7/31/2014 07:45:00 pm

'I'm worried': Evans slams BR's 'too high-too early' tactics. £18m deal the solution?

If Liverpool's pre-season victory over Manchester City proved anything, it's that the Reds most urgent transfer priority is (arguably) the full-back positions. City repeatedly tore LFC apart on the flanks, and former LFC boss Roy Evans believes that the problem lies with the way Rodgers deploys his players.

Speaking to 5-Times this week, Evans revealed his concerns about the way Rodgers utilises Liverpool's full-backs. He explained:

"I'm worried about the way Brendan plays his full-backs. I don't like the way he pushes them too high, too early.

"We end up with them up there, and the two centre-backs split. There should always be cover".


Time and time again, Man City ruthlessly exposed LFC's weaknesses at left/right back. During the game:

* City players easily got to the byline countless times, usually via simple one-twos and/or drifting past Enrique/Robinson/Johnson with a burst of speed.

* Full-backs were regularly caught up the field when LFC attacks broke down, which left the centre-backs exposed.

I'm sure most fans approve of Rodgers' progressive approach of encouraging the full-backs to attack, but that strategy only works when the covering midfielders have the pace to cover when the opposing team counter-attacks.

With Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Can etc in midfield, Liverpool do not have the pace required, and the same applies to the full-backs, who struggle to get back in time to snuff out the danger. Steven Gerrard, in particular, is not an effective cover option, and against City, his lack of covering pace was evident on several occasions.

I'm not so sure that signing new full-backs will make much of a difference, though. Whoever comes in will (probably) receive the same instructions as Enrique et al, and the lack of pace in midfield will still be an issue.

Perhaps this explains why £18m Alberto Moreno is (seemingly) one of Rodgers top-targets. One of the Spaniard's key qualities is his electric pace, which will certainly come in handy when attacks break down.

It's increasingly clear, though, that Liverpool need reinforcements on the left AND the right. Preseason has underlined once again that Glen Johnson is not the answer on the right, and with less than three weeks until the new season begins, Liverpool are running out of time to solve this particular problem.

Author:

7/31/2014 02:46:00 pm

Good Deal? After official enquiry, LFC Legend urges BR to sign 'dream' £10m star who 'doesn't really catch they eye'

Liverpool continue to be linked with a summer move for Manchester City attacker James Milner, and Anfield legend Gary Gillespie believes the 28-year old England international would be a good signing for the Reds.

According to a recent report in The Guardian:

"With Milner in the final 12 months of his contract...Liverpool and Arsenal have made inquiries and [are] interested in signing him".

When asked last night about Liverpool's alleged interest in £10m-rated Milner, Gillespie hailed the midfielder for 'changing the game at Anfield last season', and further enthused:

"He [Milner] is a manager's dream. He doesn't upset the apple cart, and you know what you're going to get. He doesn't really catch the eye, but he works his socks off, and doesn't get the rewards he deserves".

Milner is the archetypal British player: full of running; endless stamina; good at tackling, tracking back etc, but short on genuine guile and skill. He is a steady, reliable payer, but his pedestrian brand of huff-and-puff football is definitely not going to take Liverpool to the next level. Milner's creative stats over the last 4 years:

* 2013-14: 2 goals/15 assists in 44 apps.
* 2012-13: 4 goals/7 assists in 35 apps.
* 2011-12: 3 goals/5 assists in 37 apps.
* 2010-11: 3 goals/8 assists in 42 apps
* TOTALS: 12 goals/35 assists in 158 apps
* Goal every 13 apps | Assist every 4.5 apps.

Plus, once again: enough with the British players already! The likes of Milner, Allen, Lambert, and Lallana will not win the league for Liverpool. Teams composed of 80%+ Brits in the starting line-up very rarely win the top trophies, and the Reds have more than enough British players in the squad.

With Liverpool back in the Champions League, the club should be able to attract a higher quality of player, but Rodgers' transfer business so far is (IMO) pretty underwhelming, and it's rather dispiriting to see Liverpool continually linked with players like Milner and Bertrand.

These are the type of players I expected the Reds to approach last year, when Liverpool were out of Europe, but it seems that being in the Champions League is making no difference whatsoever.

