Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Liverpool Boss Delighted With Coutinho

Brendan Rodgers has piled on the praise to January signing Philippe Coutinho saying that he would pay to watch him after a series of superb performances during pre-season.

Coutinho scored and made one in the Reds final tour game in Asia as they defeated Bangkok 3-0 in Thailand to which Rodgers was delighted.

He is quoted in the Daily Star saying of the 21-year-old, “Coutinho had me up off my seat. He’s a player you would pay money to watch because he’s just a delight on the ball.

“He’s a real find for us, in terms of the price we have paid, and hopefully his value will be much greater than the cost in the coming years.”

There were questions raised that being slight and just 5ft 6in tall that he would not be able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League, but the Northern Irishman does not believe that is a problem.

“Don’t worry, he can look after himself – you can see he can use his body if needs be,” he said.

“Of course, he has to become adapted to the physical game here because it is very physical, but you can see already he has genuine man-strength.

“That strength will grow even more, the longer he is in the country and gets physically that bit stronger and gets up with the tempo.”

Liverpool returned home yesterday after a tour of Indonesia, Australia and Thailand that proved to be an unqualified success both on and off the pitch.

Rodgers was delighted with the work-rate and effort of his players ahead of their Premier League opener at home to Stoke on August 17.

Arsenal Not Prepared To Raise Suarez Bid

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is prepared to wait to discover whether the club's £40m bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez allows the striker to leave Anfield this summer, rather than making an improved bid, according to the Mirror.

The Gunners have made the Uruguay international their number one transfer target after he revealed his desire to leave Liverpool earlier this summer.

And after having a £35m bid rejected, the north London outfit submitted a second £40m plus £1 offer, in the belief that they would trigger a clause in his contract.

However, Liverpool refute that any clause exists in Suarez's contract, and subsequently rejected the bid while refusing the prolific striker to discuss terms over a potential transfer to the Emirates Stadium.

The Mirror claim that Suarez still hopes for Real Madrid to make an offer for his services - although this seems somewhat unlikely given their relentless pursuit of Tottenham star Gareth Bale, who could break the world record transfer fee if sold this summer.

Suarez, though, would still settle on a move to the Gunners if an offer from the Spanish capital doesn't arrive.

Cavani Tells Liverpool To Let Suarez Leave

Edinson Cavani has told Liverpool to let Luis Suarez leave so he can realize his full potential at a Champions League club.

Suarez is eager to seal a move away from the Anfield club with Arsenal leading the chase.

However, Arsenal has had two bids of £35m and £40m rejected as Liverpool desperately try to cling on to their star striker.

Brendan Rodgers claimed that neither offer came close to matching his evaluation for the striker - he and the club reportedly want over £50m.

Their reluctance to sell has prompted Suarez's international team mate Cavani to speak up on behalf of the controversial star.

Cavani, who recently moved to PSG in a record-breaking £55m deal, told reporters that Suarez is unsure Liverpool have signed the right players to break in to the top four.

He said: "We have been speaking a lot and, while I can’t tell you everything, I can tell you that he is desperate to start playing Champions League football.

"Liverpool already know that, though, because he has told them."

He then told Liverpool that they should understand why Suarez wants to leave and should let him move on.

"I think if he thought Liverpool would qualify for Champions League football next season he would stay," he said. "But with the other top teams in England adding players, he doesn’t think Liverpool have the resources to break into the Champions League spots.

"I have said before one of the most complete strikers in the world needs to be playing at the top level and I hope Liverpool understand that.

"He doesn’t want to leave on bad terms because he respects the club and fans, but he needs to achieve his dreams in the game."

Benfica Star Close To Completing Liverpool Switch

Lorenzo Melgarejo will travel to Liverpool on Wednesday to undergo a medical and complete his season-long loan move from Benfica - as talkSPORT revealed.

The full-back is expected to provide competition for Jose Enrique as Brendan Rodgers looks to improve his squad in a bid to make the Champions League spots.

And the 22-year-old will travel to Merseyside to complete the formalities of the deal before putting pen to paper.

There is also likely to be an option to buy Melgarejo at the end of the loan deal, with a fee of £7.8m mooted.

Bolton Still Trying To Pry Spearing

Bolton is still trying to sign Liverpool's Jay Spearing, manager Dougie Freedman has revealed.

The midfielder made 39 appearances in all competitions during a loan spell at the Reebok Stadium last season after finding his first-team opportunities at Anfield limited.

Freedman admitted earlier in July that a deal was unlikely to be concluded as Bolton could not match Liverpool's valuation of the 24-year-old and, while he concedes that negotiations are not going well, the former Crystal Palace boss remains keen to sign Spearing on a permanent basis.

