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.