Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Liverpool Set To Beat Tottenham To Soldado

Liverpool is ready to snatch Roberto Soldado from Tottenham's grasp.

Spurs have been in talks with Valencia about the striker, but talkSPORT understands their director of football Franco Baldini has returned to London from Spain having failed to agree a deal.

Andre Villas-Boas turned his attention to the Spain international following the failure to land Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke, who signed a new deal at Villa Park last week.

The north London club is understood to have offered Valencia £24million, but that’s still short of the £26m buy-out clause in Soldado's contract and the La Liga side is refusing to budge.

That has opened the door for Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers keen to take Soldado to Anfield as doubts surround the future of Luis Suarez.

Liverpool is believed to be willing to pay the £26m Valencia are demanding for the 28-year-old as Rodgers looks to continue his rebuilding job at Anfield this summer.

Liverpool Lining Up £10m Bid For Josip Ilicic

Liverpool is considering tabling a £10m bid for Palermo midfielder Josip Ilicic.

The Gunners were also eyeing up a move for the 25-year-old in the off-season but have since cooled their interest as they pursue other target.

Ilicic has grown in stature at Palermo, and was highly impressive for the Serie A outfit, as he clocked up 31 appearances.

But reports emanating from Italy suggest that Liverpool could swoop in for him, with Palermo facing up to life in Serie B next season.

Ilicic's agent had originally said in May that offers from Italian clubs will be given priority.

"He will certainly leave Palermo. He is wanted by several different sides, Italian and overseas, but we are still in the beginning of the process," Amir Ruznic told Sky Sports.

"In any case, Italian offers have the priority. AC Milan? I have not been contacted directly by the Rossoneri, but that doesn't mean the two clubs haven't been in talks."

Liverpool is likely to face stiff competition from Fiorentina, and the midfielder hasn't hidden his desire to join La Viola.

"Fiorentina are the team I like the most in Italy, they made a great team and will fight for the Scudetto with Juventus next year," said Ilicic.

"Fiorentina are the team who inspire me the most in terms of the quality of their football. And I also know that I can't jump steps.

"I'm a Palermo player and I can't dream of - let's say - Manchester United. That would be stupid."

Ilicic hit double figures in Serie A last season.

Liverpool Set To Land French Left-Back On Loan

Liverpool is believed to be close to securing a loan deal for Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho who has been informed that he can leave the Spanish club.

Cissokho made just 11 league appearances for Valencia last season and has been heavily linked with a potential move to Anfield in recent days. Now Spanish newspaper Marca has reported that Liverpool are set to land the defender so long as they are prepared to pay a loan fee of €1m.

Should a deal be agreed then the Reds would then have the chance to sign the French defender on a permanent deal next summer for a fee of around €4m.

Brendan Rodgers revealed that he was keen to sign a left-back as cover for Jose Enrique who faced little competition for his place last season.

"There are obviously certain areas of the squad where we're a bit thinner than others," said Rodgers. "We probably need a bit more support - that extra bit of quality - at the top end of the field and that's something we'll look out for.

"That'll be mixed with needing cover in the left-back position - that's something we're looking at. It's not really about numbers, it's about quality. If we can do that over the next number of weeks we'll be happy."

Cissokho only moved to Valencia last season after three years at Lyon where he was considered first choice. However, he struggled to hold down a regular spot in the first team at Los Che and has seemingly been informed that he is no longer required at the club.

"On the left side we are very well covered," said manager Mirslav Djukic. "Juan Bernat can play there, as can Andres Guardado and Jeremy Mathieu. It is a very well covered position."

The 25 year old would certainly add stiff competition at left-back having played at the highest level in Portugal, France and Spain during his six year senior career, winning the league with Porto and earning one cap for France.

Madrid Offer Higuain Plus Cash For Suarez

Liverpool sources are playing down the suggestion emanating from a number of UK and Spanish newspapers that Real Madrid have offered striker Gonzalo Higuain, plus between £15-£20 million, for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Suarez who is expected to have detailed talks with manager Brendan Rodgers over the next day or so, is said to be Real Madrid’s major transfer priority. However, Liverpool sources say they have yet to see any approach from Madrid.

In addition, Rodgers is coming to the view, backed by the board, that unless a blockbuster offer arrives for the want-away striker, then he will be staying at Liverpool for at least another season.

The offer of Argentine striker Higuain, while intriguing, if true, will not change that mindset.

Madrid are said to have identified Suarez as a key target having failed to sign Cavani, and they have taken into account Suarez would like a move to Spain.

Higuain is keen on a move to England, but was thought to be on his way to Arsenal.

Arsenal Lodge €49m Bid For Suarez

Arsenal has lodged a staggering bid worth €49 million for Luis Suarez.

