Liverpool FC News, Opinion, Transfer Rumours and Discussion
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Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has been handed a Euro 2016 lifeline after UEFA chose not to extend his suspension from football after a positive drugs test.
The France international was provisionally banned for 30 days on April 28 after being notified by European football’s governing body of an anti-doping offence relating to a test taken after March’s Europa League quarter-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
However, Press Association Sport understands UEFA have decided not to extend that suspension, which is due to expire on Saturday, as they have launched their own investigation into whether the fat-burning substance the centre-back took should even be on the banned list.
As a result the case against Sakho remains on file pending those investigations but with his suspension lifted he is technically available for selection by national team boss Didier Deschamps, with national teams having until May 31 to submit their final squads for this summer’s tournament in France.
Sakho submitted his defence to UEFA’s disciplinary committee on Monday and as part of that his legal team questioned whether the substance in the supplement should even be on the prohibited list given some apparent scientific evidence on its effects.
Rather than set a date for a hearing to consider the defender’s case UEFA have instead ordered their own disciplinary body to first look into whether the substance should even be on the WADA list.
Liverpool have declined to comment until the process has been completed.
Statement from UEFA:
The 30-day provisional suspension ends today. The chairman of the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decided not to extend it. The player would thus be free to play as from tomorrow. A decision on the case will be made within the next few days.
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Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho will receive no further suspension from UEFA and could even be included in France’s squad for the European Championships, according to reports in France on Saturday.
Sakho was suspended for an initial 30 days last month and was expected to receive a further ban once his hearing with UEFA had been held.
That hearing took place last week, with the outcome expected to be revealed next week.
Reports in France, from L’Equipe, this Saturday claim the 26-year-old will receive no further ban and is therefore available immediately.
UPDATE: Media in England now reporting the same news. The Liverpool Echo claim: “Sakho’s defence questioned whether the substance he had taken should even be on the prohibited list – leading to UEFA ordering their own disciplinary body to first investigate whether the substance should even be on the WADA list.”
Sakho was suspended after testing for a banned substance after the Europa League match at Old Trafford, the substance reportedly being a fat burner. These reports suggest the fat burner wasn’t on UEFA’s banned list.
Liverpool moved to initially suspend Sakho pending UEFA’s findings and the player declined to have his B sample tested.
Reports had suggested a ban of anything between six months to two years.
Now, if these reports in France are true, it would be a huge boost for the player, his country and his club.
France coach Didier Deschamps has until May 31st to name his final squad for Euro 2016, and Sakho has previously been a mainstay in the side. With fellow centre-back Raphael Varane this week ruled out through injury, Sakho’s availability would be a welcome boost.
According to French newspaper Le Parisien Sakho has been training on his own twice a day and is ready to play at the European Championships.
Meanwhile, Sakho being available for Liverpool immediately next season would affect Jurgen Klopp‘s summer transfer plans too, with less need for another centre-back signing.
UPDATE: UEFA statement:
The 30-day provisional suspension ends today. The chairman of the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decided not to extend it. The player would thus be free to play as from tomorrow. A decision on the case will be made within the next few days.
An update on this story has been published here.
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Heading into the weekend, the rumour mill continues, and here we round up the latest Liverpool transfer news for you.
On Friday, the Reds were reported to be pushing through for deals to sign Southampton’s Sadio Mane and young pair Mahmoud Dahoud and Ben Chilwell, of Borussia Monchengladbach and Leicester City.
Furthermore, both Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith were linked with departures from Anfield, with the latter expressing a willingness to leave the club on loan to gain further first-team experience.
The business won’t stop for the weekend, however, with Jurgen Klopp working through the summer to get deals done.
Here’s the latest Liverpool transfer news, including a lifeline for loanee Luis Alberto.
Alberto Could Return After Deportivo Loan
Spanish midfielder Alberto has spent the last two seasons away from Merseyside on loan, first with Malaga and then most recently with Deportivo de La Coruna.
Alberto scored six goals and laid on a further seven in 29 Liga games for Deportivo in 2015/16, as Victor Sanchez’s side successfully avoided relegation.
Deportivo are believed to be looking to seal a permanent deal for the former Barcelona youth, but according to the Liverpool Echo, Klopp could be willing to welcome him into his squad for next season.
Liverpool are looking for £4.6 million for Alberto, and if that valuation isn’t met, he will return to Merseyside to fight for a place under Klopp.
Speaking at the beginning of May, Alberto said he was “very excited to work under [Klopp], trying to improve and stay in the squad to become an important player for Liverpool.”
Galatasaray Offer Balotelli Liverpool Exit
Returning to Liverpool following an unsuccessful loan spell with AC Milan in 2015/16, Mario Balotelli‘s summer prospects look slim.
But according to the Mirror, Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray are looking to secure a deal to sign the Italian striker.
Galatasaray lost key forward Burak Yilmaz to Chinese Super League outfit Beijing Guoan in January, and are said to be looking to Balotelli to fill the void left by the 30-year-old.
This would provide Liverpool with an ideal solution, as they look to shed his £80,000-a-week wage from their books.
Serie A newcomers Crotone have also expressed an interest in signing Balotelli, while a host of Beijing Guoan’s domestic rivals are believed to be exploring the possibility of a deal.
Besiktas Join Race to Sign Yesil
Liverpool academy striker Samed Yesil is poised to leave the club this summer, with his current contract set to expire and no extension forthcoming.
The former Bayer Leverkusen youth spent the 2015/16 campaign on loan with Swiss side FC Luzern, and despite failing to impress in the Super League, is attracting interest from Turkey this summer.
With Trabzonspor already reported to have made a move to sign the 22-year-old, Super Lig giants Besiktas are now said to be vying with the Black Sea Storm to secure Yesil’s services.
According to Turkish-Football.com, Besiktas could look to snatch Yesil from under Trabzonspor noses, much like when they signed midfielder Tolgay Arslan from Hamburger SV in January.
Yesil’s departure would see Liverpool receive just £250,000 in compensation, representing a £750,000 loss on their outlay in 2012.
Brannagan to be Offered Improved Deal
Despite signing a new long-term contract with Liverpool as recent as October, 20-year-old academy midfielder Cameron Brannagan is set to be offered an improved deal this summer.
That is according to the Liverpool Echo, who claim that Brannagan’s performances in the second half of the season impressed Klopp sufficiently to earn a long-term role in the German’s first team.
Brannagan made nine appearances for Liverpool in 2015/16, including three games in the Premier League, with his full league debut coming on the final day of the season against West Bromwich Albion.
The U21s captain is seen as a crucial part of the Reds’ future, and can look forward to an increased role next season.
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England continued their preparations for Euro 2016 with a 2-1 win over Australia on Friday night, we assess how the Liverpool players performed on the night.
The Three Lions’ penultimate friendly before Euro 2016 saw Roy Hodgson’s side defeat the Socceroos in the North East.
Man United duo Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney got the goals, while Tottenham man Eric Dier’s own goal gave Australia late hope.
