Saturday, June 29, 2013

Liverpool Must Avoid Another Year In Transition

Liverpool has dipped into the market very early. Already, Brendan Rodgers has snapped up Manchester City veteran Kolo Toure, Spanish starlets Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas and finally ex-Sunderland shot-stopper Simon Mignolet.

These new purchases have confirmed the fact that the corporate heads are serious about ensuring Liverpool’s place in the top four next season.

Yet, fans are worried at how long it will take the new stars to settle in at Anfield.

In all earnestness the fear of having another transitional season is genuine.

We should also not forget the importance of winning the early fixtures of the season.

Last August, we were expecting the new stars to shine but something nearly opposite happened.

The fans have not forgotten the meek performances of Joe Allen, Sebastian Coates and Fabio Borini, just to name a few.

One thing that the Reds have struggled with, for quite some time, is consistency. What they need right now is a match winner, someone who can inspire a comeback from two goals down.

Yes, Steven Gerrard still has some years left in him but over-dependence on him is one of the reasons why Liverpool have ended up in mid table positions for the past four years.

David Villa is looking for a club that can provide him with regular playing time and Liverpool should pursue him.

Yes, he comes with a hefty price tag but that can be balanced with the money Luis Suarez’s sale might bring whose departure is not a question of an ‘if’ but ‘when’. The Spanish international has played with top sides that have different styles and has proven himself on every occasion.

Amongst the new arrivals, it is fair to say that the best days of Kolo Toure are behind him. Aspas has been quoted as the less famous version of Suarez, because he posses both the qualities of the Uruguayan - creativity and involvement in controversy.

Alberto is yet to be tested on the big stage while many believe Mignolet is overhyped. Brendan Rodgers needs to rethink his strategy before making any hasty decisions.

Nevertheless, he does have a point when he claims the new signings will improve competition for a place in the playing eleven.

Gerrard Excited By Liverpool Signings

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has admitted that he is thrilled by the club’s early transfer activity and is excited about lining up with his new team mates.

On Wednesday, Liverpool confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, to add to the acquisitions of Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas.

The Reds skipper is hopping that the early business with allow them to compete for a Champions League place next season.

He told the club's official television channel, "Especially with the news of us making a few signings, I'm really looking forward to getting started.

"It's always important to get faces in as soon as possible; they can get a full pre-season under their belt, get to know the lads and how the manager wants to play.

"There are some exciting names in there so everyone is excited."

Gerrard also admits that he does not know much about the Spanish pair, but trusts the club’s scouts to have done a great job.

"I know very little about them but I have got a lot belief and confidence in Brendan [Rodgers] and the scouting department that they are going to make the right decisions and I have seen bits and bobs of new signings we have made," he remarked.

"I am really looking forward to getting back to work next week and seeing what the new players have got to offer and see if they can help strengthen our squad to put in a better fight for a top-four finish."

Liverpool Rekindle Interest In French Striker

Liverpool has reportedly rekindled their interest in signing Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Kevin Gameiro, according to Le 10 Sport. The French international has been on the Reds' radar for a while now and Brendan Rodgers even made a loan approach during the January transfer window.

Gameiro had a strong 2011/12 season, scoring 11 goals from 27 Ligue 1 starts. However, the arrivals of Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi last summer limited game time for the 26-year-old former Lorient youngster.

Nevertheless, Gameiro did still score eight times from his 25 league games; he only started seven of those. The report suggests the striker is keen on a move to Anfield and this lack of game time could persuade the Frenchman to hop across the English Chanel.

According to Le10 Sport, Liverpool will launch a bid for his services in the coming days. Gameiro earlier expressed his desire to leave his employers and has also revealed a dream of playing abroad at some point in his career.

"I always wanted to play abroad. At the end of the season, hopefully after we win the title, we can decide about my future. I want to play football every time. I am no different to any player. It is difficult to sit on the bench but all big clubs in Europe have the same problems, you can't play every game but being involved is good," Gameiro told Sky Sports.

The club's director of football, Leonardo, earlier admitted Gameiro's reaction as "normal". But the Brazilian is hopeful Gameiro continues at the Parc des Princes and does not hand in a request to leave the club.

"This is a normal reaction. He hasn't played too much this season. A penalty? No, no punishment. It has already happened with Menez and Nene. We understand that this bad mood lasts up to two hours after the match, then it stops," Leonardo explained.

