28 May 2015

Anfield Stunner: Legendary boss drops massive hint that he's coming 'to Liverpool'

It's official: Rafa Benitez is leaving Napoli this summer, and with Liverpool possibly on the lookout for another manager, what are the chances of the LFC's Champions League-winning boss returning to Anfield?

Well, current media hype suggests that Benitez is set to take over at Real Madrid, but given his latest comments, I don't see how that's a viable option.

Announcing his Napoli departure this week, Benitez noted:

"The first thing is the distance from my family. A few weeks ago I spoke to my wife to try to convince her, but then I told [Napoli president] Aurelio [De Laurentiis] that it would not have been an easy task"

At the same press conference, De Laurentiis also references Benitez's desire to be close to his family:

"Rafa told me immediately after he agreed to stay on last summer that this would be his last campaign because his family wanted him nearby"

Benitez's family live in Liverpool, not Spain, as he reiterated last season:

“My family is distant. My wife and my two daughters live in Liverpool. It’s the first time that they are not with me and it’s not easy".

Amid the Madrid speculation, the question no one seems to be asking is this: if Benitez is leaving Napoli because he wants to be close to his family, why would he then take over at Real Madrid?

Last time I checked, Spain is just as far away from Liverpool as Italy (!)

The only way that makes sense is if the Spaniard uproots his entire family from the UK (and rips his daughters away from their school/friends), and given Benitez's ties to Merseyside, that seems unlikely.

Plus, Benitez has made it unambiguously clear in the past that he wants the Liverpool job. Last season, for example, he told reporters:

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

Then, in April this year, FIFA agent Jose Alberti claimed:

"He [Benitez] he will return to England in three months [July 2015]. His mind is already there. He will return to Liverpool and he wants to get back to winning. He is ideal for the Premier League."

Well, Benitez is a free agent now, so a return to Liverpool to be with his family seems to be the most likely eventuality. Reds fans certainly want him back. In November, I conducted a poll on the site asking whether he is a good choice to replace Rodgers:

* 16200 visitors (approx) participated in the poll.

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

I argued for Benitez's departure in 2009, and I maintain it was the right decision to move him on at that time.

However, five years is plenty of time to reflect, and given Benitez's nature, I'm sure he has exhaustively analysed where he went wrong, and resolved to improve things the second time around.

The Spaniard's current detractors judge him through the skewed lens of the past, but he's a different manager now, and working under a FSG, he has the managerial experience and talent to achieve even more success at Anfield.

Importantly, Benitez has the track record and the pull to attract top-class players. He has an aura about him that Rodgers lacks, and he's still young enough to build a dynasty at Liverpool

Ultimately, football opinions should not be inflexible to the point of extreme intransigence; people change, learn, and, most importantly, grow, and with his experiences over the last five years, Benitez will probably make a better Liverpool manager now.

As such, despite being one of his biggest detractors, I'd tentatively support Benitez's return to Anfield.

Author: Jaimie K

'The Pharaoh to Anfield'? Liverpool chase 'amazing' £20m attacker who's 'like Suarez'

Liverpool are once again being linked with a move for 'amazing' AC Milan star Stephan El Sharaawy, and according to his agent, the Italian attacker is open to a Premier League transfer.

When asked this week about El Sharaawy's future, his agent (and brother) told reporters:

"Would Stephan like to go abroad? I'd like to see him play overseas, for example in the Premier League. He has grown so much both physically and technically. A change of air could do him good. It could be an option."

Liverpool were last linked with £20m-rated* El Sharaawy in 2012, and at the time, Reds legend Steve Nicol raved:

"El-Shaarawy is like the Luis Suarez of Milan. Without him, goodness knows where they would be".

Soon after, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani went one further, and suggested that El Sharaawy is one of the best players in the world:

"El Shaarawy is playing better than we expected him to. I don’t know how many forwards of his age are scoring goals so consistently. The only other player like him in the world is Neymar"

High praise indeed, but over the last couple of years, El Sharaawy - who cost Milan €20m - has failed to live up to the considerable overhype. Some info about the Italian forward:

* 3 goals in 17 appearances this season.

* 27 goals/14 assists in 101 apps for Milan overall (goal/assist every 2.4 games)

* 1 goal in 11 apps for the Italy national team.

