Thursday, April 26, 2012

Carragher Calls For Improvement

Jamie Carragher has warned his Liverpool team-mates they will need to play for their FA Cup final places in the league fixtures against Norwich and Fulham.

The club have won the Carling Cup and beaten fierce rivals Everton to reach the Wembley showpiece against Chelsea.

But despite their heroics in cup competitions, Liverpool have one just once in the last six league games and have now slipped to eighth, two points behind their neighbours with four games left.

And Carragher is expecting the battle for FA Cup final places to be reflected by some much-improved performances as the league campaign draws to a close.

The 34-year-old defender told Liverpool's official website: "It's all to play for in terms of cup final places, but we're going into these games to get three points because we need to move up the table.

"Of course, if you perform well in these games, you have a greater chance of playing in the final.

"And certainly, we all want to play in the big games. There are two games now before the final and I'm sure the manager will mix it up because the Fulham game is just before the cup final.

"We'd like to finish above Everton but I'd rather win the semi-final, like we did against them, than if they were to finish above us."

Gerrard - Forget About FA Cup

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has urged his team-mates to forget about the FA Cup final - and concentrate on improving their league position.

Gerrard admits three top-flight wins in 2012 is not good enough for the Merseyside giants, who are facing their worst position and points tally since the launch of the Premier League.

And Reds forward Dirk Kuyt says the players will still not be satisfied with their league campaign, even if results improve in their final four games of the season.

Kenny Dalglish's men currently sit in eighth position and only four points separate them from 14th-placed Stoke.

They have enjoyed greater success in the domestic cup competitions, having won the League Cup by beating Cardiff in February and reaching the FA Cup showpiece at the expense of Mersey rivals Everton earlier this month.

But Gerrard said: "We know our league form hasn't been good enough, particularly in the second half of the season. We have to concentrate on getting it right - and forget about Chelsea in the FA Cup final."

Kuyt added: "Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, we will not be satisfied with our league position.

"We are playing for Liverpool and when you do that you have to win every game. We have lost too many games and too many league points.

"We can't look back, we want to change things and we have to do that now by winning as many games as possible between now and the end of the season."

Meanwhile, Liverpool will begin their pre-season tour of north America with a friendly against Toronto FC.

Major League Soccer outfit Toronto will host the Reds on 21 July.

The fixture will take place at the 47,000-capacity Rogers Centre, which is also the home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

Liverpool has already lined up a friendly against Roma on 25 July, at the home of the Boston Red Sox - who share the same owners in Fenway Sports Group.

The Reds will also play Premier League rivals Tottenham in Baltimore on 28 July.

Liverpool Told To Pay £10m To Land Hoffenheim Midfielder

Hoffenheim are hoping that they will be able to keep hold of midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson by slapping a £10million price tag on the player who has impressed for Swansea since joining on-loan in January.

The Iceland international moved to the Welsh side at the turn of the year and has scored seven league goals in his 14 appearances for the club, attracting the attention of a number of Premier League sides.

The Daily Mirror has reported that Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish watch the midfielder in action at the weekend against Bolton, while Everton sent coach Jimmy Lumsden and Manchester United asked Martin Ferguson to report on the youngster.

The paper goes on to explain that while Swansea would also like to keep Sigurdsson, the German side knows that there could be a bidding war and want at least £10m for the 22-year-old.

Liverpool have struggled for goals all season and especially from midfield where Jay Spearing and Stewart Downing have not scored a single league goal, while Jordan Hendeson has just one.

In fact Sigurdsson would be the second top league scorer in the Liverpool side, with Luis Saurez the only man to score more with eight league goals this season.

One factor that could possibly help Liverpool is that the German side are managed by former Red Markus Babbel who enjoyed a successful spell on Merseyside.

Liverpool Hoping To Improve Squad With Benfica Winger

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish knows that he must improve his squad in the summer after a difficult season in the league and it seems he will start by trying to sign Benfica winger Nolito.

According to Talksport, the midfielder is rated at £15million after joining the Portuguese side last summer on a free contract after decided to reject an offer from Barcelona.

The 25-year-old made more than 100 appearances for Barcelona B where he was managed by current Barca boss Pep Gaurdiola, but he struggled to make the transition to the first team.

After making the move to Benfica, Nolito has continued to impress both in the league and in Europe where he was a member of the side that knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.

Nolito has scored eight league goals in 26 appearances, while he has scored three goals in 12 appearances in Europe, as Benfica reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Talksport have reported that Portuguese newspaper Record believe that Liverpool are strong favourites to land the versatile midfielder who is contracted to Benfica until 2015.

Liverpool have struggled to find goals from midfielder all season, with Stewart Downing and Jay Spearing without a league goal, while Jordan Henderson has scored just one Premier league goal.

Dalglish Held Meeting With Inter Milan Striker

Liverpool have made an approach for Inter Milan striker Luc Castaignos in the hope of completing a summer deal for his services, reports in his native Holland have claimed.

Much was hoped of the 19-year-old when he moved to the San Siro from Feyenoord in June of last year, having scored 16 goals during his debut season in the Eredivisie.

But Castaignos has made only six appearances for Inter this season, five of which have come as a substitute, and he could yet leave the club after only one year in Milan.

According to esteemed Dutch football magazine Voetbal International, Liverpool are aware of his situation, and he has previously held a secret meeting with Kenny Dalglish regarding a move to Anfield.