Rashford’s goal, coupled with Daniel Sturridge‘s calf injury, means the Liverpool striker is now in potential danger of missing the tournament in France. That may not be a bad thing for Liverpool.
Although Sturridge didn’t feature on Friday evening, the Reds quartet of Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and James Milner were all in action for England at the Stadium of Light.
As was left-back Brad Smith for the Socceroos.
Here’s how the England quartet fared:
Having not been a part of England’s 2-1 victory over Turkey last weekend, due to Liverpool’s excursions in the Europa League final, Clyne was restored at right-back on Friday evening.
The 24-year-old remains in a straight fight with Kyle Walker for a starting berth at Euro 2016, and he did his chances no harm against Australia.
This was a typically solid showing from Clyne, but there were also some attacking bursts that we saw become more prominent at Liverpool as the season progressed.
His positional sense was invariably immaculate, and on the rare occasion when he was called upon defensively, he did his job well. Socceroos wide man Aaron Mooy was kept very quiet.
On the ball, Clyne wasn’t always as reliable as he can be, losing possession cheaply on a couple of occasions, but he was still neat and tidy.
He provided plenty of non-stop energy down the right flank, linking up effectively with Liverpool teammate Henderson on occasions.
One fierce long-range effort missed the target midway through the second-half, further highlighting his confidence in the final third.
Like a large majority of international friendlies, it was tough to properly gauge Clyne’s performance level – Australia were a limited opponent, despite causing England a few problems – but he should be pleased with his evening’s work.
With England looking susceptible in the centre of defence ahead of the Euros, playing the more defence-savvy Clyne over Walker makes total sense.
He may lack the explosiveness of his international teammate, but when it comes to being consistent and reliable, there is no comparison.
For a while, it looked as though Henderson would miss this summer’s Euros, but the Liverpool skipper has seemingly done enough to prove his fitness.
Despite being far from his most influential, the 25-year-old will see Friday’s game as another important run-out, at the home of former club Sunderland.
In typical Hodgson fashion, however, the ex-Reds manager decided to start Henderson completely out of position, in a move that baffled many.
He was deployed on the right-hand side in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater starting centrally.
Predictably, Henderson didn’t always look at home out wide, with a preference for the easy ball and inability to beat his man both apparent.
It is not a role where he will naturally shine, though, so he should not be overly criticised for his failings.
A decent strike forced goalkeeper Mathew Ryan into a save shortly before half-time, although his shooting was otherwise disappointing.
One classy piece of link-up play with Lallana was a moment that caught the eye, and Henderson also displayed his ability to interchange with the likes of Wilshere and Drinkwater on occasions.
An excellent searching pass for Rooney early in the second-half outlined his quality on the ball, while a clever back-heel to Clyne highlighted his underrated craft.
By this point, he had returned to a more central role, and he looked far happier there. Henderson was still going strong in the final stages, making some trademark lung-busting runs forward.
Question marks do remain about his place in England’s starting line-up, however, with plenty of competition for places in midfield.
There were times when he looked lacking in creativity and guile, but as is the case for Liverpool, his off-the-ball work was impressive, and he did the understated things well.
Lallana has been a favourite of Hodgson’s in recent times, with the 28-year-old tipped to start the Three Lions’ first game of Euro 2016, against Russia on 12th June.
Having not featured against Turkey, Lallana came back into the side on Friday, taking up a slightly different position to the one he has adopted at Liverpool this season.
The former Southampton man was used as a No. 10, instead of the right-sided role he has become accustomed to, with Henderson and former Liverpool man Raheem Sterling either side of him.
Despite not setting the world alight during his 45 minutes on the pitch, Lallana took his impressive club form with him to the international stage, looking a lively presence throughout.
His work-rate and intelligence came to the fore for much of the half, and his silky quality on the ball also helped England look more polished than they often have under Hodgson.
Lallana had a good chance to double his side’s lead near the half-hour mark, having been found by man-of-the-moment Rashford, but he was thwarted by former Liverpool target Ryan. He must add more goals to his game.
There wasn’t always a huge amount of substance to Lallana’s play, as has been labelled at him by some Reds supporters, but he still ensured he will be a key part of Hodgson’s plans in the coming weeks.
It would be a surprise if Lallana was kept in a central attacking role, though, with his floating style more effective in wider areas.
With changes made at half-time, Milner was introduced in place of Wilshere, and the 30-year-old took up the central midfield berth he made his own at Anfield towards the end of the season.
It was a cameo that perfectly summed up Milner in many ways – dependable, unspectacular, reliable but slightly limited.
The match felt like a training session at times in the second-half, and in truth, Milner really did have very little to do.
Everything that was asked of him he did effectively – one late shot wide was as exciting as it got – and he will know as much as anyone that he won’t feature heavily at the Euros.
His versatility is always a bonus, however.
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is eyeing up a summer move for Barcelona’s Aleix Vidal, according to reports in Spain.
A report in Spain says the Reds have a made an ambitious move for the versatile Spaniard.
Vidal has found regular first-team football hard to come by at Camp Nou, since joining from Sevilla last summer, with Dani Alves very much first-choice at right-back.
The 26-year-old is also capable of thriving as a winger, but with Lionel Messi often adopting a right-sided role, it has been nigh-on impossible for him to play there either.
A move to Liverpool does appear unlikely, however, with Alves rumoured to be leaving this summer, and Vidal set to be trusted as his long-term replacement.
In fact, Mundo Deportivo even claims that Barcelona will not allow Vidal to leave for less than his release clause of £45million, which would be a major spanner in the works.
The sources are far from the most trustworthy, and with Nathaniel Clyne thriving at right-back for the Reds, and wide attacking areas fairly well covered, a move would not make a huge amount of sense.
There are more pressing areas of the pitch for Klopp to add quality in, with centre-back, left-back and central midfield all standing out in that respect.
Loris Karius became Liverpool’s first signing of the summer on Tuesday, with the 22-year-old German joining from Mainz for £4.7million.
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Missing England’s 2-1 friendly victory over Australia with a calf injury, Daniel Sturridge is set for “extra training” to prove his fitness.
The striker remained uninhibited for the final three months of the 2015/16 campaign, but picked up the injury days after linking up with Roy Hodgson’s England squad.
Sturridge has been named in Hodgson’s 26-man preliminary group for Euro 2016, with the ex-Liverpool manager set to whittle this down to 23 players by the May 31.
Man City midfielder Fabian Delph has already been forced to withdraw from the squad through injury, though Sturridge’s problem isn’t believed to be as severe.
However, this injury forced Sturridge out of England’s second friendly clash of three warmup fixtures, with Man United striker Marcus Rashford taking his place and scoring within three minutes as the Three Lions defeated Australia at the Stadium of Light.
The 26-year-old cut a despondent figure on the sidelines, with Rashford representing a real threat to his international prospects this summer.
Speaking after the game, however, Hodgson insisted that Sturridge’s injury would not affect his judgment when selecting his 23-man squad, but said that he would take “extra training” on Sunday.
“Sturridge has a minor injury and we hope it will settle down tomorrow,” he said.
