Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rodgers Outlines Tour Benefits

Brendan Rodgers could not hide his excitement at the prospect of embarking on Liverpool's pre-season tour of North America when he spoke to Liverpoolfc.com just before the squad departed from John Lennon Airport.

Rodgers and his team will spend two weeks stateside preparing for clashes against Toronto FC in Canada on July 21, AS Roma at Fenway Park on July 25, and Tottenham in Baltimore on July 28.

And the manager explained how he was looking forward to touching down in Boston and building on what he believes has already proved to be a positive and productive pre-season at Melwood.

"We've had a real good couple of weeks work at home and obviously when you travel abroad, especially to great countries like America and Canada, you find out different things about the group," said the manager.

"We're really looking forward to the sun - we had a bit of rain this morning in Liverpool! The whole group - the players, the staff - is looking forward to it."

A selection of youngsters joined Rodgers and his squad as they left Liverpool for the three-game tour and the manager revealed how he will use the trip to the US to analyze every player in his squad.

"It's a great pre-season for me because I get to look at the younger players and the senior players," said Rodgers. "So they all feel there's hope right through the club.

"I've also got some of the staff from the Academy coming with me. I feel it's important that they understand how I work, on and off the field, because when we come back, it all becomes really, really busy and you're getting into your focus for the games.

"So it's a great integration for the players and the staff and we will enjoy it and work hard which is important."

Liverpool will set up base at Harvard University when they arrive in the states. The university boasts fine training facilities including full-size indoor running tracks and three Olympic pools.

"I think Harvard University is one of the most renowned and historic universities in the world," explained Rodgers. "So for us it's a real privilege to go there and do our work.

"But the most important thing is our mentality. First and foremost, the objective is to go and work and work hard. And secondly it's to bring the great name of Liverpool to other supporters over in that part of the world. Most importantly, we're there to work and work hard."

Rodgers' first game as Liverpool manager will come against Toronto on July 21 and whilst the boss is excited to finally take up position in the Reds dug-out, he insists that results aren't everything in pre-season.

"When you're a player, a coach or a manager, you never want to lose any game that you play," he said. "But I certainly won't be losing sleep over it.

"Of course we haven't got the majority of our squad and some of the core players within our group here but the most important thing at the minute is that we're getting players up to speed.

"Our objective is the first pre-season game. We want to get that underway and then concentrate on the first league game which is on the 18th and that's when we'll look to be ready."

Adam - Reds Must Be Fearless

Charlie Adam hopes Brendan Rodgers can get Liverpool playing without fear, with his success at Swansea proving how important confidence can be.

Throughout his time in charge of the Swans, Rodgers never wavered in his belief that football is a passing game and is a sport which should be enjoyed by those fortunate to compete at the highest level.

The results he was able to generate speak for themselves, with the Welsh outfit having secured promotion to the Premier League and winning a host of admirers during their debut campaign in the top-flight.

Liverpool's owners were among those to have been impressed by his work at the Liberty Stadium and offered Rodgers the chance to succeed Kop legend Kenny Dalglish at Anfield this summer.

It remains to be seen whether the Northern Irishman can bring the good times back to the red half of Merseyside, but Adam is confident that the Reds have got the right man for the job.

The Scotland international midfielder told the Liverpool Echo: "The owners brought in a new manager who has been in the game a long time.

"It doesn't matter who you are, if the owners think you have got the right credentials to take the club forward in the way they want to do it, that's great.

"Just look at what the manager achieved at Swansea.

"They played some terrific football last season and deserved every plaudit.

"Brendan Rodgers identified the players who would be able to play the system of football he believes in and they played with total belief and absolutely no fear.

"If he can get his ideas to work here like he did at Swansea, then I am sure he will be a successful Liverpool manager."

Liverpool Poised To Test Fulham's Resolve With Dempsey Bid

Liverpool is set to make a £5m move for Fulham striker Clint Dempsey.

Martin Jol is desperate to keep last season's top scorer and has offered the American a new deal to keep him at Craven Cottage.

But with just 12 months left on his current deal sources close to the club have told talkSPORT they are bracing themselves for a bid from Liverpool.

Dempsey, 29, impressed with 23 goals for the Cottagers last campaign and was linked with a move across London to Arsenal back in January.

New Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is keen to land the American and could pair Dempsey with Luis Suarez and new signing Fabio Borini in a new-look Anfield strikeforce.

Liverpool Linked With Swoop For Arsenal Winger

Liverpool are being linked with a surprise swoop for Arsenal star Theo Walcott, after it was claimed that Brendan Rodgers wants to bring the winger to Anfield this summer.

According to reports in The Sun, Rodgers wants to add more natural width to his inherited Liverpool side, as he looks to replicate the set-up he enjoyed at Swansea last season, with Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer operating on the flanks.

Liverpool currently have Stewart Downing who can play wide on the left, but lack conviction on the right hand side, with Jordan Henderson frequently played out of position last season.

With Walcott in the final year of his contract at Arsenal, he could be a viable option for Rodgers, with his current £65,000-a-week wages not thought to be a stumbling block for Liverpool.

The Sun also claim that the England international could be available for around £15 million, with Andy Carroll rumoured to be up for sale as Rodgers looks to drum up funds for further strengthening.

While Carroll offers strength and a dominant aerial presence, he struggled to find his feet at Anfield last season.

Question marks have rightly or wrongly started to hover over his head, as he looks to shake off the shackles of his £35 million price tag. These have increased following Liverpool's £8 million acquisition of Fabio Borini, and could spell the end of Carroll's short stint on Merseyside.

