Saturday, July 30, 2011

Liverpool Prepare Bid For James McCarthy

Liverpool is preparing a bid for Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy after a lack of progress in his contract talks with the Latics, according to The Daily Mirror.

As exclusively revealed by back in May, the Anfield club is interested in bringing in the Ireland international to continue their policy of building a squad based on young British talent.

The report claims that such a move is now closer than ever as McCarthy has yet to negotiate a pay increase at the DW Stadium despite contract talks having opened more than a month ago, encouraging Liverpool to make their move.

McCarthy reportedly picked Wigan over a move to Merseyside back in 2009 in order to ensure a run in the first-team; but now, at the age of 20, it would seem that the midfield playmaker feels it is time to move on.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan would prefer to keep the player at the club, but may be forced to sell, having previously admitted difficulty in keeping such talents as McCarthy at the club.

Charles N’Zogbia is a prime example of Wigan electing to sell this summer rather than lose a player for a reduced fee in January or at the end of his contract - and the report suggests McCarthy could soon be following the Frenchman out of the exit door.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is understood to be willing to make a bid of around £15 million to fend off apparent interest in McCarthy from Premier League rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.

Reds Search Close To Home To Solve Left-Back Issue

Liverpool's left back question could be right on Kenny Dalglish's door step, as Tranmere Rovers youngster Danny Holmes has been linked to the club, according to talkSPORT.

Dalglish has so far been looking abroad to the likes of Aly Cissokho for a new Liverpool left back, but the Merseyside neighbours have been harbouring a budding star suitable for the role.

Holmes is a versatile defender who can play across the back line. He has been between Southport and The New Saints and has found himself back at Npower League One side Tranmere Rovers this year, where he started his youth career.

The 22-year-old has never featured internationally at any level, but has been watched closely by neighbours Liverpool.

Holmes was named in the Welsh Premier League manager's team of the season for two years in a row before moving back to English football, after making 58 appearances for The New Saints.

Liverpool’s Ince Joins Blackpool

Liverpool winger Tom Ince will complete his move to Blackpool today.

The 19-year-old was given special permission to play 45 minutes of last night’s 1-1 draw with Latvian outfit Jelgava at Bloomfield Road, where striker Craig Sutherland scored his first Pool goal.

Ince held talks with Pool chairman Karl Oyston afterwards and is to be confirmed as Pool’s ninth summer signing today.

The son of England midfielder Paul Ince has impressed in the reserve and youth teams at Anfield since 2008. His one first-team appearance was as a substitute in last season’s Carling Cup defeat to Northampton.

He spent a successful loan spell at Notts County, where his father was in charge, scoring twice in six appearances.

Joining Ince in last night’s line-up was trialist goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

The 20-year-old Australian was released by Liverpool last month after spending much of last season on loan at Accrington Stanley.

Pepe Reina Looking To Comeback From Injury Against Valerenga

After recovering from a double hernia operation, Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is raring to make his comeback in Monday's friendly against Valerenga.

The Spaniard has played no part in the Red’s pre-season plans so far following his surgery, but now the former Villarreal shot-stopper feels confident that he can appear in some capacity in the club’s next match.

There is some work to be done for him to be ready for the Premier League opener game against Sunderland, but Reina insists he will be fully fit in time for the fixture.

"The target is to play in Valerenga, and then after Valencia there is one more week and that should be good enough to get that fitness," Reina told the club’s website.

"Just because of precaution, we didn't want to rush it - there was no point in doing that. I'm totally recovered now, training with the team as normal and looking forward. I can't wait to play again.

"It wasn't that nice because my holidays were in the same time as my operation. But after three years without having a proper holiday, I did rest a little bit more this season."

Whilst Reina has been recovering from his operation Liverpool have been busy in the transfer market, with new acquisitions such as Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson arriving at the club.

The 28-year-old believes manager Kenny Dalglish and the club has shown positive intentions in restoring the Merseyside outfit’s reputation in the Premier League.

"I think we have shown our ambitions during the window," he said. "The rest of the teams did the same and it's going to be tough to compete against them, but we are optimistic, and the season can go really well for us."

Team-mate Luis Suarez has also not been able to feature in the team’s pre-season exploits thanks to his successful campaign in the Copa America with Uruguay, a feat Reina was proud to see the striker achieve.

