Sunday, June 30, 2013

Liverpool Slams Suarez-Real Speculation

Liverpool has slammed reports claiming star attacker Luis Suarez has been negotiating terms to switch to La Liga giant Real Madrid.

The controversial Uruguayan has been on national duty at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, and Spanish daily Marca took to publish Suarez had been in talks with Madrid behind the backs of the Anfield chiefs.

The Reds slammed the speculation, saying Suarez had not handed in a transfer request, has three years remaining on his contract and is not for sale.

However, Liverpool is reportedly concerned by the close links between the media organization and Real - and treated the claims seriously.

If the rumours do have any substance, a potential move would have a direct flow-on effect on Tottenham Hotspur and its electrifying winger Gareth Bale.

Real assistant Zinedine Zidane is a known admirer of the Welsh magician, but the Bernabeu club would obviously only chase one of Suarez or Bale.

Liverpool Target Put Up For Sale

Long running Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan has officially been transfer listed according to Shakhtar Chief Executive.

“Henrikh is an important player in our team,” chief executive Sergei Palkin said in an interview with Izvestia. “Shakhtar want to keep him, but we are willing to listen and consider all suggestions for a transfer.”

“We have already parted with Willian and Fernandinho, but the club will not just sell players. In the near future we will also gain quality, designed to replace the leading players, possibly including Henrikh.”

Premier League clubs Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool will all be put on alert after this recent occurrence, and a bid in excess of £15million should be enough to allow Shakhtar to part with one of their star players.

Liverpool Agree £25.7 Million Deal For Top Transfer Target

Liverpool has finally reached an agreement to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk, according to Russian newspaper Sport Express.

Armenian television program ‘Extra Time’ announced on Friday evening that Mkhitaryan had agreed terms with a foreign club over a transfer, and it would now appear that Liverpool have won the race to sign Ukraine’s top goalscorer this summer.

Mkhitaryan scored 25 goals for Shakhtar Donetsk last season from an attacking midfield position, and providing he can adapt well to the Barclays Premier League, he could be an immense signing for Brendan Rodgers’ team.

Sport Express state that the 24 year-old will fly to Merseyside in the coming days for a medical and to complete the necessary paperwork in order to finalize the deal.

With a reported fee of €30 million (approximately £25.7m), Mkhitaryan would be the second most expensive signing in Liverpool history, after the £35 million Andy Carroll cost when he signed from Newcastle United in January 2011.

With Carroll having moved to West Ham United this summer for a significant loss having failing to impress for the Reds, Liverpool will hope that their next big move in the transfer market is a more successful gambit.

Spurs To Hijack Liverpool's Henrikh Mkhitaryan Move

Liverpool fans in the Football Transfer Tavern had thought that the deal to bring Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Anfield was almost complete but today’s Mail Online reports that Premier League rivals Tottenham are ready to hijack the deal and sign the goalscoring midfielder this summer.

The Armenian international had already held positive talks with Brendan Rodgers and it was thought that a deal could have been agreed before the transfer window opens officially at the start of July but now it looks like Spurs could move for him instead with the prospect of European football likely to prove attractive.

Spurs are close to finalizing the £17 million agreement for Brazilian defensive midfielder Paulinho of Corinthians but once that deal is over the line the attentions with representatives at the club will turn to the £20 million rated 24-year-old midfielder.

Champions League finalist Borussia Dortmund are also thought to have made a bid for Mkhitaryan, who netted 25 times last season but a move to the Premier League is thought to be his desired preference this summer.

Liverpool Show Interest In Portuguese Winger

Liverpool scouts have set their sights on Sporting Lisbon starlet Bruma, according to reports.

The Liverpool Echo claims the 18-year-old Portugal youth international has caught the eye of the Reds hierarchy as they attempt to negotiate a deal for Tiago Ilori.

Both players are representing their country at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Portugal, helping Edgar Borges’ side to top spot in Group B and a place in the knockout rounds.

But, the news is not positive with regards to Bruma, with the paper claiming that Liverpool has ‘very little chance’ of bringing the talented teenager to the Premier League this summer.

Brendan Rodgers has already been a busy boss this summer, bringing Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet to Anfield in a relatively short space of time.

Bruma would certainly fit the plans set in place by the Northern Irishman on Merseyside, with talented young players getting their chance to shine.

However, Liverpool may now have to look elsewhere if they want to strengthen their attack further in the coming months.

Liverpool Push For Verona's Jorginho

Liverpool has reportedly stepped up their attempts to sign Hellas Verona’s Italian-Brazilian starlet Jorginho.

