23 May 2015

Marquee Signing: €25m superstar wanted by Liverpool confirms he's 'moving on'. Sign or avoid like the plague?

With Steven Gerrard leaving at the end of the season, Real Madrid star Sami Khedira is reportedly on Liverpool's shortlist to replace the club's influential captain, and with the season almost over, Khedira has announced that he's leaving the Bernabeu this summer.

Earlier today, Khedira - reportedly the subject of a €25m bid from Arsenal in the summer - posted the following message on Instagram:

"Valdedebas for the last time. I am moving on but I will surely miss my club Real, all of its staff and my unbelievable teammates! Guys, it was one heck of a ride!!!"

Liverpool were last linked with Khedira in February, and in an ideal world, the German would be a great signing.

Alas, like Daniel Agger, and Daniel Sturridge, he is massively prone to injury:

* Two cruciate ligament injuries in four years.

* Missed 87 games as a result of 11 separate injuries in the last 4 years.

* A grand total of 20 injuries since 2008 (105 games missed)

* Averaged only 23 league games a year since 2006.

* This season alone: FIVE separate injuries, restricting him to only 17 appearances all season.

I just don't see the sense in risking big bucks on players with huge injury histories.

There are lots of players out there for similar fees whose careers are not littered with endless injury set-backs.

The fact Khedira is free shouldn't come into it. Gerrard's replacement has to be someone who will play most games, and have a regular impact on the team, and Khedira's history proves that he isn't capable of doing that.

In my view, signing a player with Khedira's injury history is transfer negligence of the highest order, so here's hoping Liverpool are no longer interested.

I'd rather see James Friggin' Milner at the club, and that's saying something (!)

Author: Jaimie K

Transfer Update: 75% of Liverpool fans want unbelievable' £20m attacker instead of Ings

Liverpool are currently linked with summer moves for both Danny Ings and Charlie Austin, and right now, Ings is reportedly Brendan Rodgers' preferred choice. Do fans agree with the manager on this particular transfer issue, though?

On Friday, the Daily Mail claimed that the deal for Ings is almost done:

"Liverpool are confident that they have won the race to sign Danny Ings.

"The Reds believe they have now done enough to secure his signature".

Liverpool were last linked with Austin in November, but given the choice, which of the two strikers is the more enticing option.

Last week, I conducted a poll on the site, asking fans to choose between Ings and Austin. The results are emphatic:

* A whopping 75% of fans preferred Austin over ings.

 photo Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 07.17.21_zpsn25wcndz.png

In my view, it's a no-brainer. The case for Austin, recently described by Harry Redknapp as an 'unbelievable' striker:

* More prolific in the Prem: 17 goals/7 assists (24) in 35 apps, compared to Ings' 10 goals/4 (14) assists in 36 apps.

* Older and more experienced.

* 47 goals/assists in 72 apps for QPR overall.

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

* No significant injuries in the last four years.

Some fans will point Austin's failed medical in July 2013 as a giant red flag, but it hasn't made a blind bit of difference to his effectiveness, and 24 goals/assists in his debut Premier League season is ample proof of that.

Additionally, Austin's appearance record over the last few years seems to prove that he doesn't have any persistent injury problems:

* 188 appearances in the the last five seasons (an average of 38 games per season)

* Made 37 appearances during the 2013-14 season (after his failed medical).

The only issue with Austin may be the price tag. Ings is available for knockdown fee of £5m, QPR Director of Football Les Ferdinand insists that Liverpool will have to shell out big bucks to sign Austin:

"We would love to keep Charlie Austin at QPR...but someone scoring 17 goals in this division, you’re looking at £15-20million at least.”

With that in mind, and taking everything into consideration, Ings probably shades it due to being significantly cheaper.

That said, after being relegated, QPR's bargaining position is significantly weakened, which probably means they'll have to let Austin go for a much cheaper fee, especially if he's intent on leaving.

If Liverpool can get Austin for £10m, then I'd take him over Ings in a heartbeat. Any more than that, though, and Ings then becomes a more viable option.