Why is that? Rodgers is clearly an excellent manager with huge potential but, unfortunately, he has no significant international reputation, and is therefore unable to attract Europe's best players.

When the world's elite players have a choice between Rodgers, Mourinho, Wenger, Pellegrini, and Van Gaal, then Liverpool will probably be bottom of the list of potential destinations, and that's already been proven on more than one occasion.

Rodgers just isn't a big enough name to attract the world's best players, and with Ian 'the grey man' Ayre negotiating contracts, it's easy to see why Liverpool FC is not a very attractive proposition.

Sad but true.

In this situation, Liverpool need to add an X-factor to the transfer process, and that means having ex-stars (i.e. Rushie, Barnes, Fowler, Hamann, Carra etc), involved in transfer meetings with prospective signings.

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7/28/2014 05:09:00 pm

Suicide Deal? Liverpool in surprise move to sign 'special' £10m star with horrific injury history

After signing Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, Liverpool are reportedly planning to bring in another central defender, with £10m-rated Arsenal star Thomas Vermaelen in the frame for a move to Anfield.

According to the The Independent today:

"Thomas Vermaelen could be offered the chance to join Liverpool.

"Rodgers will move for Vermaelen in the hope that he can fend off Man Utd and Barcelona".


Can Liverpool's squad support yet another central defender?

Even if Daniel Agger leaves (which seems likely), there will still be too many senior centre-halves in the squad (just like last year):

* Skrtel
* Sakho
* Lovren
* Toure
* Vermaelen

Add in Coates, and Ilori, and the competition is clearly unhealthy, irrespective of the increased number of games on offer next season.

28-year old Vermaelen in Arsenal's captain, and I doubt he'll want to move to Anfield to sit on the bench all season, so if this link is genuine, there are several eventualities:

* Rodgers sees 'special' Vermaelen as his first-choice partner for Lovren, which means Skrtel and Sakho will become squad players.

* Rodgers is planning to sell at least two of the club's centre-halves: Agger, plus...Skrtel?

* Vermaelen is seen as a replacement for Kolo Toure, who is linked with a move to the Turkish league.

* Rodgers has little confidence in Sakho, who cost the club £18m last summer.

Lovren, Skrtel, Sakho, and Toure should (in theory) be enough, but Rodgers clearly isn't satisfied with the options he has available. Realistically, if the manager has confidence in Sakho, why sign Vermaelen?

Even if Rodgers wants to sign another central defender, Vermaelen is not the answer; with TWELVE injuries in seven years, he's almost as injury prone as Agger, and where's the logic in literally replacing one sick-note with another?

 photo ScreenShot2014-07-28at151111_zps108e64da.png

116 games missed through injury in the last seven seasons (!)

This particular transfer link can't be credible as Rodgers is surely incapable of being this short-sighted...

You never know, though - previous LFC managers have signed injury prone players, and if Liverpool sign Vermaelen, it will (IMO) be yet another act of gross transfer negligence.

Author:

7/28/2014 12:25:00 am

Kicked Out? 'Excellent' €15m LFC star leaves US tour after training alone. Anfield exit?

Is Daniel Agger on his way out of Liverpool? The signing of Dejan Lovren has slammed another nail into the Dane's coffin, and events today suggest that Agger could be the next player to leave Anfield

According to Sky Sports:

* 'Excellent' Agger has left Liverpool's tour of the USA and 'returned to the UK'.

* The official reason appears to be a 'slight injury' picked up on the tour.

So - Agger picks up an injury and leaves the tour just as Lovren signs for the club?

That seems a little too convenient to me, and reading between the lines, it's possible that Agger has returned to the UK to look for another club/enter talks with interested clubs.

Indeed, reports today are once again linking the defender with a move to Barcelona, with Spanish newspaper Sport claiming the Catalan club is considering a new €15m bid.

Rodgers restricted Agger to just 23 appearances last season, and on Monday, he made it clear that being a bit-part player this season is not an option:

"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"

With Lovren in the squad, the writing is on the wall for Agger, and he must surely see that. The Croatian is the most expensive defender in LFC's history, and he isn't going to be sitting on the bench.

