Thursday, March 14, 2013

Liverpool Boss Targets Four Signings To Seal CL Return

Brendan Rodgers wants to make four new signings this summer, as he bids to strengthen Liverpool's squad and become credible Champions League challengers again, reports the Daily Mail.

The Reds boss is believed to be considering an offer for Swansea City captain Ashley Williams, and is also lining up summer moves for Newcastle United forward Hatem Ben Arfa, Blackpool winger Thomas Ince, and Paris Saint-Germain striker Kevin Gameiro.

Rodgers has already landed Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho in January, and the Reds have made significant progress in the Premier League since they joined.

The new signings have become regular starters for the Reds already, so Rodgers will be looking to sign Ben Arfa and Gameiro for back-up in attack.

Bringing in Ashley Williams will help to compensate for the loss of Reds legend Jamie Carragher, who is retiring at the end of the season.

The Liverpool boss was criticized last summer for not having a strategy in the transfer market, mostly due to missing out on the signature of Clint Dempsey.

Rodgers feels it is imperative to bolster his squad and give his first-team quality back-up, as Liverpool bid to regain their status as a top four club in the Premier League.

If Liverpool continues their impressive form shown in recent weeks until May, they could still have a chance of qualifying for Europe this season.

The Reds are currently 6th and would need to climb one position in the table to fifth for a place in the Europa League.

Rodgers: Downing Deserves Another England Shot

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that if Stewart Downing can keep up his recent good form, he can force himself back into the England reckoning.

After signing for the Anfield club for a believed figure of around £20 million, Downing did not create or score a single league goal throughout the whole of the 2011/12 campaign – leaving not only his England prospects but Liverpool career in tatters.

However, summer appointment Rodgers showed belief in the confidence-stricken winger and slowly but surely that has paid off as Downing’s recent form has been impressive with the winger notching five goals in all competitions so far this season – with two of these in his last two Premier League appearances.

"I've been delighted with Stewart, he has come into the team and made the position his own. He has been absolutely outstanding," Rodgers told

"There's no doubt about Stewart's qualities and what he's showing at the moment is that fighting spirit, doing all those things that we ask of every player in the team.

"It was a terrific goal at the weekend, how he read the game to press the centre-half and challenge the goalkeeper. It was a wonderful finish with his right foot.

"It showed his confidence level and how he's playing at the moment and we'll look to keep that going.

"If he continues this form, I'm very hopeful he'll play himself back into the England team."

Downing hasn’t always been a popular choice among England fans but with his career seemingly on the up, England boss Roy Hodgson could give him another chance.

Seemingly a fan of the winger, Hodgson included Downing in the Euro 2012 squad last summer. However, the ex-Middlesbrough and Aston Villa midfielder hasn’t actually featured since a friendly with Norway in May of last year, which was Hodgson’s first game in charge of the Three Lions.

Allen Named In Wales Squad Despite Surgery Concern

Joe Allen has been called up to the Wales squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Scotland and Croatia regardless of a shoulder injury that, if operated upon, will sideline the midfielder for an estimated three months.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that Allen will go under the knife in the near future after the side’s 3-2 triumph over Tottenham on Sunday, and Allen himself said he is keen to have the treatment as soon as possible.

But Chris Coleman insists he has been kept in the dark over the situation and considers Allen to be available for Wales’ qualifiers starting on March 22.

"Obviously Brendan made the comment after the game at some stage he's going to have to have surgery, but at no time have we been told or has anybody said that he's not available,” Coleman told reporters.

"Of course if that was the case we wouldn't pick Joe. I totally respect Brendan and Liverpool and I think we've always tried to work with clubs because at the end of the day they're not our players. We're only borrowing them really.

"But no, we've not been told anything - that Joe's not available - so at the minute he's very much in the squad."

Liverpool Arrange Deal To Sign Malaga Star

Liverpool has arranged a deal to sign Malaga playmaker Manuel Iturra, according to reports in Portugal and Italy.

Iturra, a 28-year-old Chilean international, has impressed for the Spanish club in both La Liga and the Champions League this season and has caught Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers' eye as a potential target.

And now according to Portuguese newspaper A Bola and Italian website Calciomercato, a deal between the two clubs over Iturra’s future is all but finalized.

Iturra only moved to European football last year, where he joined the Spanish outfit as a free agent but he is out of contract at the end of the season and apparently keen to sort out his long-term future – which could now be at Anfield.

