Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rodgers To Recruit Winners

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists attitude will be as important as aptitude as he looks to strengthen the Reds' squad this summer.

Jamie Carragher has already left the club while Manchester City's Kolo Toure has been linked with a switch to Anfield.

Rodgers is adamant that unless any potential target can show themselves to be a winner he will look elsewhere.

"A lot of great learning has taken place throughout the year both on and off the field," he told the club website. "Now we want to build on the positive impact of the second half of the season.

"It's our job as a club to look to bring in the types of players who will allow us to kick on again.

"There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes in order to reinforce the group.

"In order to breed the consistency needed to give us success, we need to bring in winners - those with the winning mentality.

"Everyone has to play a part in leadership.

"You get different types of leadership - some are purely by action and inspiration, others by organization and more verbal.

"Taking on that responsibility is something that has to come from within the group here, but we're also looking to bring in that type of player."

Liverpool Set To Snap Up La Liga Striker

Liverpool is closing in on the signing of Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas and could snap him up for just €7m this summer, according to the Mirror.

The 25-year-old forward has enjoyed a productive campaign in Spain – scoring 11 goals and providing 6 assists – but his efforts have been unable to prevent Celta Vigo from sinking to the foot of the La Liga table. Defeat this weekend away at Valladolid could see Celta’s relegation confirmed, which will be good news for Liverpool.

The Mirror claim Aspas – who has been linked with Chelsea, Swansea and Reading in recent months – has a €10m release clause written into his contract but that figure will fall to €7 if Celta drop out of the top flight.

The newspaper suggests Liverpool are set to take advantage of his decreased buy out clause with Brendan Rodgers understood to be in talks with the player over a move to the Premier League and has offered him £45,000-a-week to move to Anfield.

Aspas is a pacey attacker who’s capable of playing anywhere across the front-line so his versatility would be a useful asset to Rodgers as the Northern Irishman looks to add to his attacking options ahead of next season.

Liverpool Close In On Ron-Robert Zieler

Liverpool has stepped up their interest in Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler despite being warned off by the German club.

Former Manchester United shot-stopper Zieler is rated as a rising star in the Bundesliga, and the Reds are believed to be willing to offer up to £8million to land him.

The news comes as Brendan Rodgers steps up his attempts to bring in another goalkeeper to rival first-choice Pepe Reina.

Little headway has been made so far, with Stoke’s Asmir Begovic being priced out of a switch to Anfield, but Zieler is seen as a likely option.

However, Hannover has since told Liverpool to forget about trying to do business, with the club desperate to hold onto one of their star names.

‘Zieler will stay,’ said general manager Dirk Dufner.

‘He is a super goalkeeper. It’s rather normal he is in the focus, and I was actually wondering why, until now, he had not been approached by another club.’

The 24-year-old has a contract with Hannover until 2014.

Begovic Hopes To Sign For Liverpool

The Potters shot-stopper, who has impressed at the Britannia Stadium this season, informed Bosnian reporters that he expects to move to Anfield in the summer window

Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has revealed that he hopes to move to Liverpool this summer, as speculation continues to surround the future of current Anfield shot-stopper Pepe Reina.

Begovic has performed excellently this season, and was an integral part of a Potters defence that only conceded five goals in 12 games during November and December - though trailed off in the second half of the year.

Stoke are already prepared for the exit of the Bosnian shot-stopper, having signed Jack Butland from Birmingham in January, and Begovic seems sure that a switch to Liverpool will materialise.

He told the Bosnian media: “I want to start preparing on July 10, with all the players of Liverpool”, as quoted by The Telegraph.

The 25-year-old was signed by Tony Pulis from Portsmouth for £3 million in 2010, and won Stoke's Player of the Year award this season.

His consistent performances have won him admirers at the Premier League's biggest clubs, and there has been reported interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal throughout the course of the season.

With Begovic angling for a move to Anfield, he could be set to replace Reina; the Spanish goalkeeper admits he would not be against a move back to Barcelona, though remains coy on the links.

"Rumours are difficult to control but it's flattering when a club like Barca is interested in you," he told Cadena Ser.

"I don't know if there has been contact between the clubs or with my agent. At the moment I don't think there's anything serious."

Hearts Close In On Deal For Danny Wilson

Hearts are close to signing Danny Wilson permanently on a long-term contract, the Evening News can reveal. Talks between player and club are at an advanced stage and both parties are near an agreement to keep the Scotland internationalist at Tynecastle.

Wilson’s loan from Liverpool is due to expire and his Anfield contract will not be extended into next season. Discussions with Hearts have been ongoing for several weeks and are now nearing a conclusion, which would see the 21-year-old 
become Gary Locke’s first 
signing as manager.

Hearts are now free of all signing restrictions imposed by the Scottish Premier League last season for their failure to pay wages and bonuses on time. They will be able to register new players when the summer transfer window officially opens on July 1.

Despite ongoing uncertainty over finances with parent company Ukio Bankas Investment Group on the brink of administration, Locke is continuing to prepare for next season and is keen to recruit several new faces.