Author: Jaimie K

Photo Proof: 'Outstanding' Academy goal-machine trains with Coutinho. Surprise start vs. Stoke?

After an excellent season at the Academy, Reds starlet Jerome Sinclair has made the breakthrough into the first-team squad, and over the last few weeks, he's been rewarded with substitute appearances against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

A starting berth may not be far away, and with the season basically over, Sunday's game against Stoke City is arguably the ideal opportunity for Rodgers to hand Sinclair his first senior start.

As the following photo shows, Sinclair - described by Jamie Carragher as an 'outstanding' finisher - trained with the first team yet again on Friday, which suggests he may play some part in Sunday's game:

In his Friday press conference, Rodgers confirmed that Mario Balotelli is a 'doubt' for the Stoke game; Daniel Sturridge is out injured, and Lambert/Borini are seemingly incapable of scoring goals, so why not just start Sinclair?

In 2012, Sinclair became Liverpool's youngest ever player when he made his League Cup debut against West Brom, and the official LFC website describes Sinclair as follows:

Jerome Sinclair is a forward who...now features for both the U18s and U21s at the Academy, showing his prolific ability at either level".

It's probably wishful thinking to expect Rodgers to start Sinclair on Sunday; Lambert may get the nod, or failing that, The Mercenary will probably play up-front.

Even if Sinclair gets some pitch time against Stoke, his first-team experience may ultimately be short-lived. According to the Daily Mail:

"Liverpool are talking to Jerome Sinclair about a new contract. The 19-year-old is highly-regarded at Anfield but is likely to be loaned out again next season"

In my view, there's no need to send Sinclair out on loan again next season; just keep him in the squad, and play him in Cup games, with regular cameos in the League and - if Liverpool make it - the Europa League.

Author: Jaimie K

I May Quit: 'Incredible' €12m LFC star hints at Liverpool exit unless he's 'part of the project' next season

On Friday, multiple reports claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is planning to dump Lucas Leiva this summer, and the Brazilian has now confirmed that his future at the club is very much up in the air.

According to The Mirror:

* Rodgers is 'willing to listen to offers' as he allegedly believes that Lucas 'is not dynamic enough', and 'prefers Joe Allen' in midfield.

* Rodgers also allegedly feels that €12m-rated Lucas 'offers the Reds little going forward'.

When asked on Friday evening about reports that he may be leaving Anfield this summer, Lucas - hailed by Rodgers for his 'incredible' attitude - told FCInterNews:

"My future is uncertain as I spent this last season as a bit-part player.

"I have to talk to Liverpool to see if I am part of the project next season. After that, we will see".

To be fair, Lucas's injuries are a major part of the reason why he's been in and out of the team:

* Feb 7th - Mar 20th: 41 days out with a groin strain (10 games missed)

* Apr 17 - May 2: 15 days out with another groin strain (4 games missed)

Since returning from his second injury, Lucas has spent much of his time as s substitute, including spending the last three consecutive games on the bench.

Rodgers allegedly prefers Joe Allen to Lucas, but the Welsh midfielder is also spending most of his time on the bench right now, and that doesn't seem likely to change.

Lucas is a fantastic player to have in the squad, but that's exactly what he should be: a squad player. However, at the age of 28, the Brazilian is in his prime years, and based on his comments throughout the season, it seems unlikely that he'll settle for perennial bench duty.

Author: Jaimie K

22 May 2015

Agent Confirms: 'Liverpool are interested' in signing €6m powerhouse who's 'inspired by Michael Essien'

In February, multiple reports claimed that Liverpool were interested in signing Cagliari starlet Godfred Donsah, and the Ghanaian's agent has now confirmed that the Reds are tracking the coveted midfielder.

When asked on Thursday about transfer interest from the Premier League, Donsah's agent, Oliver Arthur, told reporters:

“Arsenal, [Manchester] City and Liverpool are interested [in Donsah], but there’s nothing official.”

Some info about €6m-rated Donsah:

* 18-year old defensive midfielder, who can also play at right back.

