Thursday, July 14, 2011

Liverpool Agree Fee With Aston Villa For Stewart Downing

Liverpool has confirmed on their official website that they have agreed a fee with Aston Villa for winger Stewart Downing.

The Anfield side were understood to have had a £15 million offer for the England international turned down earlier this summer but have now come back with an increased bid to land their man.

Arsenal reportedly made an enquiry for the winger but Downing favoured a move to Anfield with Kenny Dalglish keen to add to his growing English contingent following the January arrival of Andy Carroll and the summer acquisition of Jordan Henderson.

New Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish was keen to keep Downing after losing Ashley Young to Manchester United within days of joining the club, but the midfielder is now free to discuss terms with Liverpool after they agreed a reported fee of around £20m.

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner confirmed the deal on the club’s official site.

"I can confirm that we have reached an agreement with Liverpool following an improved offer received earlier today and the submission of a formal transfer request by Stewart Downing, and have subsequently given them permission to speak with the player,” he said.

Villa are reportedly keen on Wigan Athletic’s Charles N’Zogbia and Faulkner confirmed that he believed there were players available to replace Downing.

He added: "We believe there are replacements available in the market who can strengthen our squad ahead of the coming season, and we are in discussions as such.”

With Brad Friedel having left the club to join Tottenham, Faulkner confirmed that the club was in the market for a goalkeeper.

"We are also working hard to conclude a deal for a goalkeeper who we believe can also strengthen the side," he said.

"As soon as we have dependable, conclusive information to share then we will do so."

Liverpool has also recently completed the signing of former Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam, who made his debut in a 4-3 friendly victory over Guandong in Asia on Wednesday.

The signing of Downing would take the club's summer spending far beyond the £40m mark as they aim to mount a challenge on the top four next season.

Liverpool Poised To Lose Out On Perotti

Juventus are set to beat Liverpool to the signing of Argentine winger Diego Perotti.

It was thought that Kenny Dalglish had identified the Sevilla star as a contingency plan should his pursuit of Stewart Downing prove fruitless.

But reports in Spain have claimed that Liverpool, who are not prepared to pay more than £7.5m for the Argentinean, are now about to be trumped by Juve.

The Serie A side has submitted a £9m offer for the 22-year-old and is now awaiting a response from Sevilla.

But it is unclear whether Juve's bid will be enough to tempt the La Liga's side to sell because they hope to receive a fee closer to £14m for Perotti.

Liverpool Set Sights On Uruguayan Wing Back

Liverpool is considering a move for highly rated Uruguayan wing back Alvaro Pereira and have scouts monitoring his performances at the Copa America finals where the FC Porto star has been displaying good form.

The adaptable wide-man is one of many Estádio do Dragão stars considering their futures at the Portuguese side following the departure of boss Andre Villas Boas to Chelsea. Pareira has been a regular on the left side of the Porto defence for the past two seasons and helped his side to a domestic double as well as a Europa League success.

Liverpool have been linked with a number of potential purchases to resolve the left back problem area but failed to persuade Gael Clichy to move to Anfield, the Frenchman opting for Man City, and moves to capture Everton’s Leighton Baines and Newcastle United’s Jose Enrique have thus far failed to bear fruit.

Director of football Damien Comolli is thought to be a big admirer of Parreira and the fact that fellow Uruguayan international Luis Suarez is also at the club may help in any pursuit of the former Argentinos Junior and Cluj full back.

Pareira is thought be valued at a fairly high price of €20m (£17.5m) by FC Porto, who are keen to get the maximum price for any of those players they feel could leave the club following Villas-Boas’s exit. New boss Vítor Pereira is already reportedly trying to fight off Chelsea interest in Colombian pair Radamel Falcao and
Fredy Guarín.

Liverpool tried to fill the left back role with many options last term and the likes of Paul Konchesky, Fabio Aurelio and Emilio Insua have all failed to impress Dalglish and the Scot had to at times last season play Glen Johnson and Danny Wilson out of position but is keen to bring in a strong character to fill the role.

Perreira has been very impressive during the current Copa America competition, netting twice and guiding Uruguay to a Quarter Final berth and the Montevideo born 25 year old has the added benefit of being able to fill a more advanced role on the left side if needed.

Liverpool Line Up £14m Bid For Germany International

Liverpool are ready to continue their shopping spree in 2011 with a bid for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels.

The Reds have not been shy about spending money in the transfer market since the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) consortium headed by John W Henry took over the club last autumn. In the nine months since they assumed control at Anfield, they have bankrolled the signings of Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Charlie Adam, and Jordan Henderson for a combined total of £85m though £50m of that sum has been offset by the January sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

But they have not finished enhancing their squad and with negotiations with Aston Villa still ongoing over the transfer of Stewart Downing, Liverpool are also seeking to bolster the centre of defence with Hummels the target.

