Friday, March 30, 2012

Kenny Hails Reds Improvement

Kenny Dalglish believes that Liverpool have made progress at all levels over the last year.

The Kop icon led the club to Carling Cup glory in February to help them clinch their first trophy since 2006.

That triumph was expected to signal the start of an assault on the league for a top-four finish, but over recent weeks the Reds have struggled and are now seventh in the table.

Despite their stuttering form, Dalglish is adamant they have made significant strides over the last 12 months.

"It depends how people view success. I view success as the club moving forward, and that's what we're doing. We've moved forward in lots of ways," he told the club's official website.

"Maybe at times it isn't always apparent, but on the pitch the club is moving forward, in and around Melwood it's moved forward, off the pitch it's moved forward, the Academy has moved forward.

"We just need to get our league results in better order and it'll be a happier story."

Liverpool will face Everton in what should be a captivating FA Cup semi-final and already have silverware in the shape of the Carling Cup.

Yet at Liverpool, they will always be judged on their standing in the league and the Reds chief knows they need to rectify those results.

He added: "We want to compete equally in every competition we're in. We've done tremendously well in the cups and we've got to recreate it in the league.

"It's not been that way this season. There have been a lot of fantastic performances but we've not got the results.

"The players are as disappointed as anyone else when we lose a game but we'll keep doing what we do day in, day out in training. At some stage I'm sure it's going to come right.

"We'll keep going the way we believe in. We certainly have made progress over the year, in lots of areas - not just the first team."

Reds Won't Rush Sterling

Kenny Dalglish is refusing to fast-track Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling into becoming a regular starter for the club.

Sterling, 17, made his debut in Saturday's defeat against Wigan as a late substitute and many fans at the club believe he should have already been introduced this term.

Dalglish has played fellow Academy graduates John Flanagan and Jack Robinson this term but he insists he will not fully unleash Sterling until he is physically ready.

"We need to have common sense and make sure we do a professional job on any of the kids coming in," Dalglish told the club's official website.

"Anybody who comes here must have a chance of being a professional footballer, but he's got a much better chance if we face reality. We've got to be realistic with him.

"At the same time we've got to be appreciative and realize it doesn't matter what age they are if they're good enough.

"But there is a bit of time to go yet on all of the kids. Last year we threw in Jack Robbo and Flanno and it never fazed them, but physically they were a bit stronger than Raheem. Every case is going to be different."

Kenny Dalglish Is The Right Man For Liverpool, Says Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer believes boss Kenny Dalglish remains "the right man to take Liverpool forward" despite the Reds' poor form in the Premier League.

The Reds have won the Carling Cup and are in the FA Cup semi-finals but have won only two league games in 2012.

Shearer, who won the title under Dalglish at Blackburn in 1995, said: "That is disappointing, but you have to be careful in criticizing Kenny.

"Liverpool entered three competitions this season and they could win two."

Dalglish takes his side to his old club Newcastle on Sunday, having lost four out of five league games since they won the Carling Cup on 26 February, and seven out of 11 since the turn of the year.

Despite their Wembley success and a resounding win in the Merseyside derby on 13 March, Dalglish has come under increased criticism from Reds supporters as their hopes of a return to the Champions League have disappeared.

With eight games to go, Liverpool lie seventh, 31 points behind leaders Manchester United and 13 behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

But Shearer, whom Dalglish signed for Blackburn for £3.3m in 1992 and also managed at Newcastle from 1997 to 1998, feels the 61-year-old's job is safe and says the Anfield club's fans should enjoy their side's successes in the knockout competitions.

Shearer told BBC Sport: "There is a big gap there and Liverpool are not going to get in the top four this season but it still could turn out to be a good one for them.

"It's there for everyone to see that their league form has not been good enough, but if they go home with two cups then that would certainly be progress, and surely that is what it is all about for Liverpool at the moment?

"If you were to ask an Arsenal fan which they would rather have, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup in the trophy cabinet or a finish in the top four, then that is a tough question for them.

"Of course Liverpool want both. Next season will be all about winning trophies and getting in the top four, because that's the size of club they are."

Roma Set Sights On Liverpool Striker

Luis Suarez could be the subject of a bid from Roma this summer, according to Italian publication Il Tempo.

Suarez has been an instant hit with Liverpool supporters since he made the switch from Ajax last year but has had his desire to stay in England tested after a string of controversial incidents.

The Uruguayan forward has endured a tumultuous first full season in the Premier League and was banned for eight games after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United earlier this season.