"Jay Spearing is the kind of player I love," he said at a fans' forum event on Monday.

"At the moment, the asking price is too high but we're still trying to do a deal."

Freedman is keen to bolster his ranks ahead of the new Championship season after just missing out on the play-offs with a seventh-place finish last term.

He has already signed the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Alex Baptiste - from Leicester City and Blackpool, respectively - during the transfer window.

John Barnes Complains About Pepe Reina

Liverpool legend John Barnes has aired his grievances about Pepe Reina's Anfield departure, and he feels that the goalkeeper - and not the club - is in the wrong.

It recently became known that the Spaniard wanted a move to Barcelona. But when that didn't come to fruition, he was loaned out to Napoli, following Simon Mignolet's £9m Liverpool arrival.

And now Reina has claimed that this loan move was organized behind his back and that he had no choice over his move to be reunited with Rafa Benitez in Italy.

Yet the former England International believes that the route of this problem comes from the fact that the keeper has lost his desire to represent Brendan Rodgers' side.

Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show, Barnes lamented Reina's attitude: "You should want to play for Liverpool and nobody else, or you should go. You can't dictate which clubs come in for you.

"It was made clear to him that he wasn't going to be the number one and now that the Barcelona move didn't come about, he's spitting his dummy out."

This loan move to Napoli may only be temporary, but Pepe Reina's Liverpool exit may well be a permanent one.

Liverpool Use Social Media To Target Asian Fans

Commercial success has become an integral factor of success since the rapid growth of the financial sector in the footballing world.

Those Premier League teams that have capitalized by increasing their global brands at any opportunity have reaped the rewards.

The most successful example is Manchester United, who is the second-strongest footballing brand globally worth £535 million.

Liverpool is another club currently attempting to expand their commercial value as their brand is worth only £239 million.

The club is trying to emulate their rivals, who have at least 17 different sponsors in specific regions or countries.

Liverpool has targeted sponsorship deals in Asia and Australia whilst on their pre-season tour in the area. The squad recently played in front of a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground packed with 95,000 fans recently - the largest crowd the club has played in front of for 122 years. This proves that despite their recent on-the-field gloom, the club still has a strong fan base internationally.

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre told The Australian Financial Review the club has at least 15 commercial staff who will stay in Asia after the players return to England on Sunday after a match in Thailand.

The Merseyside club is trying to make up lost ground after failing to capitalize on the growth overseas like their rivals United. The club's revenues do not even compare to others continually competing for the domestic and international honours each season.

Liverpool's revenue has obviously expanded since the days of their dominance in the 70's and 80's but this has primarily been due to the expansion of media contracts within kit sponsorships and lucrative television rights deals from ESPN and Sky Sports.

Since Ian Ayre's recruitment in 2007, Liverpool's financial results have improved as the club benefits from the remarkable transformation in its commercial fortunes. After the acquisition of new American owners in the face of Fenway Sports Group the Reds also remain largely debt free.

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered extended their £19.6m shirts sponsorship deal with Liverpool during the recent Asia tour and the club hopes a social media buzz would help them attract more country-specific sponsorship deals in Asia like their 2011 tie-up with Honda Motorcycle in Thailand.

Improved income from commercial sponsorships, despite a global recession and the lack of Champions League action, helped Liverpool raise revenues, even as they recorded a £40.5 million loss and raised debts to £87.2 million in their last accounts from August 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012.

The Reds have expanded exponentially within the social networking market in the past year. Engaging with their broad global support base via social media channels has become an increasingly essential way for the Merseyside club to attract new sponsors in emerging markets and convince the existing ones to stay on board during their transitional period on the field.

The club has made strides by introducing hordes of country specific websites and social networking accounts on behalf of the club. They recently launched an Indonesian language website in May and a Thai language website in June ahead of their summer tour in an attempt to target the four billion strong Asian consumer market.

"We made a conscious effort to boost our social media presence about 18 months ago," managing director Ian Ayre told Reuters in an interview.

"We took the view that the real relationship with a fan is having true engagement. You can have millions of fans as you want, but if you're not communicating with them, how are you really establishing that relationship?"

Ayre says Liverpool’s turnover will reach about £200 million this year, a number that could be significantly boosted by qualifying for the lucrative European Champions League, which is worth £30 million to £40 million income a year.

The club posted a £40 million loss in the 2012 financial year, but Ayre says the result can be influenced by transfers of players. Rivals Arsenal, for example, this week lodged a £40 million plus £1 bid for their Uruguayan star Luis Suarez.