The Liverpool boss reportedly informed the youngster he would like him to move to Merseyside during the January transfer window, but Inter have put any potential deal on hold until the summer.

Dalglish is now expected to reignite his interest in the youngster at the end of the season, in the hope of bolstering his goalscoring options in time for the next campaign.

Castaignos certainly has plenty of potential, and his acquisition could be seen as quite a coup for Liverpool.

Liverpool Consider Andy Carroll Loan

Liverpool will contemplate sending beleaguered striker Andy Carroll out on loan next season, as the Merseysiders plot a summer overhaul of their forward options.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is targeting up to five new players when the transfer window re-opens at the end of the season, and having seen his side score just 40 times in the league this term, adding extra fire power is a certain priority.

Valencia's Roberto Soldado, Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente and FC Groningen's David Texeira are all under consideration by Dalglish, who has once again been promised substantial funds by owner John W. Henry, in a bid to continue revamping his under performing squad.

Yet the arrival of a big name striker will force Dalglish into making a decision on £35 million flop Andy Carroll - with talk on Merseyside suggesting he will be allowed to leave Anfield on a short-term loan deal, should the right offer arrive.

Dalglish toyed with the idea of letting Carroll quit the club last January, on the suggestion of then Director of Football Damien Comolli, but stuck with the 23-year-old, who has netted two crucial goals in his last three games.

However, if Liverpool can land a top quality partner for Luis Suarez, and can find a suitable club, Carroll will be allowed to move on loan until the New Year, in a bid to re-discover the form that saw him capped for England in 2010.

Elsewhere, Liverpool will also listen to offers for Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt - a target for Hamburg - while Dani Pacheco, currently on loan in La Liga, has been told he is free to negotiate a permanent transfer.

Exciting youngsters Nathan Eccleston, Jonjo Shelvey, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling are also likely to leave, but only on loan, while Spain Under-19 winger Suso could be promoted to the first-team, if he continues his fine form for the reserves.

Clough Plans Raid For Liverpool Starlet Robinson

Derby boss Nigel Clough is set to raid his former club Liverpool for promising young defender Jack Robinson.

Clough has watched Robinson in action for the Reds' reserves and hopes to take the 18-year-old left-back on loan for the whole of next season.

Robinson, who became the youngest ever first-team player for Liverpool when he came on against Hull as a 16-year-old in 2010, has played twice in the Carling Cup this season.

After coming through the ranks at Anfield, Robinson signed a long-term contract towards the end of last year.

He said at the time: 'I've just got to keep working hard in training. I can't just sit back on this contract.

'I've got to keep improving and showing people what I'm about.'

Clough, who was a Liverpool player between 1993 and 1996, has steered the Rams to a mid-table finish in the Championship.

Liverpool Could Have Cole And Aquilani Back For Next Season

It had been assumed that Liverpool would sell both Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani at the end of the season but it now seems as though the midfield duo could yet play for Liverpool again.

The decision was made by Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish to loan both players out after he signed Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam, but all three have failed to live up to expectation.

Yesterday it was revealed that Aquilani was no longer wanted by AC Milan and that the Italian club was keen for the midfielder not to make 25 starts as this would evoke a £6million transfer clause.

Should Milan decide not to keep the Italy international then he will be forced to return to Liverpool in the summer where it seems be could be teaming up with former Chelsea man Cole.

The Daily Mail has reported that Lille is struggling to find the money that would allow them to sign the creative midfielder who has impressed in France on his season-long loan.

Lille president Michel Seydoux has openly voiced his concerns that the club will not have the funds needed to sign the player who also has wages of around £90,000-a-week.

"It’s rare that an England international comes to France and that he then publicly declares he wants to stay," Seydoux is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

"We will see. I haven’t found a machine yet that lets you make beautiful bank notes by pedalling. It’s true that the league table will have a bearing on Lille’s recruitment."

Lille are currently third in Ligue 1 and there ability to sign Cole may well depend on them achieving Champions League football which would bring in extra revenue.

Both players have struggled to hold down a regular first team place when at Liverpool, but the Reds have struggled in the league this season and have been short of goals from midfield.

Liverpool Ready To Appoint Comolli Successor

Liverpool academy director Frank McParland is believed to be a strong candidate to replace Damien Comolli as the club's new director of football strategy.

McParland is being touted for the role according to the People, who claim that Kop boss Kenny Dalglish is keen on aligning himself with Liverpool's former chief scout.

Comolli parted ways with the club a fortnight ago after Liverpool's owners, the American-based Fenway Sports Group, reviewed the Frenchman's position following the big money acquisitions of Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.

Liverpool co-chairman Tom Werner recently described Comolli's departure as the result of a “disconnect” in the club's transfer strategy.

Dutch legend Johan Cruyff has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the role. However, commenting on rumours that he was to join Liverpool's back-room staff, Cruyff said it was “just talk”.

Another name to be linked to the vacancy is former Barcelona sporting director Txiki Bergirstain, who is commended for helping mould the Spanish giants into the dominant force in European football.

However, it appears as though McParland is favourite among the Kop. McParland is credited with helping to develop the latest raft of players to come from Liverpool's Melwood academy. The emergence of Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly and John Flanagan have been in part down to McParland's ability to identify new talent.