PREDICTION LEAGUE: Latest League Tables | Rules

01 September 2015

Last-Ditch Deals? Journo at Melwood confirms transfer 'interest' in £65k-a-week misfit and £7m defender

With less than an hour remaining of the summer 2015 transfer window, there's still time for some last-minute ins and outs, and the Liverpool-based speculation today is that Tiago Ilori and Jose Enrique could be on the way out of LFC. What are the chances of one or both players leaving Anfield before the 6pm transfer deadline?

12pm: Sky Sports reported:

"According to Sky sources, West Bromwich Albion are closing in on a deal to sign Liverpool defender Jose Enrique"

1pm: The Liverpool Echo claimed:

Earlier today, Ilori [Cost: £7m] rejected Sunderland. Villa have now also made an offer"

At 16:56 (30 minutes ago), Sky Sports reporter Ben Ransom delivered the following update from Liverpool's training ground:

"Tiago Ilori has certainly been interesting a couple of Premier League clubs, including Aston Villa, but there has been no movement at this stage.

"Jose Enrique to West Brom is looking less likely because he’s only just left Liverpool’s training ground. There was also some interest from Sunderland".




I personally don't have a problem with Ilori staying. Liverpool's defensive problems remain acute, and there's a strong chance that the Portuguese defender will get a few chances to impress throughout the rest of the season.

Enrique, however, is a busted flush. He's on massive wages (£65k-a-week), and despite Liverpool's obvious weakness at left back, the Spaniard is not really a viable - or remotely reliable - option.


Liverpool legend Jan Molby is desperate to see Enrique moved on, and in a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, he urged the Spaniard to find a new club:

"I find it amazing [Enrique] wants to stay there's no chance of playing. The writing is on the wall. Enrique barely played last season and now he’s training away from the first-team squad. Why not just move on?"

There's still forty minutes to go, so a deal is still possible, but unless West Brom can match Enrique's salary, I doubt he'll move on.

Author: Jaimie K

Liverpool Update: 'Excellent' £20m attacker explains why he 'said yes' to signing for Fenerhbahce

On Sunday, Liverpool confirmed Lazar Markovic's one-year loan deal to Fenerbahce, and after signing on the dotted line, the Serbian - who cost the Reds £20m last summer - has now revealed the reasons behind his decision sign for the Turkish giants.

Speaking to Fenerbahce TV after sealing the deal, Markovic confirmed that 'other teams' tried to sign him, but insisted:

"Once an offer from Fenerbahce arrived, I said 'yes'. One of the reasons I'm here is that Vitor Pereira is the coach of Fenerbahce, and I know he is a good and decent man. Plus, Fenerbahce-Galatasaray is a big derby, and it is followed in Serba".

Markovic - hailed by Rodgers in pre-season for his 'excellent' finishing - also outlined what the Fenerbahce fans can expect over the next year:

"I am a fast player, who can score goals and assist, and the fans will see that I am a good footballer".

It sounds as if Markovic feels like he has something to prove, and that's definitely the case, especially after wasting away on the bench and/ or being played out of position as a wing-back.

Rodgers is often lauded for the way he handles young players, but he arguably for it horribly wrong with Markovic. What is the point in spending £20m on a pacy winger and then playing him as a wing-back?

When a 20-year old is settling into a new country, and a new league, surely the manager should create an environment that allows the player to flourish?

Rodgers did the complete opposite, and made it difficult for Markovic to find his place in the team.

Then, when - shock horror - he didn't work out as a wing-back, Rodgers shattered his confidence by repeatedly leaving him on the bench and/or out of the squad completed.

Bravo! Superb man-management.


Markovic describes Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira as a 'decent and honest man', and to me, that could be construed as a subtle dig at Rodgers.

The Serb almost certainly expected to play as a winger/attacking midfielder (perhaps Rodgers even gave him assurances of this), and he probably feels a little betrayed after his nightmare season at Anfield.

Liverpool reportedly believe that 'Markovic has the talent to succeed at Anfield', but if he gets regular game-time in Turkey, will he even want to come back?

If Rodgers is still in charge, I very much doubt it.

Author: Jaimie K

Shock Transfer: €20k-a-week Liverpool flop who slammed Brendan Rodgers could sign for Prem new boys Watford

Well, this is one of the most surprising transfer stories of the summer. Premier League new boys Watford are reportedly in talks with AC Milan to sign ex-Liverpool attacker Suso on loan for the rest of the season.

According to SportItalia today, Watford are 'in negotiations' with Milan over a deal for Suso.

