Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Liverpool Boss Drops Summer Spending Hint

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed plans to strengthen his squad during the summer transfer window as the Reds look to become a mainstay in the Champions League once again.

Rodgers' side is currently five-points behind rivals Everton, who are sixth in the table, and are an almighty 30 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Liverpool have forked out £50m on the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho since Rodgers' arrival from Swansea City last June, but the Northern Irishman believes more acquisitions are needed to take the Reds to the next level.

Rodgers, speaking to talkSPORT, said: "We will be in a much better place at the start of next season. Everyone can see we have improved and got better.

"We have got some top players but you need quality throughout the team and once we bring in that quality we will move up to the next level."

The Liverpool manager will be hoping top scorer Luis Suarez commits his future to the side despite being continuously linked with moves to European giants Bayern Munich and Juventus.

Rodgers will also have to replace outgoing defender Jamie Carragher, who announced he is to retire from football at the end of the season after a 26-year affiliation with the Anfield club.

"We’ll look at it in the summer, every club will bring in more players and we will aim to bring in that quality that will improve the group," concluded Rodgers.

Philippe Coutinho Shining At Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder at Liverpool, is certainly a man to watch.

With bucket-loads of potential and talent, he has already played for European giants Inter Milan and now finds himself playing for Liverpool.

He has impressed greatly at Anfield and looks like he will emulate the likes of Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who is a former team-mate of Coutinho and currently plays at Galatasaray.

His speed, agility, technical ability and vision were all showcased during his time at Inter - and he is now hoping to do it on a more consistent basis with Liverpool.

It all started at the youth academy of Vasco da Gama. He was spotted early on as a brilliant talent and Inter swooped in with a €4m bid. A season later he joined the ranks of the Italian giants after a superb season with the Vasco da Gama first team.

After struggling to make the breakthrough at Inter, he was sent out on loan and, boy, did that decision help him. He enjoyed an impressive spell at Espanyol, where he really sparkled. Inter kept him for some time, but decided to let him go in January.

He has been in good form this season and there is no doubt that he can do better. His vision, passing ability and his eye for goal will take him far.

There is only room for improvement and, in a few years, he will become one of the best.

Liverpool Warn Juve Off Suarez

Juventus have been warned off prime target Luis Suarez. “He’s not for sale,” assured managing director Ian Ayre.

The Bianconeri are consistently linked with the 26-year-old hitman, who would fit the bill as the ‘top player’ in attack fans have been waiting for since last year.

Juve’s chances of snapping up the Uruguayan would increase considerably if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League again.

“To play at the highest level in the Premier League and European soccer, you need players like Luis and Steven Gerrard on your team,” Ayre told Sports Illustrated.

“So the last thing in our mind is selling Luis Suarez. He's not for sale. It's not something we're interested in.”

Barcelona Forward Has One Foot In Liverpool

The Catalan press usually knows best about what is happening terms of English clubs poaching players from the La Masia system. It's a great annoyance for them and has led to outbursts aimed mainly at Arsenal over the last few months, but Wenger's club isn't the only one hanging around Barcelona trying to pick up the best talent.

Liverpool has been linked with young Sergi Canos for a while now and if Catalan newspaper Sport is correct he already has 'one foot in Liverpool'. They say that Canos will be the third cadet to arrange a move away from Barcelona recently, with Josimar and Julio Pleguezuelo Selva both likely to go to London. Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City are the clubs chasing the latter two youngsters, but it's Liverpool out on their own for Sergi Canos and Sport say negotiations have been ongoing for some weeks now.

The Catalan newspaper say that Barcelona have made some last minute moves to keep him but that they don't think they can convince the youngster to change his mind and stay at Barcelona. The contract he could get with Liverpool would be worth far more than what Barcelona are able to offer youngsters and that leaves a situation which the La Liga club think is unfair.

Barcelona could only offer a training wage which would rise from €12k to €18k a season over a three year deal, it's pennies compared to what young players are receiving in this country and a several year deal which could go through the million pound mark is always going to be more appealing than a guarantee of around £40k over three seasons. A young player may not make the big time and could even suffer an injury which saw them have to leave the game, these are very real concerns for players and they have to take big financial offers seriously.

Barcelona is aware of that and it's the system and English clubs who they direct their anger at rather than the players, but once a youngster has committed to move somewhere else, the club won't have them play for any of the youth teams again.

Canos, 16, is a forward but can also play out wide on the right.

Keeper Linked With Reds

Liverpool could target a move for Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy following his heroics against the Reds at the weekend.

McCarthy, who had only just returned to the Royals side following a lengthy lay-off with a shoulder injury, pulled off a number of world-class save to deny Liverpool and earn his side a point in a goalless draw.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for the goalkeeper after the game and predicted that one day he will go right to the top and also represent England.

Rodgers is also known to be on the look out for a new goalkeeper after being linked with Swansea's Michel Vorm and Stoke stopper Asmir Begovic, but he could now turn to McCarthy.

Reading will do all they can to keep hold of the youngster but could struggle if they lose their battle to stay in the Premier League.

Arsenal and Manchester United are also on the look out for a new goalkeeper and McCarthy may be inundated with offers in the summer.

Allardyce Warns FFP Rules Could Blow Deal For Carroll

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce feels new Financial Fair Play rules in the Barclays Premier League next season could “blow the whole deal” for signing Andy Carroll.

The on-loan Liverpool striker netted his fourth goal in the last five appearances for the Irons in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Southampton.

England forward Carroll, 24, maintains he would have no problems with the transfer being made permanent in the summer, but Allardyce revealed committing to such one marquee signing could just prove too costly.

Premier League clubs last week voted through new regulations which will limit how much of the new television income can be spent on wage bills and there could even be points penalties for severe breaches of the guidelines.

