02 July 2015

Can-Killer? Liverpool pushing to sign 'extraordinary' £37m destroyer who dreams of transfer to England

Earlier this year, Brendan Rodgers reportedly dispatched Liverpool scouts to assess Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho, and new reports this week suggest that the Reds are back in the race to sign the coveted Portuguese midfielder.

In May, The Mirror claimed that Liverpool are determined to sign Carvalho (who has a €47m [£37m] buyout clause in his contract), and according to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo today:

* Liverpool 'representatives' ran the rule over Carvalho during Tuesday's U21 European Championships final between Portugal and Sweden (Carvalho missed the decisive penalty)

* Spurs, Manchester United and Arsenal also watched the young midfielder.

In January, Carvalho - hailed by Portugal boss Paolo Bento as an 'extraordinary' player - revealed his desire to play for one of the World's top clubs:

"We all have ambitions and I hope one day to play in the best leagues in the world. If I continue to do my job as I have done so, it will certainly come sooner or later."

Then, Last month, Carvalho made it clear that he wants a move to the Premier League. He told reporters:

“My dream is to play in England. I know some clubs are interested, but my agent Jorge [Mendes] is looking after it and I am relaxed.”

Carvalho is exactly the type of tenacious, athletic, tough-tackling midfielder Liverpool (arguably) need, but if the Reds spend £30m+ on him, where does that leave Emre Can?

* Club's don't spend that kind of money for a bench-warmer, and if Can moves into midfield, and LFC sign Carvalho (or some other midfielder), the competition will be incredibly fierce:

- Henderson
- Allen
- Lucas
- Milner
- Can
- Carvalho

* It's possible that one of either Lucas or Allen may leave this summer, but if not, I don't see how Rodgers can keep six first-team central midfielders happy for a whole season. Henderson will almost certainly play most games, which leaves just ONE spot available to share between four players.

* The other option is to kill-off Can's midfield ambitions by converting him into a full-time defender. I doubt the German will want that - he's on record several times stating that his preferred position is in midfield, and with Gerrard leaving, he probably expects to be playing there next season.

There is simply no way to include Henderson, Milner (a certain starter), Carvalho, and Can in the same team on a regular basis. For example: 433

-------------------- Carvalho

--------------- Milner ----- Henderson

----------- Coutinho ------- Firmino

-------------------- Sturridge

* Milner or Henderson could be pushed further up the field (with Can slotting into midfield), but that means one of either Coutinho or Firmino will need to make way, which is a nonsensical decision.

* If Firmino plays as a false 9, then Hendo/Milner can slot in alongside Coutinho, but neither of those players is an upgrade in that position. Plus, with Ings, Origi, Sturridge (when fit), and possibly Benteke, there's no excuse to play Firmino (or Coutinho) out of position up-front.

At this stage, it makes no sense to sign Carvalho unless one or two of the club's existing central midfielders leave and/or are converted into different positions.

If Liverpool do decide to spend £30m+ on Carvalho, then that will arguably be a vote of no-confidence in Can's ability to make a difference in central midfield. If Rodgers sees the German as the future of LFC's midfield, then there's no need to sign Carvalho...right?

£37m is a ridiculous fee, though, and in my view, it's madness to even contemplate paying that kind of money.

Author: Jaimie K

LFC Exit: 'Excellent' Liverpool attacker to leave Anfield after massive £47m transfer spree

In May, Liverpool legend John Aldridge claimed that Rickie Lambert 'will be leaving Liverpool this summer', and new reports this week suggest that the striker is definitely on his way out of Anfield.

In his column for Sunday World, Aldo appeared to reveal a snippet of inside information. He noted:

"Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert [Combined cost: £30m] are among the...high earning...players who will be leaving Liverpool this summer"

According to an ESPN 'source' today:

* Lambert has conceded that he 'expects to leave' Anfield this summer.

* West Brom, Crystal Palace, and Aston Villa are interested in signing the veteran striker.

Lambert is also linked with a shock move to Chelsea, with The Mirror claiming that Blues scouts watched in action Lambert during Liverpool's recent 2-1 victory over QPR.

A fanciful notion, but I just can't see Mourinho being interested in Lambert, who's barely featured for Liverpool since the turn of the year.

Whatever happens, Lambert's days at Liverpool are surely numbered:

* He had plenty of chances to make a difference in the first half of last season, but Lambert's inability to score regularly contributed to Liverpool's poor pre-Christmas form.

* In the second half of the season, Lambert barely played, and even if he'd been a regular, it's doubtful he would've weighed in with the goals needed to propel the Reds into the top four.