* 23 appearances for Cagliari (2 goals/1 assist).

* Nicknamed the 'new Michael Essien'.

* Donsah is also a huge fan of Essien, and in a recent interview, he raved: "I am inspired by Michael Essien. He is my role model"

* Seemingly interested in a move to Man City, and he confirmed this in February: “I am happy to be targeted by Manchester City. But I feel good at Cagliari – we are doing well"

* After a tough upbringing in Ghana, Donsah - unlike many of the raging mercenaries that blight football - has his feet firmly on the ground.

Indeed, in a recent interview, he mused: "I've always been ready to work, as I know that I have to eat and look after my family. I'm very careful and will only buy myself a nice car after my career is finished.”

Liverpool may be interested, but Donsah is a self-confessed Chelsea fan, and he confirmed this in April, when he told GhanaSoccernet:

"My mother would give me money every now and then, about €2, to see the games at a local bar. That's how I started supporting Chelsea and my idol Michael Essien. I have his jersey.”

Right now, Liverpool's clear priority is - or should be - the recruitment of older, experienced players capable of coming straight into the team and making an immediate impact.

Enough with the untested teenagers already.

Author: Jaimie K

You're Out: Liverpool to dump 'incredible' €12m star this summer because Rodgers prefers Joe Allen

Earlier this season, Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini confirmed that he is interested in signing Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva, and it now appears that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is finally willing to part with the injury-prone Brazilian.

According to The Mirror:

* Rodgers is 'willing to listen to offers' as he allegedly believes that Lucas 'is not dynamic enough', and 'prefers Joe Allen' in midfield.

* Rodgers also allegedly feels that €12m-rated Lucas 'offers the Reds little going forward'.

In recent months, Lucas - hailed by Rodgers for his 'incredible' attitude - has made clear his frustration at playing a bit role at Liverpool:

* Oct 2014: He warned: “I want to play. I need to find a solution either at Liverpool or at another club. [if] I don’t find space at Liverpool, I should start to make a move".

* Oct 2014: Lucas confirmed that Napoli tried to sign him over the summer: “There was something with Napoli. Benitez always had great faith in me.”

* Nov 2014: He told Radio Marca: "I must think about leaving as there is no room for me at Liverpool. I am looking around, given I am not playing".

* Dec 2014: Lucas's Agent, Henrique Coelho, told reporters: “Is it possible that Lucas could leave Liverpool in January? Yes, naturally. Lucas really likes Rafa Benitez.”

If Liverpool are letting Lucas go, then it represents a great opportunity for Inter to seal a deal. The Italian club is definitely interested, and Mancini confirmed this in December, when he told reporters:

"[Lucas Leiva] is a great player, but he belongs to Liverpool and it's going to be hard to get him. He would be useful, though, as he can help us, and help our younger players grow."

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson wants Lucas to stay, though, and in a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, he noted:

"He [Lucas] is solid if unspectacular, but most teams need a player like that, even the top ones. There’s surely no chance Liverpool will let him go".

When all is said and done, this season proves that Liverpool's current set of players is not good enough to mount a sustained challenge for the title and Champions League, which is something that needs to be fixed this summer.

Upgrades are needed in all areas of the team, and with Lucas's increased susceptibility to injury, it makes sense to let him go. Like Sturridge, he cannot be relied upon to stay fit for long periods of time, and that is an ongoing issue.

That said, I'd rather see Joe Allen leave ahead of Lucas. Lucas may not add much going forward, but he's an excellent defensive midfielder, and Allen isn't in the same league in that department.

Additionally, Lucas is an experienced member of the squad, and once Gerrard is gone, he'll be one of the few remaining Liverpool players with significant experience of playing in the Champions League.

panel management

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed: 'Absolutely sensational' attacker signs 5-year deal with Liverpool. Sterling's replacement?

Amid the ongoing Raheem Sterling contract fiasco, Liverpool have officially confirmed contract extensions for Jordon Ibe and Jon Flanagan.