* 7 injuries over the last 3 seasons including THREE separate metatarsal fractures)

* 316 days on the sidelines; 57 games missed since season 2012/13.

* Nicknamed 'The Pharaoh' on account his Egyptian heritage.

Given his injury history, going ahead with this signing is a massive risk, but he fits the profile of the kind of player Rodgers (and his ego) would go for: young; massive potential; out of form, and in need of a kingmaker to unleash his talent etc.

Like with Balotelli, Rodgers is seemingly attracted to players he think he can 'rescue' and turn into superstars, but this deal is a risk that just isn't worth taking, and for that reason, Liverpool should avoid El Sharaawy like the plague.

That said, El Sharaawy and Balotelli worked well together at Milan, and back in 2013, the young attacker raved:

"We understand each other perfectly and have done good things in each game we have played together. He [Balotelli] always tries to help me. He has great technical qualities and has linked up very well with the rest of the team".

Hmmm. Perhaps El Sharaawy is the key to getting the best out of Balotelli?

* Last reported value

Author: Jaimie K

Marquee Transfer: Liverpool favourites to sign 'superhuman' €35m goal-machine with 106 goals and assists in 133 games

The Jackson Martinez rumours refuse to die. Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for Martinez, and new reports today suggest that the Reds are joint favourites to sign the prolific Colombian striker.

According to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo today:

* Liverpool are one of several clubs interested in signing Martinez this summer.

* The Reds are Arsenal are allegedly 'favourites' to seal the deal.

* The story is front page news in Portugal.

Liverpool's interest in Martinez - hailed in April by Porto boss Julien Loptegui as 'superhuman - is long established. Most recently:

* NOV 2014: The Daily Maill reported: "Liverpool will continue to evaluate potential new strikers. Porto's Jackson Martinez has been offered to them [LFC]"

* DEC 2014: Peppino Terri, an agent registered with Italy's FA, claimed: "Liverpool are in for Jackson. AC Milan? That's unlikely".

* FEB 2015: ESPN reported: "Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are interested in acquiring his [Martinez's] services".

* FEB 2015: Porto President Pinto da Costa confirmed: "Jackson almost left last summer but we agreed he'd stay one more year. If somebody pays his value he will leave."

* FEB 2015: Martinez confirmed that he wants to leave: "I'm ready to make the leap in the next window. I have my head focused only on the work I'm doing at Porto at the moment and when the transfer window reopens, we shall see what will happen."

Since arriving at the Estádio do Dragão, Martinez - who has a €35m release clause in his contract has racked up some formidable creative stats:

* 92 goals/14 assist in 133 appearances (Goal/assist every 1.2 games)

* Once scored in 10 successive games for Porto.

* At one point, scored 18 goals in 17 games.

* Broke Falcao's record by scoring 11 goals in 12 matches for Porto.

106 goals/assists in 133 games? That is a superb creative return for Porto, and it'll be a major coup if Liverpool are able to seal this deal. Martinez will represent formidable competition for Daniel Sturridge, and the Colombian clearly has the talent and goalscoring ability to keep the England man on his toes.

Sturridge is a highly effective striker, but he cannot be relied upon, and it's impossible to build a team around a striker who is always injured. As such, Liverpool must proceed this summer as if he doesn't exist, and sign a player capable of becoming the club's number-one striker.

Martinez, on the other hand, has suffered just one minor injury throughout his entire career (disrupted calf muscle), which is quite amazing for a 28-year old player. Clearly, he's cut from the same cloth as Luis Suarez, and in a recent interview, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger raved about the Colombian's physical attributes:

"He [Martinez] has top physical strengths. He is hugely efficient. He could play in the Premier League because he has the body to make the difference. He uses it in a very intelligent way, and he's a very good finisher".

This kind of robustness is exactly what Liverpool need up-front, but can the Reds beat Arsenal to Martinez's signature?

Author: Jaimie K

BR to blame? 'Sensational' Liverpool star suffers same injury that destroyed Owen/Torres

The season may be over, but Liverpool's injury curse continues, and rather worryingly, it's 'sensational' (Rodgers' hyperbole) attacker Jordon Ibe who is back on the sidelines after suffering his second major injury of the year.