* Now, new arrivals Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings and Divock Origi (Combined cost: £47m*) will almost certainly be ahead of Lambert in the Anfield pecking order.

* If Christian Benteke signs (or some other top striker), Lambert will struggle most weeks to make the match-day squad.

Lambert - hailed by Adam Lallana as an 'excellent' striker - is not a bad player; in the season prior to signing for Liverpool, he smashed in 25 goals/assists in 39 games for Southampton, which shows that he's a solid Premier League striker.

Alas, at Liverpool, Lambert just hasn't been given a consistent chance, and unluckily for him, he's failed to make the most of the opportunities that came his way.

Lambert described his move to Liverpool as a 'dream' come true, but over the course of last season, that dream turned into a nightmare.

On a related note: Liverpool signed three Southampton players last summer, and all three have abjectly failed to make the required (and expected) difference at Anfield. Ditto Luke Shaw at Man United.

Here's hoping that Nathaniel Clyne will buck this depressing trend...

* Firmino: £29m | Origi: £10m | Ings: £6m (probable compensation fee)

Author: Jaimie K

01 July 2015

Inside Info: Liverpool 'Insider' confirms BR wants 'excellent' international who slammed 'sick' and 'overrated' England U21 team

Liverpool are currently linked with a move for 'excellent' FC Copenhagen left-back Ludwig Augustinsson, but what are the chances of the Swedish youngster ending up at Anfield this summer?

On Monday, the Daily Mail claimed:

"Liverpool have discussed a move for Swedish U21 international Ludwig Augustinsson".

In an interview today, alleged 'Anfield Insider' Graham Beecroft told TalkSport:

"They [Liverpool] are also interested in Ludwig Augustinsson, who played last night for Sweden Under-21s against Portugal"

When asked today about Liverpool's alleged interest, though, Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken dismissed the rumours, and claimed that there are 'no requests' for Augustinsson. He told Aftonbladet:

"We have not had any inquiries about Ludwig, not from them [Liverpool, or from any club. There is no reason for us to comment on it".

Solbakken also urged Augustinnson to stay at Copenhagen to develop:

"It's best for Ludwig to be here with us for a while. This does not mean that he will play for FCK for four years, but in any case two years maybe. He's very good already but he can be even better."

I totally agree with this, but like so many other young players before him, Augustinsson - who has made 2 appearances for the Sweden national team - will probably jump at the chance of a move to a big club, even if it means his overall development may be interrupted (by wasting away on the bench etc).

That said, I totally support the signing of any player who holds views like this:

"I think they [The England U21 team] are overrated. Some players go for such sick amounts of money in England and are a bit more expensive than they are good".

Augustinsson clearly knows the score. The England teams - senior and junior - are both massively overrated, and the U21 team's miserable failure at the European Championship underlines (once again) the ingrained mediocrity eating away at the heart of the English game.

As for Augustinsson - Alberto Moreno had a disappointing first-season at Anfield, and proved to be a defensive liability on a number of occasions. However, if Liverpool are to sign another left-back, it should be someone capable of putting in a strong challenge to be the club's first-choice.

Is Augustinsson capable of doing that? To me, it seems like another Adam Bogdan situation, i.e. Rodgers bringing in a squad-filler who'll provide no real competition for Moreno, who cost the club £12m last summer. As such, what's the point? Augustinsson will probably go the way as Javier Manquillo, and spend most of his time on the bench.

On a related note: if Rodgers' plan is to bring in yet another comparatively untested youngster, surely it makes more sense to just promote someone from Liverpool's own youth set-up...?

Author: Jaimie K

Mega-Deal: 'Anfield Insider' confirms Liverpool will sign 'world-class' £32m goal-machine 'today' or very soon

Last month, Liverpool legend Ray Houghton claimed that Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke is a 'major' transfer 'priority' for the Reds this summer, and with Benteke also admitting that he's 'very pleased' to be linked with a move to Anfield, it appears that the big Belgian is on the verge of becoming Liverpool's seventh signing of the summer.

When asked in June about Liverpool's transfer targets, Houghton revealed the following tidbit of apparent inside information. He told TalkSport:

"I heard that Benteke is one of Liverpool’s major priorities for the summer. He’s the one they’re looking for".

"He’ll fit into the [Liverpool] style of play Liverpool. He’s big, he’s physical, and he can upset defenders. He has genuine pace, and he can score goals".

Today, there are two new transfer developments:

* According to Sky Sports, Benteke - who has a £32m buyout clause in his contract - is 'odds-on' favourite to sign for Liverpool.