The Londoners, yet to make a senior signing this summer, are believed to have told Liverpool they will pay €41m up front for the striker, topped up by €8m in add-ons.

Arsenal’s initial €41m bid, made up of €35m plus €6m in add-ons, was rejected out of hand by the Merseysiders three weeks ago.

It is not yet known what Liverpool’s response is to the latest demonstration of Arsenal’s new financial muscle in the transfer market.

Arsene Wenger will 'pull out all the stops' this summer in an attempt to land Suarez, who has become the main focus of his attention as he attempts to make a marquee striker signing.

Arsenal are believed to be confident that the Uruguayan is keen on a move to Emirates Stadium, and have now gone into completely unchartered territory to capture him.

The offer, which is comfortably a club record, is nearly double the €27m bid the Gunners made earlier this month for Gonzalo Higuain, who is in advanced talks to join Napoli for €37m.

Liverpool is fighting to hold on to a player who has spoken frequently this summer of his interest in a move, most specifically to Real Madrid.

Brendan Rodgers has compared Suarez's value to that of Edinson Cavani, who joined Paris Saint-Germain last week for €63m, but the Anfield manager has stopped short of completely ruling out the Uruguayan's departure, merely saying every player has his value and he will only leave "if something drastic happens".

A bid rising to €49m for a 26-year-old who is banned for the first six games of the new season might be regarded as tempting by Liverpool's America-based owners Fenway Sports Group.

Suarez has a €46.5m clause in his contract which his advisers believe entitles him to ask for permission to speak to any club that matches the price. But Liverpool claim they only have to inform Suarez and the clause does not oblige them to sell.

Arsenal believes they have been given enough encouragement by the Uruguayan's representatives that he is keen to move to Emirates Stadium in search of Champions League football.

The Gunners' second offer has been timed to coincide with Suarez returning to pre-season training following his extended summer break. The striker linked up with Liverpool in Melbourne on Sunday for the second leg of their pre-season tour.

Suarez has emerged as Wenger's first choice ahead of Higuain and Wayne Rooney, who is the subject of strong interest from Chelsea.

Arsenal will continue to monitor the situations of both forwards as they step up plans to splash €110m to make at least two marquee signings this summer, most likely in the striker and central midfield positions.

Babel Urges Ajax Ace To Make Anfield Switch

Former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel has revealed he has encouraged Denmark star Christian Eriksen to join the Anfield side.

Eriksen has been a long-term target for the Reds but their interest in him has grown in recent weeks after missing out on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who joined Borussia Dortmund.

Babel, who left Merseyside in 2011, played alongside the playmaker at Ajax last term and says the 21-year-old would jump at the chance to play for Liverpool if the club ramp up their efforts to sign him.

He said: "For the fans who have questions about Eriksen, I've given him enough information about the club during the past season, so he understands.

"In my opinion it's Liverpool who has to make the real effort to get him."

Borini Agent Plays Down Liverpool Exit

Fabio Borini will not be leaving Liverpool to join Lazio, according to the player's agent.

The Italy international suffered an injury-plagued debut season at Anfield and managed just two Premier League goals during the 2012-13 campaign.

Speculation has mounted that the 22-year-old could return to Serie A, with Lazio thought to be keen on the former Roma forward, but that possibility was ruled by the player's representative, Marco De Marchi.

"I can confirm that Lazio sporting director Igli Tare has always been a fan of Fabio, but I have not had any contact with Lazio," De Marchi told Radio Sei.

"What I can assure you is that Borini is concentrating on doing well for Liverpool to beat the competition for places in attack.

"At his moment in time he only has Liverpool in his mind. We are talking about one of the greatest clubs in the world."

Sterling Can Play Big Role For Liverpool, Says Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Raheem Sterling is a much better player now than he was last year and believes he can play a big role for the Reds this coming season.

The 18-year-old became a first-team regular at Anfield last term but, partly through injury, faded in the second half of the campaign.

However, Rodgers believes Sterling is full of confidence after an "outstanding" performance in the club's pre-season friendly win over Indonesia and has backed the youngster to become a big success on Merseyside.

"It was a year ago when I came into the club and he came away with us on pre-season as a reserve/youth-team player and his enthusiasm, quality and tenacity really hit me," Rodgers told the club's official website.

"He ended up starting the season after the West Brom game and for the first six months, he was sensational. He ended up getting a full England cap, which shows you the impact he made at 17 years of age. He went on to make over 30 appearances.

"Towards the end of the season, there was a natural drop-off purely because of the youthfulness of him and also because of the pressure of playing for Liverpool and at the very top end of the game.

"I took him out of that, he had a little injury at the end of the season as well, but I wanted to protect him and make sure he doesn't have too many miles on the clock too early.

"He's come back refreshed, he did work over the course of pre-season and was back and forward from his holidays into Melwood preparing himself well.

