Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Liverpool Mooted As Holding Riccardo Montolivo Interest

Liverpool have been linked with a swoop for Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo.

The Italy international is in demand as the January transfer window approaches, with just six months remaining on his contract compelling La Viola to accept a knockdown fee for his services.

A move within Serie A appears Montolivo’s most likely course of action, with both AC Milan and Juventus keen on the 26-year-old.

However, there is significant interest outside Italy.

From Germany, giants Bayern Munich are keeping tabs on the playmaker’s situation, while Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain has also been mooted as a potential destination.

In England, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a long-time fan of Montolivo, though Liverpool’s interest is more recent.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish appears overstocked with midfield talent, but nevertheless, Liverpool are thought to be monitoring the Italian’s transfer status.

For Fiorentina, an auction for the Azzurri star would be a favourable outcome, likely as it is to push up the eventual sale price.

Chelsea And Liverpool Track Goalscoring Dijon Midfielder

Chelsea and Liverpool are tracking French midfielder Benjamin Corgnet.

Sources from France have confirmed that the English duo have taken a liking to the 24-year-old, who currently turns out for Ligue 1 outfit Dijon.

Scouts from both Andre Villas-Boas’ and Kenny Dalglish’s sides took in Dijon’s weekend clash against Bordeaux, a game in which Corgnet scored the second goal in a 2-0 win for Les Rouges.

The Frenchman has appeared in 13 Ligue 1 games this season, finding the net a prolific six times so far – it is little surprise that Corgnet’s form has attracted such interest.

Corgnet’s story is an astonishing one, with the player only joining the professional ranks in 2010, moving to Dijon from French fifth-tier side Monts d’Or Azergues.

Dijon coach Patrice Carteron will be reluctant to lose his attacking midfielder, especially with the club shaping up to be involved in a relegation scrap during the second half of the season.

And under contract until 2015, Dijon is thought to require at least €7M to part with their star.

Corgnet himself would surely jump at the chance to move to either Stamford Bridge or Anfield though in what would represent the culmination of a remarkable two years of progress.

Comolli Tracks Valencia Hotshot Soldado

Liverpool’s director of football Damien Comolli has identified Valencia’s in form striker Roberto Soldado as a target he feels will give his Anfield side a much needed injection of fire-power.

The 26 year old former Real Madrid man has got his career back on track in the last three years after stagnating at the Bernabeu and is now attracting the attention of many prospective suitors and is fighting his way back to the fringes of the Spanish national team set-up.

Soldado spent three troubled seasons in the Real Madrid first team without making an impact and made the move to minnows Getafe in July 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. The Valencia born striker struck 33 goals in two seasons at the Coliseum Alfonso PĂ©rez before being lured to his hometown club.

Last term he netted 25 for the Mestalla side and has followed that up with 10 in 16 this term and Comolli has scouted the predatory finisher with a view to making an offer in the region of £15m to test the water.

Valencia have suffered financial problems over the past few seasons that has led to the sales of stars David Silva, Raul Albiol and David Villa and there may well be a need to sell once again to balance the books and Soldado may well be interested in a high profile move that could help assist in his pursuit of a return to the Spanish national team after more than three years out of Vicente Del Bosque’s squad.

January signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have not gelled together and whilst the Uruguayan has been in consistent form, scoring goals and being a constant attacking threat, the £35m signing from Newcastle United has had a limp start to his Liverpool career.

Kenny Dalglish may feel it a necessity to bring in further striking options, not least because David N’Gog was offloaded to Bolton and alternative options Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt are now primarily wide players.

LeBron James Humbled By Liverpool History

NBA superstar LeBron James says reading up on the history of Liverpool FC has humbled him, with the Miami Heat player revealing his newfound admiration for manager Kenny Dalglish and captain Steven Gerrard.

James, 26, recently became a minority shareholder in Liverpool and made his first visit to Anfield last month to watch the Reds draw with Manchester United. The US basketball icon tweeted his delight at being part of a matchday crowd at the time and has since immersed himself in the club's history.

Talking to The Guardian about his Anfield tweet, James said: "That came from the simple fact of how passionate and loyal those fans are. But to walk through the facility the day before - to see all the history and achievements was very powerful.

"Liverpool have won 19 [actually 18] league championships and it meant a lot to read about King Kenny and Steven Gerrard - a hometown kid who now captains the team. And then to be at Anfield and see 40,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs, the whole game, was an unbelievable experience for me."

And James believes that Dalglish's current Liverpool crop can recreate the glory days of the 1970s and 80s, during which time the Merseysiders were the dominant force in English football.

"Any time you have so much history and so much power behind their story, there is great potential to continue that expansion," James said. "Liverpool is definitely one of those clubs. They really are like Manchester United - and the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees.

"There are some teams and logos you see, no matter where you are in the world, and you know exactly who they are and what they mean. I see Liverpool in that group. They're striving to be a champion and I'm striving to do the same. It would be great if we could do it in the same year."

And despite being one of the world's most famous sportsmen, James says he was humbled by the fact that some of Liverpool's star players were aware of who he was.

"King Kenny is something else!" he said. "His accent is very strong. So it was very difficult to understand what he was saying - but it was great being around him and [Luis] Suarez and Gerrard and Dirk [Kuyt] and those guys. I was very humbled that they knew me."

