10/02/2014 12:35:00 am

Mega-Deal: BR wants to sign £34m Argentina star who's 'open to a move'. Better than Markovic?

Liverpool are reportedly considering a January move for Benfica winger Eduardo Salvio, who is also being chased by a host of other clubs, including Manchester United, AC Milan, and Monaco.

According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola:

* Liverpool scouts are keeping tabs on Salvio, a 24-year old Argentina international.

* Milan are allegedly ahead of both LFC and Man Utd in the race for the player's signature.

When asked recently about Salvio's future, his agent, Agustin Jimenez, told reporters:

"After a big season it is normal that significant clubs will be interested. Now the decision is in the hands of Benfica. Salvio is content at the club but he is open to the possibility of a move."

Some info about Salvio:

* Last summer, Benfica slapped a £34m price tag on the Argentinian.

* 6 major trophies to his name so far
* 2x Europa League winner with Atletico.
* Holds the record for most Europa League apps (38)
* Often compared to Man City striker Sergio Aguero.
* Predominantly plays as a right winger.
* 2013-14: Missed 6 months of the season with a knee injury.

* 5 apps for the Argentina national team.
* 28 goals/21 assists in 121 apps for Benfica.
* 10 goals/5 assists in 69 apps for Atletico Madrid.
* Career Total: 52 goals/31 assists in 235 apps.
* Goal/Assist every 2.8 games

Salvio seems to have a lot of potential, but if Liverpool are going to spend £34m on an attacking player, it had better be someone with better creative stats than this. A winger's primary role is to create and score goals, and Salvio's assist-record is one every 7.5 games, which is not the greatest.

Plus, like Coutinho, Sterling, and Markovic, he's quite a small player, and the LFC is already stacked with players who are easily pushed off the ball. Perhaps it's time to shake things up a bit and get a physically imposing winger/attacker for a change?


10/01/2014 06:55:00 pm

Confirmed LFC XI vs. Basel: BR springs £38m surprise; lightweight team a worry?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has named a very attacking line-up for tonight's Champions League clash with FC Basel, but there are a couple of omissions that may come as a surprise. [Scroll to bottom for post-match discussion].

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Skrtel, Henderson, Gerrard, Markovic, Sterling, Coutinho, Balotelli

SUBS: Jones, Toure, Moreno, Lucas, Lallana, Lambert, Borini

The biggest surprise is the relegation of Adam Lallana and Alberto Moreno to the bench, with Jose Enrique and Coutinho coming into the team instead.

Lallana had his best game for Liverpool against Everton at the weekend, so it seems a little counter-productive to suddenly put the blockers on his momentum, but perhaps it's an injury management issue.

Given the personnel, a 442 diamond formation makes sense:

-------------- Mignolet

Manquillo -- Skrtel - Lovren ----- Enrique

--------------- Gerrard

--------- Hendo ------- Markovic

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

-------- Sterling -- Balotelli

4231 also works:

-------------- Mignolet

Manquillo -- Skrtel - Lovren ----- Enrique

------------ Hendo -- Gerrard

--- Sterling -- Coutinho ----- Markovic

---------------- Balotelli

Either way, I can't help feeling that this team is a little on the lightweight side. Is there enough defensive discipline and physical presence with Sterling, Coutinho, Markovic in the same team?

Additionally, with that front-line, it probably means that Henderson will spend most of the game being a water-carrier, doing the donkey work for Gerrard, and covering the inevitable gaps left by Coutinho et al.

And so much for the brief resurgence of Suso. After a brief period of being in Rodgers' good books, the Spaniard is now back in the Anfield wilderness. Great job, Brendan!

Ultimately, I'll always support a more attacking line-up over the more cautious option, and there's enough talent in the starting line-up to get a positive result.

My prediction: Still 2-2.


10/01/2014 04:59:00 pm

Basel 1-0 LFC: Euro fail as BR blows it again. Liverpool in crisis, or temporary blip?

With three defeats in the first six games, Liverpool's Premier League form is poor at the moment, but on the plus side, the Reds have a 100% record in Champions League, so it's not all doom and gloom ;-) Okay, it's only one game, but it's a positive, so I'll take it. The first team remains weakened by injury for tonight's game with Basel, but the Reds should have enough quality in the squad to get a positive result, and a good win will be a massive boost ahead of this weekend's league game against West Brom.

Sturridge, Allen, Flanagan, Sakho, and Johnson are all set to miss the game through injury, but after recent injury scares, Hendo and Coutinho should be fit to feature.

As such, the team basically picks itself, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Brendan Rodgers go with the same team that beat Ludogorets, bar Sakho, who is injured.

That said, given the fact it's an away game, it's possible Rodgers may go slightly more cautious and start with Lucas ahead of Coutinho. Against Ludogorets, Lucas replaced his compatriot in the second half, so it's a definitely possibility.

