12/20/2014 12:55:00 am

Top Target: LFC favourites to sign 'massive' £15m star Carra hailed as 'outstanding'

The future of Liverpool star Steven Gerrard remains up in the air right now, and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is reportedly planning for life without LFC's long-time captain. Who can fill the Gerrard-void when he leaves, though? According to reports this week, Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph is Rodgers' preferred choice.

Last month, The Mirror claimed:

"Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs are monitoring Delph’s situation. [Delph] is not happy about the direction of the club"

Today, The Mirror further claims that:

* Liverpool 'head the race' for Delph, and Rodgers sees him as a potential replacement for Steven Gerrard.

* Villa boss Paul Lambert may cash in on Delph next month to prevent him leaving for free in the summer.

£15m-rated Delph is currently stalling on signing a new 4-year contract with Villa, which means he'll be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a new club in January.

Lambert is desperate to keep Delph at the club, and in a recent interview, he argued that the 24-year old midfielder is destined for greatness. He told the Birmingham Mail:

"He's been excellent over the course of the 18 months. There's massive potential there to be a really top player and if he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps learning, keeps doing what he's doing then we'll see where he goes"

Lambert also suggested that Delph can take Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard's place in the England team:

"With [Steven Gerrard] retiring, it gives him [Delph] the opportunity to get in. He has started the season really well so it's great for him and it's great for the club."

Reds legend Jamie Carragher is a fan of Delph, and in a recent column for Sky Sports, he hailed the midfielder's 'outstanding' talent, and argued that he deserves a regular place in the England team. Carra explained:

"Delph is playing every week for a big club [and] he gives a side real energy and aggression. Plus, because he is left-footed, offers you nice balance in the middle of the park, while he has strike on him, too"

Please, for the love of God, no more overpriced, under-achieving British players. Liverpool need an experienced, European-class midfielder to pick up the slack when Gerrard leaves, and although Delph is a good player, he is not (IMO) someone who can go straight into the first team and have a transformative impact.

Additionally, Delph's injury history is a major concern. Over the last four years, he's suffered seven injuries (including a cruciate ligament tear), and spent over 400 days on the sidelines as a result.

Delph may be Villa's current 'player of the year', but like Adam Lallana, he would be an expensive gamble, and when it comes to the crunch, his transfer fee will undoubtedly inflate to much more than £15m.

If Delph is genuinely Rodgers' choice to replace Gerrard, then it's yet another sad indictment of his judgment in the transfer market. Are we to believe that after 2.5 years in the job, Rodgers' answer to Gerrard leaving is...Fabian Delph?

Delph is a good option if the idea is to replace Lucas or Allen, but Gerrard? It really beggars belief, and it's choices like this that will ultimately cost Rodgers his job.

Author:

12/19/2014 10:00:00 pm

Monster Deal: LFC to make €63m offer for 'World-Class' star; Balague confirms transfer status

Dubious reports this week claim that Liverpool are preparing a whopping £50m (€63m) January bid for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, but is there any truth to this particular transfer rumour?

According to The Telegraph this week:

"Liverpool are ready to make a £50 million bid for Karim Benzema, [who is] happy to leave the Bernabéu"

Liverpool have been linked with 26-year old Benzema a few times in the past.

OCT 2014: reports in the UK and Spain claimed that Rodgers held talks with Real Madrid over the possibility of signing Benzema.

JUL 2014: The Daily Mail reported: "Liverpool have an interest in Karim Benzema. He would cost £40million and wages of around £200,000 a week...but it is not a simple deal".

FEB 2014: Spanish newspaper Marca claimed that Rodgers sees Benzema as a 'realistic target' if the Reds qualify for the Champions League this season.

FEB 2014: One of Benzema's reps allegedly 'informed' Liverpool that the French international was open to leaving Madrid at the end of the season.

2013: Benzema linked with cash-plus-player, swap deal with Suarez.

2011: Real Madrid reportedly rejected an LFC bid for Benzema on transfer deadline day.

Despite the ongoing speculation, Spanish football pundit Guillem Balague emphatically insists that there is no possibility of Benzema signing for Liverpool. He told Sky Sports today:

"There is no way Benzema would go to Liverpool. It is impossible. He is essential to the Real team and a favourite of President Florentino Perez.”

So there you have it!

Liverpool clearly need another top class striker, but I'm not convinced Benzema is the answer. The Reds need a Suarez-like player; someone with skill and invention who can create things for himself, rather than having to (mostly) rely on service, and Benzema doesn't fit the bill, especially for £50m.

To be fair, Benzema has stepped it up at Madrid over the last 18 months, and Gerard Houllier insists that he is in a golden period of his career. In a recent interview with Journal du Dimanche, the former LFC boss enthused:

"Benzema has always been a goalscorer, but he has improved [working] with his team-mates. He is not just a poacher. He is good at assisting and mentally he is very strong. He is now falling into the category of world-class players"

It's all moot anyway. After the summer's underwhelming transfer business - and Rodgers' overall ineffective performance in the transfer market - I find it hard to believe that FSG will hand the manager £50m for one player.

Plus, With the greatest respect to LFC, it's highly unlikely that Benzema will swap the Bernabeu for Anfield. Madrid are guaranteed to challenge for the top trophies every single year; Liverpool is a club in turmoil; barely able to guarantee a consistent top-four place, and led by a manager who is seemingly incapable of attracting top-class players.

Of course, money talks, but I can't see how Liverpool can attract a player of Benzema's stature to Anfield.