Italian newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport is also carrying the story, and claims:

"Milan are close to agreeing with Watford a loan deal for Suso, who has already rejected a loan move to Genoa this morning".

Suso left Anfield nine months ago, and at the time, the Spaniard insisted that he was 'very grateful to Liverpool' for giving him a chance to develop, but criticised Brendan Rodgers' refusal to give him a chance:

"Liverpool's offer did not satisfy me, economically nor in a sporting sense. I have grown, but I have not noticed a lot of trust in me. I wanted a change of scenery."

What else could Suso do but leave? Despite a good pre-season in the summer of 2014, Rodgers continued to ignore him, and even spent £20m on Lazar Markovic, when he could've easily used Suso in his place.

As it turns out, Markovic was a total waste of money, and after wasting away on the bench in the latter part of last season, Suso is finally breaking through at Milan, and has started 5 of the club's last 11 games.

History is repeating itself right now with Joao Carlos Teixeira:

* Like Suso, Teixeira had an excellent pre-season this summer (1 goal/3 assists, which is more productive than any other first-team player).

* Like Suso, Rodgers has ignored Teixeira for the new season, with the Portuguese not even granted a place on the bench.

* Meanwhile, younger, less experienced teenagers not only get a place on the bench, but are also granted Premier League game time (i.e. Rossiter).


Suso had no choice but leave Liverpool, and breaking into Milan's first team last season was no walk in the park, especially after playing just 40 minutes of football in the two years prior to signing for the Rossoneri.

Watford is a comparatively unglamorous destination, but if he performs well, Suso - who earns €20k-a-week at Milan - will reap the benefits.

As for Teixeira: reports today suggest that he is not going out on loan, but I have no doubt that he will follow Suso out of the door sooner rather than later.

Author: Jaimie K

Offer Made: Liverpool keen to agree late transfer for £7m star whose 'dream' is to 'play for Liverpool'

On Friday, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insisted that Liverpool would have a 'quiet' transfer deadline day, and it seems unlikely that the Reds will sign anyone in the next six hours. There could be a couple of outgoings, though, and reports today suggest that Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori could be set for a late transfer out of Anfield.

According to the Liverpool Echo today:

* Ilori has rejected a loan move to Sunderland.

* Aston Villa have now 'made an offer' and Liverpool are 'keen' for Ilori to head out on loan.

If the Reds want Ilori to go then it probably means that Rodgers doesn't see the 22-year old Portuguese defender as part of his plans for the upcoming season.

No surprise there, of course, but given the club's defensive situation, Ilori may feel that there's a chance he may get an opportunity this season:

* Lovren is still making mistakes, including a terrible howler against West Ham over the weekend.

* Sakho is injury prone, and if he pics up another issue, then there's obviously a chance for a back-up defender to challenge Lovren.

* Kolo Toure is ahead of Ilori, but all he needs is one chance to prove himself, and if he does well, there's every possibility that he'll keep him place (if, that is, Rodgers uses the merit system, and not price tags, to select defenders).

* Of course, the reverse is also true: if Ilori gets his chance, and he fails to deliver, that it will probably be curtains for his long-term Liverpool career.

Ilori - who cost Liverpool £7m in 2013 - definitely wants to stay at Liverpool. Last week, he told reporters:

"I want to play for Liverpool. That is my objective so I'm going to do everything to make that happen. I chose Liverpool over a few other teams and...to be at a club like this is a dream come true. The next step is playing for it".


Ilori has already rejected Sunderland, and if he really wants to 'play for Liverpool', then he'll probably reject Villa, although Villa Park is a far more attractive destination than the Stadium of Light.

Ilori is two years into his Liverpool career (such as it is), and like Teixeira, he's 22 years old, so now is the time to be challenging for first-team football at Anfield.

If there's no possibility of that ever happening, Liverpool should just sell Ilori outright, and forget about a loan, as it's arguably unfair to keep stringing the player along.

Author: Jaimie K

Anfield-bound? Boss confirms he'll sell 'incredible' €20m Liverpool target and reveals date of possible sale

Liverpool are currently linked with a deadline-day move for Andriy Yarmolenko, one of my favourite attacking players, but what are the chances of the prodigiously prolific Ukrainian leaving Dynamo Kiev in the next 24 hours?

According to an exclusive last night in Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato, Liverpool have a 'strong interest' in signing Yarmolenko, and are 'ready to pay' his €20m release clause.

