Monday, October 14, 2013

Liverpool Ready To Sell Luis Suarez In January

Liverpool is planning for life without £50million-rated striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan star attempted to force through a transfer in the summer as Arsenal relentlessly pursued him before Liverpool dug in their heels and refused to let him leave. Suarez, who recently returned from a ten-match ban after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, is determined to test Liverpool’s resolve to keep him when the transfer window re-opens for business in January.

The 26-year-old has confided in friends that he remains determined to quit the Reds and join a club that will challenge for major honours. Ideally, he wants move to a Champions League club and as well as being one of world football’s greatest marksmen he will also not be cup tied from playing in Europe this season. Arsenal will almost certainly return to lodge a bid which could reach the £50m mark, but it’s understood that Suarez will reject a move to The Emirates if Spanish giants Real Madrid enter the race to sign him.

Suarez has courted controversy throughout his career. The biting incident involving the shocked Ivanovic was not the first time Suarez had been involved in an unseemly biting row. He was banned for seven games when he was at Ajax after being found guilty of biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal’s shoulder during a match in November 2010. During his time at Liverpool he also received an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United’s left-back Patrice Evra in December 2011.

Despite the controversies Suarez is still recognized as one of the best strikers in world football. In fact, Liverpool skipper Steve Gerrard has gone on the record to salute the striker’s prowess. Liverpool paid Ajax £22.7m for him in January 2011 and signed him to a five-and-half-year contract that isn’t due to expire until the summer of 2016. Yet barely 18 months after arriving at Anfield Suarez’s value has more than doubled. Liverpool is aware of the potential backlash they will face from irate supporters. The official Anfield mantra is that club and player will carry on together.

The Anfield hierarchy has even talked about opening negotiations about a new contract. But privately they fear the battle to retain his services will rear its ugly head yet again when the transfer window opens at the start of January. And senior Anfield sources believe another Suarez transfer tug-of-war will become an unwanted sideshow when, in so many ways, they are making great progress this season.

Suarez has disclosed to close friends that he will maintain his prolific current form to attract more suitors. In the summer he accused Liverpool of reneging on a verbal agreement to let him go if a club offered £40 million for him. When the club refuted that allegation and insisted they had no desire to sell him to one of their Premier League rivals, Suarez threatened to hand in an official transfer request. He never saw through that threat.

However the situation is likely to change in the next transfer window. Liverpool is already looking around for a replacement in the event of Suarez leaving. Although their wish is to keep Suarez the hierarchy at Liverpool accepts they are now facing a losing battle to retain the loyalty of a player desperate to escape.

Liverpool & Arsenal Plot Move For Greek Striker

Liverpool and Arsenal are to go up against a number of European teams as they prepare a move for prolific Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou.

The 25-year-old has attracted interest from a host of clubs after a goal-packed start to the season, including four hat-tricks already for Olympiakos.

Reports from suggest that both Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers are looking to make a bid for the £7million-valued striker, but will have to fend off interest from Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Genoa, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

Mitroglou, who caught the eye of Arsene Wenger when he scored against the Gunners in the Champions League last term, currently plays alongside Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell, which Wenger could use to his advantage to tempt Olympiakos.

It took the Greece international a while to find his feet in the Superleague, having been loaned out twice from 2010 to 2012 before impressing from the bench last season, scoring 20 times.

Arsenal & Liverpool Face Battle In Race To Sign Jorginho

Arsenal and Liverpool are to fend off Serie A’s Juventus and Fiorentina if they are to sign Hellas Verona playmaker Jorginho.

The Italy Under-21 international, who was born in Brazil, was linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer, with Arsene Wenger also monitoring the starlet’s progression.

The 21-year-old caught the attention of Reds boss Brendan Rodgers in the summer and with injury concerns over creative midfielder Philippe Coutinho, the Northern Irishman may well compete Italian interest for his signature.

Jorginho has been impressing since helping Verona gain promotion from Serie B last season and has contributed three assists in eight games this term.

According to Tuttosport, both Fiorentina and Juventus are readying a £7million offer for the midfielder after his involvement in Verona’s start, as they sit in fifth place.

AC Milan and Lazio are also thought to be interested in the youngster, although Biancocelesti have already seen their £4m rebuffed by Verona.

Chelsea And Liverpool Battle For Matic

Reports suggest Premier League clubs Liverpool and Chelsea will go head to head in a transfer battle for Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic during the January transfer window.

According to the Express, Real Madrid are also interested in the Serbian international who used to play for Chelsea before being sent to Portugal as part of a deal for David Luiz.

