Friday, August 19, 2011

Dalglish and Redknapp Set To Battle For £7m-Rated Scottish Starlet

Liverpool and Tottenham are both reportedly keeping tabs on Celtic's highly-rated youngster James Forrest.

The 19-year-old winger was given his chance in the first-team towards the end of the 2009/10 season when Neil Lennon was in charge on a temporary basis. He became an important member of the team last season under Lennon's guidance and is entering his second full-season as a first-team regular.

Forrest's progress last year was remarkable and he has established himself as one of the brightest young talents in British football.

And according to, his sharp rise has not gone unnoticed with Premier League duo Liverpool and Tottenham both monitoring his situation at Celtic.

Celtic has already reportedly rejected an approach from the Merseyside club for Paddy McCourt and the Scottish giants are thought to be bracing themselves for another attempt by Liverpool for Forrest.

The Hoops will be even more unwilling to lose the Scotland international given his age and potential but Anfield manager Kenny Dalglish is reportedly prepared to test their resolve by tabling a £7m offer.

The move will be supported by Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group whose transfer policy is heavily based on recruiting younger, British players.

Tottenham Eye Ambitous Swoop For Liverpool Trio

Tottenham will make an ambitious attempt to land three Liverpool players if - or when - they decide to cash in on Luka Modric.

Manager Harry Redknapp is already looking to a future without the Croatian and will use the funds of his projected £35m sale to Chelsea to strengthen his squad and he hopes to do that with the signings of Joe Cole, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt.

The former West Ham boss has expressed his desire to work with Cole again having brought him through the ranks at Upton Park. Despite the England international's travails since moving to Merseyside 12 months ago, Redknapp still feels the 29-year-old has plenty to offer and the player himself would jump at the chance to link up with his mentor.

Dirk Kuyt is a surprise target given that he is already 31 years old yet his inexhaustible engine and eye for goal have seen him emerge as one of the most consistent performers for Liverpool - and in the Premier League generally - over the past couple of seasons. With first team opportunities diminishing with a change of formation at Anfield, the arrival of Jordan Henderson on the right flank and Kenny Dalglish's preference to field Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in tandem up front, Kuyt could be persuaded to move to north London.

Lucas could prove the trickier to extricate from his employers after finally getting to grips with English football last season. One of the Reds' more dependable player last campaign, the 24-year-old Brazil international has carved a niche for himself at the base of midfield and Redknapp would like him to reprise that role at White Hart Lane especially with Wilson Palacios bound for Stoke and Sandro injured.

Having spent a considerable sum on players in recent months, Liverpool could be tempted to sell - especially given their bloated midfield - though they are likely to demand more than the £25m that Spurs will offer.

Pacheco Poised To Join Rayo

Liverpool youngster Dani Pacheco looks poised to join Spanish outfit Rayo Vallecano on a season-long loan.

A source close to the Primera Liga outfit claim a deal is almost done and that the promising forward will return to his homeland on a deal that will run until June 2012.

It is claimed that the 20-year-old will arrive in Madrid for a medical on Monday and to complete the relevant paperwork.

A number of clubs are reported to have contacted Liverpool this summer regarding a possible transfer, with permanent and short-term agreements discussed.

Pacheco, though, has had the final say in where he ends up, with it important for him to get games.

He believes he will get the opportunities he craves at Rayo Vallecano and considers them to be the best choice for his career.

The youngster revealed back in July that he was prepared to leave Liverpool in order to find regular football.

He hinted that a return to Spain would be his preferred choice, and it appears as though he may be about to get his wish.

Pacheco said at the time: "Above all, I want to play and if I have to leave to do that then there will be no problem.

"Some day I would like to return home. If it happens, it happens."

Pacheco took in a loan spell at Norwich last season, scoring two goals in six appearances as the Canaries secured promotion out of the Championship.

El Zhar Leaves Liverpool To Make Spain Move

Levante is set to snap up Liverpool flop Nabil El Zhar after he was released from his contract at Anfield.

