Friday, July 05, 2013

Rodgers To Add Attacker & Defender

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has praised the recent work done by the club in recruiting players but revealed he is hopeful of adding a couple more before the new season gets underway.

So far this summer the Reds have welcomed goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, experienced centre-back Kolo Toure and Spanish attacking duo Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto to Anfield.

All four were secured in time to report for pre-season training with the rest of the squad, excluding those involved in either the Confederations Cup or U20 World Cup, yesterday.

Speaking about the business done to date, Rodgers told "It's great - it's a big thing to the club because we looked at last summer and there were lots of things that were difficult for us.

"That meant that the opening period of the season was difficult.

"From that we've got all our people involved, our recruitment team in - and they got to work as soon as they came in.

"We brought great signings in January and that's really helped us. Obviously the plan was to get our signings in as soon as we possibly could - and we still hope to make a few more.

"I'm very happy with the four players I've brought in, and they'll add to the group."

As well as identifying the need for another attacker and 'probably another defender', Rodgers admitted he would potentially need to look at further players if members of the existing squad depart.

"I still think another attacking, creative player, and depending on what goes out of the club - because naturally there might be one or two players who need to go out and play more - then we'll need to fill those areas that have been vacated," continued the 40-year-old.

"Certainly another attacking player will really benefit us, and probably another defender. We'll see how it develops over the course of the next few months."

The 'creative' recruit to which Rodgers refers could well be Armenian star Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a number of sources suggesting Liverpool are close to tying up a £20million deal for the Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker.

Elsewhere star striker Luis Suarez has been heavily connected with a move away while doubts persist over the futures of Pepe Reina, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates amongst others.

Gerrard Challenges Young Guns

Steven Gerrard has challenged Liverpool's rising stars to shake off their promising youngsters tag and compete for a regular first-team place.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers gave opportunities to seven academy graduates last season and Gerrard believes it is time for them to take more responsibility.

The England and Liverpool captain said: "You only get described as a young lad for a certain amount of time and then it's time to become a man and perform on a consistent basis.

"There is great talent at the club at a young age; the manager has been trying to get a young group of players together that can perform well for him.

"It's a big season for a lot of players - you look at (Raheem) Sterling and (Jordan) Henderson.

"Of course it's a big season for every player we've got, but I think the supporters will be looking for the young lads to step up now, try to push people out of the way and become regulars in the team.

"I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what happens with those young players."

Gerrard hailed Rodgers for the way he integrated members of the club's academy into the first-team set-up.

"The manager is fantastic with the way he does it; he invites a lot of young players down to train with the team all the time," he said.

"It's great experience to come down and play with the first team.

"When they come down permanently, they have sampled it and they know what they're in for.

"I'm excited because if the young lads show the manager that they are good enough, he's certainly shown to everyone that he's not scared of playing them. It's going to be exciting."

Liverpool Continue Toby Alderweireld Pursuit

Liverpool is in pole position to land Belgian international defender Toby Alderweireld, according to reports.

The Daily Star claims Ajax have brought forward plans to sign a replacement for the versatile 24-year-old, who can play at either right back, centre back or in centre midfielder.

Frank De Boer’s side have been given permission to speak to Mike van der Hoorn, and the FC Utrecht starlet is being touted as the ideal replacement for Alderweireld, who made his debut for the Godenzonen in 2008.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers does face competition for the signature however, with the report claiming Bayer Leverkusen are also interested in signing the £8million-rated Eredivisie star.

If the Reds do win the race for the player, then it would be their second centre back signing of the summer, after Kolo Toure moved to Anfield on a free transfer last month.

Rodgers is rebuilding the Liverpool defence following Jamie Carragher’s retirement, whilst Sebastian Coates is yet to find his best form on Merseyside. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are the other options available.

Liverpool And Arsenal Offered France Striker

Queens Park Rangers have offered front man Loic Remy to the likes of Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool as the Championship outfit look to get the high-earning Frenchman off their wage bill next season, says the Daily Star.

The highly rated France international has only been at Loftus Road since the turn of the year, when the 26-year-old arrived in west London from Ligue 1 giants Olympique de Marseille on a four-and-a-half-year contract worth a club-record fee of £8 million.

However, despite the striker managing to hit the back of the net on six occasions in his 14 Premier League appearances for Harry Redknapp’s struggling outfit, his goals were still not enough to prevent the club from being relegated to the Championship.

And QPR are said to be desperate to offload Remy now that the summer transfer window has finally reopened for business once again, with the player available for as little as £6.8m, which is the value of the release clause in his current contract in the capital.

Chelsea On Verge Of Brokering Deal For Suarez

Chelsea is reportedly on the cusp of a sensational swoop for Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.

The 26-year-old had been tipped to join Arsenal earlier this week by bookmakers, who priced him at 5/2 to join Arsene Wenger's side.

Suarez's future has been the subject of unrelenting speculation, with the Uruguayan talking up a move to Real Madrid after hitting out at the English press for what he perceived to be unfair treatment of him.

But the Blues it seems are the frontrunners to capture his signature this summer.

Spanish paper AS claims Suarez could move to Stamford Bridge for a fee of £34m.

