7/24/2014 11:54:00 pm

Next Stop Anfield? After £18m fail, LFC want to sign 'brilliant' €20m 'Player of the Year', with 4 league titles in a row

With the pursuit of Sevilla star Alberto Moreno seemingly on the rocks, and Chelsea allegedly baulking at selling Ryan Bertrand to a Premier League rival, Liverpool are ready to switch their attention back to Ajax left back Daley Blind, who is also wanted by several of Europe's biggest clubs.

In June Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claimed that Liverpool's interest in Blind is 'concrete', and revealed that Reds held transfer talks with Ajax Director of Football Marc Overmars.

According to Italian newspaper TuttoSport today:

* Barcelona, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and LFC are all in the race to sign Blind.

* Ajax want €20m for the Dutch defender.

Blind put in some good performances for Holland during the World Cup, and contributed one goal and three assists as Louis Van Gaal's team made it to the semi-finals. Some info about Blind:

* 2010-2014: Winner of four league titles in a row with Ajax.
* 2013: Ajax Player of the Year.
* 2014: Named Dutch Player of the Year.
* 140 apps for Ajax since 2010.
* 13 apps for the Dutch national team.
* Can play left back, or defensive midfield.

After witnessing Holland's memorable annihilation of Spain, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry raved:

"The Dutch owned it. That was the final we wanted to see four years ago and the man of the match was Blind. The way he played - he did it all to a tee. Whatever van Gaal asked him to do, he did more."

Alan Shearer added:

"Daley Blind down that wing [was] absolutely brilliant. I have never seen that Spain back four pulled around as much as they were."

The footballing education received by young players at Ajax is amongst the best in the world, so Blind certainly has the pedigree. He also has experience of winning trophies, and four league titles in a row ensures that he'll have a strong winning mentality.

€20m is a bit steep, but it's infinitely preferable (IMO) to £18m+ on Alberto Moreno, a player who doesn't have Blind's domestic or international experience.

Van Gaal must surely have the advantage here, though. He knows Blind, and if it comes to a straight choice between Liverpool and Manchester United, it's likely he'll choose Old Trafford.


7/24/2014 11:50:00 am

Done Deal: LFC sign coveted €6m star hailed as 'very important' by Argentina legend

Brendan Rodgers is set to make his first defensive buy of the summer, with Liverpool reportedly set to announce the signing of Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca today:

* Liverpool have agreed a 2-year loan deal for Manquillo.

* The deal includes an option to buy for €6m.

* Manquillo is attracted by the Champions League, and is looking for regular game time.

* The deal is expected to be announced this week.

Some info about 20-year old Manquillo:

* 6 appearances for Atletico.
* 18 appearances for various Spain youth teams.
* 2012: Part of Spain's European Under-19 Championship winning team.
* Madrid contract expires in 2016.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone believes Manquillo is destined for great things, and last season, he enthused:

"Manquillo [is in] a maturing stage. [he] is going to be a very important player for this team. The future is great but the present is very important and we want [him] to keep developing".

Yes, Manquillo is so 'important' that Simeone is letting him leave only months after making the above statement :-)

Forgive me if I'm less than enthused, but this has a distinctly similar feel to last year's deal for Tiago Ilori:

* Due to (arguably) unhealthy competition, the Portuguese had no real chance of making a breakthrough, and got farmed out on loan.

* Given Manquillo's almost complete lack of experience, it seems very unlikely that he will get regular game-time at Anfield, and he'll probably suffer the same fate as Ilori.

* With Flanagan, Johnson, Kelly, Robinson et al already at the club, are we to believe that an untested 20-year old is suddenly going to come in and go straight into the first team and usurp the aforementioned players? I can't see it, which begs the question, why sign him at all?

The likes of Kelly, Robinson, Wisdom etc have been toiling for a few years and still haven't made a proper breakthrough. As such, is it really necessary to bring in yet another 'one for the future' youngster?

Of course, I hope Manquillo turns out to be a superstar for Liverpool.


7/24/2014 12:11:00 am

Slap in the Face? BR names massively disappointing Roma line-up, with £45m worth of new talent ignored

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has named a hugely uninspiring line-up for the club's prestige pre-season friendly with Roma.

FULL TEAM: Jones, Kelly, Skrtel, Coates, Enrique, Lucas, Allen, Coutinho, Borini, Lambert, Ibe.

SUBS: Ward, Agger, Henderson, Can, Suso, Coady, Phillips, Robinson, Peterson.

I really don't get the thinking here.

* Lucas and Allen together again? What is the point?! There is nothing new to learn from that partnership.

* Why not play Jordan Rossiter, or Conor Coady? Give these youngsters some worthwhile experience, damn it! After all, it's only a friendly, and the chances of those players getting game time in the upcoming season is extremely slim.

* Lallana and Markovic both missing from the match-day squad? Why? LFC fans are desperate to see these players in action, and I don't believe that they're so unfit that they're unable to make subs bench.

* Markovic has been training with the first team, and he's 20 (!), so he'll be full of energy, and probably desperate to play. Jordan Henderson played significantly *more* than Lallana in Brazil (and in theory, needs more recovery time), yet he still manages to make the subs bench.