His wasteful nature in front of goal at times this season has also added to claims he isn’t happy on Merseyside and has helped give rise to speculation that he could be ready to make a move come the end of the summer.

Amidst rumoured interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Suarez announced he was happy on Merseyside recently, while Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre revealed earlier this month that talks with the £22.7 million man had begun over a contract extension.

However Il Tempo reports that Roma and their American owners are ready to splash the cash and land some big-name signings this summer, with Suarez apparently at the top of their list.

The paper reports that £25 million has been set aside by Roma to persuade Liverpool to cash in and sell one of their most prized assets.

Roma are believed to be gearing up for a major overhaul this summer in an attempt to get back amongst the big time, although whether the Reds will be willing to sell their leading striker for a fee not much greater than they paid little more than a year ago is highly unlikely.

Liverpool Interested In United Midfield Target

Liverpool have joined the race to sign Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, reports the Metro.

Martinez has a growing list of suitors after impressing for both club and country in recent years, and was an integral part of the Bilbao team that knocked Manchester United out of the Europa League earlier this month.

While United are said to be interested in snapping him up, Liverpool are reportedly ready to throw their hat into the ring for the 23-year-old’s services.

Martinez, who was part of the Spain squad that lifted the World Cup in 2010, was closely watched by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson during the Europa League tie and is reportedly a target for the Scot this summer.

However the Metro, quoting ‘reports in Italy’ suggests that Liverpool are willing to go up against their rivals to secure the services of the dynamic midfielder, however the Reds must also fight of the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan in order to secure his services.

Martinez is said to have a £34 million release-clause written into his contract, with the paper reporting that Liverpool are highly unlikely to be willing to meet that price.

United are believed to be willing to do business for around £24 million, although with Martinez contracted until 2016, Bilbao are under no pressure to sell come the end of the season.

Martinez himself has recently questioned the valuation places on him, admitting the he doesn’t value himself as a £34 million player.

"I do not think there's anyone who wants to pay so much for me," the player told Mundo Deportivo.

"I see it as too much money for me. I do not think I'm worth so much."

Dalglish Eyes Injury Boost

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is optimistic his team's mounting injury worries will ease as they enter the final phase of the season.

Charlie Adam remains the biggest concern after he damaged his knee in the defeat against QPR at Loftus Road.

Adam missed the defeat by Wigan at Anfield along with Craig Bellemy, Maxi Rodriguez, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly.

The Scotland midfielder remains the most serious concern and premature reports have circulated he could be out for the season.

Reds boss Dalglish is waiting for his medical team to carry out a full assessment before jumping to conclusions.

"Charlie's another two weeks and then we'll find out a proper diagnosis without people speculating what's wrong," he said.

"Rather than be inaccurate or incorrect or someone making up a story we will wait and see in a couple of weeks how long he's going to be out."

Liverpool's poor run of recent results was blamed on fatigue by Dalglish and he has looked to counteract that by giving his players two days off this week, ahead of Sunday's game against Newcastle.

"We have a very strong squad which has been stretched but so have other people who are in a similar position," he added.

"It was stretched at the weekend after three games in seven days but that has gone now.

"The clear week we have gives everyone a chance, if they have bumps and bruises, to get rid of them and it gives the boys another week to get fit.

"We should get a few back but is only Friday for a Sunday game. Everyone else is progressing, including Lucas Leiva (whose season was ended in November by knee surgery) who will obviously not play but who has done brilliantly in his recuperation."

Carroll Could Have Gone To Sunderland For Free Before Liverpool Move

Andy Carroll could have moved to Sunderland for free during his time at Newcastle, according to Magpies assistant John Carver.

The Black Cats were allegedly interested in signing a young Carroll before he was given his chance by the then academy boss in 2004.

The big striker went on to repay the faith shown in him by scoring more than 30 goals for the Tyneside club after his first-team breakthrough.

His form in both the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns saw him attract attention from a whole host of Premier League clubs, before he signed for Liverpool for a £35 million fee which made him the most expensive British player of all time.

And Carver admitted that he was pleased he had offered Carroll a professional contract rather than letting him move on.

He told The Chronicle: “It was like I stumbled across him. I went down to work at the Academy when Graeme Souness brought his own men in.

“And when I went down there, whether or not to keep Andy was one of the first decisions I had to make.

“The decision was do I give him a scholarship or not? After some deliberation we gave him a deal. My decision was the final decision and I was pleased that we made the right decision.