Liverpool placed tenth on the Deloitte Football Report in terms of revenue, but each of the nine clubs above them – led by Real Madrid with annual turnover of €512 million ($730 million) – play in the Champions League.

Bar exile from the Champions League football the major significant reason that has been cited as Liverpool's downfall is Anfield's capacity. Their home stadium holds only 45,000 fans on a match day whereas Old Trafford can seat 75,000. The Emirates stadium 60,000 and Manchester City have revealed proposed plans to increase the Etihad stadium's capacity to 60,000.

This therefore represents a massive weekly loss on the club's income in comparison to their rivals. The club has suffered as a result of repeated delays in their effort to move to pastures new.

In 2013, it was confirmed that rather than move to a new stadium Liverpool would opt to stay at their current home and increase it's possible capacity with expansive redevelopment to the Main Stand and the Anfield Road end.

Ayre said: “We know we have a massive following for general tickets, there are 30,000 on the waiting list for season tickets, but you have to get the economic modelling right because we are not just doing this to let more people in, we are doing this to generate more revenue to invest in the team.”

Speaking to Liverpool Echo in March: “Turnover if taken over 12 months, would show a reasonably healthy increase.

“The unaudited turnover which we shared with Deloitte for their publication this year £188.7m - an increase on last year’s £183.6m. So we are growing – we continue to grow." insisted Ayre.

“Our commercial revenues continue to grow and I think that is the key message.

“There is still a lot of work to do to restructure, particularly the football and I think everyone is aware of that.

“But that said our business is growing year on year. These accounts represent a year when we didn’t play European football. But we still grew our revenues."

LFC Launch Inspiring Schools Program

The Liverpool FC Foundation and Little League Sports have launched a new partnership to deliver a unique primary school development program to inspire children to learn new skills across a broad range of sports.

The new program - called 'Liverpool FC Foundation Skills and Drills' - will begin in September 2013 and has been created to give children the opportunity to access first-class coaching within primary schools throughout Liverpool.

To launch the program a special event was held at the Boot Room Sports Café at Anfield with more than 80 teachers, parents and kids in attendance and keen to learn more about the new initiative.

Mark Haig, the Liverpool FC Foundation's head of operations, said: "We are delighted to launch this innovative and exciting new schools program.

"Our Foundation is dedicated to working in schools to help build confidence and give aspirations to children in our city.

"This new partnership will give us the opportunity to work in even more schools and inspire more children - which we are very proud about."

One school supporting the scheme is St Paul's Catholic Junior School in West Derby.

Schoolteacher Paul Garrity said: "Tonight has been great to learn more about the Liverpool FC Foundation and the new 'Skills and Drills' program.

"The LFC badge has the power to inspire kids in our community so combining that with some top-class coaching and delivering it in a school setting can only be fantastic help for our kids."

Little League Sports has been successfully operating in dozens of local primary schools since 2008.

Little League Sports director, Jordan Wright, said: "This collaboration with Liverpool FC gives us a chance to expand our unique delivery in primary schools and give more sporting opportunities to children in our community.

"The Liverpool FC Foundation has many fantastic programs and we are very excited to a part of it."

LFC Announce CRC Sports Partnership

Iago Aspas, Robbie Fowler and Glen Johnson were on hand to launch a retail partnership agreement between Liverpool Football Club and CRC Sports.

The Reds' new partner is Thailand's number one sports retailer and brands distribution company - and now, as a result of the agreement, CRC Sports are the first official LFC sport-casual fashion partner in the country.

Under the agreement, signed at the Bangkok Convention Centre at the Centara Grand Hotel, CRC Sports have become the licensee of official LFC merchandise.

Official outlets will be opened in Supersports stores, which will offer products developed and priced exclusively for the Thai market, as well as housing the club's Warrior kit and training products.

The agreement will also see CRC Sports open official LFC outlets in Vietnam in the latter stages of 2013.

Liverpool FC's chief commercial officer, Billy Hogan, said: "We are thrilled that we have been able to open these outlets with CRC Sports, offering product specifically developed for our extensive fan base here on their own doorstep.

"We are committed to bringing the club closer to Thai fans - so far this year we have launched a dedicated website and Twitter feed for our fans in the country as well as bringing the team out to play in Thailand this week".

According to a recent independent REPUCOM survey conducted for the Barclays Premier League, the Reds have more than 26 million followers in Thailand.

Liverpool will be joining CRC Sports' portfolio of international brands such as New Balance, Crocs and Umbro. In addition, Warrior Sports, the official LFC kit supplier, is also one of the exclusive partners of CRC Sports.

