10/25/2014 10:48:00 pm

Legend: 'Superb' €12m star could've saved LFC, & BR should've 'signed' him. Agree?

For many Liverpool fans, the collapse of Loic Remy's proposed transfer to Anfield remains a massive disappointment, and the prevailing media view appears to be that the 'superb' France striker failed his medical. The fact that Remy then signed for Chelsea suggests the 'medical reasons' is just an excuse, and Sky Sports legend (and ex-footballer) Chris Kamara believes that Remy would've made a difference for LFC this season.

After capitalising on Liverpool's reluctance, Mourinho insisted that Remy has no medical issues whatsoever. He told reporters:

"We have a fantastic doctor and I trust him completely. They will identify any problem. The information we have from specialists in different areas is that he does not have a problem."

In his column for The Mirror today, Kamara questioned Liverpool's decision to pull out of the Remy deal, and suggested that the striker would've been a much better signing than Mario Balotelli. He observed:

"What everyone seems to have forgotten is Liverpool's attempted signing of Loic Remy. Remy failed his medical at Anfield and things could’ve been very different had he signed"

I maintain that Remy's €12m Chelsea move makes an absolute mockery of Liverpool's failure to complete the deal:

* If Remy is healthy enough for Stamford Bridge, then why is he not healthy enough for Anfield?

* If underlying issues exists that's serious enough to derail a transfer, Chelsea's doctors and specialists - who are just as qualified and experienced as LFC's - would've found it, no?

* Clearly, there's no issue with Chelsea obtaining insurance for Remy.

* £10.5m on Remy is a significantly lower risk than £16m on Balotelli, even with his alleged heart problem.

It's ridiculous, really. Chelsea have pulled off one of the bargain transfers of the summer, and it's a deal that Liverpool could've - and should've sealed.

It just doesn't compute: if Remy has a serious medical issue then why have Chelsea signed him on a long-term deal? If someone can explain that to me, then I'm all ears (!)

We'll probably never know the truth behind the Remy collapse, but it's increasingly hard to believe that the deal fell through due to medical reasons.

Is Kamara right about Remy making a difference for Liverpool?

Well, the striker has 2 goals/1 assist in 6 appearances so far, and is averaging a goal/assist every 73 minutes. Compare that with Balotelli, Lambert, and Borini, and the difference is as obvious as it is depressing.

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10/25/2014 08:17:00 pm

LFC Surprise? - Legend claims BR will make shock €20m transfer choice 'next season'

Amongst ex-Reds, €20m summer signing Mario Balotelli is clearly one Liverpool's least popular players, and Reds legend Jamie Carragher is one of the striker's most vocal detractors. Carra recently admitted that he is not a fan of Balotelli, and this week, he's predicted that LFC will sell the Italian sooner rather than later.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Friday, Carra admitted that he can't change the way he 'feels about Balotelli', and suggested that his old club may make a shock transfer decision at the end of the season. He noted:

“Do I think he’s going to be here long term? No. I’d be surprised to see him here next season if I’m being honest. These players, who are continually moved on, it’s for a reason".

In my view, Carra needs to have a more open-mind when it comes to Balotelli, as stating that he 'can't' change his view is (arguably) narrow-minded and inflexible.

I'm not the greatest fan of Sakho, Allen, et al, but If they perform well, I'll say so, and if they turn the corner and consistently play well, then I'll change my view of their effectiveness for LFC.

As for Balotelli leaving - it's definitely a possibility. Rodgers already set the precedent by dumping Sahin early; Rafa Benitez also canned Robbie Keane after only six months at the club, and he cost £4m more than the Italian striker.

I personally have no problem with Liverpool dumping under-performing players early, and if by Christmas - or the end of the season, Balotelli is not doing the business, Liverpool should definitely move him on.

Luckily, unlike expensive transfer catastrophes of the past, Balotelli is a comparatively inexpensive transfer, so if the club is to make a loss, it shouldn't be that big.

I can't see Rodgers dumping Balotelli in January, though. His hubris won't allow it. Sahin cost nothing, so it was easy to get rid of him, but scrapping £16m player after only six months will be a personal embarrassment for the manager, who insisted at the time of purchase that he could succeed where Jose Mourinho failed.

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10/25/2014 02:12:00 pm

Confirmed XI vs. Hull: Attacker dropped; BR makes shock £20m change. Big mistake?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has sprung a major surprise for today's must-win game with Hull City, and benched vice-captain Jordan Henderson for the first time since March 2013.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet; Manquillo, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen, Can, Lallana; Sterling, Balotelli.

SUBS: Jones, Toure, Johnson, Henderson, Coutinho, Markovic, Lambert

This is definitely one for the books (!)

It's possible that Rodgers is resting Henderson, but if that's the case, why is Gerrard - who is older and much more in need of being rested - starting the game?

Rodgers likes to wax lyrical about Hendo's amazing fitness levels, so unless he's carrying an injury, this looks to me like he has been dropped.