Lovren will be first-choice centre-back, with Martin Skrtel his most probable defensive partner. There's also a chance for Mamadou Sakho to stake a claim, but after his heroics last season, Skrtel deserves to keep his place.

On a related note: Agger was forced to train alone last Monday (22nd July), again, as a result of an alleged 'slight injury'. That doesn't really make sense, though, as he featured in Liverpool's defeat to Roma a couple of days later.

The training incident came just a day after Agger made his latest public threat about 'considering' his future, so it's conceivable that Rodgers punished the defender for speaking out of turn.

Whatever the reason, I'd be very surprised to see Agger in Liverpool's squad at the end of August.

Author:

7/27/2014 07:48:00 pm

Possible LFC XI vs. Olympiacos: More disappointment for fans? £20m star on the bench?

Earlier this week, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers named a disappointing first XI for Liverpool's pre-season friendly against Roma, and after a turgid performance against the Italians - which yielded one pitiful shot on target in 90 minutes - Reds fans will be hoping that the manager puts out a more exciting team for this evening's game with Olympiacos.

In my view, Markovic, Lallana, and Sterling (at least) should've been on the bench for the Roma game, and I maintain that there is absolutely no fitness or medical reason why that couldn't have been the case.

Rodgers obviously played it safe, but with only three weeks until the new season kicks-off, it's imperative that the club's new signings build up a solid understanding by playing together as often as possible.

We're talking about elite, conditioned athletes here, not Sunday league players, and it's (arguably) utter nonsense to suggest that the likes of Markovic couldn't hack 10 minutes in a leisurely pre-season friendly.

Top teams all across Europe are playing their World Cup stars and new signings from the off in pre-season games, so why can't Liverpool do the same?

Man United, for example, started Rooney, Mata, Herrera, Shaw et al in their first two pre-season games, and these guys had the same amount of time off as Sturridge, Sterling and the rest of LFC's World Cup players.

According to some fans, though, Liverpool's England stars exist in some kind of netherworld, where they require more 'recovery time' than other elite players, despite the fact that the majority were dumped out the World Cup earlier than expected.

Additionally, in this strange alternate dimension, super-fit, 20-year old players - who've been 'recovering' for the entire summer - are not fit enough to play 10-15 minutes in a barely-competitive friendly.

The Roma game was a disappointment, but hopefully Rodgers will give Lazar Markovic his full debut tonight, and also play some of Liverpool's top players. If they get injured, then so be it! Injury is a risk every time a player steps out on the field, whether it's a competitive game, training, or a pre-match warm-up.

I hope to see the following line-up:

--------------- Mignolet/Reina

Flanagan ---- Skrtel --- Ilori (if fit) --- Enrique/Robinson

------------ Gerrard/Coady

------------- Hendo --- Can

------- Sterling -------- Markovic

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

I doubt Markovic will start, though; ditto Sturridge, and Gerrard. Rodgers will probably be ultra cautious again and name them on the bench, but you never know. Whatever happens, Markovic, Sterling et al should surely get at least 45 minutes of game time, with Rodgers switching things around and throwing Suso and Coutinho into the mix at some point.

What I personally don't want to see is Lucas/Allen starting again. There's nothing new to learn there; why not just give some of the squad's younger midfielder the chance to stake a claim?

Ultimately, Liverpool have only FOUR more pre-season games until the start of the season. Is that enough time to effectively integrate all the club's new players?

Author:

7/27/2014 03:21:00 pm

Transfer Fail: LFC scrap deal for £11m star. Is this 2010 problem the reason why?

On Saturday, The independent reported that QPR striker Loic Remy had passed his Liverpool medical, and was in the process of hammering out a proposed 4-year deal with the Reds. It's all change now, though, as it seems like the £11m transfer is actually on the verge of collapse.

According to the Liverpool Echo, LFC have scrapped the proposed £11m deal as a result of 'concerns' arising from Remy's medical.

