Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lucas Thanks Rodgers

Lucas Leiva insists the kind words of new boss Brendan Rodgers helped him make a remarkable recovery from knee surgery.

The 25-year-old Brazil international went under the knife after damaging his knee ligaments last November and was not expected back until the autumn.

But the midfielder stunned medical staff at the club by declaring himself fit for Liverpool's pre-season tour of the US and came off the bench to face Tottenham in Baltimore.

It is rumoured he is expected to play a key role in a mobile midfield trio with Steven Gerrard and transfer target Joe Allen as Rodgers looks to recreate the Spanish style he was handed at Swansea by former manger Roberto Martinez.

And Lucas puts his speedy comeback down to a desire to repay the faith shown in him by Rodgers when he first walked through the door as Kenny Dalglish’s replacement this summer.

"On my first day back in Liverpool, he spoke with me and said I was in his plans," Leiva told the club's official website.

"Those words helped me to relax a little bit more because he was a new manager coming in and everyone wants to impress.

"I was coming back from an injury and knew I wouldn't be at the same level as the other players.

"It gave me the confidence to progress slowly and I am really happy to have his support from the beginning.

"When a manager says great things about you, it always gives you extra confidence and motivation - but I was already motivated enough. I am at a big club and very happy to play for this club.

"It's just a question of time and being patient. He has been very important from the first day."

Newcastle Prepared To Offer Liverpool €23m To Sign Carroll

Newcastle United are expected to bid again for Andy Carroll, even if the release clause in Demba Ba's contract is not activated by Tuesday's deadline.

lan Pardew's side have not yet followed up their initial offer of a season's loan with a view to a permanent move in a year's time.

But Goal.com understands that the north-east club's hierarchy is continuing to closely monitor Carroll’s situation, which remains delicately poised despite Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' public assurances that he wants to keep the striker.

Sources have said that Newcastle are willing to bid up to €23 million (£18m) to buy Carroll back, just 18 months after selling him to the Reds for €45m (£35m).

Rodgers has insisted there is no chance of Carroll leaving Liverpool on loan, but the manager admits the Merseysiders will consider offers for the 23-year-old.

West Ham increased their efforts to sign Carroll last week by offering to take the England international on loan for an initial fee of €2.5m (£2m) with €20.5m (£16m) added on top of that to make the move permanent, provided the Hammers avoid relegation from the Premier League next season.

Neither Liverpool or Carroll are keen on such a deal. The Anfield club are holding out for around €25.5m (£20m) for their record signing, while the player would prefer a return to Newcastle if he is sold by Liverpool rather than a move to London.

Privately, West Ham accept they have little chance of pulling off a deal that would be regarded as quite a statement by the newly-promoted club.

Manager Sam Allardyce is a huge admirer of Carroll and is trying to recruit a high-profile targetman before the transfer window closes, but a combination of the player’s cost, his salary and reluctance to move to West Ham make such a transfer a long shot.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that West Ham's co-owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, will sanction a repeat of the €115,000- (£90,000)-a-week salary they paid Wayne Bridge during his loan from Manchester City in 2010-11.

Newcastle insiders believe a deal is possible even if Ba is still at the club at the start of August.

The striker has an €8.9m (£7m) release clause in his contract that expires on Tuesday night, but it is understood that the most serious interest has been from Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

Ba wants to remain in the Premier League but anticipated interest from Tottenham and Chelsea has failed to materialize and the player looks set to remain on Tyneside this season, barring a dramatic 11th-hour transfer.

Newcastle manager Pardew is believed to be pushing strongly to supplement Ba and first choice striker Papiss Cisse with Carroll next season.

Manchester City And Barcelona Chase Livepool Defender

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger has become a target for Premier League champions Manchester City, after the Danish international told manager Brendan Rodgers that he sees his future away from Anfield.

The Daily Mirror report that Manchester City have already tabled a bid of £13 million for the 27-year-old, with Real Madrid and Barcelona also monitoring the availability of Agger, who has voiced his desire to move on.