The 21-year-old creative midfielder’s full name is Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, but he is known to supporters by his nickname.

Born and raised in Brazil, Jorginho grew up in the Verona youth academy and has opted to represent Italy at international level, receiving one cap so far for the Under-21 side.

Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all sent scouts to view him at Verona, but Sky Sport Italia claim Liverpool are surging forward.

The Anfield side is proposing an offer worth £8m – approximately €10.5m.

Liverpool Interested In Grêmio's Matheus Biteco

Liverpool is set to make a move for highly-rated Grêmio midfielder Matheus Biteco for a potential fee of £5 million.

The Merseyside giants sent scouts to the Toulon U20 tournament earlier this month ahead of a possible swoop.

The club was reportedly impressed with the defensive midfielder and is considering a £5m bid for the Brazilian according to the Liverpool Echo.

Sambafoot revealed earlier this month that Liverpool sent scouts to the tournament and that defensive midfielder Matheus is one player being looked at as a possible signing.

Liverpool have a history with Matheus' parent club, Grêmio, having signed Lucas Leiva in 2007 and former Reds left-back Fabio Aurelio currently plies his trade at the Porto Alegre club.

Porto Alegre native Matheus has featured in Grêmio's Campeonato Gaucho campaign, making six appearances in midfield, three of them in the starting lineup.

The summer would be an ideal time for a swoop as Matheus turns 18 in June, paving the way for a move abroad as Brazil laws prevent the departure of footballers aged 17 and under from Brazil.

Liverpool are thought to be looking to bolster their defensive options this summer and with Lucas Leiva their only recognized defensive midfielder, Matheus could be a long-term solution.

Martin Skrtel Is At A Crossroad

A year can be a hell of a long time in football. Just ask Martin Skrtel. From mainstay to makeweight, and all in the space of 12 months. Skrtel’s Anfield future, like several others, is up for debate this summer.

The central defender is tied into a lucrative, long-term contract with the Reds, but the suggestions from inside the club are that reasonable offers will be considered. Napoli, managed by Rafael Benitez, has been linked.

It is all a far cry from this time last year. Then, Liverpool were having to convince Skrtel they could match his ambitions, as well as his financial demands. They, not the player, were the ones fighting. He was the one holding the cards.

Perhaps understandably. The Slovakian had, after all, just been named as the Reds’ Player of the Season. He was a constant, a reliable presence.

Manchester City was interested. They sniffed, they probed, they whispered in his agent’s ear, and they tested Liverpool’s resolve with a formal bid, understood to be around £12m.

Liverpool, swiftly, rejected it. Brendan Rodgers, newly appointed, was desperate to retain his key players. Skrtel, together with Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger, was certainly one. There was, generally, a sense of relief at Anfield when a new contract was agreed in August.

Maybe that took his eye off the ball. Because since then his stock has fallen. And fast.

Sluggishness in possession, a nervousness when faced with imposing, physical forwards, and, perhaps more alarmingly, an apparent lack of genuine leadership qualities, all contributed to his demotion from the Reds team back in January.

Skrtel – along with Sebastian Coates, another who is fighting for his Anfield future right now – was bullied by Oldham Athletic’s Matt Smith as Liverpool were dumped out of the FA Cup. A senior international defender given the runaround by a reserve League One striker. It proved a pivotal moment.

Three days later, Liverpool went to Arsenal. Jamie Carragher started, and Skrtel was benched. He has started just three games since.

And with Rodgers making no secret of his desire to bring in “at least two” central defenders this summer, the feeling is that, at 28, Skrtel’s number is up at Anfield.

Kolo Toure has been signed, and Rodgers was desperate to bring Kyriakos Papadopoulos, the highly-rated 21-year-old, too.

Liverpool’s refusal to compromise with Schalke over their asking price could offer Skrtel the chance of an Anfield revival.

Having been scared of losing him a year ago, Liverpool may now regret that they didn’t cash in on him when they had the chance. Because Manchester City is unlikely to come back for him now.

What a difference a year makes.

City Duo Applaud Toure Acquisition

Kolo Toure's level of experience and leadership makes his free transfer to Liverpool an 'astute' signing according to two of his former colleagues at Barclays Premier League rivals Manchester City.

The Ivorian defender plied his trade with City for four seasons, winning a championship medal and the FA Cup as well as sharing a dressing room with Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott.

"Kolo will be a great signing. I think it's an astute signing by Brendan Rodgers because he has got so much experience," Barry told LFC TV.