“Andy has gone on and earned the club £35million.”

Carver also expressed delight with the way in which the money earned from the transfer of Carroll had been used wisely to bring quality to the club.

"The money we got is back on the pitch," he said.

“Yohan [Cabaye], Demba [Ba] and Papiss [Cisse] have given us our mettle. This is how modern football works if you are looking to improve your team.

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice a player – but if you get three players back of the quality that we’ve got, then it is good business."

Rush Opens Reds New Boot Room

Liverpool legend Ian Rush was a hat-trick hero as he officially opened the brand new LFC Boot Room Sports Cafe at Cheshire Oaks on Thursday night.

A year on since Anfield opened its own Boot Room in the Kop, Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port was the venue as the Reds unveiled their latest restaurant.

And Rush rose to the occasion with familiar goalscoring style as he netted all three penalties in a brand new 'sim goal' spot-kick simulator, just installed at the new venue, which gives fans the experience - and the joy - of taking a penalty kick at the Kop end.

"I travel the world with Liverpool Football Club and I know how much this club means to many people far and wide, but to see us opening a new Sports Cafe just over the water in the Wirral is fantastic," said Rush.

"I'm from the Wirral myself and I'm really proud that Liverpool have come over here to Cheshire Oaks and opened this brilliant new place.

"We are a family club and this is a family restaurant. It's a place to bring the kids and to have a great time. I'm really proud to have cut the ribbon and officially opened it tonight. I'm sure it will go from strength to strength."

The Mayor of Ellesmere Port Cllr Angela Claydon spoke about the role the Boot Room can play in the continued development of the area before acclaimed impressionist Darren Farley and Star sailor singer James Walsh took to the stage to begin the entertainment on a star studded night in front of an invited audience, which included a number of former Liverpool players.

Liverpool FC Operations Director Andrew Parkinson explained: "This is the first step in taking the Boot Room franchise outside of Liverpool and I must say it looks fantastic.

"It's just over a year since we opened our first Boot Room and it's quite fitting that today the Boot Room here in Cheshire Oaks has leapt ahead of the one at Anfield in the Open Table restaurant reviews.

"The focus rightly will always be about what happens on the pitch - and we have had success this season in the Carling Cup with the FA Cup still to come - but away from the football we are moving forward as a club and this is another great example of that.

"The restaurant looks great, the food is amazing and the service is second to none. We are confident this is going to be a big success and we would encourage people in the area to come along and see for yourself what we have to offer. "

The Boot Room restaurant seats over 200 people in a 5,500 sq ft unit and has Liverpool memorabilia, private booths, TV screens and an outside children's area.

"We haven't been open long but the Boot Room has started really well," said Restaurant Manager Richard Simkin.

"We've been really busy, we regularly host parties, there are christenings planned for later in the year and talk of weddings as well, so we're very excited about what the future holds."

Ian Rush added: "I'd advise anyone in the area - Liverpool fans and non Liverpool fans - to come along. The Boot Room is in a great area at Cheshire Oaks, it's a state of the art restaurant with something for everyone and I'm sure you won't be disappointed."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reds To Tour North America

Liverpool has announced that they will face Roma in a pre-season friendly in Boston during a trip to North America this summer.

The Reds will play the Italian giants on 25th July at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, who share owners with the Anfield club.

The match will form part of the ballpark's 100th anniversary celebrations.

Manager Kenny Dalglish said: "We had a great time playing in front of our supporters in Asia last year and it will be good to give our fans in North America the chance to watch us live this summer."

The full schedule for the tour will be announced in due course but Liverpool's main base will be in Boston and they will train at Harvard University.

Managing director Ian Ayre is also looking forward to the tour, saying "It's been a few years since we last travelled to North America to play, but everyone's very excited about our plans for this summer.

"We'll work closely with our main sponsor Standard Chartered and our other partners in the region to put together a fantastic tour schedule, which will hopefully see us engage with as many fans as possible.

"Taking on AS Roma at Fenway Park will be a great experience, particularly as the ballpark is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary."

Carroll Nervous About Newcastle Return

Andy Caroll has admitted that he is feeling the nerves as Liverpool prepare to play Newcastle on Sunday in what will be a vital game for both clubs ambitions of achieving a top six finish.

Liverpool are currently eight points behind Newcastle who are level on points with Chelsea after a fantastic season that has seen Alan Pardew's side shock most pundits and observers.

However, it is an even more important game for Caroll who left Newcastle in January last year for £35million but has struggled to repeat his goal scoring exploits with Liverpool.

