Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Striker Iago Aspas Joins From Celta Vigo

Liverpool have signed Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas for £7m, subject to international clearance.

The club agreed a deal in principle last week and was just waiting for documentation before confirming the "long-term contract".

The uncapped Spaniard, 25, scored 12 goals in 35 league games for Celta this season as they avoided relegation from La Liga on the final day.

Aspas was a target for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers's old club Swansea.

He becomes Liverpool's second Spanish signing of the weekend, following the recruitment of Sevilla and Spain Under-21 forward Luis Alberto, 20, who has joined for a fee believed to be £6.8m.

They are set to be joined at Anfield by Simon Mignolet, with Liverpool expected to complete a £9m move for the Sunderland goalkeeper next week.

Earlier in the summer, Manchester City defender Kolo Toure, 32, agreed to join Liverpool on a free transfer.

Ayre: Brendan Spotted Him Long Ago

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has hailed the signing of striker Iago Aspas as a significant reward for the transfer work being carried out behind the scenes at the club.

The Spaniard became the latest player added to the Reds squad by boss Brendan Rodgers after completing a switch from La Liga side Celta Vigo.

Ayre revealed that Aspas had been picked out by Rodgers 'a long time ago' and pledged that efforts will continue to further strengthen the playing options this summer.

He told Liverpoolfc.com: "It's fantastic, the third signing of the summer and very early in the window.

"He's a great talent, one that Brendan identified a long time ago.

"The scouting network and everybody else have done a lot of hard work to get him here and I'm pleased that we've been able to get his signature and have him in the squad.

"As we've always said, we've got our targets. We will work as hard as we can to bring them in. As we've said before, it's always about getting the right players and the right deals for both sides.

"There's a lot of work going on, there's certainly no shortage of that. Hopefully we'll have some more success."

Aspas is the third player to agree a move to Liverpool already since the 2012-13 season concluded, following the announcement of a deal in principle with defender Kolo Toure and the signing this weekend of Luis Alberto.

"It's always important," Ayre said when questioned on the benefits of concluding transfers early. "It's not always possible but it's always important.

"Particularly from the playing perspective, the manager and the coaches and all of the staff want to know that they've got the squad together, particularly ahead of pre-season.

"We've worked tirelessly, a lot of people behind the scenes worked ahead of the transfer window to identify those players that interest us.

"Then the hard work starts, negotiating and bringing these deals together."

Aspas Jumped At Liverpool Offer

Iago Aspas did not hesitate when he was offered the chance to join Liverpool, declaring it to be an ‘easy choice’ to make.

Aspas has signed a long-term contract to the Reds from La Liga outfit Celta Vigo, becoming Brendan Rodgers’ third signing of the summer, and he admits he jumped at the opportunity to move to the Premier League.

“It wasn’t a tough decision at all,” Aspas told Liverpoolfc.com. “I’m really happy to have come to a big club like this one.

“Having weighed up all my options for this window, a massive club like Liverpool was always my first choice.”

“I am a quick and skilful player. Together we will achieve a lot of success.

“I’ve not had the chance to talk with the manager at any length just yet but I think that good players can slot into any role and not just one set position.”

Laudrup Still Waiting For Arsenal & Liverpool Calls

Swansea City are yet to receive any offers for captain Ashley Williams as rumours over his future continue to take place.

In many columns over the past few weeks Williams has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Liverpool, who are both hoping to bolster their defensive options.

However, Swans chairman Huw Jenkins says he is yet to hear anything either club, or anyone else in the Premier League, "I can honestly say I have not had one call from anybody about him."

"There have been all sorts of stories in the press about what is happening with Ash, but I have never heard anything from anyone," Jenkisn told the South Wales Evening Post.

Despite not receiving any bids, manager Michael Laudrup said earlier this month that he knows he may lose Williams.

"There has been a lot of talk and let’s see what happens," said Laudrup. "He extended his contract not so long ago, like I did. Maybe we have to accept one player will go, but not any more."

Liverpool And Arsenal Target Papadopoulos

Schalke 04 centre back, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, is on the radar for both Liverpool and Arsenal, according to The Sun.

The 21-year-old Greece international has demonstrated tremendous professionalism since moving to the Gelsenkirchen side in 2010 at a mere 18 years of age, helping Schalke shine in both UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League, as well as impressive finishes in the Bundesliga.

With the retirement of Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher and the possibility of Martin Skrtel leaving, The Redmen require defensive reinforcements this summer.

Rodgers has brought in Kolo Toure to aid Daniel Agger out at the back, but the Ivorian is unlikely to be anything but an emergency backup – so it looks as though additional cover will be brought in.

Meanwhile at The Emirates, Arsenal has Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen as options at centre back, with Ignasi Miguel in reserve.

If £19million rated Papadoupolos was to sign up with Wenger and co. there would be a real fight for places at the back – exactly what Wenger wants.

Sources also suggest that Wenger is monitoring Swansea defender Ashley Williams, but talks have died down after it was claimed Swansea are demanding too much for the Welshman.