For now, Iturra’s attentions will be purely focused on current club Malaga as he looks to help his side overturn their 1-0 Uefa Champions League first-leg defeat to Porto on Wednesday evening.

Fabio Coentrao Is Wanted By Liverpool & Chelsea

Liverpool and Chelsea will struggle to land Fabio Coentrao in the summer amid reports Real Madrid are ready to use him as a makeweight in their bid to sign Edinson Cavani, reports talkSPORT.

The 25-year-old full-back cost Los Blancos £26.4million when he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu from Benfica in 2011, but has fallen out of favour under Jose Mourinho, starting less than half of the club's Primera Division matches in 2012/13.

His plummet down the Real Madrid pecking order has prompted rumours of a move to the Premier League at the end of the season, with both Chelsea and Liverpool credited with an interest in the Portuguese international's signature.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has already made clear his intention to add three or four quality signings to his Anfield squad when the transfer window reopens, while Stamford Bridge owner Roman Abramovich always seems to be willing to fund the acquisition of new players to improve an ageing Blues squad.

Chelsea was actually linked with Coentrao before he signed for Real Madrid, and could make a renewed effort to lure him to west London.

However, both Chelsea and Liverpool's hopes of landing the player have been dealt a blow after Tuttosport's claim that the left sided winger will form part of the deal to see Real Madrid sign £54million-rated forward, Cavani.

The Uruguayan is one of the most highly-rated striker's in world football at the moment, having scored 95 goals in all competitions since joining Napoli from Palermo in 2010.

Despite his fine form, the Spanish giants are unwilling to meet the Serie 'A' outfit's asking price for Cavani, but will offer £35million as well as Coentrao to sweeten the deal.

Sterling Set For Championship Move

Liverpool have offered Raheem Sterling around a number of Championship clubs after making him available for a loan move.

Sterling has taken the Premier League by storm this season making 23 appearances for the Reds’ first team and picking up an England cap, but he has been relegated to a fringe role in recent weeks with manager Brendan Rodgers concerned about pushing him too quickly.

The 18-year-old, who penned a new contract at Anfield in December, has now been told he can finish the season with a loan spell in the Championship instead of sitting on the bench.

It’s thought that Rodgers has already recommended Sterling to Bolton, Brighton and table topping Cardiff City, while Blackpool is another option, with a deal possibly proving a sweetener for Thomas Ince’s transfer to Liverpool in the summer.

No deal is yet to be formally agreed, but Rodgers has already confirmed he is considering loaning out Sterling along with Spanish play-maker Suso.

‘Raheem has shown he can play at this level, but I gave him a week off to get away from football mentally and physically,’ said Rodgers.

‘If the young players are good enough they will be involved in the squad, but I have to look at the individual plan to see if they can be here.’

‘Obviously, there might be people who aren’t playing who might want to think about going elsewhere, but at the moment it’s a strong squad.’

Rodgers has previously rejected the notion of loaning out Sterling, but it’s thought both player and manager agreed the move at a meeting last week.

Ajeccio Goalkeeper Fuels Liverpool Transfer Talks

Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has handed Liverpool a boost after revealing his desire to test himself outside France.

The Mexican claimed last month Liverpool had sounded him out over a move away from the Ligue 1 side during the January transfer window.

Despite returning to form in recent weeks, speculation continues to surround the long-term future of Reds keeper Pepe Reina, who has been tipped to rejoin his former club Barcelona.

And Ochoa has been touted as a possible replacement for the Spaniard, with the 27-year-old suggesting he would not be averse to switching to England.

He told Mercato365: "I do not regret being here, I have adapted to the way of life in France.

"My future? I think about finishing the season in the best possible way, then I will compare options.

"However, I cannot deny that I would love to play in other leagues. I want to develop and join a major project."

Rodgers Watched Daniel Carr In Action

Liverpool trialist Daniel Carr featured for the club's Under 21s in their draw with West Ham on Monday.

Dulwich Hamlet striker Carr was taken on trial by Liverpool last week after catching the eye for the Ryman League Division One South outfit this season.

The former Reading youngster has scored 23 goals in 23 appearances this season for Dulwich Hamlet and a number of Premier League and Championship clubs have been tracking Carr.

Carr played an hour of Liverpool's 3-3 draw with West Ham in front of the onlooking Brendan Rodgers.

Liverpool is expected to keep tabs on Carr as they weigh up making a move for the 18-year-old.