Reporter Kaveh Solhekol shed some further light on the issue, when he told Sky Sports:

"Personal terms had been agreed - and..he would wear the iconic no. 7 shirt. A medical problem was highlighted and...once [LFC] got [a] second opinion, they decided not to proceed. I understand there is no chance of the deal being resurrected"

So, what is this 'problem'? Remy's injury history:

* 2008-9: Knee injury - 35 days out (missed 5 games
* 2012-13: Groin injury - 22 days out (missed 3 games)
* 2013-14: Calf injury - 60 days out (missed 16 games)

Unless there's some underlying knee issue, it's possible that Remy's ongoing calf injury may be the problem, though it seems harsh to pull the plug based on such a comparatively tame injury. It's more likely that Remy's heart defect - discovered in 2010 during his medical for Marseille - is the problem. At the time, Marseille club doctor Christophe Baudot explained:

“It's a mechanical problem. A small problem occurred regarding his MRIs. The news this morning is reassuring, but we took this decision because what matters most is the health of player.”

Baudot also revealed that the heart specialists who dealt with Remy 'could find no reason to prevent him practicing sport at a high level'.

After passing the 2012 medical, Remy told reporters:

'I am relieved to know the outcome. When you go through such moments, you don't feel calm. But I'd rather have it happen that way and really know today that I'm healthy.'

The Reds are surely aware of Remy's medical history, so if the heart issue is the problem, then it's hard to understand why LFC wasted time pursuing the deal in the first place...

Author:

7/27/2014 07:02:00 am

Done Deal: 'Exciting' attacker rejects Arsenal to sign £12.5m LFC deal. Medical passed on Friday

Last week, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad claimed that Liverpool had agreed a fee with Lille for the purchase of 'exciting' striker Divock Origi, and after a slight delay, it appears that the deal is done.

According to Belgian journalist Sven Claes:

* Origi's father has confirmed that the transfer is complete.

* LFC will announce the deal at some point over the next couple of days.

Claes posted the confirmation on Twitter:


The Mirror also confirms the deal, and claims the following:

* LFC have agreed a £12.5m (€16m) fee for Origi.
* He rejected Arsenal, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid.
* The 19-year old will stay at Lille on loan for a year.
* BR met with Origi and outlined his plans for the future.
* It took Origi 3 weeks to think about the move and agree to sign.

Former Ajax and Anderlecht striker Jan Mulder - now a well-known football analyst in the Netherlands - believes that Liverpool have pulled off a genuine transfer coup. In a recent interview with Het Niewsblad, he raved:

"It's an unbelievably low price. 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".

One thing I can't get my head around: How does a 19-year old striker with a comparatively meagre goal return cost more than both Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho, and Loic Remy?

It's entirely possible that Liverpool have scouted Origi extensively over the last couple of years, but I personally doubt that's true. 7 goals/0 assists in 45 games is nothing to get excited about, and certainly doesn't justify LFC's intense pursuit of the player.

In my view, it's more likely that Rodgers is jumping on the Belgium bandwagon, hoping that Origi will turn out to be the next big thing. Given the huge number of quality players produced by Belgium over the last few years, the odds on Origi becoming the next Lukaku or Benteke are probably attractive, but it's still a massive gamble (IMO)

It also doesn't sit well with me that Rodgers seemingly had to make a concerted effort to convince Origi to sign. Who does this guy think he is? He's a frickin' teenager who's done nothing in the game, and he should be thankful that he is being offered the privilege of playing for one of history's most renowned clubs.

Clearly, Origi has no affinity for Liverpool, or he would've immediately jumped at the chance to sign for the club (like Lallana, for example). It wouldn't surprise me, either, if his decision ultimately came down to money, but that is purely speculation on my part.

Origi will become the sixth Rodgers signing to go out on loan, which is £49m-worth of LFC's money that is not currently benefiting the club. Is this an effective transfer policy? Time will tell, I guess.

Author:

7/26/2014 05:06:00 pm

'I'd love LFC to sign him': Carra urges BR to buy 'amazing' €55m star. Dream Transfer?

Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus, and Reds legend Jamie Carragher insists that the German maestro is perfectly suited to the Premier League.

According to The Independent this week:

"Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is ready to push ahead with moves for Marco Reus and Dejan Lovren"

Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato recently claimed that Liverpool are preparing a €55m bid for Reus, but the club (via Times journalist Tony Barrett), seemingly refuted that possibility soon after. Barrett tweeted:

"Liverpool baffled by reports linking them with Marco Reus and insist they've shown no interest in him despite suggestions to the contrary".