Coutinho also drops back to the bench to make way for Adam Lallana, who made a moderate impression against Madrid. Probable formation:

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

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

----------------- Can -- Allen

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

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

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

Rodgers may go with 4231 or a 442 diamond, but given his recent formations, it seems likely he's going to persist with Balotelli up-front on his own (which is a mistake).

I just hope he doesn't go with Gerrard in the DM role and/ or a Gerrard/Allen holding partnership. Whatever happens, Can should not play further up the field than the captain, who is infinitely better than the German in an attacking role.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the team performs without Henderson...

My prediction: 2-1 LFC.

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10/25/2014 11:00:00 am

'We broke them': €55m star explains why Madrid beat LFC so easily. Gerrard to blame?

Prior to Liverpool's 3-0 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers challenged his players to earn 'legendary status' by getting a 'result' against the European Champions. Well, as it turned out, that was wishful thinking in the extreme on Rodgers part; after a decent 15 minutes of pressing, Madrid totally dominated the game, and midfielder Luca Modric has offered a simple reason why Los Blancos barely broke a sweat on their way to an emphatic victory.

Reflecting on the game, €55m-rated Modric told The Independent:

"We have looked in great shape and we showed our top form in this iconic stadium [Anfield]. The first goal broke them. They lost enthusiasm. Then in the second half we were saving a little bit of energy for Saturday".

For me, this highlights the alarming lack of leadership on the field, which is a serious concern that goes to the heart of Liverpool's poor form this season. The team should not basically give-up after conceding one goal, and if that's the case, then there's obviously a major failure of fight, passion, and leadership on the field.

Rodgers is responsible for motivating the players, and clearly, he did a questionable job mentally preparing the team for Madrid. When it came to the crunch, LFC were sabotaged by the mental frailty of the players, and all the pre-game rhetoric about 'amazing' European nights and 'legendary status' ultimately counted for nothing.

The game started fairly well for the Reds, but for some inexplicable reason, Liverpool basically abandoned their pressing game after 15 minutes against Madrid, which allowed Ronaldo et al the space to turn up the heat, and create the chances that ultimately led to defeat.

What happened? Where was the on-field organisation?

In my view, Gerrard and Henderson need to take some blame here. As captain and vice-captain respectively, they - along with Rodgers - are responsible for leading by example, and ensuring that the players are motivated and giving their all on the pitch.

I saw precious little 'leadership' (vocal or otherwise) from either player, and when - as Modric suggests - heads go down, it's imperative that team's alleged leaders make the difference. That didn't happen against Madrid, and it's a problem that needs to be solved.

How, though? Looking through the team, there are no leaders. Lovren? He's already admitted that he's struggling with that expectation, and for now, he needs to focus on his performance above all else. Skrtel? He's not really the type. Toure is a leader, but he never plays.

Obviously, everyone looks to Gerrard, but he is (IMO) too caught up with LFC's problems, and that is affecting his self-belief, and ability to be a truly inspiring captain. Just look at his public comments this season - a general trend of negativity, including publicly criticising the team. He may be right, but if the players sense that Gerrard is worried/giving-up etc, then that attitude can infect the whole team.

Gerrard has a tendency to go down with the ship, though, and that's definitely a feature this season. He appears to be a little jaded, and that's a problem. If he's not capable of inspiring the players, then perhaps it's time for someone else to be given the opportunity to lead?

Ultimately, the minimum requirement of any LFC player is to fight for the shirt; that is not happening enough right now, and I don't see anyone at the club - either on or off the pitch - capable of changing that.

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10/25/2014 06:00:00 am

Possible LFC XI vs. Hull: BR to make huge €20m mistake? Surprise up-front?

It's all doom and gloom for Liverpool at the moment, right? Well, it depends on how you look at things. Yes, the club's start to the season is comparatively poor, but the Reds are still joint fourth in the table (two points ahead of both Arsenal and Spurs), which, given the circumstances, is actually quite encouraging. Hull City are up next, and it's another must-win game for LFC, and a golden opportunity to consolidate a place in the top four.

Forget the Real Madrid game; the Champions League is just an added bonus.

Like last year, the one and only goal this season is to finish in the top four, and despite a series of underwhelming performances, Liverpool are right on track to achieve that goal.

Indeed, after all is said and done, the club is only three points behind 2nd-placed Man City, and with the greatest respect, it's extremely unlikely that Southampton and West Ham will remain in the Champions League places for long.

It's absolutely vital that Liverpool win home games, and a victory over Hull will be a timely boost for club. As such, I'd like to see the following team start the game:

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

Manquillo - Skrtel -- Lovren ---- Moreno

---------------- Allen

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

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

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

* Lovren and Skrtel kept a clean-sheet in the second half of the Madrid game. Okay, that may be clutching at straws a little, but I'll take it! The partnership is only going to improve if they keep playing together, so there's no point in changing things around. Just let Lovren and Skrtel build a rhythm and understanding together, and they'll come good

* I'm sure many fans expect Rodgers to drop Balotelli after the shirt-swap fiasco, but that is not a credible football decision. In my view, he played well against Madrid, and the shirt-swap things is utterly irrelevant in the context of whether he should start the next league game.

