Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liverpool In Talks Over Shock Swoop For Chelsea Defender

Liverpool has targeted a shock swoop for Chelsea centre-back Alex as manager Kenny Dalglish looks to solve his side's defensive problems.

It had been thought that full-back Jose Enrique, brought in from Newcastle last week in a £6m deal, was to be the Merseyside club's final transfer of the summer but Dalglish is reportedly eager to recruit a centre-half before the window shuts.

It is claimed Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are prepared to find the money so the manager can bring in another defender, particularly after Daniel Agger picked up another injury and the side's shaky defensive problems in pre-season.

According to Fanatix.com, Liverpool have already held unofficial talks with Chelsea over a proposed £12m move for Alex and it is thought negotiations are going in the right direction.

The Reds had been linked with a move for Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross but the decided to drop their interest when the Potters refused to lower their £18m valuation.

They have now reportedly set their sights on Brazil international Alex, who was replaced in the first-team in January last season when David Luiz was signed from Benfica.

Liverpool have focused their transfer policy this summer on recruiting younger players who will have long-term futures at the club but Dalglish is prepared to abandon that position to bolster his defence with a proven centre-back.

Dalglish To Offer £10m Plus Poulsen For Stoke Centre-Back

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is keen to tie up a deal for a commanding centre-back before the end of the transfer window and is set to continue in his vein of signing young English players.

The latest player to be linked with a move to Anfield is Stoke's giant centre-back Ryan Shawcross, who has earned a reputation as one of the toughest defenders in the Premier League.

The former Manchester United youth player has been linked with a move to Liverpool on a number of occasions and Dalglish would like to find some cover with doubts over the fitness of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Jamie Carragher also coming towards the end of their careers and Dalglish knows that he will need to bring a young defender to the club.

Liverpool have already had an initial offer of £10million turned down by Stoke and with funds limited they will now try and offer a player-plus-cash deal.

According to caughtoffside.co.uk, Dalglish may now offer the services of central midfielder Christian Poulsen plus £10m for the 23-year-old defender.

The Denmark international has been told that he is surplus to requirements at Anfield and along with Alberto Aquilani, David Ngog and Joe Cole has been linked with a summer exit.

Stoke do not want to part with their talented young defender, but should Liverpool keep pursuing Shawcross then the player may find it hard to turn down a move to a club that hope to be pushing for a top four finish.

Arsenal In Sensational Move For Liverpool Midfielder

Arsenal has emerged as shock contenders for the signature of Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole as the Gunners search for replacements for Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Fabregas finally secured his return to Barcelona on Monday having left the Nou Camp when he was 16 while Nasri appears set to depart the Emirates for Manchester City later this week.

And according to Fanatix.com, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has targeted Cole as a possible replacement for the star midfielders.

The former Chelsea and West Ham player has endured a frustrating time at Anfield with a loss of form and persistent injuries limiting his opportunities.

The summer arrivals of midfielders Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing has pushed Cole further down the Liverpool pecking order and Wenger is ready to offer him an escape.

The French tactician is reportedly a fan of Cole and believes he still as the ability to compete at the highest level. He is also pleased with the 29-year-old's versatility and will be able to rely on him in a central role or wide on either flank.

Liverpool is eager to offload Cole and his £90,000 a week wages and it is thought they will not demand a transfer fee if an approach is made.

Wenger will reportedly ask the England international to take a pay cut if he is to complete a deal that will see him move back to London. Cole is thought to be keen to return to the capital where he spent his whole life prior to moving to Liverpool.

Speculation has linked Cole with a move away from Merseyside with Premier League new boys QPR and big-spending French club PSG both rumoured to be interested in his services.

Raul Meireles Considered By Chelsea

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is lining up a bid for Raul Meireles as an alternative to Tottenham's Luka Modric.

The Stamford Bridge club is considering making a third offer for the Croatian playmaker, after bids of £22 million and £27 million were turned down earlier in the summer.

Villas-Boas, who knows Meireles from his time at Porto, has not ruled out bringing both players to Chelsea as he regards the Portuguese international as a perfect foil for Modric's creativity.

Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in a deal of around £12 million to help offset their summer spending spree under their new ownership.

Kenny Dalglish has spent much of the summer strengthening his midfield by bringing in Sunderland's Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam from Blackpool and Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing.

Competition at the club is fierce and both Meireles and Dirk Kuyt, mainstays last season, were relegated to the bench for Liverpool's opening game against Sunderland.

After initially struggling to get to grips with the Premier League, Meireles had a great end to the season under Dalglish and was voted the PFA Fans Player of the Year at the end of the season.

