Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lyon Ready To Listen To Liverpool Offer For Aly Cissokho Transfer

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is desperate to bring in a new left-sided defender after being forced to play Glen Johnson out of position at times last season.

After seeing his top target Gael Clichy join Manchester City, he is now looking at a number of alternatives.

Reports in France suggest one of them is Lyon's Cissokho and that a bid is imminent.

Lyon coach Remi Garde told L'Equipe that Liverpool have not yet made an offer for the 23-year-old, but he was prepared to consider any approaches.

'Aly is an important player for us, but if an offer matches our expectation, he is likely to go,' said Garde.

The French club is known to be short of cash and it is thought they are prepared to accept a bid of just £8 million, despite paying £13 million to sign Cissokho from Porto in 2009.

Liverpool are also believed to be interested in Newcastle United left back Jose Enrique, but face competition from Arsenal for the Spaniard's signature.

Liverpool Will Use Upcoming Asia Trip to Scout Chinese Talent

Liverpool’s first-ever trip to China is going to begin this Sunday and include a friendly against Guangdong. But it could end with some newly acquired Chinese players.

Damien Comolli, LFC's director of football, told that the club will be scouting talent in China during the trip.

"We've organized things in China, organized games to watch, trials to watch, we'll watch young players, and it'll be very interesting for us to see what level there is," Comolli said.

Comolli added that LFC has already invited two U17 players to try out in July. Despite China's absence in the soccer world, Comolli said he thinks the odds favor a good player coming from China because of the country's population.

"As everyone knows, China has got a fantastic basketball player, Yao Ming, they are very good in track and field, so there is no reason we can't find a player there. Obviously in a few days we might not find someone but we'll have a good understanding of the level there is and of Chinese players," Comolli said.

Lucas Will Fight For His Place

Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool star Lucas has the bottle to battle new signings Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson for a midfield spot in Kenny Dalglish’s new-look side.

Lucas’ place has come under threat from the big-money signings brought in by Dalglish this summer.

The Brazilian has only just won over the Anfield crowd with his tenacious displays in the Reds’ engine room.

He was roundly condemned as a poor £5million capture by former boss Rafa Benitez until he finally kicked into gear last term.

Gerrard feels Lucas’ mental strength will help him cope with the pressure of fighting for his place.

He said: “He has a strong, positive mentality. I’ve seen the difficulties he’s been through. He has worked hard and improved.”

Joe Cole Determined To Stay At Liverpool

Joe Cole is determined to stay at Liverpool, believing that life at Anfield following a miserable first season will be child’s play.

The England midfielder has confided to friends that one of the problems last season was a lack of sleep for himself and wife Carly following the birth of their baby Ruby.

But thanks to a few tips from a sleep guru the Coles are enjoying less frenetic nights with Joe confident of proving himself at the highest level again.

Aldridge In Swipe At Fernando Torres

New Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has been warned star striker Fernando Torres will NEVER be the player he was at Liverpool.

Villas-Boas looks certain to make Torres, 27, his first-choice forward amid reports he is willing to listen to offers for Didier Drogba.

Chelsea say they are confident Torres, who cost £50m from Anfield in January, will come good next season despite scoring just one goal since his arrival in London.

Villas-Boas is also ready to bring in a personal fitness instructor to get the Spaniard fit.

But Liverpool legend John Aldridge has warned even a full pre-season, new manager and new system won’t be enough to bring back the old Torres.

Aldridge insisted: “Everyone seems to be saying he’ll be back to his best next season but I can’t see it.

“For me personally I don’t think Fernando Torres can get back to what he was at Liverpool two seasons ago.

“He’s lost a yard of pace and I don’t think he can get back to where he was. He’ll score goals of course – but not to the level of one in every 1.5 games as he did when he first arrived at Liverpool and was so tremendous.

“He’ll still do some damage during the season but Chelsea fans shouldn’t expect him to be like he used to be. It’s not going to happen.

“I look back now and it was a relief that Torres went. He wasn’t interested. He hasn’t played well for a long, long time now and I don’t think you’ll see it next season either.”

Dalglish Praises Owners Over Transfer Approach

Kenny Dalglish has praised Liverpool's owners for their approach to this summer's transfer window.

Anfield has already welcomed two additions in Jordan Henderson, who arrived from Sunderland, and Charlie Adam, who completed his switch from Blackpool earlier this week, while the club's director of football Damien Comolli has revealed there are set to be more signings before the end of August.

Dalglish believes the club owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner deserve the credit for backing their promise to invest in the squad but admits his side may miss out on some of their transfer targets.

"John and Tom will give us whatever they can afford. We have to use that money with a certain amount of responsibility," Dalglish told the club's official website.

"The owners know what they are doing and we've had great support from them. They are running it the right way.

"We won't get everyone we are after this summer but other clubs won't always get who they have enquired about.

"That's just the way it is. We've done some business already and we'll continue to do what we are doing in a responsible manner."

