Friday, July 22, 2011

Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing And Alexander Doni In Line For LFC Debuts

Kenny Dalglish is considering handing debuts to LFC new boys Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Alexander Doni in tomorrow’s friendly at Hull City.

The trio have all trained at Melwood this week and will be added to the squad which took part in the pre-season tour of the Far East.

Downing and Doni missed the trip as they waited for their respective deals to be completed, while Henderson was granted extra time off following his exertions for England in the Under-21 European Championships.

The Reds boss will assess their fitness prior to deciding who will be in action at the KC Stadium.

“We will have a look at them and decide what’s best,” Dalglish said.

“There is certainly no rush for us to play anyone in these pre-season games.

“Stewart has been training for a fortnight and Jordan only started training on Monday.

“Everyone has trained well this week and the players are looking in good shape. Nowadays they come back looking as fit as they were before the break.

“But some have started back later than others and we have to take that into consideration.”

Pepe Reina is still recovering from a hernia operation, while Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio are also hampered by injuries which ruled them out of the Asia tour.

“There are a few knocks but they shouldn’t take too long to clear,” Dalglish added. “We’re certainly not going to take any risks with anyone at this stage. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s chances of being fit for the first game of the season.

“We’ve got plenty of games coming up with the trips to Turkey and Norway after Hull.”

No fewer than 23 players were involved in the game in Malaysia last Saturday and once again there will be plenty of changes.

“It’s a pre-season game and we will treat it as such,” Dalglish said. “We need to use these games to give as much benefit to as many players as we can.

“I’m not sure what the ruling will be in terms of the number of subs we can use. But we will certainly use up our full quota and field as many as possible.”

Liverpool Urged To Act Quickly As PSG Lodge Bid For French Midfielder

Liverpool must act quickly if they wish to stay in the race to sign St Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi after Ligue 1 rivals Paris Saint Germain lodged a £9m offer.

The Anfield club has been strongly linked with a move for the France international with talkSPORT claiming they were prepared to pay around £8m to take him to the Premier League.

Despite being amongst the favourites to sign Matuidi, Liverpool will need to table an official and competitive offer, with negotiations thought to be underway between St Etienne and PSG.

It was revealed earlier this month by St Etienne's vice-president Roland Romeyer that Matuidi had a €15m (£13.2m) buy-out clause in his contract and the midfield enforcer would leave if a club matched that figure.

"When he extended (his contract) with a big pay rise ... we all signed an agreement with his agents for 13m Euro plus 2m Euro bonus clauses," he said.

"Below this rate, he is not allowed to leave. This is because he is not for sale. But it is obvious that if someone offers that amount, we will meet our commitments, and he will leave."

The 24-year-old's availability alerted a host of Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Newcastle as well as Liverpool.

Despite recruiting three midfielders so far this summer, Kenny Dalglish is thought to be keen on adding a defensive operator in the middle of the park and has reportedly identified Matuidi as the top choice.

An offer in the region of £10m would allow the two clubs to begin negotiations but Liverpool must be prepared to match the £13.2m buy-out clause if a bidding war with PSG ensues.

Dalglish Looks To Hijack Blackburn Deal For Argentina Hotshot

Liverpool has joined Swansea and Fulham in the race to sign Mariano Pavone with the striker's move to Blackburn on the verge of collapsing, SkySports has reported.

The Argentine has already agreed a three-year contract with Rovers but the Lancashire club are currently struggling to finalize the deal.

The 29-year-old forward is a free agent after he bought out the final year of his contract at Real Betis and SkySports understands he is growing increasingly frustrated with the situation.

Although Pavone is still leaning towards a move to Ewood Park, it is thought he is ready to listen to other offers.

His situation with Blackburn has alerted a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, who are understood to be interested in making a deal.

Barry McIntosh, Pavone's British representative has revealed there are clubs interested in his client.

"Yes, there are a number of clubs looking at Mariano, obviously I cannot name them at this stage," he told

"The Blackburn situation is frustrating for Mariano, but as they made the move first we are willing to give them every chance to finalize the move.

"Mariano is a big fan of Steve Kean, he was very impressed with him and would love the chance to play for him.

"But we have to consider Mariano's future and we are aware of the interest from elsewhere."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is keen to bolster his options up-front with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez the only recognizable strikers in his squad and back-up striker David N'Gog set for the Anfield exit.

With Pavone available on a free transfer, Dalglish is reportedly considering an eleventh hour move for the former Betis and Estudiantes player.

Rayo Line Up Loan Move For Reds Striker

Rayo Vallecano is poised to make a loan move for Liverpool attacker Daniel Pacheco.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is keen for Pacheco to get some regular first-team football under his belt and was impressed with his loan spell at Norwich last season.

Coventry were strongly linked with the Spanish forward during the summer, but the move never materialized and reports in Spain are now suggesting that Rayo Vallecano are the strong favourites to clinch his signature.

Pacheco, 20, is currently with the Spain Under-20 squad as they prepare for the FIFA U20's World Cup Finals in Colombia, but is hoping to secure a move before the tournament gets underway.

Aquilani 'Definitely' Staying At Liverpool

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani will remain at Anfield, according to the player's agent.