According to The Guardian this week:

"Ibe has been forced to withdraw from the England Under-20 squad for this summer’s Toulon Tournament because of a recurring knee injury"

Earlier in the year, Ibe spent two months out with a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) damage to his knee, and the fact he's suffered a 'recurrence' suggests (IMO) that he wasn't given enough recovery time.

At the time of his injury, I argued that Brendan Rodgers had overplayed Ibe, and his appearance stats add weight to that contention:

* 7th to 26th February: Started five games in a row (one game every 3.8 days)

* 19th to 26th of February: Started 3 games in a row (one game ever 2.3 days)

Clearly, Ibe didn't have enough recovery time between games. One game every 3.8 days is a lot for a 19-year old who'd never played in the Premier League before, and that may have contributed to his injury.

According to Physio Adviser, LCL injuries can take up to 8-weeks to properly heal, but:

* Ibe returned to action after only 6.5 weeks, then quickly started three games in a week (25 April-2 May).

* Considering his earlier injury - and his prior exertions at Derby County - this was irresponsible in the extreme.

* Now, Ibe has suffered the same injury again, so there's obviously a link between Rodgers rushing him back/overplaying him, and the recurrence of the LCL issue.

Rodgers recently claimed that Liverpool 'missed' Ibe during his spell on the sidelines, and if that's what he genuinely believes, then it explains why he rushed Ibe back the first time.

In short, Rodgers is arguably to blame for this issue. In my view, it's negligent (and unnecessary) to overplay a developing 19-year old after spending close to £120m in the summer.

After that financial outlay, Liverpool shouldn't need to rely on an untested 19-year old, and the fact that Rodgers placed such important on Ibe simply underlines (yet again) his lamentable performance in the transfer market.

I just hope this isn't the start of a long series of niggling injuries for Ibe. Knee issues are a real pain, especially for speedy players. Just ask Michael Owen, or Fernando Torres...

Author: Jaimie K

27 May 2015

Done Deal: Liverpool confirm signing of 'versatile' Prem powerhouse on 4-year contract extension. Replace Johnson?

With Glen Johnson almost certainly leaving this summer, and Javier Manquillo failing to make an impact, there's a vacancy in Liverpool's squad for a good right-back, and it appears that Andre Wisdom will be one of the challengers for that role next season.

According to the official Liverpool FC website this week:

"Andre Wisdom has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool, the club are pleased to announce. The 22-year-old has committed his future to the Reds by penning the new deal".

According to The Guardian:

"Wisdom has committed his future to Anfield until 2019"

In his post-signing interview, Wisdom insisted that signing a new deal 'was an easy decision to make', and vowed to 'challenge for a place' in the first team next season. He added:

"The club are in my heart. This is one of the world's biggest football clubs and it's an honour to be a part of it. now I want to work hard and try to compete for places again."

After Emre Can's horror show against Stoke City, it's surely the end for the German at right back.

Wisdom has experience of playing that role with some distinction for Liverpool, but as a natural centre-half, he'll also fit into Rodgers' new 343 formation.

It's good news for 'versatile' Wisdom, but is it good news for Liverpool? Things didn't go to well during Wisdom's loan spell at West Brom:

* Prior to Alan Irvine's sacking, the 22-year old made 23 starts for the Baggies.

* When Tony Pulis took over, he basically exorcised Wisdom from the squad.

* After January 31st, Wisdom made only TWO substitute appearances for the club, and spent 13 out of 15 games as an unused substitute. Did Pulis make the right decision?

With Wisdom

* Failed to win 17 out of 23 games (74%)
* 10 defeats (43%)
* 33 goals conceded (1.4 per game)
* 8 clean sheets (35% of games)


* Failed to win 8 out of 15 games (53%)
* 5 defeats (33%)
* 16 goals conceded (1.1 per game)
* 8 clean sheets (53% of games)

Given Pulis' dedication to building defensively solid teams, it's a little concerning that he dumped Wisdom so quickly.

Clearly, Pulis is not convinced by the 22-year old's defensive ability, and he appears to be right as West Brom's defensive stats quickly improved without Wisdom in the team.

This doesn't bode well for Liverpool, but hopefully, the experience will help Wisdom and improve. The right-back position is there for the taking, and unless Rodgers signs a big-money right-back over the summer, it's Wisdom's to lose.

