06 May 2015

Done Deal: After passing a medical, Liverpool reach 'agreement' to sign Alves this summer from Portugese club Sanjoanense

With the summer transfer window still over a month away, Brendan Rodgers has already sealed the the first signing of the summer, and it's as underwhelming as the rest of Liverpool's transfers over the last couple of years.

On Tuesday evening, A.D. Sanjoanense - a club in Portugal's illustrious third division - announced that Liverpool have agreed to sign Paulo Alves, one of the club's rising stars.

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 the last few weeks on trial at Liverpool.

* Alves will remain with Sanjoanense until the end of the Portuguese season, and head to Anfield next season.

* 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.

Sorry, but I find it hard to muster up enthusiasm for yet another young attacker who may or may not come good at some undetermined point in the future.

Given Sanjoanense 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 (!)

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

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.

Paulo Alves: you've been warned.

Author: Jaimie K

05 May 2015

Confirmed: Liverpool 'offer' €12m 'warrior' 3-year deal at Anfield; player currently 'assessing' the offer

In April, £12m-rated Liverpool stalwart Martin Skrtel dismissed rumours linking him with a move to Wolfsburg, and confirmed that he is definitely 'not leaving' Anfield this summer. Skrtel remains one of LFC's most consistent players, and his agent has now confirmed that the Reds have offered the Slovakian an enticing new deal.

In an interview last night, Skrtel's agent, Karol Csonto, told Radio Kiss Kiss:

“I can confirm that Liverpool have offered my client a new three-year contract. It is a good offer, and the player is assessing the situation”

When asked about interest from Rafa Benitez's Napoli, Csonto added:

“I do not know whether Napoli will contact us with an offer, but anything can happen in football. However, I cannot see this happening since Liverpool have offered a three-year contract.”

Like last season, Skrtel - hailed this season as a 'warrior' by Rodgers - is Liverpool's most consistent defender, and for me, he is far more deserving of a new contract than Raheem Sterling or Jordon Ibe.

I'd go one further and suggest that Skrtel should be Liverpool's next captain. Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson also wants to see Skrtel succeed Steven Gerrard. In a recent column, Lawro insisted that the Slovakian has 'more leadership qualities', and further noted:

"Skrtel plays almost every game, could handle the responsibility and it would help him communicate more. He is a battler, too. He got stood on the head by Giroud [vs. Arsenal] but he stayed on to head home a late equaliser".

I recently conducted a poll asking fans who should be Liverpool's next captain:

* 55% of participants voted for Skrtel. Only 28% chose Henderson.

* 10% chose Lucas; 7% Lallana; 1% Lovren.

This suggests that there's a slight disconnect between the fans and Rodgers on this particular issue.

* After Gerrard, 'warrior' Skrtel is one of the most senior players in the squad; he's paid his dues, and after six years at the club, he's arguably earned the right to lead the team.

* After being dumped for Jamie Carragher last season, Skrtel showed real strength of character and admirable attitude to fight his way back to being Liverpool's number-one centre-half. In that time, the Reds have spent £45m on three different central defenders, yet Skrtel remains the one constant in the heart of defence.

* Skrtel is the perfect bridging option. After Gerrard leaves, there will be immense pressure on the next captain to live up to the skipper's influence. That's even more likely to the case with Hendo as he is a midfielder, and therefore directly comparable to Gerrard.

* Skrtel is a defender, so there will (arguably) be less pressure on him. Plus, at the age of 30, he probably only has a couple of years left at LFC, so it makes sense to give him the job, and allow Henderson to work at increasing his influence on the field.

* Once he's achieved that, Henderson will - through the consistent level of his performances - command more respect from players and fans alike, and that will help his transition into the role of captain.

* Additionally, Henderson will have the advantage of taking over from Skrtel, and not Gerrard.

Alas, I can't see this happening. Judging by the constant effusive praise over the last two years, Henderson is clearly a Rodgers favourite, and remains the most likely to become Liverpool's next captain.

Author: Jaimie K

Marquee Signings? Rodgers reveals 'exciting' Liverpool transfer news and confirms he'll sign several 'talents' this summer

With the transfer window on the horizon, Liverpool fans - myself included - are understandably nervous about Brendan Rodgers ability to sign the right players.

Rodgers blew it last year, and wasted almost £120m on the wrong players, but this year, LFC's boss seems convinced that he can deliver the goods in the summer transfer market.