Plus, if Rodgers drops Balotelli, it will be bad man-management; the media will have a field day, and it will just fuel the spurious 'Balotelli on borrowed time' narrative currently being peddled by the tabloids. BR must surely aware of this, and if he still dumps him on the bench, it will be tantamount to throwing the striker to the wolves.

* The presence of Allen in the team made little difference against Madrid, but I'd still take him ahead of Emre Can, who has (IMO) shown nothing of note since arriving in the summer.

* Glen Johnson should make way for Manquillo. The Spanish youngster is the future, so blood him now, and let him build a rapport with Skrtel, Lovren, and Moreno.

Predicting a 2-0 victory for Liverpool, Reds legend Mark Lawrenson told the BBC:

"Although this Liverpool team is short of goals, they should have enough about them to get the three points".

In theory, yes, but that's not always the way it works out. On paper, Liverpool are the far superior team, and the team can't beat Hull City at home, then serious questions need to be asked about Rodgers' ability to prepare and motivate the players.

My prediction: 2-1 to LFC.

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10/24/2014 10:44:00 pm

Transfer Shock: Angry €18m star desperate to quit LFC after Madrid humiliation. Good news?

Fabio Borini is a dead-man walking at Anfield, and everyone can see it but him. Until now, that is. Liverpool desperately tried to offload the Italian over the summer, but he stubbornly vowed to stick it out and fight for his place, but events over the last week have reportedly forced Borini to finally see the light.

According to Italian newspaper La Gazetta Dello Sport today:

* Borini is 'furious' about being dumped from the squad for the last two games (QPR and Real Madrid)

* He is barely on speaking terms with Brendan Rodgers.

* Borini wants out of Anfield in January. Inter Milan, Sampdoria, and Fiorentina are all interested.

Quite how Gazetta have this info is anyone's guess, but if it's true, then Borini's ire is certainly understandable. With LFC's strikers misfiring, he probably thought he'd get some game time against Madrid, and being dumped from the squad for such a massive game is a personal humiliation for the Italian.

That said, it's not as if Borini has done anything to warrant inclusion in the squad. He contributes nothing to LFC, and his stats this season categorically prove that:

* Passing accuracy: 64% (Worst in the squad)
* 0 goals/assists
* 0 tackles, clearances, or blocks.
* 1 key pass in 3 games.
* Overall: 2 goals in 23 games for LFC.

If €18m-rated Borini follows through with his threat, then it's ultimately a good thing for Liverpool. The club has been trying to sell him for a while, and Rodgers' ongoing marginalisation of the Italian may (indirectly) achieve that goal.

In a roundabout way, it's job done for Liverpool! It's a surprising U-turn from Borini, who has stubbornly and repeatedly refused to countenance a transfer. Every player has a breaking point, though, and Borini appears to have reached his.

Over the summer, Liverpool reportedly blocked loan moves to some 'very important clubs', but hopefully, the Reds will reverse this policy in January.

After all, what's the point in keeping an unhappy player at the club, especially someone who's never going play? Just let Borini go already, even if it is on loan.

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10/24/2014 08:00:00 pm

Transfer Farce: Balague reveals the 'true' reason LFC rejected chance to sign Valdes

Last week, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insisted that Liverpool had no plans to sign Barcelona legend Victor Valdes, and now, it seems that Liverpool's loss is set to be Manchester United's considerable gain.

According to reports this week:

* Valdes is currently training with Manchester United.

* Valdes' Agent met with United officials on Thursday.

* Van Gaal has offered the Spaniard a three-year deal.

Earlier this month, Liverpool reportedly offered Valdes a 4-day fitness trial, but when asked about this, his Agent dismissed the rumour. He told Spanish newspaper Sport:

"Liverpool have not offered us the chance to train with them for four days. And we have not rejected the offer, because it is false. That offer was never made to us by Brendan Rodgers nor by Liverpool at any moment."

So, what went wrong with the proposed Valdes deal? According to Spanish pundit Guillem Balague, Liverpool's increasingly risk-averse transfer policy got in the way. In his column today, Balague noted:

"What is true is that some of those around Brendan Rodgers were not convinced that Valdes was the ideal choice for the club and as soon as things started to get a bit tetchy, Rodgers found himself with enough reasons not to take the chance".

Reading between the lines, it looks to me like Liverpool were interested in Valdes, but spent too long procrastinating, which allowed Man Utd to swoop in and take advantage of the situation.

Typical LFC, really.

The Reds desperately need a top-class goalkeeper to replace the consistently unconvincing Simon Mignolet, and if the club loses Valdes to Manchester United, it will be a huge blow, which will essentially strengthen United, and weaken LFC.

Even with his recent injury, Valdes is (IMO) a risk worth taking. Liverpool should've just handed the Spaniard a deal until the end of the season, during which time he'd either prove himself (and earn a permanent deal), or fail due to the long-term effect of his ACL injury.

To be honest, Liverpool have played right into Man United's hands, here, and it's pretty embarrassing.

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10/24/2014 02:52:00 pm

Play Me or I Quit: 'Incredible' €12m LFC star threatens to leave Liverpool for 'another club'. Let him go?