I'd prefer to see a more progressive approach, but given the club's ongoing defensive issues, it won't come as a surprise to see craft sacrificed for steel. As such, the following line-up is a possibility:

---------------- Mignolet

Manquillo --- Skrtel -- Lovren ---- Moreno

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

------------ Hendo -- Gerrard

------ Sterling ------ Lallana

--------------- Balotelli

If Lucas plays, then he should (IMO) be the deepest-lying midfielder. Lucas should never play ahead of Gerrard as he doesn't have the attacking threat required, but that doesn't seem to make any difference to the manager. Rodgers has also employed 4231 recently, so there's a possibility that he may try that formation in Europe:

---------------- Mignolet

Manquillo --- Skrtel -- Lovren ---- Moreno

-------------- Lucas -- Gerrard

----- Hendo ----- Sterling ------ Lallana

--------------- Balotelli

On paper, it looks tasty (bar the Lucas/Gerrard partnership), but in practice, it isn't really working. I'd like to see either Coutinho or Markovic start the game, but I have a feeling that one or both may end up on the bench.

With seven wins in their first ten league games, Basel are on a roll at the moment, and manager Paulo Sousa is determined to make it a night to remember for the Swiss club. He told reporters this week:

"We could create a story tomorrow which will be remembered in the future. As a coach all the games are a real test. It is a fantastic moment for us, myself and the players and our club to enjoy but also to compete as we are looking to get results."

This is going to be a tough game, but being away from home could suit Liverpool as there be more space to exploit during the game.

My prediction: 2-2


10/01/2014 06:00:00 am

Top Transfer: Carra urges LFC to sign 'exceptional' £16m superstar. Terms agreed. Medical tests this week

Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for Ex-Barcelona star Victor Valdes, and according to Jamie Carragher, the Spaniard is an essential signing for for the Reds.

In September, multiple reports claimed that Liverpool had agreed personal terms with Valdes over a possible one-year deal, and when asked last night if he'd be a good signing for the Reds, Carra said:

"Yes - all top clubs now have 2 keepers contesting the number one spot".

Carra also dismissed suggestions that Mignolet should be dropped, though to be fair, it's not as if he'd say anything else in a public forum. Besides, at this point, there's no one better to come in and take the Belgian's place, but that may change in the coming months.

Brendan Rodgers has specifically denied any Liverpool interest in Valdes. When asked in his pre-Aston Villa press conference last week, Rodgers claimed that 'this is the first I've heard of' the Valdes rumours.

However, given the manager's penchant for deliberate misdirection with the press, it's doubtful he was telling the truth. Indeed, reports on Tuesday suggest that the deal for Valdes is in the closing stages. The Daily Express reported:

"Rodgers is keen on bringing Valdes to Anfield [and] the 32-year-old set to undergo medical tests in the coming weeks"

After his knee ligament injury, it makes sense to rigorously test Valdes to ensure he's fully recovered, as the last thing the club needs is another sick-note in the squad. If the Spaniard signs, Mignolet's place in the team will come under intense pressure, but when asked about his future this week, he told reporters:

"If I have to look into all the people and players who are linked with Liverpool, then there will be another team on the pitch. Every week there would be a different 11 playing."

Valdes seems to be maligned by some Reds fans, but he conceded only 0.8 goals per game in 500 appearances for Barcelona, which is an excellent record. By comparison, Mignolet in his debut season conceded 1.28 goals per game, and this season so far, it's 1.6 goals per game.

A player with Valdes' history - and winning mentality - will be a massive boost for the squad, and to get him as a free agent - when only a year ago he was valued at £16m - would be a major transfer coup.



10/01/2014 12:41:00 am

'You'd be in trouble': Martinez reveals 'big' reason LFC are failing this year. Correct...?

Six points from seven league games; a negative goal-difference, and languishing in 14th place in the Premier League table. It's fair to say that Liverpool are struggling at the moment, but the question is, why? According to Everton boss Roberto Martinez, there is only one reason for LFC's decline this season.

When asked over the weekend why Liverpool are having problems this year, Martinez told reporters:

“Suarez was a big player at the club, and everyone knew what Liverpool was: very dynamic.

"Any time you leave yourself two vs. one against Suarez you'd be in trouble and that is not there any more. That is the big difference.”

Losing Suarez is obviously a hammer blow for Liverpool, but I dispute the contention that the Reds' current decline is solely - or even mostly - attributable to the Uruguayan's exit.

Focusing on losing Suarez is an easy way out, and takes attention away from the real reasons why Liverpool are struggling this season, which are (IMO):

* Persistence with Steven Gerrard as the deepest-lying midfielder. The warning signs were there last season, but Rodgers has ignored them and continued to utilise Gerrard in a role for which he's not fully-equipped. Liverpool have a soft-centre at the heart of midfield, and teams are consistently capitalising on this weakness (man-marking etc).

* Failure to replace Suarez's goals. Seven games in, and none of Rodgers' attacking signings have scored in the league yet. That says it all, really. This is not about replacing Suarez per se, just his creative contribution.

* Unsettled defence. Like last season, Liverpool still don't have a settled defensive partnership, and Rodgers has made it worse by forcing Lovren to play on the right side of the partnership in a bid to accommodate Sakho. In my view, Toure should've covered for Skrtel, as that would've allowed the team to maintain defensive balance and consistency.