Author:

12/19/2014 07:52:00 pm

You're Wrong: Angry stars blast BR for 'harsh' & 'unfair' treatment of €12m LFC star

Last week, after 18 months of increasingly error-prone performances, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers finally dropped Simon Mignolet, and according the manager, the Belgian will be on the sidelines for an 'indefinite' period. Exorcising Mignolet from the first team is definitely the right decision, but not everyone feels that way, and three of English football's top goalkeepers have slammed Rodgers for taking such drastic action.

Explaining his decision to drop €12m-rated Mignolet, Rodgers told reporters:

"It is something that can happen to keepers, taking them out of the firing line to give them time to reflect. I spoke to him [Mignolet] and he accepted it. I just felt after the Basel game that I needed to make the change"

Rodgers is clearly convinced he made the right decision, but Tim Howard, Asmir Begovic, and John Ruddy disagree with his choice, and all three have shown solidarity with Mignolet this week:

Howard: "I feel for Simon [and] I don't agree with it [Mignolet being dropped]. When you take him out then you bring him back, there's a question as to whether the team and the fans have confidence in him. I think it's a hard road back. Sometimes there's no way back".

Begovic: "It's a little unfair [and] it's unfortunate for a goalkeeper, but that's how it is. Obviously, we as goalkeepers feel for anyone who gets put in that position. We feel for Simon and...realise it’s a difficult situation".

Ruddy: “I’m disappointed for him. To drop your number one goalkeeper is quite harsh but I’m sure Simon will bounce back, and when he’s back in the team he will prove him [Rodgers] wrong.”

The solidarity is understandable, but in my view, Rodgers decision is neither 'harsh' nor 'unfair. Mignolet is basically unchallenged at LFC, and over the last 18 months, he's been a guaranteed starter. He's had every opportunity to nail down the number-one spot his own for years to come, but the brutal truth is he's singularly failed to do that.

There's no room for sentiment; Mignolet deserves to be dropped, and he deserves to be replaced. Mignolet's overall record for Liverpool is 1.4 goals conceded per game, and the incremental regression of goalkeeping standards at LFC is obvious:

* 2010-11 - Pepe Reina: 50 goals in 50 games (1.0 per game) - 20 clean sheets.
* 2011-12 - Pepe Reina: 48 goals in 46 games (1.04 per game) - 14 clean sheets.
* 2012-13 - Pepe Reina: 43 goals in 39 games (1.1 per game) - 17 clean sheets;
* 2013-14 - Mignolet: 53 goals in 40 games (1.3 per game) - 10 clean sheets).
* 2014-15 - Mignolet: 30 goals in 22 games (1.4 per game) - 4 clean sheets)

Tim Howard's suggestion there may be 'no way back' for Mignolet is spot on; he is 26, and if he hasn't learned the basics by now (distribution, communication, command of the box etc), then it's unlikely that a huge transformation will take place in the future.

Mignolet had his chance, and in the words of Lt. Moe Tilden:



survey service


Author:

12/19/2014 05:22:00 am

Agent confirms: 'World class' €18m star is 'waiting for LFC' to make an offer. Exciting deal?

Three months ago, Bayern Munich star Xherdan Shaqiri confirmed that Liverpool tried to sign him during the summer (for €18m), and with the January transfer window only a few weeks away, Shaqiri's agent has given the strongest indication yet that he could be on the move.

When asked on Thursday about Shaqiri's future, his agent told reporters:

"At this age, he [Shaqiri] needs to play regularly, which is not currently the case. We are now waiting [for] Liverpool, Manchester United, Inter Milan and other top clubs”

In September, Shaqiri - hailed as 'world class' by Munich's Sporting Director Mattias Sammer - told reporters:

“Liverpool made a bid for me before the World Cup but Bayern put their foot down and told me, ‘We’re not going to sell you"

Soon after, The Mirror claimed that:

* Bayern have 'sounded out' LFC, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid over Shaqiri.
* The club is willing to loan out the attacker in January.
* The German giants want a €2m loan fee, with a €14m option-to-buy attached.

Shaqiri is averaging a paltry 32 minutes of pitch-time per game this season, and with the huge array of top players at the Allianz Arena, that's unlikely to change anytime soon. It's been this way for three season now, and for the sake of his own personal development, Shaqiri should (IMO) do everything he can to secure a transfer away.

Alas, if it comes down to a straight battle between Arsenal and Liverpool, then there's probably only going to be one winner. Arsene Wenger remains a huge draw for top players, and presence of players like Ozil and Sanchez at the Emirates will probably be a huge attraction. Plus, there's the London factor to consider, which is one of the main reasons Sanchez chose the Gunners over the Reds this summer.

That said, after wasting so much money over the summer, a €2m loan deal is just what Liverpool need. Shaqiri will have to prove himself to earn a permanent deal, and that means he'll have to play out of skin to achieve that, which can only be a good thing for the Reds.

Shaqiri's agent has basically issued a 'come and get me' plea to Liverpool, so the ball is now in Rodgers' court.

It'll be interesting to see how the Reds approach the situation in January...

Author:

12/19/2014 12:55:00 am

Sign ASAP? Euro Giants to sell £10m star whose 'dream' is to 'play for LFC'. He's a 'big fan' of the club

Borussia Dortmund have reportedly decided to sell attacking midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz, who once admitted that he'd love to play for Liverpool.

According to German newspaper SportBild this week:

* Dortmund are planning to sell 26-year old Grosskreutz in January, or next summer at the latest.

* The club wants to sell ASAP to stop him leaving for free in 2016.

£10m-rated Grosskreutz has been linked with Liverpool many times:

JUL 2012: When asked about Liverpool's interest, Grosskreutz admitted told Sports Image: "I love Borussia, but I cannot rule anything out. It would be a dream to play for Liverpool at some point. England is a dream for any footballer".

