Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hamann: Best Has Yet To Come From Joe Allen

Ex-Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the best is yet to come from Joe Allen for both club and country.

Allen was one of Brendan Rodgers' first signings when he took over at Anfield, taking the 23-year-old from his former club Swansea City in a £15m deal.

He impressed in the Liverpool midfield but the Wales star's season was curtailed by a shoulder injury.

"It's a big step up when you go from Swansea to Liverpool but he had a fantastic start," Hamann said.

"He was absolutely outstanding for the first few months then he missed a couple of games, Lucas [Leiva] has come back in the team who missed the early parts of the season through injury and then he [Allen] found it hard to get back into the team.

"But I think for the first year he's done ever so well and you've got to give him time, he's only young.

"He showed his potential, if anything he'll only get better and I think there's a lot to look forward to."

Allen has been capped 13 times by Wales and also played five times for the Great Britain side that reached the quarter-finals of the men's football tournament at the 2012 Olympics.

The Carmarthenshire native has played primarily in a holding midfield role for Liverpool, where he could break up opposition play before using his range of passing to launch Liverpool forward.

But Hamann, who was capped 59 times by Germany, believes that as Allen develops he will be able to fill other roles.

"If he adds skills to his game then I think he can play in various positions in the centre of midfield because he's a clever player, he's a very good passer of the ball, he spots danger and he's a team player," Hamann added.

"Now he needs to crack on and take his game to the next level, not only for Liverpool but also for Wales.

"He's at a top club now, he will have gained a lot of experience from that and I hope he can put that to good use for his club and country.

"I think you will see a lot more from him in the future because he is a terrific player."

Luis Suarez Voted Liverpool's Player Of The Season

Luis Suarez has won the Standard Chartered Player of the Season, as voted for by Liverpool fans.

The Uruguayan claimed a huge 64 per cent of the votes, clear of captain Steven Gerrard in second and the retiring Jamie Carragher in third.

Defender Daniel Agger and January signing Philippe Coutinho finished off the top five.

Suarez topped the Liverpool scoring charts with an impressive 30 goals in all competitions, 23 of which were in the Premier League.

"It's incredible for me," the striker told LFC TV after earning the award.

"This is very important for my life and I know I have the supporters helping me - it's so important."

The 26-year-old has been linked with a move away from Anfield this summer after such an impressive individual season.

He narrowly missed out on the PFA Player of the Year, being beaten by Gareth Bale, but was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Liverpool finished a disappointing 7th place and failed to qualify for European football for next season.

"My work is helping the team and I try my best on the pitch," Suarez added. "I hoped the team would be in a better position but we tried our best. We are all ready for next season.

"When the manager arrived here it was a little difficult because maybe he didn't know the players or the club.

"The first season for the manager was good for the confidence of the players. Next season we can be better."

The controversial striker has now scored 51 goals in 96 appearances for Liverpool after his move from Ajax in 2011, but the club now faces a battle to keep hold of their star striker.

Liverpool On Alert As Valencia Attacker Eyes Exit

Liverpool target Sofiane Feghouli has made a U-turn and now fancies leaving Valencia.

talkSPORT revealed in January that the winger had signed a new deal at the club until 2016.

It appeared certain he would snub a move to England, with Liverpool keen, but now his future is uncertain.

It is understood that the 23-year-old has fallen out with key figures at Valencia, namely boss Ernesto Valverde.

The Algeria international, who has scored nine in 62 La Liga appearances, is now planning to leave Valencia this summer.

After tying him to that new deal, the La Liga club will demand upwards of £12million for their man.

Real Madrid Star Quashes Liverpool Speculation

Goalkeeper Diego Lopez has handed Liverpool a transfer blow by revealing his desire to continue at Real Madrid.

The Reds are preparing for the possible departure of long-serving Spaniard Pepe Reina to his former club Barcelona and Lopez is thought to be on their list of potential replacements.

The 31-year-old rejoined Real Madrid last summer as an understudy for Iker Casillas and was handed his first start in January after the Spain captain suffered a hand injury.

And Lopez has not looked back since, starting a further 24 matches while his more illustrious colleague has watched on from the sidelines.

Jose Mourinho's departure is expected to give Casillas the chance to reclaim his first-team berth, but Lopez, who is also being eyed by Ligue 1 side Monaco, is not prepared to give up his No.1 role without a fight.

"[It is] in my plans to continue here," he said. "I believe in having competition and I think the goalkeeper's role will be as open as any other position."

Liverpool And Chelsea Target Teenage French Ace

Liverpool and Chelsea are set to fight it out over Lille starlet Lucas Digne.

The 19-year-old, who is under contract until 2017, is regarded as one of the finest young left-backs in Europe.

Digne was a regular for Lille last season, starting 31 league games, having made 16 league outings during the previous campaign, and is a key figure for France's Under-20 side and his displays have alerted several Premier League sides.

talkSPORT told you back in February that champions Manchester United were on his trail, but Liverpool and Chelsea both appear to have a stronger interest in the full-back.

Although Ryan Bertrand was recently handed a new deal, Chelsea still need a quality long-term successor for Ashley Cole, while Reds boss Brendan Rodgers would welcome competition for Spaniard Jose Enrique.

But both English sides will also face competition from Ligue 1, with moneybags Paris St-Germain keen on the £10m-rated defender.