"The hardest thing is the overall package, the overall negotiation which needs to go on to make sure it can be sustainable in terms of what we can do," said Allardyce, whose side host leaders Manchester United on Wednesday night.

"I will still point towards financial restrictions being implemented next season - they could blow the whole deal in one go.

"Financially you are restricted to be able to do it.

"So in one fell swoop the financial restrictions mean Andy Carroll can't sign for us from Liverpool because it's too expensive, even if he wanted to."

Allardyce added: "Somebody will have a bigger budget than us somewhere, but I tell you that is what's going to happen, I might not be able to afford Andy Carroll, full stop, even if I wanted him, even if the chairman wanted him, even if we all wanted him, which we do, it will not be allowed to happen."

Allardyce believes it will take some time before the true impact of the new regulations, which have been brought in to try to level the playing field in the top flight, can be felt.

"I suppose across the board when you first introduce something new the fair/unfair scenario has to get sorted out somewhere along the line to find out how you have to tweak it to make it better," he said.

"But if we want Andy Carroll, or any player, and you look at the whole thing, you are going to have to move very quickly now because your budget is going to say that (figure) and you are not allowed to go over that apparently, and because you are not allowed to go over that, you have to say (to the player) 'sorry and off you go', so then it is very difficult to improve your side from last season."

Johnson Heaps Praise On Stewart Downing

Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson has praised teammate Stewart Downing's recent contribution to the Premier League side.

Downing was heavily criticized at the start of the season and was even granted permission by manager Brendan Rodgers to leave Anfield in January.

The £20million winger has scored four goals and claimed five assists so far this season, an input which Johnson believes Downing should be commended for.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Johnson said: "He's been brilliant. I've always enjoyed playing with Stewart - I've been a big fan of his for many years.

"We play well together and cause other teams quite a lot of problems."

Johnson, who has had a successful season himself for both club and country, feels Downing's work goes unrecognized as it is usually flair players like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard who grab the plaudits.

He added: "Stewart has been fantastic; his work-rate, the way he gets at players and defences. A lot of the time in football, a lot of hard work can go unnoticed.

"Stewart did knuckle down, put his neck on the line and went for it. It's great to see that now he's getting the rewards and credit he deserves."

Johnson will face former side Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday as they look to close the gap on neighbours Everton and the automatic European qualification places.

Liverpool Owner Pays Tribute To Hillsborough Families

Liverpool's principal owner John Henry has praised the perseverance of the Hillsborough families in their campaign for justice, admitting he was "humbled" by their dignity.

The American, significantly making his first appearance at the annual service to remember those who died in the 1989 disaster, gave a reading before addressing thousands assembled on the Kop at Anfield.

"I can understand the importance of the 96 to the club," Henry said. "I have been humbled by the dignity and perseverance of the families in their search for truth and justice.

"It is an honour to be here on this particular day, the first service since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report.

"This club will always cherish the memory of family and friends lost 24 years ago today. They will forever be part of Liverpool Football Club."

Henry's reading was followed later in the afternoon by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, symbolizing the way in which the city had been united in both grief and the subsequent quest for justice.

"I hope since that day you have known the support of Everton Football Club for you," he said.
"I hope by this time next year you will be celebrating the greatest victory that a team in this country could do."

Henry and Kenwright were joined by Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, manager Brendan Rodgers, backroom staff and players in the Kop in front of thousands of members of the public, some carrying banners, many wearing the colours of Liverpool and also plenty in Everton blue.

Many former players who attended, including Kenny Dalglish, who was also the manager at the time of Hillsborough and returned to the club for a second spell in 2011, Alan Hansen, who played in the ill-fated semi-final, and Kevin Keegan.

The arrival of the Hillsborough families, en masse, prompted a prolonged standing ovation from the members of the public seated immediately behind them on the Kop.

This was the first anniversary to be marked after the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the 1989 disaster.

The findings once and for all absolved fans of any wrongdoing in the tragedy, instead highlighting the failings and subsequent cover-up by the police and other agencies.

Families had campaigned long and hard for the truth to be made public and while the report was the first step on that road there remains a long way to go.

Later this month there will be a preliminary hearing in London to decide the parameters for a new inquest after the original verdicts were quashed last year.

That process could realistically take a couple of years but, unlike this time 12 months ago, the Hillsborough families can at least now feel fully vindicated that their determined campaigning for the lies to be exposed will not be in vain.

Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the cover-up of the disaster "will be a stain on this nation and certain individuals - and they know who they are".

She added: "It is a real honour to be able to stand in front of you today and say after nearly a quarter of a century the real truth is out, a truth that finally puts the record straight. Now justice must follow.

"It has taken 8,551 dark days and a report incorporating 395 pages to finally expose what we all knew from day one - the fans were not blame."

Neville Ignores Suarez In PFA Selections

Everton captain Phil Neville has delivered a snub to Liverpool's Footballer of the Year candidate Luis Suarez by not even nominating the striker for a place in the PFA Team of the Season.

Suarez is the Premier League's top scorer with 22 goals, has struck 29 times in all competitions and is one of the favourites for the individual award, along with Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Manchester United's Robin van Persie.

But former United player Neville, who named Van Persie as his player of the year, selected Swansea's Michu ahead of Suarez when selecting his side of the season.

Footballers are not permitted to vote for their team-mates so Neville could not choose the likes of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini.

He opted for four United players - Van Persie, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick - two from Manchester City - Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure - plus West Bromwich Albion's Ben Foster, Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen, Arsenal's Santi Cazorla, Bale and Michu.

Suarez is a controversial figure at Goodison Park with Everton believing he should have been sent off in October's derby for challenges on Kevin Mirallas and Sylvain Distin.