Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gerrard Staying As England Captain

Steven Gerrard is to continue as England captain following the national team's exit from Euro 2012.

The Liverpool midfielder was appointed Three Lions skipper by Roy Hodgson when he took over as manager in May.

Gerrard, 32, told a press conference in Krakow he had relished the opportunity to captain his country and would continue to do it for as long as he was required.

He said: "I've had a brief chat with the manager and he's told me he wants me to continue and I'm there, I'm available as long as I'm wanted at this level.

"I've loved the responsibility and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

"I've tried my best, I've given it everything I've got. I've given it my best shot."

Gerrard admitted England had not played the best football at Euro 2012 and needed to work harder at retaining the ball following the quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy.

The Azzurri dominated possession and hit the post twice, and although England were able to keep them at bay for 120 minutes, the failure of Ashley Young and Ashley Cole to convert their shoot-out kicks led to an another last-eight exit for England.

Gerrard said: "At times the football hasn't been fantastic, we haven't blown people away.

"The possession stats speak for themselves. Moving forward as a nation we do need to improve with the ball."

Despite the less-than-impressive performance, Gerrard was happy he and his colleagues had not come up short for effort.

"Everyone has given everything they've got and that's all you can ask for," he added.

"I think the supporters will agree with me that we have played for the shirt."

But Gerrard stressed: "I think we've performed to a better level at this competition than in previous tournaments."

He added : "I think performance-wise I'm reasonably satisfied.

"I'm just in a zone of frustration and disappointment because we've come so close to ending that quarter-final hoodoo."

Hodgson drew comparison with the Germany team of 2006, who also suffered defeat to Italy - albeit in the semi-finals of the World Cup - early on in their rebuilding mission.

The England manager hopes his side can emulate a team which has progressed through to the semi-finals of Euro 2012, where they will face Italy on Thursday.

Hodgson hopes his side can make enough progress to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"We have to keep working hard to bridge any gap that might exist at the moment between ourselves and teams like Spain and Germany," said Hodgson.

"We saw with the German team at the 2006 world Cup they went into the finals highly unfancied with a new coach and with a lot of new young players.

"We've seen how well they've kicked on from 2006. We have to take heart from that. I like to think there's good reason for optimism."

Moyes Admires Rodgers

David Moyes has drawn parallels between his arrival at Everton a decade ago and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool this summer.

Rather than going for a marquee name to replace the outgoing Kenny Dalglish, the five-time European Cup winners opted to give Rodgers a chance.

Last season his Swansea team captivated the Premier League with their version of tiki-taka football.

At 39, Rodgers is just one year older than Moyes was when he arrived on the blue half of Merseyside from Preston.

He has since gone on to enjoy 10 years at Goodison Park during which time he has locked horns with four different managers at Anfield.

And as he prepares to battle his latest adversary, he cannot help but identify the similarities between the two.

"When I took over at Everton I was certainly young and inexperienced as far as the Premier League went," he told the club's official website.

"The managers I was facing at Liverpool have been incredibly experienced - European champions and top, top managers.

"And the new manager at Liverpool is a top manager as well - but young now - and probably in his own way a little inexperienced a bit like I was when I started at Everton.

"But Brendan did a great job at Swansea and more than deserves his chance at the top end."

Liverpool &Tottenham Battle For Sigurdsson & Sturridge

It seems as though Liverpool and Tottenham are both battling to sign the same players as they are linked with moves for Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge.

Sigurdsson's proposed move away from the German club is becoming somewhat of a saga after he was originally linked with Swansea, only for Brendan Rodgers to join Liverpool and the Reds became the favourites.

Yesterday it was reported that Tottenham had won the race to sign the attacking midfielder, but as of yet there has been no work from any party involved and the speculation continues.

The Daily Mirror believes that despite Tottenham agreeing a fee of £8million with Hoffenheim, no personal terms have been agreed and Liverpool are hoping they can still hijack the deal.

Rodgers has a good relationship with the former Reading midfielder and will still be hoping to convince him that he should join Liverpool rather than Tottenham.

However, the paper has also suggested that he is not the only player who both clubs want to sign, as Chelsea's Sturridge is another player wanted by the two Premier League sides.

Sturridge was a regular under Andre Villas-Boas but fell out of favour with Roberto di Matteo and has now seen the Italian become the permanent boss on a two year deal.

Liverpool and Spurs are both hoping that they will be able to use this to their advantage as they attempt to freshen up their squads for next season.

Chelsea have already signed Eden Hazard and Marko Marin, meaning there is yet further competition for Sturridge who was said to be unhappy with life at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool & Man City To Bid For Bologna Midfielder

Liverpool and Manchester City have been invited to bid for Bologna midfielder Gaston Ramirez after the Italian side slapped a £16m price-tag on the Uruguay international.

Ramirez, 21, has attracted the interest of a string of suitors over the past few months following an impressive season at Bologna.

The talented playmaker grabbed eight goals and four assists in 33 Serie A outings as Bologna achieved a ninth-placed finish.

City and Liverpool have both been tipped to improve their attacking options this summer, and Bologna president Albano Guaraldi has opened the door for the Premier League duo to bid for Ramirez.

Speaking to Sky Sport 24, Guaraldi said: "There is no intention to sell Ramirez for a bid lower than his value, which we estimate at around £16m.

