Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Benitez Almost Certain Of Liverpool Return

Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez claims he is 'almost certain' he will one day return to Anfield to become the manager of Liverpool again.

Benitez parted company with Liverpool in the summer of 2010 after the Reds had limped to seventh place in the Premier League, having endured their worst run in 22 years during the campaign.

The Spaniard did, however, spend seven happy years at Anfield, winning the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Super Cup and, so very nearly, claimed the league title with Liverpool for the first time since 1990.

Benitez was replaced at Liverpool by Roy Hodgson, who was then displaced by Kenny Dalglish, while the Kop hero has since been succeeded by current Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, but the former believes the position will be his again one day.

"I will return, almost certainly. What I do not know is when. My daughters and wife still live there," Benitez told Marca.

The 52-year-old joined Chelsea last November but his short-term tenure will terminate at the end of the season, and Benitez hopes he is able to remain in the Premier League - even if the chance to go back to Liverpool does not arise this summer.

He added: "My idea is to train a competitive team. Why not in England? We will have to wait and see. Everything will be worked out."

Liverpool's Four Realistic Summer Transfer Targets

With the close of this season fast approaching the rumours of Liverpool being linked to pretty much every player on the planet are going into overtime as per usual.

I’m not going to go out on a limb and say players like Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain won’t end up at Liverpool but in the current climate it’s not going to happen right now.

Liverpool are in a rebuilding state under Brendan Rodgers and according to the boss himself the Anfield side are only a few "quality" signings away from being contenders again, but to get players in the league of Higuain, Cavani and Co things are needed, Champions League football being one of them.

I’ve compiled a list of four areas that Liverpool need strengthening and the realistic targets that could help Brendan Rodgers in his quest to bring the Red side of the Mersey back to the top.

With Jamie Carragher set to hang his boots up at the end of the season after a 17-year playing career, the pressure is definitely on to bring in a reliable and experienced centre-back who can step in and take command of the back-line.

There has also been a lot of talk of Martin Skrtel being sold in the summer after a massive dip in form and a falling out between the Slovakia captain and the Liverpool boss, various clubs are said to be interested (Zenit St. Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala, Shakhtar Donetsk & Arsenal to name a few).

Liverpool are said to also be open to offers for Uruguayan Sebastian Coates with the player believing to favour a move back to South America.

Swansea's Ashley Williams name has been at the top of the list for some time after impressive displays for both club and his country. Brendan Rogers feels he would provide some much needed leadership that would be missing from the team.

Williams' age does work against him as he will be 29 in the summer which goes against FSG transfer policy, but it seems that Rodgers has persuaded the owners, and he has been given the go ahead to make a move for the Welsh Captain.

Williams is not the only centre back on Brendan Rodgers list Ajax & Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld is another name that has cropped up recently (or for those who know, he’s been on the radar since January.)

Liverpool are believed to be the frontrunners to land Alderweireld after the Belgium international gave the green light to a possible summer move to Anfield.

He told Belgium paper Het Laatste Nieuws: 'I do not want to play in an English club to mid-table. Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria.'

Brendan Rodgers rates the player highly as he displays the qualities and fits the criteria of those that the FSG, the club's American owners, like to sign.

Liverpool's midfield is one area that already jam packed with players vying for starting spots, but there is a missing piece from the jigsaw, that creative spark in the final third.

During the January transfer window Brendan Rodgers bought in Philippe Coutinho and what a breath of fresh air he has been, scoring 2 goals and assisting in 3 more, but Rodgers believes there is more that can come from his midfield.

Enter Ajax's Christian Eriksen, the man who at 21 is fast becoming a household name and is believed to be Liverpool's number 1 transfer target.

Ajax's technical director Marc Overmars has openly told reporters that Liverpool are regular visitors to the Amsterdam Arena and from his exploits in the Champions League is plain as day to see why.

He fits the FSG model perfectly being the right age and seemingly within the price range of Liverpool (being in the final year of his contract and stating he would not sign an extension) he’s a classy finisher with great skill and movement on and off the ball and is seen as the eventual replacement for Steven Gerrard.

Other targets have been watched including Matej Vydra and Jeremy Menez but it seems these are only viewed back up options.

With Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge holding down the striking roles at Liverpool you'd think there wouldn’t be much need for another striker, but this isn't what Brendan Rodgers thinks and with Fabio Borini finding it hard to find the back of the net and also being out with a less than impressive injury record the Liverpool boss is after reliable backup.