On a related note: Regular readers may be wondering how I can shoehorn The Mercenary into this article; well, wonder no more!

Unlike Sterling, Wisdom is clearly grateful for the privilege of playing for a renowned institution like Liverpool, and the club needs more players like him, i.e. those who will fight for the shirt.

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed: 'Maverick' €70m attacker 'will' play for Liverpool next season. 'Talks' held already

In the last few months of the season, Mario Balotelli's situation at Anfield descended into utter farce, with the striker repeatedly missing games due to alleged 'illness', and Liverpool failing to get any return on the Italian's £16m transfer fee. You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone of sound mind who thinks it's a good idea to keep him at Anfield, but according to his agent, Balotelli will definitely be a Liverpool player next season.

Speaking to Sky Sports today, Balo's agent, Mino Raiola, confirmed:

"We have talks with Liverpool and he will stay. I spoke many times with the club and they were happy with his input as a professional"

It's not really a surprise that Balotelli is staying. Raiola stated as much in January, when he claimed that his client will stay unless some club puts in an insane transfer offer. He told reporters:

"The plan is to continue at Anfield. I saw him Monday and told him: 'You have a four-year contract and I won't bring you away. Either you leave Liverpool for €60-€70m, or you'll die there".

Fans should probably get used to the fact that Balotelli - charitably described as a 'maverick' by Hull boss Steve Bruce - will be warming the bench next season.

Unless, of course, Liverpool can con some club into paying '€60-€70m' for Balotelli, but there's more chance of the Reds completing a double-swoop for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo than that happening.

To be fair, the Italian is the least of Liverpool's problems right now. The media are ridiculously obsessed with his every move, but Balotelli has (for the most part) behaved well at Anfield, and there's always a possibility that he'll come good.

In any event, Rodgers must take the lion's share of blame for Balotelli's failure to make a consistent impact; he's barely given the striker a chance to build any momentum this season, and - bar one game at Spurs - Rodgers has persistently (and negligently) played the Italian out of position as a lone striker.

There's no denying Balotelli's talent. Granted, his goals/assists return this season is absolutely pitiful, but if he finally comes good, it'll be a massive boost for Liverpool.

One thing's for sure, I'd rather see Lambert and Borini leave first, as those two are never going to cut it at Anfield. Balotelli, on the other hand, has the experience and international pedigree to turn things around at Liverpool, and whatever happens, he's a decent player to have in the squad...if utilised correctly.

If, however, Rodgers persists next season with his infernal 'square pegs in round holes' policy, then all bets are off.

survey services

Author: Jaimie K

Legend insists: Liverpool should swap Sterling for 'exceptional' £21m attacker with 128 games missed through injury

Liverpool are once again being linked with a ludicrous summer move for perpetual sicknote Theo Walcott, and John Aldridge is the latest ex-Red to urge the Reds to sign the 'exceptional' Arsenal star.

According to the Daily Mail today:

"Liverpool are interested in Walcott if they fail to resolve their contract stand-off with Sterling".

In his Monday column for Sunday World, Aldo noted:

"If Sterling ends up at Arsenal, why not try and get Theo Walcott as part of the transfer? If you can keep him fit, Walcott might be as good as Sterling anyway".

Jamie Carragher also wants Walcott, and he confirmed this in March, when he told Sky Sports:

“Liverpool have looked at signing Walcott in the past. If he was available then I’m sure any Liverpool fan, player or manager would love to see him at the club"

It's absolute madness to even consider signing a player with such a horrific injury history:

* 15 separate injuries since 2008
* 646 days on the sidelines as a result.
* 128 games missed through injury. 128 games!
* An average of 21 missed-games a season for the last 6 years.

I recently conducted a poll on the site asking if Liverpool should sign Walcott, and the results were emphatic:

 photo Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 21.17.34_zpsteys4phq.png

As the polls shows, there are lots of Liverpool fans who have serious reservations about Walcott. After all, in what universe does it make sense to sign an attacking player with a *worse* injury history than Daniel Sturridge?!

On a separate note, Liverpool's alleged interest doesn't make sense for another reason: Walcott - whose current deal is worth £21m over 3.5 years - is pulling a Sterling at Arsenal and trying to fleece the club for money he doesn't deserve. The Independent recentlyt reported:

"Walcott [is] looking for a significant increase on his £90,000-a-week wages. [He] wants a wage packet worth considerably more than £100,000-a-week to put him in the region of the club’s highest earners".