Reina added: "It's a great moment and I was happy texting him congratulating him, because he deserved that. And it can be really good for his confidence and the team's confidence at the same time.

"As we saw the last six months of last season, he is a top, top player, and among the best strikers in the world. He will show that, he will be a fantastic player for us."

Adam Eager To Show His Worth

Liverpool fans will finally get to discover whether the long wait was worth it when Charlie Adam makes his competitive debut next month.

The 25-year-old first emerged as a target for manager Kenny Dalglish in January after some impressive performances as captain of Blackpool.

Dalglish was frustrated not to secure the services of his fellow Scot back then, but some hard bargaining by the Seasiders delayed the completion of a £6.75million deal until July, when the Reds were in a much stronger position as Blackpool had been relegated and Adam was down to the final 12 months of his contract.

Adam finds himself battling for a place in what is already an over-stocked midfield, but it seems inconceivable he will not be given a decent run after the club worked so hard to bring him in.

The Scotland international has impressed in pre-season, but knows he has to take a significant step up when the Barclays Premier League kicks off.

He has played in the Scottish top flight for Rangers with marginal success but his displays for Blackpool, when he was the player the whole team revolved around, were the ones which got him noticed.

Adam is confident he will be able to adapt to no longer being the star turn and is realistic to understand he still has plenty to learn.

He said: "It feels like we have been playing together for a long time but Liverpool have many other talented midfielders, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles and (fellow new signing) Jordan Henderson.

"I think the competition for places will be good for the club. I thrive on that type of challenge and I'm sure the others lads will as well.

"I want to learn and there are some of the best players in the world at this club so if I can learn from them I am going to improve as a player. That is my aim.

"I see this as the perfect development for me to come here, play with such wonderful players and hopefully help the team to win trophies, because that's the most important thing."

Managing expectations is something Adam will also have to get used to.

At Blackpool their sole aim was avoiding relegation, but now he is at a club which will be challenging to regain their place in the top four and the mindset required is totally different.

Not that Adam is lacking in ambition.

"I came to Liverpool to win titles and I would trade in anything for that, even if it meant not scoring at all next season," he added.

"I can't wait to get started and hopefully this will be a successful period in my career and in the club's history.

"At the end of the day you get judged on trophies and as a footballer you want to win as many as you can. This club has had a lot of success over the years, so let's get back to doing that."

Aquilani Calls Fiorentina And Roma

Alberto Aquilani’s agent insists he will only accept a permanent transfer to Fiorentina and blasted Roma. “They would’ve been considered.”

The midfielder spent last season on loan at Juventus and is not part of Liverpool’s plans.

“Alberto has given the all-clear to join Fiorentina, but he doesn’t want to find himself in the same position of having to reconsider his position next season,” agent Franco Zavaglia told Rete Sport.

Other options for a return to Serie A included Milan and Napoli, but not hometown club Roma.

“It has to be said Roma never even bothered to call Aquilani. We didn’t expect them to, but they certainly would’ve been considered.

“At the moment he is a Liverpool player, seeing as recently he played in a friendly against Galatasaray and did well.”

Comolli Excited By Academy

Damien Comolli has revealed how a production line from the Academy to Melwood is crucial to the owners' vision of success at Liverpool.

The emergence of players such as Jack Robinson and John Flanagan at the end of last season provided proof that the work being done by the likes of Pep Segura, Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell over in Kirkby was paying dividends.

A clutch of others are on the brink of the senior squad - while more than 25 scholars regularly represent their countries at youth level.

Supporters have witnessed for themselves the potential at the Academy thanks to LFC TV airing live matches - and Comolli shares their excitement.

"It's absolutely crucial for the future of the club," said our Director of Football. "The owners came in and very early said the Academy was very important because that's the way they've been running the Red Sox with players coming through the youth development in baseball.

"They would not understand (if we said) we could not do the same here."

Comolli believes the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager will improve the chances of producing 'the next Gerrard' yet further.

He explained: "When I arrived I could see straight away the quality was there, the training was in place, very competent people were there like Frank McParland, Pep Segura and Rodolfo Borrell.

"Then it became easier in a way because with Kenny being in charge - he's a kind of link between the two because he was at the Academy for a few years. He knows those kids by heart and coming here to Melwood, he never hesitated in promoting them.