"I don't usually get nervous but this might be a bit different," Carroll told The Sun. "All of my family and friends will be there but they're so big on football I'm not sure who they'll be supporting.

"It's great to see Newcastle doing so well. I support them, was brought up there and was lucky enough to have played for them. They will always mean something."

Should Newcastle manage to beat Liverpool then they are almost certain to finish at least in sixth place, while the Reds can drop as low as ninth depending on other fixtures.

Dalglish has begun to come under pressure after spending so much money since taking over from Roy Hodgson but he has seen his club achieve cup success.

The Reds have already won the Carling Cup and will travel to Wembley to play their Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup semi-final next month.

Skrtel Deserving Of Liverpool Plaudits

It’s been a season of ups and downs for Liverpool, winning a piece of silverware in the shape of the Carling Cup but losing pace in the Premier League and almost certainly missing out on a top four finish.

And, should the Reds navigate an FA Cup semi-final against Merseyside rivals Everton, another domestic final could be on the agenda before the season culminates in May.

Of course, recent form in the English top flight has put a bit of a dampener on things at Anfield, with five defeats in six league matches hardly the form of world-beaters.

But, whilst the manager is receiving a certain level of criticism for the recent poor run, Kenny Dalglish must be credited with helping to get the very best out of defender Martin Skrtel.

The Slovak international’s presence at the club was already growing when ‘King Kenny’ took charge last January, and the Scot continued the 27-year-old’s momentum by playing him in every league match last season.

This term, things are much the same, and whilst the former Zenit St. Petersburg man has missed a couple of fixtures, he’s featured 28 times in the league and 36 in all competitions.

With injuries to Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger at different stages of the season, Skrtel has needed to take on a huge amount of responsibility in the side, and has been one of the veterans on the pitch in a lot of matches – especially during the periods of injury for Steven Gerrard too.

"I'm not sure how many years he has been here but he's improved every season," noted defensive colleague Daniel Agger earlier in the week.

"This year he has become better and better. I think in most games he has been our man of the match."

Summer signing Sebastian Coates was also quick to herald his teammate in the past few days, admitting he’s happy to bide his time at Anfield and learn in the shadow of Skrtel.

"Martin has been outstanding this season and is an example to me because he originally came from a completely different country with an alternate philosophy on football and has made himself a success,” said the Uruguayan international.

"During the sessions I watch all of my teammates closely because you can learn from any position, not just your own.”

For many years, it was Jamie Carragher whom young players looked up to at the club, with any foreign import hoping to emulate the club’s legendary defender.

But, with the former England international now in the twilight of his career and used more sparingly by manager Dalglish, it is Skrtel who now sets the model for other players to follow at the club.

It’s understandable, given his ferocity and vision at the back. Skrtel has won 80% of his aerial battles in the league this term, and on the ground won 76% of tackles made. His discipline is also pretty solid, with just one red card and two yellows.

A regular in the cup competitions, his equalizer against Cardiff in the Carling Cup final at Wembley was vital, and one goal in this season’s run to the FA Cup semi-final isn’t bad going for a centre back either. He’s notched four goals in all competitions.

Dalglish can’t take all the plaudits though, as Skrtel bided his time in his first two seasons at the club before capitalizing when the senior chances fell his way. Supporters will be hoping that Coates can follow suit and come of age at the club – if not next season then the following year.

His hard work and effort on the training ground has paid major dividends, and there is little doubt that the 53-cap international should win the team's player of the year award this term.

And, whilst Liverpool have struggled as a team, a case could be made for the centre half to be included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year when their awards ceremony comes around in April.

Liverpool Linked With Renewed Diego Approach

Liverpool could reportedly renew their interest in Brazil international Diego this summer, although he has not ruled out a move back to Wolfsburg.

The 27-year-old has spent this season on loan with Atletico Madrid, having fallen out with the Wolfsburg hierarchy after a series of misdemeanours at the German club.

According to talkSPORT, Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish had been keen to bring Diego to Anfield last year, and was considering another approach for the playmaker at the end of this season.

However, it would appear that Dalglish's chances of securing Diego's signature have suffered a setback, with a return to Wolsfburg now a possibility.

"Anything can happen. It is not only in my hands. I did many things wrong in Wolfsburg," Diego said, according to talkSPORT.

Diego made 32 appearances for Wolfsburg after only one season at the Volkswagen Arena, following a €15 million transfer from Juventus.