Ibe - described by Rodgers this season as (deep breath): 'Absolutely outstanding'; 'Absolutely sensational'; 'terrific'; 'wonderful'; 'brilliant'; 'exciting', and 'important' - has signed a 5-year deal, whilst Flanagan has to make-do with a 12-month extension.

The club confirmed the news on its official Twitter account on Thursday:

"Liverpool are delighted to confirm that Jordon Ibe and Jon Flanagan have both signed new contract extensions with the club".

Brendan Rodgers on Flanagan:

"He [Flanagan] has been a huge miss for us this season. It has just been unfortunate for him because he was about to sign a new deal just before the injury.”

Rodgers Ibe:

"He [Ibe] is a young kid that has got a lot of potential; he still has a lot of work to do to become that consistent performer at the top level, but there's no doubting his potential and he has really grown and developed over the course of the last season"

Ibe's reaction:

"I'm over the moon. Liverpool are a great club and I like the philosophy here. I'm enjoying it - I've just been brought into the first team and I've enjoyed the games I've played in. Hopefully I can just keep doing well at the club"

It's good to see two young players sign up for extended deals, but contracts mean nothing these days, and it won't surprise me in the slightest to see Ibe pulling the same schtick as Sterling in a year or two, especially if Rodgers continues his sickeningly sycophantic approach to players.

As for Flanagan being a 'huge miss' this season - that just underlines Rodgers' questionable performance in the transfer market yet again. He brought in Manquillo and Moreno, and if either of them had elevated the team, Flanagan's absence wouldn't have made a difference.

On a related note: It's amusing to see the club release this positive news on the same day as the explosion of negativity related to the Raheem Sterling contract saga. It's and a nice bit of counter-spin by Liverpool, and the perfect response to Sterling's disloyalty.

Author: Jaimie K

21 May 2015

70% Price Crash: Liverpool can sign 'special' €34m superstar for incredible discount transfer fee

Over the last couple of years, Liverpool have been constantly linked with a move for Barcelona star Pedro, and new reports this week suggest that the experienced Spaniard is now available for a knock-down transfer free.

In March, The Mirror claimed that Barcelona offered Pedro to Liverpool, and according to The Telegraph today:

* 27-year old Pedro 'is ready to quit the Nou Camp' after falling down the attacking pecking order.

* Barcelona are allegedly willing to let Pedro go for €10m (£7m).

€10m for a player with 20+ major trophies, including 5 league titles, 2 Champions League titles, and a World Cup winner's medal? Sounds highly improbable to me, especially since Pedro's reported value has hovered around the €34m (£24m) mark for the last few years.

Pedro seems - described last month by Luis Enrique as a player with 'special' qualities - resigned to leaving, though, and in March, he told reporters:

"For the whole season I have had very few chances. I am going through a difficult moment, and I will decide on my future at the end of the season"

Despite the ridiculous competition at Barca for attacking places, Pedro's has excellent stats over the last six season:

* 98 goals/43 assists (141) in 300 apps (1 Goal/assist every 2 games)

Liverpool fans certainly hold Pedro in high regard. Last summer, I asked fans who they'd rather see LFC sign: Pedro or Lallana.

* 17100 visitors (approx) participated in the poll.
* A gigantic 80% of voters chose Pedro over Lallana.

That's a quite staggering vote of confidence in Pedro, but it's hardly surprising given the Spaniard's experience and pedigree. I also voted in favour of Pedro, for the following reasons:

* Consistent experience at the highest levels of the game, including copious European/international experience.

* Played alongside some of the world's best players for years, including Messi, Xavi, Neymar, and Iniesta.

* A winner, who's won every trophy in the game, and that kind of experience could be invaluable for Liverpool.

* A player who'll come in and give the entire club a lift. He's a marquee signing with an aura about him.

This rumour seems like it's been around forever, yet Pedro is still at Barcelona, and if he decides to leave in the summer, I can't see him ending up at Liverpool, especially with the club failing to qualify for the Champions League.

With Steven Gerrard leaving, there will also be a distinct lack of world-renowned players at Anfield, and that will make it harder than it is already to attract Europe's elite.

