Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Liverpool Searching For Consistency

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on his team to show more consistency if they are to force their way back into the top four.

The Anfield side has been in good form recently but it's not been enough to secure a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009-2010.

Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo: "There is a process of getting into the top four and becoming champions and that is consistency.

"We want to make significant improvements next year in the points total because the reality is we are 30 points behind the leaders and 11 points behind the top four."

Rodgers' men will finish the season in seventh place regardless of how they get on against already relegated QPR on Sunday, with a comfortable ten point gap separating the Reds from West Bromwich Albion.

The game against the Hoops will also draw to a close a trophy-less season which has seen Liverpool finish below city-rivals Everton.

January signings Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have been instrumental of late however, and Rodgers feels more signings could take his team to the next level at Anfield.

He added: "I've seen enough and if we improve our mentality in the summer - by signing players who have that consistent winning mentality - we can then improve again, like we have done in the second half of the season."

One man who has shown consistency is Jamie Carragher, the defender will end his career by pulling on the Liverpool shirt for the 737th time against QPR.

Agger Wants Ajax Star To Join Him At Liverpool

Daniel Agger has admitted that he wants compatriot Christian Eriksen to join him at Liverpool in the summer.

According to speculation the Reds are chasing the in demand Ajax playmaker who appears to be on his way out of the Erdivisie and having expressed an interest in the Premier League, Agger wants him at Anfield.

The Danish centre-half told Jyllands-Posten: "We want to play attacking football with the ball on the ground and that is exactly what Christian Eriksen is all about. That is the kind of player we need."

Asked if the 21-year-old playmaker could shine in England, Agger added: "It all depends on which team he plays for.

"If he plays for a team who want to keep the ball on the ground, then the answer is yes - due to his passing, his runs and his hard work.

"He has to do what he believes is best and no-one else but him should decide his future. You must never listen to anyone else other than yourself."

Liverpool's First Summer Signing Confirmed As Barcelona Wonderkid

Liverpool has won the race to sign Spanish attacker Sergi Canos after it was revealed that the youngster had rejected a new contract with Barcelona in order to make the move to Merseyside.

A number of weeks ago it was reported in Spanish newspaper Sport that Liverpool had been in contact with representatives of the youngster for some time as they attempted to convince him to reject a new deal at Barcelona.

The Spanish club may have one of the most revered academies in professional football, but because of Spanish law they cannot offer professional contracts to players until they turn 18, while in England the age is 17.

This has led to a number of young players making the decision to move to the Premier League in order to further their career. Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique are two of the most high profile players to make the move, while Arsenal currently have two former Barcelona youngsters on their books in Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral.

Liverpool has previously recruited from Barcelona when they were able to convince Dani Pacheco to leave the academy, while Suso was also persuaded to turn down Real Madrid in order to join the Reds.

According to Mundo Deportivo Canos, who is viewed as one of the best prospects in his age group at the La Masia academy, has now agreed to make the move to Liverpool and will sign a deal with the club later this month.

Brendan Rodgers has shown this season that he is willing to hand first team opportunities to players from the academy with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Suso, Andre Wisdom and Jack Robinson all making the step up to the first team, while Jerome Sinclair was handed his first team debut at just 16 years of age.

The 16-year-old, who can play on the wing or as a striker, missed the final game of the season for Barcelona's youth as, along with his family, he met with officials from Liverpool to agree his move to Anfield.

Canos will join the Liverpool youth ranks and will hope to quickly make an impression and follow in the footsteps of Suso and Sterling who played a major role in the first team after impressing for various reserve sides.

Liverpool Seal Three Year Deal For British Prospect

Liverpool have handed defender Lloyd Jones a three-year professional contract after the Welsh youth international impressed for the under 21 side.

At just 17 years of age, Jones has already been included in Brendan Rodgers' plans this season, taking to the bench against Fulham last Sunday.

And the teen will also feature against Manchester United in the Under 21 semi-final on Tuesday night, giving him a chance to showcase his skills for the manager once more.