The article reveals Mourinho’s attempts to bring the midfielder back to Stamford Bridge this summer and he could continue to try in January, although Liverpool are also keen on making a move.

Portuguese publication O Jogo makes Matic Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ top priority when it comes to January signings.

Matic was impressive during last season’s Portuguese Primeira Liga, picking up the league’s Player of the Year award whilst helping Benfica to second in the table.

So far this season Matic has played in all seven of Benfica’s league matches, failing to find the net as yet, having done so three times last campaign.

Iago Aspas Could Quit Liverpool In January

Liverpool striker Iago Aspas has hinted he could quit the club in January after becoming frustrated with his lack of playing time.

Aspas, who moved to Anfield over the summer in a £7.7million deal, has found himself fall down the pecking order after failing to score in his first six games for the Reds.

And after saying he was finding life tough with Liverpool last month, Aspas suggests he may have to leave to get regular playing time.

‘I’m finding it hard to be a sub at Liverpool having started games in the past few years,’ he said.

‘When I left Celta Vigo I was aware that to start for Liverpool wasn’t going to be easy.

‘And now the team is winning and we are among the leaders in the Premier League, it’s very hard to get a game.’

Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are Brendan Rodgers’ preferred options in attack, with the manager even changing to a 3-5-2 formation to suit them.

The move doesn’t bode well for Aspas, who says he is desperate to play games so he can force his way into the Spain squad for the World Cup.

‘Now it’s difficult to get in the Spain team because I’m playing less but I’m not worried about that,’ he continued.

‘However, I will try to get in the squad.’

Raheem Sterling Gets England Call

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has been added to the England squad, the Football Association has announced.

Sterling, who featured for the England Under-21 side in their 4-0 win over San Marino on Thursday, was drafted in following an injury to Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.

England faces a must-win qualifier against Poland at Wembley on Tuesday as they look to book their place at the 2014 World Cup. After Friday’s 4-1 win over Montenegro, Roy Hodgson’s men are top of Group H by a single point, with nearest rivals Ukraine facing San Marino in their final match.

England will be without Kyle Walker for the match after he picked up a caution in Friday’s win, so he is set to be replaced by either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones at right-back for the visit of Poland.

England Could Go For Tiago Ilori

Roy Hodgson has been told Liverpool’s Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori can play for England.

Former Northern Ireland striker Gerry Armstrong, now a respected analyst on Spanish football, has told the FA’s top brass Ilori is available because he was born in north London.

His father is Nigerian and lived in Manchester before moving to Kentish Town where Ilori was born. His mum is Portuguese.

Armstrong said: “His dad Kola came to England and lived in north London for a few years and that is where Tiago was born – which qualifies him.

“I recommended him to several English clubs but he interested Barcelona, Monaco and Bayern too.

“He signed for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers is convinced he has a bright future at the club.

“If that happens quickly, Roy will get a chance to see if he should try to get him into the England set-up. He played for Portugal’s Under 20s but he can still play for England if he wants to.”

Lucas Leiva Targets Brazil Stay

Lucas Leiva has stated his ambition to work his way back into the Brazil squad after coming on as a second-half substitute during their 2-0 victory over South Korea on Saturday.

The Liverpool midfielder replaced Oscar with 20 minutes remaining at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul to make his first appearance for the Selecao since 2011.

And now the 26-year-old has outlined his desire to earn a permanent place in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad ahead of the World Cup next year.

"My first goal in coming back to the squad is to earn a place for myself in the group,” he told TV Globol.

“I know we don't have many games until the World Cup, but I think that in the time I got recently I showed something.

"I talked to Felipao and he asked me to do a job similar to what I do for Liverpool and that's what I tried to do on Saturday.

"I felt really comfortable, especially since I know many of the guys here, some of them for many years.

“I think it’s important that I feel like I have always been here. Now we have another match against Zambia which will be really important."

The former Gremio man went on to echo statements from the camp this week that it is just as important that he prove his worth to the squad off the pitch.

"Scolari always talks about how he doesn't just analyze the games,” he continued.

“He's watching how we perform in training, too. We know he admires players who help form the group and we're trying to fit that profile.

“But, of course, when we get opportunities in matches we have to take them and show that we can remain here and be part of the World Cup squad. I believe that if I get these chances I will show that I am ready to be here."

Glen Johnson Set For Liverpool Return

The international break has been easier to stomach this time around for Liverpool, as it comes at a time when a handful of first-team regulars are on the cusp of making returns from injury--Aly Cissokho logged a full ninety minutes for the U21s on Monday, Philippe Coutinho should be only another week or so out, Joe Allen is nearing match fitness, and today we learn that Glen Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury near the end of his excellent performance against Manchester United prior to the previous international break, will be back with the squad in training on Tuesday.

