Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reina Aiming To Improve Form

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is determined to recapture his best form after returning to the side against Wigan.

Reina kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 win over the Latics - his first game for the club since early October after missing over a month of action with a hamstring injury.

The Spaniard's shaky form has led to questions being asked of the Reds No 1 for the first time in his stay at Anfield, especially given the solid form of deputy Brad Jones.

But Reina is focused on becoming an even better goalkeeper now he is back to full fitness.

"I have to prove every day to myself, not to anyone in particular, I want to give my best to the team," he said.

"I am happy with that. I will try to encourage myself to be a better keeper and that is what I am doing now.

"Brad has been excellent, very composed, and he has played very well so I was happy for him. Obviously it has been the longest spell (out) since I was here.

"I was not playing at Barcelona because I wasn't on the bench but being fit and available it has never been so long.

"It is always nice to get back in the team and it was worth it to wait longer so as not to have any problems with injury coming back."

Reina could be back on the bench for the Europa League tie at home to Young Boys on Thursday but is not eager to step aside.

"We all want to play every game so that is for the manager to decide and I will be ready if I am involved," he added.

Sterling Set For New Contract

Raheem Sterling is set to sign a new long-term contract at Liverpool, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 17-year-old winger has been a revelation at Anfield this season and played a key role in the 3-0 win over Wigan at the weekend.

But Sterling, who made his England debut earlier this month, cannot sign a professional contract until he turns 18 next month - opening the door for other clubs to swoop for the youngster.

Rodgers is unconcerned by that situation because he is confident that the player is enjoying life with the Reds.

"The message is very simple - any club wanting to sign him would be wasting his time," said Rodgers.

"Raheem is in a really good place here. He has been given an opportunity here this season and he is thriving on it and enjoying the work.

"He will tie himself down to a new contract because he wants to be here and he can be a 'great' at this football club.

"We want him to continue to grow, and why would you want to leave one of the biggest clubs in world football? So it's a no-brainer."

Daniel Sturridge In Liverpool's Sights Again

Liverpool has asked Chelsea about the availability of striker Daniel Sturridge, paving the way for a £15 million January transfer.

Brendan Rodgers is desperate for more ammunition to support Luis Suárez, and he has decided Sturridge fits the bill as he looks to correct the errors of the last transfer window.

The Merseyside club has opened talks early in an effort to secure a swift deal when business reopens on Jan 1. They are prepared to make a formal bid after exploring numerous options to ensure Rodgers is not left without a striker for the second half of the season.

Chelsea are likely to accept an offer as high as £15 million and if they sell Sturridge will seek to replace him with a fresh approach for Bayer Levekusen’s Andre Schurrle.

Liverpool tried to sign Sturridge last summer, but that was only on the basis of a season’s loan. Up until the final stages of the last transfer window, the club was still in negotiations but Chelsea rejected a temporary proposal. They were only interested in as much as £15 million to make the move permanent.

At that time, Rodgers was not entirely convinced he should spend so much on the 23 year-old, who joined Chelsea for just £3.5 million. He was not willing to take a deadline day gamble in August, but the Liverpool manager has reassessed the situation in the last few months.

Sturridge also evidently fits the profile of Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, who have consistently made known their preference for signing players of international pedigree at a younger age.

One of the concerns Rodgers harboured last August was the former Manchester City striker publicly stated preference to play in a central role. Rodgers will hope to convince him the fluidity of his attacking formation will suit his game.

Since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2009, Sturridge has been unable to make himself a permanent fixture of the starting line-up under numerous managers.

After seeming to impress Andre Villas-Boas at the start of last season, he was relegated to the bench again when Roberto Di Matteo took over.

Sturridge has made no secret of his frustrations in west London since then and only last week he made it known how desperate he was to play more regularly — something which eludes him at Chelsea.

“It is difficult to judge me as a player and say my goalscoring record is this or that when I do not play regularly,” said Sturridge. “Not playing regularly is the most difficult thing for anyone to handle.”

Sturridge was first considered by Liverpool as a potential recruit two years ago when Fernando Torres moved to Chelsea.

He was mentioned in a possible swap deal in January 2010, but Liverpool decided they wanted a £50 million straight cash deal instead.

Liverpool Faces Serie A Fight For Colombian International

Liverpool faces a fight with Juventus to clinch the signing of Udinese defender Pablo Armero, reports talkSPORT.

The 26-year-old Colombian international has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, but now it appears his future could remain in Italy with the reigning Serie A champions courting his signature.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wants to strengthen his Anfield defence, and is ready to move for Armero when the transfer window reopens in January.

But Liverpool will have to act quickly before Juventus step up their interest, as reports in Italy suggest Antonio Conte is ready to make an £8million offer to bring the player to Turin.

Udinese will hold out for closer to £10million for the South American stopper - who can operate centrally, as well as at left-back - who arrived at Stadio Friuli in 2010, and has gone on to establish himself as a first-team regular for the Bianconeri.

Liverpool Look To Sporting Lisbon's Jeffren To Solve Striker Crisis

Liverpool is set to solve their forward problems with a move for Sporting Lisbon star Jeffren, according to reports in Portugal.

Brendan Rodgers has been left with just one forward option in Luis Suarez after summer signing Fabio Borini broke his foot in the early part of last month and the Reds failed to bring in a replacement for the outgoing Andy Carroll.

The Merseysiders have been linked with moves for several top names when the transfer window reopens in January, but it looks as though their preferred option will be Jeffren according to Portuguese newspaper Record.

The 24-year-old, who joined Sporting Lisbon in August 2011 from Barcelona and is thought to have already been the subject of an approach from Liverpool, could initially join the club on a loan deal, with an option to buy at a later date.

