Sunday, August 04, 2013

Reds Victorious In Gerrard Testimonial

Steven Gerrard may not have got on the scoresheet but Liverpool still secured a fifth straight pre-season win with a 2-0 victory over Olympiacos in their captain's testimonial.

It was against Olympiacos that Gerrard scored perhaps the finest goal of his 15 years in a Liverpool shirt, a stunning late strike that ensured his side's progress from the 2004-2005 Champions League group stage. Gerrard went on to inspire Liverpool to lift the trophy from 3-0 down in the final against AC Milan in Istanbul.

The 33-year-old has spent his entire career at Liverpool, and recently signed a two-year extension to his contract, with his testimonial marking his decade-long tenure as Reds captain.
Joe Allen opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after sliding in at the back post to convert Iago Aspas' cross in front of a capacity 44,362 crowd.

Jordan Henderson then doubled Liverpool's lead on 62 minutes with his first touch just 12 seconds after coming off the bench, smashing the ball home after bursting into the box.

Wantaway striker Luis Suarez was brought on alongside Henderson, replacing Aspas, to rapturous applause from the Anfield crowd. Retired Liverpool legends Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher also got in on the action in the second half.

Gerrard may not have been able to repeat his heroics from nine years ago but he still received a standing ovation from all of Anfield after being withdrawn four minutes from time.

Rodgers Backs Joe Allen To Shine

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes a fully fit Joe Allen will prove a major asset to his side this season.

Wales international Allen initially impressed for the Reds after joining from Swansea for £15m last summer but his performances tailed off because of a shoulder problem that eventually required surgery.

The 23-year-old is now fit again and made a goalscoring appearance in Saturday's 2-0 win over Olympiacos in Steven Gerrard's testimonial match.

"The first three month of last season Joe was our best player by a mile but he had a problem with his shoulder which curtailed his season," said Rodgers.

"It meant he could not have that aggressive streak which is part of his game.

"Joe has been terrific over the course of pre-season and he did very well.

"It is important we have a real strong competitive group as we are trying to build the depth of the group so that I can change the team in games and when we go to play against certain teams I can change the team about."

Substitute Jordan Henderson scored Liverpool's other goal against Olympiacos, just seconds after coming off the bench, as Anfield honoured captain Gerrard's 15 years in the Liverpool first team.

Gerrard signed a new contract last month which keeps him at the club for a further two years and Rodgers has not ruled out the midfielder extending that further.

"For me he still has a number of years left yet," he said.

"You gauge players on their hunger, no matter how old or young they are, and Steven is 33 but from the first day I walked in here he struck me with his determination and hunger to succeed.

"He is very much hungry for the club to do well. The quality of his movement, his passes and leadership - he knows there is added responsibility with a number of players moving on (Jamie Carragher has retired and Jose Reina loaned to Napoli) - and he is a real talisman and gentleman."

Suarez Shown Support In Gerrard Match

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was given a rousing ovation at Anfield as he made a second-half cameo in Steven Gerrard's testimonial against Olympiakos.

The Reds have rejected two offers from Arsenal for Suarez, 26, who wants to play in the Champions League.

"It just shows you the class of the Liverpool supporters. They love their own and Luis is still very much part of the group," boss Brendan Rodgers said.

Goals from Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson secured the Reds a 2-0 win.

Rodgers added: "Maybe people wondered what kind of reception he would get, but that's the type of supporters Liverpool is.

"Saturday was another message from them that they love him here. We all love him, as a manager, players and supporters. He was probably humbled by the reception."

The Uruguay international's Anfield future remains uncertain after he spoke of his desire to leave despite only signing a new long-term contract in August 2012.

Arsenal made a club-record offer of £40m plus £1 for Suarez in the belief it would enable them to secure his services, but Liverpool dispute the interpretation of a clause in his contract.

Sources close to the player say he will consider submitting a formal transfer request and the possibility of court action if the issue is not resolved.

But, despite the ongoing saga, Reds supporters took the opportunity to give Suarez a clear sign they want him to stay when he came on after 62 minutes of Saturday's game.