When asked last night about Liverpool's transfer plans, Rodgers made the following enticing statement:

"We are definitely on the right path. This year it has been disappointing but there are some exciting talents coming in [during the transfer window]"

Rodgers is emphatic on the subject: exciting talents ARE coming to Liverpool this summer, which suggests that several deals are already done.

There's no point getting excited, though. Rodgers says the same thing every single year. Examples:

* 9 July 2012: "We have only made three or four enquiries about players and hopefully can close out one deal this week which will be a real exciting one for the club, one the supporters will absolutely love".

- Dispiriting Reality: Liverpool signed Allen, Assaidi, Yesil, and Sahin.

* 19 Jul 2013: "There is daily dialogue going on and I am confident that we will get the one or two players who will really excite and complete the jigsaw".

- Depressing Reality: Liverpool signed Cissokho, Moses, Ilori, and Sakho.

Rodgers is clearly a fantasist, as none of the signings above were/are 'exciting', and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the manager - with his latest comments - is referring to James Milner, and/or another batch of untested youngsters with 'potential'.

It still remains to be seen whether Rodgers retains his job this summer, but if he does, then there is absolutely no margin for error in the transfer market.

I suspect that FSG will keep Rodgers at Anfield this summer, but if Liverpool are struggling to maintain a top four place by Christmas, he may find himself going the same way as Roy Hodgson: axed during the January transfer window.

Author: Jaimie K

Legend: Liverpool must 'pay whatever it takes' to sign £30m goal-machine. Agree?

With 12 goals/assists in his last 9 games, Christian Benteke is on fire for Aston Villa right now, and with the Reds reportedly weighing up a summer move for the striker, Liverpool legend John Aldridge has urged his old club to pull out all the stops to sign the Belgian powerhouse.

Aston Villa allegedly want £30m for Benteke, and according to Aldo, he's worth every penny. In his Monday column for Sunday World (that's not a typo!), Aldo urged Liverpool to 'pay whatever it takes to lure Benteke to Anfield'. He added:

"He [Benteke] is a proven performer and a real handful leading the line. He might not be a typical Rodgers type of player, but I think he would be great for Liverpool"

When asked on Friday about Benteke's future, Villa boss Tim Sherwood insisted that he doesn't want to sell the Belgian, but conceded that money talks. He told reporters:

"It would have to be a lot of money for anyone to take him [Benteke] from us [but] if a player doesn't want to play for the club anymore...then I think it's always best to let them go."

Villa star Leandro Bacuna is desperate for Benteke to stay, and when asked about the striker on Monday, he enthused:

"It's going to be hard to hang onto him [Benteke]. I don't know if he is the best striker in the Premier League, but he is definitely one of the best"

Benteke's overall record for Villa is excellent:

* 46 goals/13 assists in 96 apps for Villa.
* Goal/assist every 1.6 games.

However, £30m is arguably too much for a player who's suffered injury problems and inconsistent form for most of the last two seasons:

* Since the appointment of Tim Sherwood, Benteke has smashed in 12 goals/assists in 9 games, but prior that, he contributed a meagre 3 goals/2 assists in 20 games.

* Last season, he grabbed 11 goals in 26 appearances, which isn't that great, either.

* Spending big money on the back of short-term purple patch is not (IMO) the best transfer strategy. Benteke is doing well now, but once the Sherwood effect runs out, will he still score at the same rate?

Benteke's change in fortunes suggests that he's a confidence player who doesn't have the stomach for a fight, rather than a leader who will step-up when the chips are down (which is what Liverpool need)

That said, perhaps Paul Lambert was the problem; like Rodgers, Tim Sherwood is (increasingly) renowned for his man-management skills, and if the ex-Spurs boss can get the Belgian scoring on a regular basis, perhaps Rodgers can, too.

If he's here next season, that is.

web survey

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Update: Liverpool chase 'exceptional' £15m record-setter who almost signed for LFC in 2013

In April 2013, Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic admitted that he was 'happy' to be linked with a summer transfer to Liverpool, and the Reds were heavily linked with Bosnian stopper before ultimately deciding to go with Simon Mignolet. It's an open secret that Brendan Rodgers is actively trying to sign another goalkeeper, and new reports today suggest that Begovic is back on the manager's transfer wish-list.

According to the Daily Express:

* Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid are all interested in signing £15-rated Begovic.

* The 27-year old stopper is allegedly 'far from happy' about being out of the starting XI.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has dropped 'exceptional' Begovic for recent games, and explaining his decision over the weekend, he told reporters:

"Asmir wants to play every game, but I explained the reasons behind my decision. I'm very fortunate to have three excellent keepers, so whoever I pick I'm going to get a decent performance".