Carra certainly wants to see Reus at Anfield, and when asked about the deal recently, he enthused:

“I’d love LFC to sign Reus. [He's a ] great player, and would be one of the best players in the Premier League.”

In May, German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten named Reus as the player of the year, and when asked at the awards ceremony about his future, the 25-year old attacker told Reporters:

"We'll see. Every player only has one career and wants to get the best out of it. You have to decide what's best for you. At the end of your career, you want to be able to say that you've won many titles"

After his return from injury in February, 'amazing' Reus grabbed an incredible 19 goals/assists in 13 games for Dortmund, which is a Luis-Suarez level of creativity. Stats for the last three seasons:

* 127 apps
* 61 goals
* 29 assists
* Goal/Assist every 1.4 games

Fantastic stats, and like Carra, I'd love to see Reus at Liverpool. The speculation won't go away, and Liverpool don't usually refute transfer speculation in this manner, so maybe there is something going on behind the scenes?

Well, we can dream...

Author:

7/26/2014 08:58:00 am

LFC Exit? 'Incredible' £8m star in talks to quit Anfield; 77% of fans want him to go. Surprise?

Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is reportedly trying to lure Lucas Leiva away from Anfield, and although the Brazilian is generally a popular figure amongst Reds fans, it seems that many believe the the time is right for the midfielder to leave the club.

According to Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato this week:

* Benitez has been calling/messaging Lucas in a bid to convince him to leave Liverpool.

* Napoli are interested in a loan deal initially, with a possible option to buy.

£8m-rated Lucas was also linked with Inter Milan in May, and when asked about the possibility of a transfer, he hailed Serie A as a 'great league', but denied having contact with the club. He told reporters:

"I have received no offers. Liverpool have never contacted me regarding this possibility, so I can't say there is a chance of me going to Inter because I am under contract at Liverpool".

Last month, I conducted a survey on the site, asking fans whether Liverpool should sell or keep Lucas, - who Rodgers recently described as an 'incredible' - player:

* 15400 people (approx) voted.
* 77% of participants voted for LFC to sell.

That's quite an emphatic result, but hardly surprising given Lucas's struggle to remain relevant under Brendan Rodgers. Like Daniel Agger, the Brazilian is arguably surplus to requirements at Liverpool, and his time as an automatic first choice is clearly over.

As such, it seems to me that Lucas is set for the same fate as Joe Allen: perennial bench duty as a back-up for Gerrard, but with Emre Can in the squad, he's probably not even first-choice back-up. The overall central midfield pecking order is possibly along the following lines:

* Gerrard
* Henderson
* Can
* Allen
* Lucas

Add Lallana into the mix as another possible option, and it's clear Lucas will struggle for game time next season. The key question, as always, is this: if the Brazilian leaves, will it make any difference to Liverpool's forward progress? I submit that the answer is a resounding no.

Lucas is a superb squad player to have, and a model professional, but at this stage, is he a better option than new signing Emre Can? Possibly not. Additionally, in the prime of his career, will he want to spend most of his time on the bench next season?

Author:

7/25/2014 10:59:00 pm

Injury Shock: £25m LFC star out for six weeks with nightmare injury. Big blow, or chance for Markovic?

After Tiago Ilori and Fabio Borini, Liverpool have suffered yet another pre-season injury setback, and this one is sure to disappoint legions of expectant fans.

According to the Liverpool Echo:

* £25m man Adam Lallana suffered knee ligament damage during a training session in Boston.

* He will not require surgery, but will be out for around six weeks.

* Lallana will miss Premier League fixtures against Southampton, Manchester City and Tottenham.

Earlier today, Raheem Sterling revealed that the LFC players are doing 'killer' double training sessions during their USA tour, so perhaps that had something to do with the injury?

Given the nature of the injury, though, it's likely Lallana was on the receiving end of a bad tackle, and my money is on Lucas taking him out with one of his trademark mistimed challenges.

It's a massive shame for Lallana, and Liverpool, but (luckily) the Reds have enough players to cover, and this may open the door for Lazar Markovic to take a more prominent role in the early stages of the season.