The 22-year-old has just enjoyed an excellent season at the Ruhr Valley club with the club winning the Bundesliga title in emphatic fashion. Dortmund topped the Bundesliga by seven points and boasted by far the meanest defence in the division, conceding just 22 goals - only just over half the amount of the second best back line. His partnership with Serbia international Neven Subotic saw the pair linked with Premier League clubs in January, with Chelsea and Arsenal particularly interested. Arsenal remain in the hunt for Subotic but Liverpool appear to have a free path to Hummels should his club decide to cash in on the Germany international.

Dortmund have already lost one of their stars from their championship winning team with Nuri Sahin joining Real Madrid shortly after the end of last season for 10 million euros. With a Champions League campaign on the horizon, Die Schwarzgelben will be reluctant to sell any more of their key men but Liverpool remain hopeful of signing the former Bayern Munich youngster and will place an opening bid of £14m.

Liverpool FC Target Real Madrid Striker

Liverpool FC want to make one big surprise signing this summer and have earmarked Real Madrid and Argentina stiker Gonzalo Higuaín as the player to add some gloss to Anfield next season.

Whilst Jose Mourinho has claimed he will not be selling his main stars, the arrivals of numerous other players this summer at the Bernabeu will mean that players will look to move on if not guaranteed starting places.

Mourinho has already been linked with a move for Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez as well as Brazlian teenage Neymar.

Although there have been reports that Real would be prepared to include Higuain in the Tevez deal, sources close to Footybunker claim the Spanish giants would be well within their limits to be able to purchase Tevez outright.

Liverpool however want to make a statement of intent and although they cannot offer Higuain any European football for the coming season, the chance to join such an historic team with a completely fresh agenda would be something that would appeal to the 23 year old.

Liverpool realise that Higuain will not be sold cheaply and are looking to prepare a serious bid of at least £25m for the Argentine.

Dalglish Eyes Chelsea Striker

Kenny Dalglish is closely monitoring the situation of Chelsea youngster Daniel Sturridge with a view to making an approach for the striker.

Dalglish has been handed a sizeable transfer budget by Liverpool’s owner John Henry, but with it comes a remit to buy young and buy English where possible.

Sturridge certainly ticks those boxes laid down by Henry, but a move by Liverpool for the player would certainly raise a few eyebrows.

A transfer to Anfield would certainly appeal to Sturridge, who back in January indicated he would jump at the chance of playing for the club according to The Sun newspaper.

Sturridge who is also being tracked by Newcastle and Stoke, spent a large amount of time last season on loan to Bolton Wanderers, where he provided an impressive return of 8 goals in 12 appearances.

The England Under 21 international who moved to Stamford Bridge in 2009 on a four year deal from Manchester City, has found his first team opportunities limited at Chelsea. He is also thought not to be in the plans of newly installed manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Liverpool Facing Triple Challenge In Spanish Starlet Race

Liverpool faces competition from a host of clubs in the race to sign Sergio Canales.

Reports in Italy claim the player is edging towards a move to Roma, whilst reported only yesterday that Valencia were set to launch a bid for the player.

Last week, QPR boss Neil Warnock was linked with a loan move for the player, but the former Blades boss isn't the only manager keen to bring the player to England.

Liverpool have long been linked with a move for the player, with reports in Spanish daily AS back in March claiming Kenny Dalglish was tracking the player.

TalkSPORT have since claimed that the Merseysiders were interested in bringing the player to Anfield on a loan deal, although the link between Liverpool and the Real Madrid player has been relatively quiet since the end of season.

The Reds have already invested heavily in the midfield area this summer, with Jordan Henderson making a £20 million move and Charlie Adam joining the youngster at Liverpool after an £8.5 million switch to Liverpool last week.

Working alongside Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli, Dalglish is also thought to be chasing a left back, winger and striker ahead of the new campaign, which kicks off in a month against Sunderland.

On the pitch, the side made a solid start to their pre-season tour of Asia, and the Scottish boss will now know a bit more about where he needs to reinforce the Liverpool side after a 4-3 win against Guangdong Sunray Cave.

Poulsen Offered Escape By FC Copenhagen

FC Copenhagen is set to offer Christian Poulsen an escape from Liverpool.

The midfielder opened the scoring for the Reds in today's 4-3 win over Guangdong, as part of their pre-season tour of Asia, but will still be deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield.

After enjoying two years with Copenhagen before joining Schalke in 2002, Poulsen could be in line for a return to the Danish capital with an offer of £2.5million currently being mooted.

The 31-year-old, who was signed by Roy Hodgson last summer, would become the second departure at Liverpool during the close season following Paul Konchesky's £1.5million move to Championship outfit Leicester City this morning.

Milan Jovanovic, another player that arrived during Hodgson's ill-fated spell as Kop boss, is also expected to make way with a return to Belgium looking a distinct possibility.

Striker David Ngog, who also scored in Guangdong, continues to attract interest from a handful of Premier League clubs after his proposed move to Sunderland fell through.

