Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dalglish To Raid Barcelona For Midfield Ace

Liverpool have contacted Barcelona to find out whether the Spanish giants would be willing to part with midfielder Seydou Keita when the transfer window opens in January.

Respected Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has been in touch with the reigning La Liga champions over the availability of Keita.

The Mali international has been with Barcelona since the summer of 2008 when he made the move from Sevilla to the Catalan side in a deal believed to be worth around €14million.

Keita has gone on to make more than 100 league appearances for Pep Guardiola's side but has never managed to become first choice in an incredibly strong Barcelona midfield.

The box-to-box midfielder has to compete with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Javier Mascherano, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Andreas Iniesta for a starting berth in the centre of midfield and is often asked to start games from the bench.

The 31-year-old has started five league games this season but has been linked with a move after big spending Russian club Anzhi declared their interest in the midfielder.

Keita was Guardiola's first signing and is currently under contract at the Nou Camp until 2014 and it is believed that Barcelona would demand at least £14million for the midfielder.

Liverpool has plenty of options in midfield but it seems as though Dalglish is keen to add some more experience to his side.

Reds Land US Starlet

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of USA youth international Marc Pelosi.

The 17-year-old midfielder has arrived at Anfield from Californian-based side De Anza Force.

He has played 28 times for the US Under-17s and scored eight goals, and captained the side in this summer's youth-level World Cup in Mexico.

Liverpool confirmed the news and their academy director Frank McParland revealed their delight at concluding the move.

"We're determined to identify the best possible talent globally and I'm delighted we've been able to bring Marc in to the club," McParland told the club's official website.

Suarez - Room For Improvement

Luis Suarez claims there is more to come from him and his Liverpool team-mates this season, insisting there is always room for improvement.

As a club, the Reds will feel that they still have work to do, with league leaders Manchester City having already opened up a 12-point advantage.

Kenny Dalglish is determined to return Liverpool to the Premier League's top four, but must add consistency to a squad brimming with world class talent.

Suarez certainly fits into that category, with the Uruguayan having been a revelation at Anfield following his January arrival from Ajax.

He has been the club's standout performer this term, but believes he can get even better and help to haul the Reds forward by converting more of the opportunities that come his way.

"I'm happy because the team has been performing well but as a striker I am always going to get plenty of chances and I could probably have converted one or two more," said Suarez.

"I also know strikers go through periods where they are trying so hard to score and they don't always go in.

"The main thing is I am playing well and the whole team is playing in the right manner.

"I think all of the lads are playing well and although we know we have some injuries to key players like Stevie and Carra, we know we have players who can step up and perform well.

"That's the good thing about having such a big squad - we have the quality for anyone to come in, do a good job and replace these players.

"But we still know we can do that little bit better."

Suarez's fine form this season has been recognized with three successive player of the month awards at Anfield, but the South American claims his monopoly on that particular prize has left him feeling slightly awkward.

"It's a bit of a surprise because to win it three months running makes me almost feel a bit embarrassed," he told liverpoolfc.tv.

"But as long as people realize I'm just doing my job and I'm working hard for the team then that's great.

"I think if we had managed to pick up a couple more victories in those games we deserved to - the home games against Manchester United and Norwich - we'd obviously be a little bit higher up the league."

Houghton Backs Reds Revival

Former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton has been thoroughly impressed with the contribution of Reds midfielder Stewart Downing, and insists the Anfield club have the ability to achieve a top-four finish this year.

Following the England international's £20million move to Merseyside in the summer, Downing has been a virtual ever-present in Kenny Dalglish's new-look side, making 15 appearances for the Reds.

"I've been impressed with Stewart Downing's all-round ability," Houghton told talkSPORT. "He's got a lot more to his game than I thought he had.

"He's linked with well with Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez. It's a work in progress, [but] Downing's end product needs to be better.

"He's been in some fantastic positions and that final cross or shot has let him down a bit, and he needs to score more goals."

The disappointing result against Swansea at the weekend was Liverpool's third consecutive home draw, leaving the club sat in sixth place in the table, three points off of a UEFA Champions League spot.

But Houghton is confident that there is more to come from the Reds, and has backed them to finish the season on a high.

"I honestly think Liverpool isn’t far away from putting a good run of results together consistently," he continued. "They'll be there or thereabouts for fourth place.

"People are always too quick to say Liverpool should be doing a bit better but the games that they've drawn they could have easily won.

"They weren't games that they were going to lose. In most of them they dominated the match and it's just the finishing that let them down."

Downing Out To Seize Chance

Stewart Downing has set his sights on establishing himself as a regular in the England side ahead of next summer's Euro 2012 finals.

Downing made his international debut in February 2005 and then remained on the fringes of the team for some time as competition for places was fierce.

He has become an increasingly important player since Fabio Capello took charge but recognizes that he will have to keep performing well for the rest of the season to book a place on the plane for Poland and Ukraine.

The Liverpool winger is in the squad for Saturday's friendly against world and European champions Spain and is determined to impress if given the opportunity.

"I'm really enjoying it and I've been involved a lot in the qualifying campaign," Downing said in the Daily Star.

"We've qualified and the important thing for me is to take my chance when I get it and hopefully go to the Euros. I've had mixed experiences with England over the years but I've certainly enjoyed it, even though it has been a bit up and down.

"But I don't want to just make up the numbers. I want to be involved and I want to play.

"The main thing for me is to prove I'm good enough for that level.

"I'm enjoying it at Liverpool and that's the main thing I have to concentrate on for Fabio to pick me."