“He’ll be doing extra training on Sunday and he’ll be throwing his hat into the ring.
“It looks like 25 players will be asking for a seat on the plane and that I’m going to have to disappoint two of them.”
While Hodgson is right to hope that Sturridge can be fit to feature at this summer’s tournament, his suggestion of extra training after injury is worryingly familiar for Liverpool supporters.
The 68-year-old came under fire from Brendan Rodgers in 2014 after Sturridge picked up an injury on England duty, with Hodgson ignoring the then-Reds manager’s advice that the striker would need 48 hours recovery time after a game.
“If I am going to be under pressure to give players two days off every time they play then we won’t train,” Hodgson said in response. “They can’t have two days off.”
This showed a disregard for club interests that could resurface again this summer, and if Sturridge suffers another long-term injury while away with England, Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to take kindly to the situation.
Speaking in October, Klopp complained that the FA treated their young players “like horses,” after Jordan Rossiter suffered a hamstring injury while away on international duty with the England U19s.
This eventually ended Rossiter’s Liverpool career, with the midfielder leaving for Rangers on a free transfer after spending the rest of the campaign on the sidelines.
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Seven months after signing a new long-term contract with Liverpool, Cameron Brannagan is set for an improved deal.
The 20-year-old academy midfielder made nine appearances for the Reds in 2015/16, including his first Premier League start on the last day of the season away to West Bromwich Albion.
Brannagan produced a man-of-the-match performance at the Hawthorns that afternoon, highlighting his potential within Jurgen Klopp‘s squad.
Klopp instigated an initial extension to Brannagan’s contract in October, saying he has “everything you need for a midfield player he wants to play football.”
Now, after impressing the German when called upon in the first team, Brannagan is set to be offered another, improved contract, according to the Liverpool Echo.
This is a marker of the club’s belief in Brannagan, particularly following the departure of fellow academy midfielder Jordan Rossiter on a free transfer to Rangers.
Rossiter was long held up as Liverpool’s best young hope, but the club allowed his contract to run down following Klopp’s arrival.
Brannagan, Pedro Chirivella and Kevin Stewart have all been given regular opportunities under Klopp, and it is clear that he is highly rated by the German and his backroom staff.
The U21s captain scored a sensational goal as Michael Beale‘s side were held to a 2-2 draw against Sacramento Republic in the second of their post-season friendlies as part of their US tour this month.
Turning away from a pair of Sacramento defenders, Brannagan curled an effort into the top corner from near the edge of the penalty area.
Wearing the No. 10 shirt on the night, it was a goal reminiscent of Liverpool’s key playmaker, Philippe Coutinho.
Whether Brannagan can go on to emulate the Brazilian on Merseyside remains to be seen, but this improved deal suggests Klopp believes he can go some way towards doing so.
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Daniel Sturridge endured a turbulent 2015/16 campaign, but after recovering from a series of injuries, the striker proved his quality on the pitch.
Sturridge spent last summer undergoing rehabilitation for a hip problem, including surgery and a lengthy spell in Massachusetts, treated by the medical staff of the Boston Red Sox.
This was designed to ensure Sturridge could return to top fitness as soon as possible in 2015/16, as Brendan Rodgers looked to build on a disappointing campaign for both player and club in 2014/15.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the closing months of the season that Sturridge achieved this, and by then Rodgers had been replaced by Jurgen Klopp, whose arrival served as a turning point.
Here, we assess Sturridge’s 2015/16 campaign, including Klopp’s role in his recovery, and where he will fit in from next season.
Daniel Sturridge, 2015/16
On as a substitute: 6
Unused substitute: 5
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.68 (out of 10)
Average rating under Klopp: 6.71
7 Months, 6 Appearances
Speaking during his time in Boston, Sturridge outlined the difference between rehabilitation on Merseyside and in the US, emphasising a change in focus as key to a successful recovery:
“When you’re injured it’s important to have a different mentality. You have to channel yourself that you’re not a football player, that you could be a boxer or a tennis player or whatever it may be.
“You have to have a single-minded mentality to get back in the best shape possible. When you’re injured it’s important to have that type of mentality.
“That’s why being out here, I’m single-minded, zoning in on what I have to do and it’s great to be here.”
But while this was an endearing mindset in theory, and saw Liverpool supporters clamour for their star striker’s return for an emphatic 2015/16 campaign, Sturridge’s body continue to betray him throughout 2015, and into the new year.
The No. 15 made his first appearance of the season in September, in the sixth game of the Premier League campaign, in a 1-1 draw away to Norwich City.
Rodgers threw Sturridge in from the start, but it was his understudy, summer signing Danny Ings, who made the headlines as he grabbed his first goal of the season just after half-time.
Ings and Sturridge showed signs of a blossoming partnership six days later, in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at home to Aston Villa, with Sturridge netting a brace, including an excellent volley to put the Reds 2-0 up, but this was curtailed following October’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
Rodgers was dismissed, and Sturridge spent the next six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury, returning for two substitute appearances in the league and a two-goal showing in December’s 6-1 mauling of Southampton in the League Cup, before injury struck once again.
Sidelined with his third separate issue of the season, this time a hamstring injury, Sturridge had made just six appearances in the first seven months of 2015/16.
Return, and Return to Form
“Of course I knew all about his quality, this was not a problem, but I had not seen it live in a stadium in such an important game,” Klopp said after Sturridge’s star turn at St. Mary’s, with the striker providing his new manager with a glimpse of his overriding talent.
During that 6-1 victory, Klopp was able to get an idea of just how devastating Sturridge can be, but sensibly, the German also stressed a patient approach to his recovery.
“The problem with Daniel was we didn’t know how long he could play,” he said, “he did not have the perfect pre-season.”
This “perfect pre-season” was what Klopp intended to give to Sturridge, routinely explaining to ravenous reporters that he wouldn’t select the striker until he had trained for 10 full days to his highest ability.
After returning from his hamstring injury, Sturridge made just one appearance in six league games, withdrawn after just over an hour in February’s 6-0 win at Villa.
It was over a month later before Sturridge made three consecutive league starts for the first time since October, and vindicating Klopp’s caution, this coincided with an excellent run of form.
Sturridge scored five goals in his final eight league appearances of the season, also playing a key role in the Reds’ Europa League semi-final fightback against Villarreal, with a goal and an assist against the La Liga side, as well as his world-class strike in the final.
In the closing months of the season, Sturridge showed the form that made him one of Europe’s most-feared strikers alongside Luis Suarez in 2013/14, but what is perhaps most impressive is his fitness.
It has now been over four months since Sturridge missed Liverpool training through injury, with sports scientist Simon Brundish noting that this is his longest run of fitness since 28 June, 2014.
As he builds for the next season, this is perhaps the key positive that Sturridge must cling to.
Improvements & Moving Forward
Sturridge finished the season having scored 13 goals in 25 games, with a further two assists, averaging a goal every 131 minutes, or a goal contribution every 113 minutes.
To put this into context, Sergio Aguero averaged a goal every 121 minutes, Harry Kane a goal every 144 minutes and Jamie Vardy a goal every 134 minutes.
