Monday, October 14, 2013

Liverpool Ready To Sell Luis Suarez In January

Liverpool is planning for life without £50million-rated striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan star attempted to force through a transfer in the summer as Arsenal relentlessly pursued him before Liverpool dug in their heels and refused to let him leave. Suarez, who recently returned from a ten-match ban after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, is determined to test Liverpool’s resolve to keep him when the transfer window re-opens for business in January.

The 26-year-old has confided in friends that he remains determined to quit the Reds and join a club that will challenge for major honours. Ideally, he wants move to a Champions League club and as well as being one of world football’s greatest marksmen he will also not be cup tied from playing in Europe this season. Arsenal will almost certainly return to lodge a bid which could reach the £50m mark, but it’s understood that Suarez will reject a move to The Emirates if Spanish giants Real Madrid enter the race to sign him.

Suarez has courted controversy throughout his career. The biting incident involving the shocked Ivanovic was not the first time Suarez had been involved in an unseemly biting row. He was banned for seven games when he was at Ajax after being found guilty of biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal’s shoulder during a match in November 2010. During his time at Liverpool he also received an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United’s left-back Patrice Evra in December 2011.

Despite the controversies Suarez is still recognized as one of the best strikers in world football. In fact, Liverpool skipper Steve Gerrard has gone on the record to salute the striker’s prowess. Liverpool paid Ajax £22.7m for him in January 2011 and signed him to a five-and-half-year contract that isn’t due to expire until the summer of 2016. Yet barely 18 months after arriving at Anfield Suarez’s value has more than doubled. Liverpool is aware of the potential backlash they will face from irate supporters. The official Anfield mantra is that club and player will carry on together.

The Anfield hierarchy has even talked about opening negotiations about a new contract. But privately they fear the battle to retain his services will rear its ugly head yet again when the transfer window opens at the start of January. And senior Anfield sources believe another Suarez transfer tug-of-war will become an unwanted sideshow when, in so many ways, they are making great progress this season.

Suarez has disclosed to close friends that he will maintain his prolific current form to attract more suitors. In the summer he accused Liverpool of reneging on a verbal agreement to let him go if a club offered £40 million for him. When the club refuted that allegation and insisted they had no desire to sell him to one of their Premier League rivals, Suarez threatened to hand in an official transfer request. He never saw through that threat.

However the situation is likely to change in the next transfer window. Liverpool is already looking around for a replacement in the event of Suarez leaving. Although their wish is to keep Suarez the hierarchy at Liverpool accepts they are now facing a losing battle to retain the loyalty of a player desperate to escape.

Liverpool & Arsenal Plot Move For Greek Striker

Liverpool and Arsenal are to go up against a number of European teams as they prepare a move for prolific Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou.

The 25-year-old has attracted interest from a host of clubs after a goal-packed start to the season, including four hat-tricks already for Olympiakos.

Reports from suggest that both Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers are looking to make a bid for the £7million-valued striker, but will have to fend off interest from Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Genoa, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

Mitroglou, who caught the eye of Arsene Wenger when he scored against the Gunners in the Champions League last term, currently plays alongside Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell, which Wenger could use to his advantage to tempt Olympiakos.

It took the Greece international a while to find his feet in the Superleague, having been loaned out twice from 2010 to 2012 before impressing from the bench last season, scoring 20 times.

Arsenal & Liverpool Face Battle In Race To Sign Jorginho

Arsenal and Liverpool are to fend off Serie A’s Juventus and Fiorentina if they are to sign Hellas Verona playmaker Jorginho.

The Italy Under-21 international, who was born in Brazil, was linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer, with Arsene Wenger also monitoring the starlet’s progression.

The 21-year-old caught the attention of Reds boss Brendan Rodgers in the summer and with injury concerns over creative midfielder Philippe Coutinho, the Northern Irishman may well compete Italian interest for his signature.

Jorginho has been impressing since helping Verona gain promotion from Serie B last season and has contributed three assists in eight games this term.

According to Tuttosport, both Fiorentina and Juventus are readying a £7million offer for the midfielder after his involvement in Verona’s start, as they sit in fifth place.