* Why not play Agger instead of Coates? Are we to believe that Rodgers genuinely sees the Uruguayan as a regular first-team option next season? If that was the case, he wouldn't be trying to sign Dejan Lovren.

I'm sure Liverpool's US-based fans were looking forward seeing Lallana and Markovic in action, but they'll have to make do with scintillating players like Allen, and Martin Kelly.

It's good to see Jordon Ibe in the first XI, but he and Coutinho aside, the team is pretty uninspiring. The fans don't even get the consolation of seeing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, or Raheem Sterling in action.

As a comparison, consider Man United's first pre-season game of their US tour, which is taking place at the same time.

* Rooney, Mata, Shaw, Welbeck, Jones, Smalling (all at the World Cup) and Herrera (new signing) are all starting the game.

* Other United first-teamers (including Kagawa and Nani) are on the bench.

* The LA Galaxy game is United's *first* of their pre-season; Liverpool had already played two going into the Roma match.

Why is it that Rooney, Herrera et al can play, but Lallana, Sterling, and Markovic can't?

Overall, it's a bit of a slap in the face for LFC's overseas fans, and the millions who'll be watching worldwide.


7/23/2014 09:02:00 pm

Transfer Genius? Nicol claims 'important' £20m star is one of the 'best in the world'

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has made some top class signings this summer, and the addition of sensational players like Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas has arguably put the Blues in the driving seat for the Premier League title. As good as those two players are, though, Liverpool legend Steve Nicol insists that Filipe Luis is Chelsea's best transfer so far.

Discussing Mourinho's transfer business on ESPN this week, Nicol tipped Chelsea as 'favourites' for the Premier League, and hailed the £2om signing Luis:

"In my opinion, he [Luis] is one of the best left-backs in the world, and was an important part of Atletico winning La Liga, and reaching the CL final"

In one fell-swoop, Chelsea have immeasurably improved their defence, and made a huge profit:

* Luiz out for £50m
* Luis in for £20m

As Hannibal Smith always used to say: 'I love it when a plan comes together', and Mourinho is probably rubbing his hands with glee over this genius piece of transfer business.

I suggested Luis as a possible LFC transfer target 4-years ago (when he was still at Deportivo La Coruna), and it was deflating to see him sign for Atletico Madrid in a paltry €12m deal.

Is the Brazilian one of the 'best left-backs in the world', though? Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher certainly seems to think so, and during the World Cup, he raved:

"I’m still astonished that Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis is not in the squad, never mind the team, as I didn’t see a better left back in Europe last season — or in this competition to date"

After witnessing Marcelo's pitiful performance at the World Cup, it's obvious that Luis Felipe Scolari made a gargantuan error leaving Luis out of Brazil's World Cup squad. Scolari paid the price, though, and poor decisions like that are the reason why he's no longer in charge of the national team.

With Liverpool desperate for a left-back, Luis would've been a perfect option, and in my view, Rodgers should've tried to gazump Chelsea for the Brazilian. It might not have worked, but he should've tried.


7/23/2014 03:37:00 pm

Yes Please: BR wants to sign 'incredible' £50m star who prefers LFC transfer. Dare to dream?

Liverpool are reportedly preparing a massive bid for Juventus and Chile midfield star Arturo Vidal, who is also being pursued by Premier League rivals Manchester United.

According to Italian newspaper TuttoSport today:

* Liverpool are preparing a £40m offer for the Chilean midfielder.

* Juve will not do business for less than £43m, and ultimately value Vidal at £50m.

Additionally, a report today in respected Chilean newspaper El Mercurio claims that Vidal is open to a move, and has a transfer preference for Liverpool, Man United, or Real Madrid.

When asked this week about his future, Vidal - nicknamed 'Il Guerriero (the Warrior)' - told reporters:

"I have heard about the interest shown in me but [my Agent] deals with this. Once I arrive to Italy I will speak to the coach and see what happens."

27-year old Vidal had an excellent World Cup for Chile, and he's very highly regarded, especially by some of the game's top managers. In June, Louis Van Gaal raved:

"Chile have very dangerous players [who] always play an attacking style. I always wanted to buy Vidal when he was at Bayer Leverkusen but he went to Juventus"

Arsene Wenger is also a huge fan, and a few weeks ago, he outlined Vidal's main qualities:

"Vidal is one of the best midfielders in the world. He has everything. Incredible stamina, perfect timing. He's a marathon athlete who plays football."

Vidal is clearly the type of player who can elevate Liverpool to a different level, but with Gerrard, Can, Henderson, Lucas, and Allen already at the club, can the Reds realistically sustain six senior central midfielders?

* Lucas and Allen are squad players, so they can be discounted straight away.

* Vidal will clearly have seniority over Emre Can, who will probably be played out of position to accommodate the Chilean.

* Jordan Henderson is (arguably) most under threat from this potential signing. Vidal has excelled as a box-to-box midfielder, and would be direct competition for Hendo in the first team. Plus, if LFC spend €40m+ on a player, he will almost certainly be in the starting line-up for most Prem/Champions League games.

