Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Joe Cole To Join French Champions On Loan

Liverpool is set to loan misfit midfielder Joe Cole to French champions Lille for the rest of the season.

Cole has struggled to establish himself at Anfield following a big-money Bosman move from Chelsea last summer and has seen the arrival of midfielders Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson over the past couple of months further reduce his chances of regular action.

The arrival of the England international would renew speculation about the future of Lille star Eden Hazard, who has been linked with Arsenal and, ironically, Liverpool.

Bolton Agree Deal For Liverpool Striker

Liverpool has agreed a £4million deal in principle with Bolton for David Ngog.

The outline of the move was done before Liverpool's 3-1 win over Wanderers at Anfield and it is now up to the striker to decide his future.

Ngog has already turned down Sunderland and Leicester this summer and Bolton boss Owen Coyle is determined to land the Frenchman.

Ngog's move to Sunderland fell through because Steve Bruce did not want to meet his £40,000-a-week wages demands and it remains to be seen if Coyle will have more success.

Kenny Dalglish is prepared to press ahead with Ngog's sale despite failing in his audacious bid for Craig Bellamy and he does not see the former Paris St Gemain hitman as part of his long-term plans.

Dalglish is working to trim the Anfield wage bill after this summer's major recruitment drive and he may also be able to get Christian Poulsen off the books.

Poulsen could not agree terms with FC Copenhagen and is now wanted by Espanyol.

Liverpool are also braced for a second bid for Raul Meireles.

They rejected Andre Villas-Boas' offer of £7million-plus Yossi Benayoun and would cash in on the Portuguese midfielder for around £12million cash.

Inter Milan Rival Liverpool For Zarate

Despite the arrival of Diego Forlan, Inter Milan coach Gian Piero Gasperini is demanding another striker signing.

Forlan will complete his move from Atletico Madrid today.

Corriere dello Sport says Inter have approached Lazio for Zarate and hope to take him on a 12-month loan.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito is demanding €4 million for the deal to happen.

Liverpool has also made contact with Zarate's camp in the last 24 hours.

Liverpool Want Daniel Sturridge As Part Of Meireles Bid

Liverpool is reportedly ready to discuss Chelsea’s bid for Raul Meireles – but they want Daniel Sturridge included in any deal.

The Reds have recently rejected the west Londoners offer of £8m plus Yossi Benayoun for the Portuguese midfielder, but will be tempted to negotiate if Sturridge was thrown into the equation.

Kenny Dalglish has enjoyed an extremely productive summer in the transfer market, but has been frustrated in his bid to bring in a striker to challenge Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a starting place.

He lost out to Sunderland in the race for Conor Wickham, and is still trying to flog David N’Gog, meaning there’s still potentially one space left to fill at Anfield this summer.

Sturridge therefore, would represent an attractive proposition for Dalglish, and the Blues may be tempted to give him up for Meireles, even though the 21-year-old impressed Andres Villas-Boas in pre-season.

The Chelsea boss knows it’s becoming increasingly unlikely he’ll be able to prize Luka Modric away from Tottenham, and with Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou and new boy Romelu Lukaku all competing for a place up front – Sturridge may be the logical sacrifice to land Meireles.

Everton To Consider Selling £8m Star To Bitter Rivals Liverpool

Liverpool is plotting a shock bid for Everton star Seamus Coleman, after Toffees manager David Moyes refused to rule out player sales due to their financial position.

The Blues are currently unable to bring in new signings at Goodison Park as the Merseysiders have reached their overdraft limit and even if the club did sell some of their better players to raise funds then that cash would only go to paying off bank debts.

Moyes and the Everton board have grown increasingly anxious with financial situation and could give themselves room to breathe by offloading several stars before the transfer window shuts on Wednesday with bitter rivals Liverpool ready to take advantage of the situation.

While key duo Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka have been strongly linked with Arsenal, Kenny Dalglishs interest in Coleman comes as somewhat of a surprise.

But according to sources close to the Reds boss, the Scotsman rates the Republic of Ireland international very highly and is considering a £8m bid for the right-sided player, who can operate as a full-back or in more advanced attacking position.

Everton will be reluctant to sell the versatile 22-year-old, especially to their Merseyside neighbours, but the Blues may be forced to cash-in on the youngster if they cannot offload another one of his stars this week.