Jeffren has scored just once in seven appearances for Sporting this season in their 2-1 defeat to Vitoria Setubal, with the club currently sitting 10th in the Primeira Liga.

Liverpool & Arsenal Eye £24m Portuguese Striker

Arsenal and Liverpool are keeping tabs on Braga hitman Eder, according to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, reports talkSPORT.

The 24-year-old Portuguese international has started the 2012/13 campaign in impressive form, scoring six goals in seven league appearances.

His performances are believed to have captured the attention of a number of admirers, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger credited with an interest in bringing Eder to the Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window.

Liverpool is also in the market for a forward, with Brendan Rodgers keen to strengthen his attacking department, which currently consists of Luis Suarez as the only fit first-team striker at Anfield, following the recent injury to summer signing Fabio Borini.

Arsenal have more options up front, but should they decide to sell Moroccan misfit Marouane Chamakh in the New Year, then Wenger might look to add another new face in north London.

However, both Premier League clubs will need to be prepared to pay big-money to secure Eder's signature, with Braga unlikely to sell for much less than his £24million buy-out clause.

Championship Move Could Beckon For Downing

Championship battlers Middlesbrough are planning a daring swoop that would see their former winger Stewart Downing rejoin his former club on loan from Liverpool.

Reports last week suggested that Brendan Rodgers had given up on the lackluster winger and had sanctioned his exit in the January transfer window. The 28-year-old has not started a Premier League game for the Merseyside club since the club’s opening day defeat to West Brom, and has had his commitment to the Liverpool cause questioned by the former Swansea City manager.

Sky Sports report that a number of Premier League clubs have maintained an interest in taking the winger in the January transfer window, most likely a fee greatly reduced from the £20 million Liverpool paid Aston Villa for his services in 2011. However, Sky Sports report that Middlesbrough is considering an audacious loan move for the 28-year-old before Thursday’s loan deal deadline.

It is suggested that the Middlesbrough hierarchy are prepared to meet a portion of the winger’s wages to make the loan deal happen. The Teesiders currently sit third in the Championship, despite last Saturday’s defeat to Cardiff City, and would hope to lure Downing back home to boost their hopes of promotion to the Premier League.

Pacheco's Plan To Emulate Suso

Dani Pacheco has reiterated his determination to become a first-team player at Liverpool – with the success of compatriot Suso providing the perfect motivation.

The 21-year-old has consistently remained on the fringes of the senior squad since joining from Barcelona back in 2007, making 17 appearances in a Red shirt.

Several loan spells have offered a taste of competitive action, but the Spaniard has watched Suso earn a starting berth and now wants to emulate his younger colleague.

"I haven't played as much as I would like this season, but in football things can change very quickly," the versatile forward told the Liverpool Echo.

"Look at what's happened with Suso. He was given a chance and he took it. He has worked really hard and has been playing every week. He is doing very well and I'm happy for him.

"I must try to do the same. I hope I'll get a chance and then it's down to me to take it. I train with the first team every day and if I didn't have the belief that I could become a regular here I would have left already.

"I'll try to make sure that in the near future that happens. If it doesn't happen I will move on and try to make it somewhere else. But I still hope and believe I can make it at Liverpool."

A fundamental element of Pacheco's plan is to improve on the characteristics which manager Brendan Rodgers is looking for in his players and heed the Northern Irishman's advice.

"It's difficult when you don't play too many games," continued the former Barcelona youth.

"The most important thing for a young player is confidence. You get confidence by playing every week and I haven't done that yet.

"The manager loves players with skill but he also wants players to work really hard to win the ball back for the team. I'm doing my best and trying to improve the things that he is telling me to do. Hopefully I will impress the manager and get more games.

"I really enjoyed playing against Young Boys away when we won 5-3 with a very young side. The manager was very pleased with the way we performed and I'd love to play against them again at Anfield."

U21s Qualify For Elite Stage

Rodolfo Borrell's unbeaten U21s have secured a place in the Barclays Premier U21 Elite Group, which will be played after Christmas.

The 1-1 draw between Crystal Palace and second placed Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday ensured the Academy side will progress to the next stage.

Borrell's side are still on target to win their National Group 3 section with just three games remaining, and need just one point to secure top spot.

The Reds are the only unbeaten U21 side in the country and highlights of their season so far include the 4-1 away win at Chelsea and the 5-1 thrashing of Wolves at Molineux.

Results have been accompanied by some sparkling football, with the U21s scoring 25 goals in nine games, conceding 10, for a positive goal difference of 15.

With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso breaking into the first team this season, Borrell has fielded a much-changed side but Conor Coady, Adam Morgan and Michael Ngoo have all impressed and they can now look forward to the elite stage in 2013.

Police Interview Sterling

Teenage Premier League star Raheem Sterling was interviewed by police over an alleged attack on a woman.

The 17-year-old Liverpool and England star was questioned under caution after Merseyside Police received a complaint of assault.

He was not arrested and attended the police station by prior appointment, Merseyside Police said.

The 27-year-old alleged victim, who is known to the footballer, suffered "slight" facial injuries during an incident in Toxteth, Liverpool, earlier this month.

A police spokeswoman said: "Merseyside Police can confirm that a 17-year-old male from the Woolton area was interviewed under caution following a report of an assault on Friday November 2.

"A 27-year-old woman received slight injuries during the incident in the Liverpool 8 area.

"At this time, the investigation is ongoing and no formal action has been taken."

The Jamaican-born teenager made his international debut for England last week against Sweden and has earned plaudits for his performances for Liverpool this season.

Liverpool FC have made no comment on the matter.