CRC Sports' vice president of distribution and licensee department, Khun Warodom Pranboonplook, said: "It is with great pleasure that we can welcome Liverpool FC, one of the world's most admired teams with a huge fan base here in Thailand, into our international retail portfolio.

"We will be offering various Liverpool products, such as scarves, polo shirts, T-shirts, key-chains, and so on. Customers will be able to locate Liverpool products at LFC Corner in Supersports, Sport Mall, as well as other stores across the country.

"We plan to promote LFC products through various key football mass mediums, together with the heavy use of online and social media. We will also be promoting through our own website, www.supersports.co.th, and will be looking to link into the Liverpool FC fan club websites as well."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Liverpool Owners Dismiss Sale Suggestions

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have denied rumours that the club has been put up for sale.

Reports on Saturday suggested that the American investment company were prepared to pull out of the Premier League, with a Saudi Arabian oil firm believed to be interested in purchasing the Anfield side.

A spokesperson said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: "Fenway Sports Group has made its position clear; Liverpool Football Club is not for sale. There is no truth in this story."

And an FSG spokesperson added: "Like so many rumours in the past about a sale of Liverpool Football Club, there is absolutely no truth in this. We have had no meetings with anyone about a sale, we don't know who the source of the rumour is."

FSG purchased Liverpool from American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010 after a fan-led protest movement helped oust the controversial duo.

The Boston-based group has since sacked both Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, with the latter manager having won the only trophy of their tenure thus far in the form of the 2011-12 League Cup.

FSG have also owned Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox since 2002, and oversaw the end of their 82-year wait for a World Series victory in 2004.

Wenger Prepared To Wait For Suarez

Arsene Wenger has broken his silence on Arsenal's pursuit of Luis Suarez, claiming the north London club is "prepared to wait" to sign the Liverpool striker.

The Gunners made an improved 40 million-pound bid for the Uruguay international earlier this week, but with Anfield managing director Ian Ayre confirming the bid was rejected, Arsenal remains a long way away from agreeing a deal.

"We are not close to signing Suarez ... or anyone else," Wenger told reporters in Saitama, Japan.

"We are ready to do quick deals but all the transfers do not depend only on us. We are prepared to wait.

"There is nothing to say [on the Suarez deal]. I have been away now for two or [three] weeks and it’s hard to see how things are advanced because everyone is on tour at the moment and it’s very difficult to get in touch with people.

"It looks very unlikely that we will have anyone before the Emirates Cup next week, but we still have a strong squad."

Although Arsenal has only made one signing this summer, Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer from Auxerre, Wenger is confident his current squad has what it takes to win silverware this season.

"With or without additions we can be title challengers next season," the French boss added.

"What we want is not a name but a good player. The name is less important. What is more important is the quality of the player. At the moment I must tell you we are not close to signing anybody.

"Of course we want to do as many top players as we can, but we also have to focus on the players we have and develop them."

Liverpool Fight Napoli For Martinez

Napoli faces competition from Liverpool for Porto hitman Jackson Martinez, as he’s seen as an alternative to Luis Suarez.

This morning Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed via Twitter that they were in negotiations with Martinez, who has a price-tag of around €32m.

“With regards to another forward, we have to analyze the strength and the quality of the players that we have with boss Rafael Benitez,” wrote ADL.

“The addition could be Martinez or it could be a lot of other players. Benitez will make the decision.”

However, according to The Sun they face competition for Martinez from Liverpool, who see him as the ideal replacement for Arsenal target Suarez.

The 26-year-old Colombian international scored a remarkable 33 goals in 43 games in all competition for Porto last season.

Liverpool Competing With Everton For Brazilian Left-Back

Liverpool is in direct competition with their local rivals Everton as both clubs step up their interest in Granada left-back Guilherme Siqueira.

The 27-year-old has been linked with a possible move to Real Madrid as the Spanish giants look to find a possible replacement for Fabio Coentrao who is expected to leave the club after a somewhat disappointing stay at the Bernebeu.

However, according to Spanish publication El Ideal de Granada, Liverpool and Everton are also keen to recruit the experienced defender as both clubs look to find cover for their current first choice left-backs.

Everton are concerned that Manchester United will come back in with an improved offer for Leighton Baines; while Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he feels he needs cover for Jose Enrique.

Siqueira would be somewhat of a surprise as the Brazilian has been with La Liga minnows Granada for the past three seasons, but his consistent performances have clearly caught the eye.