Over the last year, Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has plummeted down the pecking order at Anfield, and with his first team status now a distant memory, the Brazilian has made it clear that if things don't change, he'll seek a transfer away.

Lucas has started only three games so far this season, and when asked about his future on Wednesday, he warned:

“I want to play. I need to find a solution either at Liverpool or at another club. [if] I don’t find space at Liverpool, I should start to make a move".

Lucas also confirmed that Napoli tried to sign him over the summer:

“There was something with Napoli but it wasn’t a positive situation for both parties. Despite this, it’s true that Benitez always had great faith in me.”

This seems to confirm a report over the summer from Italian newswire Sportmediaset, which claimed that Liverpool agreed a €12m loan-to-buy-deal with Napoli, which ultimately collapsed.

Lucas - recently hailed by Rodgers for his 'incredible' attitude - is a model professional, but unfortunately, he is now literally redundant at Anfield. His role no longer exists, and he is (arguably) not suited to Rodgers' preferred style of play.

Plus, with Gerrard, Can, Henderson, and Joe Allen clearly ahead of him in the pecking order, the Brazilian's chances of regular first team action will continue to be limited this season, so the best thing for him to do is move on.

Lucas's comments are a little surprising, though. He's basically delivered a very public ultimatum to Rodgers, and also hinted that the manager is not showing enough faith in his ability. I doubt Rodgers will be impressed with this veiled warning, but Lucas is probably resigned to leaving, so maybe feels he can be a little more brazen.

Unlike Glen Johnson - another relic of the Benitez era - I still think he has a part to play in the first team. If the Reds play Gerrard further forward, I'd still take Lucas over Can, or Allen in defensive midfield.

Gerrard and Lucas can (IMO) perform effectively in the same team, bit only if they're deployed separately, and not as a central midfield partnership. Lucas clearly thrives on the manager having faith in his ability, and if Rodgers gave him a run of games, it could be beneficial for LFC.

After all, one of the recurring problems at Anfield is lack of adequate protection for the back four, and Lucas has proven in the past that he is capable of doing a great job at DM.

He still needs to be replaced, though, and a top-class DM should be a transfer priority next summer.

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10/24/2014 07:55:00 am

'He's like Xavi': €15m 'God' who loves Liverpool confirms transfer 'visits'. Anfield-bound?

Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for €15m-rated Norwegian starlet Martin Odegaard, and this week, the coveted young attacker has confirmed that he is actively seeking a move to a top club.

In July, multiple reports claimed that:

* Brendan Rodgers sent scouts to watch the youngster in action.

* Liverpool then contacted Stromsgodset to negotiate a possible transfer.

When asked on Wednesday about interest from Liverpool, and Manchester United, Odegaard told reporters:

"It is correct. There might be some club visits after the season. It is because I want to be sure about an eventual choice in the future. Then you got to visit them and get a feeling about them. In case I shall leave, it should be to play on a higher level".

Odegaard is a self-confessed Liverpool fan, and so the chances are that one of the 'visits' he speaks of will be to Anfield. Indeed, when asked recently about speculation linking him with a move to Anfield, he told Dagbladet:

“Liverpool is my favourite club. That is not to say that I dream to play for them. I’m thriving at Stromsgodset and feel that I can develop myself right here.”

Odegaard is one of Europe's most coveted young players, and his father confirmed this in September, when he told Verdens Gang:

"I can't name the clubs, but almost regardless of who you name, they have been in contact with us"

Some info about Odegaard:

* Trained with Man United and Bayern Munich last year.
* Current contract expires in 2015.
* 5 goals/3 assists in 20 apps for Stromsgodset.
* Turns 16 in December.
* Real Madrid reportedly made a €15m bid over the summer.

* 2014: Broke 104-year old record to become the youngster player to ever feature for the Norway national team (15 years and 253 days).

* Broke another record recently when he became the youngest player to ever feature in a European Championship game.

On Sunday, Odegaard showed why he's so coveted by scoring scored in Stromsgodset's 2-1 league victory over Lillestrom.



Over the weekend, Scandinavian football expert and scout Fabrizio Bertuzzi hailed Odegaard as 'a talented and creative midfielder' with 'impressive maturity', and made another bold claim about the youngster's ability:

"I am not surprised Barcelona are interested. He is like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and features a mix of both players. Despite being an adolescent he is almost a semi-god of football."

As is usually the case with most promising young attacking players, Odegaard is often compared to Lionel Messi (and risibly referred to as the 'Norwegian Messi'), but in a recent interview, he dismissed the comparisons:

“It’s very flattering to get so much praise, but one shouldn’t compare himself with players as good as that. However I do look up to a lot of footballers and try to improve by looking at what they do, and Messi is one of them.”

Maybe it's just me, but from the footage above, there something 'David Beckham' about the way Odegaard moves around the field. He seems unbelievably confident and assured for someone so young, and he definitely looks older than 15 (!)

