Friday, October 12, 2012

Suarez Unflustered By Diving Fiasco

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is not concerned with the escalating diving argument stemming from his dive against Stoke City last weekend.

The Uruguayan was accused of simulation after appearing to hit the ground unchallenged during Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Stoke, leading to Tony Pulis calling for the FA to hand down bans to the Premier League’s divers. FIFA vice president Jim Boyce recently weighed in on the argument, and labelled the act of diving in order to hand their team an advantage a “cancer” on the game.

Suarez, who is away on international duty preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Bolivia, appears unperturbed by the vilification he is facing, and instead is focused on his own performances for club and country.

"Everyone should focus on their own team," Suarez told Uruguayan publication Ovacion, ESPN report. "Those who want to talk can do so, I am not worried about what they say.

"They can keep talking and in the meantime I will keep on playing football and taking care of my team and what I do. Nothing else matters."

Suarez also expressed his gratitude towards his club manager, Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers reacted angrily to criticism from Stoke manager Pulis, and called for greater perspective on the incident, when it became apparent that Suarez was victim of a vicious stamp to the chest by Stoke defender Robert Huth in the same game.

"The support of the coach is very important to me and that's what I really care about,” Suarez added.

Ayre: Luis Suarez Is Targeted By Referees

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre feels Luis Suarez is a 'target' for criticism this season and does not believe the Uruguayan is under pressure to change his style, following consistent allegations of diving.

Suarez was accused of attempting to con the referee in the weekend draw with Stoke at Anfield, and Potters boss Tony Pulis called for the Liverpool star to be banned retrospectively for his antics.

The actions of Suarez have seen the issue of diving emerge from the shadows once again, with Tottenham's Gareth Bale also implicated alongside the Liverpool star.

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has also since admitted to deliberately going down in the box during his time as an England international, although was clear to state that he only did so when feeling contact from the opposition.

Ayre, meanwhile, does not believe Suarez is being fairly treated by officials or by fellow players this season, with the 25-year-old having had clear appeals for penalties rejected at times this term.

"I am not surprised by the reaction because we all feel he is a bit of target," Ayre told Sky Sports News.

"If you look from the start of this season or perhaps the end of last season through to last weekend I think it is fair to say Luis hasn't had the luck of the draw really in terms of decisions.

"It was proven on your channel and others that on many occasions that he was denied what he should have been given.

"I just feel his style of play, the way he kind of nips in and out he's just a target for tackles and defenders if you like.

"What I would say he has not had the rub of the green in terms of decisions but hopefully that changes as the season goes on.

"The most important thing is it doesn't affect Luis, he just turns it on each week and puts himself out there and he will keep going and that is what we need from him."

Brendan Rodgers Consider January Bid For Burak Yilmaz

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is considering a January bid for Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, according to talkSPORT.

The Galatasaray forward was reportedly a target for West Ham and Tottenham while playing for Trabzonspor last season, but instead opted to stay in Turkey with Galatasaray.

The 27-year-old hit 33 goals for Trabzonspor last year, and already has five goals in his first six league appearances this campaign.

Yilmaz is valued at £13m, and could represent good value for a Liverpool side keen to add an out-and-out poacher to its squad.

Brendan Rodgers offloaded Andy Carroll at the end of the summer transfer window, and failed to secure a replacement, leaving the Reds with Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini as their only recognized senior strikers.

Liverpool have been linked with a number of targets, including Athletic Bilbao hitman Fernando Llorente and Crystal Palace starlet Wilfried Zaha, but talkSPORT reports a bid for Yilmaz could be on the cards.

The Turkey international has played for all four of the big clubs in his homeland, including Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor and most recently Galatasaray.

But Yilmaz was never considered prolific before his 2010 move to Trabzonspor. Since then, however, the Turkish star can't stop scoring, and could be a good bet to lead the Liverpool attack.

Liverpool Chase Andreas Granqvist

Liverpool will reportedly switch to Genoa's Andreas Granqvist in their pursuit of January transfer window reinforcements after deeming Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna too expensive.

Representatives from Liverpool were reported to be in attendance for Genoa's draw with Palermo last weekend in order to take a closer look at Granqvist, who has made 24 appearances for Sweden.