After winning the league title last season with Kiev, Yarmolenko - hailed by Roberto Martinez for his 'incredible finishing' - confirmed that he plans to move on this summer. In June, he told reporters:

"Now is the perfect time to change clubs. I promised that until we become champions, I was not going anywhere. I kept my promise, we became champions. The president knows that I want to leave, I have repeatedly spoken about this".

Kiev President Igor Surkis isn't playing ball, though, and when asked on Monday about the possibility of Yarmolenko leaving for the Premier League, he told Velikiy Futbol:

"How can I sell him and put my team in a difficult position? With Yarmolenko we can do well in the Champions League. I will sell him if we are out of the Champions League in the winter, but if he wants to stay then that's his right".

A few days ago, Yarmolenko also appeared to contradict himself. When asked whether he's leaving this summer, he told reporters:

"I have a year left on my contract and I will wholeheartedly stay for its duration".

That is a double-edge sword, though. If Yarmolenko sees out his contract, then he'll be able to leave for nothing next summer, and given his talent, and age (25 - entering prime years), I sincerely doubt Kiev will want that to happen.

As much as I want Liverpool to seal this deal, I can't see it happening. With Rodger at the helm, it's entirely probable that he'll ruin Yarmolenko, just as he's ruined/misused/mismanaged many other attacking players.


If Yarmolenko signs, though, I want to see him in the team *in the right position* every single game without fail. He has never been injured, so there's zero excuse to keep him on the sidelines and/or rest him.

Additionally, the attacking section of the team should be built around him, not Coutinho, Milner, Henderson, and definitely not Lallana.

It may all be moot, though, as the Ukrainian has his heart set on another club. Last week, he told Spanish newspaper Sport:

"I am very grateful [or Arsenal's interest] but my dream is to play for Barcelona."

Barcelona are banned from signing anyone until January 2016, so if the Catalan club comes calling, then I'm sure Yarmolenko won't have a problem staying for another six months, which will make his President happy.

Author: Jaimie K

31 August 2015

Great News for LFC: €80m mega-deal for 'unstoppable' attacker nearly done as Man Utd go nuts in the transfer market

Over the years, Liverpool have wasted ridiculous amounts of money on the wrong players, and this continual dereliction of duty has (arguably) contributed to the club's failure to consistently qualify for the Champions League. Between them, Benitez, Dalglish, and Rodgers have wasted an incredible amount of money on dross, and many fans (myself included) are still unable to comprehend the thought process behind the decision to splurge £35m on Andy Carroll. I never thought the tomfoolery of the Carroll deal could be topped, but I'm pleased to report that Manchester United have now superseded Liverpool as the the transfer market's biggest buffoons.

At 6pm this evening (GMT), French newpaper L'Equipe claimed:

"Monaco have accepted a Manchester United bid of €80m [£58m] for the transfer of striker Anthony Martial. Monaco refused offers of €50m and €70 m before accepting the incredible [€80m] offer".

Le Parisien further claims that Martial is already in the UK, and has agreed personal terms with United.

€80m? Martial is 19 years old, with less than 50 senior games to his name. To put the transfer into perspective, consider the following:

* Martial will cost more than a whole host of proven top-class performers, including Zidane, Ibrahimovic, Sanchez, Higuain, Ozil, Aguero, Rodriguez, and Cavani.

* He'll cost only €8m less than Luis Suarez, who is has proven himself to be one of the world's top strikers.

Liverpool have wasted money on young players in the past (£20m on 20-year old Lazar Markovic, for example), but nothing in this universe of abject stupidity.

After splurging £60m on Angel Di Maria, and £13.7m in one year on Radamel Falcao's £265k-a-week wages (not to mention spending £30m on another teenager in Luke Shaw), you'd think that financial prudence may he on high on the Glazer's agenda, but clearly, that's not the case.

According to France U21 boss Pierre Mankowski, Martial is 'unstoppable', but spending €80m on potential is a gargantuan risk, and unless the youngster turns out to be Messi mk2, there's no way he's every going to live up to that price tag. It's a ridiculous, and irresponsible transfer fee, but it could turn out to be good news or Liverpool.

* Man United will almost certainly be Liverpool's main challengers for a place in the top four.

* Both teams are struggling for goals right now, and when it comes to the crunch, goal will be a deciding factor in the fight for a Champions League place.

* Liverpool have Benteke (proven in the Prem), and if Daniel Sturridge manages to stay fit, that's two excellent, experienced strikers capable of weighing-in with a shedload of goals.

* If Man United complete this signing, that'll give the club Rooney and Martial, and unless the youngster hits the ground running and scores 20+ goals in a new league (unlikely), United will continue to struggle up-front this season.