* In an interview with TalkSport today, alleged 'Anfield insider' Graham Beecroft revealed that a deal for Benteke is imminent. He claimed: "Benteke is very close to signing for Liverpool [who] have sealed a deal with Aston Villa. I expect him to sign if not today then certainly in the not too distant future"

Benteke - who, according to Paul Lambert, is 'world-class' - is definitely on the outs at Villa, and his agent, Kismet Eris confirmed this in May, when he told The Independent:

"He [Benteke] will not sign a new contract. He will do whatever is possible legally to leave Aston Villa. He wants to play for a higher team".

Liverpool is definitely a 'higher team' than Villa, so it looks like fans - who seem to be generally apathetic about Benteke - (in a recent site poll, 58% of fans voted AGAINST the transfer) - need to start getting used to the fact that the Belgian striker will be wearing a red shirt next season.

I am cuatiously optimistic about the transfer. When fully fit and on form, Benteke is a top Premier League striker, but it has to be for the right price. Spending £32m is a massive mistake, and it will put too much pressure on him to perform.

If Liverpool can get him for between £20m and £25m, then it will be good business, and with Lallana and Firmino with bigger price tags, there won't be such an obsessive focus on the transfer fee.

A Liverpool line-up with Benteke looks pretty tasty:

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

Clyne ------- Skrtel --- Sakho -------- Moreno

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

--- Ibe --------- Coutinho -------- Firmino

----------------- Benteke

Add Yarmolenko to that team and it's easily top-four material.

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Agreed: Liverpool finally reach agreement over 'fantastic' £7m international. Done deal this week?

After four fruitless years at Anfield, and seemingly endless speculation about his future, Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates is finally on his way out of Liverpool.

Last week, Chronicle Live claimed that:

* Sunderland are 'closing-in' on a deal for £7m-rated Coates.

* Coates is allegedly on Dick Advocaat's 'list of summer transfer targets'.

According to The Guardian last night:

"Coates [will] make his Sunderland move permanent from Liverpool. He will be the second centre-half to commit to Sunderland this summer"

Sky Sports further claims that the deal 'could be completed this week'.

Coates - hailed in December as 'fantastic' by Gustavo Poyet - has made just 12 Premier League starts for Liverpool since 2011, and with Lovren, Skrtel, Sakho, Toure, Can, Ilori, and now Gomez in the squad, it's obvious that he is a dead man walking at Anfield.

Advocaat clearly rates the big defender, though. Coates got a run of games in the final third of the season, and in a recent interview with the Sunderland Echo, the Dutch boss explained why he kept him in the team:

“He [Coates] was very solid in the last couple of games, so that gives him the confidence. We saw him improving in training, so put him in. He’s done well and that’s the reason why he is still playing.”

A move away is exactly what Coates needs to rejuvenate his career, but after being dogged by injury over last year, he'll crash and burn unless he finds a way to stay consistently fit.

Coates' exit is a good thing as Liverpool's squad is becoming increasingly bloated, and with no Champions League football this year, it's a prime opportunity for Rodgers to further trim the playing staff. With that in mind, the following players should (IMO) follow Coates out of the door:

* Sterling: Liverpool are not good enough for The Mercenary, apparently. Sell to the highest bidder ASAP.

* Allen: Adds very little to the team, and with Emre Can (probably) moving into midfield, and another central midfielder sure to arrive, he's now redundant.

* Markovic: A total waste of £20m. His goals/assists ratio was pitiful at Benfica (and I highlighted that many times), and it's even worse at Anfield. Plus, the purchase of Firmino - and the rise Ibe - instantly relegates Markovic to squad player status, so the Reds might as well just cash-in.

* Lambert: His dream move to Liverpool has turned into a nightmare, and he surely won't want to spend another season warming the bench. There's no place for Lambert at LFC, so it's time to sell.

* Borini: He is never going to cut it at Anfield. Like Allen, a comfort buy for Rodgers, and he's similarly ineffective for the team.

* Enrique: Barely plays; frequently injured; no loss whatsoever if he leaves.

* Manquillo: Just 137 minutes of football since January 1st. Rodgers clearly doesn't rate him, and with Clyne/Wisdom now in the squad, the Spaniard is no longer needed.

* Lallana: Yes, I believe Liverpool should sell Lallana. He's just not consistent enough or strong enough for Liverpool (IMO), and like Lovren, he's failed to reproduce his Southampton form. Sign Yarmolenko and ditch Lallana.

* Balotelli: My personal preference is for Balotelli to stay, but he needs a different manager to excel at Liverpool. With Rodgers remaining in charge, he'll never prosper at Anfield, so the Reds might as well send him on loan, or sell.