That said, if Liverpool prioritise the signing, and pull out all the stops to make Pedro feel wanted at Anfield, then there a possibility of sealing the deal.

Earlier this week, Petr Cech's agent confirmed that Chelsea have granted the giant 'stopper permission to speak with interested clubs', and now Pedro is allegedly available for comparative peanuts. What an amazing opportunity for Liverpool to grab two experienced, top-class winners.

The Reds should make Cech and Pedro the absolute top priority this summer, and that means ensuring Brendan Rodgers (or whoever is in charge this summer) personally meets with these players in a bid to convince them to sign.

Liverpool should also get Steven Gerrard and/or Jamie Carragher involved in the persuasion process. Top clubs around Europe have their legends actively involved in recruitment, and this is something I've advocated for years.

Ian Ayre just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Granted, even without Ayre's influence, I have little faith in Liverpool getting anywhere close to signing either of these players, but you never know. LFC's transfer record under Rodgers is a train-wreck, but things have to change sometime...right?

But wait - what am I saying? I forgot about James Friggin' Milner! With Galacticos like Milner in the team, who needs Pedro?

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed: The truth about Sterling's 20% QPR 'sell-on' clause. £50m transfer fee means LFC lose £10m

With Raheem Sterling seemingly on the verge of leaving Liverpool, rumours are swirling about an alleged clause in his contract, which stipulates that Queens Park Rangers are entitled to 20% of The Mercenary's transfer fee. Is this true?

Unfortunately, it is true, and former QPR Chairman Gianni Paladini confirmed this in June 2014.

When asked for details about Sterling's £500k transfer to Liverpool, he told Get West Sport:

"Rangers will get 20% [from] the sell-on fee, not that QPR probably need it right now.

"The new owners have more money than ever existed in my time. Still, a £40M sale nets them £8M—not bad for a 15-year-old, eh? But I doubt Liverpool will ever sell him."

Paladini was in charge at QPR when Liverpool signed Sterling, so he'll obviously know the finer details of the agreement.

None of the newspapers running the story have referenced this quote from Paladini, which is strange considering it's the original source of the rumour.

Paladini mentioned nothing about a 25% sell-on clause if Sterling signs for an overseas club, so at this point, there's no evidence to suggest that is true.

So, there you have it. If Liverpool sell Sterling for £50m, the club will lose £10m of that fee to QPR.

It's just another example of Liverpool's perennial penchant for being fleeced on transfers.

A 20% sell-on clause is ridiculous, and it's hard to believe that someone at LFC actually sanctioned that.

I'd like to blame it on Ian Ayre, as it sounds like just the type of negligent clause he'd negotiate.

Alas, Ayre had nothing to do with transfers back in 2010. Based on the club's statements at the time, it seems like the blame lies with former Managing Director Christian Purslow, and ex-Academy Chief Frank McParland.

Author: Jaimie K

£50m mega-deal? Liverpool close to making the best transfer decision in years

Liverpool have reportedly cancelled Friday's scheduled contract talks with 'immature' attacker Raheem Sterling, which means that Anfield's resident mercenary is one stop closer to the exit door. Result!

According to the BBC today:

"Liverpool have cancelled Friday's planned meeting with Raheem Sterling over comments attributed to the player's agent.

"Liverpool believe there would be no point in having a meeting when the player's representative is quoted as saying a new deal would not be signed regardless of the figure"

For me, this is the best transfer news of the year, and after the embarrassing outburst from his agent, there's surely no way back for Sterling, who is complicit in his Agent's total disrespect of Liverpool FC. A few points:

* Over the last year, I've repeatedly posted articles warning about Sterling's mercenary approach, but as usual, no one wanted to listen and/or acknowledge that he was trying to engineer a way out of Anfield.

* Cancelling contract talks is a show of strength from Liverpool, and the it's exactly the right way to proceed. To continue negotiations after being publicly dissed in such a manner would've been the ultimate display of weakness.