"I hope he does not ask to go, he must understand his importance, but maybe he wants something else," he added.

Liverpool Target David Villa To Replace Suarez

Liverpool will turn to Barcelona striker David Villa if they are forced to sell Luis Suarez this summer.

The Reds are battling to hang onto leading goal scorer Suarez, who asked to quit the club earlier this month after becoming disillusioned with life in England.

Brendan Rodgers insists he is confident the player will stay, but after Real Madrid appointed Carlo Ancelotti this week the Primera Liga giants are pushing hard for a deal.

Liverpool is not willing to sell on the cheap but is coming around to the idea of offloading Suarez before the start of pre-season, and is already lining up possible targets.

According to reports in Spain, Barca hitman Villa is the leading contender to replace Suarez and Liverpool are confident they can get him for a bargain price.

The Anfield club has already brought in reinforcements up front in the form of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, but both are far from seasoned performers and Villa would guarantee instant goals.

The 31-year-old has already told Barca boss Tito Vilanova he wants out of the Nou Camp, and it’s thought Liverpool could get him for around £8million.

Spanish publication El Mundo Deportivo suggests Tottenham and Napoli are also keen on the forward, but are yet to lodge an offer.

Suarez’s future will be decided when he returns from the Confederations Cup.

Liverpool Target PSG Star As Carragher Replacement

Liverpool are keeping tabs on Paris Saint-Germain defender Mamadou Sakho as Brendan Rodgers continues the search for Jamie Carragher's long-term replacement, reports the Daily Express.

Sakho, who was unable to hold down a regular first-team spot for Carlo Ancelotti's star-studded Ligue 1 champions last season, has stalled over signing a new deal with the club.

The 23-year-old, who has 13 caps for France, has been with PSG for his entire career, and has made 196 first-team appearances for the club.

PSG are believed to be keen to retain Sakho's services and have already offered him a new two-year contract and a pay rise.

The Reds has already brought in Kolo Toure to join the likes of Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, but with question marks hanging over the futures of the two latter players in that list the Anfield club are still thought to be keen on strengthening their defensive options.

Skrtel has been linked with a move to Napoli, with former Reds boss Rafa Benitez ready to splash the funds garnered from Edinson Cavani's inevitable departure.

Liverpool could now step up their interest in Sakho after reaching a dead end over a deal for Sporting Lisbon's Tiago Ilori and being priced out of moves for Swansea City's Ashley Williams and Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

Liverpool Transfer Target Eyes Real Madrid Exit

Real Madrid striker Jose Callejon is ready to leave the Bernabeu, with Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool interested in a move for the player, according to reports in Spain.

The forward struggled to make a long-lasting impression on former manager Jose Mourinho, with most of his 29 league appearances coming from the substitute’s bench.

And with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in such fine form last season, the 26-year-old striker struggled to gain a regular first-team berth and is now seeking a move away from the Bernabeu to gain frequent first-team football.

Once hailed as one of Spain's brightest young prospects, Callejon was signed by Real Madrid in 2011, having made the move from fellow La Liga side Espanol for a fee of around £4m.

He made 25 league appearances in his first season at Madrid, but like this season, most of these were from the bench. And it seems that Callejon has had enough of featuring from the bench and is seeking a permanent move away from the Spanish capital.

And with the performances of Real Madrid Castilla forwards Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata ever improving, Callejon may be forced further down the pecking order next season if these two players are promoted to the Real Madrid senior team next season.

And it is Premier League side Liverpool has expressed the strongest interest in the forward, whilst Serie A outfits Fiorentina and Napoli are also monitoring the situation of the 26-year-old as well.

If Callejon joins Liverpool, he will join fellow Spaniards Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas to have made the move to Anfield this season.

Assaidi Set For Return To Holland

PSV Eindhoven Target Loan Move For Assaidi

PSV Eindhoven wants to bring Liverpool outcast Oussama Assaidi back to Holland.

Assaidi, 24, failed to break through into the senior side last season in his first campaign at Anfield following his £2.4million switch from Heerenveen a year ago and virtually all of his appearances came in the Cups.

PSV are keen on Assaidi and would like to sign the Moroccan winger on loan for next season.

Assaidi has been pushed further down the Reds' pecking order by the arrivals of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas and Brendan Rodgers would consider letting him go.

However he would prefer to recoup the money he paid for Assaidi last summer to fund his latest spending spree rather than let him go out on loan.