Rodgers has been well known in his time at Liverpool for giving young stars the chance to step up to the senior side, and with the club in need of defenders, particularly now that Jamie Carragher is retiring, it could be that they are ready to hand the youngster more of a chance next season.

The Reds paid around £20,000 to take Jones from Plymouth in 2010, and the club will have been keen to wrap up the youngster on a senior deal as they look towards long-term success.

Rodgers has spent a big part of his first season in charge of the Merseyside club getting to know the younger players, and the Liverpool boss says he's learnt a lot since taking over from Kenny Dalglish last summer.

"This year has provided a great learning curve for me and I look back and see that it was learning that I needed," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"I knew the expectancy of the club but going into next season, I am a much better prepared manager for that.

"We want to make significant improvements next year in the points total because the reality is we are 30 points behind the leaders and 11 points behind the top four.

"But I've seen enough and if we improve our mentality in the summer - by signing players who have that consistent winning mentality - we can then improve again, like we have done in the second half of the season."

Liverpool had a tough start to the season, but have finished off on a high, looking set to end their campaign in seventh place and with plans for a busy summer.

Palermo Expects Josip Ilicic To Leave

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has conceded Josip Ilicic could leave the club after they were relegated to Serie B.

The Rosanero lost 1-0 Fiorentina on Sunday to seal their demotion to Italy's second tier after nine seasons in Serie A.

Their relegation has placed the futures of a number of star players in doubt, most notably Slovenia defender Ilicic.

The 25-year-old has impressed since signing from Maribor in 2010 and the club reportedly had to fend off interest from AC Milan, Tottenham and Liverpool during the last two transfer windows.

However, following their relegation president Zamparini admits they will struggle to keep hold of the player this summer should rival clubs renew their interest in him.

"Josip Ilicic is a player for big clubs so I really doubt that he will stay with us," he said. "We will have to talk of course but he has already told me that he will leave if he gets an offer from a big club. And I don't doubt that he will get one."

Ilicic's representative Amir Ruznic believes AC Milan have been tracking the defender and expects them to ramp up their interest in the summer.

"There have been no talks and nobody has called me from AC Milan," he told Milan News. "But it would not surprise me if AC Milan thought of him. It is normal that a player like Ilicic pleases a club like AC Milan.

"But the season is not over yet and there will be enough time to speak about that later."

Liverpool Face Fight From Valencia To Sign Sporting Sensation

Liverpool's hopes of signing Sporting Lisbon youngster Tiago Ilori have been hampered by reports suggesting Valencia are also in contention for the defender's signature.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a break out campaign for the Portuguese club during the second half the season, taking a place in Jesualdo Ferreira's starting XI after impressing for the club in the NextGen series.

Ilori's mature performances despite his tender years have attracted the attention of Brendan Rodgers, who is reportedly keen to enlist the services of the young defender as he seeks to shuffle his defensive options over the summer.

Liverpool is not the only side to have been alerted to Ilori's growing reputation however, as Valencia is also preparing to tempt the centre half into a move to the Mestalla, Record report.

Ilori's rapid progression in the Sporting side has left the club desperate to tie him down to a new contract, one that will keep the prodigious defender at the club for at least another season or two, or a deal that ensures they command a greater transfer fee, should they be forced to cash in.

Brendan Rodgers has been placed with the difficult task of replacing Jamie Carragher this summer, following the veteran defender's decision to retire at the end of the season.

The northern Irish manager already has defensive concerns over Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, and although youngsters Andre Wisdom and Martin Kelly will be vying to fill the void left by Carragher's retirement, Rodgers is keen to add at least two defenders to his squad.

Ilori is contracted to Sporting until 2015, but as the Portuguese Primeira Liga approaches its final week, the club will attempt to secure his future as quickly as possible. The defender, who was born in London, has been a regular fixture in the Sporting side since February, making 12 appearances including in high profile games against Benfica and Porto.

Liverpool Chances Of Signing Kiessling Looking Unlikely

Bayer Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling doesn’t seem to be going anywhere thanks to Serie A giants Fiorentina.