Liverpool is set to travel to China on their pre-season tour and Dalglish has revealed that Andy Carroll, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly are all fit to take part in his side's preparations.

"The three of them are absolutely fine. They've played a full part in training and are fully recovered from the injuries," said Dalglish.

"Training has been great this week and everyone is looking forward to the trip."

Sunderland Seek Aquilani

There are reports Liverpool could send unsettled Alberto Aquilani to Sunderland for £14m after his move to Juventus fell through.

The Italy international said several times he wanted to remain in Serie A, but the Bianconeri did not take up their option after a season there on loan.

It’s now reported Sunderland are willing to pay £14m to take Aquilani off Liverpool’s hands.

The Black Cats are said to be in negotiations with the Anfield side, beating competition from Tottenham.

Aquilani showed in his season at Juve that he has recovered from the numerous injury problems that plagued the last few years at Roma and Liverpool.

Kenny's China Pride

Kenny Dalglish has spoken of his pride at leading Liverpool into their first ever fixture in mainland China.

The Reds will kick-off their Far East tour by taking on Guangdong Sunray Cave in Guangzhou on July 13 - and the manager is delighted to be giving local fans the opportunity to see their heroes in action for the first time.

Dalglish said: "I've never been to China but I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the club to be going to the Far East to China and Malaysia.

"Two years ago we went to Singapore and Bangkok and the support we've got there is unbelievable. When you consider the size of the population over there, until you get there you don't really understand the magnitude of it and how much the club means to people.

"I suppose it's like everything else - the further away you are from something you respect or love, the more you try to grab anything that's attached to it.

"It's a new destination for most of us, but it's something we are really looking forward to and we really appreciate the support we get from them. It's difficult for them to get too close to the club - but this is a fantastic opportunity for them to get closer with us going out there."

Liverpool last visited the Far East during the summer of 2009 when they played matches in Thailand and Singapore.

The squad were greeted by thousands of fanatical Reds fans on every step of their journey - and Dalglish is expecting similar scenes this time around.

"I think you know how popular and important the club is to so many people, but when you go into Asia the number of people is phenomenal," he said.

"The support we had two years ago in Asia was unbelievable with the numbers and their loyalty, and I am sure it will be much the same this time.

"The two games two years ago were both in front of 50,000 crowds and we had a couple of open training sessions, which we will have again, and thousands turned up to watch us train in the stadium.

"We did a boat trip around Singapore and there were thousands there to see us. We really appreciate their support and loyalty - and I hope they appreciate us going over there.

"Although there will be some (players) missing that they might like to see, we cannot avoid that with injuries."

After taking on Guangdong Sunray Cave, Liverpool will travel to Malaysia to play a Malaysian XI before travelling to Singapore for a training session.

While Dalglish is eager for his side to return to Merseyside with a couple of wins under their belts, he is keen to stress the importance of ensuring the players are at peak fitness for when the Barclays Premier League season gets underway on August 13.

The boss said: "The players are always looking forward to the first game, but it's just an extension to the training.

"There is no point in us taking people away with us if they're not going to get a game, so everybody will get games and minutes. That's the most important thing because at this stage of the season it's about trying to get back to fitness.

"That's what we want to do and the players have trained so well that they all deserve to get some minutes.

"The results are important because we take pride in what we do, but the most important thing is getting as many people as we can as fit as we can and ready for the game on August 13."

'Let's Make It A Tour To Remember'

Liverpool fly off on their Standard Chartered sponsored pre-season tour today with Managing Director Ian Ayre hoping the Reds leave a lifetime of memories for their fanatical Asian fans to savour.

The Reds' squad departs Liverpool John Lennon airport this afternoon for a thirteen hour flight to Guangzhou ahead of the first leg of their Asian tour.

Three days in China will be followed by three days in Malaysia and then a day in Singapore as the Reds continue their preparations for the new campaign in front of thousands of their most loyal fans.

After a successful last visit to Asia in 2009 which took in visits to Thailand and Singapore, Ayre is looking forward to the prospect of taking the Club into new territories this time around as the Reds look forward to their first ever games in both China and Malaysia.

"In over 100 years of history we have never been to Guangzhou or Kuala Lumpur, so it opens up a new opportunity for us," he said. "For the partners we have today at the football club and the fans we have around the world - particularly in these markets - it's really exciting.

"It's important to go to places and give the fans the chance to see what we see every week here at Liverpool, the players up close and the chance to see them play a game.

"There is always a balance with pre-season which is trying to balance where we want to go that has commercial value and value for our fans, and making sure that it adapts with the pre-season training and development programme that the players are under because although it's an important commercial time, it's an even more important player time where fitness and conditioning is at the top of everybody's mind. You have to find somewhere that has the right facilities and the right preparation opportunities.

"The great thing about the team we have here now is that there's a lot of collaboration and so from the very outset we sat with Damien, the fitness people, the manager and others on the football side, and then sat with our sponsors and brought everything together.

