Sunday, May 26, 2013

Werner Delighted At Progress

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner admits the club's board have been pleased with the efforts of manager Brendan Rodgers in his first season at Anfield.

The Reds finished seventh in the Premier League this season - one place higher than in 2011/12 - but Werner believes they are well placed to improve on that next term.

Rodgers began strengthening for the future by adding Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to his squad in January, and Werner is optimistic Liverpool will continue to advance.

"I think Brendan has made remarkable progress," Werner said. "He's a great strategist and has shown strong leadership as he has led the team through this season.

"Obviously there is disappointment that we didn't finish higher in the table but the team has certainly improved as the season has gone on.

"To see the new additions in January, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, perform so well has been very positive to see.

"We scored a lot more goals than last season. The 38 away league goals was the club's highest number in a league season since 1990.

"The club is definitely moving in the right direction under Brendan. Our intention is to strengthen the squad further this summer and as owners we're very optimistic and excited about the future."

Chelsea's Lucas Piazon Linked To Liverpool

Chelsea's young Brazilian player Lucas Piazon could join Liverpool next season, according to Brazilian sports newspaper Lancenet.

The Brazilian newspaper reports that Málaga, where he is playing on loan. are unlikely to keep him next season now Manuel Pellegrini left the club.

He will present himself to Chelsea on July 5, but his future is not certain as manager Benítez left the club and they have not confirmed the new manager yet, although Mourinho is likely to be hired.

Lancenet reports that Liverpool have emerged as a possible destination for the former São Paulo player, as they have been impressed with Coutinho's performances and would like to add another Brazilian player to the squad.

Lucas Piazon has played 11 leagues for Málaga this season, but he has not scored any goals. Despite that, he has had some impressive performances.

Liverpool Turn Towards Joleon Lescott To Fill Carragher Void

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has identified Joleon Lescott as the ideal man to replace Jamie Carragher in the heart of the Reds defence.

After 738 games Carragher decided to call time on his playing career and Rodgers has been alerted to the availability of Lescott as a replacement, with the England man falling down the pecking order at Manchester City.

The 30-year-old centre back has found games hard to come by at the Etihad following the arrival of Matija Nastasic and is unlikely to opt to stay and fight for his place in a World Cup year.

Aston Villa have also been credited with an interest in the former Wolves and Everton man, but while the wrath of Toffees fans may cross his mind, Lescott is unlikely to have been impressed by Villa’s dalliance with relegation last year.

Before the departure of Roberto Mancini, City were said to be willing to listen to offers of around £4 million for Lescott, and with the player himself desperate for first team action he is reported to be willing to take a pay cut in order to facilitate a move.

However, should the Reds fail in a bid for Lescott, Rodgers is also said to be interested in taking his Citizens counterpart Kolo Toure to Anfield.

While Lescott is the preferred choice, Toure also offers the experience that Rodgers craves and the Ivorian is edging closer to the Etihad exit.

Lescott’s place in City’s defensive hierarchy was demonstrated by his 31 appearances this term, but Toure was given just 17 opportunities to pull on the sky blue jersey and will be keen to secure more game time elsewhere.

Whether Lescott or Toure arrive at Anfield remains to be seen, but at 25/1 to win the Premier League for the first time, Liverpool will be looking bolster their defensive ranks come what may.

Liverpool Leading Christian Atsu Chase

Sky Sports understands Liverpool is leading the race to sign Porto winger Christian Atsu.

Sky Sports revealed earlier this week an unnamed Premier League club had tabled a bid for Atsu and it is understood that Liverpool is the team in question.

Talks are thought to be continuing between the Reds and Porto as Brendan Rodgers' side look to win the race for the Ghana international.

However, Liverpool could face competition from Premier League rivals Everton and Arsenal for the highly-rated attacker.

Everton are thought be interested in Atsu especially if current Porto boss Vitor Pereira replaces David Moyes at Goodison Park, while Arsenal are also keeping tabs on the African's situation.

Atsu has found himself out of favour at Porto in recent months after refusing to sign a new deal at Estadio do Dragao.

The 21-year-old, who sees his current contract expire next summer, has continually rejected offers to extend his deal due to Porto's insistence to try and increase his release clause to €30m (£24million).

Atsu, who has previously expressed his desire to play in England, is expected to make a decision on his future once he plays for Ghana in their upcoming games against Kenya, Sudan and Lesotho next month.

Real Madrid To Tempt Liverpool With Luis Suarez Bid

Real Madrid have added Liverpool striker Luis Suarez to their lengthy summer shopping list, reports the Daily Mail.

The La Liga giants are interested in recruiting the controversial Uruguay as they plan a significant summer of rebuilding following Jose Mourinho’s departure.

