Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rodgers Insists Players Must Stake Claim For Starting Place

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists that every member of his squad will be given the chance to stake their claim for a place in the side, as he familiarizes himself with his new team.

The former Swansea boss, who took over Liverpool following the recent departure of Kenny Dalglish, reassured his players that they would be given the chance to shine, despite the club being linked with a number of potential signings, including Gylfi Sigurdsson and Gaston Ramirez.

As reported by, Rodgers underlined his new approach, but admitted that he is looking to make improvements to a Liverpool side who finished the Premier League in eighth place last season.

“The cycle with Kenny was a terrific cycle, but I'm a different tactician and a different type of person and that will give all the players an opportunity to perform,” he said.

“I've got to assess all the players to see if they fit into the philosophy.

"I know what we've got, more or less, in the squad, but I also know there are a couple of signings that could really improve what we do.

"I think there are a few players who can come in and improve the group straight away. I know the types of player I need to bring here to make us function well and that's something myself, the club and the board will look at.”

One player who will be hoping for a second shot is Joe Cole, who spent last year on loan at French side Lille, after a disappointing first season at Anfield.

Cole, who joined Liverpool on a free transfer from Chelsea in 2010, struggled with life on Merseyside, but is aiming to rectify that under Rodgers.

“Joe is a very talented player,” Rodgers said. “He's obviously gone out to Lille and done very well. He has the opportunity to come back here and show his qualities.

"For me, it's fresh for everyone. Of course, I know lots of the players and their qualities, but Joe is obviously a player who'll want to come back and show his worth to the group."

Liverpool Could Lose Out In Bid For Italy Star

Liverpool may be thwarted in their bid to sign former Chelsea man Fabio Borini after one of the forward's co-owning clubs, Parma, expressed their intention to keep him in Italy.

The 20-year-old left Stamford Bridge for Parma last summer, before moving on loan to Roma the following month.

The Italy international made an impressive start to life at Roma and the capital city club decided to pay Parma around £1.8m for half of the player's ownership rights in January.

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had been tipped to make a move for Borini after the youngster enjoyed a successful loan stint at Swansea in 2010/11 under his tutelage.

However, Parma's sporting director Pietro Leonardi believes Borini could be returning to the Stadio Olimpico next season.

"Borini? With Roma we have a very good relationship," said Leonardi.

"We've thought about renewing the partnership, but all the three components - Parma, Roma and the player - must agree."

Liverpool Keen On German International Defender

Liverpool are being linked with a move for German international defender Benedikt Howedes.

The 24-year-old is being ‘tracked’ by the Reds following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers, according to talkSPORT, with the Northern Irishman eager to strengthen his backline at the earliest opportunity this summer.

Having spent his entire senior career at Schalke, Howedes already has experience at Champions League level, and earned his first cap for the national team under Joachim Loew last year.

"His greatest strengths are in the centre of defence, but he can play in any position across the back and always has a role to play," noted Loew.

Having represented his country at a variety of youth team levels, Howedes has built up a big reputation domestically, and was handed the captain’s armband at the Veltins-Arena last season.

Capable of playing at full-back as well as in central defence, Howedes helped Die Knappen finish third last season, securing a return to the European Cup for next term.

Whether he’s still playing for the club next season is now up for debate, although it’s unclear how much Liverpool would have to play to bring the player to Anfield.

Madrid Striker On Liverpool Radar

Liverpool are being linked with a move for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, according to reports.

TalkSPORT claims the 19-year-old has been given permission to look elsewhere this summer, with Los Blancos ready to let the talented teenager leave for interested parties.

Both Newcastle and QPR are also said to be interested, whilst Wigan Athletic also missed out on a bargain £1 million deal for the player back in January.

With a decision expected from the player in July, new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will have to weigh-up his options and consider if the £30,000-a-week wages can be justified on a Spanish U19 regular.

Having scored 17 goals for Madrid’s ‘B’ team – the Castilla – expectations were high that he might be able to break into the senior setup. However, Jose Mourinho is willing to let the player leave, and he’s asked his agent to negotiate a possible move to England.

Were Liverpool able to bring the player to Anfield, striker Morata would play alongside the likes of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Sigurdsson Free To Talk Terms

Gylfi Sigurdsson has been granted a fortnight's leave by Bundesliga employers Hoffenheim to try and push through a move to England.

The Iceland international is keen to secure a permanent switch to the Premier League after shining during a loan spell at Swansea last season.

He linked up with the Swans in January and starred for Brendan Rodgers' side as they preserved their top flight status in style.

Swansea made it clear that they were keen to do a deal, and a club record transfer fee was agreed with Hoffenheim.

Rodgers has, however, since vacated his post at the Liberty Stadium and inherited the managerial reins at Liverpool.

The Reds are now considered to be firm favourites to secure Sigurdsson's signature.

A confusing transfer saga remains up in the air, though, and Hoffenheim have allowed the 22-year-old midfielder to take a 'prolonged holiday' in an effort to put an agreement in place.

A statement released by the German outfit read: "Gylfi Sigurdsson will not be with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for the start of pre-season. He has, after consultation, obtained a prolonged holiday until 30th June.

"The club wants the 22-year-old to continue to secure a future in the Premier League."

Hoffenheim head coach Markus Babbel added: "Gylfi wants to stay in England and is in negotiations there. Thus, it makes no sense for both sides for him to return to Hoffenheim, perhaps only for a few days."

Babbel has, however, made it clear that Sigurdsson will be expected back in Germany if no deal is arranged before the end of June.

He said: "If, by the deadline on 30th June, he has done nothing, then he is here and will return to his pre-season with us. We have agreed this with him."

