Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Sale So Vital As Liverpool FC Plan For A Bright Future

Kenny Dalglish is rightly bullish about his chances of attracting top class talent to Anfield this summer.

Liverpool’s pulling power is unlikely to be dented by their absence from the Europa League next season.

In truth the biggest challenge facing Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli over the coming months isn’t strengthening the squad, it’s getting rid of a huge amount of dead wood.

Owners Fenway Sports Group has made no secret of their horror at discovering Liverpool’s annual wage bill is in excess of £100million.

Unsurprisingly, they want better value for money and with no European football next season the size of the squad needs to be slashed back. The Reds have had a dozen players out on loan this season and few have a part to play in the future.

The only one who will considerably boost the kitty for transfers is Albert Aquilani but Juventus are continuing to stall over a deal for the midfielder.

Names like Philipp Degen, Nabil El Zhar and Emiliano Insua may feel like blasts from a past fans would rather forget but they remain Liverpool’s property.

Injury-plagued right-back Degen has spent the season at Stuttgart, while Moroccan El Zhar has been at PAOK Thessaloniki in Greece. Galatasaray have had the services of left-back Insua but none of the trio have been snapped up on a permanent basis.

Then there’s French defender Chris Mavinga who was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2009 but didn’t make a senior appearance before being farmed out to Racing Genk this season. Mavinga made headlines earlier this month when his reckless high boot shattered the jaw of Standard Liege’s Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez.

Once they’ve been dealt with Dalglish has Roy Hodgson’s mess to sort out as he tries to find homes for keeper Brad Jones and left-back Paul Konchesky. Liverpool will take a hit as they have no chance of getting back the £6million wasted on the pair.

Other decisions will be trickier as the manager weighs up the merits of youngsters who have been out on loan to gain valuable experience.

It’s difficult to see where Stephen Darby fits in following the rise of fellow Academy graduates Martin Kelly and John Flanagan. Dalglish will also have to consider the merits of Daniel Ayala, Nathan Eccleston, David Amoo and Daniel Pacheco.

If dealing with all that wasn’t enough, there are also the fringe players who remained at Anfield for the duration of the season.

If Liverpool is serious about reclaiming their top four status there can be no room for the likes of Milan Jovanovic, Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and David Ngog.

Zog Brushes Off Transfer Talk

Wigan ace Charles N'Zogbia has revealed that reports linking him with Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle have left him feeling "indifferent".

The wideman was impressive throughout the Latics' campaign and scored nine goals as Roberto Martinez's men avoided relegation from the Premier League on the final day of the season.

The French star is widely expected to leave for a bigger club in the summer but the 24-year-old says he is not interested in talk about possible transfers.

N'Zogbia told ClickLancashire: "Inevitably, these rumours leave me feeling indifferent until there is a concrete approach.

"For now, I don't care, especially since I'm good at Wigan.

"The decision to sell me, and at what price, lies with my manager and the chairman.

"Even if I do have the desire to play at a bigger club, I can't say whether I'll leave or stay.

"The only certainty is that I will be in England next season. I have this league in my blood."

Juventus To Rival Liverpool For Sevilla Ace

Liverpool will face stiff opposition from Italian giants Juventus for Diego Perotti.

The midfielder was said to have been the subject of a £7m bid from the Anfield club, but current club Sevilla are holding out for at least £8.5m.

But now Juve have entered the equation, and reportedly made contact with the La Liga side, a bidding war could start over the 22-year-old.

The winger has recently pledged his future to Sevilla, who he joined in 2007, but they could be tempted to sell if their valuation is met.

Liverpool are already believed to be in negotiations with Juve over Alberto Aquilani, who has spent the season on loan at the Olimpico do Torino, which could give them a position of power when negotiating for Perotti.

Coentrao Quashes Liverpool Rumours

Benfica defender Fabio Coentrao has revealed he wants to join Real Madrid - quashing reports in the Portuguese press today he has signed a deal with Liverpool.

Tabloid newspaper Correio da Manha had claimed the left-back had agreed a big-money deal with the Merseyside club, however the 23-year-old has expressed his desire to seal a switch to the Bernabeu.