"He will always give 100 per cent, he will never give up. Kolo will win over the fans straight away.

"Losing Jamie Carragher's experience from the dressing room will be a huge loss for Liverpool and the fans.

"But Kolo, with his experience and his work-rate, the way he goes about his training, will do a good job of replacing him."

That's an opinion shared by City teammate Lescott, who had the opportunity to watch Toure at close quarters during their time together in Manchester.

The England international explained: "He's energetic, he's full of life and he's always smiling every day in training.

"I know he's a good player - he's quick, he reads the game well and he's a leader. You can't replace Jamie Carragher but that will be as close as you're going to get."

New Boys Will Aid Top Four Push

Robbie Fowler is confident Liverpool's summer transfer business so far will stand them in good stead when it comes to mounting a strong challenge for a top-four finish in 2013-14.

The Reds have moved quickly to add Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet to their ranks so far this summer, while a deal has also been agreed in principle for Kolo Toure.

Fowler believes such acquisitions will allow Brendan Rodgers' men to achieve a greater degree of consistency this term and build on the progress made over the course of the last campaign.

Speaking in Indonesia on a promotional visit to the country ahead of this summer's pre-season tour, he said: "At the start of every season, we always have aims and ambitions to get into the top four and get as high up the table as we can.

"We didn't do it last season, but you could see the progression was slowly getting there - we were getting better all the time.

"For this season, there have been a few more players added to the squad, so I think the consistency will be a little bit better.

"The likes of Manchester United and Chelsea have got new managers now, so hopefully it will be a bit of a sticking point for them - but in terms of Brendan Rodgers and the squad we're putting together, I think we can certainly challenge for that top four."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Liverpool Must Avoid Another Year In Transition

Liverpool has dipped into the market very early. Already, Brendan Rodgers has snapped up Manchester City veteran Kolo Toure, Spanish starlets Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas and finally ex-Sunderland shot-stopper Simon Mignolet.

These new purchases have confirmed the fact that the corporate heads are serious about ensuring Liverpool’s place in the top four next season.

Yet, fans are worried at how long it will take the new stars to settle in at Anfield.

In all earnestness the fear of having another transitional season is genuine.

We should also not forget the importance of winning the early fixtures of the season.

Last August, we were expecting the new stars to shine but something nearly opposite happened.

The fans have not forgotten the meek performances of Joe Allen, Sebastian Coates and Fabio Borini, just to name a few.

One thing that the Reds have struggled with, for quite some time, is consistency. What they need right now is a match winner, someone who can inspire a comeback from two goals down.

Yes, Steven Gerrard still has some years left in him but over-dependence on him is one of the reasons why Liverpool have ended up in mid table positions for the past four years.

David Villa is looking for a club that can provide him with regular playing time and Liverpool should pursue him.

Yes, he comes with a hefty price tag but that can be balanced with the money Luis Suarez’s sale might bring whose departure is not a question of an ‘if’ but ‘when’. The Spanish international has played with top sides that have different styles and has proven himself on every occasion.

Amongst the new arrivals, it is fair to say that the best days of Kolo Toure are behind him. Aspas has been quoted as the less famous version of Suarez, because he posses both the qualities of the Uruguayan - creativity and involvement in controversy.

Alberto is yet to be tested on the big stage while many believe Mignolet is overhyped. Brendan Rodgers needs to rethink his strategy before making any hasty decisions.

Nevertheless, he does have a point when he claims the new signings will improve competition for a place in the playing eleven.

Gerrard Excited By Liverpool Signings

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has admitted that he is thrilled by the club’s early transfer activity and is excited about lining up with his new team mates.

On Wednesday, Liverpool confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, to add to the acquisitions of Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas.

The Reds skipper is hopping that the early business with allow them to compete for a Champions League place next season.

He told the club's official television channel, "Especially with the news of us making a few signings, I'm really looking forward to getting started.

"It's always important to get faces in as soon as possible; they can get a full pre-season under their belt, get to know the lads and how the manager wants to play.

"There are some exciting names in there so everyone is excited."

Gerrard also admits that he does not know much about the Spanish pair, but trusts the club’s scouts to have done a great job.

"I know very little about them but I have got a lot belief and confidence in Brendan [Rodgers] and the scouting department that they are going to make the right decisions and I have seen bits and bobs of new signings we have made," he remarked.

"I am really looking forward to getting back to work next week and seeing what the new players have got to offer and see if they can help strengthen our squad to put in a better fight for a top-four finish."