NOV 2012: Reds scouts watched him in action during Dortmund's Champions League game with Ajax. Soon after that game, the winger admitted that he's not happy at Dortmund: "Of course I'm not happy. Whoever is happy if he doesn't play is in the wrong business. I'm totally unhappy. I want to play, that's all that counts for me"

NOV 2012: Grosskreutz namechecked the Reds again in an interview with Bild: "Everyone here is aware I am a big fan of clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, or Manchester United. It would be a great thing to play in the Premiership"

DEC 2012: Amid LFC speculation, Grosskreutz again hinted at a move to the Premier League: "Should I continue with my career in a foreign country at some point, the Premier League of England would be my top priority. I really like the way football is played over there"

JAN 2013: ESPN claimed that Grosskreutz 'may be moving to Liverpool'.

Some info about Grosskreutz:

* Versatile left-winger, but can play also left-back.
* Current contract expires: 2016
* 27 goals/37 assists in 233 apps for Dortmund.
* Goal every 8.6 games.
* Assist every 6.2 games.
* Goal/Assist every 3.6 games.
* 6 apps for Germany (No goals/assists)
* Rarely injured. Only 4 minor issues in the last 5 years.

Liverpool were interested once, so it's conceivable that Rodgers (if he's still a job) will take another look at Grozzkreutz. Given his apparent affection for the club, LFC should (in theory) have a big advantage when it comes to transfer negotiations, but is he a player who'll improve Liverpool?

To be honest, Grosskreutz's creative stats are not very impressive. One assist every 6.2 games is not going to improve the Reds. Plus, it won't be an improvement on the players already at the club. The likes of Hendo, Lallana, Sterling, and Markovic have similarly poor assist rates, and Liverpool needs attacking players who can offer much more on a consistent basis.

If LFC are to sign an attacking midfielder from the Bundesliga, Roberto Firmino is arguably a much better option.






Author:

12/18/2014 08:56:00 pm

Epic Transfer: LFC favourites to sign €42m star who'll be 'better than Ibrahimovic'

Liverpool continue to be linked with a January move for Palermo striker Paulo Dybala, and new reports this week suggest that the Reds are in pole-position to seal the deal.

Earlier this month, reports in Italy claimed that Rodgers has 'singled out' 21-year-old Dybala as the man to resurrect Liverpool's failing front-line, and the Reds are considering a move during the January transfer window.

Well, according to a report today in Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato:

* Liverpool are actively pursuing Dybala, and are current favourites to sign him.

* Manchester United, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund are also interested in the Argentinian.

When asked last week about Dybala's future, Palermo President Mauro Zamperini raved:

"He [Dybala] is our jewel. If you want him, it'll take $50 million (€42 million) to get him"

In another recent interview, Zamperini made the following exaggerated claim:

“He [Dybala] is the best striker in Serie A. Within two years, he's going to be better than Cristiano Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic"

To his credit, Dybala is not buying into the hype. In a recent interview, he reasoned:

"€42 million? Right now this is silly figure. There are not many players that are worth as much and I certainly am not among them. What I would do with this figure? I would buy the world!"

So, is Dybala worth €42m? A striker's primary role is to score and create goals, so let's take a look at his stats:

* 7 goals/4 assists in 16 apps this season.
* Goal every 183 minutes (1 every 2 games)
* Goal/assist every 1.5 games.

* Career Total: 19 goals/10 assists in 84 apps.
* Goal every 4.4 games
* Goal/assist every 3 games.

* Passing accuracy: 81%
* Key passes: 1.4 per game.
* Bad control: 3.2 per game (44 in 15 apps)
* Dispossessed: 2.4 times per game *34 in 15 apps)

Stats: OPTA

Wowsers. I haven't seen this level of transfer-related delusion since, well, last summer, when Rodgers splurged almost £120m on a set of players who've basically helped Liverpool regress this season.

Zamperini is clearly deluded if he thinks that Dybala is worth €42m. For that money, I'd expect a striker with Luis Suarez/Daniel Sturridge-style creative stats, not a player who has an average of 1 goal every 4 games across his entire career (to date).

If Dybala is worth €42m (in the bizarro-world of football), then Raheem Sterling must be worth a similar amount, or more? Whatever the reality, in my view, neither player is worthy of such a ridiculous fee, and only a club run by mugs will splash that kind of cash on either player.

Arsenal have reportedly pulled out of the race to sign Dybala after refusing to meet Zamperini's ludicrous valuation. That makes sense, though, as Arsene Wenger is not a mug when it comes to expensive transfers.

Liverpool should follow Wenger's lead and let some other club pay through the nose.

Author:

12/18/2014 06:00:00 pm

'I admire Liverpool': FSG's choice to replace BR confirms 'talks with LFC'. Backstabbed?

Last week, The Times claimed that Andre Villas Boas is FSG's 'shock' top choice to replace Brendan Rodgers at Anfield. Despite last night's expected victory over lower-league opposition, Rodgers remains under pressure, but is AVB actually in the frame for the Liverpool job?

When specifically asked last night about the Liverpool rumours, AVB - who is currently at Zenit St. Petersburg - told Portuguese TV channel TVI:

"I'm not the least bit interested in this. Returning to England is definitely not in my plans.

"I had talks with Liverpool, a club I admire a lot, but like I said it's not in my plans, although life takes many turns"


A few points:

* This proves that Rodgers' job really is on the line. If AVB 'had talks' with Liverpool, it clearly means that the club is actively seeking a new manager. It's no longer a rumour: it's a fact that FSG have gone behind Rodgers' back in their active bid to replace him. If I was Rodgers, I'd be worried about being blatantly backstabbed like this.