This season, he has scored three goals in 21 appearances for Atleti, who have the opportunity to sign him on a permanent basis when the loan agreement expires.

Liverpool Track €15m Lazio Midfielder

Liverpool are reportedly monitoring the progress of highly-rated Lazio midfielder Hernanes, although may face competition for his signature.

The 26-year-old Brazilian has scored 21 goals in 65 appearances for the Biancocelesti since moving to the Stadio Olimpico in the summer of 2010, and appears to be attracting plenty of interest.

According to Tuttomercatoweb, Liverpool are one of three clubs chasing the €15 million-rated former Sao Paulo star, with Juventus and Bayern Munich also in the race for his signature.

It is not the first time Hernanes has been linked with a move to Anfield, with Liverpool reported to have been considering a move for him prior to his switch to Lazio.

Whether or not an official approach transpired remains to be seen, but Hernanes eventually signed for Lazio in a deal worth some €11 million.

Benitez Plays Down Liverpool Return

Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has expressed his desire to find a new managerial role in the Premier League but has distanced himself from a return to Anfield.

The Spanish manager, who is currently without a club, claimed that he would be pleased to make a Reds comeback one day, but is not currently pushing the move out of respect for the club and current boss Kenny Dalglish.

Benitez left Anfield after his contract was ended by mutual consent in 2010 and went on to spend less than a season at Italian club Inter, but has claimed that his heart pines for a new job in England.

Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, the 51-year-old said: "Every time that I talk about Liverpool. I try to be respectful because of my relationship with the fans and the city.

"I'm a professional and I'm looking for a new job. At this time Kenny is the manager and I have a lot of respect for him.

"No rush. If Kenny retires in 10 years and I'm available, I would be pleased.

"I want to manage in the Premier League because I know, with my team, we can win trophies."

Dalglish has come under criticism of late as he has failed to carry the Reds' fine cup form into their Premier League campaign this season, with Liverpool currently sitting in a disappointing 7th in the table despite having won the League Cup and setting up an FA Cup semi-final clash with local rivals Everton.

Houllier Calls For Dalglish To Be Given More Time

Gerard Houllier has said that no amount of cup success will quell the "obsession" with the league title at Anfield -- but insisted that Kenny Dalglish needs at least another year to make a success of his second tenure as Liverpool manager.

The Frenchman, Liverpool manager from 1998 to 2004, said there is "too much expectation" at Anfield, but reflected also on the way that managers' reputations diminish too abruptly in football.

"In football, you can go from the attic to the basement very quickly so one day he is the hero and the next day he is the zero," Houllier said. "You have to be careful. Liverpool need another year to kick in. They have had a lot of recruitment done and a lot of problems, so give him some time.

"There was a time when David Moyes was criticized and Arsene (Wenger) was criticized -- see where they are now. It is a rollercoaster. They won the League Cup the same way we did in 2001. It is a good sign for the future. I think he is heading in the same direction."

Only Wolves have taken fewer Premier League points than Liverpool since January 1, and Dalglish's haul of eight from a possible 33 in 2012 is less than the total managed by predecessor Roy Hodgson in his last 11 games.

Gerrard Backs New Campaign

Steven Gerrard has lent his support to a new initiative that aims to tackle the growing issue of obesity and associated disease in youngsters in the UK.

The Liverpool Football Club Foundation teamed up with the Zesh Rehman Foundation to pilot the 'Get Up, Get Moving' project at the city's Shorefields secondary school.

Gerrard is the ambassador of the educational initiative, which has been designed to increase awareness of physical activity, healthy eating and consequences of inactivity and poor lifestyle choices.

The UK has one of the highest rates of obesity and inactivity in Europe and the rest of the world - and statistics are on the increase.

Get Up, Get Moving believes prevention is better than cure and therefore aspires to educate children on the importance of healthier lifestyles now.

The messages are promoted via five one-hour lectures (which is how much physical activity is recommended for children per day) and is delivered by the school teachers, who are supplied with all relevant materials.

This pilot project is headed up by Liverpool's first-team doctor, Dr. Zaf Iqbal and Irfan Kawri, the Zesh Rehman Foundation's north-west coordinator.

After two small pilot studies in Manchester, the pair were delighted to bring the program to Liverpool and are confident the increase in knowledge and awareness amongst youngsters will continue.

Dr. Iqbal said: "It's very important. If we just look at current figures, every day we read in newspapers about the increasing rates of obesity and this, unfortunately, is going to cause massive problems in the future.