AC Milan and Lazio are also thought to be interested in the youngster, although Biancocelesti have already seen their £4m rebuffed by Verona.

Chelsea And Liverpool Battle For Matic

Reports suggest Premier League clubs Liverpool and Chelsea will go head to head in a transfer battle for Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic during the January transfer window.

According to the Express, Real Madrid are also interested in the Serbian international who used to play for Chelsea before being sent to Portugal as part of a deal for David Luiz.

The article reveals Mourinho’s attempts to bring the midfielder back to Stamford Bridge this summer and he could continue to try in January, although Liverpool are also keen on making a move.

Portuguese publication O Jogo makes Matic Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ top priority when it comes to January signings.

Matic was impressive during last season’s Portuguese Primeira Liga, picking up the league’s Player of the Year award whilst helping Benfica to second in the table.

So far this season Matic has played in all seven of Benfica’s league matches, failing to find the net as yet, having done so three times last campaign.

Iago Aspas Could Quit Liverpool In January

Liverpool striker Iago Aspas has hinted he could quit the club in January after becoming frustrated with his lack of playing time.

Aspas, who moved to Anfield over the summer in a £7.7million deal, has found himself fall down the pecking order after failing to score in his first six games for the Reds.

And after saying he was finding life tough with Liverpool last month, Aspas suggests he may have to leave to get regular playing time.

‘I’m finding it hard to be a sub at Liverpool having started games in the past few years,’ he said.

‘When I left Celta Vigo I was aware that to start for Liverpool wasn’t going to be easy.

‘And now the team is winning and we are among the leaders in the Premier League, it’s very hard to get a game.’

Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are Brendan Rodgers’ preferred options in attack, with the manager even changing to a 3-5-2 formation to suit them.

The move doesn’t bode well for Aspas, who says he is desperate to play games so he can force his way into the Spain squad for the World Cup.

‘Now it’s difficult to get in the Spain team because I’m playing less but I’m not worried about that,’ he continued.

‘However, I will try to get in the squad.’

Raheem Sterling Gets England Call

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has been added to the England squad, the Football Association has announced.

Sterling, who featured for the England Under-21 side in their 4-0 win over San Marino on Thursday, was drafted in following an injury to Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.

England faces a must-win qualifier against Poland at Wembley on Tuesday as they look to book their place at the 2014 World Cup. After Friday’s 4-1 win over Montenegro, Roy Hodgson’s men are top of Group H by a single point, with nearest rivals Ukraine facing San Marino in their final match.

England will be without Kyle Walker for the match after he picked up a caution in Friday’s win, so he is set to be replaced by either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones at right-back for the visit of Poland.

England Could Go For Tiago Ilori

Roy Hodgson has been told Liverpool’s Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori can play for England.

Former Northern Ireland striker Gerry Armstrong, now a respected analyst on Spanish football, has told the FA’s top brass Ilori is available because he was born in north London.

His father is Nigerian and lived in Manchester before moving to Kentish Town where Ilori was born. His mum is Portuguese.

Armstrong said: “His dad Kola came to England and lived in north London for a few years and that is where Tiago was born – which qualifies him.

“I recommended him to several English clubs but he interested Barcelona, Monaco and Bayern too.

“He signed for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers is convinced he has a bright future at the club.

“If that happens quickly, Roy will get a chance to see if he should try to get him into the England set-up. He played for Portugal’s Under 20s but he can still play for England if he wants to.”

Lucas Leiva Targets Brazil Stay

Lucas Leiva has stated his ambition to work his way back into the Brazil squad after coming on as a second-half substitute during their 2-0 victory over South Korea on Saturday.

The Liverpool midfielder replaced Oscar with 20 minutes remaining at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul to make his first appearance for the Selecao since 2011.

And now the 26-year-old has outlined his desire to earn a permanent place in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad ahead of the World Cup next year.

"My first goal in coming back to the squad is to earn a place for myself in the group,” he told TV Globol.

“I know we don't have many games until the World Cup, but I think that in the time I got recently I showed something.