* Why hasn't Sterling publicly distanced himself from his Agent's diatribe? The fact that he's failed to do that simply adds insult to injury, and suggests that Sterling tacitly condones the comments. That may not be the case, but that's the way it appears.

* Brendan Rodgers deserves all the criticism coming his way for this sorry affair. His endless, sickening fawning over Sterling has inflated the youngster's ego to gargantuan levels, and given him a grossly inflated sense of self-worth.

* The biggest myth about this situation is that Sterling is somehow being 'misled' and 'badly advised', as if the youngster is some meek little lamb who has absolutely no input into anything that happens. That is total cobblers.

* Aidy Ward is Sterling's employee; Ward works for him (not the other way round), and as is usual in any Agent-Client relationship, absolutely everything is discussed, including strategy.

* Sterling could've reigned-in his agent at any point, but he has failed and/or refused to do that. As such, Liverpool must end all contract negotiations permanently and sell Sterling to the highest bidder (Currently Chelsea, who are reportedly willing to pay £50m).

* The only way Sterling can salvage the situation now is to sack his agent with immediate effect, and release a statement publicly apologising for the conduct, and for his own stupidity in failing to control his agent.

The club needs to draw a line in the sand; there should be no way back for Sterling after his Agent's outburst, and to reopen negotiations will just underline Liverpool's weakness, and ram home the unpalatable idea that the individual is bigger than the club.

Would Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, John Smith, or Peter Robinson stand for this nonsense? No chance, and neither (IMO) would a dressing room containing the likes of Souness, Dalglish, Hansen, Barnes, McMahon, Aldo etc.

It's amazing, really. Sterling is paid obscenely well to kick a ball around for one of the world's most famous clubs; he's living the dream of millions of fans worldwide, most of whom would gladly trade places with him and play for free, and yet...

None of this good enough for him.

Well, Sterling is not good enough for Liverpool. He doesn't deserve to play for the club; he is a Londoner with zero affinity or respect for LFC, so let him go and rot on the bench at Chelsea, where he - and his agent - will fit right in.

Author: Jaimie K

Priority Transfer? Liverpool chase '€15m' powerhouse who called LFC 'a dream club'

After the 3-1 home to defeat Crystal Palace at the weekend, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers blasted his team's 'poor' defending, something that has plagued the club for most of the last two seasons. Rodgers has reportedly prioritised the signing of yet another centre-back this summer, and new reports suggest that Juventus centre-back Angelo Ogbonna is back on the Reds' wanted list.

According to ESPN on Tuesday:

"Sources have told ESPN that Liverpool and Tottenham are both considering a move for Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna [who is] high on their wanted lists".

Ogbonna has been linked with Liverpool several times over the last few years, and last season, the 24-year confirmed the Reds' interest:

"I am flattered by the interest from clubs. Liverpool is a dream club, it is awesome that they are interested in me. I love the Premier League and one day I might play in that league".

In October 2012, Anfield Scouts were dispatched to run the rule over the Italian, who has spoken many times of his desire to play in the Premier League. Indeed, speaking to Tuttosport last season, Ogbonna made this clear once again:

"I would go abroad willingly. I would like to experience other cultures. English football fascinates me, and the style is similar to Torino's one. And I speak English."

Ogbonna is definitely for sale. When asked about the 6'2 defender's future in December, Juve Sporting Director Fabio Patarici told reporters:

"We have never thought about giving Ogbonna up [to someone] on loan and we have never taken the idea of releasing him into consideration, but if someone wants him, they will have to present us with an offer of €15 million".

Given the mass of quality players at Juve, it's no surprise that Ogbonna has struggled to hold down a first-team place, and €15m is a palatable fee for a proven international defender approaching his prime.

Having said that, 'proven international defender aproaching his prime' is a description that also fits Dejan Lovren, and he has failed to make the expected difference for Liverpool this season.

Unfortunately, despite his professed admiration for Liverpool, it seems likely that the Italian would reject a move to Anfield. Prior to his move to Juve, he told reporters:

"A move abroad? Why not? My dream is to play in a Champions League Final.”