What about Gerrard? Will the signing of Vidal have any impact on his role in the team? The Chilean is good enough (and experienced enough), to play as a deep-lying playmaker, and if Gerrard is to be gradually phased out, then I doubt many Reds fans will complain if Vidal is the man to take over.


7/23/2014 11:17:00 am

Reds Legend: BR must sign 'brilliant' £20m star who's desperate to join LFC. Agree?

Liverpool are reportedly close to sealing a deal for Southampton central defender Dejan Lovren, and former Reds boss Roy Evans is convinced that the 'absolutely brilliant' Croatian will be a much-needed defensive boost for the club.

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported:

"Liverpool are close to finalising a deal for Dejan Lovren.

"Ronald Koeman does not want [him] to depart and said he will go only for a healthy price"

That 'healthy' prices is believed to be £20m, which, in my view, is massively inflated, but that seems to be par for the course these days when it comes to Liverpool.

When asked yesterday about Lovren's ability to make an impact at LFC, Evans - whose teams never finished outside the top four during his time in the Anfield hotseat - told Sky Sports:

"They [Liverpool] need a stable back four, and they need to get someone in who's steady and commanding, and that's certainly a position he [Lovren] can fill"

Lovren is apparently 'desperate' to join Liverpool, and when asked about the club's interest last week, Lovren slammed Southampton for failing to inform him of LFC"s £20m offer, and made it clear that he wants out of St. Mary's. He barked:

"Liverpool sent the [£20m] offer and the club haven't informed me. I found out from other people which disappointed me and I realised I've got no business staying at Southampton. Frankly, my head is already at Liverpool".

Reacting to Lovren's comments, Liverpool legend Jan Molby accused the defender of being 'unprofessional', and insisted that his behaviour is 'not condonable'. He further added:

"It's an affront to [Southampton]. Liverpool fans shouldn’t be accepting of this behaviour, either, just because it stands to benefit them. What if Lovren has an outstanding season or two at Anfield, and attracts Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?"

I agree with Molby here, to an extent. One of the key points I regularly make is that bad behaviour shouldn't be ignored, justified, encouraged, or condoned just because it benefits LFC, but that is exactly what happens whenever fans like a player. However, if Lovren has an agreement with Southampton whereby he's to be informed of any offer over £20m, then his ire is understandable, if not condonable.

That aside, signing Lovren is a good thing, and his organisational/leadership ability is much-needed, but the deal will also cause a few similar problems:

* Last year, Rodgers created unhealthy competition at centre-back with his dual purchase of Sakho and Ilori. It mean that Liverpool had four senior first-team centre-halves (Sakho, Skrtel, Agger, Toure), plus Tiago Ilori. I strongly argued this point at the time, but few would accept it.

* The team couldn't sustain that many centre-backs, so Rodgers farmed Ilori out on loan; Sakho spent a lot of time on the bench, and Agger ended the season angry and frustrated, as evidence by his reason resentful comments.

* Unless something changes, it's going to be the same thing again: Four senior centre-backs (Lovren, Skrtel, Agger, Sakho), plus Ilori, Toure, and Coates, (unless all three leave/go out on loan).

Even with the Champions League, the team cannot sustain FOUR international centre-backs. All four will want to play regularly, but as Evans suggests above, Liverpool need a 'stable' back four, and that means playing a consistent central defensive partnership, not chopping and changing every few games just to keep players happy.

Lovren will almost certainly be Liverpool's number-one choice, which leaves Sakho, Skrtel, Agger, and Ilori fighting for the other central-defensive position. Who is most likely to get the nod? In my view, it has to be Martin Skrtel. After a fantastic season, he certainly deserves to stay in the team ahead of Agger and Sakho, and he should retain his position on merit.

Of course, if that partnership doesn't work, then Rodgers has the personnel to try something different, but right now, Lovren/Skrtel is (IMO) the most solid defensive option.

online survey


7/22/2014 11:29:00 pm

On the Brink: 'Perfect' £11m star flies in to sign for LFC. Unveiling on Thursday. Medical tomorrow

Last week, Sky Sports Italy claimed that France striker Loic Remy is set to sign a 5-year deal with Liverpool, and reports today suggest the deal will be wrapped up in the next couple of days.

According to Sky Sports UK this evening:

* Remy has arrived in the US to undergo a medical, which will take place tomorrow (Wednesday)

* He was due to have a medical today (Tuesday), but it got bumped to Wednesday.

* Liverpool hope to announce the deal on Thursday.

LFC legend Mark Lawrenson is a big fan of Remy, and he's twice urged Brendan Rodgers to sign him. Lawro's latest public plea came in May, when he told the Liverpool Echo:

"Personally, I would take him [Remy] all day long. He would provide a perfect option because he is such a good player"

Remy has an £8m buyout clause in his contract, but it's now claimed that the fee could rise to £11m, which is still a massive bargain for an international, Premier League-proven striker.