Liverpool Targets Olympiacos Ace

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is eyeing Olympiacos ace Kevin Mirallas, according to reports.

The 24-year-old is thought to be keen on a move to the Premier League, with Anfield his preferred destination.

Rodgers has targeted the Belgian international, who can play either out wide or up front, as he looks to strengthen his forward line.

Dutchman Dirk Kuyt has already left Merseyside this summer, with Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll likely to follow him out the exit door.

And Mirallas, who scored an impressive 20 goals in just 25 league matches last season, will certainly be able to provide the firepower that Liverpool are looking for.

The former St Etienne star, who is also being watched by Arsenal, is thought to be available for a modest £10million fee.

Gökhan Töre On Liverpool's Radar

Liverpool have expressed interest in Gökhan Töre following Hamburg's decision to transfer list their highly-sought after winger.

The Reds had been rumoured with making a move for Töre earlier in the season however, the Bundesliga outfit were reluctant to part ways with the Turkish international.

Liverpool invested heavily in wingers last season however, they failed to have the desired impact. £20 million transfer Stewart Downing only made two assists in 36 games.

Fifteen million pounds signing Jordan Henderson who was deployed on the right wing only scored twice and made two assists.

Recently appointed manager Brendan Rodgers is expected to implement a 4-3-3 set-up and has been active in the transfer market in the pursuit of players which would suit the system making Töre an ideal candidate on the right wing.

Hamburg has set an asking price of €5 million for their 20-year-old winger.

The Bundesliga outfit is in the midst of financial difficulties and hopes to cash in on their highly sought-after young prospect.

Töre was regarded as one of Chelsea's brightest prospects when he was recruited to the youth academy in 2009 by Frank Arnesen, the Blues former head of talent scout.

The Turkish international winger became a regular in the youth team helping them win the 2010-2011 season making 16 starts and scoring four times.

Töre joined Hamburg last season after Frank Arnesen resigned from his position at Chelsea and took up the role of Sporting Director at Hamburg.

The 20-year-old Turkish international missed a large part of last season through injury however, he still managed to finish the season as statistically, the most successful dribbler in Europe.

Töre has also been linked with a move to Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, Rubin Kazan as well as a move back to the Premiership.

Newcastle Poised To Improve Loan Offer For Carroll

Newcastle are expected to return with an improved offer to take Liverpool's Andy Carroll on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal in future.

Liverpool dismissed Newcastle's first offer on Sunday night, but the Anfield club will consider a better deal.

Newcastle initially only offered to pay part of Carroll's £80,000-a-week wages.

Newcastle also wanted to pay £13m if the 23-year-old then signed a permanent deal, although the Reds are understood to want at least £17m.

The Newcastle hierarchy has retained their admiration for Carroll since he left for Liverpool in 2011.

He had initially resolved to prove himself to new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers but is now understood to be keen to return to his hometown club.

Carroll was not with the Liverpool squad as they left for a pre-season tour of North America on Monday having been granted an extended holiday after Euro 2012.

The England international is due to join up with the squad on 23 July, alongside other internationals such as captain Steven Gerrard and goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

West Ham co-owner David Gold has also said the Upton Park club would be interested in signing Carroll.

Carroll struggled with Liverpool until belatedly finding both form and goals towards the end of last season.

He headed the winner for Liverpool against Blackburn, while also scoring against Everton in a FA Cup semi-final win and the 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the final.

He scored for England at Euro 2012 in the win against Sweden, but appears to have fallen out of favour at Anfield.

Rodgers signed striker Fabio Borini from Roma this week, his first signing since taking over.

He is also planning contract talks to keep Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez at Anfield but has been noncommittal when talking about Carroll's future.

The striker helped the Magpies back into the Premier League with 17 league goals in the 2009-10 Championship season.

Carroll continued his promising form in the top flight in the following campaign and made his senior England debut under Fabio Capello in a 2-1 defeat by France at Wembley.

He scored 11 times in 19 league games before becoming the most expensive British player when ex-Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish took him to Anfield.

Hughes Cools Bellamy Talk

Queens Park Rangers boss Mark Hughes has played down reports that he is set to sign Craig Bellamy from Liverpool.

It has been suggested that Rangers are lining up a move to lure Bellamy away from Anfield this summer.

Bellamy's future at Liverpool has been the subject of speculation all summer with Cardiff declaring an interest in re-signing the forward.

Hughes, who worked with Bellamy with Wales and Manchester City, is a big admirer of the 33-year-old, but has cooled talk of an imminent move for the player.

"There has been a lot of speculation over Craig. Yes I know him very well. But at the moment it is all speculation," said Hughes.

Hughes has vowed Rangers will do better than last season after escaping relegation on the final day of the season.

"Now I have more time to prepare the side and get the quality players that were lacking before," added Hughes.

"I can say that QPR has a great future and obviously we will do better than last season. We are confident that we won't be struggling."

Holtby Offers No Hints

Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby is reluctant to speculate on proposed contract talks or reports linking him with a move to the Premier League.

The Germany international has confessed in the past to being an admirer of the English top-flight, sparking speculation that he could soon be on the move.

Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United have all been linked with the talented 21-year-old.

They have been offered hope by the fact that Holtby's current contract at Schalke is due to expire next summer.

He is yet to pen an extension and admits to being uncertain as to what the future will hold.

Holtby is, however, keen to avoid being dragged into an endless rounds of transfer gossip and claims his focus is locked solely on his football.

"I am under contract with the club and I am a Schalke player," he said.

"I just want to focus on playing football.

"I like it at Schalke. I will give my best in training and the manager will decide if I am a first team player."