News that Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has returned home earlier than planned from City’s pre-season tour of Malaysia after picking up a thigh injury may have heightened City’s urgency to invest in additional central defence cover.

Aside from Kompany and England international Joleon Lescott, City’s only other alternatives at centre back are the inexperienced Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure, the latter whom is likely to leave the club this summer.

The Daily Mail report that interest from Barcelona is substantial, and that it may be left to the Catalan giants and Manchester City to fight over the Dane’s signature. Similarly to City, Barcelona find themselves in a position where they are lacking cover in central defence. Tito Vilanova's side have grown increasingly frustrated in their attempts to lure defender-cum-midfielder Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao, and have identified the 26-year-old Liverpool defender as a viable option, the Mail report.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo also report that Agger would favour a deal to Spain. Last season Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets found themselves frequently deployed at centre back at Barcelona, as the form and fitness of Gerard Pique, deviated. Vilanova may be looking to bolster his defensive line with an accomplished central defender to reduce the chances of this happening so often again.

Liverpool Reject Man City Bid For Agger

Manchester City have reportedly had their shock £13 million bid for defender Daniel Agger rejected by Liverpool.

Agger reportedly informed Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that he does not want to stick around at the under-achieving Merseyside club, but is still undecided on whether to extend his stay in the Premier League or move to Spain.

However, the Liverpool manager has insisted that the player is going nowhere and despite both Real Madrid and Barcelona pursuing the star, neither have had their interests materialize into a formal bid.

City are apparently ready to offload Kolo Toure in order to make place for Agger in their squad, with the Ivorian defender targeted by Turkish club Bursaspor and Saudi Arabian outfit Al Hilal.

However, they reportedly do not want to sell Toure until they sign Agger, as they would run short of cover at the back if club skipper Vincent Kompany’s injury turns out to be more serious than first assumed.

The Belgian has flown back to Manchester half-way through the Citizens’ pre-season trip to Malaysia, and is hoping to return to fitness in time for the start of the new campaign.

Alberto Aquilani Jets To Italy After Liverpool Accept Fiorentina Bid

Liverpool has accepted an offer from Fiorentina for out-of-favour midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

The 28-year-old had been expecting to be given a chance under new manager Brendan Rodgers after his failed loan spell at AC Milan, but the club accepted an undisclosed fee over the weekend.

Aquilani did not travel back to England with the rest of the Liverpool squad after their tour of North America, and has instead made for Rome, where he will meet with Fiorentina to discuss a transfer in the next 24 hours.

The deal brings to a close a frustrating three years for Aquilani, who has struggled to settle and been besieged by injuries after moving from Roma in a £20 million deal in 2009.

He has since spent time on loan at Juventus and then Milan, both of whom decided against taking up their option to buy the player for a bargain price of £5 million.

The decision to sell Aquilani came late last week, with Liverpool officials confident they will be able to tie up the signing of Swansea's Joe Allen as a replacement.

Aquilani was not included in the Liverpool side that drew 0-0 with Tottenham and Saturday, with Rodgers keen to keep the player injury free after negotiations began with Fiorentina.

It's thought that Liverpool will net £3 million from the sale, with £2 million in potential add-ons.

No Offers For Gaitan

Nicolas Gatain's agent insists that no offers are on the table for his client, and he is happy at Benfica.

The Argentine playmaker has been linked with a move to England all summer, firstly with Manchester United and most recently Liverpool.

The 24-year-old has admitted he would be attracted by a move to England, but insists he is happy at Benfica.

And his agent insists that Gaitan fully intends to be with Benfica next term.

"Gaitan is a Benfica player, and he is happy with them," Jose Iribarren told the Record.

"I do not know of any offer on the table, I have only seen what was written in the newspapers.

"If an offer appears we would study it but the intention of Nico is to be with Benfica next season."