* Mignolet. Liverpool need a dominant goalkeeper, and Mignolet 'aint it. As long as that remains the case, the defence is doomed. Still, it's possible that the Belgian may come good, but if he hasn't learned effective communication, organisation, distribution etc by now, it's unlikely that'll change in the future.

* Formations. Liverpool's most effective formations are (arguably) 433, and 442 (Diamond), yet they've rarely been utilised this season. Rodgers has increasingly employed 4231, which isn't really working. With current personnel (i.e. Balotelli; and no Sturridge), a diamond formation is arguably the best way to go as Balotelli is not really suited to playing as lone striker.

* LFC's signings. Rodgers marginally improved the squad over the summer (Manquillo and Moreno are definite upgrades on Johnson, Cissokho, and even Enrique), but in all other areas, nothing has really improved significantly. Granted, new signings take time to settle-in, but it's hugely concerning that none of Rodgers' big-money signings have hit the ground running.

* Injuries. It's an easy excuse, but it's a valid one, too. However, the loss of Daniel Sturridge should not be felt in such an acute manner, and it's a huge concern that that £100m+ worth of new signings can't effectively cover him for a few games.

If things continue to go wrong in the league, Liverpool could conceivably be pulled into the relegation zone very soon. Of course, at this stage of the season, that means nothing, but it won't be good for morale, and the further away from the top four the club falls, the harder it will be to climb back up.

online surveys


9/30/2014 07:56:00 pm

Agent tells BR: €15m goal-machine who's 'like Ibrahimovic' can 'play for LFC'. Sign?

With 8 goals in 8 games so far, French star André-Pierre Gignac is on fire for Marseille this season, the striker's Agent believes he would be the perfect signing for Liverpool FC.

Speaking to French newspaper L'Equipe on Thursday, Christopher Hutteau insisted that Gignac can 'succeed at a big club', adding:

"This is a striker with a relatively atypical profile, responsive to the physical challenge.

"He can play in England, for Arsenal or Liverpool, no problem. For me, it is between €12million (£9.5m) and €15million (£11m)."

Some info about Gignac:

* 4 goals in 17 games for the France national team.
* Marseille: 62 goals/12 assists in 157 apps.
* Toulouse: 42 goals/11 assists in 118 apps.
* Lorient: 11 goals/6 assists in 51 apps.
* TOTALS: 115 goals/29 assists in 326 apps.
* Goal every 2.8 games.
* Goal/assist every 2.2 games.

QPR midfielder Joey Barton played alongside Gignac at Marseille, and when asked about the striker, he raved:

"He's one of our most important players. He's like Ibrahimovic at Paris Saint-Germain. He can score from anywhere".

With Daniel Sturridge's consistent injury problems, Liverpool arguably need another striker. Indeed, the club's negative goal-difference in the league is proof-positive that the team is struggling on the goalscoring front.

Ricky Lambert is a good squad player, but he's not going to score 15+ goals a season, and despite his much-vaunted potential, it's doubtful that Mario Balotelli is going to be a prolific goalscorer for the Reds (this season, at least).

One of Brendan Rodgers' key goals this summer was to find a way to replace Luis Suarez's creative impact, but so far, none of this buys - individually or collectively - look capable of filling the void.

Is a player like Gignac the answer, though? At 29, it's highly doubtful.


9/28/2014 08:17:00 pm

LFC Regret: £18m star admits he made a 'bad choice' leaving Anfield after discovering he'd been axed for the Everton game

Prior to yesterday's game with Everton, Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho stormed out of Anfield after learning that he'd been dropped from the starting line-up. Given his burning desire to experience a Merseyside derby, Sakho's ire is understandable, but he's now realised that he acted rashly, and issued a public apology for his reaction.

After Liverpool's disappointing 1-1 draw, Sakho said:

"I really want to apologise to the club, the supporters and every person who felt offended when I left the stadium this afternoon.

"I'm aware that it was a bad choice from my part to go isolating (sic) to watch the game"

I'm not Sakho's biggest fan, but I personally don't see what all the fuss is about. He's being barracked buy some sections of the fanbase, but why is it such a big deal? So what if he 'stormed out'? It just shows that Sakho is passionate about the game, and has a real desire to make a difference for the club.

I find it hilarious when fans argue that such behaviour is selfish and/or is somehow a betrayal of his team-mates; these are the same fans who constantly turned a blind eye to Luis Suarez's biting and cheating, things that are are (IMO) far more detrimental and selfish.

Unfortunately for Sakho, I doubt Rodgers will take such a magnanimous view. LFC's boss constantly emphasises the team over the individual, and he'll probably take a dim view of Sakho's reaction.

When all is said and done, though, Rodgers arguably made the right decision. In terms of defensive balance, Skrtel/Lovren is the right partnership for the team, and for the sake of defensive continuity, those two should start most games for Liverpool.

To be clear: I'm not averse to seeing Sakho given a run of games, but not at the expense of unbalancing the defence. If Rodgers decides to go that way, then he should take Lovren out of the team, and play Sakho with Skrtel, though after spending £20m on the Croatian, that's not going to happen.