Combined with the news about Liverpool's other squad members (and assuming a healthy return for those on international duty), Brendan Rodgers now has a good amount of depth in areas of need. He might yet need another week before he's ready to start, meaning Jordan Henderson would likely feature against Newcastle, but further into the month there's no question that Johnson slots in at fullback or wingback in the starting eleven.

The residual impact will be felt most in the midfield, where Rodgers will now have Henderson and Allen to add to the mix. It'll be interesting to see what happens once all are available for selection; the Lucas and Steven Gerrard pairing doesn't need much more written about it, and with Henderson's form and Allen's promise, there's a chance for Rodgers to tinker a bit more if he's willing to do so.

Glen Johnson's return is the point at hand, though, and it's unquestionably positive. He'd had his best performance in recent memory before coming off injured against United, and while it would be unfair to expect that same level immediately, we can hope that he's able to recapture that form once he's up and running again.

Allen Eyes Newcastle Return

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is hoping to make his return to action against Newcastle this weekend.

Allen has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he picked up in the Capital One Cup victory over Notts County in August.

The Wales international is now close to returning to fitness and hopes to be available for the trip to St James' Park, admitting he sees it as a fresh start for him after picking up the injury so early into the new season.

"I'm almost there, basically," Allen told the club's official website. "The plan is to get back into training, get a good few days leading up to the Newcastle game and hopefully I'll be available for selection from there on.

"It has been a bit of a frustrating time - it always is when you're injured - but I'm finally getting there. It was the one I had in the back of my mind anyway, so it has worked out quite nicely in that sense.

"I was disappointed; I thought I would get back for the Wales games but unfortunately they just came a bit soon. But it has meant that I got a bit of extra rehab leading up to that game. I have been able to get ready.

"With the timing of the injury, I hadn't really got into the swing of things. This is a fresh start of the season for me personally. It is great to come back with the team doing so well."

Critchley Reveals Rodgers Lure

New Liverpool Under-18s coach Neil Critchley admits Brendan Rodgers' influence played a huge part in his decision to join the club from Crewe.

Rodgers lured Critchley to Anfield in the summer as he looks to revamp the club's youth set-up and help develop more homegrown youngsters.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given youth its chance at Anfield since taking over in the summer of 2012 having handed debuts to the likes of Jordon Ibe, Andre Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Jerome Sinclair and Conor Coady.

Critchley is confident that Rodgers' faith in the youth will help in his challenge to help develop players for the first-team.

"I had been at Crewe all my life and I had no aspirations to leave because I had a really good job," Critchley told the Liverpool Echo.

"But when Liverpool comes calling it's very flattering. Alex Inglethorpe (under-21s coach) approached me initially and then I met with the manager. I didn't know either of them before.

"The fact that Brendan played a part in me coming here was a massive pull. I think it makes a real statement that Liverpool are willing to give someone like me an opportunity.

"I'm not an ex-Liverpool player, I'm not a name, I've got no international caps, but I do have years of coaching experience.

"When I first arrived Brendan invited me down to Melwood and I spent a few days watching training. To be alongside him, Colin Pascoe, Mike Marsh and John Achterberg were great bedding in period for me.

"Brendan takes a massive interest in the Academy.

"He was here last week and knows all the players. He has great belief in the youth system and that gives us a better chance than most of getting players through.

"I love being here and the boys have been very receptive to the work. The under-18s are a talented group but they're not the finished article. It's my job to work with them on and off the training pitch to educate and guide them, and make them the best they can be."

Liverpool Hit Stadium Development Snag

There could be trouble on the wing for Liverpool FC - but it’s got nothing to do with their football.

The club will have to make special provisions for bats in the new-look stadium if suspicions that the protected species roost at the ground are confirmed.

The club, which will soon submit plans to Liverpool City Council to increase Anfield’s capacity to 60,000, would be forced by domestic and international laws to ensure that all species of bats are taken into account.

If ecologists find any bats in areas where redevelopment is imminent then it could mean that a space for the bats would have to be incorporated into any new stand structure.

Law dictates that, as a protected species, bats must not be “adversely affected” by building work and studies will determine what can be done to accommodate bats and building work.

An LFC spokesman said the club was “not aware” that bats roost at the ground. But bats have been seen flying above fans’ heads at several recent matches and a local biodiversity group said sightings do confirm their presence inside the stadium.

Last month, fans were left ducking and finger-pointing when a bat was seen flapping over their heads as Brendan Rodgers’ charges scored one of their four goals in the evening League Cup fixture against Notts County.