Gah! This kind of presumptuous, arrogant entitlement is a defining characteristic of modern footballers. What gives Walcott the right to demand 'considerably more than £100K a week' when he misses close to 50% of every season through injury?

Arsenal should be paying him *less*, not more; or, at the very least, there should be clauses in his contract stipulating he gets paid only 50% of his contract value when he (inevitably) gets injured again.

Footballers are totally out of touch with the real world. If you or I missed 21 months of work over a 5-year period, we'd be laughed out of office for demanding a massive pay-rise (if we hadn't already been fired for endless absences).

It's ridiculous, and what's even more ludicrous is the idea that Liverpool will swap one mercenary for another. Talk about 'out of the frying pan and into the fire'.

Author: Jaimie K

Anfield Alert: Legend urges £25m star to quit Liverpool and sign for La Liga giants Barcelona

In January 2013, Liverpool committed daylight robbery by stealing attacking maestro Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan for a measly £8m fee, and since then, the Brazilian has enhanced his reputation at Anfield to the extent that Brazil legend Ronaldinho claims his fellow countryman is now good enough to play for La Liga giants Barcelona.

In an interview this week, Ronaldinho - who spent 5 years at the Nou Camp - urged 'fantastic' Coutinho to set his sights higher than Anfield:

"I know what Barcelona look for in a player and he [Coutinho] has all those qualities.

"Xavi has left and Iniestia is now in his 30's - they will need to address that. That is why I think Barcelona and Coutinho would be the perfect fit.

"Not only would he win trophies, but playing with Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Iniesta, is going to make him a better player"

Unfortunately for Liverpool, £25m-rated Coutinho idolises Ronaldinho, and he confirmed this once again back 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”

With this in mind, it's highly probable that Coutinho has a lot of respect for whatever Ronaldinho has to say, and unless he lives in a cave, Liverpool's number-10 will undoubtedly be aware of these comments.

As such, this could be the start of a process that may conceivably lead to Coutinho having his head turned (if it hasn't been already, that is).

Coutinho recently insisted that he's 'happy at Anfield', but let's be realistic: if Barcelona come calling, there's only going to be one winner.

Additionally, after Liverpool's abject failure to progress this season, Coutinho may already be casting a covetous eye at Luis Suarez's success at the Nou Camp.

As for Coutinho's suitability for Barcelona: In my view, there's no way he'll get into a team that contains Suarez, Neymar, Iniesta, and Messi.

Plus, Coutinho is a number-10, not an 'El Centrocampista' like Iniesta (who often plays deeper than a traditional number-10) and he's not prolific enough (with goals or assists) to challenge the likes of Neymar and Messi.

Still, the lure of the Nou Camp is irresistible for most players. If Barca express an interest, I fully expect Coutinho to be interested in a move, and to be fair, given the state Liverpool are in at the moment, who could blame him?

If Liverpool want to keep Coutinho in the long-term, then it's imperative that Reds start challenging for major honours sooner rather than later. Is the club capable of doing that under the current management?

Time will tell.

Author: Jaimie K

Can-Killer? Liverpool chase 'incredible' €35m midfield destroyer Wenger claims is like 'Pogba'

In April, the Daily Mail claimed that Liverpool were tracking Monaco star Geoffrey Kondogbia, and new reports today suggest that Reds are stepping-up efforts to sign the midfield powerhouse.

According to The Mirror today, Liverpool have made another 'enquiry' about Kondogbia, who is also reportedly being pursued by Arsenal.

Some info about Kondogbia:

* 22-year old defensive-mid.

* 58 appearances for various France youth teams.

* 2 apps for the France national team.

* 59 apps for Monaco (3 goals/3 assists)

* 2013: Helped France win the U20 World Cup.

* Two injuries in the last year: (Ankle/Hamstring)

* Current contract expires in 2018.

* Two weeks ago, Le 10 Sport claimed that an unnamed Premier League club put in a €35m bid.

* Arsene Wenger's assessment: "Kondogbia is a very interesting player because he's a left footed midfielder and he's one of the promising stars, just behind Pogba, in the French national team."