Remy's Premier League stats for last season in comparison to Daniel Sturridge:

* LR: 14 goals/3 assists in 25 apps
* DS: 21 goals/7 assists in 29 apps

Passing Accuracy: DS: 79% | LR: 80%
Duels Won: DS: 38% | LR: 39%
Aerial Duels Won: DS: 19% | LR: 40%
Recoveries: DS: 66 | LR: 86
Tackles Won: DS: 60% | LR: 80%

Minutes Per Goal: DS: 108 | LR: 150
Goals/assists: DS: 1 every 1.0 games | LR: 1 every 1.4 games
Chances Created: DS: 29 | LR: 30
Shooting Accuracy: DS: 49% | LR: 49%
Crossing Accuracy: DS: 4% | LR: 24%


The above stats show why £11m is such a bargain for Remy.

* Defensively, Remy is more effective than Sturridge, and that is something that will appeal to Rodgers. With the loss of Suarez's prodigious hassling of players, this will be a timely boost for Liverpool.

* The striker also exceeded Sturridge in several other areas, too (including chance creation/passing accuracy), and achieved this whilst playing fewer games, which is very promising.

I'm not suggesting that Remy is the better player - Sturridge's overall goals/assists record is clearly better, but Remy is in the prime of his career, and if he's given the game time, there's no reason why he can't score 20+ goals for Liverpool next season.


7/22/2014 02:36:00 pm

Play Me or I Quit: £15m star threatens to leave LFC over 'problems' caused by BR's refusal to play him regularly

Last season, Reds defender Daniel Agger threatened to 'leave Liverpool' if he didn't get more game time, and also suggested that Brendan Rodgers doesn't think he's 'good enough' to be a regular starter. LFC are currently negotiating to sign Southampton stat Dejan Lovren, which will conceivably restrict the Dane's chances even more, and this has seemingly prompted yet another threat to quit Anfield.

In October 2013, Agger told Danish TV:

"If the manager doesn't think I am good enough, that could make me leave Liverpool. I'm here to play football, nothing else. So if I don't play, I don't want to be here anymore."

That public threat made little impact on Rodgers, who restricted Agger to just 23 appearances for the whole season. This clearly doesn't sit well with the Dane, and when asked this week about his future, He barked:

"It is no secret that I had problems last season and I am considering things. How things turned out last season is not acceptable for me"

As vice-captain, Agger should not be making public ultimatums like this, and his comments will certainly not endear him to Rodgers. His attitude is all wrong, and he needs to take a leaf out of Martin Skrtel's book.

In the second half of the 2012-13 season, Rodgers dumped Skrtel for Jamie Carragher, but despite this massive setback, the Slovakian didn't mewl about it in public; he put his head down, worked hard, and ultimately reaped the rewards.

There may, however, be something to Agger's contention that Rodgers doesn't think he's 'good enough'. In a recent interview, Mark Lawrenson hinted at something along those lines:

"Agger has not been an automatic first choice this season. Rodgers watches him in training on a regular basis and has clearly seen something he doesn’t like. If a manager doesn’t fancy a player, usually that’s that".

Jamie Carragher also believes that Rodgers doesn't rate Agger. Speaking to Sky Sports, he noted:

"I've mentioned before I don't think he [Rodgers] is the biggest fan of Daniel Agger and that's why he always seems to leave him out".

To be fair, it's hard to blame Rodgers for marginalising Agger. As last season proved yet again, he is consistently error-prone, and his positional sense leaves a lot to be desired. This, combined with his continued injury problems, means that Agger is not reliable, and it's impossible to build a consistent central-defensive partnership with an unreliable defender.

In my view, the writing is on the wall for Agger. Liverpool have seemingly been trying to offload him for a while now, and the imminent arrival of Dejan Lovren will push him further down the pecking order. Indeed, last week, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed that:

* Liverpool offered £15m-rated Agger to Barcelona three months ago.

* Barcelona allegedly rejected the offer due to Agger's injury history, and his involvement in LFC's decline prior to last season.

It is further claimed that Liverpool are still 'desperate' to sell Agger, which seems to make sense given the club's pursuit of Lovren, and Agger's reduced role last season.

If Agger is unhappy with his situation, he should stop moaning in the press, work hard, and prove that he deserves to be in the team. It's totally down to him; Rodgers tends to employ the merit system, and if Agger plays consistently well, it will be hard to leave him out.

Having said that, Lucas, Johnson, and Agger are relics of the Benitez era; the squad has moved on, and it's arguably time for a change. The same could be said of Skrtel, but he has adapted well to Rodgers' playing style, and possibly saved himself from the Anfield scrapheap. Agger, it seems, may not be so lucky.

survey solutions


7/22/2014 06:29:00 am

Mega Deal: BR wants to sign 'world class' £40m star with 36 goals/assists last season

Liverpool are reportedly considering a summer move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who Brendan Rodgers allegedly sees as a potential replacement for Luis Suarez.

According to the Daily Mail:

"Liverpool have an interest in Karim Benzema. He would cost £40million and wages of around £200,000 a week...but it is not a simple deal".