* Coutinho: Just kidding! :-)


* Lucas - Fantastic, experienced pro with a top-class attitude, and a great role-model for younger players. His pleasant, unassuming demeanour reminds me of the legend that is Sami Hyypia, and Liverpool need that kind of honest, non-mercenary pro in the squad.

* Lovren - Despite the nightmare debut season, he remains an excellent defender (his history proves that), and I'm positive that he'll come good. If he's still making mistake by Christmas, then flog him in the January transfer market.

After Coates, who is likely to be the next player to leave Anfield this summer?

Author: Jaimie K

30 June 2015

Legend raves: Liverpool must sign 'perfect' £15m star; medical completed; done deal soon?

With five transfers already in the bag, Liverpool are on the verge of sealing a deal for 'impressive' Southampton full-back Nathaniel Clyne, and according to Reds legend Alan Kennedy, Clyne is the 'perfect' signing for Liverpool.

Clyne underwent a medical in Liverpool on Sunday ahead of a reported 5-year transfer, and when asked about the imminent deal, Kennedy told TalkSport:

“He [Clyne] is fast, tenacious, he likes to tackle he can get forward. I think he’s just what Liverpool need and will probably go straight into the first team.”

Clyne is set to cost Liverpool around £15m, which is just about good business for an England international with no significant injury history.

Hopefully, if/when the actual fee is announced, it won't be any more than that as £15m is the absolute maximum Liverpool should pay without moving into fleecing territory.

Prem legend Harry Redknapp shares Kennedy's enthusiasm, and speaking to the Daily Star today, he hailed the transfer:

"Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool is a great move. He took his game to another level at Southampton and I think that’s a great buy by Brendan."

Redknapp Jr. is a also fan of Clyne, and in a recent column for Sky Sports, he enthused:

"I’ve been really impressed with him [Clyne]. He’s athletic, technically good and he’s showing plenty of promise. He’ll learn an awful lot from Ronald Koeman".

With the acquisition of Clyne, the new-look Liverpool team is slowly taking shape, and with the players in the squad right now, the following is (IMO) the club's best line-up:

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

Clyne ------- Skrtel ------ Sakho -------- Moreno

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

------ Ibe ------- Coutinho ---- Firmino

------------------ Sturridge/Ings

In a 343:

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

-------- Can ------- Skrtel ------ Sakho

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

-- Milner ---------- Hendo --------- Moreno

----------- Coutinho ---- Firmino

------------------ Sturridge/Ings

In my view, reinforcements are still needed in the following positions (in order of priority):

* Experienced, proven striker.

* Defensive midfield (to replace Gerrard)

* Attacking midfield (Ibe is too inexperienced; Lallana is not consistent or prolific enough; Markovic is unreliable. All three are on the smaller side, just like Sterling, Coutinho, Firmino et al)

* Left back (Moreno isn't getting the job done, and proved last season that he's prone to costly mistake. He should be a squad player).

According to Ronald Koeman Clyne is 'one of the best right full-backs' he's managed 'in the last 15 years', so hopefully the defender will show that he's worthy of that glowing praise.

survey services

Author: Jaimie K

Done Deal #6: Liverpool to sign 31-goal attacker who 'dreams' of Anfield transfer

With 18-year old Joe Gomez already signed, Liverpool are reportedly on the verge of bringing yet another inexperienced young player to Anfield.

According to leading US youth website TopDrawSoccer:

"U.S. teenager Brooks Lennon will sign with Liverpool in the coming days. It marks the end of a rather long courting process between Liverpool and one of the top U.S. national team prospects".

The website further claims:

* Lennon 'has been training with Liverpool on and off since 2013'.

* Strict FA rules on non-EU players have delayed the signing, but Lennon now has an Irish passport en route, which will allow the transfer to take place.

Liverpool were last linked with Lennon in December 2014, when the Daily Mail reported:

"Liverpool are hopeful of getting Home Office clearance to sign Brooks Lennon. The speedy forward from Salt Lake City has already spent time with Liverpool training and on tour but did not qualify for a work permit".

In the past, Lennon has also confirmed Liverpool's interest. In 2013, he told ODFC News:

"I’ve been in contact with them [Liverpool] the past several months. We’ve been communicating a lot with Liverpool, trying to figure things out with the E.U. passport and a visa"

Lennon's name no longer appears on Real Salt Lake's official U18 team page, which suggests that the story is true, and that he has indeed left the club. Some info about the young attacker:

* Oct 2013: Lennon's initial response to Liverpool's interest: “It feels good when people recognize my talent and my ability. It [a move to Liverpool] is something I dream of"

* Jan 2014: 8-day trip with Liverpool’s U-17 team to Malaysia and Indonesia. Started both matches on the tour, and scored two goals.

