Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gerrard Sets Sights On Title

Steven Gerrard says Liverpool's aim next season is nothing less than to win the Premier League title.

The Reds captain has been out of action since March, when he saw his season cut short by a groin injury, and is looking forward to returning for the new campaign.

And the influential midfielder is eyeing silverware ahead of his comeback.

Gerrard told Sky Sports News: "If we were to get back in the top-four next season I think it would be a fantastic achievement.

"But we will be setting out to win the league, because that's what you do year in and year out at Liverpool."

He added: "We've got a good side together. Hopefully it'll be strengthened with a few new signings in the next few weeks before we go back.

"Then we'll be in a position where we're competitive next season."

Gerrard admits it stung to see Manchester United surpass Liverpool's title record last season when they landed their 19th league trophy.

"The way they were playing you knew the 19 was going to come," he added. "And it did hurt because they are our biggest rivals.

"You've got to give credit where it's due. We've got to get on with it and the challenge is can we equalize as soon as possible."

Gerrard says he is hungry to get back to action after spending so long on the sidelines.

"I'm actually dying for a game of football," he added. "In a strange way it's been good to get a rest mentally, and also physically.

"I believe I'm going to come back firing, fit and well next season.

"It's probably the best I've felt, physically and mentally, going into a season so I'm excited, I can't wait for it."

Liverpool Face Serie A Race For £8m Defender Addition

Liverpool face competition from Serie A side Roma for the services of Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy according to talkSPORT.

The 25-year-old French international has been heavily linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer after growing frustrated at a lack of trophy success.

Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger is said to have told Clichy he is free to leave Arsenal if the right offer comes in, and Liverpool were the first club to show their interest with a reported offer of £5million.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is known to be in the market for a left-sided defender this summer, having deemed Paul Konchesky surplus to requirements at Anfield.

He instead opted to deploy an out of position Glen Johnson and 17-year-old academy graduate Jack Robinson in the left-back berth for much of the 2010/11 campaign.

But Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has made a defensive acquisition in that position a top priority ahead of the new season. After completing the signing of Jordan Henderson last week, Comolli said:

"If a player is English, or British or has played in the Premier League, we'll look at that over someone abroad," and Clichy certainly fits the bill.

A mainstay in Arsenal's backline, Clichy has appeared in 153 out of a possible 190 Barclays Premier League games, and he also has vast experience of European football, having racked up 48 Champions League appearances since moving to the north London club in 2003.

But with just 12months to run on his existing Arsenal contract, Clichy has indicated he is unlikely to agree a new deal, so Wenger is looking to sell-up now rather than risk losing him for nothing next year.

Sources in Italy suggest that Roma are preparing an offer of £8million in the hope that it will be enough to activate negotiations before Liverpool themselves return with an improved bid.

Defender 'Rejects' Arsenal In Favour Of Merseyside Move

Columbia international Cristian Zapata has rejected a move to Arsenal, and is very close to signing a deal with Liverpool, according to the Metro.

The Udinese defender is currently participating in the Copa America, but took the time to tell a local radio station that he is relatively close to agreeing to a deal with Liverpool.

“I don’t know anything for sure, all I can say is that I am very close to Liverpool," Zapata told La FM.

“We will see what happens with my future at the end of the Copa America.

“I have gained experience [with Udinese], however, the time has come for me to make the jump up to a big team.”

Liverpool is reportedly desperate to sign the 24-year-old, with Kenny Dalglish a long term admirer of Zapata, particularly because of his flexibility in both defence and the full back position.

Dalglish is moving quickly now to sign his targets after Manchester United bagged Liverpool target Phil Jones last week. Zapata hinted that a deal could be done with the Merseyside club by the end of the week.

Arsenal were said to be interested in Zapata, and have been over a long term period. With Wenger's youth policy, and Zapata's relatively young age, the Arsenal manager had made enquiries about the star, according to reports. But Zapata has decided that he favours Liverpool over a move to Arsenal after all.

Liverpool Turn Back On 'Perfect' Real Madrid Star

Liverpool won’t be making a move for Fernando Gago, even though the Real Madrid star issued a ‘come get me’ plea to the Merseyside club, the Liverpool Daily Post understands.

Gago’s representative Marcelo Lobilla said yesterday that Liverpool would be the perfect destination for the star, with multiple clubs including Aston Villa and Tottenham also linked to a possible move for the midfielder.

“Gago needs to play and Liverpool would be a perfect club for him,” Lobilla said.

“Fernando wants to get back on the pitch and return to the top level and at the moment that is not possible in Madrid.”

While Gago has struggled for game time at Real Madrid, the 25-year-old has made 100 appearances for the Spanish giants over four years, making him an attractive signing in the Barclays Premier League.

