Friday, July 06, 2012

Reds Look To Complete Jigsaw

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has stressed that any new signings must 'fit the model' he is trying to install at Anfield.

The Reds are yet to sign anyone this summer and Iceland midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson turned them down this week in favour of a move to Tottenham.

But before pursuing other targets, Rodgers insists he will assess the attributes of the squad he inherited from Kenny Dalglish.

"I've got a bunch of wonderful players here," he told the club's official website. "I'm going to take time to have a look at that.

"I believe there's one or two areas that I'll need to improve on for sure, but overall the core of the group is strong.

"But like any manager, you want to add the other pieces that can complete your jigsaw and that's something that we're doing over a period of time.

"This window for the summer, you either had to get your business in early or it was going to run over towards the end of the window, just purely because of all the games and holidays and championships, and everything that was going on.

"We're doing a lot of work off the field in terms of potential players to come in, but it will only be a certain type of player that will fit the model here at Liverpool."

Rodgers felt Sigurdsson would fit that model after having him on loan at Swansea last season.

And having agreed terms over a permanent move to Wales before being appointed Liverpool boss, Rodgers was disappointed he couldn't lure him to Anfield.

Barnes Backing For Rodgers

Former Liverpool midfielder John Barnes has urged the club's fans to put their faith in new manager Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers was last month unveiled as the man chosen by Reds owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to take the Anfield outfit forward, succeeding the sacked Kenny Dalglish, under whom the team had finished the 2011-12 season in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League.

Liverpool also won the Carling Cup and was beaten FA Cup finalists last term, and despite their lowly final league position, Barnes feels the club were making progress with Dalglish at the helm.

That is something he is confident will continue next season with the new boss in charge, and Barnes is calling on Reds supporters to give Rodgers their full backing.

Asked what he thought should be expected of Liverpool under Rodgers in the forthcoming campaign, Barnes told Press Association Sport: "Improvement - we will finish better than eighth.

"If you look at the improvement Liverpool showed in the last months of the season - getting to the cup finals and the desire and resolve they showed on the field - I think there will be a natural progression of them improving, which would have happened either way.

"Brendan Rodgers is there now and I urge all the fans to get behind him, support him, believe in him and see where it takes us.

"I don't think we are necessarily strong enough to win the league but we should be looking to finish between fourth and sixth, and if we could get into fourth spot, that would be a great achievement."

Rodgers won plaudits for the work he did in his previous job as manager at Swansea, who in the two years of his tenure gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time and then secured an impressive 11th-placed top-flight finish last term - playing an eye-catching brand of flowing football all the while.

Tasked by FSG to bring the glory days back to Liverpool by employing a similar style, the 39-year-old Northern Irishman is yet to begin any major remodelling at Anfield and has made no signings yet.

Rodgers had appeared set to recruit Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson - who flourished during a loan spell under him at Swansea last season - for the Reds, but the Iceland international has since joined Tottenham.

Liverpool fans might be crossing their fingers for some big-name arrivals, but as far as Barnes is concerned, whoever the new manager does bring in, the most important thing is that they fit in with Rodgers' footballing vision.

"We have to be realistic and we have to trust the manager - know his philosophy and know he will bring in the players to suit that philosophy," Barnes, who played for the Merseyside club between 1987 and 1997, said.

"They might not be names we have heard of, like Gylfi Sigurdsson when he came in (at Swansea).

"No-one thought anything much of him, but you can see what he did.

"He is not coming to Liverpool, but if he (Rodgers) signs a player we have not heard of that he knows can fit into his philosophy and pattern, then we should support that, rather than saying 'unless we get big-name signings, we are not going to be optimistic'."

Rodgers Admits Liverpool Departures Possible

New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident his vision for the club will persuade his star players to remain at Anfield.

Despite the Northern Irishman conceding that a lack of Champions League football could mean the Reds lose players, he felt that the future he had envisioned for the Merseysiders would be enough to soothe any doubts some may harbour.

“I am very confident in relation to the conversations I have had,” he told Sky Sports News.

“You can only sell the dream going forward. The reality is there is a lot of nostalgia about this club, and I have seen that in my early time here, but what is important is going forward.

“Of course, the club isn't in the Champions League and the top players want to play at that level, but hopefully in the next coming years we can strive to get towards that.

“If that is not enough for a player then they will go, it is as simple as that.”

The former Swansea City boss also shed some light on the situation around Gylfi Sigurdsson’s move to Tottenham Hotspur after it appeared he was close to a Liverpool switch.

The Iceland international was on loan at Swansea last season under Rodgers, and was impressive while scoring seven goals in 19 games for the Welsh side.