"Britain has one of the highest rates of obesity in both adults and kids, and associated with this are the chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. This will have a huge impact on the individual, and also on the NHS in terms of cost.

"I've been involved in promoting physical activity in various community groups over the last eight years. I heard about the Zesh Rehman foundation and they then made contact with me. Together, we came up with this project - and because I am working at Liverpool Football Club, we thought it would be a good idea to use the power of LFC to add to the message we are trying to get across."

Dr. Iqbal is delighted to have the support of Gerrard, whose appearance as Shorefields helped enforce the positive messages of Get Up, Get Moving.

He added: "It's absolutely fantastic to have someone like Steven Gerrard become the ambassador for the project. He's got kids himself and as a sportsman, he's aware of the importance of healthy eating. To have his profile attached to this message is fantastic."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Enrique Sees Progress

Jose Enrique considers Liverpool to have taken strides forward this season and believes they have the potential to go from strength to strength.

The Spanish full-back was among those drafted in by the Reds last summer as they set about rebuilding their squad under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish and the ownership of Fenway Sports Group.

It was always going to take time for a new-look side to reach its peak, with fresh faces requiring time in which to settle in new surroundings and tweak their game to fit a new system.

Liverpool has, however, been able to end their six-year wait for a trophy by landing the Carling Cup and remain in contention for a top-six finish in the Premier League.

Enrique believes progress is being made and is confident the Reds can put their Anfield frustrations of this season behind them as they head into a brighter future.

"In the cups we are doing very well, in the league I think we deserve more than where we are now," he told the club's official website.

"But the truth is we are in seventh position.

"We have played good football in many games but against Wigan (on Saturday) we didn't deserve to win.

"This team is in production. The owners have signed young players. I think we have a really good squad already but of course we have to improve - everyone.

"The manager takes pressure for us and of course that is good. But the truth is, when we make mistakes or have a bad game, we know where the mistakes come from. Who plays the games? The players. Who has to win them? The players too.

"The players are frustrated just the same (as the fans)."

Dede Rejects Liverpool And United Move

Vasco da Gama defender Deda has ruled out a move away from Brazil.

The 23-year-old has been linked with a string of club from throughout Europe.

Both Liverpool and Manchester United have reportedly expressed an interest, but Dede is ready to reject any advances for the time being.

"I am not ready to leave," Dede told Brazilian newspaper Lancenet. "When I am, I will say. Right now, I have to enjoy what is happening to me at Vasco. It is too soon to leave.

"Brazilian football is making me grow, I feel ready to represent the Selecao in a good way without having to leave the country."

Dede's eye for goal, as well as his defensive authority has seen both Liverpool and United linked with his services.

With Rio Ferdinand yet to sign a new contract and Jamie Carragher expected to retire in the summer, both sides could be looking for added defensive resources this summer.

However, even the carrot of Champions League football doesn't appear likely to tempt Dede, despite the success of several Brazilian internationals in the Premier League.

Chelsea's midfielder Ramires has enjoyed his best season in English football, while defender David Luiz has also found his second season at Stamford Bridge a more pleasant experience after a turbulent first six months.

PSG Launch £5m Move For Liverpool’s Forgotten Man

Joe Cole has emerged as one of Paris Saint-Germain’s top transfer targets as they plan their ambitious summer spending.

Cole, who is on loan from Liverpool with French club Lille, is on Carlo Ancelotti’s shopping list.

The midfielder’s loan spell with Lille ends in May and Liverpool are prepared to listen to offers for Cole at the end of the season.

He has flourished in French football and Ancelotti’s wants to make him part of one of the grand project at Paris St Germain.

Lille want to keep Cole, but his £130,000 a week salary is a huge problem for them.

Liverpool has heavily subsidized his wages during his spell in France, but Cole is not prepared to take a drop in money when he makes his next move.

He still has two years remaining on his contract at Liverpool and although they will let him quit for £5m, his wages are an issue for Lille.

Liverpool Face Old Firm Competition For Young Defender

Liverpool will face tough competition from both Celtic and Rangers if they want to land Tranmere defender Danny Holmes, claim talkSPORT.

It is reported that the 23-year-old would prefer a move to Scotland ahead of joining Merseyside rivals Liverpool because his first-team opportunities will be greater north of the boarder.

Despite their recent financial problems, Rangers are believed to ahead of rivals Celtic and Premier League Liverpool in the race to sign the centre-back.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Holmes’ agent Jonathan Hope said: “I have had open talks with Rangers regarding Danny Holmes and it was looking positive until the current crisis at Rangers happened.