Sakho will just have to get used to being Lovren's understudy, but after experiencing third-choice syndrome at PSG, he will almost certainly be unhappy with that, which could lead to an early exit from Anfield.

The question is, will Liverpool get back £18m+ for Sakho...?


9/28/2014 07:30:00 am

Carra blasts: £47m trio have made Liverpool 'worse than last season'. Agree...?

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has slammed Brendan Rodgers' defensive signings, claiming that his old club is now 'worse' off than last season, despite spending a shedload of cash.

In his column for the Daily Mail this week, Carra:

* Dismissed the idea that players need a lots of time settle in, and claimed that it's possible to gauge success after only two months.

* Argued that players who struggle in their first year at Anfield rarely go on to be successful.

Carra then singled our three players for specific criticism:

"Lovren was brought in to add leadership at the back but Liverpool actually look worse defensively than they did last season. Sakho doesn’t fill you with confidence and nor does the goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet. They need to step it up urgently".

The criticism of Lovren is arguably a little harsh. It's not his fault that Rodgers moved him to the left to accommodate Sakho. The Croatian excels as a left-sided central defender, which is the position he's played for the bulk of his career, so why move him? If you spend £20m on a centre-half, surely it makes sense to play him in his preferred role?

I have no doubt that if Lovren had played in his preferred role from the start, Liverpool would've leaked fewer goals. In future, if Skrel gets injured, Kolo Toure should come in and replace him. The Ivorian is a right-sided central defender, and that will ensure continuity, and defensive balance.

I've regularly argued that Sakho is not a long-term solution. I advocated his signing last summer, but didn't anticipate that he'd struggle to this extent with the pace of the Premier League. Sakho's passing is good, but defensively, he is (IMO) unreliable, edgy, and he unsettles the defence.

As for Mignolet - that ship sailed long ago. He is not the answer, and the sooner he is replaced, the better.

Ultimately, though, the buck stops with Rodgers. Over the last year, he's spent £66m on LFC's defence, and as Carra suggests, the club appears to be regressing defensively.


9/27/2014 11:30:00 pm

Great News: 'Amazing' €25m Reds target rejects new contract. Big chance for LFC?

Last week, Liverpool co-owner John Henry sparked a raging frenzy of LFC fan-speculation with cryptic tweet about long-time Reds target Marco Reus, and although a deal for the German is probably a pipe dream at this point (especially with the Reds' poor form in the league), events at Dortmund represent a huge opportunity for any interested clubs.

In August, Sky Sports claimed that:

"Liverpool have been trimmed from 11/8 to 6/5 favourites to sign Marco Reus after a handful of big bets today.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca this week:

* Reus has told Borussia Dortmund he won't be renewing his contract.
* Dortmund owill be forced to cash in on him at the end of this season.
* Reus has a €25million buyout clause in his contract.

'Amazing' Reus seems certain leave Dortmund next summer, and when asked last week about the attacker's future, Sporting Director Michael Zorc told reporters:

"There are many clubs, even outside of Germany, interested in Marco. We will continue discussions, and then we'll see if we can achieve a positive result"

LFC legend Jamie Carragher is a fan of Reus, and when asked last month about the possibility of the German coming to Anfield, he enthused:

“I’d love LFC to sign Reus. [He's a ] great player, and would be one of the best players in the Premier League.”

Most Liverpool fans probably feel the same, but Reus will probably end up at Real Madrid, who reportedly already have an agreement in princple with Dortmund.

Imagine if Liverpool had signed Reus instead of Markovic over the summer. The Serb cost £20m - which basically corresponds to the German's buyout clause - and I have no doubt he would've come straight into the team and made an immediate impact.

With two goals/assists in two games so far, Reus has picked up where he left off last season. Alas, the chances of him ending up at Anfield next summer are incredibly slim.


9/27/2014 09:45:00 pm

'I was screaming': BR insists Gerrard made a mistake with £16m star during Everton draw

Last season, Steven Gerrard often relinquished to Luis Suarez the responsibility for free kicks in-and-around the penalty area, and the Uruguayan often delivered the goods. Mario Balotelli doesn't offer the same quality, and LFC boss Brendan Rodgers has gently admonished his captain for allowing the Italian to take free kicks against Everton.

In his post-match press conference, Rodgers hailed 'selfless' Gerrard's 'outstanding' performance', and 'wonderful' free-kick goal, but told reporters:

"He [Gerrard] was letting Mario take a few [free-kicks] in the first half and I was screaming at him to take it, because he's got so much quality. He's shown many a time over the years that's his range"

Gerrard's strike-rate on free kicks is pretty impressive, so unless there's another bona-fide specialist in the team (i.e. Suarez), he should take all free kicks within scoring distance.

When a game is in the balance, ego or selflessness shouldn't come in it; the best player for the job should take responsibility, and in this case, Gerrard is clearly the best free-kick taker in the squad.

On a related note: scoring from free kicks/penalties is seemingly the only way Gerrard can consistently effect games these days. Indeed, his last 16 goals have all been free-kicks or penalties, so if LFC want Gerrard to maintain his relevance to the team, then it's best to let him take the free-kicks (!)