Liverpool scouts have been to watch PSG's Kevin Gameiro on multiple occasions and it is said that the player is eager for a move to happen this summer after falling down the pecking order behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi, it seems that a move during January would have happened but PSG could not agree a deal with Anelka to replace him.

The Liverpool boss knows that if anything were to happen to Suarez or Sturridge he would be left for light in attack with Borini (injured at time of writing and possible not ready for the new campaign & so far proving inconsistent) and he sees Gameiro as an ideal player to come off bench or to lead attack when needed.

Liverpool Chasing £10m Rated Winger

Liverpool is interested in Sporting Lisbon winger Diego Capel.

The Mirror has reported that the Merseyside club is looking to take advantage of the Portuguese club’s financial troubles to sign the player for £10m.

The Spanish international is likely to move in the summer, and Liverpool are rumoured to see the player as an important part in their rebuilding process.

The move could spell bad news for winger Stuart Downing, who has just regained his first team place under Brendan Rodgers.

The former Aston Villa man was told at the start of the season that he was surplus to requirements, but has forced his way back into the fold through his good work ethic and improved performances.

Capel initially learned his craft at Barcelona’s famous academy, before he moved on to Sevilla. Capel has only been at Lisbon since 2011, but he has 36 games in all competitions, scoring eight goals.

Before his move to Portugal, he spent seven years at Sevilla where he never really made himself an indispensable player. The most La Liga games he started in a season was 22, and that was in the 2007/2008 season.

French club Marseille are also in the hunt for the player, and would be prepared to splash out £10m on him.

Liverpool And Marseille Playmaker Target Staying Patient Over Future

Liverpool and Marseille target Ryad Boudebouz admitted that he would move to a bigger club if the opportunity arose although he hopes to prove himself on the big stage in France before he takes the next step in his career.

The 23 year old has long been linked with the Reds, after claiming this time last year that the club approached him over a possible move to England.

And as Sochaux currently sit just two places above the relegation zone in France, with two points between themselves and 18th-placed Nancy, Boudebouz says if the right offer came along he wouldn't be able to say no to a move elsewhere.

"Like everyone else, a big foreign club would be attractive for me," he told France Football.

"But I would like to do an intermediate stop in France in a club that plays regularly in the high part of the table and can compete for a place in the Champions League. A bit like Marvin [Martin] with Lille. I've just turned 23 and I've always had this career path in mind. But if I get a good opportunity I will not spit on it."

Last year Boudebouz claimed that Liverpool were after his signature, but talks never passed the discussion stage and he remained at Sochaux.

And recently, as he looks to consider his future, Liverpool have cropped up in the local press as a possible interested club once more, alongside French giants Marseille.

Liverpool have made no secret of the fact that they are looking to bolster the squad in the summer, with Brendan Rodgers hoping to boast a bigger budget than the previous summer in which he was unable to afford some of his most wanted targets.

The Reds are starting to look more competitive and are currently still in with a slim chance of posing a fight with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham for Champions League football next season.

Boudebouz was named African young player of the year in 2010, and has figured in Algeria's 2010 World Cup squad. This season for Sochaux, he has scored two goals in 27 appearances.

Liverpool, Chelsea & Manchester United Suffer Blow In Chase For Dede

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United target Dede has cooled talk of a £15million summer move.

Express Online reported last week that Vasco da Gama, who is believed to have financial troubles, had invited the Premier League giants to make an offer for the highly-rated defender.

The Brazil international said he will arrive in Rio de Janerio "to know what's going on" but insisted: "I'll keep focusing on my job."

United are looking for a long-term successor to Nemanja Vidic while Liverpool are considering offloading Martin Skrtel. Jamie Carragher has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

Dede, talking to Brazilian television show Globo Esporte, added: "I don't know anything. Corinthians are a great club and I won't say I wouldn't like to play there."

AC Milan and Benfica are also rumoured to be interested in the 24-year-old's services.

Dede is renowned for his aerial process and tough tackling.

Liverpool Chase Lanky Bundesliga Goal Machine

There couldn't be a bigger difference in the style of play between West Ham United and Liverpool, but the two sides are said to be gearing up for a tug of war for Bayer Leverkusen hot-shot Stefan Kiesling.

Given the fact that he towers at 6ft 4 and five of his 18 Bundesliga goals this season have come from his head, one of the sides will be more eager to get their hands on him than the other, but we have a more in-depth look at the Germany striker.

