Sunday, June 30, 2013

Liverpool Slams Suarez-Real Speculation

Liverpool has slammed reports claiming star attacker Luis Suarez has been negotiating terms to switch to La Liga giant Real Madrid.

The controversial Uruguayan has been on national duty at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, and Spanish daily Marca took to publish Suarez had been in talks with Madrid behind the backs of the Anfield chiefs.

The Reds slammed the speculation, saying Suarez had not handed in a transfer request, has three years remaining on his contract and is not for sale.

However, Liverpool is reportedly concerned by the close links between the media organization and Real - and treated the claims seriously.

If the rumours do have any substance, a potential move would have a direct flow-on effect on Tottenham Hotspur and its electrifying winger Gareth Bale.

Real assistant Zinedine Zidane is a known admirer of the Welsh magician, but the Bernabeu club would obviously only chase one of Suarez or Bale.

Liverpool Target Put Up For Sale

Long running Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan has officially been transfer listed according to Shakhtar Chief Executive.

“Henrikh is an important player in our team,” chief executive Sergei Palkin said in an interview with Izvestia. “Shakhtar want to keep him, but we are willing to listen and consider all suggestions for a transfer.”

“We have already parted with Willian and Fernandinho, but the club will not just sell players. In the near future we will also gain quality, designed to replace the leading players, possibly including Henrikh.”

Premier League clubs Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool will all be put on alert after this recent occurrence, and a bid in excess of £15million should be enough to allow Shakhtar to part with one of their star players.

Liverpool Agree £25.7 Million Deal For Top Transfer Target

Liverpool has finally reached an agreement to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shakhtar Donetsk, according to Russian newspaper Sport Express.

Armenian television program ‘Extra Time’ announced on Friday evening that Mkhitaryan had agreed terms with a foreign club over a transfer, and it would now appear that Liverpool have won the race to sign Ukraine’s top goalscorer this summer.

Mkhitaryan scored 25 goals for Shakhtar Donetsk last season from an attacking midfield position, and providing he can adapt well to the Barclays Premier League, he could be an immense signing for Brendan Rodgers’ team.

Sport Express state that the 24 year-old will fly to Merseyside in the coming days for a medical and to complete the necessary paperwork in order to finalize the deal.

With a reported fee of €30 million (approximately £25.7m), Mkhitaryan would be the second most expensive signing in Liverpool history, after the £35 million Andy Carroll cost when he signed from Newcastle United in January 2011.

With Carroll having moved to West Ham United this summer for a significant loss having failing to impress for the Reds, Liverpool will hope that their next big move in the transfer market is a more successful gambit.

Spurs To Hijack Liverpool's Henrikh Mkhitaryan Move

Liverpool fans in the Football Transfer Tavern had thought that the deal to bring Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Anfield was almost complete but today’s Mail Online reports that Premier League rivals Tottenham are ready to hijack the deal and sign the goalscoring midfielder this summer.

The Armenian international had already held positive talks with Brendan Rodgers and it was thought that a deal could have been agreed before the transfer window opens officially at the start of July but now it looks like Spurs could move for him instead with the prospect of European football likely to prove attractive.

Spurs are close to finalizing the £17 million agreement for Brazilian defensive midfielder Paulinho of Corinthians but once that deal is over the line the attentions with representatives at the club will turn to the £20 million rated 24-year-old midfielder.

Champions League finalist Borussia Dortmund are also thought to have made a bid for Mkhitaryan, who netted 25 times last season but a move to the Premier League is thought to be his desired preference this summer.

Liverpool Show Interest In Portuguese Winger

Liverpool scouts have set their sights on Sporting Lisbon starlet Bruma, according to reports.

The Liverpool Echo claims the 18-year-old Portugal youth international has caught the eye of the Reds hierarchy as they attempt to negotiate a deal for Tiago Ilori.

Both players are representing their country at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Portugal, helping Edgar Borges’ side to top spot in Group B and a place in the knockout rounds.

But, the news is not positive with regards to Bruma, with the paper claiming that Liverpool has ‘very little chance’ of bringing the talented teenager to the Premier League this summer.

Brendan Rodgers has already been a busy boss this summer, bringing Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet to Anfield in a relatively short space of time.

Bruma would certainly fit the plans set in place by the Northern Irishman on Merseyside, with talented young players getting their chance to shine.

However, Liverpool may now have to look elsewhere if they want to strengthen their attack further in the coming months.

Liverpool Push For Verona's Jorginho

Liverpool has reportedly stepped up their attempts to sign Hellas Verona’s Italian-Brazilian starlet Jorginho.

The 21-year-old creative midfielder’s full name is Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, but he is known to supporters by his nickname.

Born and raised in Brazil, Jorginho grew up in the Verona youth academy and has opted to represent Italy at international level, receiving one cap so far for the Under-21 side.

Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all sent scouts to view him at Verona, but Sky Sport Italia claim Liverpool are surging forward.

The Anfield side is proposing an offer worth £8m – approximately €10.5m.

Liverpool Interested In Grêmio's Matheus Biteco

Liverpool is set to make a move for highly-rated Grêmio midfielder Matheus Biteco for a potential fee of £5 million.

The Merseyside giants sent scouts to the Toulon U20 tournament earlier this month ahead of a possible swoop.

The club was reportedly impressed with the defensive midfielder and is considering a £5m bid for the Brazilian according to the Liverpool Echo.

