Thursday, October 20, 2011

Liverpool Confirm Deal To Bring Best South American Starlets To Anfield

Liverpool will be able to hand select the some of the best young talent coming out of South America after agreeing a deal with Uruguay's reigning champions Nacional.

The Uruguayan side is considered to have the best academy in the country and have brought through two of Liverpool's current squad in Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates.

"Liverpool would come and watch how our academy works and would have first option on signing our young players," a Nacional spokesman told BBC Sport. "We are working towards finalizing an agreement as soon as possible."

Nacional have had a major part to play in the resurgence of Uruguayan football with 14 players from this year's 23-man Copa America-winning squad either playing for the side or having come through the youth system.

Suarez has become an instant Kop hero, while Coates is regarded as one of the best young defenders in South America and is expected to have a long career at Anfield.

After bringing Coates to Liverpool, director of football Damien Comolli declared that he was keen to begin a partnership with Nacional.

"We are talking about a partnership with them that we would like to create over the next three, four or five years, to see if there is more talent coming through," he told the in September.

"Maybe we can help them to develop their standards and, in turn, have the ability to bring those young players here. We already have a strong link with South America through Lucas [Leiva], Maxi [Rodriguez] and Luis [Suarez].

"Since it's been such a success with Luis - and I'm sure it will be for Sebastian [Coates] - why don't we try to make it an even bigger success by bringing in other players from Nacional?"

Bologna Move To Tie Down Ramirez Amid Liverpool Interest

Liverpool target Gaston Ramirez is set for a new deal at Bologna to put an end to speculation over his future.

The attacking midfielder is highly sought-after and Liverpool, along with Juventus and Roma, has monitored him in Serie A.

Ramirez, 20, is one of Bologna's most prized assets but is on relatively low terms at the club - and his situation is being closely monitored by Liverpool.

He has a contract until 2015 but that hasn't put off Kenny Dalglish and Bologna is wary of interest in him ahead of the winter transfer window.

It is understood the Serie A club will offer Ramirez a fresh deal - to include a minimum release clause - with the Uruguayan in line for a bumper pay day in a bid to keep him from the clutches of admiring clubs.

Liverpool Set To Win The Race For South American Starlet

Liverpool look to have won the race to sign South American sensation Andy Polo - with the teenager expected to arrive at Anfield next month.

A host of top clubs, including Real Madrid and Arsenal, have sent scouts to Peru to run the rule over the highly-rated striker, who made his debut for Universitario aged just 16.

Polo, nicknamed La Joya (The Jewel), has scored three goals in 13 games and has been compared to Brazilian star Robinho.

The teenager is expected to travel to England in November at the end of the Peruvian domestic season.

He will spend a month at Anfield and is then expected to sign a long-term deal to join his South American compatriots Luis Suarez, Lucas and Sebastian Coates.

Steven Gerrard Had Doubts He Would Return From Injury

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has admitted to being concerned whether he would return from injury during the "hardest six months of my career".

Gerrard, 31, scored against Manchester United on Saturday in his first start since groin surgery in March.

Asked if he feared for his career, Gerrard said: "I think it's only natural you have doubts and different things do cross your mind.

"There were times when I was as low as I've ever been as a footballer."

Gerrard said that before the operation he needed injections to get through games.

"Basically, I knew that wasn't right," he added.

"I was missing training sessions and coming in the day before a game trying to get that last session in or having injections to play the next day.

"You can only do that for a certain amount of time before your body gives in - and mine gave in.

"My groin packed in on me and, when it happened, I was down and I was low.

"I knew it was going to be a serious one, something I wasn't used to. I had to try to be positive but I will admit that I was down."

Gerrard had expected to return for the start of the season but caught an infection related to the groin injury in July. He was admitted to hospital for further treatment.

"When it [the injury] happened, it took time before I got back into a positive frame of mind," Gerrard said. "Without doubt the last six months have been the hardest of my career."

Johnson Eyes Norwich Return

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson hopes his injury problems are finally behind him after returning to action against Rangers.

Johnson played more than an hour of Liverpool's friendly defeat at Rangers without suffering any recurrence of his hamstring injury.

The England international has endured an injury-ravaged season to date with the full-back making just a late substitute appearance in the defeat at Stoke in September.

Johnson is now targeting a return to the first team for this weekend's home clash with Norwich.

"It was just fantastic to be back playing again," Johnson told the club's official website. "Obviously I've been a long time out and it's been a hard few months for me but fingers crossed I'm over all that now.