* At first glance, it seems like AVB is categorically ruling out the Liverpool, but his 'life takes many turns' proviso at the end suggests that there is a slight chance he can be persuaded to take the job.

* FSG's pursuit of AVB doesn't make sense. The group interviewed him in 2012, but went with Rodgers instead. Since that time, the Portuguese failed at Spurs, and made similar mistakes in the transfer market as Rodgers (i.e. blowing £100m+ on the wrong players), so why is he suddenly an attractive candidate now?

* Liverpool fans don't want him. I conducted a poll on the site this week asking fans whether he's a viable option to replace Rodgers: A whopping 93% of 12000 (approx) visitors voted NO to AVB. That is probably the most emphatic result of any poll conducted on this site, and it basically represents a massive vote of no-confidence.

* AVB is arguably too young for the Liverpool job. At the age of 37, he has some decent experience behind him, but in my view, his age means he'll struggle to command the respect of senior players. For example, I sincerely doubt that Gerrard will be impressed with AVB's appointment. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule (Mourinho, for example)

* On a related note, another handicap is that - like Rodgers - AVB has zero experience as a player. For me, the only managers in their 30s capable of making an impact at big clubs are those who were legends as players. Kenny Dalglish, for example, took over at LFC in his 30s', but he instantly commanded respect due to his status as a player.

I am against the appointment of AVB; I just don't think he has what it takes to make Liverpool a consistent force in the Premier League. Additionally, if he returns, he'll be under intense pressure from the media to succeed.

The media narrative is already written: AVB failed twice in the Prem already, so this is his last chance to get it right etc. Whenever there's a bad result/or a bad patch, the media will latch onto it, and start comparing his LFC tenure to the Chelsea/Spurs failures.

It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy ('Will AVB fail again?' will inevitably become 'AVB fails again!), and Liverpool can do without that kind of ongoing media circus.

Hopefully, though, after AVB's comments about 'not being the least bit interested', FSG will cross him off the list and look elsewhere.

Author:

12/18/2014 02:15:00 pm

Not Good Enough: Angry Aldo urges BR to 'get rid of' £27m LFC duo. Scapegoats?

After scoring over 100 goals last season, Liverpool have struggled to reach the same heights again this year, and so far, the Reds' attacking players have abjectly failed to fill the Suarez/Sturridge void. All three of LFC's remaining strikers have let the club down this season, and Reds legend Joh Aldridge has urged Brendan Rodgers to scrap two of them during the January transfer window.

In his column for Sunday World, Aldo outlined his 'worries' over Rodgers' performance in the transfer market, and insisted that time is up for two of Liverpool's struggling stars. He barked:

"Get rid of Mario Balotelli (if anyone will have him) and get rid of Fabio Borini [combined cost: £27m). It is pretty clear neither are going to give Liverpool what they want in terms of goals, so get penalty box operators in who can save this season for Liverpool".

I doubt many Liverpool fans - myself included - will shed any tears if Liverpool scrap Balotelli and Borini in January, but that will not solve the problem. For me, those two are the least of LFC's attacking problems:

* Balotelli cannot succeed at Liverpool unless and until Rodgers starts using him effectively. That means playing him as part of a front two, with the Italian playing off another central striker. This worked well against Man United, and despite the result, Balotelli had several great chances to score. Play him there consistently (i.e alongside Sterling/Sturridge) and he will score goals.

* If Borini played every week, then he could take some blame for LFC's current goalscoring woes, but but he has barely been given a chance at Liverpool. Indeed, he hasn't even made the squad for the last four games, which is arguably unfair. Borini was a mistake from the start, but the reality is he's never been given a run of games.

Borini and Balotelli obviously have to contribute more when they play, but the real problem lies with Liverpool's senior attacking players consistently failing to contribute.

- Henderson: 3 goals in 23 apps. Only 2 in his last 14.
- Gerrard: 2 goals in last 16 apps. 1 goal from open play in the last year.
- Sterling: 2 goal in 18 apps. Only 3 goal in the last 21 games.
- Lallana: 2 goals in 17 apps. Only 1 in the last 9 games.
- Coutinho: 1 goal in 19 games this season.

This is simply not good enough. The five players above are Liverpool's attacking core; they play the most games, and they've had more than enough time to settle-in this season and make a difference.

In Sterling's case, the pressure should not be on him to carry the team, but if he's playing every single game, then he has a responsibility to contribute goals, and justify the massive contract LFC will inevitably hand him.

Sterling did well to grab two goals against Bournemouth last night, but he should be scoring against lower-league opposition. Premier League goals are what matter, and like Coutinho, Lallana et al, he's not doing the business.

Balotelli and Borini have nothing to do with Gerrard et al failing to pull there weight on the goalscoring front, and even if those two are scrapped in January, the main problem will still exist, i.e. not enough goals from midfield.

In short: Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Lallana, and Coutinho are letting the club down in the league, and they collectively need to step-up and start making a difference.

Starting with Arsenal this Sunday.

Author:

12/18/2014 01:30:00 am

TMW Exclusive: LFC close to signing Argentina World Cup 'weapon'. Transfer talks ongoing

Who will be Liverpool's next goalkeeper? The Reds have reportedly agreed a £3m deal to sign Mexico star Guillermo Ochoa, but according to an exclusive in Italy today, Sampdoria'weapon' Sergio Romero is top of LFC's 'keeper wishlist.

According to an exclusive report today in Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato:

* Liverpool are getting 'closer' to sealing a deal for Romero.

* The Reds are in 'ongoing contact' with the Argentina star's agent, Mino Raiola.

* January transfer is a 'distinct possibility'.