Speaking at a training camp in Portugal, Coentrao said: "What I want is to play for Real Madrid. It is the best club in the world and the only place I would leave Benfica for.

"Madrid has the best players in the world and I have many friends there. Nothing has been done but I hope the signing will go ahead.

"Benfica understand my decision and I intend to make it a good deal for them. I will be grateful to them all my life."

Coentrao's decision to leave Portugal has been in-part fuelled by the influence of his international team-mates already playing for Real, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Carvalho.

"Of course I have spoken to Cristiano, Pepe and Carvalho. I'm still a Benfica player but my interest is to sign for Madrid."

Academy Ace Nets Award

Raheem Sterling has been voted the top Academy player of 2010-11.

Rodolfo Borrell's U18s enjoyed a great season scoring 91 goals and there were some exceptional performances.

We set up an exclusive online poll asking you to vote for the best Academy player of the season and Sterling picked up 44 per cent of the vote.

The England U17 winger finished ahead of hot-shot Adam Morgan (23 per cent) and Conor Coady (15 per cent).

A youngster with a lot of potential, one of his most memorable displays came at Anfield when he netted five goals during the 9-0 mauling of Southend United in the FA Youth Cup.

Reds Sign With Honda

Honda Motorcycles, the number one motorcycle and lifestyle brand in Thailand, today announces a three year partnership with Liverpool FC.

The partnership will see Liverpool FC kicking off A.P. Honda Co. Ltd's marketing campaign in Thailand - where The Reds enjoy the support of millions of football fans.

"Honda Motorcycle is the number one motorcycle brand in Thailand and after demonstrating strong business growth this year, we are launching our new fun lifestyle marketing campaign called 'Discover Your Fun', said Mr. Chiaki Kato, the President of A.P Honda Co. Ltd. "We look forward to kicking off this campaign through an innovative partnership with Liverpool FC."

"Over recent years, we have supported a number of campaigns in football including being an official sponsor of Liverpool FC's Asia Tour 2009 in Thailand and sponsoring the live broadcast of World Cup 2006 plus Euro 2008."

"On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of A.P. Honda Co. Ltd, I am honoured to announce Honda as Official Partner to one of the world's most famous teams. They are supported by many football fans in Thailand. Honda Motorcycle will be using the team to bring the 'Discover Your Fun' campaign to fans throughout Thailand."

Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC's Managing Director added: "We know that Liverpool FC has a strong fanbase in Thailand which was highlighted by the excitement generated by our Tour to the country in 2009. This partnership with A.P. Honda Co. Ltd will enable us to engage with that fanbase in a fun and exciting way through the 'Discover Your Fun' campaign. We look forward to a long and successful association with one of Thailand's leading lifestyle brands."

The "Discover Your Fun" campaign is the brand message by A.P Honda Co. Ltd inspiring people to have an element of fun in their lifestyle. The campaign will be included in the promotion of a range of motorcycle models to engage with the young target audience. As a lifestyle campaign based on style, image, personality and community, A.P. Honda Co. Ltd will be demonstrating that they are about more than just the technology in the motorcycle.

Youngster Eyes Fresh Start

Youngster Karl Clair has paid tribute to Liverpool's Academy as he prepares to embark upon a new life away from his boyhood club.

The tricky forward was seen as one of the Reds' brightest prospects until injury curtailed his development following an appearance in the 2009 Youth Cup final.

Since then the 18-year-old has battled to overcome a serious knee problem and will now attempt to kickstart his career at Loughborough University's Nike Academy following the end of season tour in the Caribbean.

Clair told "The Caribbean tour was superb. It's a great way to go. It was a really nice gesture from Rodolfo (Borrell) and the staff to take me because they could have just said that I'm leaving the club so I don't need to go.

"But they didn't and I've had a great time. It was the perfect way to bring a close to my seven years at the club.

"It's sad to say goodbye to these lads because they are a good bunch. I spent the week with Conor (Coady) in St Vincent and he's a top lad. Hopefully he'll get some minutes with the first-team next season.

"There's a lot of talent in this group and it'll be interesting to see how they get on in the future.

"I'm taking a different route but won't give up."

Clair's knee injury ultimately put paid to his hopes of making a big impact upon the U18s this season and he has been forced to look on as his teammates have enjoyed one of the finest campaigns in the Academy's history.