Dalglish Set To Give Staunton Coaching Job With Liverpool

Former Ireland manager Steve Staunton is on the verge of returning to Liverpool in a coaching role.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who took Staunton to Anfield as a 17-year-old in 1986, is expected to make the announcement on Monday when he travels over to watch a Liverpool XI play Bray at the Carlisle Grounds.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday to launch a Dundalk Legends v Liverpool Legends fund-raising game at Oriel Park on July 23, the 102-times capped former defender confirmed that a deal, which would see him return to work in the top-flight for the first time since leaving Aston Villa in 2003, was almost agreed.

When asked if his new club's manager would be in Ireland on Monday night, Staunton -- who played 109 times for Liverpool in two spells fat the club -- simply responded "possibly."

Since leaving Darlington in 2010, Staunton has filled a number of scouting positions, most notably for former Irish team-mate and manager Mick McCarthy at Wolves and, from Christmas last year, with Middlesborough.

While reluctant to speak about his new job, Staunton was happy to talk about his 21-month tenure in charge of the Irish team and suggested he should have been afforded more time in the job.

"We were given certain agendas and we achieved those. We took young players through, we were to improve the seeding and we did that against the teams like the Czech Republic and Germany who were rated sixth and seventh in the world. My record speaks for itself.

"I've no problems with the FAI. I got my chance, I gave it a go and I'll move on.

"Did it hurt? Everything hurts, but the one good thing is that I know I did my job. I can hold my head up high."

Reds Score Four On Adam Debut

Charlie Adam made his bow as a second-half substitute as Liverpool got their pre-season tour of Asia off to a winning start courtesy of a 4-3 success over Guangdong Sunray Cave on Wednesday afternoon.

The former Blackpool midfielder showed some neat touches throughout a promising cameo as goals from Christian Poulsen, David Ngog, debutant Conor Coady and Andy Carroll gave Kenny Dalglish's side victory in front of a passionate crowd in Guangzhou.

The Reds boss was always going to use the occasion to give the majority of his squad their first run-out ahead of the 2011-12 campaign and he will have taken several positives from an encounter that began with a great chance for Danny Wilson.

The former Rangers man met Dani Pacheco's right-wing corner with a firm header from six yards out but could only watch on as it flew inches past the far post.

The hosts responded and Ricardo Steer saw his effort beaten away by Peter Gulacsi before Ngog forced Guangdong stopper Yu Yongzhe into his first save of the contest with a low shot from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The Frenchman was looking sharp and thought he had opened the scoring with a cool finish on 15 minutes, only to see the strike ruled out for offside.

It was greeted by gasps of frustration from the local support who had packed into the stadium to witness Liverpool's first ever match on Chinese soil.

It was clear every corner of the stadium was baying to see a Reds goal in the flesh and on 19 minutes they got what they had been dreaming of in the shape of an unlikely source.

Joe Cole teased a right-wing cross to the far post where Poulsen arrived on cue to calmly stroke a volley into the far corner of the net.

It was met by a trademark grin of approval from Dalglish who was beaming again just two minutes later when some neat approach play from Cole and Jonjo Shelvey resulted in Ngog racing clear and firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

It looked like the Reds were already in cruise control and they should have been three up on 31 minutes but Pacheco stroked a side-footer the wrong side of the far post following a delicious one-two with Jay Spearing.

The purposeful Shelvey was the next Red to go close but he fired his rasping long-range drive just over the top.

The flicks and exquisite one-touch play was oozing out of the Liverpool players as they revelled in the space afforded to them and Ngog saw another clever finish correctly ruled out for offside.

The visitors had been relatively untroubled throughout the first period but Guangdong finally caused some concern when Mahamad Awal went close with a shot that fizzed across the six yard box on 44 minutes.

It was a warning Liverpool did not take heed of and just seconds later the hosts grabbed a lifeline when Ricardo rose above Gulacsi to power home a header from a pinpoint left-wing cross.

The interval brought with it the inevitable surge of substitutions as Dalglish opted to make 11 changes, including a first ever run out for youngsters Andre Wisdom and Coady, as well as new recruit, Adam.

The Scotland international's first touch wasn't bad either as he gave a glimpse of what he could offer the Reds attack this season with a raking 40 yard ball that was almost converted by Carroll.

Maxi Rodriguez then hit a shot into the side netting from a tight angle before testing Guangdong's substitute 'keeper with a powerful strike from distance.

Every player in a red shirt seemed eager to make an impression and the returning Alberto Aquilani gave a reminder of his superb technique with a range of fine passes.

As the half wore on Liverpool continued to probe for a third goal and on 74 minutes they got it when Coady latched onto Carroll's pass and sizzled a stunning finish into the corner to cap a dream debut for the highly-rated youngster.

The home side appeared to be tiring and Carroll took advantage of some slugglish defending to steer home a fourth from close range five minutes from time.

However, to their credit, the hosts never gave up and ensured they ended with a somewhat flattering scoreline courtesy of stoppage time strikes from Lu Lin and Yin Hongbo.