This follows a report in November from the same source, which claimed that:

* Romero wants a move to the Premier League, and:
* He is Brendan Rodgers' first-choice target.

Liverpool were first linked with Romero over the summer, and at time, Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri claimed:



Romero's Stats (Last two clubs)

AZ Alkmaar: 111 goals conceded in 112 games (0.9 per game): 48 clean sheets.
Sampdoria: 76 goals conceded in 72 games (1.05 per game): 25 clean sheets.
TOTALS: 187 goals conceded in 184 games (1.05 per game): 73 clean sheets (40%)

Romero's stats are far superior to Mignolet, who averages 1.4 goals per game (over the last three seasons), and Ochoa, who concedes 1.6 goals per game at Ajaccio.

Despite Romero's status as Argentina's number one, though, he doesn't seem to be in demand, and is seemingly surplus to requirements at Sampdoria.

At the age of 27, the Argentine is entering his prime years, and as a mainstay for one of the world's top national teams, you'd think there'd be clubs queuing up to sign him.

In that regard, Romero is similar to Ochoa, another top-class international 'stopper who is also constantly ignored by top clubs.

Is this something to be concerned about? Hopefully not, but there must be something that stops the likes of Romero and Ochoa being attractive to the world's top teams.

Whatever the reason, Romero is clearly a more effective goalkeeper than Mignolet, and he's eminently affordable, which means the financial risk is minimal.



Author:

12/17/2014 06:51:00 pm

Confirmed XI vs BFC: £55m trio dropped as BR picks strange team. Shock position change for Gerrard?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has selected a bizarre starting line-up for this evening's League Cup game with Bournemouth.

After starting with no strikers against Man United on Sunday, Rodgers has gone one better tonight and left both the club's fit full-backs on the bench:

FULL TEAM: Jones, Toure, Skrtel, Lovren, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Lallana, Lucas, Sterling, Markovic

SUBS: Mignolet, Lambert, Sakho, Moreno, Manquillo, Can, Borini

* There are only three defenders in this line-up, which suggests that Rodgers is going with a 352 or a 343.

* In either formation, it means that one of either Lallana, Markovic, Sterling, or (god forbid) Coutinho, will operate as a wing-back (!):

---------------- Jones

------ Toure - Skrtel -- Lovren

-------------- Lucas

Hendo ------- Gerrard ----- Markovic

-------- Lallana - Coutinho

------------ Sterling

* Unless Rodgers has taken all leave of his senses, I suspect he'll go with a 4231 formation, with Gerrard deputising for Glen Johnson at right back:

---------------- Jones

Gerrard --- Toure - Skrtel ---- Lovren

----------- Hendo - Lucas

Lallana ----- Coutinho ---- Markovic

------------- Sterling

So - no strikers, and no full-backs. It's an interesting gamble by Rodgers, but it could also backfire and ultimately seal his fate at Anfield.

Either way, Rodgers has selected a very attacking team, and that's good to see. On paper, Liverpool have more than enough quality to win the game, and a good victory is vital going into this weekend's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

My prediction: 2-1

Author:

12/17/2014 04:45:00 pm

LFC line-up vs. B'mouth: £26m blow for BR; Legend explains why LFC face shock defeat

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is currently third-favourite to be the next Premier League manager to get the sack, and an unthinkable defeat tonight against Bournemouth could conceivably be the final nail in his Anfield coffin.

Liverpool simply have to win tonight. Forget the fact it's lower-league opposition - the team needs a confidence boost, and a win of any description is an absolute necessity before going up against Arsenal this weekend, who've smashed in 8 goals in their last two games.

On paper, Liverpool are far superior to Bournemouth, but according to Rodgers, though:

* Bournemouth are a 'top Championship side'.
* Tonight's match will be 'very difficult', 'a tough game', and a 'big challenge'.

Well, why not just concede defeat before the game has even started! It sounds to me like Rodgers is getting his excuses in early, but in my view, there can be no excuse for failing to beat a team that - as a whole - cost less to assemble than Lallana's £26m transfer fee.

A few points:

* On the injury front, £16m signing Mario Balotelli and £10m-rated Glen Johnson are the latest casualties. Some fans may see this as a huge blow, but for me, neither player has much intrinsic value to Liverpool right now.

* On Sunday, Rodgers started the game without a recognised striker in the team, and although Sterling had several golden chances to score, that tactical change ultimately made no difference. Will Rodgers persist with this strategy tonight? It's possible, but given the opposition, it seems likely that Rickie Lambert will return to the starting line-up.

* With Arsenal on the horizon, now is the ideal opportunity to start the likes of Emre Can and Lazar Markovic.

* It might even be worth resting Sterling and Gerrard. Liverpool should be able to beat Championship opposition without those two, and if that's not the case, then serious questions need to be asked. Team I'd like to see:

----------------- Jones

Manquillo -- Toure --- Skrtel ---- Moreno

----------------- Lucas

----------- Hendo ----- Can

--------------- Coutinho

--------------------------------Markovic

--------------- Sterling

Team I expect Rodgers to name:

----------------- Jones

Manquillo -- Toure -- Lovren ----- Enrique

------------- Lucas - Hendo

Markovic ------- Gerrard ----- Lallana

--------------- Sterling

Liverpool legend Dietmar Hamann believes that a win tonight can change 'the whole complex of the season', and despite recent form, he insists that the Reds are 'favourites' to win the game. He told LFC.com:

"If you go to Bournemouth and win the game, then you look forward to the Arsenal game. A week is a long time in football. They just have to keep working hard now, believe in themselves, get a result on Wednesday and then move on to Arsenal."