* Photo of Lennon with the team during the aforementioned tour (first row - far right):

* July 2014: Scored the winner against Schalke for the Liverpool U17 squad.

* Jan 2015: Three goals in two games while on tour with a Liverpool youth side.

* 2014-2015: Scored 31 goals for the Real Salt Lake U18 team. Joint top scorer in the Development Academy.

* Lennon's approach to his career: "If I want to become a professional, I have to work hard every day...whether things are going good or bad. Just keep working hard and hopefully sooner or later I can realize my dreams.”

* According to TopDrawSoccer: "He [Lennon] is a dynamic player [with] relentless work ethic and quality in the final third...who could fit in on the wing or as a target striker".

It's hard to get excited about a 17-year old, and based on historical youth progression at Anfield, he has next to no chance of breaking through into the first-team.

That said, if Liverpool's policy is to snap up the best young talent, then getting the best of every age group is a good way to go about it, and with his excellent goal record, it's clear Lennon is a burgeoning talent.

Let's hope Lennon doesn't go the way of the Dodo like Mark Pelosi and Villyan Bijev, both of whom ended up on the Anfield extinction list.

Author: Jaimie K

Stunning Deal: 'World-class' £67m goal-machine asks for Liverpool transfer; new offer submitted

In April, reports in Italy claimed that Liverpool put in a €28m summer bid for 'world-class' Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain, and the club still in desperate need of a proven, top-class striker, it appears that the Reds may finally be in with a chance of landing the Argentine goalscorer.

According to SportMediaSet:

* Liverpool have made another offer for Higuain, who is 'eager' for a move to the Premier League.

* Higuain - - described by Andrea Pirlo as a 'lethal' striker - has asked Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to 'seriously consider' LFC's offer.

* Manchester United, Chelsea and, Arsenal are also interested.

Of all the striker's currently linked with Liverpool, Higuain is arguably best-suited to Liverpool's style of play, and he's the closest in style to Luis Suarez, who played a major part in taking the Reds to the brink of an improbable league title.

The Argentine's stats over the last few years are also pretty formidable:

* Napoli: 53 goals/23 assists in 104 apps (Goal/assist every 1.4 games).

* Real Madrid: 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".

Aldo told the Liverpool Echo:

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

Higuain is the type of marquee signing Liverpool fans dream of, but I don't buy the Sportmediaset story for a minute:

* Liverpool struggled last season, and have no Champions League incentive to offer.

* Additionally, over the last 5 years, the Reds have qualified for the Champions League on just ONE occasion, which isn't very enticing for the world's elite.

* Higuain has spent two years toiling at Napoli for very little reward (No league titles, for example), and I doubt he'll want to spend the last few years of his career at a club where the chance of winning major trophies is similarly slim.

* Higuain will probably want to go where he has the best chance of winning trophies, and if Chelsea and Arsenal are also interested, then it's hard to make a credible case for why he'd reject London for Liverpool.

There's also the price tag to consider. On Friday, Napoli PR chief Nicolas Lombardo made it clear that Higuain will only be sold for an extortionate figure. He told Radio Kiss Kiss:

"Higuain has a contract clause of €94,736,000 [£67m]. No bids below that figure will be accepted, those who want the player will have to match that valuation"

That pretty much counts out Liverpool, which is probably just as £67m is a ridiculous figure, and Higuain is not (IMO) worth that much.

In May, Brendan Rogers told a pre-match press conference:

"We have to look to improve the squad and it's always great if you can get marquee players to come in and help you. The owners will support that".

Higuain certainly fits the 'marquee' label, but it's doubtful that the owners will 'support' a £67m bid for one player. If, hypothetically, FSG are willing to break the British transfer record for Higuain, is it a deal the Reds should pursue?

Author: Jaimie K

27 June 2015

Playmaker raves: My 'future' is 'at Liverpool' and I 'dream' of 'Anfield'

Last month, A.D. Sanjoanense - a club in Portugal's illustrious third division - announced that Liverpool had agreed to sign Paulo Alves (aka Paulinho) one of the club's rising stars, and with Alves due at the club's Academy soon, the 17-year old has been waxing lyrical about his excitement at the prospect of playing for LFC.

In May, a statement on Sanjoanense's website confirmed the deal:

"The agreement [with Liverpool] comes after a trial period at the legendary English club, and should be formalized in the coming days".

Some further info re the deal:

* Paulinho has reportedly spent 3-weeks on trial at Liverpool.

* He has already passed a medical, and signed a deal with the Reds.

* Alves is nicknamed Paulinho ('little Paul') on account of his small size.