The same night, a bat was seen flying in the Kop’s ground-level concourse area as fans headed for exit gates.

A Bats Conservation Trust spokesman said any Anfield development “must not harm bats’ conservation status”.

He said: “If it’s believed that bats are or are likely to be present at Anfield, an ecologist will have to establish how bats use the site and find out which species are present before undertaking building works, and any works will have to take any bats present into account to ensure they are not adversely affected.”

According to data records from The Local Biodiversity Records Centre for North Merseyside three Pipistrelle – which are a protected species of bats – were seen between 2008 and 2012 and a further six Common Pipistrelle bats – which are also a protected species – were recorded between 2000 and 2004 within a 1,000m radius of the stadium.

Other records show that 10 Chripera bats, which are considered to be a priority in north Merseyside, were seen around Anfield between 1990 and 2008.

A Reds' spokesperson said the club “is not aware” of any bats roosting in its stadium.

He added: “We have always said that any stadium expansion will be subject to detailed economic and social feasibility studies.”

A Liverpool council spokesman said any redevelopment is “subject to a planning application” and as part of that process there would be a “thorough environmental impact assessment”.

Merseyside bat enthusiast Charlie Liggett says that Reds fans have written to him after seeing bats inside Anfield.

Mr. Liggett, chairman of the Merseyside & West Lancashire Bat group, said: “A big bat was seen flying about the Main Stand in daylight during the half-time break. That was at last season's league fixture against QPR on May 19.

"It would have been a Noctule bat. It attracted the attention of 44,000 people and there was lots of finger-pointing.

"It flew towards the QPR fans, but then turned and went to the Kop.

“Strangely, it went back into the roof when the game commenced. I also have records of smaller Pipistrelles being seen at Anfield.

"And another person wrote to me to say that they saw a bat in Anfield. They rest up in the Main Stand.

"There would be adequate space for them to hang around in the stands. There are plenty of insects for them to feed on and in the trees of Stanley Park.”

Mr. Liggett added: “If it's just one bat, then it’s a bat roost. When a building is taken down it’s done in a careful way – where the bats are seen.

"The difficulty is finding them in a big structure like a stadium – it’s not that like finding them in a three-bedroom detached house.

“There would be a few people checking for the bat roost. An ecologist would use ultrasound gadgets to pick up their noises.

"There is a perception that bats are nothing, but the trouble but it’s not the case.

“But building something where bats are is not insurmountable.”

The bat group has a helpline on 0845 1300 228, offering advice for homeowners.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gerrard Inspired Luis Suarez To Stay

It was no secret this summer that Liverpool forward Luis Suarez wanted out of Liverpool - and Arsenal wanted him in.

However, Suarez has today revealed that loyal Merseysider Steven Gerrard inspired him to stay with the Reds this season - the captain was very vocal about keeping the striker on board.

The Uruguayan told his national media: "I do not know if he prayed but what he said is what he feels because he was talking to me all the time.

"Gerrard, for me, is a legend in Liverpool and a great team-mate that helped me a lot.

"His attitude was an extra boost for me to take the decision to stay in Liverpool - both he and the fans of Liverpool influenced much for that. I admire him for the great player he is worldwide.

"For me he will always be a benchmark and at club level he is the best player I have played with in my career, as a person and as a footballer."

Suarez recently faced a 10-match ban after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April, but has since returned on top-form after a partnership with Daniel Sturridge saw him net three goals in two league games, moving the Anfield boys to the top of the Premier League table alongside Arsenal.

The 26-year-old also told the Uruguayan media that he believes he is calmer now on the pitch, and isn't looking to return to his controversial ways.

He said: "I am aware that in recent matches that I played I've been calmer. I am very self-critical and I realized that playing well, with more tranquility, is helping me a lot.

"I realize and I prefer to continue and not be the same as before."

So far the Red's have won six of their seven Premier League matches - a vast improvement on the start to their last season which saw them win only one match in seven.

Liverpool's next Premier League clash is away at St James' Park to Newcastle United this coming Saturday.

Liverpool Looking To Bring Back Alonso

Brendan Rodgers could be planning a shock move to bring Xabi Alonso back to Anfield – but may face competition from Chelsea.

Liverpool sold Alonso for £30million back in 2009 but the Spaniard is out of contract at Real Madrid at the end of this season.

According to the Daily Star, the Spanish giants could be willing to sell the midfielder in January to avoid losing him on a free transfer next summer.

The 31-year-old could break Liverpool’s policy of signing young talent as Rodgers prepares to battle Chelsea for his signature.

The midfielder would be a popular signing with supporters, as he became a fans’ favourite during his five year stint at Anfield, whilst skipper Steven Gerrard admitted to being ‘devastated’ when Alonso left the club.