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10/24/2014 01:56:00 am

Mega-Deal: LFC close to signing 'lethal' striker after FSG approve huge €40m offer

Earlier this month, reports in Italy claimed that Liverpool put in a €28m summer bid for Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain. The Serie A club rejected the offer, but with the Reds struggling to replace Luis Suarez's goals, Brendan Rodgers is seemingly determined to sign the Argentina striker.

According to several reports today:

* Liverpool have put in a new €40m (£31.2m) bid for Higuain.

* The Reds are 'close' to sealing the deal.

* Rodgers is confident he Higuain will sign for LFC ahead of Arsenal.

Reports in Italy suggest that Higuain - described by Andrea Pirlo as a 'lethal' striker - is unsettled at the club, and Rafa Benitez dropped him from the starting line-up for Thursday's Europa League clash with Young Boys.

When asked about Benitez decision, Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon denied that ongoing transfer talk had anything to do with the decision. He told Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato:

"There's no tension with Higuain - he is a great professional. The decision today is simply a matter of squad rotation."

Club President Aurelio De Laurentis recently confirmed that Higuain has €100m buyout clause in his contract, but no club is ever going to meet that, and €40m should be enough to persuade the Serie A club to sell...unless, of course, Liverpool get outbid.

It's unclear whether Liverpool put in the initial summer offer before or after the signing of Mario Balotelli, but given how late in the window the deal happened, the probability is that it came before the Reds splashed £16m on the controversial striker.

I doubt there are many Reds fans who'd take Balotelli over Higuain. With his always-in-motion mobility, work ethic, and ability to get in behind defences, the Argentine is far more suited to Liverpool's style of play thanBalotelli, though it's still early days for the Italian, and over time, he may prove to be a great signing.

Higuain's stats for Napoli so far are pretty formidable:

* 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.

Anfield legends John Aldridge and John Barnes are massively in favour of signing Higuain. Last season, 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 a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldo noted:

"I like the look of Gonzalo Higuain. He would be brilliant for us, but would he come? And how much would be cost?"

I don't currently see the incentive for Higuain to join Liverpool. The club is struggling this season, and may be out of the Champions League by January. Plus, if Arsenal enter the fray, the lure of London may be prove to be too much of an attraction.

Additionally, after Rodgers basically wasted £120m over the summer, I can't see FSG giving him another €40m in January. That said, the group has to protect its investment, and failure to qualify for the Champions League will be a massive blow, especially with the development of Anfield to pay for.

As such, FSG may gamble, and hope that signing a top class striker will propel Liverpool into the Champions League. If, however, Rodgers signs Higuain, and still fails to qualify, then his job will surely be on the line...

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10/23/2014 09:41:00 pm

Transfer Rip-Off: Ex-Pro blasts LFC for paying 'way too much' for £46m duo. Agree?

Liverpool's poor start to the season continued last night with a 3-0 home defeat to Real Madrid, and once again, none of Brendan Rodgers' new signings made any specific, measurable impact on the tame. So far, the net return on the club's £120m summer investment is three measly goals, which, by any standard, is extremely worrying. Much of that outlay is LFC's standard overpayment on players, and according to Southampton legend Gordon Watson, the Reds grossly overpaid for two specific players.

In a recent interview with the Daily Echo, Watson argued:

“We might have paid too much for Shane [Long], but Liverpool paid way too much for Adam Lallana. They also paid way too much for Lovren"

Prior to signing Lallana, I argued against spending £26m on him, and my view remains the same. Lallana is a very good player, but is really worth more than the likes of Kroos, and Rakitic, both of whom have hit the ground running for their respective teams? To be fair to Lallana, he missed pre-season, so he's still getting up to speed, but his one goal aside, his actual impact on LFC's games so far is negligible.

As for Lovren - it's typical LFC, really. The Croatian was heavily linked with a move to Anfield during the summer 2013 transfer window. The club dragged its feet, and he ended up joining Southampton for £8m. Fast forward a year, and Liverpool splurge £20m on a player they could've got for (comparative) peanuts.

To add insult to injury, LFC dropped £18m on Mamadou Sakho, so overall, the club has (arguably) wasted a combined £30m: £18m on Sakho, and the extra £12m on Lovren.

Abject fee negotiation aside, I genuinely believe that Lallana and Lovren (plus Moreno) are the most likely of all Rodgers' summer signings to be long-term successes at Anfield. Both are enduring tough starts to their Liverpool careers, but when all is said and done, they're quality players, and that will (hopefully) shine through with time.

It's a bit of a cliche now, but Jordan Henderson is a prime example of LFC seemingly overpaying for a player who eventually came good.

Here's hoping Lallana and Lovren follow a similar career trajectory...Rodgers' job may well depend on it.

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10/23/2014 06:30:00 pm

LFC Alert: Owen urges BR to 'pay extra' for €12m 'monster' striker. Replace Balotelli?

In stark contrast to misfiring striker Mario Balotelli, 'monster' €12m summer signing Divock Origi now has 6 goals/assists in 11 appearances for Lille, and ex-Red Michael Owen insists that Liverpool should do everything possible to cut short the Belgian's loan deal in January.