The Moroccan winger was touted as a potential star of the future when he arrived from Saint Etienne five years ago but he has failed to establish himself on Merseyside.

And having made just 32 appearances for Liverpool, he has now reached an agreement with the club to terminate his current deal.

The writing was on the wall for the 24-year-old when he sent out on loan to PAOK but started just 13 games for the Greek club.

But now La Liga side Levante is ready to offer him a chance in Spanish football and are expected to complete a deal to sign him in the next few days.

Kenny Dalglish Warns Arsenal Trip Won’t Be Easy

Kenny Dalglish insists Liverpool's task hasn't been made any easier by Arsenal's mounting problems ahead of tomorrow's clash at the Emirates Stadium.

The Reds will face a depleted Gunners line up as they go in search of their first away win over Arsene Wenger's side since February 2000.

Arsenal has been rocked by the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri is set to join Manchester City.

To add to Wenger's woes Gervinho and Alex Song are suspended, while Kieran Gibbs, Johan Djourou and Jack Wilshere are all struggling with injuries.

However, Dalglish has urged his players to forget about the Gunners and focus on themselves.

“It's not going to make it any easier for us that they've lost Fabregas and that Nasri might not be playing,” the Reds boss said.

“They've got a couple of suspensions but it's still going to be a difficult game for us.

“Arsenal have been most football fans' second team as they're very entertaining to watch.

“They're still a team I have the greatest respect for. We'll go there with the same feelings that we had last season - that it's going to be a really difficult game.

“I don't know how they're going to react but it's about what we do. We can control what we do and hopefully we can make it as difficult for them as they will for us.”

The Reds will take heart from their last trip to the Emirates back in April when Dirk Kuyt's 102 nd minute spot-kick earned them a hard-fought point.

“That was a great result for us,” Dalglish said.

“We had young Flanno (Jon Flanagan) at right-back and then Fabio Aurelio went off early on and Robbo (Jack Robinson) came on at 17 years of age to play against Theo Walcott, an England international, and did fantastically well.

“We battled hard throughout the game, competed really well and we got what we deserved from it.”

Dalglish will be looking for a repeat display from Jose Enrique after the left-back's impressive debut in last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sunderland. The manager is delighted to have the classy Spaniard on board.

“He's a good player, he's got experience in the Premier League and he's settled into the way of life in England so that's helpful,” he said.

“His English is good, it's better than mine and his football is better than mine as well, so we're quite happy with the signing of Jose.

“It's a position we had to strengthen. Young Jack Robinson has got fantastic potential, but we have to responsible with him. He's 17 and to throw him in and expect him to play a full season would have been wrong but he'll be there or thereabouts.”

Glen Johnson (hamstring) remains doubtful but Dalglish has no other fresh injury concerns. Martin Skrtel has returned to full training following a calf problem and is available for selection.

Jose Enrique Backed By Allardyce

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has been backed to thrive for his new club when the Reds face Arsenal on Saturday by his former Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce after proving his doubters wrong.

As the Spanish left-back prepares to head to the Emirates for the biggest Premier League game of the weekend, he was given a ringing endorsement by Allardyce, who brought him to English football four years ago during his reign as Newcastle manager.

There were concerns over the 25-year-old’s aptitude for English football as he initially struggled to impress on Tyneside but West Ham United manager Allardyce is adamant he will prove to be a big hit with the Merseyside club.

“When a player moves to a club of Liverpool’s stature it is a great for him but it is also a move that Liverpool will benefit from greatly,” Allardyce told

“I am very pleased that he has proved my judgement to be right because from the very start I had faith in his ability to make it in the Premier League.

“Jose has an excellent temperament, a great work ethic and on top of that he is a first-class defender. Not many wingers have got the better of him since he found his feet in England and on top of that he is a real threat going forward as Andy Carroll will testify from his own days at Newcastle.

“There will be another adjustment period but Newcastle is a big club in its own right because let’s not forget they attract crowds of 50,000 for most home games and the demands are great from the supporters that follow that great club.