At one point during the summer of 2013, it seemed like a deal had already been concluded, when Begovic told the Bosnian media:

"I want to start preparing on July 10, with all the players of Liverpool”

It seems as if Begovic is experiencing the same thing as Mignolet, i.e. being taken out of the firing line as a result of a middling period of form.

Contrary to the Express report, though, he seems happy at Stoke, and when asked last month about his future, he enthused:

"I’ve always been very settled and satisfied here. I’ve a year left on my contract and so I’m pretty calm with the situation. We will talk when the time is right and see if we can make it a long-term one.”

Things change quickly in football, though, and with Jack Butland seemingly being positioned as Stoke's number-one goalkeeper, Begovic's alleged ire is certainly understandable. How does Begovic compare to the Mignolet:

* Begovic: 209 goals conceded in 172 apps (for Stoke)
* 50 clean sheets (1 every 3.4 games)
* 1.2 goals conceded per game.

* Mignolet: 240 goals conceded in 191 apps (Sunderland and LFC)
* 61 clean sheets (1 every 3.1 games)
* Concedes 1.3 goals per game.

Goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks is a fan of Begovic, and in a recent interview, he raved:

"First of all, let me say he's had a great season and I've said to a lot of people that he's definitely up there now with the top three goalkeepers in this country. He's terrific."

Begovic entered the Guiness Book of Records last season for scoring a goal from the longest ever distance in football association history (91.9 metres), but is he a better option than Mignolet?

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Surprise: Chelsea in shock move to sign 'excellent' Liverpool attacker after scouting him at Anfield

After spending most of the season warming the bench at Anfield, and/or failing to consistently put the ball in the back of the net, Rickie Lambert is expected to leave Liverpool this summer, and Chelsea are reportedly keen to bring the Reds' striker to Stamford Bridge.

According to The Mirror on Monday:

* Chelsea are considering a summer move for Rickie Lambert as a possible replacement for Didier Drogba.

* Blues' scouts allegedly watched in action Lambert during Saturday's 2-1 victory over QPR.

Chelsea in for Lambert? It sounds ludicrous, and the 'story' doesn't ring true, for the following reasons:

* Prior to QPR, Lambert hadn't started a Premier League game for almost FIVE months, yet Chelsea allegedly send scouts on the day he just happened to play form the start (!) Sounds like nonsense to me.

* Liverpool play Chelsea this weekend, so why not just wait for that game go Scout Lambert? Why send Scouts halfway across the country when the Blues could just wait another week?

Is Lambert - hailed as 'excellent' by Brendan Rodgers on Saturday - more likely to get game time at Chelsea?

Extremely doubtful, and Lambert goes to Stamford Bridge, it'll just be more of the same: endless bench duty.

I just can't see any reason why Mourinho would want to sign Lambert, who's barely featured for Liverpool since the turn of the year. Stranger things have happened, though, and if Chelsea are genuinely interested, will he go to London?

Lambert has a two-year deal with Liverpool, and warming the bench at Anfield - his boyhood club - is surely more enticing than having to endure hordes of plastic-flag waving wideboys at Stamford Bridge.

On the flip-side, the chance to work with Jose Mourinho may too enticing to turn down, and Lambert will know that if he goes to Stamford Bridge, there's a strong chance that he could end his career with Premier League winner's medal.

I call BS on this one, though.

Author: Jaimie K

04 May 2015

[Guest-Post] Revealed: The reason why Liverpool will never be champions under Rodgers

[GUEST POST] The inability of Liverpool FC to close out the 2013/2014 season as champions surprised many fans, especially those of us that remember the great LFC teams of the 70s and 80s. A Paisley, Fagan, or Dalglish team at the top of the league with a few games left probably would've gone on to be champions, but Rodgers' Liverpool team continues to fail at the final hurdle. Why? The history of management success in the Premier League offers a clue as to what needs to change.

Compared to the season prior to his arrival, there is no doubt that Liverpool have improved under Rodgers, but it seems that his Liverpool teams always seem to buckle under pressure.

As this season underlines yet again, Rodgers has assembled a team of 'nearly men', who seem to lack the mental fortitude to stay the course.

Liverpool folded under pressure when odds-on to win the league last season, and the team failed to impress in two cup semi-finals this season.

Interestingly, Kenny Dalglish took a team in far worse shape to two cup finals, winning one of them. Would King Kenny have gone on to win the league last season?