"There has been a lot of promotion, a lot of excitement and a lot of activity and in each location there will be lots of things going on. We have players going off in different directions and part of that is to make sure every fan gets a little bit closer than they normally would."

The Reds will land in China in the early hours of Monday morning and will spend three days in the southern province of Guangzhou, building up to their first friendly match of the summer against Guangdong Sunray Cave on Wednesday evening.

"There is a myth about China and everybody has their own view or expectation of what it might be like," said Ayre. "I think what we'll see is it's a very modern place, it's a very welcoming place, the people are great. Liverpool fans in China are like Liverpool fans anywhere else, they are very passionate about their team and are very excited.

"It's a chance for it to work the other way as well and an opportunity for the players and everyone else travelling with us to understand a different culture, show a different level of respect and do things in a different way. I have spoken to a couple of the players and they are really interested in what it'll be like."

The second leg of the tour will see the Reds' squad take a three hour flight into Kuala Lumpur where they are expected to be greeted with euphoric scenes as thousands of faraway Kopites come face to face with their heroes for the first time.

"The fever is well and truly burning about this visit in Malaysia," added Ayre. "Ticket sales have gone through the roof, the sponsors are running around trying to get as many people into as many places and as many events as possible because everybody wants to be there. It's an amazing city, it's vibrant and exciting and for me represents what Asia is all about. It's got that great mix of modern and traditional, the weather will be glorious, so I think everyone is excited.

"We then go to Singapore and although we're only going for a training session on the football side, as soon as we mentioned it all of the places for that opportunity sold out. As with every time we have been to that part of the world, there is a huge amount of fever and excitement and it's our job now to get on the plane, go there and deliver our end of it."

While fans in China, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Liverpool's arrival over the next week, our supporters in Korea will no doubt still be feeling a sense of disappointment that the originally planned trip to Seoul fell through.

However, Ayre is quick to stress that Korea remains very much on Liverpool's pre-season radar for future years.

"Anyone who has ever worked on a major event like putting together a pre-season game somewhere in the world will understand that it's not always possible to do everything you wanted to do," he explained.

"There were a variety of factors which meant it wasn't possible on this occasion and when I spoke to the representatives of FC Seoul we had a great dialogue and talked about this as a postponement rather than a cancellation. We have a big desire to still go there, it's a great market for some of our partners and it's an important market for us. I think it's fair to say to our Korean fans that we haven't forgotten them and it's still very much on our radar for the future."

While the spotlight over the next week will be on the first team players with fans following their every move across Asia, away from the glare of publicity Liverpool's travelling community coaching team will be working to leave a legacy which lasts long after the squad have arrived back in Liverpool.

"It's a much criticised thing in football that teams come, take a lot of money out of the market and leave.

"Our community team will coach youngsters and under privileged kids across a series of different initiatives. Some of that is under the football club, some of it is in conjunction with our partners and some of it is with local organisations like the British Council and others.

"We want people to have a true understanding of what Liverpool Football Club represents. Yes, we're a very famous and successful football team, but we're also a part of our community here in Liverpool and part of a global community because we are a global football club.

"The way we operate here, the way we play football here and the way we act in our community here is exactly what we should take to that part of the world."

Liverpool is due to arrive in Guangzhou early on Monday morning and will travel to their hotel ahead of the first official engagement of the tour which will see Kenny Dalglish and members of his squad addressing the media.

Due to his need to continue rehabilitation from injury, Steven Gerrard won't be on the flight to China - but Ayre insists it was a necessary decision taken with the Club's best long-term interests at heart.

"We are all disappointed," he says. "We all know how big Steven is in that part of the world, he's our captain, he's the talisman of the club, but I think Kenny put it best when he said they have assessed all the players who have come back from their break and it's just unfortunate.

"The good news is he is recovering and making progress, but not enough progress to be on a flight for 13 hours and then travel between different places. He won't get the same rehabilitation that he needs here in Liverpool.

"It's very disappointing for everybody but everybody who will be disappointed will be a Liverpool fan, and as a Liverpool fan you always want to see Liverpool being led our by Steven Gerrard on the first day of the season and being there for many games during the season.

"If that's the risk, then it's a big one and one we won't take. Steven has said himself how disappointed he is, so the fans aren't alone - he is just as disappointed. But we have a big squad with great players and great people and they will all be there."
Even without the skipper in their ranks, Asia 2011 promises to be a pre-season tour to remember - but what does the Club's Managing Director hope has been achieved when we board the flight back to Liverpool in one week's time?

"The fundamental part we need to leave is some memories," he says. "The big thing about being a football fan - or a fan of anything really - is you always have that lasting memory that you never forget. I know what mine is and it will be with me forever.

I think as long as we leave as many people as possible with a lasting memory of that visit, that tour or that individual thing that happened to them, then that is at the heart of what we want.

"There are all sorts of other metrics that we will measure like success of our partners, success in the games, quality of the performances from the players, but at the heart of it will be the memories we leave our fans in Asia. We want to deliver the best memory of Liverpool Football Club in Asia."