When asked this week about the transfer, Paulinho raved about the club's 'spectacular' training facilities, and seemed enthusiastic about the prospect of 'training regularly with the first team'. He also added:

“Since I knew that my future is at Liverpool, my dream has been to play at Anfield. I hope someday to achieve it. I just have to grab the opportunity and demonstrate quality"

Given Sanjoanense's lowly status in Portuguese football, it's understandable that Alves would jump at the chance to come to Liverpool, but in my view, it's the worst possible move he - or indeed any 16/17 year old - can make.

Alves is still a child, and the best thing for him to do is continue his development in his home country, alongside friends and family.

If he's that good, he opportunities will be there, but is it really worth sacrificing an entire way of life to toil away in Liverpool's youth system on the way to almost certain failure?

Two dispiriting facts to consider:

* In the entire history of Liverpool FC, no young, foreign, attacking player has ever made it through the youth system to become a regular in the first team.

* None of these aforementioned players have ever left Liverpool's youth system to become stars elsewhere.

If someone can name a young, foreign attacking player who came through LFC's academy, left the club, and then went on to become an established star in another top team, then I'm listening (!)

It's ridiculous, really, as the club has acquired so many exciting young attackers over the years, but like Suso, Nemeth, Leto, and countless others, they never seem to make it, and I'm sure Canos, Teixeira et al will go the same way.

On the subject of Teixeira: his experience at Anfield should serve as a cautionary tale for Alves.

* Teixeira - now 22 - has been granted an insulting 8 minutes of first-team football in 3.5 years.

* He's trained with the first-team many times, yet that hasn't made a difference to his chances of getting first team football.

8 minutes of game-time in 3.5 years? That's absolutely pathetic, and makes a mockery of the idea that Rodgers gives young players a chance at Anfield.

Sorry, a slight correction: British youngsters are given opportunities; overseas youngsters are largely ignored.

This is the reality. Why is it suddenly going to change now?

Good luck, Paulinho - you're going to need it.

Author: Jaimie K

26 June 2015

Done Deal: Liverpool 'confirm' 7th completed transfer as 'excellent' youngster signs for Aberdeen on loan

Earlier this week, Liverpool reserve goalkeeper Dany Ward signed a new long-term deal with the Reds, and his reward? Immediately being farmed out on loan for the whole of next season to become the Reds' 7th** completed transfer of the summer.

On Tuesday, a statement on the Official Liverpool FC website confirmed:

"[Ward] has officially committed his future to the Reds by penning a new deal today. Ward has been a regular fixture between the sticks for the club's U21 team since making the switch to Merseyside in January 2012".

Today, Liverpool further confirmed:

"Liverpool have confirmed Danny Ward has joined Aberdeen on a season-long loan.

"The goalkeeper will spend 2015-16 with the Scottish side and could make his debut in Sunday's friendly with St Johnstone in Brechin".

Hardly an inspiring transfer for Ward, who was recently hailed by Liverpool U21 boss Michael Beale as an as 'excellent' shot-stopper.

However, if it means he gets regular game-time, it has to be preferable to wasting away at Anfield, and playing second-fiddle to second-choice goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.

That said, the loan deal does suggest that Ward is even further down the pecking order than he might imagine:

* What is Mignolet gets injured? Bogdan will obviously get the nod to replace him, and the third-choice 'keeper - currently Ward - will consequently be promoted to the bench.

* A similar situation happened last season: After Brad Jones got injured, Mignolet regained his place in the team, and Ward stepped-up to the bench to become 2nd-choice 'keeper.

* Now, if something similar happens this season, Rodgers will probably elevate Lawrence Vigouroux to the bench.

* The fact that it's Ward going on loan, and not Vigoroux (who's a year younger) suggests to me that Rodgers rates Vigoroux more than Ward.

I doubt Ward will be that thrilled to spend the season in Scotland, though if he gets regular playing time, it may ultimately be worth it.

In my view, Ward should grab the opportunity with both hands (sorry, couldn't resist!), and try to become Aberdeen's number one and earn a permanent move.

History shows that youth goalkeepers never make it into the Liverpool first team, so the best thing Ward can do is pursue a career elsewhere.

** IN: Ings, Bogdan, Milner, Gomez, Firmino. OUT: Aspas, and Ward.

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Boost: Agent confirms £21m goal-machine wants to sign for 'Liverpool'. Anfield-bound?

On Wednesday, Sevilla Sporting Director Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo (aka Monchi) confirmed that Liverpool target Carlos Bacca will leave Sevilla if an interested club 'pays his buyout clause' [€30/£21m] and now, Bacca's agent has specifically confirmed that the Colombian is interested in a move to Anfield.