After Liverpool's 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid last night, Owen tweeted:

"If I was Brendan Rodgers I would pay an extra few million and try to get Origi to the club six months earlier than originally agreed".

According to recent reports, this is precisely what Rodgers is trying to do, with the Liverpool Echo claiming that the manager is willing to pay a 'big fee' to make it happen.

For me, recalling Origi - a 19 year old with zero experience of the Premier League - is tantamount to an admission of total and utter transfer failure on Rodgers' part, and after spending over £200m in two years, the Reds should not be hoping that a comparatively untested teenager can come in save the club's season (!)

Brendan Rodgers recently claimed that Origi 'will be world class' at some point in the future, but right now, he's proven very little. Scoring goals in (leisurely-paced) Ligue One is easier than consistently making a mark in the Premier League, and there's no guarantee that Origi will be able to replicate his current form in England.

Taking everything into consideration, though, I can see the logic in bringing Origi back early.

* Sturridge will inevitably get injured again, and for every spell on the sidelines, he'll need time to get back up to full match-fitness. Having a young, fit, pacy striker to pick up the slack during Sturridge's downtime is clearly a benefit.

* Balotelli, Borini, and Lambert have ONE goal between them all season. This is a disaster of epic proportions, and if it continues over the next couple of months, then Liverpool will be in real trouble.

* After spending £120 in the summer, it's doubtful that FSG will hand Rodgers another £30m-£40m in January for another striker, especially given his poor judgement in the transfer market. Liverpool already own Origi, so it makes sense to focus on the cheaper option, which is to pay a fee and bring him in early.

If Liverpool had Origi from the beginning of the season instead of, and/or alongside Balotelli, it's possible he may have made a bigger impact. The Belgian is far more suited to playing as a lone-striker, and with his pace and movement, he's capable of getting-in behind defences, which is not Balotelli's forte.

I'd still prefer to see the Reds sign a proven goalscorer in January, but beggars can't be choosers, and Origi is looking like the most realistic option right now.

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10/23/2014 06:26:00 am

Anfield Exit: Boss confirms CL giants 'need' to sign exciting £6m LFC star. Sell?

In September, Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato claimed that Liverpool have agreed to sell to AC Milan, with the Italian giants offering the marginalised attacker a 4-year deal worth €1m a year. Suso is constantly ignored by Brendan Rodgers, so a move clearly makes sense, but is there any truth to this particular rumour?

When asked this week about the club's alleged interest in Suso, Milan Chief Adriano Galliani told reporters:

“We need to strengthen. Suso is out of contract and will tell us if he wants to change his team or stay where he is".

This is tacit confirmation that Milan are interested in Suso, and with the 'top class' youngster soon to be out of contract, he's in a strong position to make the right decision about the future.

The treatment of Suso is disappointing, but it's nothing new. In November 2012, Rodgers substituted him in the 38th minute of LFC's home game with Wigan, which seemed unduly harsh. Subbing players off in the first half of games is always embarrassing, and as I argued at the time, Rodgers cold've just waited a measly 7 minutes until half-time. It's not as if LFC were in danger of losing the game.

£6m-rated Suso - hailed by John Aldridge as 'magnificent', and 'a joy to watch' - clearly has a lot of talent, and with the right coaching/development, he could become a top class player. Alas, Rodgers doesn't seem interested in committing to the attacker's first-team development, and that may ultimately lead to Suso quitting the club.

Suso has stuck it out over the last four years; he's been loyal, and patiently waited for his chance. Well, for the sake of his career, he should (IMO) leave Anfield ASAP. Rodgers clearly doesn't rate him, and the £20m purchase of Lazar Markovic is yet another indirect vote of no-confidence.

As such, why stay? Rodgers is unlikely to suddenly change his approach and start playing Suso regularly, so there's no point hanging around...right?

Author:

10/23/2014 01:12:00 am

Urgent Deal: BR desperate to sign 'explosive' Brazil star to replace £9m LFC misfit

Another day, another defensive horror show from Liverpool. Real Madrid tore the Reds a proverbial 'new one' at Anfield last night, and once again, Simon Mignolet (who cost LFC £9m in 2013) made a mistake that led to an opposition goal. The sooner he is replaced, the better, and with the Victor Valdes deal apparently dead in the water, Brendan Rodgers has reportedly highlighted an alternative option.

This week, The Mirror reports that:

* Rodgers is 'frantically' searching for a replacement for Mignolet.

* Liverpool are now planning to make a move for Norberto Murara Neto, aka 'Neto'.

* The Brazilian is allegedly willing to accept £20,000-per-week and could be available at a bargain price.

When asked this week about his future, Neto seemed to rule out a move away from Serie A. He told reporters:

"I am not thinking about the renewal. I’m just concentrating on my work and being in good form. The club would like me to renew straight away but we haven’t reached an agreement yet. Fiorentina remains my first choice.”

