Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Liverpool Prepare To Launch £20m Bid For Mkhitaryan

Liverpool is ready to launch an ambitious bid to land Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Armenia international has a burgeoning reputation and Liverpool, who have scouted the midfielder on several occasions, would have to pay more than £20million to stand any chance of signing him.

Such a price tag, though, would not deter Liverpool from moving for Mkhitaryan and he, along with Schalke defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, is one of the club’s prime targets for the summer window. Liverpool is also tracking Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke.

The decision to move for the skillful Mkhitaryan has not been triggered by Luis Suarez’s declaration that he is determined to leave Anfield. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are leading the chase for the Uruguyan, who has still not told Liverpool directly he wants a transfer.

Liverpool intend to bolster their forward line and the 24-year-old is viewed as a player who could significantly enhance their bid to get back in the top four – he scored more than 20 goals for Shakthar last season.

A significant proportion of the fee that Liverpool would be required to pay for Mkhitaryan could be recouped before the end of the week, as Andy Carroll edges closer to a move to West Ham United.

The England international has been considering his options since the clubs agreed a £15million deal and had not given up the idea of reviving his Anfield career but that avenue is no longer feasible and Carroll has accepted he must move on.

Liverpool Want Benteke As Suarez Replacement

Liverpool will consider bidding for Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke should Luis Suarez force through his move to either Real Madrid or Atletico.

Benteke, 22, is set for further talks over his future once he returns from international duty with Belgium.

Atletico, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund are also interested but Villa want him to sign a new deal.

The forward hit an impressive 19 goals in 34 top flight games this term and added four assists.

He was the stand-out performer in a mediocre Villa side and without him the Midlands outfit might not have been able to avoid relegation.

At times he single-handedly hauled them through games and grabbed countless valuable goals.

A brace against Liverpool, a hat-trick against Sunderland and the winner against relegation rivals QPR were some of the most crucial.

Liverpool Target Simon Mignolet

Liverpool want Simon Mignolet to replace Pepe Reina, should their Spanish goalkeeper depart this summer, and they face further uncertainty in attack with Daniel Sturridge likely to miss the start of next season with an ankle injury.

Reina had been expected to join Barcelona for about £10m until Víctor Valdés reconsidered his intention to leave the Spanish champions with 12 months remaining on his contract. Valdés's U-turn on Friday has thrown the Liverpool goalkeeper's immediate future into doubt, though not killed the deal entirely or the prospect of the 30-year-old moving elsewhere, and Brendan Rodgers is continuing with his search to sign a replacement before the new campaign.

Asmir Begovic of Stoke City has long been linked with a move to Anfield and is under consideration, as is Alex McCarthy at Reading, but it is Sunderland's leading keeper, Mignolet, whom Liverpool have identified as their first choice should Reina leave. The 25-year-old enjoyed an outstanding season at the Stadium of Light and was instrumental in keeping a struggling Sunderland team in the Premier League.

Sunderland would naturally fight to retain the Belgium international, who has swept the club's and supporters' player of the year awards, but Liverpool are hopeful he would be tempted by a move to Merseyside and that he would cost less than the £15m Stoke City want for Begovic.

Liverpool had expected a decision on Reina's future by the end of May and it was only the lure of a return to Barcelona that had swayed him towards a move. Reina is on a lucrative contract at Anfield, believed to be worth more than £100,000 a week, and the uncertainty over his next step is just one issue complicating Rodgers' transfer strategy for the summer.

Liverpool Submit €4.2m Bid For Sporting Lisbon Defender

Liverpool is hoping to confirm another signing in the coming days after submitting an offer for Sporting Lisbon's young central defender Tiago Ilori.

The Reds have been heavily linked with the 20 year old in recent weeks and it seems as though the club are determined to try and complete as much of their business as possible in the early weeks of the transfer window.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has already managed to bring one defender to the club as Kolo Toure will arrive from Manchester City on a free later this month, while a deal is in place to sign Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas.

Now Portuguese publication O Jogo reports that Liverpool has made an offer of €4.2m for the Sporting Lisbon defender, which could see another €800,000 arrive through a series of performance related bonuses.

The publication claims that the Lions are holding out for a bid in the region of €7m but that they are prepared to negotiate with the club because of the difficult financial situation they have found themselves in.

Sporting has historically struggled to hang on to their best players and with the club now suffering financially they may well be forced to accept a lower offer than the player would normally command.

They have already accepted an offer from Norwich for star striker Rickie van Wolfswinkel and it now seems they may lose one of their brightest young prospects in Ilori.

The centre back, who was born in London but raised in Portugal, was only brought into the first team in December last year but quickly demonstrated his ability and went on to play 10 league games as Sporting recovered from a dreadful start to the season to eventually finish in seventh.

Ilori has represented Portugal at Under-20 level and would most likely be viewed by Rodgers as a player that can not only develop into a top-class centre back, but would also quickly challenge the likes of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel for a regular place in the first team.

Liverpool will hope that they can tie up the deal within the coming days as there is bound to be plenty of interest from numerous clubs for the young defender.

United And Liverpool Face Summer Battle For League One Star

Manchester United and Liverpool will face a summer battle for Crewe Alexandra youngster Max Clayton.

The Express believes the 18-year-old forward has refused to extend his present contract, which expires next summer.

The League One side will likely be forced to sell him this summer if they cannot extend the player's contract.

Steve Davis' side will be due compensation in any case but any transfer fee is likely to be a larger amount.

"I will speak to Max's agent next week about his future, the signs haven't been good, but until I have that discussion it's difficult to know what will happen," Davis explained.