When asked last night about Liverpool's interest, Bacca's agent, Jose Barila, told The Guardian:

"Liverpool and another English club have shown an interest. They must meet the release clause but at this stage nobody has.

Barila then confirmed that Bacca will consider a move to Liverpool:

"Before he went to Chile, we wrote down a list of clubs that fit that description and Liverpool was on that list."

So, Bacca is happy to sign for Liverpool, but the Reds are seemingly stalling on making an official bid. Why? The following may be a possibility:

* Christian Benteke is probably Brendan Rodgers' preferred striker target, as he's younger, Premier League proven; less of a risk, and has more sell-on value.

* Bacca is probably second choice, and Liverpool are waiting to see if Aston Villa will cave and come down on their asking price, which is currently £32.5m (Benteke's release clause).

* The Telegraph claims today that Liverpool are set to up their offer for Benteke to £25m, which again suggests that the Belgian is Rodgers' top striker target.

* If the deal for Benteke fails, Liverpool will probably make an official bid for Bacca.

It's a dangerous game to play as another club may snap up the Colombian in the meantime. Plus, if the Reds aren't pulling out all the stops to make Bacca feel wanted, then he may end up rejecting the club anyway.

Footballers need to feel wanted, and if Bacca feels like he's a second or third choice, I doubt he'll sign.

Of the two, I'd take Bacca in a heartbeat:

* Scored 20+ goals in five of the last seven seasons (Averages a goal/assist every 1.5 games)

* Unlike Benteke, who is increasingly injury prone, Bacca is a man of steel; he's tough as nails, and is robust enough to make a successful transition to the Premier League.

Given Daniel Sturridge's ongoing injury problems, it's irresponsible to pay £25m+ for a player who's spent 214 days injured in the last two seasons. Granted, it's entirely possible that Benteke's injury problems are behind him, but is it worth taking the risk?

To be fair, I like Benteke; he's a powerful striker, and his creative record (62 goals/assists in 102 games) is excellent. For £20m (max), he'd be a top signing, but anything more than that and it's too much of a risk.

Some fans are doing the big Belgian a massive disservice by comparing him to Carroll, Lambert, and Balotelli. Benteke adapts to the way Villa play - at Anfield, I'm sure he'd quickly adapt to the way Liverpool play, and he'd probably find it liberating after being typecast as a target man at Villa Park.

Benteke is a skillful player, with good technique, and great finishing ability, and if he can smash in 49 goals playing for Villa, imagine what he could do with gold-plated service from the likes of Coutinho and Firmino...

Benteke or Bacca: Who's the best fit for Liverpool?

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Author: Jaimie K

Aldo warns: £50m for 'troublesome' attacker could be an 'expensive mistake' for Man City

Bye, Bye Raheem! The signing of Robert Firmino means that Sterling is now basically redundant at Anfield, and I have no doubt that he will be forgotten about five minutes into the Firmino's first game for Liverpool. Man City and Chelsea are reportedly fighting it our for Sterling, but Reds legend John Aldridge has warned prospective clubs that The Mercenary will probably end up as an 'expensive mistake'.

According to the Daily Mail:

"Man City’s owners have sanctioned a final offer [for Sterling] of £40m in cash, with bonuses that will push the deal closer to the £50m Liverpool are demanding"

In his column for Sunday World this week, Aldo labelled Sterling a 'troublesome character', and argued that spending £50m on Sterling is a 'huge gamble'. He noted:

"City will have to hope Sterling develops because they could be looking at an expensive mistake if he fails to hit the ground running when the pressure is on next season".

Is Sterling worth that much? No chance. Should Liverpool accept the offer? Absolutely.

£50m for a player with seven league goals last season is daylight robbery, and even with QPR's 25% kickback, and Firmino's transfer fee, Liverpool will still come out ahead (for once).

No matter how The Mercenary's fans spin it, Aldo is right: spending £30-£50m on Sterling is a giant gamble, and there's no guarantee that he'll be a success at the Etihad (or Stamford Bridge).

Aldo also sounded the following note of caution:

"I've watched Sterling develop and he always looked like a classy player in the making, but I’m sure Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips looked just as good when they burst through the ranks".

It's an obvious, almost cliched comparison, but it's a good one; the Premier League is littered with young players who got too big for their boots and followed the money, and like Rodwell, Sinclair, Zaha et al, Sterling is on a similar path to career destruction.

Of course, it's entirely possible that Sterling will surprise everyone and go on to be a superstar at City or Chelsea, but I can't see that happening. The pressure and competition is too intense, and if The Mercenary goes 17-games without a goal (as he did for LFC last season), he'll be summarily consigned to the bench.