The left-back has admitted that he will take some time to consider his future but it is unlikely that he would turn down an opportunity to move to Merseyside, as both clubs are expected to challenge for a place in the top six next season.

Granda are believed to have inserted a €25m release clause in the contract Siqueira signed last summer which keeps him at the club until 2017, but it is highly unlikely that either club would be willing to spend this amount on the defender.

While Liverpool is merely seeking a back-up option for Enrique, Everton's need for a left-back could become a priority if United come in with an improved offer for Baines.

They have already had an offer of £12m rejected but with more than a month until the transfer window closes there is a chance that David Moyes could attempt to be reunited with the defender at Old Trafford.

Liverpool Linked Pair Eriksen and Alderweireld Waiting For Transfers

Ajax captain Siem de Jong has revealed that Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld are still firmly thinking of a transfer away from the Dutch champions this summer.

Eriksen and Alderweireld, both of whom have been strongly linked with Liverpool on a consistent basis, while the former also has interest from AC Milan and the latter from Norwich City recently, have just one year left to run on their respective contracts in Amsterdam.

De Jong too has a contractual dilemma, however he has a further year left on his agreement with Ajax.

And while he is not spending too much time musing about a transfer, he revealed Eriksen and Alderweireld are still thinking in terms of moving.

"I talk to them about it. I hope they stay and I have spoken with them", he told AT5.

"For them it is a little bit different.

"They may have to wait a little longer and are slightly more concerned with a transfer than I am."

Ajax coach Frank de Boer has hinted that the pair could spend time on the bench if they remain at the club but do not sign contract extensions.

The odds are still that playmaker Eriksen and defender Alderweireld will be playing their football away from Holland by the time the transfer window slams shut however.

Liverpool Set To Resurrect Papadopolous Interest

Liverpool is ready to resurrect their pursuit of Greece international defender Kyriakos Papadopolous, amid reports of Napoli interest in Anfield centre half Martin Skrtel.

Boss Rodgers has long pursed the Schalke defender, but a troubling knee injury at the end of last season, persuaded him to defer a bid for the £12m-rated player.

Now though, the Greek defender, 21, has recovered sufficiently from the problem to be confident of passing any medical, and with Skrtel interesting his former boss Rafa Benitez, he is earmarked as the ideal replacement.

Rodgers has maintained he wants to sign at least one more defender, especially if he loses any cover at the back, and with Skrtel unlikely to be a first choice regular next season, he will press for a move to Italy.

Liverpool Have Set Their Sights On Speedy Young Winger

Liverpool has done a good job bringing burgeoning talent to Anfield this summer, such as Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto.

Brendan Rodgers has always had a good eye for young talent, and is reinforcing the team to challenge for a top four spot this season.

One of the prodigious talents Rodgers is looking to buy is speedy Porto winger Christian Atsu, who wants a new challenge after spending 5 years at the Estadio do Dragao.

It was understood that Liverpool were leading the race for the Ghanaian winger, but were struggling to reach a fee with Porto.

TalkSPORT reports that Liverpool will have to step up their pursuit due to Benfica joining the race for Atsu.

Porto are said to want 6 million pounds for the winger, and Liverpool need to reach an agreement fast if they want to get their man.

It is now a three way race between Liverpool, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon over Atsu.

The 21-year old winger’s possible arrival to Liverpool is probably a plea to get unsettled striker Luis Suarez to stay.

Some reports indicate that Suarez has plans to submit a transfer request after Arsenal’s latest bid.

Liverpool is set for a tumultuous month, with the Suarez saga set to eclipse Liverpool’s decent reinforcing job over the summer.

Oussama Assaidi Prefers Anderlecht Switch

Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi is understood to prefer a switch to Belgian giants Anderlecht over Dutch side Feyenoord.

The out-of-favour Morocco international has been targeted by both clubs, who are keen to take him from Anfield in time for the upcoming campaign.

Feyenoord had been looking at a loan deal for Assaidi and the player was ready to return to Holland, where he previously turned out for Heerenveen before signing for Liverpool in 2011.

However, interest from Anderlecht coach John van den Brom has turned the tables.

According to Dutch daily the Algemeen Dagblad, Feyenoord have become aware that Anderlecht are Assaidi’s first choice.

It is at this stage not yet clear whether the Belgian champions are looking to loan or buy the winger.

Assaidi saw first team opportunities at Liverpool limited last season, a situation which is unlikely to change in 2013/14.

Gerrard Stunned By Mind-Blowing Support

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has revealed how both himself and his club's new arrivals have been in awe of the support they have received during over the last week.