* In short: in the battle of the strikers, Liverpool should come out on top, which means the Reds have a superior chance of beating United into the top four.


As such, I really hope there's no last minute hitch to this deal. It's gloriously satisfying to see United getting it so wrong in the transfer market, and wasting so much money along the way.

If United were spending €80m on Cavani, Higuain, Benzema (or another striker of that quality), I'd be worried (just as I was when Ferguson signed Van Persie), but €80m on a unknown? Bring it on!

With any luck, Martial will crash and burn in the Prem, which will then contribute to Van Gaal's team dropping out of the top four, with Liverpool (hopefully) capitalising.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Martial will turn out to be the signing of the season, but the chance of that happening is negligible...

Right?

Author: Jaimie K

Done Deal: Liverpool officially 'confirm' transfer for £10m attacker who earns £10k-a-minute at Anfield

It's official: After (what seems like) years of trying to get him off the books, Fabio Borini has finally left Liverpool today to sign for Sunderland, with the transfer fee reported to be £10m.

LFC confirmation:

"Liverpool FC can today confirm that Fabio Borini has completed a permanent move to fellow Barclays Premier League outfit Sunderland".

Sunderland confirmation:

"Sunderland are delighted to announce the signing of Fabio Borini from Liverpool. The 24-year-old has signed a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light".

Dick Advocaat's reaction:

“Fabio is a great addition..and will make our front line stronger. He can play in a number of attacking positions which is a huge benefit to the team".

Lee Congerton's reaction (Sunderland Sporting Director):

“Fabio is a player who I’ve known since he was 15 years old and I was fortunate enough to help recruit him to Chelsea...and we are delighted to have him here on a permanent basis.”

Borini's reaction:

"I am delighted to be back at Sunderland. It is a club I know really well from my time here previously. It will be emotional for me to play at the Stadium of Light again and I can’t wait to get back on the pitch as a Sunderland player.”

£10m for Borini is great business, and means that Liverpool will recoup most of the Italian's initial transfer fee.


Borini in Numbers

* 110 weeks as a Liverpool player (One year at Sunderland)

* £11m Transfer fee.

* £55k-a-week salary (£6m over 110 weeks)

* £17m total cost to Liverpool(£11m transfer fee + £6m salary)

* 163 days out injured (31 games missed)

* 38 appearances overall.

* 6 goals/assists in 38 appearances (3 goals/3 assists).

* 1678 minutes played for LFC (Average 839 per LFC seasons).

* £5.6m cost-per-goal (£2.8 per goal/assist).

* £10K earned for every per minute of pitch time.

What a fiasco.

By all accounts, Borini worked hard in training (and on the pitch), and Rodgers basically sabotaged the player by constantly playing him out position and/or failing to give him a consistent chance.

However, even with those things in mind, It's fair to say that Borini is one of Brendan Rodgers' biggest transfer flops.

The moral of this lamentable story? Signing Italian players is a mistake...and, in most cases, trusting Rodgers with transfer funds will almost certainly lead to irreversible catastrophe.

Author: Jaimie K

'Waste of Space': Angry legend slates £85k-a-week Liverpool misfit, and Carra contradicts himself

Is Mario Balotelli the most despised player to ever turn out for Liverpool? Amongst ex-Reds, that definitely seems to be the case, and LFC legend Mark Lawrenson has proven that again with yet another dig at the on-loan Italian striker.

Prior to his arrival at Liverpool, a whole host of ex-Reds slated Balotelli [salary: £4.3m-a-year/£85k-a-week], and in his most recent column for the Liverpool Echo, Lawro shows that nothing has changed a year later. After the Italian sealed a loan deal to AC Milan, Lawro scathed:

"[Balotelli] is just a waste of space. No-one has any idea what is going on with ‘Super Mario’. In training, in attitude, it’s always about him".

Sounds to me like Lawro has been reading the totally unsubstantiated gossip being spread by allegedly reputable newspapers.

That said, Lawro's current view is comparatively tame compared to some of the vitriol hurled Balotelli's way over the last couple of years. Here is a selection of comments from ex-Reds:

* Graeme Souness: "[Balotelli] is a liability. He is the type of player who would get himself sent off after five minutes of a cup final, leaving his team-mates a man short for 85 minutes. Can you rely on him? The answer is: no".

* Alan Hansen: "He [is] a damaging distraction. When you are going for a title, Balotelli and everything that he brings with him goes against everything that you want down the final straight"

* Dietmar Hamann: "He's a distraction. The only reason he got away with his behaviour for so long was because he scored some important goals. If I was a manager or a player, I wouldn't want him in my team".