However, Alonso played under Jose Mourinho for several years at Madrid and the Chelsea manager will also fancy his chances of convincing his former player to join him at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool Step Alongside Arsenal In Michu Battle

Reports suggest Liverpool will join the chase for Swansea City star Michu alongside Arsenal who have been linked with the Spaniard all year.

According to Italian publication Tuttomercato, Liverpool is to challenge Arsenal for the 27-year-old who was recently valued at £30million by Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.

The Daily Star believes the introduction of Liverpool into a potential transfer battle could raise Michu’s value even further.

Jenkins admitted that the Gareth Bale move to Real Madrid earlier this summer was a prime example of every player having a price.

"We've seen with Tottenham and Gareth Bale that every player has a price. We are not in that bracket with Tottenham but they sold a top player. We are realistic about that side of things," said Jenkins.

Michu earned his first ever call-up to the Spanish national team this week as replacement for the injured David Villa.

The forward will be hoping to play some part in Spain’s World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia but will be happy just to have his name in the squad having as recently as 2005 played in the fourth tier of Spanish football.

Liverpool Linked With Dortmund's Jakub Blaszczykowski

Liverpool has been linked with making a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, as manager Brendan Rodgers plans his January reinforcements.

According to Tutto Mercato, the Reds are keen on the 27-year-old and are pondering making a bid to acquire him from the Bundesliga giants at the start of 2014.

Liverpool is thought to have money to spend in January and is mindful of last term, when positive additions during the month boosted the club.

Last January Liverpool snapped up Philippe Coutinho from Inter and Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea, both of whom have been deemed successful purchases.

Now Rodgers could try to repeat the trick with further purchases to give his side a shot in the arm for the final push towards a Champions League place.

The Poland international joined Dortmund in 2007 from Wisla Krakow and has flourished at the Ruhr giants.

It remains to be seen whether Jurgen Klopp's side will consider parting company with the established winger, or whether Liverpool will have to switch their attention elsewhere.

Liverpool Prepare Move For Atletico Madrid Star

Liverpool are weighing up a £17million bid for Atletico Madrid star Koke in January, reports talkSPORT.

The 21-year-old midfielder has been in inspirational form for Los Rojiblancos in the early part of 2013/14, turning in a number of scintillating performances for Diego Simeone's side.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has been alerted to Koke's potential, after the Spain international scored twice and made six assists in eight La Liga appearances so far this term.

With Liverpool short on central midfield options, the Northern Irishman is keen to strengthen his squad with the addition of the Primera Division starlet.

However, a move to Anfield when the transfer window reopens in the New Year is by no means certain, with Atletico determined to keep the talented youngster at the Vicente Calderon beyond the current campaign.

Simeone's side have made a perfect start to the new season, and currently sit second in the table - behind Barcelona on goal difference - having won all eight of their league games this season.

Liverpool To Block Martin Skrtel Departure

Liverpool are prepared to block any move for Martin Skrtel from his former club Zenit, according to ESPN.

Speculation has grown recently over the future of Liverpool's Slovakian defender, who was linked with a move away in the summer.

The 28-year-old lost his place to Jamie Carragher last season and has only recently managed to nail down a starting place under manager Brendan Rodgers.

Reports suggest that Zenit are preparing a £16million bid in January for the defender, which is nearly £10million more than they sold him for back in 2008.

Skrtel hinted he was ready to reevaluate his future at Liverpool after his lack of first-team football back in May.

With Rodgers signing four defenders over the summer, including central defenders Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago llori, Skrtel's chances at Anfield may be limited.

Rodgers, who has recently switched formation to a back three, does not want to lose another defending option as Sebastian Coates is out with a long-term knee injury.

Kelly Happy To Bide His Time

Liverpool's Martin Kelly admits he will have to be patient as he looks to find a way back into the first team after regaining full fitness.

The 23-year-old made a welcome return in last month's Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United, almost exactly a year after being sidelined by a cruciate knee injury.

He suffered a minor setback after that game but insists he is now recovered and awaiting his opportunity.

"You have to have a lot of patience in football as well as knowing when you are given your chance you have to take it," he said.

"It has taken a long time to get back to full fitness. I feel really strong physically now and I am biding my time to get my chance and grab it with both hands.

"It has taught me to look after myself in terms of what my body needs to cope with demands of the Premier League and over the past 12 months (I've been) getting myself to a physical condition which will cater for that and I'm raring to go to get that chance."

Kelly has had a couple of outings for the Under-21s to help him get up to speed and that has been beneficial.