"It is very exciting because they've seen Jack Robinson doing well last year, they've seen Flanno doing well last year, they've seen Conor Coady being involved, they've seen Andre Wisdom being involved, they've seen Raheem being involved.

"It's a very exciting time for the Academy and it's very rewarding for the people in the Academy to see the players they are producing actually being used and being played in the first team.

"They are very grateful that Kenny has decided to put those players in."

'NextGen Excites Us All'

In our first Academy column of the new campaign, Frank McParland discusses the NextGen Series as well as the adventures of our youngsters during a memorable pre-season.

First of all, it's great to be back following a productive summer both on and off the pitch for everyone involved at Kirkby.

We have implemented some important changes involving our staff, had up to seven players away at the U17 World Cup and seen a number of our lads feature for the first team as part of Kenny Dalglish's preparations for the new campaign.

Everything about the club is very positive at the moment and there is a general consensus that big progress is being made at all levels.

Rodolfo Borrell has taken charge of the reserve team which has allowed Mike Marsh to assume the U18 post. These are two coaches that we rate very highly and we have already seen some enjoyable football from both teams - even at this stage of the pre-season.

I can't wait for the new campaign to start now and I have to say I am really excited about our involvement in the NextGen Series.

It all kicks off on August 17 with a clash against Sporting Lisbon at Anfield. We have been drawn in a really interesting group as the Portuguese side have one of the finest youth set-ups in Europe. Molde have also stated that their home game against us is going to be a sell-out with over 10,000 spectators, while Wolfsburg have got a strong group of young talent coming through.

There's no doubt the boys are going to be stretched but that's exactly what we want. They will be playing against the continent's most exciting young talents and every last one of them will be hungry to make an impact, which maybe can't be said with regular reserve team football.

The NextGen games will all be played at big stadiums and I think that will help make it a great spectacle. I'd urge our supporters to get along to Anfield and watch these matches. It's all very new and will benefit our players massively.

Last season the U18s were getting 400-500 people at their matches in Kirkby. I'd never seen so many people watching us in action before, but hopefully we can get into the thousands for these eye-catching games in L4.

It would make for a fantastic atmosphere and would certainly help our young lads. We do urge everyone to come along, bring the kids, and let us entertain.

Both the boss and Damien Comolli have been massive in their support for this tournament and it will be great to fly the flag for the club in Europe this season.

I'm delighted it's all come to fruition as I was involved in the initial talks about it three or four years ago. I did a brief stint as first-team scout at Watford with Mark Warburton, who is the man who has got the competition off the ground.

He was the Academy director at Vicarage Road at the time and we often talked about how we could improve and advance youth football.

We used to throw ideas like this one around and say how fantastic it would be to pit kids from the biggest clubs in England against the giants of Europe.

Now it's become a reality and I'm delighted that Mark took this project on after leaving Watford. It's been in the pipeline for some time and I just can't wait for it to get started now.

Like I've said, this will only benefit our young players in the future and the involvement of a number of our lads in the first team's pre-season matches will also be invaluable experience.
The manager has taken players directly from the U18s as well as the reserves and given them a taste of what it's like to represent Liverpool's senior squad.

When they are right to go, they can go. But you need to have everyone on the same page. We have a plan for every player and we will only look to progress them at the right stage for both them and the club.

Not one of the young lads who have gone away with the first team has let themselves down and I'm sure the boss would back me up on that.

A few of them have been involved recently and that's great. Who knows what will happen at the start of the season. They may all be back here with us or one or two might stay at Melwood.

What we are emphasizing to them is that they look to give the same performance in training every day, whether it be with the U18s, the reserves or alongside Luis Suarez with the first team.

I'm watching that situation very closely and speaking to the boss and Damien about our players on a daily basis. We can't have someone coming back thinking they have made it because if that's the case, they won't be going to Melwood again.

It's up to them to show their quality and do it week in, week out.

I was speaking to Conor Coady the other day and he wasn't sure at that stage whether he was going away with the first team to Galatasaray.

He asked me if he could play for the reserves if he didn't travel. That's the type of attitude you are looking for.

It's all coming together nicely as we adapt to being a centre that develops youngsters as well as reserve team players.

We feel we are making good strides in what we are trying to achieve here and we are now looking forward to what we hope can be an even better year this time around.