Saturday, June 04, 2011

Steven Gerrard’s Pending Return Excites Steve Clarke

Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke can't wait for the return of captain Steven Gerrard from injury.

The 31-year-old missed the end of season run-in after undergoing groin surgery.

The skipper has started just six games under new manager Kenny Dalglish, and Clarke can't wait for his return.

"He's vitally important. Steven hasn't featured much since I came to the club. He's been in and out with a niggling problem with his groin, and hopefully the operation has cured it.

"A fit and fully firing Steven Gerrard can only improve the squad.

"He's certainly one of the most complete footballers of his generation. Over the last 10 or 12 years there have been a number of really top English players and certainly Steven is one of them.

"I've only seen little glimpses of him since I came here but he's a captain who, rather than speaking and motivating, leads by example on the pitch. I am looking forward to seeing him do that next season."

Jordan Henderson 'Eager To Tie Up Liverpool Transfer Switch'

Sunderland star Jordan Henderson is said to be keen to complete his proposed switch to Liverpool by Wednesday at the latest.

The talented youngster is due to head to Denmark later this week with England under-21s for the European Championships and is said to want his future settled by then, according to the Daily Mirror.

Kenny Dalglish has identified the midfielder as a key summer signing, but the two clubs have so far been unable to agree a fee.

Sunderland are asking for £18 million for their in-demand England international, with the Reds confident a deal can be agreed after increasing their bid to £15 million.

It is thought that progress is being made, with Henderson desperate to conclude the transfer and Dalglish also keen to have the player on board by the start of pre-season training, the newspaper noted.

The Anfield club have also lined up Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia as another target as they believe they could lose out on Aston Villa's Ashley Young to rivals Manchester United.

Liverpool are long-time admirers of Young, but fear he is Old Trafford-bound so are mulling over a move for N'Zogbia instead, who has just a year left on his contract at the DW Stadium.

It is further evidence the Anfield hierarchy are prepared to back Dalglish, following the £50 million-plus double capture of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in January.

Liverpool Close In On £10m-Rated Connor Wickham

Liverpool is set to renew their interest in Ipswich striker Connor Wickham when the summer transfer window opens for business according to reports in The Metro.

Wickham has had an impressive couple of season at the Tractor Boys and has attracted interest from a number of top clubs in England including, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Spurs were close to signing the 18-year-old last year, with a bid in the region of between £10million and £15million, but due to the player’s age at the time negotiations deterred.

However a year on and it now appears Liverpool are favourites to land the talented Wickham.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish and the clubs director of football Damien Comolli are both keen admires of the youngster and will be watching him closely during England's under 21 European Championship matches.

Ipswich have placed a £10m price-tag on Wickham, and the Portman Road outfit will be expecting a bidding war to begin for their prized asset.

The young striker is contracted with Ipswich until 2013 but with the Championship club seemingly willing to listen to offers Dalglish is ready to make a bid before anyone else.

Last season Wickham made 41 appearances for Ipswich in all competitions and scored nine goals.

Dalglish Has Eye On 'Last Ditch Effort' To Keep Liverpool Target

Newcastle have made one last ditch effort to keep Jose Enrique, with the star left back looking set to make his move to Liverpool, according to The Journal.

Newcastle were reportedly in the race for star Ligue 1 left back Boukary Drame, but the Northern paper is reporting that the Toon side have not made an offer, in the hopes of keeping Enrique.

But Liverpool is still favourites to sign the Spaniard, who is reportedly worth £15 million, with Bayern Munich and Lyon also interested.

Newcastle look set for a squad overhaul in the summer, with striker Andy Carroll long departed to Liverpool, and Joey Barton not being offered a new contract. Barton is also a target for the Merseyside club, with Kenny Dalglish on the lookout for feeders to Carroll’s strikes.

Enrique recently admitted he didn’t mind so much where he played, with the star revealing he is settled and happy in England.

"If I have to continue here, I'm happy. If I have to go to another club, I'm happy in England," Enrique said.

With Liverpool coming very close to European football this season, and Dalglish putting forward a long term plan for the side to challenge for trophies over the next 2-3 seasons, Enrique looks likely to choose Liverpool over Bayern and Lyon.