Neto's Stats:

* 2014-15: Played 7
* Goals conceded: 5 (1 every 1.4 games)
* Clean Sheets: 4

* 2013-14: Played 49
* Goals conceded: 51 (1 every 1.04 games)
* Clean Sheets: 16 (1 every 3 games)

* TOTALS: (Fiorentina) - Played 70
* Goals conceded: 72
* Clean Sheets: 25 (1 every 2.8 games)

Neto's clean sheet record is quite impressive, but over his career, his goals-conceded per-game ratio is not the greatest. However, last season, he conceded fewer goals (51 in 49 games) than Mignolet (53 in 40 games), so at a basic level, the Brazilian is clearly an upgrade.

Former Fiorentina goalkeeper Sébastien Frey certainly believes that Neto is a top-class 'keeper. In an interview earlier this year, he raved:

“I trained for a few months with Neto and he his is naturally explosive, and I think the Italian school helped him grow even more. He can become one of the best goalkeepers in Serie A.”

Is Neto the answer, or should Liverpool try and sign a proven, world-class goalkeeper (like Iker Casillas, for example, who is currently being linked with a move to Anfield)?

Author:

10/22/2014 09:13:00 pm

Photo: Furious BR subs Balotelli for HT shirt-swap with Real Madrid star. Embarrassment?

Balotelli puts his foot in it again (!) The increasingly maligned striker reportedly swapped shirts with Real Madrid's Pepe at half-time, which prompted angry Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to pull him out of the game for the second half. You couldn't make it up!

According to Phil Neville on BBC 5 Live:

"There are some things you don't do, when you are 3-0 down in the Champions League. You don't go swapping shirts in full view."

Photo of the alleged shirt-swap with £20m-rated Pepe.



Rodgers angry reaction comes as absolutely no surprise.

In December, Sakho and Coutinho swapped shirts with Samuel Eto'o and Oscar at half-time during LFC's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, a needlessly reverent gesture towards two players who cynically scythed down Reds' stars Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva at different points in the game.

When told of the shirt-swap after the game, Rodgers barked:

"Well one, I didn’t know that, and two, thanks for telling me because I don’t like that.”

I've defended Balotelli this season, but he's made a silly mistake here. A Champions League game is an adversarial contest; it's supposed to be competitive, and for the duration of the game, the players are - for all intents and purposes - enemies, and should be fighting hard to to retain the competitive spirit for a full ninety minutes.

Swapping shirts at half-time is an absolute joke, and (arguably) gives the opposition team a psychological advantage. It's also a tacit admission of defeat - players should be fired up to win the game; they should be angry about losing, and thinking about ways to get back into the game.

To be honest, it's an embarrassment. That said, Coutinho and Sakho made the same mistake, and neither received the hysterical barracking that Balotelli is almost certain to endure after the game. Yes, he made a mistake, but it shouldn't be blown out of proportion.

As for the first-half - in my view, the Balotelli had a few good moments in the first half, but once again, Rodgers ridiculously played him as a lone-striker, which just doesn't work!

Why can't Rodgers see that?! The manager deserves all the criticism coming his way after the Madrid game, and if he persists in playing Balotelli up-front on his own, then he only has himself to blame if his job comes under threat.

Author:

10/22/2014 06:53:00 pm

LFC 0-3 Madrid: Abject £136m fail at Anfield as BR blows it in the Champions League.

Rumours of Mario Balotelli's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Despite calls for Brendan Rodgers to drop Balotelli, the Italian is - as expected - in the starting line-up for tonight's titanic clash with Real Madrid.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Allen, Gerrard, Hendo, Coutinho, Sterling, Balotelli

SUBS: Toure, Manquillo, Can, Lallana, Markovic, Lambert, Jones

MADRID: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Rodriguez, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema

SUBS: Navas, Khedira, Chicharito, Carvajal, Nacho, Illarra, Medran

That is a seriously frightening Madrid team (!)

As for Liverpool - £36m duo Adam Lallana and Emre Can have seemingly paid the price for Sunday's lacklustre performance against QPR, which is fair enough, as neither player made much impact during the game.

Jose Enrique doesn't even make the match-day squad, which comes as no surprise after his long-ball, 58% passing-accuracy horror show against QPR.

The (welcome) inclusion of Coutinho hopefully means that Rodgers will go with a 422 diamond, with Sterling playing alongside Balotelli; Gerrard playing further forward, and Allen taking the defensive midfield role.

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

Johnson ----- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Moreno

-------------------- Allen

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

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

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

Rodgers may also decide to go with 4231, which will be surprising considering that formation has failed for Liverpool this season. Plus, it will mean Balotelli playing up-front on his own, which also doesn't work.

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

Johnson ----- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Moreno

---------------- Allen - Gerrard

-------- Hendo --- Coutinho ---- Sterling

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

My prediction is a still 3-1 to Madrid, but that's being conservative...

EDIT: 23:30PM

A sobering thought: £136m worth of Rodgers' signings on display against Madrid, and Liverpool looked like they'd *regressed* from last season...

Author:

10/22/2014 06:51:00 am

Possible XI vs. Madrid: Huge pre-game boost for LFC; BR to shock with €20m surprise?

