Friday, December 02, 2011

Leroy Fer Lined Up By Liverpool As Lucas Leiva Replacement

Liverpool are poised to step up their scouting of FC Twente midfielder Leroy Fer, after Lucas Leiva revealed he fears facing up to six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The Reds have been chasing versatile enforcer Fer with a view to a summer transfer.

But with Lucas sustaining damage to his knee during Tuesday night's 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Carling Cup, Kenny Dalglish's hand looks like being forced much sooner than expected.

Fer only joined Twente during the summer, following three seasons with Feyenoord, in which he established himself as vice-captain and earned a call up to the Dutch national team.

Newcastle and Everton were previously following the 21-year-old, while Feyenoord also turned down an offer from Juventus before Fer sealed a £5million switch across the Eredivisie in August.

However, the midfielder hasn't fallen off the Premier League radar, with Liverpool making several checks on his development in the last few weeks, along with team-mates Ola John and Luuk de Jong.

It's thought a bid in the region of around £10 million would be enough secure his services, and with Fer being at home anywhere in the back four as well as defensive midfield, he would provide manager Dalglish with plenty of options.

Eagles Chairman Eyes Reds Final

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has admitted he would love to face Liverpool in the Carling Cup final should the Eagles overcome fellow Championship rivals Cardiff.

The South London outfit dumped a second-string Manchester United side out the competition on Wednesday night thanks to a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory at Old Trafford.

Palace managed to avoid Premier League big guns Liverpool and Manchester City in the draw for the last four, but will start as underdogs against their Welsh opponents.

However, Parish is hopeful of a dream final against Kenny Dalglish's Reds, whom they beat 4-3 to claim a place in the 1990 FA Cup final.

Parish feels another encounter against them would be great reward for the club after their battles with administration and relegation in recent years.

He told talkSPORT: "I am sure Cardiff was hoping for us.

"They'll feel they have got a chance and we were hoping for them.

"We could probably make more money out of Manchester City or Liverpool but we have been in one Wembley final in our history.

"It would be absolutely amazing for us to get there.

"No disrespect to Man City but I have got a soft spot for Liverpool.

"Kenny was manager when we beat them 4-3 in the semi-finals. You never know, this would be a dream, a fairytale after everything we have been through, to get there.

"But we have got a tough couple of league games in front of us and Cardiff will feel they can do the same."

Henderson Wants To End Wait

Jordan Henderson is focused on returning Liverpool to Wembley after more than a decade away from the home of English football.

The Anfield club has not played at the national stadium since losing the 1996 FA Cup final to old rivals Manchester Unitedcourtesy of Eric Cantona's late goal.

Liverpool has won FA Cups, League Cups and Community Shields in their 15-year Wembley absence, but all of those successes came at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

England Under-21 international Henderson, a multi-million pound summer signing from Sunderland, is shocked by the statistic.

However, with a Carling Cup semi-final looming against Manchester City, the midfielder is determined to end the wait, as he said: "I'm surprised it's been so long. I didn't know that.

"For such a big club like Liverpool, you'd have thought we'd have been at Wembley since then.

"But I'm sure it won't be long before we're at Wembley again. We've got a two-leg tie to come and it won't be easy.

"But if we put in the right attitude and commitment into the game then I'm sure we can come away with good results."

Liverpool booked their place in the Carling Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Tuesday just 48 hours after drawing with City in the Premier League.

Manager Kenny Dalglish was far from happy at the congested fixture list, but Henderson, who played a full part in both matches, was pleased to be involved.

He said: "You have to fight for your place every week and I'm happy to be playing anywhere for Liverpool."

Permanent Anfield Exit Looms For Liverpool Midfielder

It seems as though the likelihood of Joe Cole securing a permanent exit from Liverpool is growing, as Lille striker Moussa Sow has outlined the impact that the 30 year-old loanee has had in France.

Cole is halfway through a season-long spell in France with the Ligue 1 champions and has impressed greatly over the 17 matches he has featured in across all competitions.

Indeed, Sow was determined to highlight the 56-cap England man's influence in helping his side to third place in the domestic league table.

"He's a great pro,” the Senegalese frontman told RMC Sports. “Along with [David] Rozenhal, he is the first in the locker room in the morning.

“He is always there ready, he is very involved and highly motivated, even when he's not playing. It's a surprise to see him like that.

“[The move] was a gamble for the club, and so far it's been successful.”

Although Kenny Dalglish will not be too downhearted by Cole's inevitable move, having gathered his own team since arriving at Anfield in January, his loss may be to the gain of another Premiership club.