“It is the same at Liverpool. He will feel relatively comfortable in that atmosphere but Liverpool being what they are there will be even greater demands on him now and everybody will be looking at him to see if he can take the step up to the next level, but I have every confidence in his ability to do so even on the biggest occasions such as the Arsenal game. Massive matches like Arsenal are the reason he moved to Liverpool and I bet he can't wait."

Valencia-born Jose Enrique joined Liverpool in a quest for the European football that had proved elusive at St James’ Park and his £6 million move to Liverpool has vindicated Allardyce’s judgement in a player brought to England for £6.5m.

“It is nice to see a player that we brought in from Villarreal do so well and really kick on but then again he came from one of the top clubs in Spain so we always knew he would do well,” Allardyce added.

“But he had to be given time. When he came to Newcastle it was like it is for every foreign player and it is even more difficult for young foreign players to adjust immediately to life overseas and conclusions are drawn very quickly by everybody.

“You have to try to protect them from that because people can almost start writing them off before they have even started. As time has gone and Jose has got used to the change in culture and the change of environment he has grown as a footballer and as an individual and has gone on to show what a talented player he really is.

“Of course as you have seen in the last two or three seasons, he has really excelled at Newcastle and that has sparked the interest of one of the biggest four or five clubs in England."

Learn To Play The Liverpool Way

School may still be out for most youngsters across the country but for a very special bunch of boys and girls, Liverpool FC has made sure their summer holidays are kept busy.

The Reds have joined forces with main club sponsor Standard Chartered to run two free soccer camps at the 'Goals' Soccer Centre in Speke for the local community.

This week has been the turn of local disabled children from across the city, who have all had the chance to learn football the 'Liverpool Way'.

Meanwhile, the Reds' 'Ability Counts' team, fresh back from their successful trip to Switzerland as part of the European Disabled Tournament, has also been training at the camp.

The next camp, running August 22-26, will be for all kids across the local community with everyone welcome to sign up.

LFC Community Coach, Scott Fowler said: "These types of camps are in many ways the highlights of our year.

"We really look forward to it and it never lets us down.

"It's a great experience for the coaches and for the kids involved."

34 Goal Starlets Set For Opener

In our latest column from the Academy, U18 coach Mike Marsh looks ahead to Saturday's league opener against Cardiff City.

The big kick off is almost upon us and everyone involved in the U18 set up can't wait to get started.

We feel we have made some good strides in the past few weeks and our final pre-season encounter against Watford last weekend gave us a better idea of where we are as a side.

Everyone has got a lot of minutes under their belts and shown what they can offer us this year. We've played eight games, which may seem like a lot, but I felt we needed that many because of the number of players we have. There are 20-plus lads in the squad and they are all now raring to go so we should be ready to get off to a good start.

A lot has been made of the fact we have netted 34 goals in that time but in our earlier matches we were playing against sides that were probably below the level we are normally used to.

As we got towards the end of the pre-season program we didn't trouble the scoresheet as often because the quality of opposition was higher. We only managed one at Middlesbrough and then we failed to fire against Watford. That's not to say we shouldn't have scored more in those two matches because I felt we should have.

But overall, I feel we are heading in the right direction and it was nice to score goals whilst keeping clean sheets too.

It's no secret that we've got an array of attacking talent in our side but we've also worked hard at the back. We've done work on our defensive shape every week and I think it has paid dividends in our last couple of matches.

It sets us up nicely for our first league game of the new season against Cardiff City on Saturday morning. We are confident we are ready for the challenge and I'm certain we won't be found wanting in terms of our fitness levels.

If I'm honest I don't know too much about the Bluebirds but I'm sure they'll be a strong, physical side and it's our job to be ready for them.

I've had a starting XI in mind for the past month or so. I've been 80 per cent certain of who would play. Obviously performances of certain individuals in that time means one or two players have come to the fore whilst others may have drifted out.

We are almost there though and it'll just be a case of finalizing things between now and the big kick off. We can't wait.