Ex-Red Jamie Redknapp is not convinced that Liverpool can win the game, though. In his column for the Daily Mail this week, he warned:

"This will be every little bit as hard as the game at Old Trafford for Liverpool. It could be harder. I don’t think Liverpool will keep a clean sheet here. This lot are a good side".

If Bournemouth is 'harder' than the Man United game, then Redknapp is basically suggesting that Liverpool will lose. Alas, as much as I hate to admit it, I feel there is a strong possibility of a negative result.

My prediction: 2-1 to Bournemouth.

Author:

12/17/2014 02:31:00 pm

Stunning Deal: BR to make €40m offer for 'amazing' star who wanted LFC move in 2013

Last week, ex-Red Jamie Redknapp hailed 'amazing' Danish star Christian Eriksen as Tottenham's 'shining light', and sixteen months after Liverpool negligently decided that £16m on Alberto and Aspas was a better deal that £11m on Eriksen, Brendan Rodgers is reportedly planning to rectify that mistake during the January transfer Market.

According to multiple reports this week, Liverpool are preparing to make a massive €40m (€32m) January bid for Eriksen, who is also wanted by PSG, Milan, and Borussia Dortmund.

In a recent column for the Daily Mail, Redknapp enthused:

"I’ve been critical of Tottenham in the past, but they were good against Everton. They have made some poor signings but Christian Eriksen is a shining light for them".

* Since signing, Eriksen has 29 goals/assists in 54 games for Spurs (goal/assist every 1.9 games), which is more than worth the paltry comparatively meagre £11m transfer fee.

* Compare that with revered LFC fan-favourite Coutinho - who has 25 goals/assists in 69 appearances for LFC - and it's clear that the Dane is doing fantastically well.

* Also, when it comes to chance creation this season, he's right up there with LFC's midfielders:

* Sterling: 40
* Gerrard: 31
* Eriksen: 34
* Henderson: 27 chances created.
* Lallana: 11
* Coutinho: 8

Prior to signing for Spurs, Eriksen admitted that Liverpool were an 'option', and revealed that he 'talked to Daniel Agger' in a bid to learn more about the Reds. With that in mind, I still can't understand the abnormal thought-process that reached the ridiculous conclusion that Alberto and Aspas = better deal.

Combined, those two cost £5m more than the Dane, and both abjectly failed to make any impact at Anfield. Now, if Liverpool want to rectify this mistake, the club will have to pay through the nose to secure the transfer, just like with Dejan Lovren, who cost the Reds £20m just a year after he signed for Southampton in an £8m deal.

It's transfer negligence of the highest order (IMO), and Liverpool need to arrest the seemingly inexorable negative trend of missing out on (comparatively) cheap players, and then being fleeced after the fact.

I'm a big fan of Eriksen, but €40m? Absolutely no chance. The ship has sailed on this particular transfer; Liverpool had the chance to sign him, but totally blew it, and unless the price is around the £20m mark, the Reds should steer clear.

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12/17/2014 04:54:00 am

Next Manager? - 81% of LFC fans want 'inspiring' CL-winning boss to replace BR

Rafa Benitez remains 5-1 favourite to replace beleaguered Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, and with reports today suggesting that the Spaniard could be on the verge of leaving Napoli, the timing is clearly right for a return to Anfield. Do LFC fans want Benitez back, though?

In November, I conducted a poll on the site asking whether Benitez is a good choice to replace Rodgers:

* 16200 visitors (approx) participated in the poll.

* 81% of fans voted YES for a Benitez return.

Reports today suggest Benitez is 'close to the sack' at Napoli, and when asked recently about his future at Napoli, he made it clear yet again (albeit indirectly) that he'd love a return to Liverpool. He told CalcioMercato:

“My family is distant, my wife and my two daughters live in Liverpool. It’s the first time that they are not with me and it’s not easy. De Laurentiis knows very well how important the value of the family is.”".

The fact that Benitez wants to return to Liverpool at some point is beyond dispute. Last season, he emphatically told reporters:

"I know I will return to Liverpool as coach one day, almost certainly. What I don’t know is when but my wife and children still live there, so I will be back".

If Brendan Rodgers gets the red card, Benitez will - quite rightly - be a major contender for the job. I strongly advocated Benitez's departure in 2009, and I maintain it was the right decision to move him on at that time.

However, five years have passed, which is plenty of time to reflect on his initial six-year tenure, and given his nature, I'm sure Benitez has exhaustively analysed where he went wrong, and how he can improve things the second time around.

As such, he'd probably make a better Liverpool manager now, and despite being one of his biggest detractors, I'd absolutely support Benitez's return to Anfield.

In my view, football opinions should not be inflexible to the point of extreme intransigence; people change, learn, and, most importantly, grow, and with his experiences over the last five years, Benitez - described by Gary Monk in September as an 'inspiring' manager - remains an ideal candidate for the Liverpool job.

Additionally, given his love for the club, and deep connection with the fanbase, FSG will know that Benitez is capable of picking up the pieces very quickly, which may be necessary if Rodgers gets sacked in the new year.

Just to clarify: Benitez is not my preferred choice to take over from Rodgers; I'm merely saying that if FSG give him another chance in the Anfield hot-seat, I won't be too disappointed.

Benitez clearly has unfinished business at Liverpool, and it just feels like he is destined to return, and now may be the ideal time...

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12/16/2014 10:49:00 pm

Amazing Stats: 'Incredible' £10m star confirms LFC's 'interest'; he thinks it's 'great' to be linked with Liverpool

Liverpool have reportedly agreed a deal to sign Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, but the club continues to be linked with a move for FC Cologne 'stopper Timo Horn, who has now responded to rumours linking him with a move to Anfield.