Liverpool Rekindle Interest In French Striker

Liverpool has reportedly rekindled their interest in signing Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Kevin Gameiro, according to Le 10 Sport. The French international has been on the Reds' radar for a while now and Brendan Rodgers even made a loan approach during the January transfer window.

Gameiro had a strong 2011/12 season, scoring 11 goals from 27 Ligue 1 starts. However, the arrivals of Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi last summer limited game time for the 26-year-old former Lorient youngster.

Nevertheless, Gameiro did still score eight times from his 25 league games; he only started seven of those. The report suggests the striker is keen on a move to Anfield and this lack of game time could persuade the Frenchman to hop across the English Chanel.

According to Le10 Sport, Liverpool will launch a bid for his services in the coming days. Gameiro earlier expressed his desire to leave his employers and has also revealed a dream of playing abroad at some point in his career.

"I always wanted to play abroad. At the end of the season, hopefully after we win the title, we can decide about my future. I want to play football every time. I am no different to any player. It is difficult to sit on the bench but all big clubs in Europe have the same problems, you can't play every game but being involved is good," Gameiro told Sky Sports.

The club's director of football, Leonardo, earlier admitted Gameiro's reaction as "normal". But the Brazilian is hopeful Gameiro continues at the Parc des Princes and does not hand in a request to leave the club.

"This is a normal reaction. He hasn't played too much this season. A penalty? No, no punishment. It has already happened with Menez and Nene. We understand that this bad mood lasts up to two hours after the match, then it stops," Leonardo explained.

"I hope he does not ask to go, he must understand his importance, but maybe he wants something else," he added.

Liverpool Target David Villa To Replace Suarez

Liverpool will turn to Barcelona striker David Villa if they are forced to sell Luis Suarez this summer.

The Reds are battling to hang onto leading goal scorer Suarez, who asked to quit the club earlier this month after becoming disillusioned with life in England.

Brendan Rodgers insists he is confident the player will stay, but after Real Madrid appointed Carlo Ancelotti this week the Primera Liga giants are pushing hard for a deal.

Liverpool is not willing to sell on the cheap but is coming around to the idea of offloading Suarez before the start of pre-season, and is already lining up possible targets.

According to reports in Spain, Barca hitman Villa is the leading contender to replace Suarez and Liverpool are confident they can get him for a bargain price.

The Anfield club has already brought in reinforcements up front in the form of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, but both are far from seasoned performers and Villa would guarantee instant goals.

The 31-year-old has already told Barca boss Tito Vilanova he wants out of the Nou Camp, and it’s thought Liverpool could get him for around £8million.

Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo suggests Tottenham and Napoli are also keen on the forward, but are yet to lodge an offer.

Suarez’s future will be decided when he returns from the Confederations Cup.

Liverpool Target PSG Star As Carragher Replacement

Liverpool are keeping tabs on Paris Saint-Germain defender Mamadou Sakho as Brendan Rodgers continues the search for Jamie Carragher's long-term replacement, reports the Daily Express.

Sakho, who was unable to hold down a regular first-team spot for Carlo Ancelotti's star-studded Ligue 1 champions last season, has stalled over signing a new deal with the club.

The 23-year-old, who has 13 caps for France, has been with PSG for his entire career, and has made 196 first-team appearances for the club.

PSG are believed to be keen to retain Sakho's services and have already offered him a new two-year contract and a pay rise.

The Reds has already brought in Kolo Toure to join the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, but with question marks hanging over the futures of the two latter players in that list the Anfield club are still thought to be keen on strengthening their defensive options.

Skrtel has been linked with a move to Napoli, with former Reds boss Rafa Benitez ready to splash the funds garnered from Edinson Cavani's inevitable departure.

Liverpool could now step up their interest in Sakho after reaching a dead end over a deal for Sporting Lisbon's Tiago Ilori and being priced out of moves for Swansea City's Ashley Williams and Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

Liverpool Transfer Target Eyes Real Madrid Exit

Real Madrid striker Jose Callejon is ready to leave the Bernabeu, with Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool interested in a move for the player, according to reports in Spain.

The forward struggled to make a long-lasting impression on former manager Jose Mourinho, with most of his 29 league appearances coming from the substitute’s bench.

And with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in such fine form last season, the 26-year-old striker struggled to gain a regular first-team berth and is now seeking a move away from the Bernabeu to gain frequent first-team football.

Once hailed as one of Spain's brightest young prospects, Callejon was signed by Real Madrid in 2011, having made the move from fellow La Liga side Espanol for a fee of around £4m.