Chelsea is also reportedly considering adding Yossi Benayoun or Didier Drogba to the Modric deal in a bid to persuade Daniel Levy and Harry Redknapp to part with their influential playmaker.

Liverpool Reluctant On David N’Gog Exit As Park Chu-Young Holds Out Hope

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish remains reluctant to agree to the sale of David N’Gog to Bolton Wanderers.

The Liverpool boss wants a replacement identified and brought to Anfield before he will allow N’Gog to head to the Reebok Stadium and join Owen Coyle’s side.

But the Reds are not yet clear on who might land at Anfield, with South Korea striker Park Chu-Young, despite being desperate for a switch, not yet the source of agreement on Merseyside.

Park Chu-Young currently turns out for Monaco, although he is looking for an exit after the side dropped into Ligue 2.

The 26-year-old has already turned down a switch to Rennes and is holding out for his chance in the Premier League, preferably with Liverpool.

The South Korean’s agent is working overtime to find a destination as Liverpool dither over whether to make the striker an offer.

It is understood that the forward was recently offered to Newcastle United, but boss Alan Pardew opted not to make a move.

Steven Gerrard To Begin Light Training

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has confirmed that club captain Steven Gerrard is close to a return to training and will be stepping up his fitness regime over the next week.

The midfielder has been out of action since March with a groin injury and his proposed return in August was postponed due to an infection caused as a result of an operation, meaning Gerrard was left hospitalized until just two weeks ago.

Dalglish was quoted as saying by The Guardian: "Stevie will be stepping up his recovery this week."

Despite the news of a return to training for Gerrard, the club is yet to revise his scheduled return to first-team action, which is said to be mid-September, meaning that the England international would inevitably miss international fixtures against Bulgaria and Wales at the start of next month.

Liverpool Searching For Best Young Players In China

Liverpool has today confirmed a team of scouts have been sent to China in an effort to find the best young talent in Asia.

Academy director of recruitment Stuart Webber is leading the party on their six-day trip of the continent, with Liverpool taking a look at two new trialists during an Under 17 tournament on the trip.

The Merseysiders are also looking to enhance their links with the Chinese FA, and Webber believes it's a great opportunity for the club to search out players on a global scale.

"It's a fantastic opportunity both for myself and the club. The trip has come about on the back of the first team being out in that part of the world during the pre-season. We felt there was a need to go and have a look at a few players. There's a tournament out there and we will also want to spend some time with the Chinese FA,” he told the official Liverpool website.

"We'll basically continue to build the links between Liverpool and what is potentially a fantastic market for us. It would be great if we could bring through a player from that part of the world one day. We have millions of supporters over there and it's important we scout there as well as across the rest of the world.

"We are confident we will find a player somewhere like this one day and it is important we step up our efforts now."

The value of unearthing an Asian superstar would not just be felt on the pitch, with the lucrative financial aspect of a player from the continent making it big in the Barclays Premier League not lost on Liverpool main sponsor Standard Chartered.

Webber and his Liverpool team will be working hard to make such a possibility a reality, and it's an opportunity which is exciting the recruitment head.

"It's really exciting and hopefully I will get out there and decide that there are even more players that we will have to look to bring over. It really does have the potential to be an exciting project for the club," Webber concluded.

Comolli Relishing NextGen Start

Ahead of the start of the brand new NextGen Series tournament this week, Director of Football Damien Comolli explains to Liverpoolfc.tv why he can't wait to see the Reds taking part in it.

Liverpool will compete in the inaugural U19 Champions League-style competition along with some of Europe's other elite clubs - and Rodolfo Borrell's side kick-off against Sporting Lisbon at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Molde and Wolfsburg are also in our group, and the Reds will play all three teams home and away, with the top two sides progressing into the knockout stages.

Here, Comolli tells Liverpoolfc.tv why he believes the tournament will provide the club's youngsters with an ideal opportunity to gain big-game experience and therefore play a huge role in aiding their development.

Damien, the NextGen Series is set to start this week. How important is this competition to Liverpool's youngsters?

We think it's very important. I think we were the first club to sign up because we think it is important for the development of players. It's important for them to face a different type of football, to play in big stadiums and to take the players out of their comfort zone of always facing the same teams and type of football. I think it will stretch everybody - the players and coaching staff - and it will be good from a fitness point of view as well, so we are really looking forward to it.

This is certainly a new way for young players to gain experience.

It is. I think the main thing is that we know we can compete with the best in England because we've got a top academy, but now let's see how we compete with the best on the continent. We've got to look at it humbly and think, 'we do produce players, we do well in England, but how will we do when we play against a top academy like Sporting Lisbon?'

How important is this competition to Liverpool Football Club as a whole?