However, Rodgers admitted he was mistaken in thinking the guarantee of playing regular football would be persuade Sigurdsson to make the move to Anfield after pulling out of a switch to the Swans due to Rodgers’ departure.

The 39-year-old coach hinted that the price asked for the player by his former club Hoffenheim was increased once the move to Liverpool became a possibility, and Rodgers refused to pay over the figure previously agreed.

“Gylfi did fantastic for me at Swansea last season. He wasn't playing at Hoffenheim, I brought him to Swansea and he did very well for me there, scored seven goals in 19 games and was very, very good,” Rodgers told the official Liverpool website.

“He and I both sat and spoke and believed that playing football was going to be the most important aspect for him.

“But obviously it was important financially so we agreed a deal for him to go to Swansea and that was wrapped up.

“I then became the Liverpool manager, and that then wasn't something that was going to happen at Swansea. So he then had a choice of where he wanted to go. I knew what the market was and I wasn't prepared to pay anything over what I had known was agreed before.”

One player he is sure of keeping is star forward Luis Suarez, who has been linked with a move away from Merseyside.

Rodgers said the pair had spoken about the future and felt good about hanging on to the Uruguay international.

“I have spoken to him but focused very much on the future in terms of what I believe he can bring to how we are going to play,” he added on Sky Sports.

“He was fantastic, very open, and I think he was impressed with how we played last season.”

Hateley: Liverpool Striker Should Leave Anfield

Former AC Milan player Mark Hateley has urged Liverpool's Andy Carroll to consider quitting Anfield for a move abroad.

Speaking to talkSPORT, ex-Rossoneri striker Hateley believes that Carroll would become a better all-round player if he switched leagues, following suggestions that Milan could well be interested in him.

“As a future target I’d like Andy Carroll," he said. “I must admit that for his body build, and after seeing his header in the Euros, I would like to have Carroll at Milan."

It is rumoured that Milan are planning to move for Carroll, after the son of club owner Silvio Berlusconi admitted that they would be interested in the Liverpool striker.

Carroll appeared to struggle during his first full season with Liverpool following his £35 million transfer from Newcastle United in January 2011.

While the mammoth price tag was very much a factor in Fernando Torres' £50 million departure from the club, Carroll has seemed to be weighed down by the level of expectation placed on his young shoulders.

However, the 23 year-old finished the season strongly with Liverpool, and was subsequently picked for Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 England squad.

His goal against Sweden in England's 3-2 win the highlight of an impressive tournament for Carroll and now it seems as though Europe's biggest clubs have sat up and taken notice.

“At his age you’re still very young and very raw. You’re susceptible to taking on new projects and ideas,” Hateley continued.

“He’s got great strengths in his game already but he still has a lot of weaknesses. They [Milan] can deconstruct his game and build it back up again to the way a European centre-forward should be.”

Would Clint Dempsey Be The Perfect Signing For Liverpool?

New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has now missed out on signing Glyfi Sigurdsson after the midfielder completed his switch to Tottenham, so should the club now turn their attention to Fulham's own goal-scoring midfielder Clint Dempsey?

There have been reports that Liverpool are preparing an offer in excess of £10million for the American who last season was the top scoring midfielder in the Premier League with 17 goals.

In fact Dempsey's return of 23 goals in all competitions was a phenomenal record for a player who has consistently improved season upon season since signing for Fulham from New England Revolution back in 2006.

If you look at the stats from last season then it is easy to see where Liverpool where let down. The Reds scored just 47 Premier League goals, that is one less than relegated Blackburn Rovers and 46 less than champions Manchester City.

Luis Suarez was the top scorer in the league with 11 goals, while the top scoring midfielder was Steven Gerrard who found the back of the net on five occasions, despite only starting 12 games. Andy Carroll scored just four, Craig Bellamy six, while Stewart Downing managed precisely zero.

Dempsey scored more than the combined efforts of Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing, Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Carroll. It is clear to see where the problem lies.

Rodgers certainly needs to address this issue and Dempsey would almost guarantee goal. In his six seasons in England he has a return of 50 Premier League goals. An impressive return for any midfielder.

Rodgers Claims Sigurdsson Priced Himself Out Of Liverpool Move

Brendan Rodgers insists Gylfi Sigurdsson's wage demands scuppered his proposed move to Liverpool.

A deal had been struck with the Iceland international for him to return to Swansea, where he had spent the latter half of last season on loan, but when Rodgers moved to Anfield that move hit the rocks.