This reaffirms Sturridge’s position as an elite striker, and Klopp has managed his star talent excellently throughout his first seven months as Liverpool manager; deflecting criticism, managing his fitness and dampening expectation.
Sturridge can consider Klopp’s efforts to be central to his return to form and fitness, but as he looks ahead to next season, he is clinging to his role as the German’s first-choice striker.
The rise of Divock Origi in his absence saw Klopp grow in admiration for the 20-year-old, and often towards the end of the season he was preferred to Sturridge in the starting lineup.
This is arguably due to Origi’s familiar skill set, with the youngster bearing similarity to Klopp’s former complete centre-forward at Borussia Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski.
Origi has the strength, power and burgeoning finishing ability to emulate Lewandowski, but most crucially his work ethic ensures he is at the forefront of Klopp’s plans.
Despite his exceptional ability, Sturridge remains a concern on that front due to the isolated role he often takes up in attack: he is guilty of going missing after scoring big goals, such as in May’s Europa League final defeat to Sevilla, and he is less effective as a lone striker.
Criticisms of the 26-year-old’s work rate, however, are largely unfounded, as his ability to close down angles and suffocate space is hugely underrated.
But after Klopp’s show of faith, Sturridge must now return the favour heading into 2016/17.
Subscribe to Klopp’s attacking ideals, and showcase a staunch commitment to the cause, and Sturridge could be elevated to further stardom on Merseyside.
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The season may have ended in disappointment, but in the months leading up to the 2016/17 campaign, there’s still plenty to look forward to for Liverpool supporters.
At the time of writing, there’s just 20 days until the 2016/17 Premier League fixtures are released on June 15th – by which time Euro 2016 and the Copa America Centenario will both be underway. Football doesn’t stop.
Indeed, it won’t be long until Klopp gathers those not involved in the two summer tournaments for the start of pre-season training, ahead of the first friendly against Tranmere on July 8th.
The German has already added two new members of staff and three new signings, and work with continuing around the clock on the new Main Stand, it’s a busy summer again for LFC on and off the pitch.
Here’s a few things we can look forward to this summer.
Klopp is clearly keen to get the majority of his transfer business done sooner rather than later, and given the German’s pedigree we could see some very exciting new faces at Anfield next season.
Admittedly, Klopp has never been one to sign marquee names just for the sake of it, but it would be a surprise if a couple of world-class talents didn’t arrive this summer.
Goalkeeper Loris Karius joined from Mainz this week, with the 22-year-old likely to replace Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s first-choice between the sticks.
Piotr Zielinski is another who is reportedly closing in on a move, while Joel Matip and Marko Grujic will officially join too, having signed in January.
Then, of course, there is Mario Gotze, who is already becoming the transfer saga of the summer and it’s not even the end of May
The Bayern Munich attacker would be a headline signing if Klopp could pull it off, but it could drag out until after the European championships and perhaps we aren’t prepared to wait that long.
Klopp is a manager to be trusted, though, and it would be a shock if he didn’t perform well in the transfer market in the next few months.
A new goalkeeper, left-back, centre-back, central midfielder and wide man are all called for, and the 48-year-old is already strengthening in those areas.
Having players signed in time for the pre-season tour of America in July will be Klopp’s aim.
New Main Stand Completed
Anfield has always been one of the most intimidating, historic grounds in the country, but it should become even more special come the end of the summer.
The new Main Stand is in the final stage of its development, and the positive impact it will have on both the atmosphere and Liverpool’s finances should be significant.
Once complete, Anfield’s capacity will rise to around 54,000, with the Main Stand made up of three tiers and state-of-the-art facilities inside.
It is certainly a relief that Liverpool haven’t moved away from Anfield, as was intended under the former owners, and it will be great to see the famous ground given a much-needed upgrade come August.
Deadwood Moved On
Klopp arrived in October and inherited a squad that Brendan Rodgers built. It was an unbalanced squad, lacking certain characteristics and required players in specific positions.
After eight months to assess, there are a number of players who the German will see no future for, and disposing of them and freshening things up will be done even more ruthlessly without European football on offer next season.
Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva are Liverpool’s two longest-serving players, but both could have played their last game for the club, while question marks remain over the likes of Mignolet, Alberto Moreno and Christian Benteke.
Klopp will know exactly who he can and cannot rely on moving forward, and he needs to reach a stage where every single player seems suited to his system.
There is plenty of deadwood which will not help the Reds improve – unfortunately, the majority of the young players fall into that category – and selling them should help free up extra funds for better, more suited players.
Jose Enrique has already packed his bags, Jordan Rossiter and Jerome Sinclair have secured moves away, while Tiago Ilori, Mario Balotelli, Adam Bogdan, Andre Wisdom, Joao Teixeira and Luis Alberto will also depart.
Euro 2016 & Copa America
International football may not fill some supporters with much excitement, especially in comparison to Liverpool, but this summer promises to be an interesting one.
Euro 2016 takes place in France between 10th June and 10th July, while the USA hosts Copa America Centenario from 3rd June to 26th June.
Not only does it give us a bucket-load of football to look forward to, but it will allow us to see how Liverpool’s players are doing for their respective countries.
Nathaniel Clyne, Jordon Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge should all be representing England, while Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Divock Origi and others will be hoping for glory too.
There will also be potential transfer targets on show – the Reds will have been linked with approximately 112 players by the time June begins – which will be of added interest.
Watching Roy Hodgson may not be the peak of your summer, but having two major tournaments to watch will certainly help the summer go quicker, and the new season arrive faster.
Klopp’s First Pre-Season
In hindsight, Klopp should really have replaced Rodgers at the start of last summer, assuming he wanted the job at that point.
His arrival in October meant he had players he didn’t necessarily want and he had also missed the chance to work with the squad in pre-season.
This summer will provide the opportunity for Klopp to have his players perfectly drilled for the new season, even if Euro 2016 and Copa America act as a slight hindrance to his plans.
Plans for triple training sessions perfectly highlight exactly what the Reds manager is expecting from his squad, as he aims to make them the fittest side in the Premier League.
We saw glimpses of what Liverpool can do to opponents when it comes to simply out-running them this season, but they will go up a further gear in that respect after their gruelling summer schedule.
Klopp’s tactical nous will also have time to shine on the training pitch, and come the opening day of the season, the Reds will be primed for an assault on the Premier League title.
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With key summer target Mario Gotze set to slip through fingers, Liverpool may need to turn their attention to a host of alternatives.
Gotze looked all set to join the Reds in a £20 million deal this summer, with Bayern Munich intimating that the 23-year-old would surplus to requirements and the player himself researching life on Merseyside.
But with one fell swoop, the former Borussia Dortmund star pulled the rug out from underneath his old manager, Jurgen Klopp, sacking his influential agent and committing his future to Bayern.
It was a shock development in what has been a frustrating saga for Liverpool supporters, and no doubt Klopp himself, leaving the German with little choice at this stage but to pursue alternatives.