That's Liverpool out of the running, then! Who knows - Ogbonna will achieve his Champions League final dream this season, so once that's out of his system, maybe the Reds will become a viable option?

Author: Jaimie K

20 May 2015

Mega-Deal: Liverpool desperate to sign 'extraordinary' €36m La Liga attacker to replace Mario Balotelli

Last month, Reds legend Jan Molby criticised Liverpool for failing to make a move to sign Mario Mandzukic last summer, but new reports suggest that Brendan Rodgers is planning to rectify that mistake when the transfer window opens in July.

According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo today:

* Liverpool, Man City, and Wolfsburg are all considering summer moves for Mandzukic.

* Rodgers is allegedly 'desperate' to sign another top striker this summer.

Discussing Liverpool's strikers in April, a clearly irritated Molby urged Rodgers to scrap Lambortelli and sign Mandzukic. He told the 5-Times podcast:

"[Mario] Mandzukic was allowed to leave Bayern Munich and go to Atletico Madrid, with nobody including Liverpool showing any real interest. How do you not show an interest? That's the type of player you want [at Anfield]"

Molby has regularly championed the signing of 'extraordinary' Mandzukic, and he's arguably right that Liverpool should've made an attempt to sign the 28-year old striker.

The real choker here is that Mandzukic cost Atletico £16m, which is exactly what Liverpool paid for Balotelli.

Mandzukic's value has now reportedly risen to 36m [£26m], which means if the Rodgers decides to purse the Croatian now, the Reds will have to pay through the nose.

Nothing new there, then.

I doubt there are many fans who'd dispute that Mandzukic would've been a better signing than Balotelli. Let's look a their respective stats this season:

* Balotelli: 4 goals/0 assists in 28 apps.
* Mandzukic: 20 goals/5 assists in 43 apps.

Case closed. Mandzukic is a clear upgrade on Lambortelli, but there are a few of issues to consider:

* Worrying injury history. 10 injuries since 2010 (158 days on the sidelines, with over 34 games missed as a result)

* Currently injured again, and according to Atletico boss Diego Simeone, he's 'out indefinitely' with an ankle problem.

* 12 goals in 28 La Liga games is not a great record for striker who may cost €36m. As a comparison, Diego Costa - who Mandzukic replaced - grabbed 27 in 35 for Atletico last season.

On the subject of Costa - Mandzukic is inevitably compared to the Brazilian striker, but in an interview this week, Simeone refuted the comparison, and explained the difference between the two players:

"You can’t compare him [Mandzukic] to Diego Costa. He needs to have support, be supplied with the ball and have people helping him. His best goal tally at Bayern was 24 and we’ve not been able to improve on that"

Not the most glowing of endorsements from Simeone (!).

Given his injury history, Liverpool should steer clear of Mandzukic, especially now that he's suffering from a knee problem that has precipitated an 'indefinite' absence.

Knee injuries decimated the careers of both Fernando Torres and Michael Owen, and it's arguably too much of a risk to take a big-money chance on another striker with similar fitness issues.


'The Architect' to Anfield? Rush references 'Liverpool's strategy' for signing 'amazing' legend

Liverpool are currently linked with an improbable summer move for 'amazing' Italy legend Andrea Pirlo, but what are the chances of the club actually being able to seal a deal?

Over the weekend, the Daily Mail claimed:

"Brendan Rodgers will make an all-out attempt to persuade Juventus maestro Andrea Pirlo to move to Liverpool in the summer"

During an interview this week with Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato, Reds legend Ian Rush - who spent one year at Juventus in the 1980s - was asked the following question:

"There is talk of Andrea Pirlo as a possible replacement for Gerrard. Is this a possibility?

Rush responded:

"This I cannot say. We'll have to see what Liverpool's strategy is [to sign him]. I just know that Pirlo is a great player and will give a lot to the team"

Is Rush vague because he knows something, and 'cannot say', or because he doesn't know anything about Liverpool's interest in the deal?

