Thursday, September 12, 2013

Liverpool Has Strengthened The Wrong Areas

Liverpool has started the new Premier League season with a bang; winning their first three games without conceding a single goal. After the impressive victory against rivals Manchester United at Anfield, they now find themselves top of the table.

Liverpool has been fairly active in the transfer market this summer, purchasing Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Illori. Victor Moses and Aly Cissokho were also captured on loan deals.

Out of these deals, Liverpool has brought in one goalkeeper, four defenders, one winger and two forwards. Fairly impressive some might say, however they have not strengthened their weak central-midfield area and have failed to obtain that ‘marquee’ signing required to compete for the league title.

While Mignolet has been very impressive in goal this season and has made some wonderful saves, Toure and Agger have formed a formidable partnership in the middle of defence and have looked solid along with Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique playing at in the full-back positions. Therefore, the £20 million purchases of Illori and Sakho leaves Liverpool with five centre backs – Toure, Martin Skrtel, Agger, Illori and Sakho.

While Cissokho is a good backup for Enrique, there was no need to spend that money to reinforce the defence. Instead, the money could have been spent to strengthen the central-midfield area.

Manager Brendan Rogers will most likely play the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front with Moses and Aspas as back up. This system will require Liverpool to play three of their available four central-midfielders - Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson.

Allen has not been able to recapture the form he showed while playing for Swansea since his transfer to Anfield, while Lucas has always had a history of injury problems and cannot be relied on to play an entire season. Henderson has mostly been used on the right side by Rogers and has not impressed. Gerrard is the club’s best bet in midfield, but he is 33-years-old and Liverpool should eye a long-term replacement for him.

Ideally, Liverpool should target IIkay Gundogan or former player Xabi Alonso. Both players would be excellent in the middle of the park and would serve as the 'marquee signing' to make Liverpool genuine title contenders.

Liverpool Making 'Progress' On Stadium Plans

Liverpool owner John Henry says that the club is making "good progress" in their attempts to revamp Anfield.

The American has ambitious plans for the current Premier League leaders as the Reds try to generate more matchday revenue by increasing the capacity of Anfield to around 60,000.

The area surrounding Anfield is also set to be regenerated as part of a partnership between the Merseyside club, Liverpool City Council and Your Housing Group.

"We are making good progress," Henry told The Liverpool Echo. "There are a lot of different groups working very well together and that's the key to a big project like this happening, when everybody is on the same page. When everybody is on the same page, we move forward.

"I think we were clear at one point that what made financial sense was going in this direction and this is the direction that makes financial sense for the club for a long time. Obstacles are being overcome."

Previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett had been planning to build a new stadium at Stanley Park, while a groundshare with rivals Everton has also been mooted as Liverpool look to ensure their future income.

"The previous regime was talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money to build an enormous new facility," Henry added. "That's not what we're doing.

"One of their problems was that they weren't able to get financing. When this happens, financing won't be the problem. Again, we just need certainty with regard to these properties and the number of properties that are in question keeps getting reduced.

"The City Council is doing everything they can and that's all we can ask. Not just the city council but Your Housing and the regeneration. Everyone associated with this – we are all on the same page."

Real Madrid Fans Favour Falcao Over Suarez

Real Madrid fans hope to see the club spend the £42.4million raised from the sale of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal on AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, rather than Liverpool hitman Luis Suarez, reports the Daily Express.

According to a poll by Spanish newspaper Marca, supporters of the Primera Division giants would prefer to see Carlo Ancelotti swoop for the Colombian international, when the transfer window reopens in January.

73.2% of the 19,000 Madridistas who voted, chose Falcao for a move to the Santiago Bernabeu at the turn of the year, while the remaining 16.8% opted for signing Suarez.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will be boosted by the news, having also been heavily linked with a bid to bring the Uruguayan to the Emirates Stadium during the summer.

If Real Madrid decides to move for Falcao, then that will pave the way for Arsenal to renew interest in Suarez, leaving them unchallenged in their attempt to sign the Anfield star in 2014.

Brendan Rodgers will be determined to keep Liverpool's top goalscorer in 2012/13 on Merseyside, but has a ready-made replacement in the form of Daniel Sturridge to take on the mantle of chief goal-getter, should the South American leave the club in January.

Liverpool, Everton & Arsenal Could Swoop For Keisuke Honda

Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal will all have the chance to snap up CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda in January, after he admitted he won't be staying in the Russian league.

The 27-year-old's contract expires during the winter transfer window and Honda has no intentions of signing a new one with the Red-blues.

Honda has been courted by some of Europe's biggest teams, with AC Milan thought to have got closest to snapping up the attacking midfielder during the summer.

But a deal failed to materialize and the Japanese international has now hinted he could go elsewhere.

He said: "I have many choices, but I want to compare as much as possible.

"I don't think there's a chance I will stay in Russia.

"I just need to focus on the Russian league and the Champions League, so I don't want to talk about this right now."