He made 25 league appearances in his first season at Madrid, but like this season, most of these were from the bench. And it seems that Callejon has had enough of featuring from the bench and is seeking a permanent move away from the Spanish capital.

And with the performances of Real Madrid Castilla forwards Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata ever improving, Callejon may be forced further down the pecking order next season if these two players are promoted to the Real Madrid senior team next season.

And it is Premier League side Liverpool has expressed the strongest interest in the forward, whilst Serie A outfits Fiorentina and Napoli are also monitoring the situation of the 26-year-old as well.

If Callejon joins Liverpool, he will join fellow Spaniards Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas to have made the move to Anfield this season.

Assaidi Set For Return To Holland

PSV Eindhoven Target Loan Move For Assaidi

PSV Eindhoven wants to bring Liverpool outcast Oussama Assaidi back to Holland.

Assaidi, 24, failed to break through into the senior side last season in his first campaign at Anfield following his £2.4million switch from Heerenveen a year ago and virtually all of his appearances came in the Cups.

PSV are keen on Assaidi and would like to sign the Moroccan winger on loan for next season.

Assaidi has been pushed further down the Reds' pecking order by the arrivals of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas and Brendan Rodgers would consider letting him go.

However he would prefer to recoup the money he paid for Assaidi last summer to fund his latest spending spree rather than let him go out on loan.

Liverpool Midfielder Wanted By Swansea

Liverpool are prepared to sell Jonjo Shelvey to Swansea City - but only if Michael Laudrup makes a £5m offer, according to the Mirror.

The Swans have opened talks with the Reds' manager Brendan Rodgers about buying the England Under-21 midfielder, who has struggled to tie down a regular place in the Anfield club's starting line-up.

Former Swansea boss Rodgers has reportedly decided that Shelvey can go as part of his club's summer shake-up, and the Welsh side sees him as a player who can add bite to their slick-passing style.

Shelvey's availability has also alerted other clubs, but League Cup winners Swansea is showing the biggest interest and a compromise could be reached in the next 48 hours.

The 21-year-old signed for Liverpool from Charlton Athletic in 2010, for an initial fee of £1.7m.

He has since made 70 appearances for the Reds, scoring seven times in all competitions.

Shelvey was particularly successful in Liverpool's Europa League campaign last year, netting four times, and with the Swans due to enter the same competition for the first time this coming season, he could prove an important signing.

Arsenal Renew Interest In Pepe Reina

Arsenal has renewed their interest in Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina after the Anfield outfit completed the signing of Simon Mignolet, reports the Evening Standard.

Reina has been linked with a move to the Emirates on numerous occasions over the past few seasons, but a move never came to fruition with Arsenal's reluctance to meet the asking price coinciding with the rise of Wojciech Szczesny.

Although the young Szczesny began out very promising, the last season saw him make too many mistakes, costing Arsenal valuable points.

Wenger seemed to have lost faith in him when he selected Lukasz Fabianski to play instead, which is a bold statement considering the problems he has had himself in goal.

With Liverpool signing Simon Mignolet, its thought Pepe Reina's time at the club may be up, as Brendan Rodgers looks to assert himself on the Liverpool squad with numerous fresh faces.

The Evening Standard has reported that Reina will hold talks with Rodgers over his future once he returns from the Confederation Cup.

The move to the Gunners is also now more realistic due to their newly founded financial power, and restructuring of the wage bill - helped by the departure of highly paid players who failed to make an impression on the squad.

Therefore Reina's £110,000-per-week wages shouldn't prove a problem for Arsenal.

Although it might be unclear as to where Reina will begin next season, it seems that Arsenal is in the market for a goalkeeper. They have scouted a number of the best shot-stoppers in the world, and have been linked with moves for many of them; these include Victor Valdes, Asmir Begovic, Rene Adler and Julio Cesar.

Rodgers Praised For Sterling Treatment

The CEO of the QPR Community Trust has praised the way Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is handling the career of young England winger Raheem Sterling.

Andy Evans has been with the trust for almost 20 years and has overseen a number of young players who have gone on to turn professional including Liverpool speed-merchant, Sterling.

Sterling made his first-team debut for Liverpool in 2012 and made his England debut later that year after a series of impressive displays for the Reds.

Rodgers used the 18-year-old sparingly in 2013 amidst fears of possible burnout and Evans believes the Liverpool manager has dealt with the situation the right way.

“I think he’s probably managed him quite well,” said Evans.