“This will soon be resolved. He will improve the team and it’s important to me as his agent to ensure that he goes to the right club.

“I have spoken with Danny and he would love to be a Rangers player as he wants to play at the highest level.”

Holmes has played 15 matches in League One for Tranmere this season.

Carroll Hails Gerrard

Andy Carroll has described Steven Gerrard as an inspirational figure and admits he used to pretend to be the midfielder when he was a kid playing in the park with friends.

The 31-year-old Liverpool skipper has led from the front for both his club and country and won admirers all over the world with his all-action displays.

A typical example of a match-winning performance came when he scored all three goals against rivals Everton in the recent Merseyside derby.

And Carroll believes Gerrard has lost none of his drive over the years and says he still has to pinch himself when he is playing on the same pitch as his boyhood idol.

"You see Stevie playing the way he did against Everton, scoring three and driving the team on. It was really inspiring," Carroll told LFC magazine.

"I used to watch him when I was younger and pretend to be him on the field with my mates. I'm very lucky to be able to share a dressing room with him now. It's unbelievable.

"He's had an amazing career but you still know he's desperate to achieve more.

"It's the hunger you see every day, the determination to win more games, win medals and trophies."

Liverpool Prepare £8.4m Transfer Bid For Barcelona Flyer

Damien Comolli realises more flair and width required at Anfield.

Liverpool are watching Barcelona B starlet Cristian Tello, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

The 20 year-old tends to play on the wing, typically in either wide position in a front three, and his education at Barcelona academy La Masia would no doubt give him a fine start in his footballing career.

However, there is no certainty that the Catalan club will let Tello go.

The Spanish youth international has not just performed well for Barcelona B this season; he has also excelled when called upon in Barcelona’s first team.

Pep Guardiola has given him a chance in eight La Liga matches with the first team this season, with all but one coming from the bench.

Tello has returned his manager’s faith with three goals coming against Real Sociedad, Osasuna and Granada.

Of course, Barcelona is rather well stocked in his position, with Alexis Sanchez, Pedro Rodriguez, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Affelay arguably considered ahead of him in the club’s pecking order.

Whether that means he becomes surplus to requirements at Camp Nou is a different story, but perhaps a bid from Liverpool would test Barcelona’s resolve to keeping him.

AS report that Tello has a release clause in his contract of €10m (approximately £8.4m), and it is thought that Damien Comolli is mulling over submitting an offer close to that amount.

Of course, the Frenchman hasn’t had the greatest success in the transfer market so far, with none of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson or Andy Carroll blowing people’s minds, but that is no slight on Tello.

Lucas The Missing Liverpool Link

When searching for reasons to explain Liverpool’s troubles this season, it’s hard to look past the injury to Lucas Leiva.

The Brazilian international, who has won over the fans after five seasons at Anfield, started the season brightly for Kenny Dalglish’s side as a first team regular under the Scot.

However, an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Carling Cup win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November put the former Gremio starlet out until next season.

Lucas had to do things the hard way at Anfield, arriving for £5 million under Rafael Benitez in 2007 with great expectations.

However, times were tough in his first two years with the club, being booed off by fans and competing for a regular place against the likes of Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard.

But, whilst it clearly took the 25-year-old time to adapt to English football, Lucas showed signs of finding his feet towards the end of the 2008-09 season, and would feature in 35 Premier League games the following year.

When Roy Hodgson signed Christian Poulsen the next summer, suggestions were that Lucas could fall down the pecking order. However, the 20-cap international outshone his rival, and when Kenny Dalglish took charge in January he remained at the heart of the side.

The fans were suitably impressed, voting Lucas the Player of the Year on their official website.

The current campaign appeared to be going the same way for as well for Lucas, with 15 starts in all competitions before the trip to west London cut short his campaign.

Since the injury, Liverpool has won just five Premier League games, picking up 19 points from 17 games in the process. Whilst success in the Cup competitions has masked such poor form, the recent bad run has served to highlight the team’s ongoing difficulties in the English top flight.

That compares to 23 points from 13 games before the injury – a quite clear discrepancy. And, whilst the injury is obviously not the sole problem on Merseyside, it has amplified other issues.

Jordan Henderson, who has under-performed this season, has played more minutes than would have been expected if Lucas was fit, for example.

For the Brazilian, his current aim is to keep working hard on rehabilitation, and return stronger than ever next season.