* Tommy Smith: "Mario Balotelli is a nutcase who would not have lasted five minutes in any dressing room I’ve been in".

* Jamie Redknapp: "Balotelli is like a volcano waiting to erupt, a bubbling cauldron of trouble with a giant risk of letting you down".

* Kenny Dalglish: "I think Balotelli got himself sent off. Sometimes if you look in the mirror, you get the answer. Sometimes he doesn't help himself. Sometimes he doesn't get the leeway. But if you help yourself you don't get that".


* Steve Nicol: "Balotelli is a guy who is not producing on the field, and he's making a mockery of the club off the field".

* Jaimie Carragher: "Balotelli was a major mistake. I still can't believe that they signed him. He is kidding some coaches if he gets a move to AC Milan". Hmmm. Carra 'still can't believe' Liverpool signed Balotelli? A year ago, he told the Daily Mail: "£16million for a 24-year-old who is Italy’s No. 1 striker looks a great deal".

In the interest of vindictive symmetry, I'll give the final word to Lawro, who's proven in the past that he is able to offer a fair and measured assessment of Balotelli:

* Mark Lawrenson: "Balotelli is an absolute disgrace. [He] thinks the whole world revolves around him. I can't think of a more destructive influence in the Premier League. He's not worth the aggravation, and doesn't do anything for dressing room harmony".

The knives are out for Balotelli (let's be honest, they've never been sheathed), and the cynical, rumour-mongering hatchet jobs by (amongst others) the Echo, and The Guardian are (arguably) a form of bullying.

Author: Jaimie K

£65m 'genius' raves: 'Sensational' Liverpool attacker is my 'favourite player' in the Premier League

In his final season at Anfield, Luis Suarez contributed an incredible 55 goals/assists in 37 games for Liverpool, and prior to his departure, he played alongside Philippe Coutinho, who (arguably) has the raw potential to develop into a player capable of making a similar impact. Coutinho continues to struggle for consistency at Anfield, but according to Suarez, the 'sensational' Brazilian is one of the best players in the Premier League.

When asked on Friday to name his favourite Premier League player, Suarez told UEFA officials:

"My favourite player at the moment in the Premier League is [Liverpool attacker] Philippe Coutinho".

After being (unfairly) sent off against West Ham, Coutinho will probably feel a little deflated at the moment, and that'll probably be compounded by the knowledge that he'll miss the upcoming Premier League clash with Manchester United.

However, he should take confidence from Suarez's faith in his ability - the Premier League is filled with top-class players, and if Coutinho stands out to thus extent, then he must be doing something right.

That said, if was a cynical person, and I *am* when it comes to football, I'd suggest that Suarez's seemingly innocent flattery is yet another nefarious attempt to tap Coutinho up ;-)

It wouldn't be the first time. In a May interview, Barca legend Ronaldinho - who spent 5 years at the Nou Camp - urged Coutinho to set his sights higher:

"I know what Barcelona look for in a player and Coutinho has those qualities. Coutinho would be the perfect fit [and] playing with Neymar, Messi, and Suarez [will] make him a better player".

Unfortunately for Liverpool, Coutinho idolises Ronaldinho, and he confirmed this in January, when he told the official LFC website:

"I’ve always enjoyed seeing Ronaldinho play and I watch videos of him to take as an inspiration."

Coutinho referenced Ronaldinho last season, too, when he named the former world 'player of the year' as one of his idols:

“My idols are Kaka and Ronaldinho, who play in the same position”


£65m Suarez - hailed by Steven Gerrard as an 'absolute genius' - won 4 trophies in his first season at Barcelona, and with Liverpool's ongoing struggles under Brendan Rodgers, it'll be no surprise when Coutinho inevitably starts casting a covetous (and envious) eye in the Catalan club's direction.

On thing's for sure: Coutinho has little chance of winning the league/Champions League under Rodger, and like Suarez, he's too good a player to waste his career on a manager who prioritises pressing/tackling/running over creative endeavour, and individual expression.

Is Coutinho destined for the Nou Camp?

Author: Jaimie K

Offer Accepted: Liverpool agree £10m transfer for 'exceptional' striker who wants move to Inter Milan

Another day, another Fabio Borini transfer rumour. Last week, Spurs were allegedly interested in signing Borini, but it now appears that the Italian has his heart set on a return to his homeland.

According to Sunday's edition of Italian newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport:

"Borini has become a really strong target for Inter, and the Italian striker is very interested in a transfer".