“He will be seeing and working with him every day throughout the year and it’s a big jump going from a youth player to becoming a first team player in the Premier League at a big club.

“I’m sure Brendan and his staff will be managing his workload accordingly and that is probably why they took him out towards the end because it is difficult for a young player like that to maintain his level over the course of a whole season.”

Evans believes changes to modern day football mean managers now have to be more careful than ever in nurturing young talent.

“It’s not just about skill level and fitness it’s also about how young players handle the media glare and everything that goes with the challenge of playing at the top level,” he explained.

“It’s about how they handle their life off the field as well, not just what they do out there on the park during 90 minutes but how are they coping with all the other pressures that go with that.

“It falls on the staff at those clubs who are close to them and working with them to manage that side of their development as well.”

Sterling was snapped up by Liverpool in 2010 as a 14-year-old by former Reds manager Rafael Benitez and Evans conceded QPR were powerless to stop the move.

“He came into the academy here at QPR and at the time the club was quite challenged financially, as it was a few years before the big takeover,” he said.

“Liverpool came in for him with an offer the club couldn’t really turn down and obviously it was a great opportunity for Raheem and his family as well.

“It was a shame we couldn’t hold onto him and see him wear the blue and white hoops because it would have been great to see a real local kid go from the academy to the first team.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mignolet Completes Liverpool Move

Liverpool has completed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland on a long-term contract.

The Reds agreed a deal with the Black Cats late last week but the 25-year-old only completed a medical at the club’s Melwood training ground on Tuesday.

After passing the medical the Belgium international put pen to paper on a long-term deal that sees him become Liverpool’s fourth signing of the summer.

“I am delighted that we have been able to sign one of the top goalkeepers in the Barclays Premier League,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told the club’s official website.

“Simon will join a club that will give him an opportunity to demonstrate and improve his huge talent.”

Mignolet added: “It’s a big club and when you arrive it’s a big thing. I’m very pleased to be here and I’m looking forward to getting started.

“The first training [session] will be very early and I’ll be happy to be there.

“I think it will be very special the first moment I step onto the pitch.”

Mignolet’s departure leaves Sunderland on the lookout for a new goalkeeper, but manager Paolo Di Canio has assured supporters that he is working hard to strengthen his squad.

“Simon is a fantastic footballer, a fantastic professional and a fantastic lad and I would like to personally thank him for his contribution to the team last season,” he said.

“He was crucial to what we achieved and he goes with the very best wishes of everyone at the club.

“I would like to assure our fans that there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes. Our aim is to build a competitive squad for the new season and this deal will give us further ability to strengthen the side.”

Liverpool Won't Move On Suarez Price

Liverpool will not let Luis Suarez leave the club this summer for anything less than their asking price, after rumours circled that he had agreed personal terms with Real Madrid.

Marca has reported that the Uruguayan has agreed personal terms with Madrid, but Liverpool will not let him join the club unless they offer £40 million plus for him.

Anfield bosses reacted swiftly to initial claims of an approach by Real by publicly stating Suarez was not for sale and it would be in breach of contract if talks have taken place.

Their stance has not changed, and they are keeping a close eye on developments at the Bernabeu, now Carlo Ancelotti has finally been confirmed as successor to Jose Mourinho.

Suarez has made no secret of his desire to join Madrid, in a series of interviews while on international duty with Uruguay, but he has been left in no doubt that Liverpool will not smooth the way for an untroubled exit.

Luis Suarez Holds Talks With Real Madrid

Luis Suarez has agreed terms with Real Madrid so that his switch to the Bernabeu can be 'fast-tracked' if Liverpool agree a fee with the Spanish giants, according to Marca.

The striker is currently with Uruguay on international duty at the Confederations Cup, but has made it clear during his time away from England that he would like to leave Anfield if the opportunity arose this summer.

Suarez said media intrusion was behind his attempts to bring an end to his Liverpool career, which began when he signed from Ajax in 2011.

Real Madrid is reportedly interested in landing Suarez this summer and the 26-year-old has admitted he would favour a move to Los Blancos.

Now Marca claim that Suarez has agreed personal terms with the Liverpool ace, who is expected to consider his options once Uruguay's participation in the Confederations Cup comes to an end, which could be as early as tomorrow.

Marca also claim that Suarez has offers on the table from other clubs, and that the Liverpool man will consider them if Madrid aren't forthcoming with a serious offer for his services.

The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid's manager will go some way to clearing up the uncertainty regarding Suarez, as the Italian will likely firm up his transfer plans in the coming weeks.