But Los Blancos will face competition for Suarez from city neighbours Atletico Madrid and Champions League finalists Bayern Munich, both of whom are keen on 26-year-old.

Suarez has enjoyed a stunning season for Liverpool, bagging 23 Premier League goals, but he was again the centre of controversy last months after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 league draw at Stamford Bridge.

His consequent ten-game ban will see the forward miss the start of next season and there have been suggestions that Suarez will seek an Anfield exit this summer.

But teammate Jose Enrique believes the former Ajax star is settled on Merseyside and wants his to stay.

“Of course we want to keep him. He is our key player,” Enrique said.

“We’ve not had a great season in terms of our league position but Luis is there as our top scorer.

“For me he can play in any team in the world. If I was a manager I would have him anywhere. Not only for his goals but for how his character is.

“He is the type of player like if you play with Messi: he does impossible things. He does something out of nothing.

“I think if we keep him we will have a good season next season, for sure.

“We don’t want to lose Luis because he is a top player but you never know. But if he goes, someone else has to come.

“Hopefully if that happens it will be a good player.”

Skrtel Open To Offers At Anfield

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel would seriously consider his future at Anfield if he received an offer from elsewhere.

The Slovakia centre-back made just four Premier League starts in 2013 having fallen behind the now-retired Jamie Carragher in the plans of Brendan Rodgers.

Carragher's exit might have offered Skrtel, who arrived at Anfield in the reign of Rafa Benitez in 2008, the chance to regain a first-team place.

But Liverpool look set to sign Manchester City's Kolo Toure ahead of the conclusion of his contract and they are also being linked with Schalke star Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

That leaves Skrtel's position uncertain, despite only signing a new deal last August, and he told Slovakian newspaper Dennik Sport: "I have not had any specific offers. But if some should come and they interest me, I would probably ponder it seriously."

But Skrtel is not in a rush to leave and respects his contract with Liverpool, who he joined in a £6million deal from Zenit St Petersburg.

Asked what percentage chance there was he would stay at Liverpool, the 28-year-old said: "I do not want to be that specific.

"The club has the biggest say in this in any case, because they have the right for it with me being contracted.

"Besides, I am not saying that I want to leave at any cost. I feel sorry for what happened in this season. But I have been here for five-and-a-half years and I have built a position here."

Enrique Determined To Stay At Anfield

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique is determined to stay at Anfield and play his part in helping the club back to their glory days.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is likely to reshape his squad this summer, but Enrique is hopeful he is part of the manager's plans.

The 27-year-old left-back is under contract until 2016 and believes he is developing well at the club.

"I haven't spoken with the manager about next season but I want to stay," Enrique said.

"I still have to improve some things but I think I'm getting better every season. As you get older you know more.

"This type of football the manager wants has really helped me as it's the type of football I love to play.

"I am happy at this incredible club and in this city. The support we get from the fans is amazing and also from people inside the club who do so much for us.

"I still have three years on my contract and hopefully I can stay at this club for many years."

Fans Back Agger For Vice-Captaincy

Liverpool fans have backed Danish defender Daniel Agger to become the club's next vice-captain following the retirement of Jamie Carragher last weekend.

Brendan Rodgers has yet to nominate a member of his squad to replace Carragher as Steven Gerrard's deputy, but Agger edged the vote when we canvassed supporters' opinion.

The centre-back, who passed 200 appearances for the Reds during the recently completed season, picked up 44 per cent in our online poll - ahead of Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina on 31 per cent.

Lucas Leiva and Luis Suarez each tallied seven per cent of the votes, while Jordan Henderson rounded out the top five on three per cent.

Agger already wears the skipper's armband for his national team, Denmark, and the 28-year-old has established himself as first-choice under Rodgers; the defender featured on 39 occasions during 2012-13.

For his part, Reina has previously captained the Reds 20 times in the Barclays Premier League in the absence of Carragher and Gerrard, while Suarez was skipper against Oldham last season.

Stevie And Carra Pip Giggs And Scholes

New Opta stats reveal how Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard have featured in the same Barclays Premier League game a hefty 383 times - more than any duo in the division's history.

The pairing is more prolific in terms of appearances than Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who played in the same game 356 times.

Here is Opta's table in full:

Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard: 383 times
Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes: 356 times
Frank Lampard and John Terry: 327 times
Paul Scholes and Gary Neville: 302 times
Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville: 297 times
Kevin Davies and Jussi Jaaskelainen: 288 times
Kevin Nolan and Jussi Jaaskalainen: 282 times
Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia: 280 times
Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyypia: 268 times
Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane: 258 times