Liverpool Will Launch Another Attempt For Will Hughes

Liverpool is plotting a fresh move for Derby Country's highly-rated teenage star Will Hughes, reports the Metro.

The 18-year-old is widely regarded as the hottest prospect outside of the Premier League and Derby County are keen to hold on to their star as they bid to maintain their Championship status.

His performances in the second tier of English football has led to some comparing him to a new Steven Gerrard - a tag that will fit well if he were to move to Anfield.

Liverpool held talks with Derby over a deal for Hughes in the summer but were unable to agree a fee. Derby was reported to be demanding nothing short of £15m for the England under-21 international.

The Anfield club value Hughes at around £6m but are willing to go up to £10m to secure his signature ahead of Arsenal in January.

Arsenal had been linked with a £4m for Hughes in January after sending scouts to watch him a number of times last season.

However, Brendan Rodgers will be hoping a January move for Hughes will beat Arsene Wenger to the punch as the Frenchman will be focusing his effort on signing established stars for the Gunners.

The Arsenal boss was most recently linked with a £25m move for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender.

With youth already in abundance at the Emirates, Wenger may champions a the more experienced Bender in favour of Hughes.

Newcastle Ace In Demand

Newcastle have offered Hatem Ben Arfa a new contract at the club in order to ward off interest from Liverpool.

Ben Arfa is currently contracted to Newcastle until the end of next season, but there has been growing interest in his services.

Liverpool was strongly linked with a bid during the summer, and is thought to consider him an option for January, while PSG are also admirers.

However, Newcastle is desperate to secure his future, and approached the player's agent with an official offer on Monday.

The new deal is thought to last for the next four years, and would include a hefty wage increase that doubles his current terms.

Ben Arfa currently earns around £40,000-a-week, but a bonus-laden £80,000-a-week deal is on the table, with Newcastle keen to get it all signed and sealed before Christmas.

The France winger showed his importance to the club by firing the winner against Fulham, and is believed to be open to the idea of staying.

Liverpool Keeper Target Available On Loan

Liverpool goalkeeper target Shay Given remains available on loan – but at a price.

The Guardian reports that Aston Villa are willing to listen to offers for the player, but won’t allow the former Republic of Ireland international to leave the Midlands on the cheap.

Given has dramatically fallen down the pecking order at Villa Park, losing his first team place to Brad Guzan and then his spot on the bench to 20-year-old Jed Steer, who was signed from Norwich in the summer transfer window.

The 37-year-old was linked with a move to Anfield last month, with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers reportedly keen to bring the player to Merseyside.

However, the Reds were only willing to pay a fraction of the players wages in a loan deal, the report claims, with his £3million-a-year salary a major stumbling block in any move away from Villa Park.

Liverpool isn’t in desperate need of a keeper, with Simon Mignolet impressing at the start of the season following his arrival and Pepe Reina's departure to Napoli on loan.

And, if the former Manchester City star was to be on the bench for the Reds, then the club is unlikely to spend big on his wages.

Everton Switch Vindicates Liverpool Snub

Everton new boy James McCarthy insists he has no regrets about rejecting a move to Liverpool.

The midfielder, who joined the Toffees from Wigan in a £13million deal last week, turned down the chance to join Liverpool at the age of 16 following a successful trial.

McCarthy, now 22, went on to carve out a name for himself with Wigan.

And he believes his big-money move to Everton vindicates his decision to turn down the Reds.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder said: "There was talk of it [Liverpool]. Obviously I went down for a week's trial.

"It wasn't to be, I was too young at the time. I didn't want to move away from home.

"To be honest, the way things have worked out, I am happy."

McCarthy's move to Everton was completed just minutes before the transfer window closed.

And the former Hamilton Academical youngster admits it was an anxious period as he waited to seal his switch.

He said: "It was very hectic. At times it goes through your head that it might not happen.

"As time went on, it got to 10.30 at night and I was thinking to myself, 'Is is going to happen or not?' Thankfully it did and I'm just delighted to be at such a great club.

"It is a great place to be. Since I heard they were interested I wanted to come here."

Suso On Course For Breakout La Liga Season

Liverpool's 19-year-old Spanish youth international, Suso, is on course for a breakout La Liga season on loan at Almeria.

With 95% of his games sub-affected under Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, Suso lacked the cutting edge and was floating through games.

This was evident during the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he showed glimpses of skill but didn't quite catch the eye as an incisive passer like Bruma of Portugal or Ghana's Frank Acheampong.

When you don't have reserve sides playing in level two, three or four of the football pyramid—an aspect seen in German, Spanish and Portuguese football—Suso is one of many Premier League prospects whose development is stunted, as they're not quite ready for senior football but are too good for reserve football.

A loan spell away from Anfield was needed.

When it comes to loaning a Premier League prospect for developmental reasons, it has to be an English club or if a foreign team come into the equation, it's highly preferable the loanee is familiar with the culture and language.

The latter reasoning is why Spanish club Almeria was granted a loan for Suso.