Overall, Gerrard scored a great goal, but to describe his performance as 'outstanding' is (arguably) a massive overstatement. That's Rodgers for you, though: the king of overstatement.


9/27/2014 07:53:00 pm

'Frustrating': Reds legends demand 'more' from £36m LFC duo after 'disappointing' draw

Liverpool are down to 12th place in the Premier League table tonight after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Everton at Anfield, and it could get even worse tomorrow if West Brom beat Burnley.

Post match reaction:

Brendan Rodgers

"I never felt in any danger during the game. I think the organisation of the players was very good.

"They had good concentration. I always felt that with the ball we were a real threat going forward.

"But when you conceded so late on like that, into injury-time, it's a little bit frustrating."

Ray Clemence

"Two great goals in merseyside derby. LFC need to create more. Need more from Balotelli"

Patrik Berger

"I would like to see Stevie further forward to influence the game even more"

John Scales

"Liverpool have got to get back to getting in behind defences. Better movement in final third to stretch/disrupt opposition. Henderson too".

Michael Owen

"Picking MOM was a tough choice today. No real standout performer. Moreno, Gerrard, Lallana, and Jagielka all candidates"

Jamie Carragher

"Enjoyed the game thought Stones was outstanding and Lallana getting better every game".

A couple of small points:

* Suso ignored or playing time once again, despite scoring in midweek? What does he have to do to be given a chance? On Thursday, Rodgers praised Suso's contribution; his application in training; and suggested that he'd 'come into the reckoning' for the Everton game, but putting him on the bench was (IMO) merely a token gesture.

* £20m for Lazar Markovic continues to look like a massive rip-off.

* Daniel Sturridge is a key player for LFC, but the team should not miss him as much as this. Rodgers' attacking signings should be able to compensate for his absence, but so far, they have failed miserably.

* 4231 is clearly not working for Liverpool, especially with the current personnel. With Sturridge in the team, it might work better, but with Balotelli - who is far more static than Sturridge - it should be a non-starter.

* In my view, Clemence and Scales are right to demand more from Henderson and Balotelli. In the absence of Sturridge, Hendo should be stepping up to the plate to fill the void, but after seven games, he still hasn't scored a goal this season.

A win for West Brom tomorrow will see the Reds slide down to 13th place in the league, the club's worst position since the early stages of Brendan Rodgers' first season, when Liverpool languished in 14th place at the end of September.

That year, LFC ended the season in 7th place, 28 points off the league champions. Hopefully, history is not repeating itself (!), but the signs are ominous.

The worst thing is that Manchester United - a team in disarray, with a worse defence than Liverpool - have also pulled ahead in the league table (!)

That said, the Reds are only 3 points off 4th place right now, so although things look bleak, it's by no means an insurmountable gap.


9/27/2014 06:44:00 am

Possible Reds XI vs. Everton: £58m boost for LFC. BR to make shock midfield choice?

Another week, another must-win league game for Liverpool. After three defeats in five matches, there's very little margin for error, but with Everton also in the midst of bad run, it's going to be a very difficult game for Brendan Rodgers' team.

* Joe Allen, Glen Johnson, and John Flanagan remain injured.

* Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho could feature in the squad. When asked on Thursday about the duo, Brendan Rodgers told reporters:

"It's too early to rule them in or out, with a couple of days still to go until the game. We're hopeful that they can be involved "

* Daniel Sturridge may also return, which is great news for the team:

"We'll be very happy to have him [Sturridge] back and we hope that can be this weekend"

If Sturridge, Henderson, and Coutinho return, that's £58m worth of talent coming back into the team, which is a massive boost.

Prior to LFC's midweek Capital One Cup victory, Suso had basically been ignored by Rodgers, but after his impressive performance against Middlesbrough, it looks like the Spaniard may be rewarded with a place in the Everton squad. When asked about the possibility, Rodgers enthused:

"You saw his quality when he came on in the game; he had wonderful feet and wonderful technique. It was nice to see him score off his right foot and he's definitely one that comes into the reckoning."

Suso deserves a chance, but don't hold your breath - when Rodgers praises a player on the Thursday before a game, that player invariably ends up on the bench (or not in the squad). In recent weeks, this has happened to both Sterling and Coutinho.

Given the opposition, I see Rodgers going for more robust players, so I'd expect to see the following line-up:

----------------- Mignolet

Manquillo ---- Skrtel -- Lovren ------ Moreno

------------------ Gerrard

-------------- Lucas -- Hendo (if fit)

-------- Sterling -------- Lallana

---------------- Balotelli

If Henderson is out, Rodgers might surprise everyone and throw Jordan Rossiter into he mix. I'd personally love to see that, but I doubt it will happen.

Predicting a 1-1 draw, Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson bemoaned his old club's 'poor' form, and suggested that more dropped points are on the horizon. He told the BBC:

"I can see this ending up in a draw. I think Everton would take one, while Liverpool would be disappointed, but I cannot back Liverpool to win because I don't think they are playing well enough".

My prediction: 2-2


9/26/2014 09:45:00 pm

I dream of LFC: BR wants to sign £15m star who 'followed Liverpool as a child'

Marseille attacker Andre Ayew has been linked with a move to Liverpool many times in the past, and new reports this week suggest that the Reds are planning to make a January move the Ghanaian international.