Liverpool played in front of an 85,000-strong crowd in Jakarta recently where their team bus was welcomed by hordes of Indonesian supporters sprawled across the streets.

The 32-year-old was also subject to a very over-emotional Liverpool after one female supporter, Sarah Hapsari, wept upon meeting him at the team hotel in Jakarta.

Their next match in Australia was watched by 95,000 in a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground as they played Melbourne Victory and ran out 2-0 winners.

Gerrard was also greeted by 5,000 Thai supporters in Bangkok recently where he and Brendan Rodgers paid their respects to the King on Friday night ahead of an upcoming friendly.

The Reds' new arrivals have impressed Gerrard. Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure and Simon Mignolet have revelled in the support they have witnessed across the other side of the globe.

The skipper told the club's official website: "The support this time has gone to a new level.

"I've obviously experienced unbelievable support throughout the years but over the course of the three places we've been it's been mind-blowing.

"What's been enjoyable for me is to see the new players' reaction.

"When they sign for Liverpool they know they're signing for a big football club, but when you go to places like Indonesia, Australia and Thailand, you can see on their faces how huge it is." Gerrard said.

"They're blown away by the size of this football club. It hits home then what they need to do to become regulars at this football club."

Rodgers Backs Toure To Fill Carragher’s Boots

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says he doesn’t need to add another player to his defence this summer thanks to the ‘terrific’ form of Kolo Toure.

The Ivorian moved to Anfield earlier this summer on a free transfer, as Rodgers looked to add experience to his defensive line following the retirement of club stalwart Jamie Carragher.

And the Reds boss says 32-year-old Toure has been in such good form he doesn’t need to worry about bolster his back-line any further before the new season.

‘Defensively, I think we’ll be fine,’ Rodgers said.

‘Kolo has been terrific since he came in here. He may be 32 years of age but he’s super fit and in great condition.

‘He’s a player who has looked after himself all his life. His age is no barrier and he’s someone with a winning mentality.

‘We have a number of other outstanding centre-halves in Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. We also have an up-and-coming top talent in Andre Wisdom who will be a very good centre-half for Liverpool in the future. And we still have Sebastian Coates too.’

Meanwhile Toure, drafted in to replace Carragher as an experienced head at the back, admits it will be tough for him to fill the former England international’s boots at this season.

‘I’m still really hungry for more. I still think I can bring more in football,’ he said.

‘This season is going to be massive for me. I will just try to show that I am still one of the best defenders. For a defender, 32 is nothing and physically I feel great.

‘It’s hard [to replace Carragher] because Jamie is Jamie. He was a fantastic player for Liverpool and in his time here, he was amazing.

‘For me, I just like to try to do things my way and I will try to do what I can, but I think it’s going to be really difficult to replace him. I will give my all and it’s going to be a great challenge for me.’

Peterson Hits Another U21s Winner

Kristoffer Peterson scored the only goal of a Liverpool U21s victory for the second time this week on Saturday as Alex Inglethorpe's side downed Hearts 1-0 at The Oval in Northern Ireland.

The Swede handed the U21s a 1-0 win over hosts Glentoran in midweek and proved the difference today too, latching onto a pass from Nacho and spinning his marker to smartly convert after 64 minutes.

Hearts, featuring former Reds defender Danny Wilson, provided a stern test for Inglethorpe's team - although they had earlier opportunities to take the lead through Peterson and Daniel Trickett-Smith.

But the single strike was enough for the young Reds to record a second victory in two pre-season fixtures so far this summer. They return to action next Saturday, August 3, against Real Sociedad in Spain with kick-off to be confirmed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Liverpool Open To Benzema-Suarez Swap Deal

Liverpool would be open to a cash-plus-player offer for Luis Suarez from Real Madrid that could see Karim Benzema arrive at Anfield.

Starsport exclusively revealed this morning that Suarez was left angered at Brendan Rodgers' latest comments.

The Liverpool boss claimed Suarez owed the fans for backing him when he dragged the club's name through the mud.

Suarez was suspended for allegedly racially abusing Patrice Evra while he is banned for the start of the season after biting Branislav Ivanovic.

Liverpool has rejected a £40m plus £1 bid for Suarez from Arsenal, while Real Madrid are also said to be interested.

Napoli sold their star striker Edinson Cavani to Paris St-Germain for £55m earlier this month and Rodgers wants a similar fee.

But Liverpool would accept a cash plus a player offer, possibly French striker Benzema.

Benzema, 25, would fall down the Bernabeu pecking order if Madrid did bring in Suarez.