Lucas Ruled Out For The Rest Of Season

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has vowed to return stronger from a knee injury which has ended his season.

The Brazil international damaged the anterior crucial ligament in his left knee during Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

Lucas was carried from the field on a stretcher after a clash with Juan Mata and his - and the club's - worst fears were confirmed by a scan.

The 24-year-old was inundated with messages of goodwill on Twitter and he responded in kind.

"Just to confirm that I will be out until the rest of season," he wrote.

"I am really sad with the news because I was enjoying [it] a lot on the pitch.

"I am sure I will come back stronger and I will achieve everything that I dream with the LFC shirt.

"I am sure I'll never walk alone."

The midfielder's absence is a huge blow for Liverpool as Lucas had been on of their best performers not only this season but the previous campaign as well.

In the last fortnight, in particular, the Brazilian has shown his worth with impressive performances against Chelsea in both the Barclays Premier League and Carling Cup victories and also in the 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City on Sunday.

He has forged a successful central midfield partnership with summer signing Charlie Adam, undertaking the defensive anchor role to allow the Scotland international to play a more expansive game.

Lucas was Liverpool's player of the year last season, having been named the best young player the previous campaign, and the hole he leaves in the side is considerable.

Liverpool obviously feared the worst and after an initial assessment yesterday they recalled midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at npower Championship side Blackpool.

The ideal scenario for manager Kenny Dalglish would be a swift return for captain Steven Gerrard.

He has made just five appearances this season, having had a delayed start after recovering from a groin operation in April, and has not played since October 22 because of an ankle infection.

Gerrard, however, is a vastly different player from Lucas and his comeback would mean the defensive responsibility being passed to Adam.

He has already shown his worth in being given the freedom to get forward but he may now have to curtail that side of his game.

No timescale has been placed on Gerrard's return so in the short-term the defensive midfield role could be passed to Jay Spearing.

The 23-year-old has been used as back-up this season as, in five appearances, four starts have been in the Carling Cup.

However, his game is more suited to a defensive role and he proved his quality in the latter stages of last season when he deputized for Gerrard.

Despite Shelvey's recall from Blackpool, where he had scored six goals in 10 matches, he appears more likely to provide added depth on the bench.

Liverpool's other central midfield option is Jordan Henderson, who would no doubt prefer a move inside to a more familiar position having struggled out on the right where he has spent most of his time since joining from Sunderland in the summer.

The news about Lucas was confirmed in a short statement by the club.

"Liverpool FC said a scan had confirmed an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in Lucas Leiva's left knee," it read.

"The Brazil international will undergo surgery and unfortunately be ruled out for the remainder of the current campaign."

Carra Rues Lucas Blow

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the Reds have lost their 'best player' after midfielder Lucas was ruled out for the season.

The Brazilian suffered cruciate ligament damage during Tuesday night's Carling Cup success over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and is now facing a long spell on the sidelines.

Lucas has established himself as a key member of the Anfield outfit's engine room, having previously been regarded with disdain by many supporters.

And veteran centre-back Carragher feels that his impact over this season and last term has been as significant as that provided by star striker Luis Suarez.
Best player

The former England international said: "For the last 18 months, in my opinion, he has been our best player.

"Luis has come in and done great things for the club, but Lucas has been his equal in many ways.

"He has been as good as anyone in the team this season."

And Carragher has saluted Lucas for the way he has stood firm and won the fans over following his £5million move from Gremio in July 2007.

"I have been there in terms of receiving criticism," the 33-year-old added.

"High standards are expected when you play for one of the big clubs and there are plenty of examples of players who have gone missing after realizing the demands on them.

"But you can tell he is a top player as he never let that bother him - he just got on with it and plays in nearly every game.

"If he has a little knock, he will always try and carry on, doing his best for us. There are lots of different characters but you can't fault Lucas."

LFC Backs World Aids Day

Liverpool Football Club has given its backing to World Aids Day.

World Aids Day has been held on December 1 since 1988 with the aim of fighting prejudice and educating people about the disease.

Mark Haig, LFC's manager for Action for Health, said: "Liverpool Football Club is supporting this international health campaign because we're aware of the devastating impact that HIV has caused many people globally.

"We support the main messages of the campaign with regard to using protection and being aware to protect your future health."

It's Been A Fantastic Year

It was in the sweltering late afternoon heat of Dubai where Gavin Laws, Head of Corporate Affairs for Standard Chartered, watched the last group of children leave the football pitch at the end of the final soccer clinic of the calendar year.