Liverpool have pursued 26-year old Benzema a few times in the past.

FEB 2014: Spanish newspaper Marca claimed that Rodgers sees Benzema as a 'realistic target' if the Reds qualify for the Champions League this season.

FEB 2014: One of Benzema's reps allegedly 'informed' Liverpool that the French international is open to leaving Madrid at the end of the season.

2013: Benzema linked with cash-plus-player, swap deal with Suarez.

2011: Real Madrid reportedly rejected an LFC bid for Benzema on transfer deadline day. Liverpool signed Andy Carroll instead, and, well - let's not go there (!)

I'm sure many LFC fans will be excited by the prospect of this deal, but I've never been impressed with Benzema. As Gerard Houllier recently noted, he sometimes appears to be 'unmotivated', but to be fair, he had a great season for Madrid, and notched-up 36 goals/assists in 46 appearances.

The striker - recently hailed as a 'special player' by Hugo Lloris - also had a stellar World Cup for France, weighing in with a creditable 3 goals and 2 assists as the French made it through to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Houllier also insists that Benzema is in a golden period of his career, and in a recent interview with Journal du Dimanche, the former Liverpool boss enthused:

"Benzema has always been a goalscorer, but he has improved [working] with his team-mates. He is not just a poacher. He is good at assisting and mentally he is very strong. He is now falling into the category of world-class players"

Liverpool may be Sh*t outta luck, though, as Spanish newspaper El Confidencial claims that Benzema is close to signing a new five-year, £6.3m-a-year deal with Madrid.

A worthy replacement for Suarez? To be honest, I can't see it. Liverpool are seemingly incapable of attracting truly elite players to Anfield, and without the presence of a world-renowned manager (like Louis Van Gaal, for example), there's very little chance of Benzema leaving Madrid for the Reds.

Brendan Rodgers just doesn't have the aura (yet) to attract the world's biggest players, and that's a reality Reds fans will have to face. Plus, Benzema is in the perfect place to mount a serious challenge for trophies every year, so it's unlikely he'll give that up to toil away at Liverpool, a team with significantly less chance of winning the league/Champions League.


7/21/2014 11:50:00 pm

LFC Warning: Ex-Scout reveals 3 reasons why there's a 'slight concern' over £20m Markovic

The praise just keeps on coming for Liverpool new-boy Lazar Markovic. Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant recently compared him to Messi and Ronaldo; Reds legend Mark Lawrenson claimed this week that the Serbian star will 'thrive' at Anfield, and now, ex-scout - and former CEO of Monaco - Tor-Kristian Karlsen has joined the chorus of appreciation, insisting that the 20-year old is one of Europe's top talents. That's a lot of hype for Markovic to live-up to (!), but Karlsen qualified his praise by outlining the areas in which the attacker will need to improve if he's to flourish in the Premier League.

In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Karlsen described Markovic as a 'tactically smart forward' who likes to 'get involved in the build-up play', and hailed his technical proficiency, 'breathtaking' dribbling skills; and effortless ability to make 'defence splitting passes'.

That all sounds great, but Karlsen conceded that there's a 'slight concern' that Markovic might not settle in the Premier League, and outlined three areas of his game that need particular attention:

* Movement 'off the ball', both in terms of making himself available and to look for space.
* Defensive tracking-back, to a 'much higher degree that he’s used to'.
* Adapting to the 'overwhelming' pace and intensity of the English game.

The tracking-back issue is a bug-bear of mine. I appreciate that defending is a team-responsibility, but it irritates me that attacking players are basically forced to run themselves into the ground, arguably to the detriment of their creative productivity.

I personally don't want to see wide-attackers constantly in LFC's penalty area defending, or running more miles than any other player in the team. Their principle role is to score and create goals, and that should be the main focus.

Coutinho is a prime example here. In his first six months, he played superbly, and scored/assisted on a regular basis. Last season, the Brazilian did a lot more work defensively (probably after being coached to focus more on defensive duties), and his creative output (and overall influence) suffered.

This obsession with defending/tracking back is not so prevalent in La Liga. Ronaldo and Messi don't run themselves into the ground in every single game, and their respective teams don't seem to suffer that much. Their creative role is prioritised, and in my view, that's the way it should be.

Despite the physical challenges ahead, Karlsen insists that Markovic will not be fazed by the 'magnitude of the challenge', adding:

“If Markovic delivers on his potential, he’ll eventually be worth at least twice as much.”

Let's hope he's right.


7/21/2014 08:00:00 pm

Done Deal? BR confirms transfer 'agreement' for 'perfect' €18m star. Superb deal for LFC, if it goes through...

The writing is on the wall for Fabio Borini. Irrespective of Brendan Rodgers' protestations to the contrary, the Italian is clearly surplus to requirements at Liverpool and the imminent signing of Loic Remy is yet another vote of no-confidence in the striker's ability to make it at Anfield. Sunderland are trying hard to sign Borini, and for the sake of his career, it's surely in his best interests to bite the bullet and go to a club where he'll play regular Premier League football.