Juraj Kucka Flattened By Liverpool Link

Slovakia midfield maestro Juraj Kucka is dreaming of a move to Liverpool.

The Genoa star, 26, has enjoyed a fine season in Serie A and has been linked with a summer switch to Anfield.

It'd mean he'd link up with countryman Martin Skrtel and Kucka - a holding midfielder - is already licking his lips at the prospect of it.

He said: "It's good news - I have read it on the internet.

"I am a Genoa player so I have to think that I'll play in Genoa the next season.

"But I can imagine what it would mean to wear the Liverpool shirt."

Kucka made his international debut at the age of 21 and has played 29 times for his country.

Carroll To Reject £15m West Ham Move

Andy Carroll looks set to turn down a permanent £15 million move to West Ham after telling Liverpool he will fight for his place at Anfield, Goal understands.

The 24-year-old striker is ready to accept a role as a bit-part player at Liverpool next season in order to force his way into the side following a successful loan spell at Upton Park.

West Ham agreed a £15m deal with the Reds last week after Carroll scored seven goals while on loan in east London, but he is unsure about a move as he focuses on re-establishing himself at Anfield and earning a place in England's World Cup squad.

"Things haven't worked out for Andy at Liverpool but he went there with high hopes and isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet," a source told Goal.

"He enjoyed his time with West Ham but feels he has unfinished business at Anfield."

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers had hoped to cash in on Carroll to boost his transfer spending this summer, having only been given £20m by owners FSG to improve the squad that finished seventh in the Premier League table.

Carroll is also thought to be keen on a shock return to Newcastle. The Magpies, though, are not believed to be in the running for his signature, with bad blood from the original £35m transfer in 2011 meaning Liverpool are reluctant to negotiate a return.

Carroll faces up to four months on the sidelines with a heel injury, and has withdrawn from the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Barcelona Close In On Reina

Jose Reina could sign for Barcelona in the next two weeks after his agent flew in for talks with Liverpool.

The Spanish giants hope to tie up an £8m move for the Reds keeper and a deadline has now been set for the transfer to be completed.

Arsenal and PSG have also shown an interest in Reina but the player has promised Liverpool he will not sign for one of their Premier League rivals, and does not fancy a move to France.

Reina, who is under contract until 2016, wants to return to his first club and Barcelona have targeted him because their current No.1 Victor Valdes is set to join Monaco.

Reina’s agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, met Anfield directors at the weekend and talks will now begin between Liverpool and the Spanish giants.

But the 31-year-old has told Liverpool that if a move cannot be agreed, he will sign a new contract with the club.

Starsport understands there is a new deal on the table for Reina which would keep him at Anfield until June 2018.

But Reina’s Liverpool place is not as secure as it used to be and his form has dipped at times in the last two seasons.

Liverpool wants his future sorted out so they can sign a replacement if necessary.

Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet are both on their radar and the club would use any money from Reina’s transfer to help fund a move.

Danny Wilson Pens Three-Year Deal At Hearts

Danny Wilson sought assurances from Hearts’ hierarchy over the club’s financial future before penning a three-year deal.

The 21-year-old defender rejected overtures from the Championship to make his loan switch from Liverpool permanent.

While Wilson could have made more money elsewhere, he insists that was not his prime objective in deciding where he would go after leaving the Anfield giants.

Finances are in focus at Tynecastle given the threat of administration due to the risk of parent company UBIG being declared insolvent.

But Wilson insisted: “I said all along that if the opportunity came along to sign for Hearts I would take it. I did ask the question.

“The club has said all along there is nothing to concern ourselves with just now.

“I do read and hear things and it can be unnerving, but the club have given me the opportunity to play here and that was all the assurance I needed.

“I don’t think the club would offer me a contract if there was no future here.

“I was happy to sign the deal and I am just looking forward to next season now.

“The last four months here was something I enjoyed.

“Once you find happiness there is no point in seeking change.

“I am happy here and I get on well with the boys and the supporters.

“Hearts were good enough to offer me the opportunity to stay here for another three years and play my football. I was delighted to take it.

“There was interest from the Championship, but I have just moved back up here and I was settled and enjoying my football, so it was not something I wished to seek or pursue.

“I could have made more money elsewhere but I never really spoke to anybody because my mind was made up that I was happy enough to continue.

“I’m happy here, my girlfriend is happy, so I was happy to sign it.”

Wilson hopes he won’t be the only one to extend his stay with the Jambos and would love to see fellow defender Andy Webster do likewise.

Wilson said: “A lot of the talk recently has been about us getting players in, but more important than that would be to keep players like Andy Webster.

“I used to learn from him playing in the reserves when I was 16, and I’m still learning from him five years later. So if we can keep him it would be great.

“But I also know he’s got his own circumstances, so whatever he decides to do is fine. But I’d be delighted if it was at Hearts.”

Hearts could be hit with a 15-point penalty next season if UBIG are declared insolvent, but Wilson is confident the Jambos would be able to cope with that potential setback.

He added: “A 15-point deduction might make things a bit more difficult.

“You need to prepare for every eventuality and if that is the case it’s something we need to meet head-on.

“There is no guarantee of that happening next season so we will need to just wait and see.

“We’ll be well prepared because the young players who were in the team last season as well.

“We didn’t have a great season but the positive thing was that the young players performed well, so they’ll have benefited from that.”