The lanky frontman is second in the Bundesliga goals plus assists chart with a total of 25, an accolade which he currently loses to Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski. But where does he compare with the forwards at the Hammers and at Anfield?

Well, when it comes to accuracy, any potential manager will have no qualms when they take him under their wing. The 29-year-old has an impressive 59% shooting accuracy in his 28 Bundesliga outings this season, better than 22-goal-Luis Suarez (51%), Daniel Sturridge (58%), Carlton Cole (52%), and Andy Carroll (38%).

Kiesling also gets the silver medal in chances created from our selected five. Only Suarez, with an astonishing 84 has more than the German’s 58. Carroll currently has 24, Sturridge has 14, and Cole has 11, although the amount of games isn't all matched.

It is no surprise, taking into consideration his height and prowess in the air, that he has won 55% of his headed duels this season. What is more surprising, I suppose, is that he has also been successful in 28/33 of his attempted tackles – 85% is some record for a striker.

The bullish Andy Carroll has won a massive 63% of his overall duels this season, whereas Daniel Sturridge has won 51%, Cole 45%, and Luis Suarez just won 42%.

In my opinion, either of these sides would be lucky to have Kiesling in their squad, despite their stark contrast in playing styles.

Ajax Defender Likes The Idea Of Liverpool Move

Highly rated Ajax defender Toby Alderwiereld has admitted that he would be interested in a move to Liverpool should they show interest.

With Jamie Carragher retiring at the end of the season and Martin Skrtel’s worrying form they are said to be in the market for a new defender in the summer.

Alderwiereld gave the green light to a move to Anfield, telling Belgium paper Het Nieuws Laatste: "I do not want to play in an English club to mid-table. Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria."

It is believed that Alderwiereld could fetch up to £8m.
 Alderwiereld has been a mainstay of the Ajax back line this season, racking up 36 appearances and netting three goals.

Henderson Not Fearing Burnout

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson insists he will avoid burnout despite facing an international tournament for the third successive summer.

Henderson is set to captain the England Under-21 side at the European Championship in Israel in June.

The 22-year-old – who is eligible for the finals because he turned 21 during 2011, when the qualifiers began – has become a regular at summer tournaments. He played for Stuart Pearce's Under-21 side at the last European Championship in Denmark two years ago, and was a late call up for Roy Hodgson's senior squad at Euro 2012 as a replacement for injured Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

Henderson is likely to have only a couple of days' break following Liverpool's final Premier League game, at home to QPR on May 19, before joining up with the Under-21s. England, who have been drawn in Group A at the eight-team finals, will kick off against Italy on June 5, before facing Norway three days later and hosts Israel on June 11.

The top two teams from the group will go into the semi-finals on June 15, three days before the final in Jerusalem.

Liverpool's pre-season tour of Indonesia and Australia is set to begin in mid-July, which would give Henderson little recovery time. However, manager Brendan Rodgers has the option to give players on international duty an extended break, and Henderson insists he will be able to cope with his extra international workload.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "The maximum number of games you can play is five if you win the tournament, so it's not a great deal of football, to be honest. It will be hard in the heat and the intensity of the games but think I'll be fine for the season."
Henderson feels he has become a better player after a slow start to life at Anfield following his £16 million move from Sunderland in 2011.

He added: "I've improved a lot since I came to the club, which is one of the main reasons I joined. I knew it would help me improve as a player and I think I've improved as a person as well on and off the pitch. I've just got to keep doing that and keep working hard on the training pitch and off it."

Arsenal Under-21s Lose To Liverpool

Wojciech Szczesny featured for Arsenal's Under-21s in defeat to Liverpool on Monday as the goalkeeper continues to try and force his way back into Arsene Wenger's first-team plans.

The 22-year-old began the season as the Gunners' first-choice shot-stopper but has failed to make a first-team appearance since the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane on March 3.

"I rotate the goalkeepers on the bench because when they are two games on the bench then they work for two games, because when they sit always on the bench they lose fitness," Wenger explained to reporters on Saturday.

Arsenal's Under-21s fell to a 3-2 against Liverpool in a pulsating clash at Anfield with two goals from Reds' striker Adam Morgan proving enough to clinch a victory for the hosts.

His compatriot Lukas Fabianski has come into the team in that time and seems to have secured the position for the time being, prompting Szczesny's father to launch an attack on Wenger - accusing the Gunners' boss of making his son a scapegoat for Arsenal's poor form.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium but the player himself has vowed to win back his place in Arsenal's first team.