that equates with the largest clubs in the world."

Aguero, 22, has scored over 100 goals for Atletico since joining from Independiente as a teenager in 2006.

As recently as January, he signed a new contract that runs until 2014 and was also named the club's vice-captain.

However, Aguero said that he signed the new deal with an understanding that he may leave this summer, merely wanting to ensure Atletico received a larger fee.

"I want to say also that this decision has been maturing for some time," he added.

"The issue was discussed and agreed with Atletico last year when I was renewing my contract.

"I wanted to sign as a way to give back to the club for all the support they have given me. Had I not done so, they might not have received any more for my transfer. I received then a promise that the club would not stand in my way if I wanted to leave this summer.

"Therefore, in line with that commitment and my decision, I have asked them to listen to any offers they receive for me from different clubs."

Atletico suffered a disappointing season as they finished seventh in La Liga, although that has been good enough to earn them a Europa League berth.

Nevertheless, speculation over Aguero's future has been rife in recent days with the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City being linked with the son-in-law of Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Only last week, Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin insisted Aguero was not for sale.

Steven Gerrard Has No Intention Of Altering Playing Style

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is determined not to allow the fear of injury change his style next season.

The England midfielder has been out since March after an operation on a groin problem with which he had been struggling for most of the season.

But although he turns 31 next Monday, Gerrard has no plans yet to adapt his all-action game in order to make things easier on his body.

"Maybe one day but not now. I'm not at that stage yet," he said.

"I want to come back as the player I've always been and perform to the levels that I've reached before.

"After the operation I feel in the best shape I've been in for two or three years.

"I'm stronger, I'm lighter and I've got a lot more confidence about my body generally. Changing isn't on the agenda."

Even though he remains the team's talisman Gerrard feels he still has to work hard to justify his place in the team.

"Everyone will need to prove themselves and I am no different," he told LFC Weekly.

"At Liverpool, you're always proving yourself - it never stops because it's the Liverpool way. It's the manager's decision [who to pick].

"All I can do at the moment is get my rehab done and come back with my body right, hungry, rested up and ready to go.

"The challenge is for the other players to keep me out of the team - I'm all for the challenge."

Aurelio Vows To Put The Hours In

Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio has vowed to put in the hours this summer to ensure he spends more time on the pitch than off it next season.

While the squad is due back for pre-season training in early July, Aurelio plans to return to work much earlier to get his fitness levels up.

The 31-year-old has struggled with injuries during his five-year stay at Anfield and was released by Rafael Benitez at the end of his contract last summer before Roy Hodgson decided to bring him back at the start of the season.

It was a decision which did not pay off as the defender managed only 21 matches in another season disrupted by injuries.

However, Aurelio hopes that the extra work he will do over the summer - he is remaining on Merseyside as his wife is expecting a baby next month - and a full pre-season program, he help him in the final year of his contract.

"I expected to be more available once again but it was good to finish with a 90-minute game (at Aston Villa on Sunday)," he said.

"That will bring my confidence up to work hard in the summer and be well prepared in pre-season so next season will be better.

"I have to prepare myself better than the normal work they give to the whole squad.

"I will do something more and as my wife is due to have a baby it will be a good time to prepare myself, using the Liverpool facilities and looking forward to the summer and pre-season.

"My hope is to be available more than I was this season and if I can do that I will have a chance to have more minutes."

Kenny Dalglish is likely to want a new left-back this summer after being forced to use Glen Johnson in that position for much of his time in charge, but Aurelio is not worried by any potential extra competition.

"It is always good that the club tries to keep the squad as strong as possible and it (the prospect of new signings) is welcome for the good of the team," he added.

"My worries are in myself in being fit and available because I believe I have the ability to fight for a place in the team."

The absence of European competition for the first time in 11 years will be of help in some respects as Liverpool will play fewer than the 54 fixtures they had this season.

And with Dalglish set for his first full year back in control, the prospects are much better than they were 12 months ago.

"It was a disappointing end to the season to finish with two defeats (against Tottenham and Aston Villa)," said Aurelio.

"But looking back to the position we were in when Kenny took over (12th) I think the team has improved and had a good campaign, even though it is not the one everyone expected.

"The hopes will be higher for next season and I think everyone is looking forward to it.

"We can put our strength and concentration on the league."

Liverpool FC’s Hopes Of Selling Alberto Aquliani To Juventus Fade After Italians Sign Andrea Pirlo

Liverpool's hope of offloading Alberto Aquilani to Juventus look to have been scuppered by the Italian side’s signing of Andrea Pirlo.

After a disappointing first season in the Premier League following his £17million switch from Roma in 2009, Aquilani was jettisoned from Anfield by former boss Roy Hodgson who sent him back to his homeland to join Juventus in a season-long loan deal.

The previously injury-plagued 26-year-old became a regular for Juve last season, playing 33 times and scoring twice.

As part of the agreement, Juventus had an option to sign Aquilani once his temporary spell was up but they are unwilling to pay the set price and have been unable to haggle the Reds down to a lower offer.

With the situation still at stalemate, Juve, who like Liverpool, have missed out on European qualification for next season, have swooped to sign veteran Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo, 32, who last night passed a medical to end his 10-year association with Serie A rivals Milan.

A Juve statement read: “Andrea Pirlo is officially a Juventus player. The signed contract will run from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014.”

Pirlo has been one of Milan’s most consistent performers for the past decade, helping them win two Champions League titles and he also won the World Cup in 2006.

However, he struggled with injuries and form this season and made just 12 Serie A starts as Milan won the title.

Pirlo’s arrival is likely to move down any potential pursuit of Aquilani down Juve’s list of priorities and with the team under new management next term their interest could cool completely.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has already admitted that Aquilani could be forced to return to Anfield later this summer.

He said: “There’s a distinct possibility he could be back here. He’s a quality player.

“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.”