Signing Wilson would be a popular move with supporters following his steady performances in 14 appearances since he joined Hearts on loan from Liverpool in January.

As the defender prepares to secure his future, another Hearts player is looking for a new club. Midfielder Mehdi Taouil was released yesterday two years into a three-year contract. Hearts opted not to take up their option of an extra year having deemed him surplus to requirements for next season.

He made 68 appearances during his two-year stay in 

Rodgers Admits Liverpool In Battle To Keep Suarez

The Anfield boss believes the Uruguay international is happy at the club but is expecting the forward to attract interest from sides during the summer transfer window

Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool face a battle to hang on to Luis Suarez this summer, but insists they are under no pressure to sell their star man.

Goal exclusively revealed in April that the Reds would be willing to sell the Uruguay international if they receive an offer in excess of £40 million.

Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have all been linked with a move for Suarez in the upcoming transfer window, but Rodgers maintains Liverpool must strive to keep the forward at Anfield.

“Listen, every player has their price but there’s certainly no pressure for the club to sell him. We’re trying to build that bit of quality so he’s not for sale,” Rodgers told reporters.

“I don’t have any doubts there will be interest in him this summer, because he’s up there.

“People will want to take him, but I think we all recognize how integral he is. The owners have been absolutely unequivocal in their resolve in terms of wanting to keep him.

“I had a meeting with the owners when they came over and talked about lots of stuff and that was one of them.”

Rodgers believes Suarez, who will serve the remaining six games of his 10-match ban at the start of next season, is content to stay at Anfield, despite a lack of European football.

The Liverpool boss also feels the club's unwavering support during the 26-year-old's controversial incidents should influence his decision when approached by other sides.

“There’s a small percentage of players who are world class and he’s in that bracket, so I don’t think it will be too dissimilar to when I first came in last summer, with clubs making their interest known," Rodgers said.

“But he was committed to staying and working with the club. He’s very happy here. He had circumstances that made it extremely difficult for him but I’ve seen nothing to make me think otherwise.

“The supporters show their passion for him relentlessly so, as a club, I don’t think we can do any more.

“We have supported him when he’s been in turmoil and when he’s had setbacks, when there have been traumas over the last couple of years. He knows he did wrong.

"I’ve been in contact with his agent so I think he needs to go away, play in the Confederations Cup with Uruguay, have a period of reflection and come back raring to go to help us have a good season."

Liverpool Won't Loan Stewart Downing To Fulham

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing is a loan target for Fulham.

But Cottagers boss Martin Jol is set to be frustrated, as the Reds want a transfer fee to part with the 28-year-old.

England international Downing, bought from Aston Villa for £20m two years ago, is among a number of players in the Anfield giants' squad available at the right price this summer.

Also under threat are midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and defender Sebastian Coates.

Uruguayan centre-half Coates, signed for £7m two years ago, has made just 17 starts since – virtually all of them in the cups.

However, manager Brendan Rodgers, who has also lost defensive stalwart Jamie Carragher to retirement, won’t let the 22-year-old go until he has brought in at least two defenders.

He is targeting free agent Kolo Toure, formerly of Manchester City and Arsenal, Schalke’s Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos and youngster Tiago Ilori of Sporting Lisbon.

He said: “Seb has been a great support player for the group. Obviously his chances have been very limited. That’s unfortunately how it is ­sometimes as a defender.

“We will sit down when he comes back for pre-season and take it from there. We have to see what the summer brings.”

Rodgers Expects Quick Decision On Carroll

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expects Andy Carroll’s future to be decided in the coming weeks.

The Reds have agreed a fee with West Ham for the striker after Carroll enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Hammers this season. The move, though, could be in doubt after Carroll picked up a heel injury which could rule him out for up to two months.

But Rodgers does not expect any potential move to drag on in the same manner as last season. And the manager revealed he has spoken to Carroll about resolving his future quickly.

“It was just a general conversation in terms of the experience of getting out and playing,” Rodgers told the Guardian. “He enjoyed that apart from the injury.

“At the start of the season the whole thing was about going and getting games because he wasn’t going to be a starter here. We will talk again with him and the club to see how it all evolves. It’s one of those situations where it will probably be resolved a lot quicker than that for both parties.”

“In terms of the money, that’s something out of my control. But he’s a talent so we will assess the whole situation.

Sterling Has Common Assault Case Against Him Dropped

Liverpool star Raheem Sterling had a common assault case against him dropped today after key witnesses failed to appear in court.

The 18-year-old winger had been accused of assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Toxteth in November last year.

Sterling denied the charge and was due to stand trial at Liverpool and Knowsley magistrates court this morning.

However, two witnesses in the case failed to show and attempts to locate them failed.

The England star was waiting in a people carrier outside the court building along with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and the club's lawyer.

Prosecutor Rob Jones told the court he would formally offer no evidence against Sterling and told the court that it was not in the public interest for warrants to be issued for the witnesses.

District judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case and Sterling's lawyer, Stuart Driver QC, said he welcomed the move and added: "Raheem Sterling has always insisted that he has done nothing wrong."

A Liverpool FC spokesman said the club would not be releasing a statement as the incident was a personal matter.