* Kondogbia's view staying at the top: "The most important thing is to be rigourous. That's the key to remaining at the very top level. You have to be consistent and work hard humbly. Talent will do the rest."

Ex-Red Jamie Redknapp is a huge fan of Kondogbia, and after watching Monaco beat Arsenal in the Champions League last month, he hailed the French midfielder as 'incredible', and further enthused:

“Kondogbia was organised, disciplined and let his other team-mates play. He was the difference”.

Kondogbia is exactly the type of midfielder Liverpool need to sign, and with Gerrard leaving; Lucas increasingly injury prone; Joe Allen still struggling to really dominate in midfield, and Emre Can failing to convince (in midfield) a different option is clearly required.

I may be in the minority, but I am just not convinced that Emre Can is the answer in midfield. He's shown nothing in that position this season, and I've seen no evidence to suggest he's capable of scoring/creating goals on a regular basis (either at LFC, or in Germany)

Kondogbia seemingly wants to stay at Monaco, though, and when asked recently about speculation linking him with a move to the Premier League, he told reporters:

"I repeat again that the project here [at Monaco] is what suits me more. I became an important player here and I hope to participate again next year in a competition like the Champions League"

His agent seems to take a different view, and when asked on May 11th about Kondogbia's future, he told ESPN:

"We're being approached by big clubs. They are big names. We will have the lucidity to make the right choice. We won't go and sit on a bench."

If Kondogbia does decide to leave this summer, Arsenal - who have qualified for the Champions League once again - clearly have the edge in the race for the midfielder's signature.

That said, if he signs for Liverpool, Kondogbia will almost certainly be a regular starter (at Can's expense?), which is clearly a key requirement for the player.

Worth pursuing?

Author: Jaimie K

26 May 2015

Anfield-bound? Redknapp insists 'fantastic' £5m attacker will make 'big move' to Liverpool

With the season now over, it's surely only a matter of time before Liverpool announced the (underwhelming) signing of Burnley star Danny Ings. On Friday, multiple reports claimed that deal for Ings is almost done, and ex-Red Jamie Redknapp is convinced that the transfer will go through this summer.

After scoring for Burnley on Sunday, Ings all but confirmed his departure:

"Everybody knows what's going on off the pitch and I wanted to finish my last game here in style"

In his Monday column for the Daily Mail, Redknapp seemed to throw his support behind Liverpool's move for Ings:

"He [Ings] scored goals — not enough to keep Burnley up, but enough to earn him a big move. Can he turn it on consistently for Liverpool, where I expect him to go?"

This follow's Redknapp's rave review earlier in the season, when he tipped Ings to go on to bigger and better things:

“He [Ings] is a fantastic young player. He has the work-rate, technique and the temperament to became a top player"

Brendan Rodgers is also a fan. In an interview with TalkSport last week, Rodgers was asked the following question:

"Are you still in interested in Danny Ings?"

LFC's boss hesitated for a good ten seconds before answering, and then offered the following response:

"He's a terrific young player, Danny. There's no doubt he's done really well for Burnley. For us, there will be a number of options and possibilities that we will look at"

I can see the positives of this deal: cheap [£5m]; Premier League proven; no real financial risk etc. However, I just can't get excited about ings.

Lambert was also cheap, and Premier League proven (and more experienced), but he has utterly failed to make a significant impact.

Real Sociedad are also interested, and in my view, Ings is much better off going to Spain. In La Liga, he'll regularly compete against the best players in the world, and the experience will make him a better player.

Plus, with David Moyes in charge, there's a very strong chance that Ings will get regular playing time, which is vital for any player in their early-20s.

At Liverpool, it's highly unlikely that Ings will be the club's number-one striker, especially if - as expected - the Reds spend big this summer on an experienced, top-class goalscorer.

At best, Ings will end up being third-choice striker, behind Sturridge (when fit), and whoever Rodgers brings in.

Plus, he'll have Divock Origi also snapping at his heels, and if he hits the ground running, it could make things even more difficult.

Liverpool is a giant step-up from Burnley, but in career-development terms, it's (arguably) not the best move Ings can make at this stage.

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed: 'Tremendous' title-winner wants to 'play for Liverpool' next season. Done deal 'soon'

Earlier this season, Kolo Toure confirmed that his Agent was in the midst of talks with Liverpool over a new deal at Anfield, and after a couple of veiled warnings about quitting the club, it now appears that the Ivorian is on the verge of signing a contract extension.