Liverpool, however, look to have bowed out of the race for the star, with Kenny Dalglish concentrating on signing younger players with experience in English football.

Sylvain Marveaux Denies Liverpool Move Collapsed Because Of Failed Medical

Rennes midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has underlined that his transfer to Liverpool fell through because he could not agree personal terms with the Premier League side.

The former France Under-21 international appeared set to sign for Liverpool on a free transfer from Rennes to put a couple of disappointing seasons, marred by injuries, behind him, but the move collapsed on Friday.

Reports in France suggested the transfer did not go ahead as Marveaux could not pass a medical at Liverpool, but the midfielder has now declared that was not the source of the problem.

"I do not want to go into details, but if I have not signed for Liverpool, it was because there was a contractual disagreement between the involved parties, Thursday evening," he told L'Equipe.

Marveaux, who stated he was 'disgusted' to hear such reports about him, stressed he is fit to play: "Today, I can undergo a medical before you and you will see there is no problem," said the 25-year-old, who made just 10 appearances for Rennes in 2010-11.

Dalglish Drops Asking Price To £8m For Want-Away Midfielder

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is prepared to let midfielder Alberto Aquilani leave for as little as £8million just two years after Liverpool paid £17m for the Italian international.

Aquilani spent last season on loan at Italian giants Juventus and despite impressing many with his assured performances in the centre of midfield was told that he would not be signed on a permanent deal after the club appointed Antonio Conte as their new manager.

The 26-year-old was told that he would be returning to Anfield for the start of next season but it appears as though Dalglish does not see him having a future at the club and is now prepared to listen to offers.

AC Milan were said to be interested in securing the midfielders signature but interest has cooled in recent weeks, forcing the Reds to lower their asking price in the hope of forcing through a deal.

Dalglish has already got a number of central midfielders fighting for a starting berth in Steven Gerrard, Raul Meireles, Jay Spearing, Lucas and recent arrival Jordan Henderson, while discussions are also on-going with Blackpool as the club attempt to land Charlie Adam.

In what has become a long running saga, the Merseyside club are desperate to try and sell the player as soon as possible so that they can draw a line under his disappointing spell with the club.

Liverpool are confident that there will be some interest in the Italy midfielder after he made 33 appearances for Juventus last season and regained much of the confidence that had been lost with his time in the Premier League.

Liverpool still have to pay the final installment of £4.4m to Roma by the end of June and are hoping that they will be able to sell him in the coming weeks.

Kyrgiakos Earns Contract Extension

Liverpool defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos has earned himself a 12-month contract extension at Anfield.

The former Greece international, 32 next month, originally joined on a two-year deal from AEK Athens at the start of the 2009-10 season.

However, written into that agreement was an option for a further year and Press Association Sport understands Kyrgiakos has qualified for that having played the required number of matches last season.

Kyrgiakos was fourth in the pecking order of centre-backs in the previous campaign, behind Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.

With the club looking to reinforce that area this summer his chances could be even more limited and it is possible he will be sold, with a return to his homeland the most likely.

Liverpool have, however, confirmed the departure of a number of reserves with former captain Steve Irwin, Nikola Saric, Jason Banton, Deale Chamberlain, Alex Cooper and Sean Highdale all leaving.

Carragher Relishing Reds Visit

Jamie Carragher has travelled the world for club and country - but is eagerly looking forward to his first ever visit to mainland China this summer.

The Liverpool defender will be part of the Reds' squad heading to Asia for a pre-season tour in July, which kicks off with a game in China on July 13.

"I have never been to China before and I don't think many of the players have either," he said.

"We are all really looking forward to it. I am sure it will be a great tour because we have a lot of fans over there and it will be great for us to see them and for them to see us play and train."

Carragher was quizzed by a selection of Chinese media representatives during a press conference at Melwood in April, in which he was asked his views on a wide-range of topics from Kenny Dalglish's return as manager to his thoughts on the Reds' youth policy.

"We've had a great run with the manager," he said. "It started with the new players coming in January and hopefully we can take it into next season.

"The manager has brought a lot of positivity to the club. The fans love him which is a good start and makes a big difference. He's very experienced as a manager as well and he's had a lot of success so is obviously very good at his job."

The assembled Chinese media were also keen to learn whether Carra thinks the future of the club is in good hands - and whether he himself may continue at Anfield once his playing days come to an end.

"I want to carry on playing and then we'll see what happens in the future," he added. "That is up to the club but you always want to help Liverpool Football Club.

"The future is bright, though. Last season Flanagan and Robinson have come through and Jay Spearing has done really well. At the Academy we've got Andre Wisdom, Conor Coady and Raheem Sterling as well."