Rodgers said: "It is very, very simple: he is a top player and we don't want to sell him."

Liverpool Won't Sell Suarez To Arsenal, Says Purslow

Liverpool's former managing director Christian Purslow expects the club to reject any approaches from Arsenal for wantaway striker Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan has been the subject of two bids from the north Londoners, with the second, improved offer worth up to £42 million.

But Liverpool has been steadfast in their determination to keep Suarez, adamant he is going nowhere, and Purslow does not believe the club would sell to Arsenal.

"If the only offer is from Arsenal I would expect Luis Suarez to stay at Liverpool," Purslow told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It's disappointing as a follower of Liverpool that the player has so publicly and so early in the close season made it pretty clear that he would like to move on.

"I'm pretty realistic about these things and it's not that unusual for a player of that magnitude to want to play at Champions League level. That appears to be his motivation."

Like Purslow, ex-Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli believes Suarez is eager to showcase his ability in the Champions League, and the former Arsenal scout sees the Gunners as a step up.

"The longer Liverpool is out of the Champions League, the harder it will be to attract players. We knew it would be hard to keep [Pepe] Reina, [Daniel] Agger, Luis [Suarez]," Comolli told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Luis is extremely ambitious and with all due respect to Liverpool, they're a top eight side not top four like Arsenal".

Suarez Worth Just As Much As Bale

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that any club interested in signing Luis Suarez should pay close to the £100m Real Madrid are willing to spend on Gareth Bale.

Suarez, who played in Steven Gerrard's testimonial game on Saturday, has been subject of a bid from Arsenal and is now on the radar of Madrid as he seeks a move away from Anfield.

Though Rodgers confirmed that he is not looking to sell the striker, he said it would take an astronomical fee for him to prized away from the club.

"Every single player in the world has a value, but it's not something we're thinking about. We're in no hurry to sell Luis or any other player," Rodgers said.

"You only need to look at the market, and when you compare £40m plus £1 and then Gareth Bale with nine figures.

"Bale and Suarez were arguably the two best players in the Premier League last year, so you can't say Bale is valued at over 100 per cent more.

"We as a club are very strong in our belief in what we're doing and no one will be moving out of here in a hurry."

Arsene Wenger confirmed that he was still interested in bringing Suarez to Arsenal as he looks to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window.

Real Madrid is set to step their interest up in the striker once their world record move for Gareth Bale is completed.

Bale's £95m transfer from Tottenham is set to be finalized this Tuesday with Spanish youngster Alvaro Morata heading to White Hart Lane as part of the deal.

And the Liverpool manager reiterated that the offers the club has received for Suarez were well under the asking price and the Uruguayan remains firmly in his plans for the new season.

"I think there's lot of stories around Luis but there's no change," Rodgers said.

"Of all the speculation that there's been since the end of the season, and all the clubs he's been linked with, we've had two bids from one club.

"They have been nowhere near the valuation in the market for a top player. Until anything dramatic changes he's still welcome.

"Thus far it's very simple - we don't want to sell him. We're trying to build something here so there's nothing new to report."

Wenger Hits Back At Rodgers Over Suarez Bid

Arsene Wenger hit back at Brendan Rodgers after the Liverpool manager insisted Arsenal’s bid for Luis Suarez fell well short of the player’s valuation.

Rodgers claimed Suarez’s qualities meant he should be valued in similar terms to Gareth Bale, the Tottenham forward who has attracted a near €100 million approach from Real Madrid.

Speaking after his side’s 2-2 draw with Napoli on the first day of the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament, Arsenal manager Wenger confirmed the club had made a formal bid for Suarez — believed to be in the region of €40 million.

But he also insisted negotiations would remain in-house and admitted he was perplexed by Rodgers’ decision to speak out.

“I do not understand this kind of thinking and would not like to talk openly about negotiations, because that is not my target in [this] press conference,” he said.

“We have one month in front of us and we will work very hard to strengthen our squad, without naming any specific names, because I do not believe that will make negotiations easier.