It is very important. As far as I'm concerned, it's a competition that European football was lacking. It is almost a dream come true for every director of football and academy director. I've been hearing about this project for the last 15 years and a lot of people have been trying to set it up. Finally we now have it. When I joined the club last November, Frank McParland was already holding talks with the organizers and when he told me about it, I said straight away, 'We've got to get in it' because it is very important for Liverpool and it is going to become an important competition in Europe.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are involved along with ourselves. It's going to be an exciting tournament.

It's going to be very exciting and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the players cope with different styles of football. We've got Sporting on Wednesday and then Molde next, so that's two different types of football. We know Sporting always produce great players - Ronaldo and Nani to name just two - so it is going to be an interesting test, as it will be to see how we react going to Norway in different circumstances. Then we have Wolfsburg, who are very different to the other two teams. From a tactical point of view, it will give a lot to our players who will be facing different issues, different types of players - tricky, strong, quick players - as well as direct play, more elaborate play and a passing type of game. I think if I was a player at their age, I would be very, very excited about facing this challenge.

As you say, it's Sporting up first - what sort of game are you expecting?

I expect a game with a battle for possession. Traditionally, they like to keep possession, and so do we - Rodolfo, Pep and Marshy have developed this (in our players). We like to have possession and always have the ball, so it is going to be a very technical game. We will probably play with a high-tempo, whereas Sporting will try to slow us down a little bit, but it's going to be an interesting opposition of style. Anfield is obviously a big pitch and players could be intimidated by playing there, so it will also be interesting to see how they react.

Finally, this tournament presents a real opportunity for fans to see the stars of tomorrow, doesn't it?

I don't like to say 'the stars of tomorrow' because they're kids. But at the back end of last season, we were playing U18 games at the Academy and there were a lot of people there watching our team play because it was an exciting team with exciting players. Hopefully the fans will see that again. At the moment they are just youth players and young kids, not stars yet, but it's definitely a good way to see how well our academy is doing and to the potential we have in terms of players.

Despite Stadium Setback Liverpool Football Club Welcome New Season

Despite a disappointing draw on the first day of the season, Liverpool Football Club embarks upon a new Premier League campaign, revitalized both on and off the pitch. With the Hicks-Gillette era now firmly in the past, new owners, Fenway Sports Group appear to have dramatically altered the club’s fortunes.

Liverpool’s major commercial success during the off season was the announcement that the Premier League soccer club had signed a kit deal with Boston-based apparel company Warrior Sports worth a staggering US$41million annually. The agreement, due to take effect at the start of the 2012/2013 season, is worth more than double their previous deal with Adidas and is the biggest kit contract in Premier League history. It is surely no coincidence that Warrior Sports, owned by Boson-based New Balance, has chosen Liverpool as the destination for their first venture into the English soccer market. The city also plays host to Fenway Sports Group and it is more than likely that the two parties were able to build on their shared heritage and close proximity.

When one considers Liverpool’s market potential, the enormous sums due to be paid by Warrior Sports seem like excellent value for money. Despite a tempestuous few years on the pitch, the Anfield club has never lost their extensive global fan base. Liverpool sell the fourth highest number of replica shirts in the world behind Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona and, with the huge success of their tour of the Far-East, are likely to retain that position in the coming years.

The Asian tour saw the Reds entertain fans in China, Malaysia and Korea. Organized by Liverpool’s premium sponsor, Standard Life, who felt the club needed to focus more on its Asian fan base, the tour confirmed Liverpool’s status as a truly global sporting phenomenon. The Reds completed their trip with an open training session in Singapore which drew the last of an estimated 200,000 fans to watch the team in a single week.

Led by managing director Ian Ayre, the club’s commercial and retail offerings have been further expanded through the opening of a number of official merchandise stores around the world. The club recently announced plans to open their sixth and seventh stores in Southport and Dublin respectively.

A major issue that will need to be addressed by the Liverpool hierarchy however, is that of the stadium. The club have been based at the world famous, 45,000 capacity Anfield stadium for over a hundred years but a new stadium would vastly increase Liverpool’s matchday revenue. Fenway Sports Group are believed to be searching for a sponsor to help fund the construction of a new home for the club but will have to handle any potential move with extreme care. Liverpool fans have already voiced their disapproval at the proposed sale of naming rights and John W. Henry and co. would be wise to remember that a breakdown in relationship with the Anfield faithful could prove as traumatic for them as it was for their predecessors.

Despite rumors of financial problems at Liverpool, Forbes value the club at US$552million, and, on evidence of the huge sums spent on players during recent transfer windows, it seems that Liverpool fans have little to be worried about.