The Reds then appeared to be in pole position to secure his services because of the player's relationship with the manager, but when discussions began over finances, Rodgers discovered the 22-year-old was asking for more money than he had agreed at Swansea.

Rodgers did not feel that was justified and, as a result, Sigurdsson signed for Tottenham - with the midfielder claiming the London's club's ambition and quality squad persuaded him to move to London.

"He wasn't playing at Hoffenheim, I brought him to Swansea and he did very well for me there, scoring seven goals in 19 games and was very good," said Rodgers, who succeeded Kenny Dalglish just over a month ago.

"He and I both sat and spoke and believed that playing football was going to be the most important aspect for him.

"But obviously it was important financially so we agreed a deal for him to go to Swansea and that was wrapped up.

"I then became the Liverpool manager and that then wasn't something that was going to happen at Swansea so he then had a choice of where he wanted to go.

"I knew what the market was and I wasn't prepared to pay anything over what I had known was agreed before.

"Liverpool would have provided Gylfi with a wonderful opportunity to perform with a manager that he knows and at a club which is a real footballing institution.

"But he's decided to go to Tottenham, for whatever reason.

"I wish him the best, he's a good kid and there's no ill feeling. We've got other targets and we'll move on."

Lucas Eyes Start Of Season

Lucas Leiva hopes to be fit enough to return to action around the start of the new season.

Liverpool's combative midfielder suffered serious damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last November, undergoing surgery the following month.

Now back on Merseyside after a spell of rehab with former club Gremio in his native Brazil, the 25-year-old feels his long spell out of action is nearing the end.

"I think I am progressing very well in terms of the knee, strength and fitness-wise," he said.

"I am working every week and trying to improve every week and the main target is to be fit for the new season, if not for the start then after a few weeks."

The injury forced Lucas into the first long-term absence of his career, something he admits he found difficult to deal with.

He added: "It has been very hard for me because I have never been out for a month so you can imagine five months when I can't play and only watch the game.

"I just had to cope with the injury and the time. As soon as I got the injury I knew I would be out for many months and I started to think about other things.

"The most difficult period for me was when I was on crutches for two months, especially the first four weeks after the surgery when the knee was swollen.

"To be honest, for a few moments I thought I couldn't come back or even walk, because the way I looked at my knee I felt scared.

"But as soon as I started the rehab, it is unbelievable how your body reacts.

"My main target now is to be 100% recovered and be okay to play a part in next season."

Milan Vice-President Plays Down Carroll Rumours

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says the club will not make any further signings this summer, despite being linked to Liverpool's Andy Carroll.

Pier Silvio Berlusconi, son of club owner Silvio Berlusconi, had acknowledged that he would love to bring the 23-year-old to the San Siro - having seen him at Euro 2012.

"As a future target, I'd like Andy Carroll," Berlusconi said, according to Mediaset. "I must admit that for his body build, and after seeing his header in the Euros, I would like to have Carroll at Milan."

Milan have allowed a number of players to leave the club this summer, including Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Filippo Inzaghi, and have already strengthened by signing midfielders Riccardo Montolivo, Kevin Constant and Bakaye Traore as well as defender Francesco Acerbi.

Mathieu Flamini was re-signed on a one-year deal despite Milan having indicated he would be released, and Galliani insists that the Rossoneri are not looking to strengthen any further.

"Milan's transfer market is closed," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We have nine midfielders and our market is closed."

Milan secured a big boost this week when defender Thiago Silva signed a new contract until 2017. The Brazil international had been set to join Paris Saint-Germain in a €46 million deal until the intervention of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.

Galliani said: "We must thank Silvio Berlusconi for keeping Thiago at the club and, hence, resisting the temptation to sell him. With regards to those that will depart, only perhaps Mesbah will leave the club."

Aquilani Heading Back To Liverpool

Alberto Aquilani is set to make a return to Liverpool after failing to get a permanent move away from the club.

The midfielder has spent the last two seasons on loan in Serie A to try and get his injury ravaged career back on track following a £20m move from Roma in 2009.

But the neither Juventus nor more recently AC Milan wanted to turn season-long loan deals for the 27-year-old into anything longer.

"At the moment Aquilani is a Liverpool player and will certainly start pre-season training with them, then we'll see what happens," agent Franco Zavaglia told TMW.

"The new manager will decide whether to keep him or not. I don't think he's coming back to Italy and he hasn't expressed any particular preference, but this time I hope Liverpool can tell us in time if he's not part of their plans so we can find him the right club.

"Recently, apart from a slight ankle sprain, Aquilani has had no major fitness problems. The real problems were when he had ankle surgery at Liverpool."