The Daily Mail further reports:

"Sunderland have now offered £8m plus a further £2m in bonus payments [for Borini], which has been accepted by Liverpool".

A move to Inter seems far more probable than a belated move to Sunderland, and if Borini - hailed by Rodgers in January for his 'exceptional' impact against Aston Villa - is happy to move, then that's great.

Quite why Sunderland are persisting with the pursuit is anyone's guess. Borini made it clear last year that he's not interested in signing for the Black Cats, and to be honest, who can blame him?

Sunderland is a massive step down from Liverpool, and the club is languishing at the foot of the Premier League table.

Additionally, Dick Advocaat is on a one-year contract, and there's no guarantee that he'll even make it to Christmas. None of this is conducive to attracting players.

With regards to the potential Inter transfer, the sticking point will inevitably come with the transfer/salary package:

* Borini is reportedly on £55k-a-week at Liverpool, and unless Inter pay his full salary (unlikely), he will probably reject the move and stay at Anfield.

* The other option is for Liverpool to subsidise Borini's salary, but that partly defeats the object of any transfer, and will mean that he's merely on loan, when the club probably want exorcise him permanently from the club.


* Liverpool are already subsidising Mario Balotelli's wages this season, and if a similar agreement is reached for Borini, then the club is basically being fleeced.

* Balotelli and Borini cost a combined £27m, and if the deal goes through, the two Milan clubs will benefit from that outlay whilst they pay peanuts for each player's salary.

* Additionally, a loan deal is a bad idea as Italian clubs rarely take up any option to buy.

As I see it, outside of a subsidised loan (or a surprise Sunderland U-turn by Borini) there's only one viable option open to Liverpool: Sell Borini for a cut-price fee (£5m-£7m)

Just take the loss; it'll sting, but if it gets Borini out of the door permanently, it'll be worth it.

Author: Jaimie K

30 August 2015

TMW Exclusive: Liverpool pushing to sign 'excellent' €20m attacker with 159 goals/assists in 260 games

Over the last couple of years, I've regularly called for Liverpool to sign Dynamo Kiev star Andriy Yarmolenko, and if reports in Italy are to be believed, it appears that Brendan Rodgers has finally seen the light.

According to an exclusive today in Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato:

* Liverpool have a 'strong interest' in signing Yarmolenko, and are 'ready to pay' his €20m release clause.

If this is true, then it's the best transfer news in years.

I've outlined Yarmolenko's qualities time and time again, and yes, I'm going to repeat myself again (my apologies to regular visitors!):

* 159 goals/assists in 260 games for Kiev (Goal/assist every 1.6 games | 20+ goals/assists every year for the last five seasons)

* Last Season: 19 goals/21 assists (40 G/A total) in 42 apps (Basically 1 goal/assist every single game).

* 19 goals in 49 games for the Ukraine national team.

* Tall (6'2) and strong, which is something Liverpool do not have in attack. Bar Henderson, all the club's attacking midfielders are on the small side, and don't have great physical strength.

* Most importantly: Yarmolenko - who is an 'excellent player' according to Kiev boss Sergei Rebrov - has never been injured, which shows he's robust enough to handle the Premier League. Plus, in the Ukraine, he's used to playing (and delivering the goods) in crappy weather.

So, why is Yarmolenko still playing in the Ukrainian league at the age of 25? Well, there's s simple answer to this: he's specifically chosen to remain in that league. Indeed, after winning the league in June, Yarmolenko told ESPN:

"I promised that until we become champions, I was not going anywhere. I kept my promise, we became champions".

Kiev last won the league in 2009, and as he states, Yarmolenko didn't want to leave the club without winning the title. Well, it took 6 years to achieve that, and the Ukrainian is clearly a man of his word.

As a comparison, consider Jackson Martinez:

* He didn't leave the Mexican league (arguably inferior to the Ukrainian league) until the age of 25.

* Using the specious logic of the anti-Yarmolenko argument, there must've been something wrong with him, too. That's nonsense, though, as Martinez has smashed-in 112 goals/assists in 133 games for Porto since moving to Europe.


* On a related note: I regularly hear fans bemoaning Liverpool's failure to sign Yehven Konoplyanka, but like Yarmolenko, he's spent the last 8 years in the Ukrainian league, and only left this summer at the age of 25. Why the double-standards?

Andriy Shevchenko is a big fan of Yarmolenko, and in an interview with Yahoo Sport, he raved:

"Yarmolenko is a great player, talented and quick. Even though he doesn’t play in my position up front, he still manages to score plenty of goals. If he works hard, he could reach the highest level like I did".