"He's now re-joined the group and I've got to say, I thought he was outstanding the other night.

"He looks so fit, he looks sharp, he looks better than what he was last summer when I came in, and I think he'll play a big part for us again this season.

"At 18 years of age, he has so much potential. If we nurture that well and he can retain his focus and mentality, he can be a big talent for Liverpool. I've been pleased with what I've seen from him so far."

Kolo Toure Is A Class Footballer, Says Agger

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger feels the arrival of fellow centre-back Kolo Toure will provide invaluable experience as the club prepares for the upcoming season.

Toure made the switch to Anfield after his move from Manchester City earlier this month, and Agger is pleased to have him at the club.

"He's been around so long, he knows what he is doing. He is a good guy too," Agger told "I haven't played with him much yet, but he's a class footballer. We've known that for a long time, so it's no surprise."

The 32-year-old spent much of last season as a spectator, appearing only 18 times for City, and was also left out of the club's Champions League squad.

But he became Liverpool's fourth summer signing, arriving on a two-year deal following the retirement of Jamie Carragher, and will be eager to impress his new boss.

With over 100 international caps for the Ivory Coast, Agger believes the likes of Toure are key if the club are to progress and challenge for the Champions League spots once again.

"He is talking a lot on the pitch, he is well organized and he is physically on top. He is an all-round player. He's good," Agger added. "Experience is important for the team. We need it if we want to reach our goals."

Toure isn't the only one catching the eye of the Dane, with Agger admitting that he has also been impressed with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

"He's been impressive in training. He's a great shot stopper. We know him from Sunderland and he's been good," said the 28-year-old.

The shot-stopper joined from Sunderland last month as a ready-made replacement for Pepe Reina, who is set for a loan move to Napoli.

Joe Allen To Shine For Liverpool This Season

Joe Allen: the midfielder who Brendan Rodgers described as one of the most technically sound players he has ever worked with.

The player Rodgers spent a huge chunk of money to buy. Allen and his midfield partners were instrumental in helping the Swans to a respectable position during their first season in the Premier League.

Allen came to Anfield having to fight against the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey and others for a midfield spot.

The first few matches into his Reds career showed glimpses of his talent. He was everywhere. He was at the start of every attack, the last ditch tackler, the midfield game breaker and the one who kept the tempo of team going with his short smart passes.

But over the course of the season, his performances deteriorated. His enthusiasm was there for all to see but he was not able to live up to the price tag and the faith put into him by the manager. He then faced stiff competition with Lucas coming back from injury and also Henderson who kept on improving over the course of season.

He kept playing second fiddle to other midfielders and had to wait until January to score his first goal. But what was evident from this period was the willingness Allen had to get into any position and play for the team. Eventually he was ruled out for reminder of season in mid-march after his shoulder surgery.

Many reports claim that Allen injured himself sometime and was carrying the injury for long and this may have caused the decline in his performances. But all this should be noted considering this was a new phase for now just the player but also the club.

Rodgers came into the club with a different philosophy and ideas from what Kenny Dalglish had. Both has similarities in the sense that both set up teams to play pass and move football. But the ideas and strategy that Rodgers had were different.

For a new young manager to come into the club and enforce his ideas onto the team often takes time. But as evident from the second half of last season, once the team got a better idea of the philosophy, they started playing much better. This was the scenario where Allen would have thrived. He would have gelled in well with players like Coutinho and Sturridge who always wait for the smart pass and make their move.

So what makes this season better for Allen?

Premier League index and Opta stats suggest that Allen passed the ball forward more than Mikel Arteta did and only slightly less Yaya Toure.

Allen was also the team’s best long-range passer and was second in the league at 89.6% completion. His statistics and gameplay dropped only after the Merseyside derby and that coincided with the shoulder injury he picked up.

Rodgers claimed that Allen plays similar to Paul Scholes in sense that both are comfortable at keeping possession of the ball and rarely give away which is a rarity in the Premier League.

Like Didier Hamann, Allen possesses the intelligence and skills to play in a number of positions and that makes him crucial for the upcoming season. He can fill in for Gerrard or Coutinho when either of them drift away from their positions and carry on the same work as the former ones would do.

Allen was used alongside Gerrard in certain games and he was given the duty to break plays. But he is not a proper defensive midfielder like Lucas who will get it right every time.

If he plays alongside a proper defensive midfielder he can focus solely on what he does best. He also need to work on his final passes into the box and the ability to run counter attacks with one pass. If he gets into positions to shoot he should be able to provide at least five to 10 goals during the season which can help the team go forward.

Allen has come back into the team fitter and hungry to prove himself. If he can get into the same rhythm, passing game and control as the one he has during the start of last season then we can surely expect a very good season for the young Welsh midfielder.