Lucas Leiva Backs Jonjo Shelvey To Shine At Anfield

Lucas Leiva has backed Jonjo Shelvey to become a key player for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.

Lucas, who made a stuttering start to his career at Anfield before becoming a first-team regular, has been left impressed by Shelvey and is confident the midfielder will capitalize on any opportunities handed to him by Rodgers.

“Jonjo is a young player, but he’s been with us for two or three season so we have seen every day he has a lot of quality and I think he will be a very good player for this club,” Lucas told Liverpool’s website.

“He has been very impressive in pre-season and I am looking forward to helping him when he wants me to. Hopefully he will be a great addition this season.

“My advice to him would be just to keep working hard and when he gets a chance, to try and take it.

“He has a little bit of experience already and played a few games last season, so I think he won’t have a problem when he has his chance – and I will try to help him on the pitch.”

Bale Blasts 'Coward' Adam

Gareth Bale has labelled Charlie Adam "a coward" after being left on crutches by a tackle from the Liverpool midfielder.

It is the second time Bale has been hurt by an Adam challenge, the latest coming during the goalless draw between the Reds and Spurs in Baltimore.

The previous incident, in May 2011, saw Bale suffer ankle ligament damage which meant the Wales international was out for three months.

In quotes reported by several national newspapers, Bale said: "He's a bit of a coward. What he did was over the top. Some people are like that and it's just wrong.

"It's flattering when players try to take you out in a game but, when it threatens your career, it becomes more serious than that."

Bale and Adam have history following the latter's challenge when he was playing for Blackpool in 2011.

Bale added: "There are pictures on the internet of what he did before when he snapped all my ankle ligaments. I was out for three months that time. He's come for me twice now - and he's got me twice.

"When someone makes a very bad tackle on you, you expect an apology. I've had no apology. And I'm not going to accept his apology."

Academy Trio Spread Community Cheer

Three of Liverpool's promising young players spent a day bringing cheer to children in the community recently when they paid a visit to the Royal School for the Blind and Alder Hey hospital.

Academy trio Henoc Mukendi, Yusuf Mersin and Villyan Bijev were a credit to the club as they firstly visited the pupils at the school in Wavertree before moving on to Alder Hey to hand out some presents to the children on the wards.

The visit to Alder Hey is part of a new ongoing initiative, which will see Academy starlets visit the hospital each month.

Clive Cook, Academy education and welfare officer, told Liverpoolfc.com: "It's important for the players to come to initiatives like this, it helps them to put things into perspective because a setback for them can just be a loss of form, whereas a setbacks for these children happen every day.

"It's very inspirational for the players and what they can learn is that despite the unfortunate circumstances, these children are still really happy.

Christine Done, head of fundraising at Alder Hey, said: "I think what Liverpool are trying to do with the Academy players is a really good thing - it's really given them a grounding and shown them there is something outside of football.

"It can be very difficult for the children when they're in hospital, so it's fantastic that the players have come in, brightened up their day, cheered them up and given out some lovely gifts."

During the visit, the players saw a number of children going through rehabilitation following serious injuries.

Villyan Bijev said: "As a professional football player we live with the fear of injuries, and to see how these kids deal with it is very inspiring.

"We brought some presents and when we handed it to the children they just lit up. It was great to see."

Earlier in the day the players had visited the children at the Royal School for the Blind - the oldest blind school in the country.

All of the schools pupils are blind or visually impaired, but also have various particular needs as well.

The players, accompanied by the European Cup and League Cup trophies, joined in with a sing-along with the help of club chaplain Bill Bygroves, much to the delight of all the children.

Bygroves said: "You could see today the pick-me-up it brought to the whole school.

"These young people are inspirational - and it's a privilege for our club to be associated with the school."

Joseph Byrne OBE, the school's headmaster, also spoke of his delight at the players visit, adding: "We are coming towards the end of term and I've been promising the children something special the day before we finish. The Liverpool players turned up, their promise and everyone had a lovely time."