"But the economic fate of Bologna next season does not depend on the sale of Ramirez."

Wanyama Keen On England

Celtic starlet Victor Wanyama has admitted that he is open to a move to England.

Wanyama's business manager Rob Moore told Sky Sports earlier this month that the player would like the club to listen to any offers made.

Now the impressive 21-year-old - who only joined Celtic last summer from Belgian Beerschot - admits he would like the chance to play in England with Liverpool, Stoke City, Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle and West Ham United all believed to been keen.

"I think the Premier League is the dream of so many players, so I'd be happy to play there. There are a lot of good clubs in England," the Kenyan told the Daily Record.

"It will be difficult to leave Celtic because I have just had a good season here and we are now playing in the Champions League.

"Celtic are one of the biggest teams. I've been happy here, and the fans have been brilliant to me.

"But it would not be a terrible thing for me if the club agrees to let me go, and they were to get a good offer. They are the ones who decide.

"I'm proud I'm the first Kenyan to play in the UK and I'd be very happy to be the first Kenyan to play in the Premier League."

Vargas A Liverpool Option

Juan Manuel Vargas' agent claims that Liverpool is interested in the winger and that he could leave Fiorentina over the summer.

The Peru international has one season left to run on his current contract and he was reportedly a target for Arsenal 12 months ago.

He is again attracting interest from the Premier League, according to his representative Jorge Cyterszpiler, with Liverpool keeping tabs on his situation.

Ambitious Spanish side Malaga are also sweet on the 28-year-old, although there have yet to be any firm approaches for the wide-man.

"There is the possibility that he (Vargas) will leave Fiorentina," Cyterszpiler said to "But at this time it's just a rumour and there is nothing official.

"He didn't have the best of seasons and he needs to make up for it next season.

"Liverpool is an option, but there is also Malaga that has the fascination of playing in next season's Champions League.

"Does he have a preference with regards to playing the Premier League or the Primera Liga? Vargas likes both leagues as well as the Serie A."

"Have there been offers from in Italy? In the past, we spoke with Inter Milan and they were interested in him."

Vargas joined Fiorentina from Catania in 2008 for 12million Euros (£9.6m) and he made 24 league appearances for the Viola last season.

Borini Only Wanted Roma

Italian striker Fabio Borini says moving to Liverpool was never in his thoughts after signing a permanent deal at Roma.

The frontman joined the Giallorossi over the weekend after the capital club bought the remaining 50 per cent of the player from Serie A rivals Parma.

He had spent last season on loan at the Stadio Olimpico, scoring nine goals in 24 league appearances.

Speculation had linked the 21-year-old with Liverpool and a reunion with former boss Brendan Rodgers, who he worked under while on loan at Swansea from Chelsea.

But Borini, currently part of the Italian squad at Euro 2012, says he was only ever focused on staying at Roma and was not distracted by talk of an Anfield move.

He told The Sun: "I am a Roma player.

"It's not my business that there is talk about whether I go to Liverpool or stay. It doesn't matter to me, I am Roma."

Italian Giants Eye Up Reported Move For Liverpool Striker

Italian giants Juventus are rumoured to be eyeing up a move for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, as they look to bring a marquee signing to Turin this summer.

According to talkSPORT, the newly-crowned Serie A champions are hoping to bring in a world-class attacker as they prepare to defend their title next season.

Fiery Uruguayan striker Suarez is thought to be topping a shortlist which includes Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Chelsea misfit Fernando Torres.

However, Juve bosses are unwilling to be bullied into paying over the odds for the player.

Italian publication Tuttosport claim that Juventus are preparing a package of £14.5 million as well as out-of-favour winger Milos Krasic, a player who has been linked with a move to the reds over the past six months.

Any deal is expected to fall onto deaf ears, with Suarez thought to be imperative to new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' plans for the club.

Bluebirds Want Bellamy Back

Cardiff are keen to tempt Liverpool forward Craig Bellamy back to Wales, according to chief executive Alan Whiteley.

The 32-year-old captained the Bluebirds through the 2010-11 campaign on a loan spell from Manchester City before moving to Anfield.

Wales international Bellamy has a year remaining on his deal with the Reds but Whiteley says Cardiff are hoping to talk to the forward if new boss Brendan Rodgers decides to let him go.

"We'd love to have Craig back," he said.

"But he is a Liverpool player and until Liverpool and Craig decide what they are going to do, there are conversations that we can't even have at the moment.

"We don't know how it is going to pan out and it is for Craig and Liverpool to decide what they are going to do first.

"But if Craig decides he is going to leave Liverpool and Liverpool are prepared to let him go, then clearly we'd love to talk to him."

Aquailani Exit In Doubt

Alberto Aquilani's hopes of leaving Liverpool for AC Milan have been hit by Mathieu Flamini's decision to stay at the San Siro.

Frenchman Flamini had been expected to depart the Italian giants this summer, paving the way for Aquilani to seal a permanent switch to Milan after a loan spell last season.

However, Flamini has now decided to take a pay-cut to remain with the Italian giants and the Rossoneri are ready to abandon their bid to sign Aquilani.

It is thought Liverpool would be willing to sell the 27-year-old for a fee in the region of £7million, but it remains to be seen whether or not anyone will meet the Reds' asking price after his disappointing spell at Anfield.