Ayre: We Have Rejected Two Arsenal Offers

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has backed up Brendan Rodgers' statements in recent weeks saying that Luis Suarez will not leave the club this summer.

After the close of last season Suarez made it clear that he wanted to leave Anfield this summer, firstly it was because of the English media's treatment of him and now it is said that he wants to compete in the Champions League.

Earlier this week Arsenal lodged a second bid for the Uruguayan which was worth £40m + £1, which was rejected.

However, speaking at a press conference in Thailand whilst Liverpool are away on their pre-season Ayre said that their stance on Suarez's future is unlikely to change.

"The situation with Luis Suarez remains the same," said Ayre. "It's never been our intention to sell Luis,” he was quoted on Sky Sports.

"We have received two separate offers from Arsenal and have rejected both.

"Luis remains a Liverpool player and is here with us in Thailand as part of our squad."

Liverpool will play the Thai national team on Sunday and Suarez will feature at some point, although he is still short of fitness, having been given time off following the Confederations Cup.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers said, "He's three weeks in schedule behind other players.

"But one thing about Luis is he loves to play the game, he loves training and working. I'm sure at some stage of the game, he will play a part."

Liverpool Want Luis Muriel To Replace Luis Suarez

Liverpool is reportedly lining up Udinese youngster Luis Muriel as a replacement for Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan striker has made it clear that he wants to leave the club, with Arsenal seemingly in pole position for his signature.

According to the Daily Star, the Reds will turn to Colombian youngster Muriel if Suarez does leave Anfield.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in 22 games for Italian club Udinese last season, following his loan spells at Lecce and Granada.

Suarez seems to be moving closer to the exit door at Anfield after manager Brendan Rodgers insisted that Arsenal will have to increase their offer.

Liverpool And Palace Want Piazon On Loan

Liverpool and Crystal Palace are interested in loaning Chelsea star Piazon for a season.

It has been reported that Chelsea are going to let the young Brazilian go out on loan this season to aid his development, according to the Express.

The article has reported that the decision on where the midfielder goes on loan is in his hands and that this weekend he will look at the clubs interested in him.

The same story revealed that Mourinho has told the 19-year-old that he needs to have one more season developing his game before he will be considered for the Chelsea first team.

Piazon has already spent six months at Malaga last season, but it is believed that Chelsea want the youngster to now go on loan to another Premier League side so that he can get used to the style and pace of the English game.

Therefore, the best options for the player would seem to be Liverpool or Crystal Palace.

The article reported Piazon saying, “To be fair, I think I am too young to be playing at Chelsea. So I’m fine. It’s hard to break into this Chelsea team. It’s good for me to go out on loan.”

Liverpool & Arsenal Tracking Sinan Kurt

Liverpool and Arsenal have joined the battle to sign German starlet Sinan Kurt, according to reports.

The Daily Express cites speculation in the player’s homeland when claiming that Valencia and Porto are also interested in the 17-year-old, who has been earning comparisons with Marco Reus.

Kurt, who has been capped at youth level for his country, is an imposing forward currently plying his trade with Borussia Monchengladbach.

And, a source close to the youngster has confirmed that Kurt is a player big clubs will be keeping a close eye on, and that he has all the attributes to have a wonderful career.

"The big clubs will always previously ran to the young players. Kurt is one of those guys who are seen to have a great career,” the source is quoted as saying in the Express.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger already has a track record of bringing young Germans to north London, with Serge Gnabry and Thomas EIsfeld challenging for first team places at the Emirates Stadium.

Kurt could follow in their footsteps with the Gunners – if Wenger can lure the player to the Premier League.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have less tradition with German players, but one of the finest academies in England at Melwood.

Brendan Rodgers has also shown that he’s willing to bring young players into the Reds’ senior side quickly, and that could be a potential transfer carrot at Anfield.

Liverpool Ahead In Bernard Race

Liverpool has stolen a march on rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the race to sign Atletico Mineiro playmaker Bernard.

The Brazil international is considered to be one of the hottest footballing properties in the world at this moment in time and a host of European clubs are known to be interested in the 20-year-old.

The youngster contributed to his side’s first Copa Libertadores triumph on Thursday and it is expected that the final will be his final game for the club.

Arsenal had reportedly agreed a deal to sign the midfielder but manager Arsene Wenger dismissed the reports as simply ‘not true ‘ and sources have now told SportsDirect News that Liverpool are now the frontrunners for Bernard.

The player will be allowed to leave the Brazilian club should they receive an offer to the tune of £22 million and the Merseyside club could soon be handed a massive windfall by Arsenal who are looking to sign striker Luis Suarez.