After struggling to beat the bottom club in the Premier League at the weekend, Liverpool now face the prospect of trying to overcome Real Madrid, the reigning Champions of Europe. With the club's defence leaking goals like there's no tomorrow, it doesn't get much tougher than this.

On the injury front, Daniel Sturridge remains on the sidelines, and it remains to be seen whether Alberto Moreno will return to the squad.

The Spaniard missed Liverpool's trip to QPR, but it's unclear whether he is injured, or simply rested by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

On the plus side, Madrid will be without Gareth Bale, and Sergio Ramos, with is great news for LFC. Alas, with the likes of Ronaldo, and James Rodriguez in the squad, Real have more than enough quality to make up for the loss of Bale.

The big question of the day is Mario Balotelli: will LFC's €20m signing start the game, or will Rodgers spring a major surprise and drop the Italian for Rickie Lambert, or Fabio Borini?

In a post yesterday, I argued that it's a mistake to drop Balotelli for such a big, prestigious game, and I maintain that view. The Italian has plenty of big game experience, and that may come in handy against a team like Madrid. I'd like to see the following line-up:

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

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

-------------------- Allen

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

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

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

* Emre Can didn't make much of an impression at QPR, so I don't see him retaining his place in the starting line-up.

* Coutinho deserves to start after his excellent goal at the weekend. He's been struggling recently, and there's no point curtailing his momentum. Rodgers will probably decide to go with Adam Lallana, though.

* Due to his experience, I suspect Johnson will ultimately get the nod over Manquillo.

There's also the possibility that Rodgers will revert to 4231, and play with two holding midfielders in a bid to counteract the attacking threat of Ronaldo, Rodriguez et al:

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

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

---------------- Allen -- Gerrard

-------------------- Hendo

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

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

Reds icon Jamie Carragher insists that Rodgers should drop Balotelli for the game, speaking to Sky Sports this week, he suggested the following 4231 line-up:

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

Johnson ---------- Skrtel ----- Lovren ---- Moreno

------------------ Gerrard --- Allen

-------- Henderson ----- Lallana ----- Coutinho

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

Carra explained:

"I wouldn’t play Balotelli - I would play Raheem Sterling [as a] centre forward or a false nine. I think it’s important Liverpool have three players [in front of Gerrard] who work and get after Real Madrid and I’d have Coutinho in a wide area".

Ronaldo is obviously going to be a massive threat, but in his Tuesday column for the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool legend John Aldridge dismissed the possibility of Rodgers deploying a man-marker. He argued:

"Brendan Rodgers will not sacrifice a player to man mark Ronaldo or Modric. That is not his style. The Reds will look to play their own game but they know they cannot allow themselves to be exposed in certain areas when they lose the ball".

Surprisingly, Real Madrid have never scored a competitive goal against Liverpool, so here's hoping the Reds can extend that amazing record tonight. It's highly unlikely, but you never know...

My prediction: 3-1 to Madrid (Sorry, but the defence is a shambles, and I can't see that changing tonight)

Author:

10/21/2014 11:15:00 pm

'He's like Busquets': BR fighting to sign record-breaking €40m Porto star. Replace Lucas?

Liverpool are reportedly going head-to-head with a number of different clubs for Porto starlet Rúben Neves, yet another untested young player.

According to The Mirror today:

"Liverpool have joined the chase for teenage midfielder Ruben Neves, [who] has been watched three times by the Reds this season"

Some info about Neves:

* 17 years old. Turns 18 in March.
* Plays as a defensive midfielder.
* 1 goal in 10 games for Porto.

* 46 apps for various Portugal youth teams.
* 3 apps for the Portugal U21 team (1 goal)
* 2014: Captained Portugal's U17s to the European Championship SF.
* Selected as one of the 10 'Talents of the tournament'.

* Youngest goalscorer in Porto's history. After scoring on his debut against Maritimo, Neves told reporters: "It was a dream debut, not only for my performance and goal but also for the win. I'm going to keep this forever and I hope it will be the beginning of a very successful career."

A profile on UEFA.com describes Neves' playing style as follows:

"Neves impresses with his passing precision, vision and astute positioning, showing great maturity for his age. Although commonly employed as a defensive midfielder, he shows no fear in getting forward, leading attacks and trying to score with his powerful right foot".

Barcelona attacker Cristian Tello is currently on-loan at Porto, and in a recent interview, he waxed lyrical about Neves' talent, and compared him to one of Barcelona's best players. He raved:

"Neves is fantastic with the ball, has great positioning on the field, and is aggressive, with a good job. With some small differences' he plays very much like Sergio Busquets"

Porto are seemingly aware of the growing interest in Neves, and the club has moved quickly to ensure that he won't leave on the cheap. This week, the Portuguese giants confirmed that Neves has signed a new deal:

"Rúben Neves [has] renewed his contracts with FC Porto this Friday. The Portuguese youngster will stay until June 2017, with a release fee of 40 million euros".

Liverpool have dozens of promising youngster at the academy, but very few quality defensive midfielders are on the verge of breaking through, so increasing the club's option in that area could be a good thing.

The Reds could also benefit from grooming a long-term successor for Lucas Leiva...



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