So, what's the problem? In my view, the experience and/or trophy-winning ability of the manager is the key thing that separates Liverpool from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Consider the following:

* The top four teams in the Premier League have managers who are proven winners, and each one of these managers guided a team to a domestic league title prior to joining their current team.

* Mourinho, Wenger, Pellegrini, and Van Gaal honed their management skills and a winning mentality before making the move to the top European leagues.

* Interestingly, the league wins prior to joining their current teams were in smaller leagues (Ligue 1, Eredivisie, Chilean League).

* It is also notable that the team currently outperforming all expectations in the league (Southampton), also has a manager with a strong track record of prior management success.

Consider some of the other managers who have delivered success in the premier league.

- Sir Alex Ferguson had three league titles, five domestic cup titles and two European trophies before he came to England.

- Kenny Dalglish took an average Blackburn team to the Premier League title (we all know his prior achievements).

- Roberto Mancini had won Serie A and Coppa Italia three times before winning the Premier League.

- Carlo Ancelotti had won the Champions League twice and Serie A once before winning the Premier League.

The reality is obvious: No manager has won the Premier League without having first won another domestic league.

I am a fan of Rodgers, and I believe he was right man for Liverpool back in 2012, but he is arguably not equipped to build a title winning team.

Liverpool simply do have the leadership required to improve performances significantly, and unless things change, the club will find it increasingly difficult to maintain a top-four presence, and/or win the league.

In order to move forward, the data suggests that the club needs to be infused with a winning mentality, and that comes from from:

* Hiring proven winners to lead the club, and:

* Signing proven winners for the first eleven.

I'd love to see Rodgers stay, but putting sentimentality aside, it seems clear that Liverpool's 25-year league drought will not end until the club appoints a manager with a track-record of winning trophies.

Should Liverpool stick with Rodgers, or try and find a manager who fits the required profile for success?

Author: Mark Chrystal | Follow Mark on Twitter: @mkjchrysta

Contract Agreed: €20m Barcelona star desperate to sign for Liverpool. Done deal soon?

Liverpool are reportedly on the verge of sealing a deal for Barcelona star Martin Montoya, who has been linked with a move to Anfield multiple times over the last few years.

In March, The Mirror claimed that Barcelona had given Liverpool the 'green light' to sign Montoya, and according to reports in Spain today:

* Montoya - who has a €20m buyout clause in his contract - has allegedly 'agreed' terms with Liverpool on a summer transfer to Anfield.

* The Spaniard wants to sign for the Reds 'as soon as possible', and believes a move to Liverpool will be good for him 'personally and professionally'

* Liverpool are yet to reach agreement with Barcelona over a transfer fee.

Transfer timeline:

* May 2013: Spanish newspaper Spanish newspaper Sport alleged that Liverpool had 'enquired about the status of Montoya' and claimed that Brendan Rogers is a big fan of the Barca player'.

* Sep 2013: Montoya's agent, Jose Maria Orobitg, told FCInterNews: "The renewal [of Montoya's contract] has not yet arrived. Inter Milan, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool are interested"

* Dec 2013: The Guardian claimed: "Liverpool have opened talks with Barcelona over the transfer of Martín Montoya. Managing director, Ian Ayre, met Barcelona officials in Catalunya [last] Thursday to discuss a possible fee".

* Nov 2014: Reports in Spain claimed that Liverpool were on the verge of sealing a January deal for Montoya.

* Dec 2014: When asked about his future in December, Montoya's agent, Juan de Dios Carrasco, told reporters: "Montoya will 100 per cent leave Barcelona. We just want to find the best club for Martin, so he can continue his progression. Germany, Italy and England all have clubs that are already pulling strings to sign him."

* Jan 2015: Montoya's Agent confirmed the he wants out of the Nou Camp: "Our idea is still the same: the player wants to leave. We are waiting for the club to select a new sporting director so we can speak with him and find the best possible solution."

With Johnson leaving, and Flanagan already confirmed to be out for most of next season, a new right back is a priority, and it's good that the Reds seemingly have a solution already lined-up.

If Liverpool sign Montoya, it'll surely be curtains for Javier Manquillo, though, who has barely played over the last six months. If he can't maintain a first-team place right now, I don't see how that'll change when a new right-back arrives at the club.

Hopefully, Montoya will do better than fellow Spaniard Alberto Moreno, who has made lots of costly mistakes during his first season at Anfield.