"I know everyone is disappointed (about Wigan defeat), but we need to move on and keep working. My rehab is going well and hopefully I will be fit for next season. It was a bad injury so I need to recover properly to be strong again," said Lucas on Twitter over the weekend.

He will return to a difficult schedule though, with Europa League football assured thanks to the Carling Cup final victory over Cardiff City last month. Dreams of a place in the Champions League are all-but over though, after five losses in six saw the Reds lose tough with the fourth-place pack.

Dalglish will have to treat Lucas with care on return, and may have to re-think his strategy in terms of playing his strongest sides in Cup competitions.

Realistically, the clubs first team regulars will not be able to challenge on all fronts without a certain degree of burnout. If ‘King Kenny’ is saying his players are tired now, then it’s going to be even worse next season.

In that sense, the priorities will be clear to see very early on next season. Are Liverpool a cup team, looking to add silverware to the trophy cabinet, or a team looking to return to the top four and club football’s elite in Europe?

Either way, Lucas will probably be able to help with one of those tasks – it just remains to be seen which one.

Adam Out For Rest Of Season With Knee Ligament Damage

Liverpool have been dealt another midfield blow as Charlie Adam has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee ligament injury.

The former Blackpool man was forced off the field in Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat to QPR on March 21 and it is now being reported that it will be several months before he will be able to return to the action.

It is believed the midfielder has damaged his lateral knee ligament and will face a battle to be fit in time for next season and any hopes of playing for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics have diminished.

The Reds are already without key man Lucas Leiva until next season and with Kenny Dalglish’s side struggling lately, youngster Jonjo Shelvey will have to step up.

Since his arrival from the Tangerines last summer Adam has failed to impress at Anfield, picking up just two goals in 35 matches from his advanced midfield position.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dalglish: Reds May Need Change Of Style

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has suggested his side will need to revert to a more direct style of play if they are to improve on an underwhelming Premier League season.

The Reds are currently mired in seventh in the league table - closer to West Brom in 14th than Newcastle in sixth - after a desperately inconsistent season that has been characterized by poor home form and off the field distractions.

That continued on Saturday, as Wigan stunned their hosts at Anfield to win 2-1 - just days after the Merseyside club had thrown away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against another relegation-threatened side, QPR.

Despite this, Dalglish believes the criticism his side have attracted has been unfairly warranted - although he did suggest that he will be changing his tactics in the search for an upturn in fortunes.

"It's amazing," Dalglish said of the criticism of his team. "You can pick out our league form and then you can look at someone else who has been knocked out of three cups, yet they take that as a good season for them.

"It depends how you depict it. We are not saying we were at our best [against QPR and Wigan] but there were circumstances, with three games in [seven] days.

"We have got a problem winning games in the league. We have to educate ourselves and maybe we have to not play the lovely football that we have been."

When pressed on that last statement, the Scot added: "Maybe we have to change our philosophies a wee bit."

Continuing to defend his side, Dalglish suggested that injuries had savaged his squad's strength in depth and made it difficult to cope with a fixture pile-up - hinting that he would ask for further reinforcements in the summer.

"If we hadn't had as many injuries, we could have freshened it up a bit but we have not got that luxury at the moment and we have to get on with it," Dalglish said. "The body was willing but the mind just wouldn't take them there. We can look at every game and we can find valid reasons - and we are not looking for excuses, we are looking for reasons.

"That was [Jamie Carragher's] third game, Steven Gerrard's third game, there were a few of them had their third game in seven days and that is a long run, especially when you have travel in between.

"Maybe that is the price you have to pay for success but for us, if we want to be successful, we have to be able to handle it. The best way we can handle it is if we have more players to choose from but at the moment we are not blessed with that."

Reds Eye African Trialists

Liverpool is understood to have offered trials to three of Ghana's brightest young talents, Sky Sports understands.

Bright Gyenfi, James Akaminko and Nurudeen Amed are all due on Merseyside next month.

The trio hails from Prampram Mighty Royals Football Club, who recently produced starlet Masahudu Alhassan and has just made the breakthrough at Serie A outfit Genoa.

Gyenfi, 16, is a right-back, whilst 18-year-olds Amed and Akaminko are midfielders.

The trio is set to arrive at Liverpool later in April, with the hope of impressing the Reds' youth coaches.

Liverpool are understood to have been one of a number of Premier League clubs alerted to the teenagers, and they have been the first to make a move.

Charles Amankwah of Asante Kotoko is also believed to be of interest to Liverpool and could also join his fellow countrymen for a trial stint in England.