Downing played a starring role against Bulgaria in September and then came on during the 2-2 draw with Montenegro last month that ensured England's qualification for Euro 2012.

He is confident the Three Lions can challenge for glory next summer if they arrive at the tournament with everyone fit and in form.

Downing added: "I enjoyed the game in Bulgaria. There was a lot of attacking play, I thought we gelled quite well.

"It was nice to get on in Montenegro, be involved and help the team qualify.

"If we can get to the Euros in good shape, then I'm confident we can do well.

"We certainly have the players and the quality."

Gerrard Eyes Last Chance

Steven Gerrard is eyeing Euro 2012 as a now-or-never opportunity to win silverware at international level, after admitting this summer's tournament could be his last for England.

Gerrard, 31, is entering the twilight years of an outstanding Liverpool career that has yielded success in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and Carling Cup. The midfielder, so often labelled the talisman of the Reds, has even been spoken of as the club's greatest player.

However, having struggled with injuries early in his career, Gerrard is now experiencing some unwanted symmetry towards the end of his playing days. A severe groin problem kept the Liverpool skipper out for the first few months of the season, and now it appears an ankle infection will further hinder his availability.

Certainly Gerrard will not feature for England in the two forthcoming friendlies against Spain and Sweden, but he will hope to be fit in time to make an impact at Euro 2012.

England players have been accused of not caring after under-par performances at major tournaments in the past, but Gerrard insists he will be doing everything to ensure he leaves the international scene with no regrets.

"If you put things into perspective, we've only been successful at one tournament ever and that makes you realize just how difficult it is to be successful at this level," Gerrard told the Daily Mirror.

"I'm 31, I'll be 32 by the time Euro 2012 comes around, so, whatever happens, I'll be treating it as my last one.

"But it would be nice, if this is to be my last tournament, to get to a semi-final or a final rather than come away disappointed like we have been previously."

Borrell Verdict On Rovers Stalemate

Rodolfo Borrell praised the battling qualities of his side as Liverpool Reserves played out a goalless draw with Blackburn in Leigh on Monday night.

The young Reds produced a gritty and determined display to gain a point against a strong and physical Rovers outfit.

Both sides had chances to win the game and Conor Coady almost found a winner right at the end but his header was cleared off the line.

"It was a very competitive game and I was really pleased with the lads as the the difference between the two sides in terms of size and age was massive," Borrell told Liverpoolfc.tv.

"We had some good chances and we deserved at least a point.

"We have a very young side and they are getting better and learning with each game."

Midfielder Conor Coady added: "I thought the boys worked very hard. We started really well and could have scored.

"We dug in deep in the second half and probably should have won with the chances we created."

Gerrard Deal A Liverpool Certainty

Reports that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has opened talks with the club over a new contract will come as no surprise to the Reds' loyal fans.

Few players command such respect, or hold a position of similar responsibility, at any club around the World, let alone in England, and it's something that the club's American owners have been quick to realize.

Fenway Sports Group have made a conscious effort to impress the fans at Anfield since taking over from Tom Hicks and George Gillett on Merseyside, with the appointment of Kenny Dalglish following the sacking of Roy Hodgson an example of giving the fans what they want.

"I wasn't convinced when we arrived that Kenny should be back managing and I wanted things to work with the manager we inherited. But the fans knew much more than I did," admitted John W. Henry last month.

The fans also know, and firmly believe, that Gerrard remains crucial to any future success the club may have under the guidance of 'King Kenny'.

A product of the club's youth system, the 31-year-old made his debut for the Reds back in 1998, and has since helped the club claim two FA Cups, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

His position as a club legend is already well secured, but ending his career at Liverpool is something FSG are eager to make happen, even with the current run of injuries which have kept the central midfielder out for months at a time.

American sports clubs are traditionally quick to 'cut' players, particularly those suffering from injuries, in an effort to get as much back for the player as possible.

However, keeping Gerrard, whose current contract expires in 18 months, would easily provide Liverpool with the best value possible, given his close-knit affiliation to the supporters.

Having almost joined Chelsea on three occasions during Jose Mourinho's reign at Stamford Bridge, it now seems impossible to think of the 89-cap international plying his trade anywhere other than Anfield.

And, with the Daily Telegraph claiming a two-year extension is to be offered, it now seems a very realistic possibility that Gerrard's entire career will be solely spent at Liverpool.

That's what makes a legend.

Reds Sign With Turkish Tourism

Liverpool Football Club has today announced a new two-year partnership with Turkish Tourism.

The partnership is the first of its kind for Turkish Tourism in the UK and will include advertising rights and other benefits.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool FC Managing Director, said: "Turkey is a great country and we all have fantastic memories of our European Cup win in Istanbul in 2005.

"Through this partnership the Club can provide Turkish Tourism with significant brand visibility and access to our supporter base to help raise awareness of their tourism opportunities."

Tolga Tuyluoglu, Director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in London, said: "I am delighted that Turkey will be an official partner to such a historic club. I am sure that all Liverpool fans will have positive associations with Turkey already, following their dramatic Champions League win in Istanbul back in 2005. We hope to build on this to create a dynamic partnership.

"The city of Liverpool is known for its music and culture; its world-class galleries, museums and landmarks, which of course provides a body of shared values for us to work with. Over one quarter of those taking package-holidays to Turkey do so from the North West of England so this area is very important to Turkey. Of course, the fact that Liverpool FC plays in red and white is a bonus too!"