Madrid would have to offer Liverpool around €47 million in order to activate the release clause in Suarez's contract.

Ancelotti Coy Over Suarez To Real Madrid Talk

Carlo Ancelotti has refused to clarify his position over the pursuit of Liverpool's Luis Suarez - but suggested Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain's future will be decided soon.

Suarez has repeatedly told Liverpool he is seeking to leave the club and has spoken of his desire to play for Madrid.

The Uruguay international has cited the English press as the driving reason behind his desire to leave the country and Madrid are in the market for a striker.

Higuain seems destined to leave and Suarez could come in as a replacement but new manager Ancelotti gave nothing away at his introductory press conference on Wednesday.

"We haven't spoken yet about new signings, because it's my first day here," the former Chelsea manager said. "Today I can not say who goes or who stays. There is no time. In the coming days we will know."

Spurs & Liverpool Look To Snare Barca Starlet On Loan

Tottenham and Liverpool are hoping to sign Barcelona prospect Gerard Deulofeu on a season long loan, according to reports.

Deulofeu is considered as one of the brightest prospects emerging from the Barca youth system and due to the recent acquisition of Brazilian sensation, Neymar, he could leave on loan to gain much needed first team experience.

The Daily Mail believes that both clubs are interested in brining him to the Premier League after scouts of Andre Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers gave the youngster rave reviews.

However, reports from around various other websites have linked the forward to Manchester City, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Valenica, so the race for his temporary signature could really heat up over the next few weeks.

Liverpool To Sacrifice Henderson For Wanyama

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is looking into offloading Jordan Henderson to help fund a move for Celtic's Victor Wanyama.

New reports suggest a deal for the former Sunderland star could be used secure the Kenyan defensive midfielder's signature.

Wanyama, 22, was thought to be close to signing for Southampton in a £12m transfer, having rejected a new Parkhead contract.

But a club spokesperson recently confirmed negotiations are still on-going, revealing: "These negotiations, like any others, are carried out by Celtic in a proper, private and professional manner,"

Wanyama won plaudits for his stellar performance against Barcelona in Celtic's shock Champions League group-stage win last year.

According to The Shields Gazette, manager Rodgers is thought to be ready to sacrifice the England Under-21 star, even though Henderson was a key member of the Anfield outfit last season.

Liverpool has seen a flurry of activity in the transfer market this week, having finalized deals for winger Luis Alberto and forward Iago Aspas.

The club also signed former Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, and secured the services of Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet in deal thought to be worth £9m.

Borussia Dortmund Rival Liverpool Bid For Mkhitaryan

Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has revealed the Ukrainian giants have placed a temporary asking price on the head of their star man, who has gone AWOL.

Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has confirmed that Borussia Dortmund have made a €23 million (£19.5m) bid for attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Last week Goal revealed the Armenian is one of Brendan Rodgers' top targets as he plans a £42m summer splurge to bolster his squad for a Champions League charge next season.

Mkhitaryan has contributed to the intrigue himself by failing to show up with the rest of the Shakhtar squad for pre-season training, but until now Shakhtar have insisted the Reds have made no bid for their star man.

In the light of his absence and the interest of Liverpool and Dortmund, however, Palkin has confirmed they have now placed a temporary asking price on his head.

“I don’t know where Mkhitaryan is, now; solely his agent knows this," Palkin told Soccer.

"Borussia offered €23m (£19.5m) for the midfielder. I contacted Mkhitaryan’s agent yesterday. I wrote to him about the official position of the club.

"We are prepared to sell Mkhitaryan for €30m (£25m); this offer stands for the next 10 days. If Mkhitaryan wishes to leave, they have to pay this amount for him.

"€30m, one installment. If there is a club that can pay that amount, we are ready to make a deal."

Liverpool Frustrated In Attempts To Sign Tiago Llori

Liverpool’s interest in the Sporting Lisbon’s classy central defender Tiago Llori has hit a hitch which may severely hinder any attempts to sign him as a reinforcement for central defence.

Lisbon are currently unwilling to consider negotiating over more than 20 players who share the same representatives as their prized young forward Bruma – a talent linked to a number of Premier League clubs - because of problems in getting support in signing up the 18-year-old to a new contract.

Llori, who is a fast, tall defender with a big reputation in Portugal, is one of that group of players and the club’s general resistance to selling him explains why a figure of €20m (£16.9m) has been quoted – way beyond his realistic value. Liverpool does have an interest in the player and Sporting’s hand may be forced by their urgent need of money from the transfer market this summer.