Horn was linked with Liverpool back in October, and last week, the Daily Mail claimed:

"[Horn] has emerged as a potential signing for Liverpool as they look to increase competition for under-fire goalkeeper Simon Mignolet".

When asked today about Liverpool's interest, Horn told reporters:

""While it's great when you awaken the interest of a club like Liverpool, at the moment it is not the right time for me to consider it.""

In an interview with German newspaper Express this week, Horn's agent, Volker Struth, claimed that he's heard nothing LFC:

"We have been told about those [Liverpool] rumours, but no one contacted us directly"

Some info about £10m-rated Horn:

* 6'4 goalkeeper in his third season at FC Cologne.
* 27 apps for various German youth teams.
* By October, he'd conceded 7 goals in 9 apps, equalling Bayern's 50 year record.
* Helped Cologne set a new goals-conceded record for a newly promoted team.
* 11 clean sheets in 18 games overall this season.
* Recently went 365 minutes without conceding a goal.
* Current contract expires in 2016.

Horn may be only 21, but his goalkeeping stats are excellent:

* Last season: Conceded only 20 goals in 35 games for Cologne.
* That's only 1 goal conceded every 1.75 games.
* Achieved 18 clean sheets along the way (over 50% of games)
* FC Cologne totals: 74 goals conceded in 86 games (0.8 goals per game)
* 37 clean sheets (43% of games)

Cologne are understandably desperate to keep hold of Horn, and the club's boss, Peter Stoger, is hopeful Horn will sign a new deal. In September he enthused:

"He [Horn] does an incredible job. I would be happy if he stays, it would be a good platform for him to develop."

Whether the Ochoa deal actually goes through remains to be seen, but if, for some reason, it goes belly-up, then Horn is another excellent option.

Perhaps Liverpool should kill two birds with one stone and sign both Horn and Ochoa?

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12/16/2014 08:15:00 pm

Allen-Killer: €5m CL star says he'll 'think about' LFC transfer if 'an offer comes in'. Sign?

After scoring against the Reds in last week's fatal Champions League draw, 'fantastic' Basel midfielder Fabian Frei has confirmed that he is interested in signing for Liverpool.

According to reports this week, Liverpool are willing to offer the Swiss star a 5-year contract, and when asked about LFC's alleged interest, 25-year old Frei told Swiss newspaper Blick:

“If an offer [from Liverpool] was to come in, I would think about it [signing for LFC]. Eventually I want to play abroad. Preferably in the Bundesliga or in England.”

Some info about €5m-rated Frei:

* Central midfielder. Can play as a DM or further forward.
* 27 goals/36 assists in 231 apps (Goal/Assist every 3.6 games)
* 1 goal in 5 apps for Switzerland.
* 6 major trophies with Basel (including 4 league titles)
* Current contract expires: 2017

Frei is in good form this season, especially in the Champions League, and his match-winning performances recently prompted praise from Sporting Director Georg Heitz, who raved:

"His [Frei's] form is excellent, but it is not really surprising as he is developing well, and that's why Basel recently extended his contract until 2017"

Frei put in another impressive performance against Liverpool, and scored the goal that sent Basel into the second round of the competition. After the game, he revealed that he'd received a request from one particularly impressed LFC fan:

“After the game a Liverpool fan asked me to stay at Anfield and replace [Steven] Gerrard."

That's wishful thinking in the extreme, but is Frei capable of replacing Liverpool's captain? No chance. He could probably replace Joe Allen, and provide good competition for Gerrard (and Henderson), but very few players are in Gerrard's league, and if/when he retires, the Reds will need better player than Frei to fill the void.



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12/16/2014 05:33:00 pm

Done Deal: LFC to sign 'incredible' €8m World Cup star who 'dreams' of Liverpool move

Over the summer, long-time Liverpool target Guillermo Ochoa delivered a goalkeeping masterclass during the World Cup, and after the tournament, Malaga snapped him up on a three-year deal. €8m-rated Ochoa is yet to make an appearance for the La Liga club, though, and reports today suggest that the Mexican stopper will be LFC's first signing of the January transfer window.

Liverpool were last linked with Ochoa in October, and according to multiple reports today, the Reds have agreed a €4m deal to sign him in January.

Liverpool have tracked €8m-rated Ochoa for the last two years. The story so far:

JAN 2013: Liverpool made a €6m bid for Ochoa, and in an interview at the time, the 27-year old stopper told Reporters: "My agent had contact with Liverpool, and I hope this summer there will be some offers. There is no doubt, though, that this one of the dreams I've have had since I came to Europe".

MAR 2013: Ochoa told Mediotiempo: "There is interest from Liverpool, but I have to let things happen. I feel very good, in the professional and sporting way. Physically, I am also very well"

APR 2014: Eurosport claimed that the Reds are still monitoring Ochoa, with a view to signing him this summer.

APR 2014: When asked about Liverpool's interest, Ochoa told Todomercadoweb.es: "I have several offers from different countries, and I am willing to listen to all the offers. My agent is dealing with everything and I do not exclude a future in Italy or England."

When asked recently about Ochoa's permanent bench-status, Malaga’s general director Vicente Casado confirmed that the club may consider selling him during the January transfer window. He told Mediotiempo:

“We still think Guillermo will fight (for his place) in every training session and then we’ll see in December. Memo has incredible ability, but Kameni does too. The thing is that we have two great goalkeepers.”

Ochoa - voted Ajaccio's Player of the Season for 2012-13 - has a flamboyant public persona, but according to the people that work with him, the Mexican's humility is what makes him popular in the dressing room. In April, Ajaccio defender Arnaud Maire explained his appeal:

"He [Ochoa] is quite a simple person and he's actually quite subdued, strangely enough. I think he's someone who shines through his performances rather than his role off the pitch"

The club's goalkeeping coach Thierry Debès added:

"He's well liked because he is extremely humble. He's a superstar in his country, but when he arrived he just kept his head down and worked hard."