Over the last few years, Liverpool have spent £103 million on Lallana, Markovic, Aspas, Alberto, Origi, Lambert, Borini, and Balotelli, but none of them have Yarmolenko's prodigious creative consistency, or Olympian fitness levels (either pre or post signing).

I am not arguing that Yarmolenko is the answer to Liverpool's problems, but the Reds clearly need another goalscoring attacking midfielder who is capable of providing width. Plus, Yarmolenko is more suited to the physicality of the Premier league than any of Rodgers' prior attacking signings.

This deal is an absolute no-brainer, and if Rodgers has any sense, he'll be exhorting the club to pull out all the stops to sign Yarmolenko ASAP. If utilised correctly, he is the type of player who can transform Liverpool's season.

Alas, I don't hold out much hope that Liverpool will seal the deal. In his infinite delusion, Rodgers probably believes that Lallana, Ibe, Milner, Can, Henderson, and Coutinho will score shedloads of goals this season, when the reality is that *none* of those player has reached double figures in the Premier League. Ever.

It's the same old story this season, too: 360 minutes of football so far, and Coutinho is the only one of the aforementioned group with a goal to his name. None have assists, but that's hardly surprising then the team has scored only two goals in four games.

Of course, I hope and pray that I'm proven wrong, and Yarmolenko is a Liverpool player on Wednesday morning. If that happens, my optimism for the season ahead will skyrocket.

Author: Jaimie K

62% Delusion? Liverpool fans claim Coutinho is better than 'world-class' £35m attacker (site poll)

On Monday, Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho put in an excellent attacking performance against Arsenal, and bar the crossbar, and a world-class save from Petr Cech, he would've ended the game with two goals. Fast-forward five days, and he struggled to make an impact at home against West Ham. Inconsistency is the bane of Coutinho's game, and it's the reason why his goals/assists return for Liverpool continues to be average. Coutinho arguably outshone Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez at the Emirate, but overall, is he a better player? According to Reds fans, the answer is a resounding YES.

I conducted a poll this week asking that very question, and the result was emphatic:



This is Liverpool-themed website, so the results are somewhat unsurprising, in my view, there's no way that Coutinho - described by Reds legend John Aldridge as a 'genius' - is better than Sanchez.

An attacking player's primary role is to score/create goals, and in this regard, 'world-class' Sanchez is streets ahead of Coutinho. Comparative stats:

SANCHEZ

* 38 goals/assists in 56 apps for Arsenal (Goal/assist every 1.4 games)

* Scores/creates a goal every 119 minutes.

* Last Season: 36 goals/assists in 49 apps (Goal/assist every 1.3 games)

* Scored/created a goal every 115 minutes (79 chances created)

* Career Total: 169 goals/assists in 339 games (Goal/assist every 131 mins)


COUTINHO

* 38 goals/assists in 106 apps for Liverpool (Goal/assist every 3.8 games)

* Scores/creates a goal every 207 minutes.

* Last Season: 13 goals/assists in 52 apps (Goal/assist every 4 games)

* Scored/created a goal ever 313 minutes (59 chances created)

* Career Total: 56 goals/assists in 188 apps (Goal/assist every every 220 mins)

Over their whole careers (and in recent years) Sanchez scores/creates more goals per minute than Coutinho; completes more successful dribbles per game, and also creates more chances (This season: Coutinho = 2 chances created in 4 games. Sanchez = 5 chances created in 4 games).

On the defensive side, Opta stats show that Sanchez - who cost Arsenal £35m - is also the superior performer (overall), though this season, both players are achieving similar stats for blocks, interceptions, clearances, recoveries etc.

£30m-rated Coutinho is exciting to watch, and I'm glad he plays for Liverpool, but, based on objective comparison, it's not really accurate to say that he's 'better' than Sanchez.

As the poll shows, 62% of the 8000+ participants claim that Coutinho is 'better', so my question is this: on what basis?

If anyone who voted in Coutinho's favour can answer that, then I'm listening.

On a related note: Coutinho cost significantly less (£8m) than Sanchez (£35m), so for the money, Liverpool still have a major bargain.

Author: Jaimie K

Redknapp raves: 'Dynamite' attacker Liverpool wanted for €18m could be 'fantastic' for Stoke City this season

Throughout 2014, Liverpool were constantly linked with a move for Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri, and in November, the player's agent publicly urged the Reds to make an official offer. Shaqiri ultimately ended up at Stoke City, and according to ex-Red Jamie Redknapp, the exciting attacker is going to be a great signing for the club.