Liverpool has already rejected a £40 million-plus-£1 bid from the Gunner as they value the Uruguay international nearer to the £50 million mark.

Tottenham were interested in the playmaker but have since turned their attention to Valencia’s Roberto Soldado as they look to solve their striker problem this summer.

Arsenal still have Bernard on their radar and Liverpool will also face competition for the Brazilian's signature from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, who recently lost Fernandinho to Manchester City, and Portuguese outfit FC Porto.

Rodgers Confirms Napoli Loan For Reina

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that goalkeeper Pepe Reina will join Serie A side Napoli on loan.

The 30-year-old's future at Anfield has been in question ever since the arrival of Simon Mignolet from Sunderland last month in a deal reported to be worth £9 million.

Rodgers had initially talked up competition for places but also expressed concerns about the financial implications of having the two keepers on the wage bill and, following a successful medical at the Stadio San Paolo on Wednesday, a loan move has now been finalized.

"It was obviously a difficult decision," Rodgers told the club's official website. "From last season, really, as a manager I was led to believe that we were going to get an offer for Pepe that would probably see him leave the club.

"On the football side, we have to protect the team and, at that stage, we started our search for another goalkeeper.

"As events transpired, that move [for Reina] didn't happen and it left us with two very good goalkeepers. Both would have been fighting for the No.1 position.

"It's decided he will go to Napoli and we've got two very good goalkeepers still at the football club [Mignolet and Brad Jones].

"As a senior goalkeeper, he needs to be playing. It's a very important year for him with the World Cup next year. It wouldn't have served any purpose, both for the club and him personally, if he'd been the one missing out."

Despite clinching 25-year-old Mignolet on a long-term contract, Rodgers has, however, not completely closed the door on Reina's Liverpool future, adding: "We'll review it after the loan finishes."

Skrtel Happy With Liverpool Competition

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel understands that he won't always be guaranteed a place in the starting line-up at Anfield next season.

Jamie Carragher may have retired at the end of the last campaign, but the arrival of Kolo Toure and the emergence of Andre Wisdom means that Brendan Rodgers will have several top-class centre-backs to call upon this year.

Speaking to The Mirror, the Slovakian international revealed: "Every day is a competition. You need to work hard and show your best every day in training."

But this isn't necessarily a new concept for the man who signed for Liverpool from Zenit Saint Petersburg back in 2008.

"Since I came to Liverpool there have always been three, four or even five players that play centre-back. It isn't easy, but I try to do my best and I try to show my manager that I'm able to play," Skrtel added.

The Reds have yet to concede a single goal in pre-season, which is a good omen heading into a season when they will look to improve on last year's seventh-place finish.

With competition fierce, you can expect that Rodgers will be able to get the best out of his defence, as they all attempt to cement a place in the first-team.

Liverpool Use Technology To Keep Gerrard Fit

Liverpool are among a number of Premier League teams to use revolutionary GPS devices that collect an array of in-depth statistics to improve player's fitness.

The sophisticated gizmos provide excellent data for the performance analysts at the Merseyside club, allowing them to alter training schedules to an individual player and detect any early injuries. Liverpool is not the only club to have started using this high-tech software. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, West Ham, Norwich, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea, Aston Villa, Cardiff and Crystal Palace all use the devices.

The gadgets are called STATSports Viper units - they can calculate the speed, distance, heart rate, dynamic stress load accelerations and decelerations of each individual player.

The GPS gadgets are also being used in Rugby, and Ireland star Brian O’Driscoll has seen the benefits this software can have on rugby training.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, O'Driscoll said: "The feedback we get is hugely important to our fitness staff in working out the time we spend on our feet on a weekly basis.

"In a nutshell it’s revolutionized professional rugby training."

Information collected on the GPS devices is stored internally and also streamed live to performance analysts and coaching staff on the sidelines.

The feedback acquired from these devices allows coaching staff to set particular goals for individual players, meaning improvements can be made quickly and efficiently.

Sean O'Connor is one of the founders of the GPS software: "The GPS is used by all our clubs every single session.

"The more data you have the powerful it becomes. You establish a profile for each player and know their benchmarks.

"You get incredibly accurate data on players’ movements, efficiency, and biomechanics. Every player has a style of running, how he hits the ground, and if he starts to fatigue you can see slight changes. They start hitting the ground heavier and it’s a sloppier movement.

"It has become part of their kit now, you’ve got your boots, your shinpads, your kit, and your GPS – away you go."

STATSports Viper units have without doubt revolutionized the way training is done in football, it won't be long before we see all professional clubs using these impressive devices.