With hundreds more kids having benefited from the chance to enjoy a game of football under the eyes of Liverpool's acclaimed community coaching team, it was a case of being another job very well done as Liverpool FC and our main club sponsors again came together to provide once in a lifetime opportunities for our faraway fans.

"Our partnership with Liverpool was always going to be about more than us just handing over a cheque," said Laws. "That was key in the early discussions. We quickly discovered that both of us had an intuitive desire to help people less privileged than ourselves and I think that's why our partnership has gone from strength to strength since we first came together.

"We want to help people. We want to be out there in the local community. We want to be doing our bit to give kids chances they wouldn't ordinarily have and I think the way ourselves and Liverpool have worked together to achieve these sorts of things this year is fantastic."

The Dubai soccer clinic last week, led as usual by Liverpool FC Club Ambassador Ian Rush, was the fifth such clinic since Standard Chartered signed the deal to become our main club sponsors, with the opening clinic in Kenya last year being followed in 2011 with events in London, Seoul, Mumbai and now Dubai.

"Soccer Clinics were always something we wanted to do because as well as generating exposure for our bank it was an opportunity for us to take Liverpool into some of our markets which are really exciting and growing all the time," he added. "I think some have had more talented footballers than others, but all have had their own individual highlights and all have left a legacy which people in those parts of the world will talk about for some time to come. That's what it's all about.

"Of the four this year, the greatest talent was probably in Korea but then the event in London was spectacular. Most recently we have been to Mumbai and Dubai, two places where football perhaps isn't as popular, but the kids who took part there all enjoyed a great experience as well and the comments we get from the people involved suggest we are making a difference in the lives of young children.

"In Mumbai, for example, we took kids out of the slums to play football. These kids don't have the facilities to go and kick a ball around in the fresh air, so it's a pretty special experience for them to be given that chance.

"We have been delighted with all of the clinics we have run so far. There will be more next year but I think we may do things a little differently. There will always be sessions for children with special needs or for our staff's children to get involved, but I think we'll set up regional competitions or something like that in a bid to get a better standard of players coming along. At the moment it has been a case of anyone can come and work with the Liverpool coaches, but these guys have more skills than just organizing a kickaround so it may be that we look to see if we can increase the standard. I'm not saying we'd find a player who can go on to join Liverpool's Academy - although that would be nice - but it would be good if we could just up the standard a little bit at times."

Aside from the success of all four soccer clinics during 2011, Laws insists the summer pre-season tour of Asia was his own personal highlight from the last twelve months as the Reds took China, Malaysia and Singapore by storm over eight unforgettable days in July.

"It was far bigger and better than I ever could have imagined," he says. "The fans were unbelievable and the reaction was incredible. Arsenal and Chelsea were in that part of the world at the same time but it was all about Liverpool as far as the media were concerned and we were front page news day after day. It was fantastic and we can't wait to do it again.

"The magic of Kenny continues to impress us all, of course. He came in and changed the mood of the club almost straight away which was pretty incredible. The team are performing well, results are good and hopefully we can end this season having got back into Europe."

So as well as hoping for a return to continental football over the next year of our sponsorship, what else is the man who negotiated the deal on behalf of Standard Chartered eighteen months ago wishing for?

"We just want to keep working well together," he says. "When the deal was struck there were a lot of things we didn't know about each other. What really is Liverpool's ethos? We have since discovered we share the same values and beliefs. It's been a great partnership and I couldn't fault anything the club have done so far, they have been fantastic.

"One of the impressive things is that I speak to a number of sponsors of other football clubs and they look at ours with Liverpool and they ask us how we do it. That says everything to me.

"For us as a sponsor we want to continue to give people access they never would have been able to get before. We've taken multi billionaires from the Asian market to Liverpool and they've sat in the director's box. You can't get a cheque book out and buy that.

"Working with some of the club's legendary players - and with Ian Rush in particular who has been with us at the soccer clinics - has been amazing. Rushie has been great; Phil Thompson has helped out, Alan Hansen and Kenny as well. I don't think these guys realize how famous they are some of the time and how much joy they bring to youngsters or older fans who remember them from their playing days.

"We've got a lot out of the first season and a half of this sponsorship and we've now got to check in with the club and make sure they are getting what they want. Ian Ayre (Managing Director) and Graham Bartlett (Commercial Director) at the club have been very receptive to our ideas and they have lots of ideas of their own as well. I think it's working well and I'm already looking forward to 2012."