According to The Mirror today:

* Ayew is refusing to sign a new contract wants a move to England.

* Liverpool and Chelsea are interested, and a pre-contract agreement in January is a possibility.

This follows a recent report in French newspaper L'Equipe, which claimed that the 24 year old 'dreams' of a move to Liverpool.

€15m-rated Ayew has a soft-spot for Liverpool, and when interviewed last season on French TV show Telefoot, he enthused:

"It [The Premier league] is a league I always think of. I am Ghanaian and an English speaker, and I have a strong preference for England. As for Liverpool - I followed them as a child"

When asked about his future recently, Ayew told reporters:

"Everything is possible. I'm under contract and proud to wear this jersey. I could have left it two years ago, but I stayed, had finished second. We'll see"

Ayew's versatility probably makes him an appealing option for Brendan Rodgers. He can play as a winger, or a striker, but is he prolific enough, though? Stats for the last few years:

* 2010-11: 13 goals/3 assists in 51 appearances.
* 2011-12: 16 goals/4 assists in 39 apps.
* 2012-13: 13 goals/5 assists in 45 apps.
* 2013-14: 8 goals/3 assists in 29 apps.
* Goal/Assist every 2.5 games.

Liverpool have Lallana, Markovic, Sterling, and Coutinho, but the Reds could (arguably) do with another quality attacking midfielder. Ayew is much more experienced that the likes of Suso, Markovic etc, so for the right price, it could be a shrewd transfer.

Jaimie Kanwar

9/26/2014 07:42:00 pm

Gerrard Out? - Lawro reveals reason for 'criticised' captain's poor form at LFC. Worry?

Steven Gerrard: one of the greatest players in Liverpool's history, but time waits for no man, and right now, it's fair to say that Gerrard's influence on the team is waning. Some fans even argue that his continued presence in the team is now detrimental to LFC's forward progress, but Anfield legend Mark Lawrenson insists that there are other factors at stake to explain the captain's middling form.

Gerrard underperformed during Liverpool's abject capitulation at West Ham, but Lawro believes a lack of pace in the team is making it hard for him to make an impact. He told the BBC:

"Steven Gerrard got criticised for the way he played...but he's got nobody up there to pick out with his long balls, which means opposing teams can squeeze up and deny them space.

"It means Liverpool are finding it difficult to turn their possession and passes into chances, and Sterling is their only player who looks a threat".

The criticism of Gerrard is valid: Call it whatever you like (pivot; playmaker; whatever), but he is LFC's de facto DM. He occupies the deepest midfield role, and defensive duty/cover/pressing/protecting the back four are key parts of his responsibility, ergo he is a defensive midfield.

Gerrard isn't equipped to play that role effectively, though, and that's the main problem. He doesn't have the mobility, or the positional discipline to operate as an effective DM. In theory, he has the right skill-set, but in practice, it's not working effectively.

The loss of Sturridge's pace is a major blow to the Reds, but in my view, this is a rather tenuous excuse to explain Gerrard's increasingly inability to genuinely effect games.

Additionally, Gerrard's game is not just based on 'long balls'; his penchant for speculative Hollywood passes is arguably counter-productive at times as it often leads to Liverpool losing possession. He should adapt his game to suit the personnel available. If long-balls are out, take a different approach.

The main problem, however, is Brendan Rodgers. He doesn't have the stones to do the right thing, and replace Gerrard at DM with someone who is more equipped to do the job. Gerrard is always in the team because of who he is, rather than tactical necessity.

That's totally understandable, though. It'll take a strong manager to put Gerrard out to pasture. The guy is a legend, and Rodgers has the unenviable task of presiding over his gradual decline.

The question is, if Gerrard doesn't play at DM, what is his role in the team? A couple of options:

* Part of a midfield three, ahead of a DM. Example:

------------ Can

---- Gerrard -- Hendo

This is a marginally better option, but it still doesn't solve the mobility/pressing issue. All three of LFC's central midfielders (in a 433) have significant defensive responsibility, though Gerrard is (IMO) a superior option to Joe Allen/Lucas, or Adam Lallana (in a deeper role). Allen may press better, but Gerrard has the passing range, and will create goals.

* Number 10 role

----------- Can

----- Hendo --- Allen

--------- Gerrard

--- Sterling - Sturridge

Is Gerrard better in this role than Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling, or even Lazar Markovic? He certainly has the passing range and guile to open up defences, so why not give it a shot?

Outside of these two positions, I don't see how he can fit into the team. I don't advocate dropping Gerrard, but the team should come first, and Gerrard-at-DM is (IMO) not beneficial for the team.

Ultimately, blaming Gerrard's middling form on a lack of pace in the team is disingenuous. Even casual observers can see the real issues, and until Rodgers doesn't something about it, Liverpool will continue to struggle.


9/25/2014 08:20:00 pm

Yes Please: LFC to make €45m offer for 'lethal' Argentina star with €100m buyout clause. Better than Balotelli?