Despite being linked with some big clubs over the last few years, Europe's big guns don't ever seem to follow through with their interest, which is strange considering Ochoa has proven his talent time and time again.

One thing's for sure - if Ochoa signs, he will be under intense pressure to do well, and that could be counter-productive.

Just look at the Dejan Lovren situation - when he arrived, Rodgers immediately put pressure on the Croatian by immediately lauding him as a 'leader', and Lovren subsequently crumbled under the weight of expectation.

Hopefully, Ochoa will be mentally strong enough to deal with the expectation that comes with playing for Liverpool.

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12/16/2014 06:13:00 am

'El Guaro' to LFC? - BR pushing to sign exciting £20m Colombia maestro. Contact made already...?

Liverpool are reportedly considering a January move for 28-year old Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin.

According to The Mirror this week:

* Liverpool have been informed of Guarin's January availability.

* Brendan Rodgers is considering a loan move with an option to make the deal permanent next summer.

Some info about £20m-rated Guarin:

* Attacking mid who can play centrally/number 10/right midfield.

* Porto: 21 goals/17 assists in 116 apps (G/A every 3 games)
* Inter Milan: 16 goals/32 assists in 100 apps (G/A every 2 games)
* TOTALS: 37 goals/49 assists in 2016 apps (G/A every 2.5 games)
* 54 apps for the Colombia national team.

* Winner of 10 major trophies.
* Current deal expires in 2017.

After signing his new deal in March, Guarin - nicknamed 'El Guaro' in Colombia - tweeted:

"I’m really happy to be able to continue wearing this jersey. Forza Inter."

Over the summer, Guarin - hailed by former Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni as a 'terrific player' - was linked with moves to Manchester United and Juventus, but in September, his agent denied reports that the Colombian tried to engineer a move away. He told reporters:

"Fredy is happy at Inter, always has been and will continue to be. We are absolutely not thinking about the transfer market. Fredy has everything he wants at Inter and has no need to go elsewhere".

Guarin looks like an ideal upgrade on Joe Allen, and he'd also provide good competition for Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard. A loan deal makes sense, especially since it's unlikely that Liverpool will hand Rodgers more big money to waste in the january transfer position.

Is central midfield a priority position to fill, though? It's definitely an area of the team that needs upgrading, but for January, the goalkeeper, striker, and central defensive positions are arguably more pressing priorities.

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12/15/2014 11:45:00 pm

'I hope LFC sign him': Carra insists BR must buy 'unplayable' star 'for £25m'. Agree?

With Liverpool's strikers struggling to fill the Luis Suarez-sized hole at Anfield, the Reds are once again being linked with a January move for unplayable' Swansea City star Wilfried Bony, and LFC legend Jamie Carragher is the latest ex-Red to hail the Ivorian striker.

In November, reports claimed that Liverpool will 'consider' a January move for Bony, and Carra is desperate for his old club to seal the deal.

After watching Bony score against Spurs on Sunday, Carra told Sky Sports:

"I hope Liverpool sign him [Bony]. He is worth £20m or £25m. I wish Liverpool got him this summer and I hope they're looking at him in the future."

Ex-Swansea star Ian Walsh recently claimed that Liverpool made a 'big mistake' signing Mario Balotelli ahead of Bony, and in a recent column for the Daily Mail, Jamie Rednapp outlined the striker's main qualities. He enthused:

"Bony is a powerhouse. Monk has kept the passing philosophy and Bony fits in with that, but provides strength too. He bullies defenders, loves a shot [and] it's no surprise to see him score in his last three Premier League outings".

Despite his obvious (and consistent) quality, some LFC fans still retain irrational antipathy/indifference towards Bony, and often baulk at the possibility of LFC signing him. Well, in my view, he has the quality to be a top signing for Liverpool, and here are some reasons why:

* After proving his quality in Holland, Bony has done the same in England, and his creative stats prove this:

- Swansea Totals: 45 goals/assists in 66 apps.
- Goal/Assist every 1.4 games.
- League only: 32 goals/assists in 50 apps.
- Goal/assist every 1.5 games.

* Bony is the Premier League's top goalscorer for 2014. A striker's primary role is to score/create goals. On that basis, Bony is one of the best strikers in English football, whether fans choose to accept it or not.

* Like Suarez, Bony is a man of steel, and is seemingly impervious to injury. His amazing body strength is clearly evident, and with Daniel Sturridge susceptible to regular injuries, it's beneficial to have robust players in the squad.

* According to Swansea boss Gary Monk, Bony has a fierce desire to improve and win. In a recent interview, he enthused: "He [Bony] is a proper professional. He's not the sort of player to take it easy. Every single day he pushes himself and everyone around him. The more players like that you have in your squad, the better you're going to be.". Sounds familiar? I can think of another recent LFC player who constantly pushed for the best, and always demanded 110% effort and commitment.

Bony recently signed a one-year contract extension, but that means nothing. Contracts are worthless in modern football, and the Suarez-Arsenal situation from last season is ample evidence of that. Money talks, and if Liverpool make the right offer, Swansea will sell.

Monk even admitted this a a week *after* Bony signed his new deal, when he told reporters:

"He [Bony] is still a Swansea player, money dictates things but it would take an astronomical fee for him to go anywhere"

I'd take Bony over Balotelli, Lambert, and Borini every day of the week, but not for £25m. That's way too much of a risk, and there are no guarantees he'll do the business for LFC. £20m is the max LFC should pay, but that may not be enough to convince Swansea to sell.

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