"Everybody's got a price - Fabregas, Ronaldo, you name it. If anyone bids big enough I'm sure we'd take it. I'm not daft," Moyes told Sky Sports.

Dalglish's monetary situation starkly contrasts, he is being encouraged to carry on spending by owners Fenway Sports Group - despite spending over £50m on transfers this summer.

Having signed Stewart Downing to operate on the left-side, Dalglish wants a similar potency on the opposite flank to provide wide-service to strikers Luiz Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Coleman certainly fits the Anfield club's policy of buying young talent with a potentially higher sell-on value, but a move between the Merseyside rivals will always be a controversial one.

The former Sligo Rovers may feel a move across the city would benefit his long term career plans by aiding his ambitions to one day play in the UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool On Verge Of Signing Sebastian Coates

Nacional starlet Sebastian Coates is expected to sign a contract with Liverpool in the next 24 hours, as representatives of the Uruguayan club make the trip across the Atlantic in order to put the finishing touches on a lucrative transfer.

EFE reports that directors Hector Olmos and Alex Saul left for England on Monday to continue negotiations with Kenny Dalglish's team. Nacional hope to seal a small raise in the already-agreed fee of £7.6 million, to compensate the side for bigger offers rejected by Coates due to his desire to join the English club.

The officials arrived in England on Monday evening, and it is estimated that a contract of undisclosed length will be signed between by Wednesday. It was hoped that the deal would be concreted earlier, but as Saul revealed a missed flight in Lisbon delayed their arrival.

"We are in Lisbon, en route to Manchester. We are going to arrive 10 hours late, about six in the afternoon in Uruguay [22:00 BST]. We should have been there a while ago, but the negotiations will be done tonight," the club's contracts director admitted in an interview with Radio 1010.

"I get the feeling that the normal paths of communication have not been maintained. We are going to negotiate and I believe that we are going to take a bit more money."

The young defender, a Copa America winner in July with Uruguay, arrived in the country on Friday, and on Saturday afternoon he could be seen in the Anfield directors' box witnessing Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Bolton.

Liverpool Are Right To Reject Chelsea's Interest In Raul Meireles

Liverpool's decision to turn down Chelsea's offer of £8 million plus Yossi Benayoun for midfielder Raul Meireles seems to indicate the Portuguese is finally the flavour of the month at Anfield.

Meireles's short Liverpool career has been a strange one.

He arrived at the beginning of last season from FC Porto for £11.5 million and played 43 games for the club yet never really seemed to win over a section of the Liverpool hierarchy and fanbase.

In fact, Meireles was widely believed to be available for transfer earlier this summer when it seemed obvious that Kenny Dalglish was attempting to rebuild the Liverpool midfield.

The arrivals of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing appeared to sound the death-knell for Meireles's Liverpool future.

That trio, along with Lucas and Jay Spearing plus the return of Steven Gerrard from injury meant it was hard to see how Meireles would be squeezed into the Liverpool line-up.

However, Liverpool has now rejected Chelsea's approach for Meireles which indicates that his worth is finally being appreciated.

Meireles missed last weekend's win over Bolton due to a collarbone injury but he has played influential cameos in both of the Premier League games he has featured in this season.

He was particularly important against Arsenal when he came off the bench with 19 minutes to go and helped change the game for the visitors.

Meireles has rarely had an off-day in a Liverpool shirt, he has always spoken off his delight at being at Anfield and seems determined to prove he can still be a hit in the Premier League.

And the very fact that Chelsea is interested in the player should be another reason to keep hold of him.

Stamford Bridge manager Andre Villas-Boas briefly got to know Meireles last season before he joined Liverpool and yet despite only having worked with him for a short while, he has seen enough to be convinced he is the player Chelsea require.

Villas-Boas has already shown he has an eye for a player and keeping him out of the clutches of a fellow Premier League rival should be an added incentive for Dalglish to hang on to him.

Of course, Liverpool may well just be playing hardball with Chelsea and may well let him go if they can squeeze another two or three million out of the London club.

But it seems wrong to consider letting such a quality player go.

And especially a quality player who has never agitated for a move or given anything less than 100 per cent.

Why Liverpool FC May Suffer As A Result Of Being Out Of Europe This Season

Guest writer David Bolt argues that failure to qualify for this season's Europa League could actually be a negative rather than a positive for Liverpool this season.