Aquilani has regularly been linked with a move away from Liverpool this summer following an impressive loan spell at Juventus last season.

Fiorentina have been mooted as potential suitors for the Italy international, who joined Liverpool from Roma in 2009, but the 27-year-old's representative has claimed he will be plying his trade for the Reds in the 2011-12 Premier League campaign.

His agent, Franco Zavaglia, told Radio Mana Mana: "Aquilani will definitely stay at Liverpool."

Aquilani has infamously struggled with injury, making just nine Premier League starts for Liverpool in two years, but Zavaglia added: "Alberto has got over his ankle problem, he's back in the international set-up and has the characteristics needed to do well in the Premier League.

"He's in pre-season training with Liverpool and has played in all of the team's summer tour games so far."

Riise Would Have Considered Liverpool Move

New Fulham signing John Arne Riise has expressed disappointment that Liverpool did not press harder to sign him before he made the move to Craven Cottage.

Kenny Dalglish is thought to be in the market for a left-back following the sale of Paul Konchesky to Leicester, with Aly Cissokho of Lyon heavily linked to Anfield. Fabio Aurelio is an existing option within the squad for Dalglish, while he employed Glen Johnson on the left side of defence for much of last season.

Riise, who left Liverpool for Roma in 2008 after being frozen out by Rafa Benitez, has hinted he would have been willing to solve Dalglish's headache by returning to the Reds.

"I've heard people say they haven't really replaced me and that is not my concern," Riise said. "If they wanted me back they could have made an effort. I know a few of the fans wanted me back. I achieved a lot when I was at Liverpool and this is my type of football. I needed a new challenge after that and improved as a player but it was always in my mind to come back."

Riise makes his debut at Craven Cottage on Thursday as Fulham defend a 3-1 lead in the Europa League second-round qualifier with Northern Irish side Crusaders.

Comolli Surprised At Lack Of Competition To Sign Stewart Downing

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli believes the club has pulled off a coup by signing Stewart Downing from Aston Villa.

The 26-year-old winger, who turns 27 this week, signed for a fee in the region of £20 million last week and joins fellow summer signings Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and goalkeeper Alexander Doni at Anfield.

The Reds chief was puzzled but pleased by the lack of competition for the former Middlesbrough man’s signature, and is looking forward to seeing him link up with a rebuilt Liverpool side.

“Maybe his talent is a little bit undervalued in English football, but we know what we are getting - and we are getting a very, very good, efficient footballer,” Comolli told the club’s official website.

“When we have Andy [Carroll] up front, he can put those balls in, but also he's got more than that.

“He is more than a winger, he can do a lot of things. He can link up with Luis Suarez by coming in, he can play on the right and on the left.

“We look thoroughly into data and statistics before signing players and we really think we are bringing a big, big asset into our team."

The deal took a long time to push through as newly appointed Villa manager Alex McLeish was not keen to let the winger leave after Ashley Young’s recent departure to Manchester United.

However, Comolli is delighted to have the England international on Merseyside.

He said: “It's difficult to say he was our No.1 target because all of our targets are our No.1 target.

“We did not prioritize on who we wanted to sign first, but we needed that pace and wide player that can bring us something extra, which we did not have in the squad.

“He has the right mentality, the right attitude and was absolutely committed to coming to us, so we are delighted.”

As well as praising Downing, the Liverpool chief said the club has signed most of the players it was hoping to and it will now focus on sending players out on loan and offloading those who want more minutes on the pitch.

“I'm sure there will be players going out because some players would like to play more and have more minutes,” Comolli continued.

“We will probably have a few loans as well; players who we would like them to develop, into the Championship or the leagues abroad.

“In terms of players coming in, it's difficult to say. I think we are going to sit down, look at the situation, see where we are, see who might leave and then we will reassess later. But we have done most of what we wanted to do.”

The director of football at Anfield also hailed the owners on their role since they arrived at the club, and specifically with the Downing deal.

He added: “They have been absolutely fantastic. Kenny has said it previously, and they have been very, very helpful on the Stewart Downing deal.

“They gave us absolute full support. It's not only financial – obviously they made a fantastic financial commitment – but they're also very, very supportive asking if they can help.

“We have also taken advice from them asking what they think about a deal or what they think we should do.

“They are very open, they try to help us as much as they can and, again, I won't go into details, but on the Stewart Downing deal they were a great help.”

Rooney Tips Liverpool For Title Challenge

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney believes Liverpool will be genuine Premier League title challengers this season and says he aspires to reach Lionel Messi's level.

Liverpool have not won the league since 1990, but the return of Kenny Dalglish and a number of new arrivals over the summer have led to a renewed optimism around Anfield.

Rooney has little doubt that Manchester United will be battling it out for the title, but he believes any one of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City could be their main rivals.

"Liverpool will challenge this time," Rooney said. "They've made some really good signings under Kenny Dalglish, British players, and I'm sure they will try harder than they've ever done, fighting to be up there.

"They will think they have a chance of winning the title. The main threat is going to be from Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City. One of them, plus us, will be fighting for the title."