Dunn Double Fires Reds To Semi-Finals

A second-half strike from Lloyd Jones followed by an impressive brace from Jack Dunn sent Liverpool cruising into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup after their comfortable 3-0 victory over Hull City at the KC Stadium on Tuesday.

Two goals in four minutes from the Reds in the second period secured a passage into the next round and a second goal from Dunn, late into the match, helped make it a memorable evening for Steve Cooper's side.

The win sets up a mouth-watering two-legged tie against Chelsea in the last four of the competition.

Hull's Danny Chambers posed the greatest threat in the early stages when his attempt caused a brief scare.

Joel Sutton remained composed under pressure in Liverpool's area as he flicked the ball towards the striker, who chested it down before rifling a shot into the side netting.

Despite early pressure from the home side, the Reds responded well and created an opportunity for themselves in the 12th minute.

The influential Dan Trickett-Smith was typically looking to cause problems for the opposition and found Dunn in space on the edge of the area. The midfielder attempted to curl an effort towards the far corner but the resulting shot was a tame one that flew straight at goalkeeper Joe Cracknell.

As the first half progressed, both sides' defences remained resolute and restricted opposing attacks to minimal space until two attempts in as many minutes nearly broke the deadlock as half-time approached.

The first chance fell to the Tigers when Ryan Fallowfield met a cross with a looping header that soared onto the roof of the net before Jordon Ibe's devastating pace presented him with a glorious chance to send the Reds into the lead.

Liverpool countered when Ibe surged into Hull's half and continued his pacy run into the home side's box but was foiled by Cracknell as the goalkeeper reacted well to smother the winger's low shot.

The second half proved to be much more eventful as two goals inside the opening quarter of an hour condemned Hull.

The first goal came from an unlikely source in the form of Jones when the defender displayed predatory instincts to gift the Reds a lead.

A chipped pass from Jordan Lussey surprisingly drew no contact from several players in the area as it found its way to Jones, who immediately spun and fired an unstoppable drive past the helpless Cracknell to net his first U18s goal.

The Reds didn't allow Hull time to react to falling behind as Dunn ruthlessly struck again to extend Liverpool's tally shortly before the hour mark. It means the local lad has scored in every round of the competition so far.

Jones was the provider on this occasion as his long ball was expertly taken into Dunn's stride before the midfielder skipped behind the Tigers' backline and accurately bent a shot across Cracknell and into the far corner of the net.

After securing a two-goal cushion, the Reds adopted a more disciplined approach and dominated possession while still creating opportunities.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, Dunn came back to haunt Hull as he struck a third goal for the visitors.

A through-ball from Rossiter towards the midfielder was intercepted by Cracknell. The 'keeper's attempted clearance ricocheted into the onrushing Dunn, who gratefully slotted the ball into the gaping net to confirm the pleasing victory.

LFC Aiming For Results With Latest Venture

Liverpool Football Club is teaming up with the London School of Business & Finance (LSBF) to launch a new educational institution that will offer courses combining classroom theory and soccer.

The collaboration, said to be the first time an English top-flight soccer club and a business school have joined forces, will see the creation of the Education and Learning Initiative Training Entrepreneurs in Sport (E.L.I.T.E.S) institution.

“We’re extremely proud to have entered this partnership with Liverpool FC. Both LSBF and the club have put a lot of effort into the development of the programs, which are unique to the market,” said Aaron Etingen, the founder and executive chairman of LSBF.

A Management and Leadership course, which will aim to develop skills such as team building, motivation and strategic management, will be the first E.L.I.T.E.S program to be launched. The five-day course, which kicks off at the Liverpool FC Academy in Kirkby in June, will be split equally between time in the classroom with LSBF lecturers and time on the field with Liverpool coaches.

“Football develops many transferable skills, including team work, leadership and management through change,” said Billy Hogan (pictured), Liverpool’s chief commercial officer. “The Management and Leadership course offers participants the chance to enhance these skills using football as a tool to learn.”

In line with Liverpool’s wider plans to grow its brand globally, the course will be rolled out across the world after its initial launch in the UK.

Hogan added: “We are delighted to be part of this groundbreaking venture, using football to educate and help develop life skills. E.L.I.T.E.S is a great way to offer exclusive programs to people across the globe, enabling participants to benefit from courses in their home countries.”

Additional programs and qualifications are currently being developed and while further details of those will be announced at a later date, Hogan revealed to SportsPro in November of last year that other courses will focus on "language and football".

"That's going to give us the opportunity to offer a whole new different insight on Liverpool and provide a whole new different outlook on the football club", added Hogan at the time.