Last season, Liverpool failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 12 years. The response from the majority of fans was an overwhelming ‘meh', with many fans actually pleased not to be involved in the competition. I wasn’t one of those fans - I think that not being in the Europa League this season may hurt us a bit more than most fans think.

Jamie Carragher was one of those who was indifferent to Liverpool being in the Europa League. He said:

“The main thing for us next season is getting back into the Champions League. Not being in Europe will give us a better chance of doing that. We want to get back in the top four and do well in the cups. Playing Thursdays and Sundays isn’t ideal.”

Harry Redknapp stated something along similar lines, saying:

“The Europa League takes an even bigger toll [on league form] than the Champions League. Playing on Thursdays and Sundays every week, it’s not ideal. It’s one of those competitions that teams get into and then they try to get out of. You look at the English teams, and they all seem to have played reserve teams.”

I completely disagree. Okay, the Europa League isn’t nearly as prestigious as the Champions League, there’s no point pretending otherwise, but that doesn’t mean it has no merit. Liverpool is renowned for winning trophies, and has 3 UEFA Cup/ Europa League wins on its honours list. Would those fans who believe the Europa League is worthless like to see those removed?

I think it’s a shame that the club hasn’t got the chance to add another European trophy to the cabinet. I also disagree with Carra that being in the Europa league would have jeopardised our chances of making the top 4. Manchester City competed in the Europa League last season and managed both a cup win and a 3rd place finish in the league. I see no reason why Liverpool wouldn’t be able to do something similar, especially with the improvements made to the squad this summer and the positive start to the season.

I don’t accept the notion that the Europa League is a competition for lesser teams. There are plenty of good teams providing tough opposition. Look at the winners over the last ten years: Feyenoord, Porto (twice), Valencia, Sevilla (twice), CSKA Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid. None of those teams would look out of place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and all have been consistently strong in their domestic leagues (except Feyenoord, but they’re historically one of the Netherlands’ best teams).

As for being a competition solely for reserve players, look at the starting XI for the FC Braga game that put Liverpool out of the competition: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Wilson (the only fit left sided defender at the time), Meireles, Maxi, Cole, Lucas, Kuyt and Carroll. Hardly a reserve team is it?

Instead of being solely reserves, Liverpool’s teams in last season’s Europa League were a mix of first-teamers, squad players and some youth, and that’s the right way to go. Liverpool have reaped the benefits of blooding young players like Martin Kelly, Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey in the competition, meaning that when those players were needed in the league, they were ready.

By not playing in the Europa League this season, Liverpool will be limited in the opportunities they can give to some of the up-and-coming young players to try and gauge whether or not they are ready or good enough to play in the Premier League, which may hinder their development.

Of course, for all of his managerial experience and know-how, Kenny Dalglish doesn’t have much experience of managing in Europe. His experience of managing Liverpool in Europe runs to the 4 dismal games against Sparta Prague and Braga in last season’s Europa League. Other than that, he managed Blackburn in the UEFA Cup, getting knocked out first round against Swedish side Trelleborgs, and later managed Newcastle in the Champions League where they beat Barcelona but got knocked out in the group stages, and that’s it.

Whilst I have every confidence that Dalglish can take us a long way in the Champions League, I think it would’ve been invaluable for him to have gained more experience of managing in Europe against a variety of different tactic before entering into Europe’s premier competition next season.

Of course, there are also financial consequences to not qualifying for Europe. Last season, Liverpool made €6,131,224 from their Europa League run. Okay, that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the riches that teams playing in the Champions League get, but it’s still an amount of money that, when gate receipts and other matchday incomes are included, could be used to bring one more player into the squad. Also, with the Financial Fair Play regulations coming into play soon, any potential revenue stream should not to be dismissed lightly.

It’s saddening that so many fans think that the Europa League is beneath our club. It is not. I believe that there were many potential benefits and learning experiences that could have been gained from Europa League participation, which would have been valuable for the club as we look towards mounting a serious challenge in the Champions League next season.

Emmanuel Frimpong and Martin Kelly Withdraw From England Under 21 Squad

Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong and Liverpool’s Martin Kelly have withdraw from the England Under 21 squad after picking up injuries over the weekend.

Stewart Pearce was already down on numbers ahead of the matches against Azerbaijan and Israel with Manchester United duo Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley having received call-ups to the senior side ahead of their Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales.

Kelly was substituted during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Bolton on Saturday, while Frimpong was suspended for Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, but has picked up an injury in training according to the FA.