"There would be compensation if he was to leave at the end of his contract because he's below 24, but that's not big enough reward for the work we've put in with Max to make him what he is," he added.

Clayton has had a good season with Crewe, with four goals and two assists from 22 starts.

His overall performance helped the side finish in a comfortable mid-table position and he scored the second goal in the club's Johnstone's Paint Trophy triumph.

Crewe beat Southend United 2-0 at Wembley.

"He's a lad who wants to progress and does well, but he's not ready to go in my opinion and I've told him that.

He is not ready to go and play for anyone's first team, either in the Premier League or even in the Championship.

He's just coming to terms with this division," Davis explained, warning both his young star and potential suitors.

"He knows he's got a lot of improvements to make. He has to be patient. If he's here for an extra year and does well he will have a queue of clubs after him," he said.

Atletico Look To Hijack Suarez From Real's Grasp

Luis Suarez is destined for Madrid — but it could be Atletico rather than Real who sign him.

The Liverpool striker has resolved to leave England and knows Atletico Madrid is ready to use the money from the £50million sale of Radamel Falcao to Monaco to take him to La Liga.

Suarez is aware of Real’s interest and would prefer a move to the Bernabeu, though Real do not want to pay Liverpool’s £40m asking price. But Florentino Perez, who will be declared Real Madrid president for another four years, knows he must unveil a big signing this month.

Perez is facing criticism having seen Brazil star Neymar go to Barcelona and given the failure to win any trophies this season. He is also yet to land Carlo Ancelotti as his new coach, with Paris St-Germain refusing to release him from his contract.

Gareth Bale is also on Perez’s wish-list, though the president is expected to invest his energy in re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo on a longer contract this summer, which would diminish the chances of a £65m bid for the Tottenham player.

The ultimate destiny of Suarez will be tied up with the fate of compatriot Edinson Cavani, Manchester City’s No 1 target for the summer.

The Napoli striker — valued at £50m — is waiting for Real Madrid to make an offer before he will commit to City. If Real do firm up their interest in Cavani, Suarez would fall down Real’s list.

Cavani will make a decision next week. Chelsea also want Cavani but new Napoli manager Rafa Benitez will not sanction a player-exchange-plus-cash deal, with Cavani moving to Chelsea and Fernando Torres to Napoli.

Lloyd Jones Hoping To Break Into First-Team

Liverpool prospect Lloyd Jones is determined to work hard this summer in a bid to make his breakthrough into Brendan Rodgers' plans next season.

Highly-rated central defender Jones got a taste of the first-team this season when he was named in the squad for the trip to Fulham in May.

The 17-year-old, who has been likened to Anfield greats Alan Hansen and Ron Yeats, is highly-regarded within the corridors of power at Liverpool and he is tipped to establish himself in the first-team over the next couple of seasons.

Jones admits being involved in the first-team for the Fulham game has whetted his appetite to become a regular, but he admits he still has a long way to go before becoming the finished article.

"This season has gone really well for me and it has been a great learning curve for me," Jones told Sky Sports.

"It was a massive experience for me to be involved in the first-team and I really, really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot.

"It has definitely made me hungry to play for the first-team and hopefully I can do that in the future.

"I know I am a long way off from becoming the finished article.

"I am at the first stage of my career and I am determined to work hard to become the best I can."

Despite the season now being over Jones insists he is not resting on his laurels this summer and is working hard to improve his game.

"I am going to work hard this summer," added Jones. "I had some time off, but now I just want to get back into it.

"Hopefully I can impress in training when we go back and if I get the chance in a match then hopefully I can impress.

Seven Academy players all featured for the first-team this season and Jones admits it is encouraging for all young players at Liverpool to see Rodgers give youth as chance

"Yes, definitely it is encouraging for every young player that the manager will give young players a chance," continued Jones.

"It spurs you on when you see your mates go into the first team. You want it to be you and it spurs you on to get to first team a lot quicker."

Rodgers Could Face Striker Crisis

Liverpool is already facing a striker crisis at the start of next season as Daniel Sturridge is unlikely to recover from injury in time for the August kick-off.

Sturridge suffered serious ankle ligament damage in the international friendly with the Republic of Ireland last week, and the diagnosis is not promising.

The 23-year-old has undergone further tests since returning to Merseyside, and Liverpool now expect him to sit out pre-season training and be unavailable for the start of the Premier League campaign.

The worst case scenario is a four-month absence, keeping Sturridge out until late September or early October.

With Luis Suárez likely to have departed English football by the end of the transfer window, it leaves manager Brendan Rodgers with much to ponder over the next three months.

Even if the Uruguayan stays – which few at Anfield believe will happen – he still has six games of his 10-match suspension to serve.

Sturridge had eased the goalscoring burden on Suárez expertly since joining Liverpool from Chelsea for £12 million in January and with Rodgers desperate for a fast start to next season, his absence will be a major setback.

The Liverpool manager must feel his luck is out. He began his first season at Anfield bereft of strike power, but at least on this occasion he has time to bring in reinforcements. The consolation of Suárez’s exit would be a huge transfer kitty as Rodgers would be allowed to reinvest all the funds he generated through sales.

Liverpool also has Fabio Borini, who returned from injury at the start of last season, and of course Andy Carroll remains at Anfield for the time being.

The England striker, who is also injured, may see the issues surrounding Suárez and Sturridge as a fresh opportunity, although Liverpool would still rather he left for West Ham for the agreed fee of £15 million.