Liverpool Midfielder Wanted By Swansea

Liverpool are prepared to sell Jonjo Shelvey to Swansea City - but only if Michael Laudrup makes a £5m offer, according to the Mirror.

The Swans have opened talks with the Reds' manager Brendan Rodgers about buying the England Under-21 midfielder, who has struggled to tie down a regular place in the Anfield club's starting line-up.

Former Swansea boss Rodgers has reportedly decided that Shelvey can go as part of his club's summer shake-up, and the Welsh side sees him as a player who can add bite to their slick-passing style.

Shelvey's availability has also alerted other clubs, but League Cup winners Swansea is showing the biggest interest and a compromise could be reached in the next 48 hours.

The 21-year-old signed for Liverpool from Charlton Athletic in 2010, for an initial fee of £1.7m.

He has since made 70 appearances for the Reds, scoring seven times in all competitions.

Shelvey was particularly successful in Liverpool's Europa League campaign last year, netting four times, and with the Swans due to enter the same competition for the first time this coming season, he could prove an important signing.

Arsenal Renew Interest In Pepe Reina

Arsenal has renewed their interest in Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina after the Anfield outfit completed the signing of Simon Mignolet, reports the Evening Standard.

Reina has been linked with a move to the Emirates on numerous occasions over the past few seasons, but a move never came to fruition with Arsenal's reluctance to meet the asking price coinciding with the rise of Wojciech Szczesny.

Although the young Szczesny began out very promising, the last season saw him make too many mistakes, costing Arsenal valuable points.

Wenger seemed to have lost faith in him when he selected Lukasz Fabianski to play instead, which is a bold statement considering the problems he has had himself in goal.

With Liverpool signing Simon Mignolet, its thought Pepe Reina's time at the club may be up, as Brendan Rodgers looks to assert himself on the Liverpool squad with numerous fresh faces.

The Evening Standard has reported that Reina will hold talks with Rodgers over his future once he returns from the Confederation Cup.

The move to the Gunners is also now more realistic due to their newly founded financial power, and restructuring of the wage bill - helped by the departure of highly paid players who failed to make an impression on the squad.

Therefore Reina's £110,000-per-week wages shouldn't prove a problem for Arsenal.

Although it might be unclear as to where Reina will begin next season, it seems that Arsenal is in the market for a goalkeeper. They have scouted a number of the best shot-stoppers in the world, and have been linked with moves for many of them; these include Victor Valdes, Asmir Begovic, Rene Adler and Julio Cesar.

Rodgers Praised For Sterling Treatment

The CEO of the QPR Community Trust has praised the way Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is handling the career of young England winger Raheem Sterling.

Andy Evans has been with the trust for almost 20 years and has overseen a number of young players who have gone on to turn professional including Liverpool speed-merchant, Sterling.

Sterling made his first-team debut for Liverpool in 2012 and made his England debut later that year after a series of impressive displays for the Reds.

Rodgers used the 18-year-old sparingly in 2013 amidst fears of possible burnout and Evans believes the Liverpool manager has dealt with the situation the right way.

“I think he’s probably managed him quite well,” said Evans.

“He will be seeing and working with him every day throughout the year and it’s a big jump going from a youth player to becoming a first team player in the Premier League at a big club.

“I’m sure Brendan and his staff will be managing his workload accordingly and that is probably why they took him out towards the end because it is difficult for a young player like that to maintain his level over the course of a whole season.”

Evans believes changes to modern day football mean managers now have to be more careful than ever in nurturing young talent.

“It’s not just about skill level and fitness it’s also about how young players handle the media glare and everything that goes with the challenge of playing at the top level,” he explained.

“It’s about how they handle their life off the field as well, not just what they do out there on the park during 90 minutes but how are they coping with all the other pressures that go with that.

“It falls on the staff at those clubs who are close to them and working with them to manage that side of their development as well.”

Sterling was snapped up by Liverpool in 2010 as a 14-year-old by former Reds manager Rafael Benitez and Evans conceded QPR were powerless to stop the move.

“He came into the academy here at QPR and at the time the club was quite challenged financially, as it was a few years before the big takeover,” he said.

“Liverpool came in for him with an offer the club couldn’t really turn down and obviously it was a great opportunity for Raheem and his family as well.

“It was a shame we couldn’t hold onto him and see him wear the blue and white hoops because it would have been great to see a real local kid go from the academy to the first team.”