"The last two injuries were pretty much on the same spot and it's been difficult to try to stay positive. I want to push on from this and we all want to get three points against Norwich."

Martin Kelly has filled in for Johnson at right-back in his absence and the former Portsmouth man relishes the competition with the Anfield academy product.

"Martin has done really well as have all the lads since I've been out and hopefully that will continue," added Johnson.

"We've got good competition in every position and it's good for the club."

Doni Suffers Dislocated Finger

Liverpool goalkeeper Alexander Doni suffered a dislocated finger in Tuesday's friendly defeat to Rangers.

The 31-year-old summer signing from Roma was making a rare appearance for Kenny Dalglish's team in the Ibrox fixture.

Doni was also one of Liverpool's standout performers on a forgettable night for the Reds, but he had to be substituted after sustaining his injury when saving a Kyle Lafferty shot in the second half.

Dalglish confirmed the nature of the problem after the match and was unsure how long his back-up option to first-choice goalkeeper Jose Reina would be facing on the sidelines.

"He's dislocated his finger, though it's been put back in," Liverpool's manager told his club's official website.

"I don't know how long that takes to recover from, but it was good for him, aside from the injury, because he made a couple of decent saves. It was good for him to get a game."

Lee McCulloch's goal condemned Liverpool to defeat ahead of the Premier League club's match against Norwich on Saturday evening.

But Dalglish took some positives from the Rangers game, as Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio all returned to action after injury.

"It was worthwhile in some aspects," said the Scot. "We've got some boys who haven't played for a while, like Glen Johnson.

"He got injured before the end of last season, went with England, came back and has never really been fully fit since. For him to get an hour was important.

"For Daniel Agger to get some time after injuring his rib and the same for Fabio Aurelio - it's a useful exercise for some of the boys."

Liverpool Starlet Sends Another Message To Dalglish

Raheem Sterling again demonstrated his potential in Liverpool's reserves, despite the Reds' second string falling to defeat against Newcastle.

It was a thrilling encounter in the north-east on Tuesday night as the Magpies won 3-2 under the watchful eye of new boss Willie Donachie.

Former Anfield star Peter Beardsley had been in charge of the Newcastle reserves until last week, when he was promoted to football development manager at St James' Park.

Sterling, meanwhile, opened the scoring for Liverpool with a sumptuous curling effort to further reinforce his claims for a spot in Kenny Dalglish's senior side.

The 16-year-old has already had a taste of first team action after Dalglish named him in Liverpool's Europa League squad that travelled to Prague in February.

Sterling, however, did not make his Liverpool debut but continues to put himself in contention for a first senior appearance.

Despite some personal satisfaction for the young winger, it was a disappointing team performance last night as Newcastle overturned Sterling's opener.

Nile Ranger netted twice for the home side, before Michael Richardson made it 3-1 with a spectacular effort.

Michael Roberts did get a goal back for Liverpool, but it was not enough for Rodolfo Borrell's charges.

Legend Backs Kick It Out Campaign

Liverpool legend Alan Kennedy sported a blindfold to help promote the Kick It Out Weeks of Action campaign at Anfield on Tuesday afternoon.

The former Reds defender attended a special event, hosted by the club's Equality 4 All project, to support those affected by disabilities within the local community.

Youngsters from Myerscough College and St Vincent's School for the Blind were in attendance for a series of workshops that involved sessions with Guide Dogs for the Blind, as well as a focus on British Sign Language with the National Deaf Children's Society.

Liverpool Football Club's Social Inclusion Officer, Rishi Jain, who is heavily involved with the club's work during the Kick It Out Weeks of Action, said: "The work that the club completes alongside Kick It Out during this time and all year round is a significant part of challenging discriminatory issues both on and off the pitch.

"It allows Liverpool FC to further demonstrate its stance of anti-tolerance of discrimination in any form, regardless of an individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or religion."

Liverpool will continue their support of the campaign during Saturday's Barclays Premier League match with Norwich City when both sets of players will wear 'One game one community' t-shirts in the warm-up.

Young people from the Pagoda Chinese Community Centre, who participate in the club's Equality 4 All project, will then take part in some on-the-pitch activities, including a crossbar challenge in front of the Kop during the half-time interval.

Defender Martin Kelly has also backed this year's Weeks of Action campaign.

He added: "Everyone across the world should be able to enjoy their football no matter what race, culture, religion or sexual orientation. We have to unite and work together on the pitch, so it should be no different off it."