Whatever happens, Pirlo - nicknamed 'The Architect' - is almost certainly leaving Italy this summer, and he confirmed this last week, when he told reporters:

"It [winning the Champions League] would be a dream end for my spell here. Yes, if we win it, I might move abroad because Juventus will be my last team in Italy.”

It's probably just pie in the sky, but it'll be absolutely amazing to have Pirlo at Anfield. The Italian is my favourite player in world football, and watching him play is just pure joy. At the age of 36, Pirlo is still absolutely integral to Juve's success, and he's achieving the kind of consistent impact in his later years that Steven Gerrard should be having on Liverpool.

The question is, if Pirlo can maintain his quality and impact until the age of 36, why can't Gerrard, who is 34? It would've been fantastic to have Gerrard still having an impact at Anfield for another couple of years, but it's all come to an (arguably) premature end.

Team-mate Gianluigi Buffon is a huge fan of Pirlo, and in an interview last season, he raved:

“When Andrea told me he was coming to Juventus, my first thought was “thank goodness”. His footballing skills are out of this world. A player of his quality and his market value, especially on a free transfer, must be the buy of the century"

If Pirlo signs for Liverpool, it will be another 'buy of the century'. Just imagine how inspiring it'll be - for fans and fellow players - to have a bona-fide world cup legend at the club.

Some fans will argue that Pirlo isn't mobile enough etc, but his recent record blows that theory out of the water: 4 league titles in a row, plus a Champions League final to come. Play him in the right position, and Pirlo will deliver, irrespective of mobility.

Possible line-up with Pirlo in the team (Using current players):

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

Johnson -------- Skrtel ---- Sakho ------ Moreno

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

--------------- Hendo ------ Pirlo

--------- Coutinho ------------ Lallana

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

I'd buy that for a dollar, especially with upgrades on Johnson, Lucas, Lallana, and Moreno.

Author: Jaimie K

Barnes: £30m goal-machine will be a 'great signing for Liverpool'. Done deal this summer?

The Christian Benteke bandwagon just keeps on rolling, and with Belgian striker reportedly 'keen' to join Liverpool, John Barnes is the latest Reds legend to urge the club to sign the powerful attacker this summer.

Speaking to TalkSport on Tuesday, Barnes insisted that £30m-rated Benteke 'would be a great signing for Liverpool', and explained why he'd fit in at Anfield:

"Liverpool have lacked presence up front. With Benteke, as well as playing fluent football , they would also have the option of being a bit more direct. I would be excited about that if he comes.”

Barnes joins a growing list of Ex-Reds who want Liverpool to sign Benteke:

* Dietmar Hamann: "Benteke [is] top of my list. He's the best Liverpooll can get. The fella is awesome. [I've] never seen [Martin] Skrtel bullied by someone like he did at Wembley. He's a monster [and a] goal machine. A perfect fit."

* John Aldridge: "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"

* Stan Collymore: Benteke can become a great European central striker, he’s a potential European superstar. Over the next four of five years Villa need to build a team around him.”

* Jamie Carragher: “He [Benteke] has been a brilliant player for Villa but they’ve always been fighting relegation when he’s been there and he’s always been the one who’s dragged them out".

* Steve Nicol: "Had they signed a striker like Benteke, who gives you a different sort of option, but who can also play the game, then that would have been a great move".

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is also a fan, and in a recent press conference, he raved: "[Christian] Benteke is one of the very top players at this level. He makes great runs and scores goals, and he caused us lots of problems."

Liverpool fans don't share all this enthusiasm, though. Earlier this month, I ran a poll on the site asking fans if LFC should sign Benteke:

* 58% of participants voted NO to Benteke signing for Liverpool.

 photo Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 21.35.45_zpsoq8eat8l.png

Everyone seems to want Benteke, and hopefully, if the Reds sign him, it won't end being a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. The big Belgian seems to have all the attributes needed to make it at Anfield, but knowing Liverpool's luck with strikers, he'll probably end up being a massive flop.

Or, taking a more positive view, with 62 goals/assists in 99 apps, it's likely that Benteke will be a hit at Anfield, especially playing alongside (arguably) superior players.

Author: Jaimie K