Multiple sources over the last week report that Liverpool have agreed a deal with Sunderland (€18m, according to the latest info from Borini's agent), and Rodgers confirmed the agreement on Saturday, when he told reporters:

"They [Sunderland] have offered to buy Fabio and that’s where it’s at. There is an agreement between the clubs, but nothing is agreed with the player as of yet"

On Saturday evening, Poyet also confirmed that a deal is on the table for a player he describes as a 'perfect' professional. He told Sky Sports:

"We've agreed terms with Liverpool. Like any other deal you do, first you sort out the clubs and then you start working with the player. He knows how much it would mean for us to have a player like Fabio."

On Sunday night, however, The Guardian claimed that Borini is 'dragging his feet' over the deal, and will need to be 'persuaded' to sign, as he is not enamoured with the idea of a permanent move to Sunderland.

Borini's agent, Marco De Marchi confirmed this today in an interview with TMW. He explained:

"Sunderland has made ​​an important offer of 18 million Euros, but Fabio wants to stay there [at Anfield]. Liverpool haven't told me anything yet, but he wants to gamble"

To be honest, the reluctance is perfectly understandable. With the greatest respect the Sunderland, Borini probably sees the move as a massive step-down, and with Champions League football on offer at Anfield this season, he will not want to miss out.

I'm sure Borini genuinely believed that if he played well at Sunderland, Rodgers would give him another chance to establish himself, but it's clear that the manager has no real confidence in him. It's harsh, but arguably true. After all, if Rodgers sees Borini as a potential solution, why is he trying to sign Loic Remy, who is ostensibly a direct replacement?

It'll be interesting to see what happens if Borini digs his heels in and decides to stay and fight for his place. Whatever happens, it's a lose-lose situation:

* If Borini refuses to leave, it's probable that Rodgers will still sign Remy (£8m is not a prohibitive transfer fee), which will relegate the Italian to fourth in the striker pecking order.

* With little prospect of regular first-team football, Rodgers will probably send Borini back out on loan again, possibly to Sunderland again. As such, he might as well just go for the permanent move whilst it's on the table.

I imagine it's tough for Borini to accept that he's not going to make it at Liverpool. He probably sees himself as someone who should be playing at one of Europe's top clubs, but the harsh truth is he's not consistently effective enough to warrant a place in LFC's first-team squad.

Bravo to LFC for mugging Sunderland on the transfer fee, though. €18m? That's daylight robbery, but for once, Liverpool are the perpetrators, and not the victims (!)

I fully expected the Reds to make a loss on Borini, but I'm glad to be proven wrong on this occasion.


7/21/2014 07:00:00 am

'We'll see': £15m Argentina hothead wanted by LFC reveals 'future' plans. Top transfer, or huge risk?

A couple of months ago, reports in Italy and Portugal claimed that Sporting Lisbon left-back Marcos Rojo is a summer transfer target for Liverpool. Speculation has slowed over the last few weeks, but recent reports in Spain suggest that the Reds still want Rojo, who responded this weekend to rumours about his future.

In June, Portuguese newspaper Jornal Record claimed that:

* Liverpool are interested in signing Rojo this summer.

* Reds scouts watched Rojo in action last season.

In early July, Spanish newspaper Sport claimed that Liverpool still want £15m-rated Rojo, who performed with distinction during Argentina's recent run to the World Cup final.

When asked on Saturday about interest from Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United, Rojo told Argentine radio station RNA Futbol:

"We still do not know what my future will be. For now I intend to return to Sporting on the 30th [of July], and then we'll see. It is a matter for the club and my representatives. I'm cool."

Rojo's agent, Carlos Goncalves, added:

"The best players are usually involved in the World Cup. When someone shines on a stage like that it is natural to attract attention. Fortunately things are going well for him."

Some info about Rojo:

* Current contract expires in 2016,
* €30m release clause in his contract.
* Main position is left-back, but he can also play as a central defender.
* Has played as a centre-back quite a few times for Lisbon this season.
* 25 appearances for the Argentina national team.

Rojo's reputation seems to be growing, but there are some major issues to consider:

* Like Daniel Sturridge, Rojo appears to be injury prone, and since 2011, he's suffered seven separate injuries, including two knee problems.

* With five red cards and seven suspensions in the last two seasons, Rojo also appears to be a bit of a hothead on the field.

* As a result of injuries and suspension, Rojo has made only 46 appearances in the last two years, averaging a paltry 23 games a season.

* Injuries and disciplinary problems also curtailed Rojo's time at Spartak Moscow, where he made just 17 appearances during the 2011-12 season.

Being charitable, it's possible the indiscipline is a result of youthful exuberance, but in my view, Liverpool should not take the risk. Granted, Rojo has had a good World Cup, but that doesn't change the fact he spends more time on the sidelines injured or suspended that actually playing.

Left-back is still a major issue for Liverpool. The proposed deal for Alberto Moreno still seems to be a non-starter at the moment, and back-up options like Ryan Bertrand hardly inspire confidence. That said, at this stage, I'd take Bertrand over Rojo; the Argentine may have greater potential, but Bertrand carries significantly lower risk.