According to Football Italia, Liverpool are now ready to sanction a €6 million bid in the hope concluding a transfer for Granqvist in the New Year as Brendan Rodgers looks to bolster his Anfield squad.

Liverpool's interest in the 27-year-old, it is claimed, has been prompted by the price tag placed on Italy international Ogbonna, with Torino requesting the Reds pay €15 million to sign the centre-back.

Ogbonna has impressed with his commanding displays this season and earned a call-up to Italy's squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers, although was forced to withdraw due to an swollen prostate.

Liverpool though, it would appear, have identified a cheaper alternative to Ogbonna in Granqvist, and the Sweden international will battle with the likes Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel for a starting place at Anfield.

Liverpool Look To Hamburg Youngster To Solve Striker Problems

Liverpool have earmarked Hamburg's South Korean striker Son Heung-Min to beef up their attacking options which are incredibly limited.

The 20 year old has been in great form for the German side and although he is currently playing as a striker, his pace and mobility mean he can also play on either wing. As good as his variety of positions are it may leave Liverpool fans worried that this is not the goalscoring answer that they are currently crying out for.

Boss, Brendan Rodger's has already brought in Fabio Borini in the summer for £10 million but he is yet to open his account in the Premier League and after the loan sale of Andy Carroll to West Ham its has left the Reds with insufficient fire power to get there season really started.

However Hamburg are wanting to extended the strikers contract due to his great start to the season as football director Frank Arnesen told ESPN, "We absolutely want to extend his contract."

Son arrived at Hamburg's youth academy as part of an exchange program in 2008 and has played in 47 league matches for the club, scoring 12 times.

Spanish Starlet Ready To Sign New Liverpool deal

Liverpool starlet Suso has told fans of the Anfield club not to worry, as he will be signing a new deal soon.

The Spain Under-19 international has broken into Brendan Rodgers’ first team in recent weeks and has been putting in some very good performances for the Reds.

This improvement has brought some concern that Liverpool could lose one of their most promising young stars, as his contract expires next season, according to talkSPORT.

It now appears those Liverpool fans that feared his exit need to no longer, as the 18-year-old told Spanish radio that he fully intends to extend his current deal and stay on Merseyside.

“Liverpool is the ideal club for me, I'll sign a new deal soon and be here for a long time,” he told Onda Cero.

“The fans can relax, it'll be done as soon as possible.”

Despite troubles on the pitch, Liverpool has had a good summer in terms of renewing contracts of key players.

Key central defender Daniel Agger agreed new terms at the end of last week and top scorer Luis Suarez also signed an extension earlier in the summer.

Suso’s comments will likely please Brendan Rodgers, as he has shown a willingness to give youth a chance since becoming manager – Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom are two more academy players that have been given a chance.

Rodgers Offers Reina Support

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has offered his support to goalkeeper Pepe Reina to recapture his best form.

Reina has endured a mixed season to date with a number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the games against Hearts, Arsenal and Norwich this term.

Rodgers is not concerned about Reina's form and says he has been impressed by the Spaniard since his arrival at Anfield.

"I can't speak highly enough of Pepe," Rodgers told the LiverpoolEcho. "He's a keeper who has really impressed me. He's a good guy who comes in and works hard every day.

"Like all the other players here he's trying to improve and become a better player.

"Pepe has been here for a number of years and has proved himself over a long period of time.

"He's obviously adapting to a new style but this is a way of working which is perfect for Pepe.

"He came through the Barcelona model so he understands this way of playing and what I'm trying to do perfectly.

"He's working very hard to get in the best possible moment in his game.

"As a team, we just need to cut out the kind of mistakes we've been making. If we do that then everyone will benefit from that, including Pepe."

Flanagan To Prove His Worth

Liverpool right-back Jon Flanagan has vowed to prove his worth to Brendan Rodgers when he recovers from the injury that has left him a frustrated spectator this season.

Flanagan is back in light training after picking up an ankle injury in pre-season and hopes to be fit to boost Rodgers' options soon.

He told the club's official website: "I picked up a slight injury during the U21s game at Crystal Palace when I damaged the ligaments in my ankle, but it's recovering well and I'm back out on the pitch jogging again so I hope to be back soon.