The Italian club has had a move for the big forward rejected, which means it’s going to be even more difficult for Liverpool to sign the forward if Brendan Rodgers thinks he fits the bill for his Anfield project.

The problem is that because of the Chelsea Andre Schurrle deal, Leverkusen seems reluctant to talk through deals for any of their other major players until that has been sorted out.

As that is a deal which seems to rest on the future of Kevin De Bruyne, it’s impossible for Fiorentina, Liverpool or any other major side to come in and sign Kiessling until that has been resolved.

The German club has said they can’t afford to lose him if they want to have another successful season, which is fair enough but it seems to be more about the calibre of the personnel at their disposal over what they can actually achieve.

It’s a shame because Kiessling could definitely do a job in the current Liverpool attack because he’s a more subtle target man than Andy Carroll and could compliment the nature of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez very well.

His numbers for this season are superb with 24 goals and ten assists in 33 league games, which quite rightly makes him one of the most coveted strikers in Europe for plenty of teams.

If there is serious interest from Liverpool then they need to go about this deal in a very subtle way.

They need to keep Leverkusen on side, which means doing everything by the back and not trying to talk to the player or his agent without letting the German side know they are interested.

They also need to make sure that the board is happy to commission the transfer because it doesn’t look as though it’s going to be a cheap one.

Kiessling is 29-years-old and in a similar part of his career to Swansea’s Ashley Williams, a player Liverpool’s board has just refused to shell out £10 million for because they don’t see it as a long term investment.

Fiorentina’s approach has put Leverkusen on red alert but there is still well over a month before the summer transfer window opens, which gives the situation a chance to settle down.

Liverpool can’t afford to alienate Leverkusen in the same way that Fiorentina have just done because they need injections of this calibre and experience into what is becoming an increasingly young squad

Reina Recommended Manuel Pellegrini For Liverpool Job

Manuel Pellegrini was interviewed for the manager’s job by Liverpool in the summer of 2010, but overlooked in favour of Roy Hodgson.

Pellegrini is set to become Manchester City coach, replacing the doomed Roberto Mancini, but the Chilean could already have worked in England had Liverpool not abandoned their interest him.

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who worked with Pellegrini at Villarreal, spoke to former Anfield managing director Christian Purslow about his old coach as the club searched for a successor to Rafa Benitez.

Purslow met Pellegrini for talks at Heathrow Airport and, in his autobiography, Reina writes: “Pellegrini had just lost his job at Real Madrid despite doing a really good job there and giving Barcelona a run for the La Liga title.

“He was available and we needed a manager. For me, it made perfect sense. I said so, telling Purslow that Pellegrini was the right man. It wasn’t just because I knew him. It was more about the style of football that he plays, getting teams to attack all the time.

“Pellegrini has an attacking mentality and, when Purslow asked me about him, I said, ‘He’s a great manager and a great man in the dressing room’. He would never sit deep and just accept being put under pressure by opponents.

“I know that the club spoke to Pellegrini a couple of times when they were looking for a new manager because he told me.

“He called me and asked me what the mood was like in the dressing room, what the players were thinking and so on. I really hoped that he would get the job.”

Reina added: “The only slight concern I had was that he didn’t have any experience in English football.”

Pellegrini’s arrival at City will add spice to the Manchester derby.

His Villarreal side controversially knocked Everton – managed by new United boss David Moyes – out of the Champions League qualifying round in 2005, 4-2 on aggregate.

U21 Trio Chosen For Israel Trip

Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom have been selected by Stuart Pearce to represent England U21s at the European Championship in Israel this summer.

The trio, regular members of the Three Lions outfit, will travel to the eight-team tournament next month and their opening fixture will see England take on Italy on June 5.

Pearce's side - who included Henderson when eliminated during the first round at the 2011 edition - will meet Norway three days later and round off their Group A campaign against the event hosts Israel on June 11.

Group B features Germany, Netherlands, Russia and holders Spain; the top two teams in each section will progress to the semi-finals.