Liverpool And Everton Boosted In Pursuit Of Inter Youngster

Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Inter Milan starlet Luc Castaignos after the forward's former club Feyenoord pulled out of the race to sign him.

The 19-year-old joined Inter last summer after scoring 15 goals in his first two seasons at Feyenoord, but the forward was sparsely used last term, making just one Serie A start, and Liverpool and Everton are reported to be monitoring his availability.

A return to Feyenoord was touted as a possibility for Castaignos, but their technical director Martin van Geel says the forward is not on his way back to the Netherlands.

"They (Inter) want to sell Luc rather than loan him," said Van Geel. "Inter even have a price in mind that is even more than we sold him for. For Feyenoord it is absolutely impossible."

Earlier this week Castaignos confirmed his intention to leave the San Siro this summer.

Speaking to Sky Sport 24, he said: "[The club and I] have decided that I will be sold. Inter wants to loan me to an Italian team, but I do not want this. In Italy I only want to play for Inter, so I have decided to move on.

"I left Holland only to play for Inter, but this is not looking possible now, so I will leave. Of course I am sad, but this is football and the club and I have made this decision."

Liverpool Face Battle To Keep Reina

Liverpool will have to convince Pepe Reina that Liverpool can match his ambitions after it was reported that Italian giants AC Milan are interested in signing the Spanish goalkeeper.

Reina has never intimated that he would like to leave the club but he will certainly not have been happy with the performance of the club last season after they finished eighth in the league.

Liverpool have missed out on Champions League football for the second successive season and will have a mountain to climb in order to challenge the top four.

Milan's current number one is Christian Abbiati, who at 34-year-old, is considered to be coming towards the end of his career and boss Massimo Allegri may look to find a replacement.

The Daily Mail has reported that Milan have made Reina their number one target and are hoping to strengthen rather than sell after turning own a £37million bid for Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain.

Liverpool would certainly not want to lose the goalkeeper who has seen a number of his international colleagues leave the Reds in recent seasons, with Fernando Torres, Albert Riera, Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa all leave.

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will certainly hope to convince his keeper to stay but the lure of Champions League football and pushing for league titles may be a major draw.

Agger Would Welcome New Deal

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger says he would be open to the offer of a new contract at Anfield and is looking forward to meeting new manager Brendan Rodgers.

Denmark international Agger, whose Euro 2012 exploits ended on Sunday after his country were eliminated, is contracted on Merseyside until 2014 but would welcome the chance to extend his deal.

The 27-year-old, who joined Liverpool in 2006 from native club Brondby, is keen to meet Rodgers after being impressed with his results at Swansea.

"It's no secret that I'm happy to be in Liverpool. Otherwise, I would not have been there for six years," he told

"I have not [discussed a new contract] but if they come with an offer I will surely sit down and talk with them.

"It's not something that is urgent, for I have contract until 2014, but if they ask I will listen.

"I am looking forward to meeting the new coach. I've seen what he has done at Swansea, and it has been impressive."

Agent: Aquilani Will Not Terminate Liverpool Deal

Outcast Alberto Aquilani looks set for a return to Liverpool following the conclusion of his loan deal with AC Milan, but the player will not look to terminate his contract according to agent.

The Italian club were unwilling to make an offer to secure the player on a permanent basis and midfielder’s representative has rubbished claims the he will look at other avenues to secure a move away from Anfield.

Aquilani spent a season at the San Siro after failing to impress former Reds manager Kenny Dalglish, but with no move elsewhere lined up it looks likely that he will be coming back into the fold under Brendan Rodgers.

The player's agent, Franco Zavaglia, outlined Aquilani's current situation claiming that a move back to Liverpool is the only option at the moment.

"Almost certainly he will not terminate his contract with Liverpool," Zavaglia told Sportitalia.

"He could join them [Liverpool] at the beginning of July to start pre-season training with the English club.

"At this time there are no clubs interested in him."

Juventus also turned down the chance to sign the player when he had a loan spell with the Turin-based club in 2010.

He has failed to strike up a career in the Premier League having only made 18 appearances for Liverpool and scored just once since his £17 million move to the club in 2009.

Clarke Sympathy For Dalglish

Former Liverpool first-team coach Steve Clarke admits he feels sympathy for Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked by the Merseysiders last month.

Clarke moved to the Reds in January 2010 to work alongside Dalglish, who had made a dramatic return to the Anfield hot-seat 19 years after he had first quit the post.

The former Scotland international led the Reds to Carling Cup success and the final of the FA Cup last season but paid the price for a disappointing Premier League campaign.

The Merseysiders finished eighth, 17 points adrift of Tottenham in the final Champions League place.

That failure to challenge for the top four positions prompted Liverpool's owners, the Fenway Sports Group, to sack Dalglish just days after the final game of the season.

Clarke admitted he felt some sympathy for his compatriot, especially as Liverpool is a club close to Dalglish's heart.

"I was disappointed for Kenny because that is his club and for him to leave in that way was not very nice for him, so I felt a little bit for Kenny," he said.

"But if you don't achieve the standards or the levels of the people who run the club want you to achieve, you have to pay the price."

Clarke's departure from Anfield was confirmed at the start of June when new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers brought his backroom team up from old side Swansea.

He wasn't unemployed for long, however, as just days later he was appointed new West Brom manager, his first managerial role.

The Scot admits that after witnessing first-hand the ruthless nature of Premier League football management, he knows he will have to get results quickly if he is to keep his job.

"Football has changed. The whole structure of football has changed," he added.

"Success has to be instant and has to be on a level expected at whatever club you are at - look at the Harry Redknapp situation at Tottenham."