Liverpool are reportedly planning huge January transfer bid for Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.

According to Eurosport today:

"Liverpool have set their eyes set on Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain and are ready with a €45m offer"

The Reds were linked with a move for Higuain during the January 2012 transfer window, and at the time, Anfield legends John Aldridge and John Barnes were massively in favour of the idea. Barnes told TalkSport:

"Liverpool need someone like Gonzalo Higuain. If you get the ball in the box he can score, he can play outside the box and he’s the kind of player that Liverpool should be going for".

In his column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldo added:

"I like the look of Gonzalo Higuain. He doesn’t play an awful lot at the Bernabeu but he would be brilliant for us. But would he come? And how much would be cost?"

Napoli - managed by former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez - have endured a nightmare start to the season, with the low point being an ignominious early elimination from the Champions League.

Reports in Italy suggest that Higuain - described by Andrea Pirlo as a 'lethal' striker - is unsettled at the club, and speculation over a rift intensified this when the striker specifically requested to sit-out Napoli's game with Palermo. Addressing questions on the issue, Benitez told reporters:

"Higuain asked not to play that's why he was on the bench. He told me that he was tired after playing three games in a row and playing a fourth could have caused physical problems."

Higuain's stats for Napoli so far are pretty formidable, especially for Serie A:

* 26 goals/13 assists in 53 appearances.
* Goal/assist every 1.3 games.

The Argentine's stats at Real Madrid were also excellent:

* 122 goals/56 assists in 264 apps.
* Goal/assist every 1.4 games.

According to Benitez, Higuain's biggest assets (apart from scoring/creating) are 'opening many spaces, and working continuously for the team', Suarez-esque qualities arguably lacking up-front right now. Balotelli has his strengths, but constantly being on the move, and opening up space for others are not his forte.

€45m may not be enough to land Higuain, though. According to Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis, the striker has a stupendous buyout clause, designed to scare away potential poachers:

“I’ve heard some people saying that we inserted a clause of €70 million into the contract of Higuain, which isn’t true. Therefore, I would like to state that we inserted a clause of €100 million last summer.”

Still, if Higuain is unhappy, that could change things somewhat. And if Benitez gets the bullet at some point soon, then it could be open season.


9/25/2014 05:20:00 am

Top Target: CL giants to make stunning bid to sign 'wonderful' £20m LFC star. Worried?

Last month, Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale initiated insisted that the 'sky is the limit' for Liverpool star Raheem Sterling, and right on cue, rumours linking Sterling with a move to the Bernabeu are intensifying, with reports today suggesting that Los Blancos are planning a strong move to sign LFC's coveted forward.

According to multiple reports today:

* Real Madrid are ready to make a move to sign Sterling.

* Carlo Ancelotti has made Sterling his number one transfer target.

Sterling is reportedly on £30k, which - in the disturbed, obscenely out of touch world of football - is deemed to be a piffling figure.

Real Madrid's transfer policy is unashamedly transparent, and Gareth Bale's comments are just one part of the club's oft-employed campaign to entice prospective players.

The question is, should Liverpool offer Sterling a huge pay-rise to ward off interest from Madrid, and other interested clubs?

For me, the answer is a resounding NO.

Sterling is 19 (!), and he has achieved next to *nothing* in the game. Yes, he's progressing well, but that is his job; He's supposed to incrementally improve, and he has every advantage at his beck and call to facilitate that. LFC owes Sterling nothing at this stage, but he owes the club everything:

* He already earns big bucks, and only signed an improved contract 18 months ago.
* Liverpool plucked him from obscurity gave him the opportunity to play top-level football.
* Brendan Rodgers has consistently shown a great level of faith in Sterling.
* He is now a regular in the team, with the excitement of CL football on the horizon.
* Sterling made the England team as a result of his coaching and development at Anfield.

Liverpool deserve - and should demand - loyalty from Sterling, and the club should take the view that he should be happy with his current £30k a week contract. Why wouldn't he be? If he demands more money than that at the age of 19 then it is greed, pure and simple.

As I've argued repeatedly over the years, giving young players huge salaries invariably dulls motivation/competitive edge. Where is the need for young (and comparatively immature) players to push themselves to the limit when they're taking home £100K+ a week?

Luckily, Rodgers appears to think the same. When asked recently about a new contract for Sterling, he told reporters:

"We need to be careful. When you reward young players too quickly, that will be their downfall. It's a big problem with British players. Why? Because the reward is no longer there, they lose their hunger"

I sincerely hope Rodgers and LFC have the courage of their convictions when it comes to this particular issue. If Real Madrid do come calling, and Sterling seriously considers a move at such a young age, then it will show that he has zero loyalty to Liverpool. In such circumstances, the club should just cash-in and get rid of him (or any player with a similar mindset).

Yes, I'm aware that the obsession with money is part-and-parcel of modern football; the idea of footballers playing for LFC because they love the club is, admittedly, merely a romantic notion these days, but that doesn't mean Liverpool should just give up and perpetuate the cycle of greed.

Acquiescing to salary demands, and constantly paying through the nose to keep players at the club (which is, in essence, buying loyalty) is not a sustainable financial model, and repeatedly doing this just enables other players to jump on the bandwagon.