In Early May, Toure confirmed that he was 'looking around' at other options, but over the weekend, he told reporters:

"The [contract] situation will be resolved soon. We are talking. I play for Liverpool right now, and I am very happy. If it was to carry on, I’d be more than happy. Liverpool is going to be massive."

What a refreshing comment from Toure. Despite Liverpool's nightmare season, he's seemingly convinced that the future is bright at Anfield, and that kind of enthusiasm is exactly what's needed in the dressing room.

It's also a massive vote of confidence in beleaguered Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, who needs all the support he can get right now, especially from senior members of the squad.

Liverpool legend John Aldridge wants Toure to stay. In a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldo hailed the defender as a 'humble man who loves Liverpool', adding:

"Wherever he [Toure] has been, the fans have loved him. Man City fans were singing his name at Anfield the other week. I’ve got the utmost respect for him. He’s a tremendous ambassador for the club".

It's a no-lose situation - double title-winner Toure is a (mostly) reliable backup, and his experience is vital to have around the dressing room. That said, given the competition for places at Anfield, it seems unlikely that he'll suddenly become a regular starter next season.

After another (often) shambolic season for the club's defenders, Rodgers (if he stays) is likely to sign yet another central defender, which will make it even harder for the Ivorian to get regular game time.

If no other defenders come in, though, I'd rather see Toure start over Lovren AND Emre Can in defence next season.

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Update: 'Extraordinary' €30m striker happy to sign for Liverpool. Done deal this summer?

In March, The Mirror claimed that Liverpool are 'planning to offer' Manchester City outcast Stevan Jovetic 'a deal in the summer', and it now appears that the Montenegrin is open to the possibility of moving to Anfield.

Jovetic - once hailed by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as 'extraordinary' - is allegedly Brendan Rodgers' 'number one forward target', and according to reports over the weekend:

* Man City are 'hoping' to sign Raheem Sterling by offering £30m plus 25-year old Jovetic.

* Jovetic - who cost City €30m - is 'happy' to sign for Liverpool and work with Brendan Rodgers.

Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if Jovetic is genuinely Rodgers' 'number one forward target', then FSG have yet another reason to terminate his contract this summer.

Like Daniel Sturridge, Jovetic is increasingly injury-prone, and it's negligence to even think about signing about striker who is regularly plagued by injury issues. Since his arrival at City:

* 6 injuries in 2 seasons.
* 175 days on the sidelines.
* 35 games missed for City.

Prior to City:

* 7 injuries in 4 seasons (including a dreaded cruciate ligament injury)
* 398 days on the sidelines.
* 62 games missed.

When he has been fit, Jovetic's record is creditable, but not impressive enough to justify Liverpool's interest:

* 11 goals/6 assists in 44 games.
* Goal every 3.8 games.
* Goal/assist every 2.6 games.

Given his injury history, it's clearly a good thing that Liverpool's failed to sign Jovetic during the Rafa Benitez era.

It's concerning that Liverpool are continually linked with players who have atrocious injury histories (i.e. Khedira, Gourcuff, Wilshere, Walcott) and if there is any truth to this particular rumour, then serious questions need to be asked at Anfield about the judgement of those making the transfer decisions.

Author: Jaimie K

25 May 2015

Angry legend blasts: Liverpool must sell 'poor' attacker 'ASAP' and sign £30m Premier League goal-machine

The fallout continues. Reds legend John Aldridge has launched a scathing attack on contract rebel Raheem Sterling, and he's urged Liverpool to sell The Mercenary 'as soon as possible'.

In his column today for Sunday World, Aldo described Sterling - reportedly the subject of a £26m bid from Real Madrid in January - as merely a 'decent' talent; labelled his agent a 'clown; and explained why Liverpool should sell ASAP:

"[The Mercenary] is no Luis Suarez. He has done okay...but for him to be holding Liverpool to ransom at this stage of his career is ridiculous.

"[He] has loads of flaws in his game; his conversion rate is poor and his final ball leaves a hell of a lot to be desired".

"Liverpool should go and get Christian Benteke [value: £30m] as that guy would guarantee 20 goals next season"

Also is spot on here, and I've argued the same thing over and over again: Sterling is *easily* replaceable, and will not be missed in the slightest.