Sambafoot revealed earlier this month that Liverpool sent scouts to the tournament and that defensive midfielder Matheus is one player being looked at as a possible signing.

Liverpool have a history with Matheus' parent club, Grêmio, having signed Lucas Leiva in 2007 and former Reds left-back Fabio Aurelio currently plies his trade at the Porto Alegre club.

Porto Alegre native Matheus has featured in Grêmio's Campeonato Gaucho campaign, making six appearances in midfield, three of them in the starting lineup.

The summer would be an ideal time for a swoop as Matheus turns 18 in June, paving the way for a move abroad as Brazil laws prevent the departure of footballers aged 17 and under from Brazil.

Liverpool are thought to be looking to bolster their defensive options this summer and with Lucas Leiva their only recognized defensive midfielder, Matheus could be a long-term solution.

Martin Skrtel Is At A Crossroad

A year can be a hell of a long time in football. Just ask Martin Skrtel. From mainstay to makeweight, and all in the space of 12 months. Skrtel’s Anfield future, like several others, is up for debate this summer.

The central defender is tied into a lucrative, long-term contract with the Reds, but the suggestions from inside the club are that reasonable offers will be considered. Napoli, managed by Rafael Benitez, has been linked.

It is all a far cry from this time last year. Then, Liverpool were having to convince Skrtel they could match his ambitions, as well as his financial demands. They, not the player, were the ones fighting. He was the one holding the cards.

Perhaps understandably. The Slovakian had, after all, just been named as the Reds’ Player of the Season. He was a constant, a reliable presence.

Manchester City was interested. They sniffed, they probed, they whispered in his agent’s ear, and they tested Liverpool’s resolve with a formal bid, understood to be around £12m.

Liverpool, swiftly, rejected it. Brendan Rodgers, newly appointed, was desperate to retain his key players. Skrtel, together with Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger, was certainly one. There was, generally, a sense of relief at Anfield when a new contract was agreed in August.

Maybe that took his eye off the ball. Because since then his stock has fallen. And fast.

Sluggishness in possession, a nervousness when faced with imposing, physical forwards, and, perhaps more alarmingly, an apparent lack of genuine leadership qualities, all contributed to his demotion from the Reds team back in January.

Skrtel – along with Sebastian Coates, another who is fighting for his Anfield future right now – was bullied by Oldham Athletic’s Matt Smith as Liverpool were dumped out of the FA Cup. A senior international defender given the runaround by a reserve League One striker. It proved a pivotal moment.

Three days later, Liverpool went to Arsenal. Jamie Carragher started, and Skrtel was benched. He has started just three games since.

And with Rodgers making no secret of his desire to bring in “at least two” central defenders this summer, the feeling is that, at 28, Skrtel’s number is up at Anfield.

Kolo Toure has been signed, and Rodgers was desperate to bring Kyriakos Papadopoulos, the highly-rated 21-year-old, too.

Liverpool’s refusal to compromise with Schalke over their asking price could offer Skrtel the chance of an Anfield revival.

Having been scared of losing him a year ago, Liverpool may now regret that they didn’t cash in on him when they had the chance. Because Manchester City is unlikely to come back for him now.

What a difference a year makes.

City Duo Applaud Toure Acquisition

Kolo Toure's level of experience and leadership makes his free transfer to Liverpool an 'astute' signing according to two of his former colleagues at Barclays Premier League rivals Manchester City.

The Ivorian defender plied his trade with City for four seasons, winning a championship medal and the FA Cup as well as sharing a dressing room with Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott.

"Kolo will be a great signing. I think it's an astute signing by Brendan Rodgers because he has got so much experience," Barry told LFC TV.

"He will always give 100 per cent, he will never give up. Kolo will win over the fans straight away.

"Losing Jamie Carragher's experience from the dressing room will be a huge loss for Liverpool and the fans.

"But Kolo, with his experience and his work-rate, the way he goes about his training, will do a good job of replacing him."

That's an opinion shared by City teammate Lescott, who had the opportunity to watch Toure at close quarters during their time together in Manchester.

The England international explained: "He's energetic, he's full of life and he's always smiling every day in training.

"I know he's a good player - he's quick, he reads the game well and he's a leader. You can't replace Jamie Carragher but that will be as close as you're going to get."

New Boys Will Aid Top Four Push

Robbie Fowler is confident Liverpool's summer transfer business so far will stand them in good stead when it comes to mounting a strong challenge for a top-four finish in 2013-14.

The Reds have moved quickly to add Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet to their ranks so far this summer, while a deal has also been agreed in principle for Kolo Toure.

Fowler believes such acquisitions will allow Brendan Rodgers' men to achieve a greater degree of consistency this term and build on the progress made over the course of the last campaign.

Speaking in Indonesia on a promotional visit to the country ahead of this summer's pre-season tour, he said: "At the start of every season, we always have aims and ambitions to get into the top four and get as high up the table as we can.

"We didn't do it last season, but you could see the progression was slowly getting there - we were getting better all the time.

"For this season, there have been a few more players added to the squad, so I think the consistency will be a little bit better.

"The likes of Manchester United and Chelsea have got new managers now, so hopefully it will be a bit of a sticking point for them - but in terms of Brendan Rodgers and the squad we're putting together, I think we can certainly challenge for that top four."