"I talked to Felipao and he asked me to do a job similar to what I do for Liverpool and that's what I tried to do on Saturday.

"I felt really comfortable, especially since I know many of the guys here, some of them for many years.

“I think it’s important that I feel like I have always been here. Now we have another match against Zambia which will be really important."

The former Gremio man went on to echo statements from the camp this week that it is just as important that he prove his worth to the squad off the pitch.

"Scolari always talks about how he doesn't just analyze the games,” he continued.

“He's watching how we perform in training, too. We know he admires players who help form the group and we're trying to fit that profile.

“But, of course, when we get opportunities in matches we have to take them and show that we can remain here and be part of the World Cup squad. I believe that if I get these chances I will show that I am ready to be here."

Glen Johnson Set For Liverpool Return

The international break has been easier to stomach this time around for Liverpool, as it comes at a time when a handful of first-team regulars are on the cusp of making returns from injury--Aly Cissokho logged a full ninety minutes for the U21s on Monday, Philippe Coutinho should be only another week or so out, Joe Allen is nearing match fitness, and today we learn that Glen Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury near the end of his excellent performance against Manchester United prior to the previous international break, will be back with the squad in training on Tuesday.

Combined with the news about Liverpool's other squad members (and assuming a healthy return for those on international duty), Brendan Rodgers now has a good amount of depth in areas of need. He might yet need another week before he's ready to start, meaning Jordan Henderson would likely feature against Newcastle, but further into the month there's no question that Johnson slots in at fullback or wingback in the starting eleven.

The residual impact will be felt most in the midfield, where Rodgers will now have Henderson and Allen to add to the mix. It'll be interesting to see what happens once all are available for selection; the Lucas and Steven Gerrard pairing doesn't need much more written about it, and with Henderson's form and Allen's promise, there's a chance for Rodgers to tinker a bit more if he's willing to do so.

Glen Johnson's return is the point at hand, though, and it's unquestionably positive. He'd had his best performance in recent memory before coming off injured against United, and while it would be unfair to expect that same level immediately, we can hope that he's able to recapture that form once he's up and running again.

Allen Eyes Newcastle Return

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is hoping to make his return to action against Newcastle this weekend.

Allen has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he picked up in the Capital One Cup victory over Notts County in August.

The Wales international is now close to returning to fitness and hopes to be available for the trip to St James' Park, admitting he sees it as a fresh start for him after picking up the injury so early into the new season.

"I'm almost there, basically," Allen told the club's official website. "The plan is to get back into training, get a good few days leading up to the Newcastle game and hopefully I'll be available for selection from there on.

"It has been a bit of a frustrating time - it always is when you're injured - but I'm finally getting there. It was the one I had in the back of my mind anyway, so it has worked out quite nicely in that sense.

"I was disappointed; I thought I would get back for the Wales games but unfortunately they just came a bit soon. But it has meant that I got a bit of extra rehab leading up to that game. I have been able to get ready.

"With the timing of the injury, I hadn't really got into the swing of things. This is a fresh start of the season for me personally. It is great to come back with the team doing so well."

Critchley Reveals Rodgers Lure

New Liverpool Under-18s coach Neil Critchley admits Brendan Rodgers' influence played a huge part in his decision to join the club from Crewe.

Rodgers lured Critchley to Anfield in the summer as he looks to revamp the club's youth set-up and help develop more homegrown youngsters.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given youth its chance at Anfield since taking over in the summer of 2012 having handed debuts to the likes of Jordon Ibe, Andre Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Jerome Sinclair and Conor Coady.

Critchley is confident that Rodgers' faith in the youth will help in his challenge to help develop players for the first-team.

"I had been at Crewe all my life and I had no aspirations to leave because I had a really good job," Critchley told the Liverpool Echo.

"But when Liverpool comes calling it's very flattering. Alex Inglethorpe (under-21s coach) approached me initially and then I met with the manager. I didn't know either of them before.

"The fact that Brendan played a part in me coming here was a massive pull. I think it makes a real statement that Liverpool are willing to give someone like me an opportunity.

"I'm not an ex-Liverpool player, I'm not a name, I've got no international caps, but I do have years of coaching experience.