“After that, you can make all kind of thinking about the price of the players, and you can say as well they are all overboard anyway.

“I never said we have made a bid to Liverpool, now I can tell you we have made one so at least that is some information. All the rest, I would like to keep to us.

“If we progress in that situation, we will inform you. At the moment, that is where we are.”

Wenger and his club’s board have once again come in for criticism in recent weeks after failing to secure any of their high-profile transfer targets, but the manager insists the club’s approach to conducting business will not change.

Aly Cissokho Agrees Anfield Terms

Liverpool look to have beaten rivals Sunderland to the signature of Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho, with the player agreeing terms at Anfield, according to the Shields Gazette.

The Black Cats made an enquiry for Cissokho last month with manager Paolo Di Canio left frustrated in his attempts to bring in a new fullback at the Stadium of Light after Spurs blocked their attempts to re-loan Danny Rose.

Rose enjoyed a successful season during his short stint on Wearside in the 2012/13 campaign but the North East club has been forced into looking elsewhere for a left-back.

And their search for a new defender could continue with news that Liverpool has agreed terms with Cissokho.

Reports in Spain claimed the Valencia star has agreed on a move to Anfield, having been linked with the move for much of the summer.

Cissokho would become Liverpool’s fifth summer signing following the acquisitions of Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas.

Liverpool’s interest in the Frenchman comes as they missed out on Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand, who has decided to stay at Stamford Bridge and try to establish himself as Ashley Cole’s long-term replacement.

According to the reports in Spain, Sissokho will move to Merseyside on a one-year loan deal with the option of making the transfer permanent in 12 months’ time.

Gerrard Turned Down Bayern Munich Move

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard snubbed the opportunity to join Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich last season, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Anfield hero celebrates his 15 years at the club on Saturday with his testimonial, but he revealed he turned down the chance to play for a top European side 12 months ago.

Gerrard said the ambition to help take Liverpool back to the Champions League was his main motivation to stay at Anfield. He doesn’t name the club interested in his services, but the Telegraph claims it was Bayern Munich.

“I had a chance to move last year to a Champions League club,” said Gerrard. “There was no temptation. I have been through that enough before.”

And the Reds captain admitted he hopes Luis Suarez follows his advice, and turns down the chance to move elsewhere this summer. Gerrard was heavily linked with Real Madrid and Chelsea at various points in his career, and Suarez similarly has been mentioned as a target for Madrid.

“That is the message for Luis,” continued Gerrard. “I am hoping from a biased point of view that he gives us another year and shows us the form he did last season.

“Maybe it will be time for him to go next year or the year after. I don’t think it is the right time for him to go just yet.”

Reina Expects Suarez To Depart Liverpool

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has said the he believes Luis Suarez will leave the Merseyside club this summer.

However, Reina - who has joined Napoli on a season-long loan deal - reckons that Liverpool will only sell for the right price.

"It looks like he's going to leave, but at the end of the day the club says he's their player and they must take the decision," Reina told Sky Sports News.

The goalkeeper admitted that he was sad to leave Liverpool after eight years at the club, but is relishing the prospect of playing Champions League football once more.

"It's a new challenge right now for me and I'm looking forward to playing in the Champions League, which was a missing competition for us in the last three or four years.

"It's what every player can wish to play every year - the Champions League is the biggest tournament at club level and to fight for the Scudetto is one of the targets as well."

Reina made 285 appearances for Liverpool after arriving from Villarreal for a fee of £6m in 2005.

Queens Park Rangers Want Assaidi

Championship Queens Park Rangers are reportedly keen to sign Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi on a loan basis.

The 24-year-old has struggled to make an impact at Anfield since his switch from Heerenveen last summer, having made just 12 appearances in all competitions.

However, while Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is not keen to part with the Moroccan on a permanent basis, he would be prepared to sanction a loan switch to the R's, according to The People.

It is believed that QPR would face competition from a number of teams in Holland for Assaidi's services, including his former employers Heerenveen.