7/20/2014 07:59:00 pm

Exciting Deal? After new enquiry, LFC favourites to sign €30m 'golden boy'. Better than Lallana?

Despite the arrival of Lazar Markovic, Liverpool continue to be linked with attacking midfielders, and the latest name to enter the fray is Real Madrid 'golden boy' Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez (aka Isco).

According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo today:

"The imminent arrival of James Rodriguez at Real Madrid means Isco could be leaving the club, with Milan and Liverpool favorites to sign the midfielder"

Another Spanish daily, AS, further claims:

"Liverpool, Sevilla and Milan have asked Madrid about the status of Isco"

The Reds have been linked with 'unique' Isco several times in the past, and in 2012, Brendan Rodgers sent senior scout Barry Hunter to watch the attacker during his Champions League debut against Zenit St. Petersburg, a game in which he scored two impressive goals.

Last season, Carlo Ancelotti often played Isco in central midfield, but the signing of Toni Kroos is a clear signal that the Italian wants an upgrade in that area. In a recent interview, Ancelotti also hinted that the 22-year old will have to adapt his position permanently if he wants to play regularly. He told reporters:

"We haven't been able to play him [Isco] in his usual position. I had a similar case [with] Seedorf, who was an attacking central midfielder. With sacrifice, he played in a different position. Isco can do what Seedorf did."

Despite being played out of position, Isco - who cost Madrid €30m last summer - still made 53 appearances for Madrid last season, and grabbed 11 goals/8 assists along the way, which is not too shabby.

There is huge competition for places at the Bernabeau, but is it any different at Liverpool? If Isco comes to Anfield, he'll have to compete against Lallana, Sterling, Coutinho, and Markovic, not to mention Remy and Sturridge, who are also (occasional) options on either side of a front three.

When it comes to direct competition, Isco would be up against Lallana and Coutinho for the number 10 role in the side, and of the three, you'd have to fear for Coutinho's chances of regular game-time, especially if Isco arrives for a massive fee.

There's one thing Isco (possibly) wouldn't have to worry about at Liverpool, though, and that's being played out of position in central midfield. Rodgers doesn't even play dedicated central midfielders in their favoured positions, so it's doubtful he'll go the Ancelotti conversion route.

Do Liverpool need Isco? Is he a better option than Lallana and Coutinho in the number 10 role?


7/20/2014 11:13:00 am

Lawro raves: 'Unstoppable' £20m attacker could 'thrive' and 'flourish' at LFC, and explains why he rejected Chelsea

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson has hailed the signing of Serbian attacker Lazar Markovic, and predicts that he will fit perfectly into the Reds' 'fluid system of football'.

LFC confirmed the £20m signing of Markovic earlier this week, and in his column for the Liverpool Echo today, Lawro enthused:

"He [Markovic] could have gone to Chelsea but he can see the brand of attacking football at Liverpool.

"That will have been the biggest attraction for him because he knows he will flourish in this team.

"He fits the bill and his flexibility means he will thrive in the fluid system of football here".

Did 'unstoppable' Markovic actually reject Chelsea for Liverpool, or is it the case that Chelsea just weren't interested in taking up their £12m option to buy?

I suspect it's arguably the latter; Markovic is a massive Blues fan, as his previous gushing comments prove:

"I really hope I can go to Chelsea, it's my dream. I had all the pictures of the team on my wall at home back to when they had Gianfranco Zola. And any time they are on TV I try to watch them. For me Chelsea are the best".

If Chelsea had blinked in Markovic's direction, he probably would've rejected Liverpool and made a beeline for Stamford Bridge. Still, what's done is done, and hopefully, the Serb will live up to hype being generated by the likes of Avram Grant, who this week gushed:

“I can say that apart from Ronaldo and Messi, Markovic is one of the best talents I’ve ever seen at 19 years of age"

One thing I personally like about Markovic is his apparent self-confidence; most great players have a slight arrogance about them, and he projects a certain self-assurance, which is arguably a positive sign. Indeed, in his first interview for Liverpool, he made a confident statement of intent about his expectations at the club:

"I went to Partizan and won the title. I went to Benfica and won the title. Now I have joined Liverpool and want to win the title, 100 per cent"

This is the attitude of a winner. Markovic can certainly talk-the-talk; here's hoping he can walk-the-walk too.


7/19/2014 09:36:00 pm

'Like Van Basten': After Remy, LFC to sign 'exciting' star for 'unbelievably low' €13m

Despite the alleged imminent signing of French star Loic Remy, Liverpool are still pushing to sign Lille striker Divock Origi, and reports today suggest that the deal is close to being completed.

According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad:

* Liverpool have agreed a €13m fee for Origi

* As expected, he will stay at Lille on loan next season.

Former Ajax and Anderlecht striker Jan Mulder - now a well-known football analyst in the Netherlands - also claims the deal is done.

In an interview with Het Niewsblad, he raved:

"€13m is an unbelievably low price. It's ridiculous! Origi is a winner, and at the World Cup I enjoyed watching him more than Hazard. He has style, technique, and makes intelligent runs, a bit like Marco van Basten".