In his column for the Daily Mail this week, Redknapp raved:

"Shaqiri could be a fantastic signing. He is dynamite...and his cross for Stoke's goal at Norwich was superb. You have to wonder why a so-called top club didn't go for him".

Liverpool definitely wanted to sign Shaqiri, the player himself confirmed this in September 2014, when he told Sky Sports:

"Liverpool made a bid (€18m) for me, but Bayern put their foot down and told me, ‘We’re not going to sell you’".

Despite that knock-back, speculation continued, and in November, Shaqiri's agent made the following public plea:

"At this age, he [Shaqiri] needs to play regularly. We are now waiting [for] Liverpool, Manchester United, Inter Milan and other top clubs”

£12m - the price Stoke paid - is a fair, affordable price for a player of Shaqiri's pedigree and experience, so when the chance arose this summer, why didn't Liverpool take it?

As the first four games of the season show, Liverpool are struggling for goals, especially from the club's alleged attacking midfielders, and although he's only played two games, Shaqiri already has one assist to his name (which is one more than any LFC midfielder/attacking player)


Of course, there's no guarantee that Shaqiri will do the business in the Premier League, but his senior career record to date is creditable:

* 92 goals/assists in 232 games (Goal/assist every 2.5 games)

* 17 goals in 46 games for Switzerland.

Liverpool splurged £46m on Lallana and Markovic, yet it won't surprise me in the slightest to see Shaqiri outperform both this season.

Did Liverpool make a mistake allowing Shaqiri to slip away?




Author: Jaimie K

Inside Info? Molby insists 'outstanding' £60k-a-week midfielder 'wants to play for Liverpool', but will leave if pushed

It's been a mixed week for Lucas Levia. After being ignored for the first two league games, the Brazilian made a triumphant return to the starting line-up against Arsenal, but then, despite his presence today, West Ham scored three goals at Anfield to derail Liverpool's creditable start to the season. Last season, Lucas publicly made clear on several occasions his frustration with life at Anfield, and over the summer, the Reds were willing to 'listen to offers' for the midfielder. After all that, what is Lucas's state of mind? Does he want to stay, or is there a chance that he'll jump ship before the transfer window closes on Tuesday?

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Reds legend Jan Molby slammed the idea of selling  'outstanding' Lucas, and insisted that Rodgers can 'rely' on him. The Dane also appeared to divulge a little inside-information about Lucas's intentions. He noted:

"I know he [Lucas] wants to stay in Liverpool and play for Liverpool but if he has to make another decision it will be with a heavy heart that's for sure".

To me, this sounds as if Molby has talked with Lucas about his situation at Liverpool, and it appears that the 28-year old wants to stay at the club, and will only leave if Rodgers gives him no choice, i.e. by keeping him on the sidelines.

Lucas is a great player to have in the squad. He's experienced, and professional, and with humble, amiable, nature - and total lack of mercenary attributes - he basically embodies everything that's good about Liverpool.

However, if Rodgers had actually done his job and signed a dedicated defensive midfielder at any point over the last 3 years, the this situation wouldn't even be an issue.

Lucas would have a simple choice: be a squad player, or leave, and as harsh as that sounds, the team has to come before the individual, and the Brazilian is eminently upgradeable. Unfortunately, there are no other defensive midfielders in the squad, which means Liverpool arguably have no choice but to hold onto Lucas.

If Lucas [reported salary: £60k-a-week] decides to leave, and Rodgers doesn't sign a replacement, there is, however, one obvious solution to consider: Convert Milner into a defensive midfielder.


* Rodgers insists on playing him centrally, and now that he's vice-captain, Rodgers has no choice but to play him in most games, so...why not just make Milner the club's dedicated DM?

* It's pointless having Milner and Henderson together, either sharing the DM role, or playing ahead of a DM, as both are too similar, and both have poor goalscoring records in the league.

* Simple solution: turn Milner into a DM. If that happens, I'd probably become his biggest fan, as he has all the attributes to do well in that role. Plus, there's be no expectation on him to regularly score/create goals.

* This change will allow Henderson to play further forward, and allow another dynamic, attack-minded player to operate alongside him (Teixeira, perhaps?)

To be honest, I'd rather not have Milner at all, but if he must be in the team every.single.game, then DM is where is should play. He already spends most of his time defending, hassling, pressing, running etc, so why not make it official?

And let's be honest, Liverpool will lose nothing in attack by converting Milner.

For me, it's a no-brainer. If Milner wants to play centrally, then play him centrally...as a DM.



Author: Jaimie K