Author: Jaimie K

Anfield Exit: Legend confirms £31m trio 'will be leaving Liverpool' this summer

This season, Liverpool 'strikers' Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, and Mario Balotelli ('Lambortelli') have failed the club with their underwhelming scoring record, and with only 8 goals between them, it's clear that the Reds' forward line requires a major overhaul this summer. All three players have to go, and according to Anfield legend John Aldridge, the Brendan Rodgers has already decided to ditch the trio.

In his column for Sunday World today, 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"

Aldo says that the trio 'will' be leaving, which is a statement of fact, and given his position as a high-profile ex-Red, with strong links to the club, it's possible that he's heard something behind the scenes about the club's summer transfer plans.

Wanting players out, and getting them to leave, are two different things, though.

* Liverpool tried to scrap Borini last summer, but he steadfastly refused to leave. The Italian's contract expires in 2017, and he may just decide to stick it out to the end.

* Balotelli may be set to follow Borini's stubborn strategy. In March, his Agent told La Gazetta dello Sport:

"The plan is to continue at Anfield. I saw him [Balotelli] on 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".

* Lambert may be easier to move on, but Liverpool is his dream move, and if he gets the chance to stay for another year, I'm sure he'll take it.

There's also something else to consider: Brendan Rodgers' position at Anfield is currently under threat right, and certain players may be biding their time in the hope that a new manager may come in.

In some cases, previously misfiring players can reinvigorate their careers under a new boss (just look at Christian Benteke under Tim Sherwood), and Lambortelli probably know that if they stick it out - and Rodgers leaves - they'll get a clean slate under the next manager.

Hopefully, it won't matter, though, as any manager of sound mind will surely see that Lambert, Borini, and Balotelli are not fit for purpose.

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed: Liverpool 'want' to sign 'superb' international attacker. €20m offer made in 2012

Liverpool are back in the race to sign Bayer Leverkusen star Son Heung-Min, an exciting attacking player the club has relentlessly pursued throughout Brendan Rodgers' Anfield reign.

Last season, Brendan Rodgers reportedly made a 'personal check' on Son, and over the weekend, Min's agent, Thies Bliemeister told German newspaper Bild:

"I know Liverpool have scouted him several times this season and they want him in their team."

In November 2012, former Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Rafael Van Der Vaart revealed the extent of Liverpool's interested:

"It is tempting when Liverpool informs you of a twenty million offer, but he [Son] must stay here!"

At the time, Bleimeister, also confirmed Liverpool's 'concrete' interest.

"Liverpool were interested in concrete terms. I think, at clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham, he would also be able to play, [but] Leverkusen is the right step to develop. The Premier League could someday be the goal"

Like Emre Can - who also came from Leverkusen - 22-year old Son is positionally versatile, and can play on the left, right, behind the striker, or even as centre-forward.

When asked recently to describe his best position, Son explained:

"I don't care where I play. The main thing is I'm in the game. I can play as a second striker or behind. What the coach says, I'll do. I don't have a favorite position. I'll be anywhere and always on the throttle."

German legend Franz Beckenbauer is a fan of the South Korean international, and in an interview Hamburger Morgenpost last year, he raved:

"He [Son] is superb player. I really like the way he plays: Fast and dynamic. He not only scores goals, but also makes beautiful goals"

Son's stats:

* This season: 21 goals/assists in 39 apps.

* Goal/assist every 1.8 games.

* Leverkusen total: 40 goals/assists in 82 apps.

* Goal/assist every 2 games.

Unlike Coutinho, Sterling, Markovic et al, Son is a tall, strong attacker, which is something Liverpool don't have at the moment. Rodgers seems to favour smaller, mobile attackers with a low centre of gravity, and that's great, but it's also good to have different types of players at the club.

Son has an €22m buyout clause in his contract, which is fair enough given the South Korean's rapid rise to prominence, and consistent creative contribution for Leverkusen. Alas, according to his agent:

"Son has a release clause at €22.5m, but the deadline has already expired, which means that the fee would be freely negotiated, and Son would be even more expensive".

Liverpool need attacking players who can regularly score goals, and if Son is available for the right price, should the Reds pursue a deal?

Jaimie K

Boss raves: £15m Liverpool target is 'better' than Hendo, Gerrard and every other Prem midfielder

Earlier this season, Liverpool were linked with a move for 'excellent' Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph, and with Steven Gerrard leaving this summer, the Villa man is sure to be linked with a move to Anfield again this summer. Delph is one of the major reasons for Villa's resurgence under Tim Sherwood, and according to the ex-Spurs boss, the 25-year old is currently outshining every other midfielder in the country.