At Liverpool, despite the regular goal droughts, Rodgers kept Sterling in the team, mainly because the Reds had no other attacking players in the squad who were fit for purpose. That has changed now, and Sterling is in for a rude awakening if he thinks that City et al will cut him similar slack.

After a week of good news, the optimism is slowly returning to Anfield, and I look forward to the cherry on the cake: the sale of Sterling, and the flagrant, unrepentant fleecing of Man City or Chelsea.

Author: Jaimie K

Next Transfer? After Firmino/Clyne, 'fantastic' £7m Uruguay star flying-in to sign for Sunderland?

In May, Liverpool outcast Sebastian Coates confirmed that he'd 'consider' a move away from Anfield , and with Uruguay now out of the Copa America, Sunderland are determined to quickly seal a deal for the £7m-rated central defender.

The Sunderland Echo recently claimed that Sunderland are 'hopeful' of signing Coates this summer, and according to Newcastle-based newspaper Chronicle Live today:

* Sunderland are 'closing-in' on a deal for Coates.

* Coates is allegedly on Dick Advocaat's 'list of summer transfer targets'.

* Coates is flying 'back to the UK' to 'sort out his future'.

When asked recently about a possible permanent transfer to Sunderland, Coates told reporters:

"Yes, it [leaving Liverpool] is something I’d consider if it became a possibility. It’s good to play. Every player needs games and sometimes that’s the key.”

Coates - hailed in December as 'fantastic' by Gustavo Poyet - has made just 12 Premier League starts for Liverpool since 2011, and with Lovren, Skrtel, Sakho, Toure, Can, Ilori, and now Gomez in the squad, it's obvious that Coates is a dead man walking at Anfield.

Advocaat clearly rates the big defender, though. Coates got a run of games in the final third of the season, and in a recent interview with the Sunderland Echo, the Dutch boss explained why he kept him in the team:

“He [Coates] was very solid in the last couple of games, so that gives him the confidence. We saw him improving in training, so put him in. He’s done well and that’s the reason why he is still playing.”

Clearly, Coates has what it takes to make it in the Premier League, but after two major injuries in one year (including a cruciate ligament tear), selling the Uruguayan is a sensible idea.

Plus, signing Gomez, giving Toure a contract extension, and bringing Ilori back = a gigantic vote of no-confidence in Coates. If Rodgers has faith in Coatez, why sign more central defenders?

As always the question to ask is this: will losing Coates make any negative difference to Liverpool's forward progress? As harsh as it sounds, the answer is emphatically NO, and sacrificing him for much-needed extra cash makes sound transfer sense.

Author: Jaimie K

25 June 2015

Transfer Update: Rodgers to dump Liverpool outcast after signing 'impressive' £12m international

With 'impressive' Southampton full-back Nathaniel Clyne on the way to Anfield, it's surely curtains for Liverpool full-back Javier Manquillo, and the Reds are reportedly happy to let the Spanish full-back leave this summer.

According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola today:

* Benfica are interested in signing Manquillo this summer, and have approached Atletico Madrid (Manquillo's parent club) to discuss a deal.

* Liverpool are keen to end the €6m-rated Spaniard's two-year loan deal early.

This follows a report last month in the Daily Mail, which claimed:

"Right-back Javi Manquillo is set to return to Spain after failing to make an impact [at Liverpool]"

The reports seem to contradict Brendan Rodgers' take on the situation, though.

When asked in May about Manquillo's future, the manager refuted reports of an early exit, and explained Manquillo's extended absence from the team:

“When the system changed it was obviously a little more difficult for him. He hasn’t played much...but a lot of that has been due to the system change. Hopefully he comes back in pre-season and can work well and work his way into the team.”

Despite Rodgers' protestations to the contrary, an early exit for Manquillo is a good idea, especially if the young defender wants to develop his career.

Manquillo - unfairly labelled as 'poor' by Jamie Redknapp earlier in the season - rarely makes the match-day squad, let alone the first team.

Indeed, since January 1st, Manquillo has been granted just 137 minutes of football, which roughly equates to a 1.5 games in six months.

Quite how he's supposed to develop with such measly game-time is anyone's guess, and with 'impressive £12m-man' Clyne soon to arrive, and Tiago Ilori also returning, first-team opportunities will be even harder to come by.

The writing is on the wall for Manquillo, and to add insult to injury, if Clyne doesn't play, Emre Can - a midfielder - will probably get the nod at right-back.

As such, I seen no incentive for Manquillo to stay at Anfield. The best thing he can do is leave for a club where he'll actually get to play regularly.

Author: Jaimie K