Gotze is a premier talent, and one of Europe’s most promising creative players, so formulating a plan B could prove difficult.
Southampton’s Sadio Mane has emerged as a possible target in the wake of Gotze’s commitment to Bayern, though the Reds’ reported interest has failed to capture the imaginations of the Kop.
So here are five more players Liverpool should consider if they fail to sign Gotze this summer.
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur)
As Liverpool stepped up their pursuit of an attacking midfielder last summer, before eventually landing on star man Roberto Firmino, they were said to have scouted Son Heung-Min extensively.
The South Korean made the move to Tottenham Hotspur from Bayer Leverkusen in August, but after a season under Mauricio Pochettino, he is reported to have been made available for transfer.
This could represent a red flag for potential suitors—and particularly Klopp, whose high-intensity brand of attacking football bears many similarities with that of Pochettino—but the 23-year-old is far from a lost cause.
As proved during his time with Hamburger SV and Leverkusen, Son is a hardworking, versatile forward option who utilises his nimble frame to drive through defences, and with 57 strikes in 205 senior club appearances, is comfortable and composed in front of goal.
Able to play in every role across the front line including as a centre-forward, Son could slot into Klopp’s attacking line with ease, and Liverpool could pick up a bargain if they opted to sign him this summer.
Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kyiv)
Whoever signs Andriy Yarmolenko when he decides to leave Dynamo Kyiv will be acquiring an absolute gem, and with the likelihood of his departure increasing by the transfer window, Liverpool should act quickly if he becomes available.
The 26-year-old’s credentials speak for themselves, with Yarmolenko having scored 19 goals and laid on 13 assists in 34 appearances for Kyiv this season.
While many of these have come in the less-competitive Ukrainian Premier League, his two strikes in the Champions League, along with his impressive display at home to Manchester City, are a testament to his enduring quality.
Far from the orthodox winger, Yarmolenko is comparable to Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of physicality: at 6’2″, his bulky frame belies his pace and skill.
With Firmino established as Klopp’s first-choice No. 10, and Philippe Coutinho a key figure on the left flank, signing Yarmolenko to boost Liverpool’s right-sided ranks would be a wise move.
Isco (Real Madrid)
Signing Gotze would have been a major boost for Liverpool not only on the pitch, but also in the stands, with the acquisition of a big-name marquee player poised to capture the imaginations of the Liverpool support.
But with Gotze likely to elude Klopp this summer, a move for another marginalised star may tempt Klopp, with Spain international Isco struggling to establish himself at Real Madrid.
Following the appointment of Zinedine Zidane in January, Isco played 1,182 minutes of football over 22 games, averaging less than an hour per appearance.
This is no marker of the 24-year-old’s quality, however, as Isco is an exceptional creative talent, and his ability to shine on either wing, behind the striker or even deeper in the middle of the park make him an invaluable option at the Bernabeu.
But if he is in search of first-team football this season, the Reds could make a bold move, as Isco’s talent would demand a key role under Klopp.
Sofiane Boufal (Lille)
Klopp has showcased a tendency towards youth in the transfer market so far, and if he is to target more rising stars this summer, a move for Lille winger Sofiane Boufal would be wise.
Signed in January of last year to accomodate for the sales of Florian Thauvin, Dimitri Payet and the eventual departure of Divock Origi to Liverpool, Boufal has taken up a focal role in the Lille attack, despite still only being 22 years old.
In 2015/16, the Moroccan scored 12 goals and registered four assists in 35 appearances for the Ligue 1 outfit, sharing his duties between the left and right flanks.
Blessed with the skill and pace required to beat a man both cutting inside towards the edge of the penalty area or driving to the byline to send in a cross, Boufal could emulate Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez if he moved to Merseyside.
When Firmino and Coutinho faded in 2015/16, Liverpool often suffered, and having a player like Boufal—able to inject an X factor into Klopp’s attacking line—would be a considerable lift.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s pursuit of Gotze has raised some eyebrows due to the seemingly luxury nature of the 23-year-old; he would be an excellent addition, in tune with Klopp’s attacking demands, but he would not address a genuine problem area.
As a result, Klopp could look to an in-house option this summer and welcome Lazar Markovic back into his squad following his loan spell with Fenerbahce.
Markovic’s time in the Turkish Super Lig has been far from a success, with the 22-year-old dogged with hamstring injuries throughout, but if Klopp is able to employ his vastly improved medical team to address these problems, he can call upon a hugely talented winger.
Markovic has the pace, unpredictability and off-ball work rate to shine on the right flank for Klopp, with the width he would add to the German’s ranks a welcome alternative to Adam Lallana.
Likely joining up with Klopp’s squad for pre-season, Markovic will be given a chance to impress, and he could save the Reds a significant outlay if he does so.
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Lazar Markovic‘s season-long loan at Turkish side Fenerbahce hasn’t quite been as successful as he and Liverpool would have hoped, we take a look at the 22-year-old’s season and future.
Turkey’s cultural hub is inexorably linked with feelings of triumph within Liverpool, but when Markovic left Merseyside for Istanbul in August, many questioned the club’s motivation behind agreeing a deal.
After a stop-start campaign under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15, Markovic showed signs of promise in the Reds’ pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia.
The Serbian winger scored the opening goal in Liverpool’s first warmup friendly against a Thai Premier League XI, showing his predatory instinct to latch onto a Joao Carlos Teixeira through ball before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.
But despite some strong showings ahead of the 2015/16 season, Markovic was then sent to Fenerbahce, joining manager Vitor Pereira’s star-studded squad.
Nine months later, however, Markovic’s move to Istanbul looks to have been a wasted venture.
Lazar Markovic, 2015/16
On as a substitute: 8
Unused sub: 3
Markovic joined a Fenerbahce squad that also included former Premier League stars such as Nani, Robin van Persie and ex-Reds midfielder Raul Meireles, with the former’s position under Pereira under most threat by the arriving loanee.
Greeted by a crowd at the airport on his arrival in Istanbul, Markovic was gifted a Fenerbahce scarf, with his signing clearly capturing the imaginations of supporters.
When the dust settled and Markovic was able to get down to business on the training field, it was Nani that he found as direct competition, and with Pereira considering the former United winger a key player, it was clear Liverpool’s loanee had a challenge on his hands.
Nani started the first three games of the Super Lig season on the right wing, but Markovic’s transition into the squad saw the Portuguese shift over to the left.
Markovic capped his maiden league start for Fenerbahce with an assist in a 2-1 win at home to Bursaspor, riding a strong challenge after cutting in from the right, drawing three defenders out of position with a mazy run and laying the ball into Nani’s path to fire his side ahead.
It threatened to be a breakout moment for Markovic, but a hamstring injury suffered in his next league start against city rivals Besiktas saw his progress stifled.
Sitting out the next fixture, Markovic returned to start the next three league games, as well as a 1-0 win at home to Ajax in the Champions League, but a recurrence of his injury then saw him sit out Fenerbahce’s clashes with Konyaspor and Mersin IY.