"It's been very frustrating. We've had a few injuries in the full-back position and Andre Wisdom has come in and done great at right-back, so I just want to get back fully fit now.

"I haven't had too many injuries to be honest but at the end of last season I had a slight problem with my knee. Hopefully the injuries are all in the past now.

"The manager has been great and given the young lads a chance in the first team, so when I get fit I've just got to show him what I can do and hopefully get a chance."

Pearce Excited By Sterling Form

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce says Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has looked "outstanding" in training as his side prepare for their European Championship play-off against Serbia.

The two teams meet in Friday's first leg in Norwich before Tuesday's return fixture in Krusevac.

"Raheem's been very good. Outstanding," said Pearce.

"He's brought his club form with him. He's looked very, very good. His tail is up and he looks a real handful."

England will secure a place at Euro 2013 in Israel with victory over two legs.

Sterling, 17, will win his first Under-21 cap if he plays against Serbia, having previously featured at Under-16, 17 and 19 level.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has used the midfielder 10 times already this season and he won a call-up to Roy Hodgson's senior squad for last month's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

"He's had a fantastic start to the season. He's been in our development age groups and he had the opportunity to be with the seniors," added Pearce.

"He's fitted in really well. The confidence Brendan has given him he has brought with him here."

Sterling's Anfield team-mate Andre Wisdom will not be available after returning to his club with a shoulder injury.

Robinson Gets U21 Call-Up

Promising Liverpool left-back Jack Robinson has been called into the England U21 squad for their upcoming Euro 2013 play-off against Serbia.

The first leg will take place this Friday at Carrow Road and the second leg will be in Serbia next Tuesday.

Stuart Pearce drafted Robinson into his squad after on-loan Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury and Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne were ruled out of both games due to injury.

The squad now contains four Liverpool youngsters, with Robinson joining Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom in the camp.

Robinson, 19, has previously represented England at U16, U17, U18 and U19 level, and he became the youngest player to make a first team appearance for Liverpool when he made his debut at the age of 16 in May 2010.

This season, he has featured in the Liverpool squad for their Europa League matches, and started last week's 3-2 loss at home to Udinese, earning praise for his display despite the defeat.

Pearce is looking forward to taking his side to Carrow Road as they look to secure a place in next summer's finals in Israel.

They beat Romania 2-1 on their last visit to the ground two seasons ago which helped take them to the 2011 European Championships finals in Denmark.

"This play-off has been pencilled in for Norwich for a long while, simply because of how we have always been welcomed by the club and the fans in this neck of the woods," said Pearce.

"It's a passionate area for football, they love their team and they also love England, so always give us great support at Carrow Road.

"This is somewhere the Under-21s have always enjoyed playing and I am delighted we're going back."

Enrique's Injury Woes Continue

The good news for Jose Enrique is that his manager may not be getting ready to shove him out the door any more. The bad news is that he won't be able to even begin training again for at least seven to ten more days.

As if being called out by his new manager wasn't bad enough for Jose Enrique, the Liverpool left back who has found himself out of favour while struggling to return from a persistent knee injury faces at least another week on the trainer's table before he even has the chance to return to action.

"Hopefully within the next week to 10 days he'll be back out on the training field," was Brendan Rodgers' take on Enrique's situation before adding that he hoped there would be no negative reaction to the current treatment regimen that could see the Spaniard out for even longer.

"He hasn't been [available for selection] the last couple of weeks. It's unfortunate—he's got a pain in his knee that he was struggling with. We've been trying to treat it conservatively."

There's still a chance that on that timeline he could be available to face Reading following the international break, but with much of the squad either away with their national teams or working of further implementing Rodgers' system, every day that Enrique misses is another chance to fall further behind in the eyes of his manager.

About the only good news for the fullback might be that while discussing his situation, Rodgers took the chance to paint the player in a rather more flattering light than when he talked about Enrique being a potential January departure alongside the under-performing Stewart Downing at the end of September.

"He's a terrific player," said Rodgers, in what represents a softening of his tone when it comes to the fit and out of form fullback, "and he has got great qualities. We hope we can get him back sooner rather than later."