They also note that he could be in line for a sizeable pay packet, with the Blues ready to offer him a salary of £4.7m a season.

The news could be a source of welcome relief for Jose Mourinho, who appears destined to miss out on Edinson Cavani.

The Napoli hit man is thought to be in discussions with Laurent Blanc over a move to PSG.

Suarez In Shock Arsenal Link

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been subject of some surprise backing to join Arsenal this summer, with various bookmakers reporting significant stakes.

Sky Bet are refraining from making the Gunners favourites to sign the striker as they attempt to make sense of the industry-wide run of bets, which prompted one major bookmaker to suspend betting on Wednesday evening.

The Reds star is 3/1 to remain at Anfield this summer after declaring his interest in leaving the Premier League, with Real Madrid the favourites to sign the Uruguay international, who has stated his desire to join the Spanish giants.

However, the Bernabeu-based outfit has drifted out from odds-on to 6/4 with Arsenal being backed in from 20/1 to 7/4.

The development comes out of the blue with the Gunners expected to complete the signing of Gonzalo Higuain in the next few days, while it seems unlikely that Liverpool would sell to fellow Premier League club, especially considering Suarez's reasons for wanting to leave.

Sky Bet Football Trader Chris Spicer said: "We initially actually saw very little money for Suarez to join Arsenal and did not even consider them in the betting until requested on Wednesday evening.

"However, some significant stakes have been seen across the industry, reportedly starting with some big bets from Spain, prompting us to move in line with other bookmakers.

"The bets have now started to come in but we are refraining from making Arsenal favourites though as it simply makes no sense given Suarez's desire to leave England, while we recently suspended betting on Higuain arriving at the Emirates."

Deals For Williams & Sakho Unlikely

Despite continued speculation linking the Reds with Swansea's Ashley Williams, in particular, well placed sources suggest the club has moved onto other targets.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Welsh defender Ashley Williams have been strongly connected with an Anfield reunion for some time but it appears the likelihood is beginning to fade.

Rodgers, who was manager at Swansea before moving to Liverpool last summer, is believed to have turned his attention to other options after his former employers put a £10million price tag on the 28-year-old's head.

The usually reliable Liverpool ECHO claim Williams is one of two defenders, the other being Frenchman Mamadou Sakho, who the Merseysiders are currently not pursuing despite national media reporting otherwise.

The latest round of 'Williams to Liverpool' speculation followed the centre-back's defensive colleague, Ben Davis, claiming the Wales captain was worth every penny of such a fee.

"Last season I would say Ash was one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League, I cannot think of many who were better than him. The job he did was incredible," praised Davis in quotes published by Sky Sports.

"A price of £10million or more to sign him is completely justified. You see some of the money that gets spent in this league on players who are unproven in the Premier League. I think £10million is more than a fair price."

Williams is contracted to Swansea until the summer of 2015 and the club are understandably keen to retain a player who has been a key component in their two impressive Premier League campaigns.

Arsenal is also believed to hold a firm interest in a defender who has been at the Liberty Stadium since a bargain £400k move from Stockport County in 2008.

Williams, the 2009 Wales Footballer of the Year, led the Swans to League Cup glory last season and has amassed 41 international caps to date.

Although it appears neither Williams or Sakho will be arriving at Anfield, Liverpool are still almost certainly on the look out for new defenders following Jamie Carragher's retirement and persisting doubts over the suitability of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates.

Rodgers has already secured the free transfer signing of experienced centre-back Kolo Toure from Manchester City and is believed to retain an interest in Greek international Kyriakos Papadopoulos, although negotiations are believed to have stalled at this time, and Tiago Llori of Sporting Lisbon.

Liverpool To Give Young Duo A Chance

Porto winger Christian Atsu is no longer on Liverpool's radar, as the club is now concentrating on their own youngsters.

Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling both received chances with the senior line-up in Brendan Rodgers' first season in charge at Merseyside, with plans to concentrate on developing talent.

Atsu was believed to be on Liverpool's radar after a successful season at Porto, as Rodgers focuses on building his attacking options this summer.

The Liverpool Echo claims that the Reds will look to their own youngsters to step up next season, after Sterling in particular had a very successful first senior campaign with the side.

The 18-year-old had his season ended prematurely in March by a thigh injury, but still notched up 36 appearances over the course of the campaign.

The teen is now fully recovered and raring to get back into action for the club who began pre-season training this week.

Sterling already has a senior England cap to his name, and after shunning interest from other clubs to sign a long-term deal with Liverpool last season, Rodgers is reportedly confident that he doesn't need to spend £3m on Atsu when he has the youngster to call upon.

Meanwhile, Ibe is not quite yet at the same stage as Sterling, having received just one chance with the senior side last season. But his form was impressive against QPR on the final day of the Reds' campaign. As a result, Rodgers is believed to see the winger as a more viable option than bringing in someone who would need time to settle in and learn the ropes of English football.

While Rodgers is hoping to keep Sterling and Ibe for first team opportunities, he is reportedly considering sending out Suso and Andre Wisdom on loan so the pair clock up more game time and develop their skills.