In my view, such gross overpraise is counter-productive, and premature. Others may disagree, but I've seen nothing that warrants comparisons with van Basten (!)

Plus, €13m is not an 'unbelievably low' price; it's a significant chunk of cash for a 19-year old, and it's money that's being gambled on a player who may or may not come good at some undetermined point in the future.

That said, if Origi - - recently described by Simon Mignolet as an exciting player - turns into some kind of superstar, then I guess €13m will turn out to be a retrospective bargain.

On the subject of 'unbelievably low' transfer fees, the obvious example is Loic Remy for £8.5m...


7/19/2014 05:02:00 pm

Video: Superb Suso goal; Ibe's 2 assists; Lambert on 'special' debut; BR's Can update

With two excellent assists, Liverpool starlet Jordon Ibe delivered another impressive pre-season performance today as the Reds secured a 2-1 victory against Preston North End.

The Reds were 1-0 down at half-time, but goals from Suso and Kristoffer Peterson - scoring his second goal in two games - ensured that Liverpool got the victory.

Emre Can went off injured after 20 minutes of the first half, and Rickie Lambert also made his debut for the club.

Suso Goal

Peterson goal

In his post-match interview, Lambert admitted that he had 'nerves' ahead of his debut, but clearly enjoyed his first game for the club. He told reporters:

"I enjoyed it, and got a good run out. I had to keep my emotions in check. Putting on the top for the first time was special. It was brilliant. It's about fitness at the minute. Emre's got a little knock, but we're hoping it's nothing too bad"

Brendan Rodgers also provided the following update on Emre Can:

"It was just precautionary. He [Can] just felt a tightness in his calf - he hasn't pulled it. At this point, there's no point in risking anything"


7/19/2014 03:35:00 pm

Injury Blow: New £10m LFC signing injured on debut after being played out of position

Injury strikes again! For the second pre-season game running, Liverpool have lost a player to injury, and this time, it's new £10m signing Emre Can.

Tiago Ilori went off injured in the first game, and Can left the field only 20 minutes into his debut today with a calf strain.

It's disappointing as Reds fans were looking forward to seeing the German in action. Let's hope it's not a sign of things to come.

In 2012, Can was out for a month with a torn muscle, so it's possible that this could be a reoccurrence of that injury.

He also missed two months of the 2012-13 season with ankle ligament damage, but thankfully, that's about it when it comes to significant injury history.

In his brief time on the field, Can seemed to be operating ahead of Lucas and Allen in a 4231 formation, with Lambert up-front, and Borini/Coutinho alongside him.

Last week, Can made it clear that he prefers playing central midfield. He told LFC.com

"It's definitely is an advantage to play a number of positions. However, I have stated this before and I would like to mention it again, I see myself as a central midfielder, that is where I feel most comfortable".

With that in mind, why didn't Rodgers just play Can in his preferred central midfield role? Why waste time with Lucas/Allen together, which will probably never be employed during the season (unless there's an injury crisis, or it's the Capital One Cup)

Rodgers knows exactly what he'll get with Lucas/Allen, and there's nothing new to learn.

As I've argued in recent articles, I suspect that Can is going to spend most of the season being played out of his preferred position. Gerrard and Henderson are immovable forces in the centre, so this is probably a sign of things to come.

Granted, it's only pre-season, but decisions like this make no sense to me.


7/19/2014 08:58:00 am

Done Deal 5: LFC to sign £8m star who once had his 'heart set' on Anfield transfer

Liverpool are reportedly on the verge of signing QPR striker Loic Remy.

The Reds have been linked with Remy many times over the last couple of years, and the 27-year old striker has a soft-spot for LFC, as revealed by his agent in 2012:

"He [Remy] has his heart is set on playing for Liverpool. Remy is pure gold. He has great pace and that is something Liverpool need in attack".

Well, according to Sly Sports Italy Journalist journalist Gianluca DiMarzio, Remy - who has an £8m buyout clause in his contract - will sign a 5-year deal with the Reds worth an alleged £80k a week.

LFC legend Mark Lawrenson is a big fan of Remy, and he's twice urged Brendan Rodgers to sign him. Lawro's latest public plea came in May, when he told the Liverpool Echo:

"Personally, I would take him [Remy] all day long. He would provide a perfect option because he is such a good player"

Remy definitely wanted a move to a bigger club this summer, and he confirmed this in March, when he told the Newcastle Chronicle:

"I could maybe play in a bigger club, a top European club. I will be part of a very large club. I have a huge room for improvement.”

Remy's premier league record so far:

* 20 goals/3 assists in 41 apps.
* Goal/assist every 1.7 games.

If Liverpool have met Remy's buyout clause of £8m, then this deal is a no-brainer. With four competitions on the agenda next season, and Daniel Sturridge's regular bouts of injury, Liverpool will need another good striker, and the France striker fits the bill.

Additionally, Remy is a clear upgrade on Fabio Borini (who is seemingly heading to Sunderland) which means overall squad strength will be enhanced.