He admits it has been hugely frustrating to watch from the sidelines but feels he is now ready to move on thanks to the help of the medical team in Kirkby.

He said: "It started off as patella tendonitis in my left knee. It muddled on for nine months or so. I came back for pre-season this year and I just didn't seem to be able to get back to the level that I was at.

"I fully understand why I haven't played. At the beginning of the season I was a bit wary of it and didn't want to push myself in case it went again.

"But I feel good now and I'd like to thank Andy Renshaw and Dave Galley as well as all of the other staff who have helped me in some way because they gave me the chance to develop as a player.

"I've played a few games recently so I feel like I'm getting back to where I want to be. Hopefully I can come back like Adam Hammill did.

"I still love this club and the lads will always be my mates. But I've got a new challenge in Loughborough.

"Our Education and Welfare Officer Clive Cook arranged it all for me. I didn't know much about it beforehand but it looks like it's a good way for me to stay in the game and try and find another club.

"It's mainly about football but has some courses involved too. Fingers crossed I can impress and find a new club in the not too distant future."

Clair's departure illustrates the other side of the Academy and the lengths the staff go to ensure that all of the players they bring through have something to aim for when they leave Kirkby.

Head of Education and Welfare Phil Roscoe said: "All the staff and players wish Karl all the best for the future.

"Karl is a player who has had to overcome a serious injury and this has severely affected his development as a player. He has received the very best treatment from Dave Galley, Andy Renshaw and Liam Kershaw over the past two seasons to help him regain his fitness.

"However, being injured for this amount of time is obviously an extremely difficult time for any player. Through this Karl has shown tremendous character and mental toughness to help him get to where he is now and also to be able to accept that he must look to further his playing career elsewhere.

"We all hope Karl will now have a consistent period of injury free time now and can hopefully re-enter the professional game at some point in the future.

"Every second year scholar who has not received a professional contract at Liverpool has now been able to continue their football career in various ways. Michael Ihiekwe has recently signed a professional contract at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Alex Whittle has joined the Glen Hoddle Academy, Marcus Giglio has become a full-time professional at TNS and Karl Clair, as highlighted, has signed a one year contract at the Nike academy which will be based at Loughborough University.

"Having players furthering their careers at other clubs or in different programs gives just as much satisfaction to all the staff here, as a player who is able to achieve a professional contract at Liverpool.

"I would like to say again, well done to all the players mentioned and they will continue to receive all the guidance and help they need from the staff at Liverpool."

Liverpool Physio Chris Morgan Stunned By Fans’ Response

As well as curing aching limbs at Melwood, Liverpool physio Chris Morgan has raised a remarkable £21,000 for The Christie – Europe’s largest cancer centre.

Morgan secured sponsorship from Kopites around the world via Twitter before running the Manchester 10k in an impressive 44mins 11secs.

The Manchester hospital was his chosen charity as it’s where his friend and former Liverpool defender Gary Ablett was treated after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year.

Morgan, who also auctioned off signed shirts donated by Reds stars, was blown away by the response.

“99% of the people who sponsored me have never met me, but they did it because of the Liverpool link and because they recognized it was for a really good cause,” he said. “I’d like to say thanks to everyone who sponsored me.”

Auction Joy For Japanese Reds

The Japanese LFC Supporters Club have hailed a charity event in aid of the victims of the earthquake and Tsunami disaster as a 'huge success'.

Chairman Keiko Hirano revealed that over 150 Reds fans had turned out to participate in a fun-filled auction on May 21, a day that saw them raise approximately £2800 courtesy of LFC gear donated by fans across the globe.

Hirano said: "Thanks to the autographed Liverpool shirts and other valuable LFC souveniers from all over the world, we raised JPY 377,162 on the day alone.

"We will shortly be sending the amount to the Tsunami fund via Civic Force.

"The hundreds of messages we have received from the Liverpool FC family after the disaster mentioned that the famous anthem was to remind us how to walk through this terrible storm. We thank you again for the messages which have made us hold our heads up high and the donations which will help those people who are still suffering in the rain.

"We sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the end of the charity event on what was a fantastic day."