Bojan Krkic Has Laughed Off Speculation Linking Him To Anfield

Liverpool's hopes of landing Barcelona ace Bojan Krkic seem to be all but over, after the player laughed off speculation linking him with a switch to Anfield reports

With Barca's star-studded line-up having completed a La Liga and Champions League double this season, Bojan's chances have often been limited.

The 20-year-old striker has featured predominantly from the bench for the Catalan giants, and his lack of playing time has led to increased speculation that a transfer to Liverpool is in the offing.

Kenny Dalglish has long been credited with an interest, with the Reds seemingly set to splash the cash this summer as they seek to build a Liverpool side capable of challenging for a top four berth next season.

But, the Spanish international, who has four years to run on his current contract, has laid to rest any suggestions that he's set for a summer switch to Anfield, insisting his long-term future lies at the Camp Nou.

"I can only laugh about these rumours," Bojan told El Mundo Deportivo.

"It is my goal to stay with Barcelona for a long time and be successful here. I am a young player and still have a lot to prove."

Reports emanating from Spain have even suggested that the diminutive striker could be used as a makeweight as Barcelona tries to tempt Villarreal to part with star striker, Giuseppe Rossi.

But Bojan is adamant he will not be used as a bargaining tool, although he insists Rossi would be a welcome addition to the Spanish champions' ranks.

"This is football, things can change very fast. Let's be clear about it, though - I will not be used to facilitate someone else's transfer.

"And that is not just because I say so but also because that is how the club feels about it.

Speaking about Rossi, Bojan added: "He is a very complete attacker and has already scored many goals for Villarreal," he said. "I think that he has the quality to play for Barcelona."

Liverpool And Newcastle Both Keeping Tabs On Defender Emilio Izaguirre

Newcastle United have joined Liverpool in the race to sign Emilio Izaguirre, according to reports.

The Celtic left back has earned rave reviews in Scotland this season, landing the SPL Player of the Year award in his first full season at Celtic Park after signing from Motagua in August.

Alan Pardew fears the Magpies may lose Jose Enrique this summer, and although the Toon are reported to have made a last ditch effort to resolve contract issues with the Spaniard, his exit appears to be a possibility. The Sun claims Newcastle are lining up Izaguirre as a possible replacement.

Liverpool are thought to be one of the favourites for former Villarreal full-back Enrique, although they too have been linked with a move for Izaguirre and have been monitoring the Honduran's progress.

Speculation has been rife that Kenny Dalglish will make an official move for the Hoops star, and the 25-year-old spoke on the interest coming out of Anfield only last week.

"It is flattering for any player of course, when somebody like Liverpool shows an interest in your services," the defender told La Tribuna.

"I still do now know anything, I leave this in the hands of my agent and club officials."

It's claimed that Newcastle would look to offer £2.5 million to bring Izaguirre to St James' Park, although Celtic are expected to want more for the player they signed for £600,000.

British press reports have previously claimed Liverpool would offer as much as £4 million for the defender, and Newcastle would need to up their bid to beat off the Reds.

That said, a move seems dependant on if Liverpool look to sign Enrique, creating an interesting transfer triangle that could continue to play out during the summer months.

Liverpool Join Hunt For Jones

Arsenal remains favourites to sign Blackburn defender Phil Jones, but Liverpool are also said to be in the hunt.

The 19-year-old has shown that he has a big future ahead of him in the Premier League, having broken into the Rovers first team in the last couple of seasons.

Jones signed a five-year deal with Blackburn last year and although Rovers will do all they can to keep him, a big offer will be hard for Ewood Park officials to turn down.

Arsene Wenger has admitted to being a big fan of the teenager and is believed to be closing in on a deal, but Liverpool could yet scupper the Gunners' attempts to capture Jones.

The centre-back is currently with the England Under-21 squad, along with Reds target Jordan Henderson, as they prepare for the upcoming European Championships in Denmark.

Seven Reds Set For World Cup

Seven Academy youngsters have been called up to play in the U17 World Cup in Mexico during the summer.

Exciting wide-man Raheem Sterling joins striker Adam Morgan, left-back Brad Smith, goalkeeper Tyrell Belford, centre-back Matty Regan and winger Jack Dunn in the England squad.

Left-back Tom King has also been selected by Australia.

The tournament kicks-off on June 18 and the final is in Mexico City on July 10.

England begin their campaign on Sunday, June 19 when they take on Rwanda. Also in the group are Uruguay and Canada.

Another five Academy products are currently away with England at the Euro U19 Championships.