Rooney endured a torrid time at the start of last season, going into the 2010-11 campaign on the back of a dismal World Cup and suffering fitness problems.

He will be more optimistic this time around, after finishing the season in impressive form and having scored a hat-trick in this week's pre-season friendly against Seattle Sounders, but he says he always feels the need for improvement.

"I'm a player who wants to do well all the time and I know I can always improve, so if I keep working and practicing, hopefully I can do that," he said. "I don't really set targets but it would be nice if I can get through the season injury-free. That would be a big boost for me.

"I hope that I'm going to get better and better. I work and practice hard every day to try to achieve that so if I do that it'll be great for me and the club."

The form of Lionel Messi, inspirational in the Champions League final victory over United in May, has set a new benchmark in the modern game.

"Messi is a great player and rightly World Player of the Year," he said. "I think, not just for me, but for every footballer out there, that's the target you want to try to get to and hopefully I can do that.

"Barcelona has their style of play and we play differently - not everyone can play the way they do. They have their identity and we have our own. Full credit to them, they were a much better team than us on the day and deserved the win, but we're looking forward to the new season now, trying to put that behind us and concentrating on what's ahead.

"I think you have to put it behind you. I still think it was a great achievement by us to get to the final. Obviously you want to win, but they were better than us so you have to hold your hands up to that. It's always disappointing when you lose in any competition. We just want to do our best this season, try to retain the title and go that one step further in the Champions League."

LFC Scoops Industry Award

LFC scooped another industry accolade recently when it landed the prestigious Best Digital Marketing Campaign from the MBNA Northern Sports Awards for its 'We Make The Shirt. You Make It Liverpool FC' launch.

The 2010-11 kit launch, which saw a sponsor change to Standard Chartered Bank, was an historic event for LFC and the club wanted to create a point of difference. In partnership with kit provider adidas, an innovative campaign was launched that involved fans in the making of their Liverpool FC kit. The campaign included a flash mob 'shirt swap' advert featuring real fans and filmed in the historic Williamson Square in Liverpool. 'Augmented reality zones' were also created in club stores where a dynamic backdrop provided fans with a chance to have their picture taken as if they're standing next to their first-team hero. Central to the campaign's success was a focus on behind-the-scenes interviews at LFC's training ground used for exclusive digital content, virals and social media interaction.

Bruce Bundrant, Head of Commercial Partnerships with Liverpool Football Club, said: "We're delighted to win this prestigious award which saw the club pull together a high impact, integrated marketing campaign. The response from fans was incredible - they really embraced the whole meaning behind the shirt launch."

He added: "The results speak for themselves with 11m social media and 83m website impressions and over 35,000 orders from 121 countries making the kit launch the most successful in LFC's history."

Barry Moore, Head of Communications from adidas, said: "adidas and Liverpool FC partnered for the 2010-11 club home shirt launch campaign entitled 'We Make The Shirt. You Make It Liverpool FC'. It was a fully integrated marketing campaign which ran across a variety of adidas and Liverpool platforms including social media."

New Commercial Director For LFC

Liverpool FC has announced the appointment of Graham Bartlett as its new Commercial Director. Graham, who takes up his position in the first week of September, will report directly to Managing Director Ian Ayre.

Graham's role will see him maximize and grow revenue streams within the areas of Partnerships, Digital Media, Merchandising & Licensing, Soccer Schools, Ticketing Sales and Corporate Sales. He will build and maintain strong relationships at senior level with existing partners and suppliers and also work closely with MD Ian Ayre in creating and developing international business sales operations and associated infrastructure.

Currently the Sports Marketing Director of Nike UK and Ireland, Graham has been responsible for all of the company's individual athlete, club and federation sponsorships across all sports. He has over 14 years' experience in the negotiation and delivery of major sponsorship, television and licensing agreements for global and national sports properties. Having worked from both a sales and buyer perspective at agency, rights-holder and rights acquirer level in domestic and international markets, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the sports marketing business.

A qualified solicitor, Graham began his career in 1993 with Linklaters & Paines before moving four years later to work in the Sports Law Group at Nicholson Graham & Jones. In 1999 he was appointed Vice President and Head of Business Affairs in the Football Department at ISL Worldwide. Two years later he moved to European Football's governing body UEFA as their Head of Business Affairs and Account Management before changing roles to be Head of Business Development, Business Affairs and Licensing. He joined Nike in 2005.

Managing Director Ian Ayre said: "Graham is a great addition to our team. Now that we have all of the foundations in place to globalize our brand, Graham's experience across partnerships, brands, merchandise and media are perfect skill sets to help us achieve our commercial objectives. I have known Graham for some time and am certain he will make a fantastic contribution to the football club.

Graham Bartlett commented: "I'm very proud to be joining such an incredible club and excited at the challenge ahead. My whole family is from the city itself and as a lifelong fan, there is no other club in the world that I would have worked for apart from Liverpool. It has a fantastic history and heritage and I'm delighted to be a part of it.

"But I wouldn't have accepted the position unless I thought I could do a good job and help the club to continue to progress. We are all desperate to take Liverpool to the next level and I want to be part of that adventure."