Author:

7/25/2014 08:05:00 pm

'El Zurdo' to LFC? Reds in talks to sign 'excellent' €45m star BR wanted instead of Allen

Despite having a raft of attacking midfielders already in the squad, Liverpool are reportedly considering a big-money bid for Benfica winder Nicolas Gaitan, a persistent target for Manchester United during the Alex Ferguson era.

According to various credible sources, including Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, and The Independent:

* Liverpool are currently 'in talks' with Benfica over the transfer.

* Talks started on Thursday, and Benfica are holding out for the €45m release clause to be activated.

* Liverpool are trying lowball on the price, and hope to get the Argentine for a reduced fee.

* Atletico Madrid and Monaco are also monitoring the situation.

This is not the first time Liverpool have been linked with the 'excellent' 26-year old. Soon after Rodgers arrived at Anfield in 2012, Portuguese Newspaper Jornal Record reported that Liverpool were planning a £14m bid for Gaitan, and would move if the deal for Joe Allen fell through.

Gaitan - along with former team-mate Lazar Markovic - helped Benfica win the Portuguese league last season, picking up 9 goals/assists along the way, which is hardly impressive for a player allegedly worth €45m. Gaitan's stats for the last four seasons:

* 25 goals/49 assists in 177 appearances.
* Goal every 7 games.
* Assist every 3.6 games.
* Goal/assists every 2.4 games

Gaitan's goal stats are clearly not good enough, but his assist rate compensates for that somewhat. Be that as it may, €45m is a massively inflated fee for a player who is regularly ignored by the Argentina national team, and (IMO), there's no chance Benfica will get that figure.

One plus point is that Gaitan - nicknamed 'El Zurdo' on account of being left-footed' - is only 26, which means his prime years are still ahead.

Worth a bid?



Author:

7/25/2014 12:16:00 pm

Legend insists: £11m star could 'walk straight into BR's team' & make LFC 'better'. Agree?

Having reportedly passed a medical on Thursday, Loic Remy is set to sign a 4-year deal with Liverpool before the end of the week, and according to Liverpool legend Steve Nicol, the France international is a perfect signing for the Reds.

Discussing the proposed £11m Remy deal on ESPN this week, Nicol - part of the last Liverpool team to win the league title back in 1990 - conceded that the striker is 'no Luis Suarez', but predicted that he'll make an immediate impact at Anfield:

"If you're looking for someone with a history of scoring in the Prem, and value for money, then Remy is the answer. He could walk straight into the team and form a partnership with Sturridge. He makes the LFC squad bigger and better"

I'm often accused of being down on transfers, and to be honest, it's true (with good reason!), but in this case, I agree with Nicol: Remy is fantastic value for money, and given his skill-set, he is eminently capable of making a difference for Liverpool.

This is an exciting transfer, and for once, Liverpool are not getting ripped-off in the transfer market, which makes it even better. Remy's Premier League stats in comparison to Daniel Sturridge are also very encouraging:

* 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%

STATS: Opta

I'm not suggesting that Remy is the better player - Sturridge's overall goals/assists record is clearly better, but the Frenchman 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.

Nicol suggests that Remy will partner Sturridge, but given Rodgers' formation preferences, is that likely to happen? He paired Suarez and Sturridge a few times last season, but surely Remy and Sturridge are too similar in playing style to form an effective partnership?

Sturridge and Suarez are two totally different players, with contrasting (but complementary) styles; Remy - like Sturridge - has pace, and can play off the shoulder of the defence, and if played together, it's likely both strikers will make similar runs.

It's definitely an option, but it's possibly more likely that, if played in the same team, either Sturridge or Remy will operate on one side of a front three, and probably alternate positions:

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

----- Remy ---------------- Sterling

With both upfront, we could see something like this:

---------- Sturridge -- Remy

--------------- Lallana

------- Markovic ----- Henderson

-------------- Gerrard

With the club's attacking options, there are numerous options to consider, which is great news for Liverpool.

Author:

7/24/2014 11:54:00 pm

Sign ASAP? LFC want 'absolutely brilliant' €20m star with two 'Player of the Year' awards

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.



Author:

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.



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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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