Jones Signs Liverpool Deal

Highly-rated Liverpool starlet Lloyd Jones has signed his first professional contract at Anfield.

The towering central defender, who joined the club from Plymouth in 2011, is regarded as one of the brightest young prospects at Liverpool.

The 17-year-old was a regular in the NextGen team and the Under 21s last season and he was also named on the bench for a Premier League game against Fulham at the back end of last season.

Jones is tipped to become a regular in Brendan Rodgers' side in the next few seasons and the club has moved to secure him on a professional deal.

Wales youth international was delighted to sign the new deal writing on Twitter: "Great feeling to sign a Professional contract with Liverpool."

Swansea Wrap Up Shelvey Deal

Swansea City has completed the signing of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Liverpool for a fee of £5m.

The 21-year-old has put pen to paper on a four-year contract at the Liberty Stadium after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.

The England international - he has won one cap as a substitute in the 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley last October - had also attracted the interest of Premier League newcomers Crystal Palace, but their bid was reportedly less than Swansea's.

Shelvey, whose fee also includes a number of potential add-ons, started his career with Charlton before moving to Liverpool for £1.7m in May 2010.

He made 69 appearances for the Reds and scored seven goals, but was deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield by boss Brendan Rodgers as he rebuilds his squad for the new season.

After completing the move, Shelvey wrote on Twitter: "Just wanna say thank you to every one of the Liverpool fans for there support! They were first class. And will be truly missed.

"Will miss the city very much. And the club! Owe a lot to everyone there! Thank you. Time to start a new chapter in life in Wales. Thank you."

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has spoken of the need to increase the quota of homegrown players at the Liberty Stadium and Shelvey fits the bill.

"We have got to make sure that the make-up of our squad is right," said Jenkins.

"And obviously part of that is making sure that we have so many British players in there. We have got to do that - there is no choice because they are the rules."

No More Offers For Mkhitaryan

Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin claims there have been no new offers for Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan and there is no release clause in his contract.

Liverpool has been strongly linked with a move for Mkhitaryan with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers thought to have made him one of his top summer transfer targets.

Reports have suggested Liverpool is closing in on a deal for the attacking midfielder, but Shakhar insist the only bid they have had for Mkhitaryan has been from Borussia Dortmund which they rejected.

It has been suggested Mkhitaryan has a release clause of €22million in his contract, but Palkin claims there is no such clause and it would cost €30million to buy himself out of his contract.

"There is nothing new about Mkhitaryan," Palkin told "I already have said that Borussia Dortmund offered €23 million for him; this was the sole offer. [But] our position is €30 million.

"Mkhitaryan's contract does not specify a compensation payment. Thirty million dollars need to be paid to sever the contract unilaterally.

"If we go with the civilized way and sell a player but he severs the contract, we specify a transfer value of €30million (£25million)."

Kolo Toure Officially Unveiled As Liverpool Player

Liverpool has wrapped up a deal for Kolo Toure at their training ground Melwood on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Ivory Coast international represents the Reds' fourth summer acquisition having already signed Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet and Luis Alberto.

The centre back signed a two-year contract at Melwood in the presence of the club's managing director Ian Ayre.

Speaking to the club's official website, Toure said: "This means a lot to me. Firstly, I'm joining one of the best clubs in England.

"When I left City it was important for me to stay in England because it's the best league - and to join Liverpool is massive for me.

"I chose Liverpool because of the history and because of the spirit of the team and the people here."

Toure has been allocated the No.4 shirt for next season.

Hearts Can Keep Danny Wilson

Danny Wilson used a loophole in the football laws to controversially sign again for skint Hearts.

In a shock move, Hearts have dodged a signing embargo and used cash freed up by sacking John Sutton on Friday to fund a new deal for defender Wilson.

The former Liverpool and Rangers stopper had agreed a bumper three-year deal with the Jam Tarts before the club plunged into administration.

However, the permanent contract was not lodged with the football authorities before the club suffered an insolvency event.

At that stage, Wilson was told the deal he agreed with the capital club was non-binding and he would be a free agent again, when his original loan move from Liverpool to Hearts expired.

However, the newly-formed SPFL recently allowed Hearts to process the Wilson deal.

League chiefs claimed that, as long as Wilson signed the deal before midnight on 30 June, Hearts could register him as it was a continuation of a previous contract rather than a new agreement.

An SPFL statement said: “The SPFL Player Registration of Heart of Midlothian FC player Danny Wilson would, had he not agreed a contract extension, have terminated on 30 June.

The SPFL has now received documents extending the contract of the player.

“As a result, the player’s existing SPFL registration is automatically extended and is not affected by the embargo on new SPFL Player Registrations currently in place on Heart of Midlothian FC as a result of Heart of Midlothian plc (in administration) being in administration.”

Boss Gary Locke was thrilled to have kept a key player as he eyes the prospect of starting the season with a 15-point penalty and a squad made up of kids.

He said: “I’m really pleased. Danny was already due to be part of the team and the administration has made no difference to his status.”

It’s understood Wilson has taken a massive hit on his original deal, but could still earn around £1,500 a week at Gorgie.