Eased back into the team at the end of November, Markovic was able to string together a strong run of form, featuring in eight consecutive Super Lig games, as well as making four appearances in the Turkish Cup.
The highlight of Markovic’s campaign came with a strike at home to Celtic in the Champions League, showing his pace and attacking power in latching onto a lofted through ball on the break, before eluded Craig Gordon and slotting home on the angle.
Markovic was at his best in 2015/16 operating in this right-sided role, stretching play with his natural width and direct running style, and the 22-year-old won plaudits for his defensive contribution.
Unfortunately, however, hamstring issues loomed once again in February, and it soon transpired that Markovic’s season was over.
Over nine months with Fenerbahce, Markovic made just 21 first-team appearances, including 13 starts, scoring twice and laying on a further three goals, which is no doubt far from the return expected from Pereira on his arrival.
This loan spell promised to revive the devastating, fleet-footed attacking talent that was on show during a title-winning campaign with Benfica in 2013/14.
But while Fenerbahce went close to winning the Super Lig title last season, Markovic’s influence was minimal, owing to his injury problems throughout.
Overall, Markovic missed 147 days through injury, with the Serbian unavailable for selection for 30 games, only returning to feature in Fenerbahce’s Turkish Cup final defeat to Galatasaray at the Ataturk Stadium, replacing Alper Potuk for the final 22 minutes.
This has been a frustrating situation for Markovic, who has endured setback after setback over the past two seasons, initially stemming from a loss of trust from Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.
Fenerbahce have reportedly bid to extend Markovic’s loan spell for the 2016/17 campaign, but the youngster may be in need of a fresh start.
This could well come under Jurgen Klopp, who will be analysing Markovic’s talents as he builds for the Reds’ pre-season tour of the US.
Markovic’s Role Under Klopp
With Markovic heading back to Melwood for part of his rehabilitation in March, the winger got the chance to meet with his new Liverpool manager, before moving onto Portugal for further treatment.
For Klopp, this was an important step as he plotted for the summer ahead, and speaking shortly after, the German stressed that Markovic would be given an opportunity during the summer:
“I will say at the start of pre-season, ‘Welcome, and then it’s up to you’.
“That is how it is in football, it is a long pre-season and if he wants to come back to Liverpool on July 2, then [he is] welcome.
“We are short on wingers. Everybody who is involved in pre-season can have a part to play.”
Given Markovic’s raw qualities, in terms of pace, movement and width, and his hard work off the ball, Klopp would be wise to welcome the 22-year-old back into the fold for next season.
Having potentially missed out on the signing of Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich, Markovic would provide a cost-effective alternative, interchanging with Adam Lallana in his natural role on the right wing.
As Klopp has proved with improvements in the likes of Emre Can and Roberto Firmino, the German is able to coax performances out of players who struggled at times under Rodgers.
But given the winger’s injury issues in 2015/16, and a lack of European football for the Reds next season, whether Klopp will find a space for Markovic in the long term remains to be seen.
Impress during pre-season, however, and the Serbian certainly has the quality to earn a first-team role for 2016/17.
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We round up the latest Liverpool transfer news following another major story in Jurgen Klopp‘s summer plans.
After four months off between leaving Borussia Dortmund and joining the Reds in October, Klopp is unlikely to take too many breaks throughout the summer.
The German has already detailed a rigorous pre-season training schedule, boosted by the impending arrivals of two former Bayern Munich staff members, and he is set to add further to his playing personnel, too.
Joining Loris Karius, Joel Matip and Marko Grujic are likely to be a host of other new faces, with one surprise target emerging on Thursday night in Southampton’s Sadio Mane.
Here is the latest Liverpool transfer news, including the latest of Klopp’s pursuit of Mane.
Mane Klopp’s Choice for Gotze Alternative
With Gotze moving to commit his future to Bayern Munich this week, Klopp has reportedly turned his attention to another attacking target in Senegalese forward Mane.
Though the German is said to retain an interest in his former Dortmund star, he won’t stand still as he looks to add to his targets early this summer.
This could see the Reds vie with Tottenham Hotspur and Man United in the battle to sign £20 million-rated Mane, who ended 2015/16 as Southampton’s top goalscorer, with 15 goals in 43 games.
According to the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe, Klopp would need to employ his “powers of persuasion” to entice Mane to Anfield, with the Saints having qualified for next season’s Europa League at his side’s expense.
Whether this is another move in the power play between Klopp, Gotze and Bayern remains to be seen.
Agents Offer Ibe’s Services for 2016/17
If Liverpool do move for Mane, their current right-sided option, Jordon Ibe, could play a part in negotiations, with the 20-year-old said to be on Southampton’s radar this summer.
Ibe finds himself in a difficult situation this summer, having fallen behind in Klopp’s plans in 2015/16, and could look to move on to further his development with regular first-team football.
However, while the Saints and Watford were both reported to be pursuing the winger on Wednesday, reports in the Mail on Thursday night claim that Liverpool are not looking to sell this summer.
However, as the report continues, it is revealed that “Premier League clubs have been approached by agents offering the player for sale.”
Represented by his parents, it is unlikely this comes from Ibe’s side, suggesting that the Reds are quietly touting their young talent ahead of a possible sale.
Reds to Go “All Out” for Dahoud
With Borussia Monchengladbach youngster Mahmoud Dahoud reported to have moved ahead of Piotr Zielinski in Klopp’s list of midfield targets, it seems likely that it will be one or the other this summer.
Gladbach have maintained their stance that Dahoud is not for sale, but Liverpool are joined by Spurs and Dortmund in the pursuit of the Syrian-born dynamo.
According to Goal’s Melissa Reddy, Klopp is looking to go “all out” to sign Dahoud, who is valued at £20 million.
Liverpool’s need for another high-quality midfield option is clear, though with Gladbach said to be planning around Dahoud for next season, moving him forward to the No. 10 role with summer targets Sebastian Rode and Christoph Kramer in support, whether he will leave is unclear.
If a deal is made, however, Dahoud’s arrival would likely spell the end of Joe Allen‘s Liverpool career, with the Welshman admitting Klopp’s “pre-season plans” would decide his future.
Smith Open to Loan Move After Breakthrough Season
Brad Smith served up one of the success stories of 2015/16, coming back from contract purgatory to earn a new deal following Klopp’s arrival, going on to make 10 first-team appearances.
But without European football next season, and with Klopp exploring his options at left-back, Smith has admitted he is open to leaving the club on loan in search of regular football.
“Hopefully [I’ll] do well at pre-season and stay at the club,” he told FourFourTwo.
“But if not, [I’ll] speak to the manager and if he wants me to go out on loan and get experience. I’m happy to do that as well.”
Smith was largely utilised in cup competitions and rotated lineups, so it is likely he could move on in a temporary deal in 2016/17.
Liverpool to Lodge £4 Million Bid for Chilwell
Smith could find himself replaced by another young left-back in Leicester City’s U21 Player of the Year, Ben Chilwell.
Chilwell suffered injury in the England U21s’ 4-0 win over Paraguay on Wednesday night, forcing the 19-year-old to pull out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Toulon Tournament.