"When I first arrived Brendan invited me down to Melwood and I spent a few days watching training. To be alongside him, Colin Pascoe, Mike Marsh and John Achterberg were great bedding in period for me.

"Brendan takes a massive interest in the Academy.

"He was here last week and knows all the players. He has great belief in the youth system and that gives us a better chance than most of getting players through.

"I love being here and the boys have been very receptive to the work. The under-18s are a talented group but they're not the finished article. It's my job to work with them on and off the training pitch to educate and guide them, and make them the best they can be."

Liverpool Hit Stadium Development Snag

There could be trouble on the wing for Liverpool FC - but it’s got nothing to do with their football.

The club will have to make special provisions for bats in the new-look stadium if suspicions that the protected species roost at the ground are confirmed.

The club, which will soon submit plans to Liverpool City Council to increase Anfield’s capacity to 60,000, would be forced by domestic and international laws to ensure that all species of bats are taken into account.

If ecologists find any bats in areas where redevelopment is imminent then it could mean that a space for the bats would have to be incorporated into any new stand structure.

Law dictates that, as a protected species, bats must not be “adversely affected” by building work and studies will determine what can be done to accommodate bats and building work.

An LFC spokesman said the club was “not aware” that bats roost at the ground. But bats have been seen flying above fans’ heads at several recent matches and a local biodiversity group said sightings do confirm their presence inside the stadium.

Last month, fans were left ducking and finger-pointing when a bat was seen flapping over their heads as Brendan Rodgers’ charges scored one of their four goals in the evening League Cup fixture against Notts County.

The same night, a bat was seen flying in the Kop’s ground-level concourse area as fans headed for exit gates.

A Bats Conservation Trust spokesman said any Anfield development “must not harm bats’ conservation status”.

He said: “If it’s believed that bats are or are likely to be present at Anfield, an ecologist will have to establish how bats use the site and find out which species are present before undertaking building works, and any works will have to take any bats present into account to ensure they are not adversely affected.”

According to data records from The Local Biodiversity Records Centre for North Merseyside three Pipistrelle – which are a protected species of bats – were seen between 2008 and 2012 and a further six Common Pipistrelle bats – which are also a protected species – were recorded between 2000 and 2004 within a 1,000m radius of the stadium.

Other records show that 10 Chripera bats, which are considered to be a priority in north Merseyside, were seen around Anfield between 1990 and 2008.

A Reds' spokesperson said the club “is not aware” of any bats roosting in its stadium.

He added: “We have always said that any stadium expansion will be subject to detailed economic and social feasibility studies.”

A Liverpool council spokesman said any redevelopment is “subject to a planning application” and as part of that process there would be a “thorough environmental impact assessment”.

Merseyside bat enthusiast Charlie Liggett says that Reds fans have written to him after seeing bats inside Anfield.

Mr. Liggett, chairman of the Merseyside & West Lancashire Bat group, said: “A big bat was seen flying about the Main Stand in daylight during the half-time break. That was at last season's league fixture against QPR on May 19.

"It would have been a Noctule bat. It attracted the attention of 44,000 people and there was lots of finger-pointing.

"It flew towards the QPR fans, but then turned and went to the Kop.

“Strangely, it went back into the roof when the game commenced. I also have records of smaller Pipistrelles being seen at Anfield.

"And another person wrote to me to say that they saw a bat in Anfield. They rest up in the Main Stand.

"There would be adequate space for them to hang around in the stands. There are plenty of insects for them to feed on and in the trees of Stanley Park.”

Mr. Liggett added: “If it's just one bat, then it’s a bat roost. When a building is taken down it’s done in a careful way – where the bats are seen.

"The difficulty is finding them in a big structure like a stadium – it’s not that like finding them in a three-bedroom detached house.

“There would be a few people checking for the bat roost. An ecologist would use ultrasound gadgets to pick up their noises.

"There is a perception that bats are nothing, but the trouble but it’s not the case.

“But building something where bats are is not insurmountable.”

The bat group has a helpline on 0845 1300 228, offering advice for homeowners.