"From a development (point of view) and confidence in terms of my knee it has been fantastic," he added. "It is much more difficult playing in the Premier League and Capital One Cup than reserve team level.

"I've done those few games as a physical aspect and I'm glad they've had me. It has been vital for my rehab.

"It felt good to be back. It was long-awaited. I was not rushed into coming back by the manager.

"He was always saying I had to be confident and the injury I had does knock your confidence but I'm past that barrier now and ready to push on."

Liverpool Keeper Backed To Join Barca

Pepe Reina is good enough to fill Valdes' shoes claims international team-mate Fabregas.

Valdes is set to depart after 11 years at the Camp Nou, increasing speculation about a possible replacement for the Catalan.

Reina, who is currently on loan at Napoli from Liverpool, rose through the youth ranks at Barcelona's famed youth system.

The Napoli 'keeper, who has represented the national team 29 times, has long been tipped to replace Valdes.

Fabregas insists it will be weird to see someone else in goal for the Spanish Giants when the time comes.

"Victor has been here for 10 years and none of us can imagine another goalkeeper in his place when we turn and look at our goal," Fabregas told Radio Catalunya.

Fabregas, who joined Barcelona from Arsenal, believes his international teammate could be the one to replace their out-going 'keeper.

"But one of the things that Pepe can bring is that he knows all of us. He provides a very good atmosphere in the dressing room and is experienced."

Fabregas, who returned to Barcelona in a deal worth £35 million plus £5m in add ons, has become a regular under new boss Gerardo Martino, appearing in 13 games this season for the Catalans.

Reina left Barca's academy to join Vilarreal before joining Liverpool in 2005.

Yeovil Loanee Returns To Liverpool

Liverpool youngster Michael Ngoo has had his season-long loan spell with Championship outfit Yeovil Town terminated by mutual consent, reports the Daily Star.

The 20-year-old striker made two starts and five substitute appearances for Gary Johnson's side in 2013/14, prior to leaving Huish Park.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will send Ngoo back to the Anfield club's development squad, as it's understood he is still some way off making a breakthrough in the first-team.

He'll join up with Alex Inglethorpe's U21s and continue his development with the Merseyside academy.

"Ngoo has returned to the Reds' Kirkby training complex after his loan spell with Championship side Yeovil Town was ended by mutual agreement," read a statement on Liverpool's official website.

"The England youth international has been with the Reds since joining from Southend United in September 2009."

Ngoo is yet to feature for the Liverpool senior side, but enjoyed his most prolific spell on loan in the Scottish Premier League with Hearts in 2012/13, where he scored five goals in 16 appearances.

That's not to say that there isn't an opportunity for emerging young talents to establish themselves in Rodgers's first-team, with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom the most recent examples of Liverpool promoting from within.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Liverpool Can Make Premier League Title Challenge

Liverpool can make a challenge for the Premier League title, according to Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn.

The Reds have made an impressive start to the season and currently sit in second place in the division after seven games.

And, after Brendan Rodgers' side comfortably beat Premier League new-boys Crystal Palace this weekend, Quinn has backed the Merseyside outfit for a title challenge.

Speaking on Sky Sports Saturday Night Football Match Choice, Quinn said: "When you've got a team like Liverpool that have made this great start and finished last season quite well - I think it's one Premier League loss in 15 - you'd have to say Liverpool fans can start thinking about challenging for the title again. "

Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez were both on the scoresheet in Liverpool's 3-1 victory this past weekend and Quinn believes the pair will be key for the club's success this season.

He continued by saying: "With these strikers and if they prevent goals from going in the other end, Liverpool can challenge for the title.

"Any good Liverpool team has always had great centre forwards. If you look back there was Keegan, Dalglish, Rush, Aldridge - they all got 20 goals plus and that's the secret.

"Here you've got two players that could possibly do that, you still believe between them they could go on and achieve that.

"Now Brendan Rodgers will play it down, but at that end of the pitch everything looks great for Liverpool and others are coming in to as well.

"The likes of Jordan Henderson are much more mature now, they know more about it and [Steven] Gerrard still has so much to offer.

Quinn also believes Rodgers' new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will be key to the Reds' campaign.

"I think it will possibly boil down to Simon Mignolet and the season he has, because he's been brilliant up to now but, overall, there are lots of positive signs for Liverpool."

The Reds will be hoping their fine run of form continues after the international break as they travel to St James Park to take on Newcastle United in their next fixture.

Sturridge Crucial To England's World Cup Hopes

England hurtle towards their destiny-defining World Cup qualifiers with total faith in Daniel Sturridge, a centre-forward with only 55 minutes’ competitive international experience and who has partnered Wayne Rooney only in friendly combat and only for 30 minutes. It’s not blind faith. England’s belief is understandable because at 24, and liberated at Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers, Sturridge has finally come of age.