But this hasn’t deterred Klopp in his pursuit of the former Huddersfield Town loanee, who comes with a strong recommendation from the German’s close friend, Terriers manager David Wagner.
According to the Mail, Liverpool will “test Leicester’s resolve” with a £4 million bid for Chilwell before the end of the week.
This is in line with the Reds’ plan for swift business this summer, and Chilwell seems to be Klopp’s priority target at left-back, with the club moving to deny speculation linking them with Lorient’s Raphael Guerreiro.
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Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says the Reds’ pre-season friendly against Barcelona will stand them in good stead for the 2016/17 campaign.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side will take on the Spanish champions at Wembley on 6th August, in the Reds’ final pre-season game of the summer.
Luis Enrique’s team are regarded as one of the greatest club sides in history, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta among the finest players of their generation.
Henderson believes it will act as a huge test to Liverpool, in terms of physical and mental strength, and says he looks former to taking on former teammate Suarez.
“You want to be playing against good teams in pre-season, to get you in the best shape and in the right mindset come the start of the season,” Henderson told the official website.
“The teams we’re playing will be very good and it’ll put us in good condition come the first game.
“It’s really important that you have competitive games in pre-season; you don’t want it becoming a friendly match or a bit too easy. You’d rather it be a difficult game and more competitive, and I’m sure we’ll get that this pre-season.
“Obviously the Barcelona one will stand out to a lot of people. I think everybody will be looking forward to that one.
“It’ll be good to be playing against Luis [Suarez] again. I’ve always spoken very highly of him – he’s one of the best players in the world. It’ll be good to be on the same pitch as him again, but obviously on opposite teams.”
“Pre-season is always good at Liverpool. Wherever you go, the fans are incredible – whether that’s Australia, America or anywhere. It’s brilliant.
“I’m sure it will be the same, if not better, this time. We’re going to some good places and playing some good teams, so everybody is looking forward to it.”
Liverpool’s Premier League campaign will get underway a week after the Barcelona game, as Klopp’s men look to mount a serious assault on the title.
The fixtures for the new season are released on June 15th, and the Reds will play their first game away from home, with a potential home opener on August 20th in front of the new 53,000 seater Anfield.
Prior to their Wembley showdown, the Reds face Tranmere Rovers, Fleetwood Town, Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town, before travelling to America to face Chelsea and AC Milan in late July.
- June 3 – Copa America starts
- June 10 – Euro 2016 starts
- June 15 – New fixtures released
- June 26 – Copa America ends
- July 8 – Tranmere Rovers (a)
- July 10 – Euro 2016 ends
- July 13 – Fleetwood Town (a)
- July 17 – Wigan Athletic (a)
- July 20 – Huddersfield Town (a)
- July 27 – Chelsea (Rose Bowl; Pasadena, California)
- July 30 – AC Milan (Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, California)
- August 6 – Barcelona (Wembley)
- August 13 – Premier League season starts
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Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen says his Anfield future rests on the club’s pre-season plans and his part in them.
Allen has one year left on his Liverpool contract and former club Swansea are among those monitoring the 26-year-old’s situation on Merseyside.
The Wales international spoke to Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre and manager Jurgen Klopp about his future in January when it was agreed that the matter would be put on the back-burner until after his participation at Euro 2016 this summer.
“There was a conversation with the club in terms of what the future did hold for me, if I would feature more or if I would feature in the plans moving forward,” Allen said at Wales’ pre-Euros training camp in Portugal.
“They made it clear at that stage I wouldn’t be moving anywhere.
“I knew where I stood, and it was good to have that conversation and know that I had the second half of the season to look forward to with Liverpool.
“As soon as the season finished with Liverpool I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to have any distractions and I am fully focussed and engaged on purely all things Wales’.
“That’s where I am at the moment.
“We have had an intense season and I’m sure there will be a week or two after the Euros before any discussions are had.”
Liverpool spent £15 million on Allen in August 2012 when former Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers returned to his old club for the Welshman’s services.
Allen, however, has had a mixed time on Merseyside, making over 130 appearances but regularly targeted for criticism from Liverpool fans until impressing under Klopp in recent months.
He made only one Barclays Premier League appearance before Christmas, but enjoyed more game-time in the second half of the season as Liverpool reached the Capital One Cup and Europa League finals.
Asked if his Liverpool future relied on the prospect of more first-team action, Allen replied: “I think it hinges on the pre-season plans and what exactly the club are hoping to do, everything comes into that.
“The acquisitions and who they are going to get in, and until all that happens then it is difficult to answer that question.
“As a footballer you want to play every minute of every game.
“When you don’t it can be disappointing, that’s natural for anyone, that’s not specific to me.
“It’s how you react. You have to make sure you don’t let it affect you to a point that when you do get your chances you’re not up to it.
“That’s been a challenge for me this year, but I’ve enjoyed that challenge.”
Allen certainly appeared to win over some sceptical Liverpool fans towards the end of the season.
He ended up starting 19 games in all competitions and played a key role in Liverpool’s incredible Europa League quarter-final comeback victory against Borussia Dortmund.
“What was great about the second half of the season was all the different competitions and how far we went,” said Allen.
“There was so much to play for and every player in the squad had a part to play.
“The support has been brilliant in the last few months.
“It’s always great for a player, it always helps you when you step out on the pitch. I’ve enjoyed that and it made things easier.
“People have talked about the improvement in my game this year, but it’s almost a back-handed compliment in some ways.
“In the first half of the season I hadn’t played.
“But I’m 26, not 36, so I am still developing and improving.
“I’d be very disappointed if I said at the end of any year that I hadn’t improved as the season had gone on.”
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Liverpool have reportedly switched their attention to Southampton attacker Sadio Mane in the wake of Mario Gotze’s apparent commitment to Bayern Munich.
Gotze pulled a dramatic U-turn on Monday, leaving his agent and committing his future to Bayern Munich—despite the club stressing on Wednesday that he should “consider” a move away.
But with Jurgen Klopp eager to secure his key transfer targets early in the summer, Liverpool are now poised to enter the race to sign Mane.
That is according to widespread reports on Thursday night, with the Saints forward heading Klopp’s list of priority targets as an alternative to his former Borussia Dortmund star.
Mane is valued at £25 million, and the Reds will vie with both Man United and Tottenham Hotspur to secure his services.
Klopp is chasing a forward able to subscribe to his high-intensity attacking ideals, and Mane is seen as capable of operating in his current system.
Mane finished the 2015/16 campaign as Southampton’s top goalscorer, with 15 goals in 43 games in all competitions, and is capable of operating in a variety of roles in attack.
Most comfortable on the right wing, however, it seems that Klopp is looking for a forward to complement current first-choice attackers Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
Mane joined the Saints from Red Bull Salzburg in 2014, after the Reds famously turned him down over concerns with his statistical output.
The Senegalese has since proved his worth in the English top flight, and at 24, with his best years ahead of him, Klopp could see him as an ideal player to mould within his system.
Mane could become the fifth player to join Liverpool from Southampton in the past three years, following Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne.