Liverpool Interested In Eljero Elia

Liverpool have once again been linked with a move Werder Bremen winger Eljero Elia, according to talkSPORT.

Liverpool was previously linked with the Dutch international in 2011 while he used to play for Hamburg.

He eventually signed for Juventus spending just one season which turned out to be disastrous for him as he made just four league appearances for the club.

Elia moved to Bremen for £5million in July 2012 but his poor form and failure to find the net in the Bundesliga has meant he has been made available.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has been tracking the player for quite some time now and according to talkSPORT, Liverpool are closing in a move for Elia.

The Merseyside giants have already been active in the market after completing three signings in the form of former Manchester City centre-back Kolo Toure, Sevilla forward Luis Alberto and Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas.

Liverpool Chase Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa has been linked with a move to Liverpool despite enduring an injury-plagued season last campaign.

The winger may now be surplus to requirements, according to the Independent, due to the arrival of Director of Football Joe Kinnear.

The winger may be surplus to requirements. Ben Arfa is very much a fans' favourite at Tyneside particularly due to his flying start in the Premier League.

Despite problems with injury, in the last two years the 26-year-old has still scored 11 goals for Newcastle from 56 starts.

Newcastle fans will no doubt be upset if the playmaker is allowed to leave and the already unpopular Kinnear will be doing his relationship with the Toon army no favours.

The former Marseille man has expressed a desire to remain at St James’ Park and even wants to extend his contract but as the power struggle in the North East continues, the French international’s future looks uncertain. Ben Arfa is believed to be on less than £40,000 a week and due to his calibre he wants to be on a level playing field with the other top earners at United.

Mike Ashley has spent beyond his means since the Magpies’ arrival back in the Premier League and Kinnear is thought to want to preserve funds.

The 66-year-old was only recently handed the role of director and as we famously heard on talkSPORT, he means business.

Brendan Rodgers on the other hand has already been busy this summer but he is actually looking to bring players in, having already secured two signings.

The acquisition of Ben Arfa could be a shrewd one as Liverpool are short on the wings and with uncertainty over Luis Suarez’s future, it could go some way to softening the blow.

Rodgers Delighted With Backroom Staff

After landing his third signing of the summer, with Simon Mignolet soon to make it four, Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to the backroom staff who had sacrificed summer holidays to ensure the Reds got their business conducted quickly.

Luis Alberto joins Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas at Anfield, with even more arrivals anticipated before the players report back for pre-season training next month.

And Rodgers said: “There has been a lot of great work gone on over the last six months. We wanted to get as much of our work done as early as we possibly could for the summer so we could get the group back in and get the players together as quickly as we can.

“It’s been a good summer for us so far.

“I think every club and every manager would love to get transfer business done as early as they possibly could. We had made a conscious effort this summer to do that.

“It’s great credit to everyone at the club and our recruitment team, our analytical team, Ian Ayre our managing director and the owners who have backed us really well.

“There has been a lot of work that has gone on and a lot of people sacrificing holidays to ensure we can get the players in we want.”

Rodgers added: “Kolo Toure is a player I’ve admired since he came into the Premier League. He was a wonderful servant for Arsenal and a part of that ‘Invincibles’ group and did exceptionally well, and in the transformation of Manchester City, they brought him in as one of their key players.

“We’re losing an absolute colossal player in Jamie Carragher, who was absolutely brilliant for me. It’s very, very hard to replace that type.

“Kolo Toure will give us that experience and winning mentality. He’s still very fit, very strong and will come in, offer that support and fight for his place in the team.

“Iago Aspas was one of the stars for Celta Vigo. He’s a goalscorer, he’s quick, dynamic, aggressive in his game and has a winning mentality.

“I feel these are the types of players that can come into Liverpool and keep our momentum moving forward. Players that are hungry to succeed, because that’s important for us.

“We have to bring in players that are willing to fight for the shirt and these players are very much hungry to do that.”

Liverpool To Get £2.8m From Sale Of Tom Ince

Liverpool is set to receive £2.8m from the sale of Tom Ince from Blackpool to Cardiff City.

Ince, 21, is reported to be on the verge of a £8m move to the newly promoted Welsh side – and Liverpool have a 35% sell on clause on their former academy player.

Ince, son of Blackpool boss and former Liverpool midfielder Paul, was strongly linked with a return to Merseyside in January but the Reds instead signed Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan. They have shown no interest in re-signing the Englishman this summer.

Ince left Liverpool two years ago failing to agree a new contract after finding first-team opportunities limited under Roy Hodgson. He sought first-team football and Liverpool allowed him to leave for just £250,000 but a hefty sell-on-clause was written into the deal with Blackpool. Former director of football Damien Comolli previously explained the reasons surrounding Ince’s departure here.

Liverpool will welcome the cash windfall and continue their spending this week, with a medical for goalkeeper Simon Mignolet expected soon, and talks over defender Tiago Ilori continuing.