Speaking to reporters after Villa's 3-2 victory over, Sherwood raved:

"Fabian Delph - there's not a better midfielder in the country at the moment. He breaks the play up, he carries the ball well and he can pass it. He's got everything to his game and he can score. He's vital for us."

In January, The Mirror claimed that Liverpool are favourites to sign Delph, but ex-LFC boss Roy Evans recently urged the Reds to steer clear of the £15m-rated midfielder. When asked if Liverpool should sign Delph, he tweeted:

"No. I'd rather give some of the youngsters a chance if needed"

Evans' opinion on the matter conflicts with the view of Reds legend Jamie Carragher, who recently hailed the midfielder's 'outstanding' talent, and argued that he deserves a regular place in the England team:

"Delph is playing every week for a big club [and] he gives a side real energy and aggression. Plus, because he is left-footed, offers you nice balance in the middle of the park, while he has strike on him, too"

LFC fans got a good look at Delph during Villa's recent 2-1 FA Cup victory, and in my view, he put in a very good performance, particular in the second half, when Villa had Liverpool on the ropes for long periods of time.

The tabloids have taken great delight in peddling the ludicrous myth that Delph is a potential replacement for Steven Gerrard, but any potential deal is much more palatable if Delph is viewed as a potential replacement for Lucas (or Allen), both of whom are eminently expendable.

There are, admittedly, elements of risk:

* Delph's injury history is a major concern. Over the last four years, he's suffered seven injuries (including a cruciate ligament tear), and spent over 400 days on the sidelines as a result.

* Delph is currently a semi-big fish in a (comparatively) small pond; at LFC, he'd be a small fish in a big pond, and there's always a possibility he'll struggle to deal with the pressure and expectation.

* The burden of coming into the club when Gerrard leaves will be added pressure. The media will inevitably compare any incoming midfielder with the captain, and that will bring added pressure.

Delph signed a new four-and-a-haaf year deal in January, so if Liverpool go in for him in the summer, the club will inevitably have to pay through the nose to seal the deal, but that's par for the course at Anfield these days.

Author: Jaimie K

03 May 2015

'Natural Goalscorer': Liverpool want 'unbelievable' £10m striker and can sign him if QPR get relegated

In recent months, the speculation linking Liverpool with a summer move for Danny Ings seems to have (thankfully) cooled, and with the summer transfer window just around the corner, new reports suggest that Reds are now focusing on recruiting another young British striker instead.

According to reports on Saturday:

* Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Chelsea are all considering summer bids for QPR striker Charlie Austin.

* The prolific striker will be available for £10m if the London club gets relegated.

Liverpool were linked with Austin back in 2012, and at the time, the Daily Mail claimed:

"Austin has been watched by an increasing number of Premier League scouts over the past five games. Newcastle have a long-held interest while Liverpool have also taken a look".

In January, I argued that Austin is a better option than Ings, for the following reasons:

* More prolific in the Prem (17 goals in 33 apps).

* Older and more experienced.

* 46 goals/assists in 70 apps for QPR overall.

* Goal/assist every 1.5 apps (vs. Ings = 1 every 2.3 apps)

* Injury free for the last four years.

If Rodgers is intent on bringing in a young, British striker, then Austin is clearly the superior option. The proof is in the pudding: Austin - hailed as 'unbelievable' by former boss Harry Redknapp - has 17 Premier League goals, which is a fantastic achievement for someone playing in a relegation team. Ings has 9 in the same number of games, yet the Reds seem to be more interested in the Burnley man.

Additionally, Ings seemingly doesn't appear to have the mental toughness required. In January, Burnley boss Sean Dyche admitted that transfer speculation had 'affected' Ings, and it clearly has because the 22-year old hasn't scored since February 21st, which is a run of 10 games without a goal.

Austin is also the subject of regular transfer speculation, but it hasn't affected his ability to score goals for QPR, which suggests that is mentally tough enough to deal with the pressure of playing for a top Premier League club. Indeed, Arsene Wenger suggested as much in a recent interview, when he told reporters:

"It's good to see that an English striker who had played in lower divisions has managed to come up. That shows mental strength and tenacity, and that is important at the top level"

Liverpool need players who won't fold under the pressure, and of the two, Austin seems better equipped to deal with the
step-up. The striker is certainly confident in his own ability. In an interview this week, he told reporters:

"If you're a natural goalscorer, a real goalscorer, you back yourself nine times out of 10 to score. You're confident, you always back your ability as a centre-forward".

Worth a bid?

Author: Jaimie K