Spearo And Seb Star In Reds Win

Jay Spearing notched a brace and Sebastian Coates fired his first goal in a red shirt as Liverpool Reserves saw off high-flying Sunderland 5-1 in the Barclays Premier Reserve League North on Tuesday afternoon.

The Uruguayan got the home side off to the perfect start when he stabbed home on two minutes before Spearing thundered in the second with a brilliant effort from distance.

The diminutive midfielder then added a third just prior to the interval as Rodolfo Borrell's charges bounced back from their NextGen defeat in Lisbon in style.

Ryan Noble struck a late penalty for the visitors after Coates was penalized for a foul, but it did little to dampen what was a fine overall display as substitute Nathan Eccleston had the final say with a sublime double in front of the watching Kenny Dalglish and Luis Suarez.

Ahead of the encounter the reserves had enjoyed a training session with the first-team and there were a quartet of Melwood-based stars involved who would go on to play the whole 90 minutes.

Jon Flanagan, Danny Wilson, Spearing and Coates came in to add some invaluable experience to the hosts and the latter made an instant impact.

Suso found space down the right and whipped in a delicious cross that Coates was on hand to steer home from close range.

Sunderland may well have been stunned by Liverpool's attacking intent from the kick off but they responded immediately and Noble was unlucky to see his effort from a tight angle flash across the six yard box after rounding Martin Hansen in the Reds goal.

Jordan Cook then exchanged a one-two before scuffing a shot off target as the Black Cats illustrated just why they had come into the game level on points with the league leaders.

It had been a lightning start to the proceedings and Raheem Sterling should have made it two on 10 minutes but his low shot was easily beaten away by 'keeper Lewis King.

Adam Morgan then saw a goalbound shot blocked as Liverpool poured forward, but just as it seemed like the chance had gone begging up stepped Spearing to make it two.

The midfielder picked up the loose ball and had time to set himself from 25 yards before arrowing a sensational drive into the bottom corner.

Less than quarter of an hour on the clock and the Reds were well in the ascendancy.

Next, Morgan went close when he was thwarted by King while at the other end Noble brought the best out of Hansen with a snap shot.

Liverpool were full value for their two-goal cushion but it got even better on the stroke of half-time when Spearing netted his second of the match.

The No.20's first shot was parried by King and when Morgan's follow-up was blocked, Spearing reacted by racing into the area and coolly tucking into an empty net.

The visitors would have been shell-shocked by the interval scoreline and they came out for the second period with renewed vigour.

Roarie Deacon nodded a tame header into the grateful arms of Hansen while Craig Lynch should have done better when he dragged a low shot from close range into the path of Coates, who hacked to safety from inside his own six yard box.

On the hour mark Borrell opted to freshen it up, replacing Morgan with Eccleston, who had recently returned from a loan spell at Rochdale, and his first touch almost created a fourth goal of the afternoon.

The striker sent Sterling rampaging in on King but once again the young winger hesitated when clear and saw his shot easily stopped by the Sunderland custodian.

Such was Liverpool's dominance that right-back Flanagan twice got into advanced positions but despite his best efforts he could not get his name on the scoresheet.

With time ticking down Sunderland pushed forward and eventually got a consolation on 82 minutes when Coates brought down Lynch, giving Noble the chance to convert from the spot.

However, Liverpool had the final say when Eccleston turned well before firing home a superb fourth.

And the frontman showed great pace and awareness to net his second deep into injury-time when he raced through and clipped a delightful shot over the advancing 'keeper.

Borrell: Sporting Lisbon Feel Current Youth Team Their Best Ever

Sporting Lisbon believe they have something special inside their youth system. Sporting thrashed Liverpool in last week's NextGen clash.

And Reds coach Rodolfo Borrell revealed on "I think Sporting are up there as one of the main contenders for the title. I have some experience working in a great youth system at Barcelona, and now here at Liverpool. If I look back at my 14 years in Barca's youth system and analyze all of my squads, I think I had just one that was better than Sporting. In fact, during 20 years I have only faced three teams with similar qualities.

"When we spoke with the Portuguese team's staff while we were in Lisbon they told us that they believe it to be the best youth team in their history. That is a massive statement when you consider that they are famous for bringing through talent such as Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. What they have with that team is special."

Calling All Reds In UAE

As part of its sponsorship of Liverpool Football Club, Standard Chartered Bank is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for one boy and one girl.

Our lucky winners, accompanied by their parent or guardian, will travel to the UK and be a Liverpool FC mascot, walking out with the team on two match days in February 2012.

The Standard Chartered Liverpool contest requires answering five simple questions. See the Standard Chartered UAE Facebook page for more details.

20 lucky kids will be selected to take part in a real penalty shoot-out competition at the Dubai Mall Ice Rink on 25th November witnessed by Liverpool FC Legend, Ian Rush from 5-7pm.

The Mascot prize also includes AED500 Dubai Mall gift voucher, air tickets to Manchester and accommodation for two.

Radio listeners can also tune in to the Tom and Dan radio show on Dubai 92 from 4 to 8pm for a chance to win till the 24th of November.