He has been at major clubs before, at Manchester City and Chelsea, but never given the trust and run of games he craved, always finding his path blocked by £50m signings or his influence inhibited by being pushed out wide. For too long, Sturridge has been adjacent to major events rather than in the middle of them. He has featured in an FA Cup final but also sat frustrated on the bench in a Champions League final. Too often the onlooker, rarely the leading light.

Sturridge’s career was also stymied by injury and flaws in his approach. Too selfish, the critics said. Too one-footed, they added. A promising career meandered. This is a player who first stepped on a Premier League pitch more than six years ago and who first scored in the Champions League three years ago. Only now is potential becoming eye-catching reality. Eight goals in nine Liverpool games this season signals the change. This maturing has come through listening and learning.

Sturridge has always been surrounded by those offering good advice. Aged seven, he was shown videos of Pele by his father Michael, a decent non-League player. He acquired his dribbling skills slaloming through cones at Michael’s soccer school where Nathan Delfouneso’s talents were also nurtured. His education continued at the Academies of Aston Villa, Coventry City and then City.

His spell on loan from Chelsea at Bolton Wanderers helped: Owen Coyle gave him the starting place he desired, building his confidence, while Kevin Davies toughened him up in training. Back at Cobham, Sturridge noted how hard the right-footed John Terry worked on his left foot, allowing him to pass with either whatever the pressure. Sturridge was having lessons but was just unable to put them into action.

Wise family voices are all around Sturridge, including uncles Dean and Simon, former strikers of considerable repute in the Midlands and elsewhere. Dean talks to Daniel regularly, encouraging him to practice, practice, practice. This year, Sturridge’s determination to make himself a more effective all-round centre-forward has led to extra training at Melwood devoted purely to his right foot. The left remains his principal weapon but an increased willingness to shoot with either foot was noticeable against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

If England do qualify for Brazil, Roy Hodgson should buy Rodgers the first Caipirinha. Liverpool’s current manager brought Sturridge to Anfield for £12 million, gave him the belief, the stage and the support both on and off the field. Assiduously attentive to detail, Rodgers has overseen Sturridge’s burgeoning partnership with Luis Suárez, spending time with the pair at Melwood, shaping their understanding. Some of it is instinctive. A few days after joining, Sturridge dummied for Suárez to score against Norwich. With Philippe Coutinho or Victor Moses in the hole of Rodgers’ new 3-4-1-2 system, Sturridge does not need to drop off and can stay up where he belongs, darting and dribbling in and around the box.

Liverpool, and Rodgers’ management, has been the making of Sturridge. On arriving at Anfield, Sturridge spoke of his delight and also his gratitude to Rodgers. He knew this was a huge chance, possibly his last chance at a heavyweight club following disappointment at City and Chelsea. He spoke of being “humbled” by the opportunity.

Everyone from Rodgers to the Sturridge family deserves credit for his development but ultimately it was the player who decided to leave Chelsea, who tackled the gaps in his game, who improved his decision-making with his final ball.

Those who have long followed Sturridge’s career have seen him transformed from the slightly selfish, slightly hit-and-miss target-man for Team GB at last year’s Olympics.
He is now a more authoritative presence on the pitch, his thought process apparently assisted by reading Jamie Smart’s “Clarity”, a book aimed at focusing the mind better. Established at Liverpool, Sturridge now needs to cement himself in England’s starting line-up.

He has only one goal in six caps under three coaches, Fabio Capello, caretaker Stuart Pearce and now Hodgson. Of Sturridge’s 201 minutes with England, less than an hour is competitive (21 minutes in the 1-1 home draw with Ukraine when he replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and 34 minutes against San Marino in Serravalle last March when he came on for Rooney).

Rooney and Sturridge have shared a field for only 30 minutes until Sturridge limped off in the friendly with the Republic of Ireland in May. Now they form an international rescue double act. To think it was only a month ago that Sturridge was being assailed on social-media sites by England fans for withdrawing from the games against Moldova and Ukraine and for some misinterpreted comments. In an interview with Liverpool’s website, Sturridge remarked that he was “more worried about putting in good performances for us [Liverpool]” than thinking about England.

He was simply making the sensible point that England is a privilege that comes to those who deliver for their clubs. Annoyed by fans’ splenetic reaction, Sturridge tweeted a clarification, noting that “England is the pinnacle”. Sturridge’s ascent towards the pinnacle has been circuitous but he’s getting there.