Sources in Portugal have suggested that Liverpool have offered €3.5m net (£2.9m) for the 20-year-old, who was born in London though who has played all of his youth football in Portugal, with the last seven years in Sporting’s youth ranks.

The club remains some way off signing Shakhtar Donetsk’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan – for whom the Anfield club expects substantial competition from other European clubs. Shakhtar said Mkhitaryan had not turned up for pre-season training and insisted that he do so. “He did not come to the training session yesterday but he had to - we do not know why," Shakhtar's chief executive Sergei Palkin told Russian paper Sportsdaily.

Aston Villa Run Eye Over Downing

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert is said to be mulling a £6 million bid for Liverpool’s Stewart Downing, as the club seeks to add experience to a talented but young team.

Villa was almost relegated last season and the manager is determined to bring in an older head to help both on the playing side and in the dressing room.

Lambert has a number of possibilities including another former Villa player Gareth Barry who is currently in contract extension talks with Manchester City.

Since leaving Villa for Liverpool for £20 million, Downing, 29, has had a wretched time and although Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has not given up on the player, club sources suggest that if the right bid came along he would be allowed to leave. Downing himself is keen to stay and fight for his place.

The biggest stumbling block to any move would be the player’s £70,000 a-week wages, though a low transfer fee could mitigate that.

Shakhtar: No Mkhitaryan Talks

Shakhtar Donetsk admits they are unsure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan's whereabouts, but insist they have had no contact with Liverpool.

The Armenia international is reported to figure prominently on Brendan Rodgers' wish list, as he attempts to bring goals and creativity into Anfield.

It was suggested that an agreement was close and that Mkhitaryan was on his way to England to discuss a deal.

The 24-year-old playmaker was quick to play down those rumours, insisting he was enjoying a well-earned summer break, and Shakhtar maintain that they have received no approach.

The Ukrainian outfit has, however, revealed that Mkhitaryan is yet to report back for pre-season training - fanning the transfer flames.

Shakhtar's general manager Sergey Palkin said: "Mkhitaryan has not appeared for training. We do not know if he will arrive in the near future. He will be fined."

On the ongoing move talk, Palkin added: "He has not had any contact with Liverpool. I am confident that reports of negotiations are just rumours. Liverpool has not made an enquiry about the player.

"We have not heard that Mkhitaryan wants to leave. All questions about his behaviour need to be addressed to him."

Plans Unveiled For New Anfield

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has backed the £260m regeneration plan for the area surrounding Anfield, which includes the club's stadium's redevelopment proposals.

A consortium, led by Liverpool City Council with support from Your Housing Group and the club, has unveiled a vision to include new housing, shopping facilities, public space, office buildings, a hotel and development of Stanley Park.

Liverpool are still in the process of buying up the properties surrounding Anfield in order to push ahead with their stadium redevelopment, but Ayre told the club's official website "The unveiling of this vision for the wider regeneration of the Anfield area is another important step towards transforming the area for the better.

"The club has a track record of working successfully with LCC and others to drive forward improvements to the area, having made a major investment towards the transformation of Stanley Park.

"We are looking forward to working with the partnership and playing a part in the development of the regeneration vision and we strongly encourage local residents, businesses and community groups to get involved in the process and have their say.

"This is also an important milestone as we seek to investigate the feasibility of expanding our stadium.

"We will continue this work, which is just one part of the wider Anfield vision, and there is a great deal of work still to be done to bring those plans to fruition.

"We have always said that any stadium expansion will be subject to detailed economic and social feasibility studies and the community and home owners' support, which includes our ability to purchase the land for the proposed expansion.

"Any expansion is also subject to the club being able to navigate the planning landscape and we are pleased to say that very positive progress is being made."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Striker Iago Aspas Joins From Celta Vigo

Liverpool have signed Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas for £7m, subject to international clearance.

The club agreed a deal in principle last week and was just waiting for documentation before confirming the "long-term contract".

The uncapped Spaniard, 25, scored 12 goals in 35 league games for Celta this season as they avoided relegation from La Liga on the final day.

Aspas was a target for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers's old club Swansea.

He becomes Liverpool's second Spanish signing of the weekend, following the recruitment of Sevilla and Spain Under-21 forward Luis Alberto, 20, who has joined for a fee believed to be £6.8m.

They are set to be joined at Anfield by Simon Mignolet, with Liverpool expected to complete a £9m move for the Sunderland goalkeeper next week.

Earlier in the summer, Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, 32, agreed to join Liverpool on a free transfer.