Thursday, August 02, 2012

League Is Priority For Rodgers

As Brendan Rodgers prepares to begin Liverpool's Europa League campaign on Thursday, he insists the Premier League is the priority.

The Reds travel to face FC Gomel in the first leg of their third qualifying round clash in what will be Rodgers' first competitive match in charge.

But while the former Swansea boss would like to do well, he is adamant that the league is Liverpool's main target.

"I don't want to disrespect the Europa League, but there's no doubt the league is our priority and we want to finish as high as we possibly can," he told the club's official website.

"The Europa League is a competition we'd like to do well in.

"Obviously to do well in it you've got to play a lot of games and hopefully that will be the case.

"When you play for Liverpool every tournament and every game is a priority."

FC Gomel finished third in the Belarusian Premier League last season, but did manage to win the domestic cup competition.

They have never progressed beyond the first round of any major European competition, but Rodgers is refusing to underestimate the challenge Liverpool face at Central Stadion.

"We have done our homework on them," Rodgers added.

"They have done well to qualify for this stage, the pitch looks nice and they play a 4-2-3-1 system.

"But while I always respect the opponent we play and never underestimate them, I'm a big believer in focusing on our own game and maximizing how we play the game.

"If we do that then I believe throughout the course of the season we'll have a chance of winning every game."

Liverpool are without Andy Carroll, who has a minor groin strain, as well as Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy who are on Olympic duty. But new signing Fabio Borini could feature.

Liverpool Linked With Swoop For Portuguese Midfielder

Liverpool are being linked with a surprise swoop for former Everton midfielder Manuel Fernandes.

According to reports in the Mirror, the Merseyside giants are weighting up a bid for the £7 million-rated Portuguese, as new boss Brendan Rodgers looks to strengthen his squad before the start of the new season.

The 26 year-old has earned rave reviews in Turkey, where he currently plays for SuperLig side Besiktas, and now looks like a realistic target for Liverpool.

Fernandes, who enjoyed two loan spells at Everton in 2007 and 2008 respectively, failed to make Paulo Bento's Portugal squad for this summer's European Championships.

The former Valencia and Benfica star is believed to be keen on a return to England, and his valuation and wages are thought to fit perfectly within Liverpool's budget.

Last season Liverpool's midfield was a source of scrutiny, with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Jay Spearing coming in for criticism.

Boost For Liverpool In Hunt For Peru Star

Liverpool have received a boost in their pursuit of Juan Manuel Vargas after Fiorentina put the Peru international up for sale.

Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Fiorentina have decided to part ways with the 28-year-old, who is currently training on his own in Florence while his team-mates are away at a pre-season camp in Moena.

Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade has already informed Vargas’ agent Carlos Delgado that his client is free to leave, with the Italian side looking to recoup a fee in the region of £3.9m to £4.7m for the full-back, who can also operate as a winger.

News of Vargas’ availability will interest Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who is thought to be looking to add to his squad before the start of the new Premier League season in two and a half weeks’ time.

Liverpool Consider Move For Butland

Liverpool could move for Team GB goalkeeper Jack Butland after the Birmingham City stopper impressed the clubs scouts during Great Britain’s match against UAE on Sunday night.

The Reds have been involved with transfer speculation almost everyday of late, most of it has linked key players away from Anfield, so this will be a welcome boost for Pool fans.

The news comes as Brendan Rodgers plans an overhaul of his goalkeeping options, with Brad Jones being given permission to talk to Norwich over a transfer, while Peter Gulacsi is set to return to the Championship on loan.

That would leave Liverpool with Brazilian stopper Doni as their only back up to first-choice Pepe Reina, and Rodgers wants better.

He has already expressed an interest in veteran Wolves 'keeper de Vries, who he worked with at Swansea, but Rodgers is now thinking longer-term, with the addition of a youngster to work under Reina seen as a better option.

Rodgers is in the process of drawing up a short-list of potential options, but already looks like making Birmingham City teenager Jack Butland his top target, after being handed a number of positive reports on the player by club scouts.

Butland is widely regarded as one of the finest young goalkeepers in the country, and has been watched by the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle in the last six months.
However, Liverpool believe they can beat their Premier League rivals to the 19-year-old, with club scouts impressed after watching him in action for Team GB during the Olympics.

Liverpool had representatives in the stands during the 3-1 win over the United Arab Emirates, to make checks on Swansea midfielder Joe Allen, but were left with a good impression of Butland, who was also a part of England’s Euro 2012 squad.

The only stumbling block to a potential deal would be convincing Birmingham to sell their prize asset, with Southampton already failing with a reported £6 million bid earlier in the summer.

It's thought that Birmingham would only listen to offers in advance of £8 million, but Liverpool could throw in the services of Jonjo Shelvey on a season-long loan to help sweeten the deal.
Liverpool will decide on whether to make a bid in the next few days.

Liverpool Sign Dublin Wonderkid Conor Masterson

A 13-year-old Irish boy has signed a deal with Premier League giants Liverpool in a move that's set to land him and his family a €1m fortune

Conor Masterson was also courted by both Manchester United and City but decided to sign for Liverpool having already been a fan of the team.

The young centre-back - who leaves Dublin side Lucan United to move full-time to Merseyside when he turns 16 - has already met manager Brendan Rodgers to discuss his future at Anfield.

Suarez Slams Boo-Boys

Luis Suarez has hit back at those fans that jeered him as his Uruguay team were dumped out of the Olympics in a 1-0 defeat by Great Britain.

The Uruguay captain was targeted by fans at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday evening, having previously been booed at Old Trafford and Wembley.

But the Liverpool forward was particularly aggrieved by the fact that sections of the crowd also decided to boo Uruguay's national anthem.

"I think they jeer me and they boo me here because they must be scared of facing a player like me," said Suarez.

"They fear me, but that doesn't affect me. I'm hurt because we lost and we are going home. We all had a dream and that was to win the gold medal here.

"I can take the abuse. I don't mind. But I think it was a total lack of respect from the crowd to boo when we were trying to sing our national anthem. I think those things should not happen."

The abuse aimed at Suarez stems from his infamous clash with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October last year that saw the 25-year-old banned for eight matches.

Suarez later exacerbated the situation by refusing to shake Evra's hand in a game between the two clubs in February.

But his Liverpool and Uruguay team-mate Sebastian Coates has defended his colleague and believes the criticism must stop.

"I'm tired of this situation with Luis," said Coates, who joined the Reds last August.

"I think it has gone too far and I don't like to see him being treated like this.

"I know the kind of person he is and I think the abuse he gets is very unfair.

"He knows all his team-mates and a whole country are fully behind him and I think fans over here should leave him alone."

Suso Brace Sinks Terriers

Spanish starlet Suso netted twice as Liverpool Reserves beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in a pre-season friendly at the Academy on Wednesday.

Rodolfo Borrell's squad featured eight youngsters who have just returned from being part of the first team tour to North America.

Joining Suso in the starting XI were Daniel Pacheco, Andre Wisdom, Stephen Sama, Ryan McLaughlin, Krisztian Adorjan, goalkeeper Danny Ward and Jordon Ibe who came on as a second half substitute.

Suso opened the scoring after combining with Michael Ngoo, and he added a second after the break after combining with Pacheco.

Suso, Pacheco and Adorjan featured for an hour before being replaced by Marc Pelosi, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Ibe.

Portugese ace Teixeira went close with a free-kick and Conor Coady hit the bar with almost the last kick of the game, and overall it was a very good display from Borrell's charges.