Suarez Targets World Cup Qualification

Striker Luis Suarez hopes his goalscoring return from suspension for Liverpool will benefit Uruguay in their bid for World Cup qualification.

The 26-year-old has three goals in just two appearances following his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April.

During the time he was suspended Suarez's only competitive matches came for his national team, scoring three times in four matches at the Confederations Cup and then twice in the qualifying victory over Peru last month.

But he thinks his return in a Reds shirt can help even more ahead of of Friday's crucial clash against Ecuador, who hold the fourth and final automatic qualification spot, which is then followed their final game at home to Argentina.

"I feel very happy because I have returned to play at the club and that helps," Suarez told reporters on his arrival in Montevideo.

"Playing in Quito is difficult and we are aware that they have a a lot at stake. We cannot be complacent, we are realistic.

"We have been winning and doing things right, but we cannot rely on anything.

"A couple of months ago we were resigned to the play-offs, now all we want, based on the good results, is qualifying outright.

"We know we have the team to push through qualifying to reach the World Cup."

Arsenal & Liverpool Face Fight For Young Swede

Arsenal and Liverpool face fresh competition in the race to sign Alexander Milosevic, according to reports.

The Daily Express claims Fulham boss Martin Jol has taken an interest in the 21-year-old Swede, and is set to keep tabs on the youngster in an U21 international match against Poland this week.

Jol is chasing a new centre-back, the paper reports, but face strong competition for the player’s signature, with Spurs, Celtic, Fiorentina, Eintracht Frankfurt and AC Milan all credited with an interest at different stages in the past.

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the clubs who have also been linked with Milosevic, whose contract with AIK runs out at the end of the season.

The Gunners have looked strong at the back this season, shipping just eight goals in seven games as they sit atop of the Premier League table.

However, manager Arsene Wenger is renowned for bringing top young talent to the Emirates Stadium, and it will be interesting to see if the Arsenal boss goes back in for the former Vasalunds IF starlet.

The Reds have been even better at the back this term, conceding just five goals on their way to second-place in the English top flight.

Brendan Rodgers is another manager who’s happy to gamble on youth, with several youngsters involved in the Liverpool first team this season.

Milosevic would be another player for the future at Anfield if he were to arrive on Merseyside, but again there is plenty of competition standing in the Reds' way if they wish to pursue the signature.

Liverpool Target Will Hughes Destined To Leave Derby

Derby boss Steve McClaren admits the club will not be able to retain the services of highly-rated teenage midfielder Will Hughes, amid speculation linking him with Liverpool.

The 18-year-old has attracted interest from the Reds, while Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spanish giants Barcelona have also scouted the Rams academy graduate.

Despite being linked with a move away from Derby during the summer, the club received no bids but McClaren has accepted it will be difficult to keep the player in the long term.

‘Our job is to make sure he makes it, and eventually he will be too good (for Derby),’ said McClaren following his first game in charge against Leeds on Saturday, which saw Hughes on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win for the Rams.

‘What we need behind that is players coming through to replace him.’

Gerrard Joins 15-Year Premier League Goalscorer Club

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard broke another Anfield record after scoring from the penalty spot in Saturday's comfortable 3-1 victory over struggling Crystal Palace.

The 33-year-old midfielder netted his 99th Premier League goal, and in doing so, became only the seventh player in English top-flight history to score in 15 (or more) consecutive seasons, and the first to do it with the Merseyside club.

It's a run that stretches all the way back to 1999/2000, when the England captain fired his first senior goal for Liverpool in a 4-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Yan Dhanda Could Have Joined Chelsea

Liverpool teenager Yan Dhanda has revealed that he once missed the opportunity to undertake a trial with Chelsea, but believes he ended up at the right club after moving to Anfield this summer.

The 14-year-old has the ambition of becoming the first Indian player to feature for the club's first team, but may have had the chance to establish himself at Chelsea if things had gone differently.

During his time with West Brom, Dhanda won a competition held by Chelsea in search of an Asian star, and his prize for success was the chance to go on trial with the Stamford Bridge club.

But, says Dhanda, he had to forgo the offer from Chelsea in order to fulfil his commitments with the Baggies.

"I was surprised to win because I was at West Brom at the time," Dhanda told the official Liverpool website.

"I won a trial at Chelsea but I was away with West Brom so I didn't go."

Dhanda, though, is perfectly content with having eventually secured a switch to Liverpool, and explains how the influence of manager Brendan Rodgers persuaded him to reject other offers in favour of a move to Merseyside.

He added: "I was so excited and the fact that Brendan Rodgers was manager made me even more excited.

"It made me want to join Liverpool more than ever because of the way he has faith in young players."