After all, what's to miss?

* Seven league goals all season.

* Sep to Dec 2014: 18 games without a goal

* Feb to May 2015: 1 goal in 15 games.

* 9% conversion rate for the season (all competitions)

* One shot on target every 86 minutes.

* Scores a goal every 11 shots.

* Scores one goal every 410 minutes (1 every 4.5 games).

* Failed to score/assist in 71% of Liverpool's games this season (37 out of 52 games).

* 16th in the Premier League assists table, with players like Jamie Vardy, Chris Brunt, Matthew Phillips, and Stewart Downing ahead of him.

* 31st in the Premier League goalscorers table (!)

Stats: OPTA

These are the brutal facts about Sterling, yet some fans still insist that he's going to be hard to replace.

On a related note: it's now four days since Sterling's Agent publicly dissed Liverpool, and The Mercenary *still* hasn't made a public statement distancing himself from such disrespectful comments.

In my view, this is the most damning indictment of Sterling. If it was me, I'd be desperate to make it clear that the comments did not reflect my personal view of Liverpool FC, or of Jamie Carragher, but The Mercenary has said *nothing*, which suggests tacit agreement with his 'clown' of an agent.

Sterling is more than happy to conduct a long TV interview with BBC to clear up apparent 'misconceptions' about his contract status, but when it comes to Liverpool being publicly disrespected, he can't find the time to clarify his position and/or make it clear that he doesn't share his agent's view.

It's an absolute disgrace, and to add insult to injury, The Mercenary is still being paid his massive salary, which means he's basically being paid to show utter contempt for Liverpool.

Sterling should never play for Liverpool again.

Author: Jaimie K

Houllier raves: £35m goal-machine wanted by Liverpool 'can be world-class'. Suarez-like?

Last month, Liverpool scouts allegedly flew to France to watch Lyon star Alexander Lacazette in action, and with the Reds reportedly favourites to sign the prolific striker, ex-Reds boss Gerard Houllier has claimed that the Frenchman's is destined for great things.

When asked over the weekend about Lacazette, Houllier enthused:

"He [Lacazette] can be world class. I was told he’s a very dedicated professional. So if he looks after himself and if he does the right thing then he can become really top notch.”

Liverpool have been constantly linked with a move for £35m-rated Lacazette this year, but when asked in April about Premier League interest, the striker appeared to rule out the possibility of a move. He told reporters:

"I do not know what will happen, but at the moment I can say that I will play for Lyon next year."

Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has dismissed the possibility of a deal. In a recent interview, he insisted:

"Impossible. He [Lacazette] will be with us at the Stade des Lumieres and in the Champions League [next season]"

That seems emphatic, but the key phrase in Lacazette's statement is 'at the moment, which basically gives him leeway to make a decision in the summer. Indeed, in February, the striker mused:

"If the club needs to transfer me, I will leave. It's just reality. We must qualify for the Champions League and then we'll see for sure that next season I want to play the Champions League"

With 39 goals/assists in 40 games, Lacazette is achieving excellent creative stats this season, and given his speed, mobility, and finishing ability, he'd clearly be a logical signing for Liverpool.

Steve Nicol seems to think so, and in a January interview with ESPN, he insisted that Lacazette 'fits the mould that Liverpool are looking for', and strongly urged his old club to pursue the striker:

“Liverpool have an opportunity to sign this guy [Lacazette] and I think they should. He loves to go forward [and] score goals and he reminds me of [Luis] Suarez. I think this would be a superb signing".

This all sounds very exciting, but I just have one thing to say: Memphis Depay.

The Lacazette speculation is following the same pattern: Liverpool were allegedly in 'pole-position' to sign Depay, too, and look what happened.

Additionally, he specifically stated that he wants to 'play in the Champions League', so that seemingly rules out Liverpool.

Lacazette's career is in the ascendency, and Lyon have qualified for the Champions League this season. As such, why would he take a step back and join a club in the Europa League?

As for Houllier's contention that Lacazette 'can be world-class' - it's all pie in the sky until he consistently performs at all three levels of football: domestic, European, and world.

It's entirely possible that the striker my turn out to be a one-season wonder.

Author: Jaimie K