The Reds have to take a stand, and the Sterling situation is an ideal place to start. If he genuinely wants to play for Liverpool, then Sterling will be happy to wait for an improvement to his contract. He'll knuckle down, focus on football, and be happy with his lot, which is pretty damn amazing as it it.

If Sterling starts making waves/dropping hints about moving, or engages is any of the mryiad of typical tactics employed by greedy players, then Liverpool should just sell him to Madrid for £60m+

Sterling is not irreplaceable. He has the world at his feet at Liverpool, and if it's really about the football with him, then that should be enough.


9/24/2014 08:10:00 pm

Boss raves: 'Terrific' £10m powerhouse who loves LFC is 'on another planet'. Sign ASAP?

Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for MK Dons starlet Dele Alli, who is earning rave reviews for his impressive form this season.

Alli has grabbed 6 goals (including a hat-trick at the weekend) in Dons' first 8 league games this year prompting his boss, Karl Robinson, to endlessly fawn over the 'sensational' 18-year old midfielder, Brendan Rodgers style.

In the past, Robinson has hailed Alli as the 'most gifted youngster the UK has ever seen', and over the weekend, he gushed:

"He [Alli] is on another planet. He’s a terrific individual, and to be a top player you have to conduct yourself in the right way and he certainly does that"

Like Rodgers, Robinson seems prone to effusive, overwrought praise, and he regularly heaps exaggerated praise on Alli. This may be counter-productive, though; Robinson claims he wants to keep the youngster at the club, but if he keeps fawning over him, top teams are sure take note, which could ultimately hasten Alli's exit.

Last season, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers made a personal scouting trip to watch Alli in action, and in a recent interview, the youngster dropped a very strong hint that he's open to playing for LFC. He enthused:

"I am actually a Liverpool fan and Gerrard is someone I look up to massively"

Unless he lives in a cave, £10,-rated Alli will almost certainly be aware of the ongoing speculation linking him with Liverpool, and this basically amounts to a very unsubtle 'come and get me' plea. To be fair, I'd do exactly the same thing in his shoes - I'd be dropping hints all the time making it clear I want to play for Liverpool. Some info about Alli:

* 6'2
* 14 goals/6 assists in 55 apps for MK Dons so far.
* Made his debut at age 16 in 2012.
* 9 apps for the England U17 side.
* Top scorer for the U18s last season with 17-goals.
* Signed a three-year professional deal in the summer of 2013.
* 10 yellow cards in 55 apps.
* Personal motto: "Don't practise until you get it right. Practise until you can't get it wrong".

Liverpool are bursting at the seams with young talent, and the arrival of yet another teenager seems, to me, like overkill. However, the club lacks - even in the youth ranks - big, tall, combative midfield players, so he'd clearly bring something different to the table.

Additionally, in an age of grossly inflated transfer fees for British players (Luke Shaw, anyone? £10m is a comparatively reasonable transfer fee.


9/24/2014 03:35:00 pm

Gerrard-killer? BR wants to sign 'world-class' £22m star & LFC have a huge advantage over other clubs

Another day, another improbable transfer rumour. Earlier this week, the Joe Hart rumour strained credibility, and today, reports suggest that Liverpool are considering a move for Hart's Man City team-mate, Yaya Toure.

Liverpool were linked with Toure over the summer, and according to the Daily Express today:

"Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea [are] in the race for Toure [whose] time at the club could be drawing to a close"

Toure doesn't appear on the lookout for a move, though, and when asked about his future this week, he told reporters:

"I will definitely stay with City. The fans have always been good with me and my family. My target now is the Champions League, I want to make it for them"

Toure has come under fire for his performances so far this season, and in his weekend column for the Daily Mirror, Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish slated Toure's 'disappointing' form, and criticised the midfielder for his lack of application on the pitch. He explained:

"He [Toure] isn’t showing anywhere near the same energy he put into matches last season. He looked interested when he had the ball, but then he looked uninterested when he didn’t have it, and didn’t work nearly as hard when City were trying to win it back".

Toure - recently hailed by Samir Nasri as 'world class' insists there's no problem at City, but actions speak louder than words, and when a player feels undervalued, and/or is unhappy, it usually manifests itself on the field.

£22m-rated Toure is precisely the kind of player missing from Liverpool's squad: a big, strong, athletic box-to-box midfielder, with the power, skill and stamina to regularly make an impact on games.

With Kolo Toure already at Anfield, Liverpool appear to have a major advantage when it comes to attracting Toure to the club, and if the price is right, it could be a viable option.

If LFC signed Toure, Steven Gerrard's place in the team would obviously come under serious threat. After all, you don't sign a player of Toure's class to sit on the bench. At 31, though, the Ivorian is not that much younger than LFC's captain, so he'd hardly be a long-term solution.

Does Brendan Rodgers have the cojones to replace Gerrard? I have to admit, I feel a little sympathy for Liverpool's manager as he has the job that no one else would ever want: phasing out, and ultimately replacing one of the club's most revered legends.

It's definitely a case of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't', so good luck with that, Brendan...