Some reports suggest Jordon Ibe could be used as part of any deal with Southampton.
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Continuing our end-of-season loan reports, we take a look at how Sergi Canos has fared during his season-long spell at Brentford.
It’s often hard to predict how a first loan move away will work out for a young, upcoming talent.
Some struggle to get to terms with the pressure of a first-team environment away from home comforts, while others come into their own and shine, taking full advantage of the opportunity.
On loan at Championship side Brentford this season, it’s safe to say Canos enjoyed the latter of those experiences, with the Spaniard enjoying a fantastic year at Griffin Park which could see him go on to enjoy an Anfield future.
Sergi Canos, 2015/16
- Appearances: 39
- Starts: 19
- On as sub: 20
- Unused sub: 2
- Goals: 7
- Assists: 5
- Minutes played: 1,761
- Additional notes – Goal of the Season; Community Player of the Year winner
Canos at Brentford
Operating with a 4-2-3-1 formation under three different managers this season, Canos enjoyed a regular role in the three man attacking unit, playing predominantly from the right.
From there he added a technically gifted, energetic and skilful option to a good footballing side who enjoyed a positive season finishing 9th in the Championship. The Bees could have seen a play-off finish had it not been for some inconsistent patches of form.
Alongside his talent, Canos earned plaudits for his work-rate and positive attitude, never shirking the 46-game battle that is the second tier and really buying into the ethos of the London club – factors that contributed to him winning the fans’ hearts.
Starting just once under Marinus Dijkhuizen after arriving in London, Canos’ combination of raw ability and desire saw him gradually grow into an important part of the team under Caretaker boss Lee Carsley, and in particular, new permanent appointment, Dean Smith.
Oppositely to Dijkhuizen, the English duo showed faith in the youngster, handing him increased game time and eventually a consistent role – opportunities he grabbed with both hands.
Talent that had shown in flashes became regular displays with a first goal against Nottingham Forest providing the catalyst for rapid progress and increasing impacts under Smith.
That included a match-winning and stunning solo effort against Reading for which Canos won Brentford’s Goal-of-the-Season, and a further four strikes and assists complemented influential displays as the teenager produced an impressive second half and end to the season.
He ended 2015/16 with seven strikes and five assists in 38 league appearances – just 18 starts – making for an impressive tally in a debut professional campaign.
His on-pitch talent was recognised with the club’s goal of the year award, but equally as commendably, his off-pitch work was too as he was named club’s Community Player of the Year.
The awards put the icing on the cake of a fantastic season at a club Canos took to his Twitter to say “will always be in my heart.”
The Griffin Park View
We spoke with Brentford FC Media man Chris Deacon, to get a thorough assessment of Sergi Canos’ productive season at the club and what the future may hold for youngster.
Overall, how would you assess Canos’ season? Was it a surprise to see him do so well considering it was first spell of regular first-team action?
He has done really well this year, both on and off the pitch. His attitude around the training ground has been excellent and I think the senior players here have noticed that. He has scored goals, created them and also played in each position in our front line so he’s very adaptable.
I don’t know if it was surprising, but it was great to see how quickly he became comfortable at this level.
What impressed you most about his game, and where do you feel he needs to improve?
Something we all noticed very quickly about Sergi was his energy. He can really increase the tempo of an attack and create space for other players, he’s very unselfish.
I think Sergi will improve, as all players do, with more experience. With more games will come the ability to read situations better and anticipate when to chase things and when to let them go.
After an excellent season at Championship level, what do you think is the next step for Canos? Would he benefit from another loaned experience, perhaps on the Premier League stage?
I think Sergi would do well in either setting to be honest. He certainly has the ability to play for a Premier League team, but would obviously benefit from more game time and might get that at a smaller club. He made 38 appearances for Brentford this season, another year like that certainly wouldn’t impede his development.
Do you think Canos is ready to force his way into Jurgen Klopp’s plans for next season and thinking more long-term, can he have a future at Anfield?
Sergi is still so young, so I think with more time he can certainly be a great player in the future and it isn’t beyond him to push for a place in the Liverpool side. He’s had an excellent year, and has now put a tick in one of the many boxes on the way to becoming a Premier League regular.
With more experience, both domestically and with the Spain youth setup, he would certainly be the sort of player that a top flight crowd would enjoy watching.
Any other thoughts you would like to enlighten us all to?
I think one thing that stands out for me is to recognise how much he appreciates the fans of the club he plays for. He enjoys the support he gets from the stands but he also lends a hand to the local area as a way of giving back. He won Community Player of the Year for 2015/16 after helping out the Community Sports Trust on a regular basis.
Canos’ Anfield Future
Having enjoyed such a productive loan spell in a tough division, Canos’ immediate future has to be focussing on making an impact at Anfield – providing he himself still sees his future at the club amid speculation of a potential exit to QPR or Watford.
A loan move back to the Championship should be a last resort after making such a positive impression at Griffin Park, while being a prospect who genuinely looks like he can make an impact at Liverpool in the not too distant future, a loan move abroad is equally as uninteresting.
Returning this summer to work under Jurgen Klopp properly for the first time is something the Spaniard has already spoken of his excitement at and it should be done with a view to a first-team place.
It will be hard for the 19-year-old to force his way in though, especially with fewer games next season due to no European football commitments, meaning less rotation is needed, and summer arrivals sure to add to an already populated attacking department.
But having spoken of changing the approach to loans alongside the alterations to the system that once he’s out he can’t return as readily meaning depth is needed, Klopp could keep him as youthful, talented cover while looking to force a way into the team.
If Klopp deems a place in his set-up too much too soon for Canos currently and decides further development would be better, the club should do their best to ensure that is to a lower Premier League side, handing him crucial experience of the top stage.
However, his immediate task remains to return to Merseyside this pre-season and impress Klopp, building on his Brentford spell and Reds debut at West Brom to prove he can become a part of first-team plans, the way fellow youngster Sheyi Ojo has.
Since his arrival Klopp has proven his willingness to hand youth a chance, and if Canos impresses, you can bet an opportunity will come his way regardless of who stands in front of him.
Canos’ “dreams” of receiving a trademark post-match ‘Klopp hug’ may not come true next season, but if he commits his future, he will certainly receive one in years to come.
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Following reports linking Jordon Ibe with a move away from Liverpool, a summer departure seems a disappointing outcome for the youngster.
The Reds are reported to be prepared to listen to offers for the 20-year-old this summer, with both Southampton and Watford interested in securing his services.
While this is far from conclusive, Ibe’s availability underlines his peripheral stance at Liverpool following the arrival of Jurgen Klopp.
It serves as a surprise juncture when compared to Ibe’s position less than a year ago, but following a troubled campaign, there has been little in terms of outcry following these reports.
But would Liverpool be right to cash in on Ibe this summer? The winger’s fate may be linked with his and his team-mates’ performances in 2015/16.
Jordon Ibe, 2015/16
On as a substitute: 21
Unused substitute: 10
Average TIA Player Rating: 5.98 (out of 10)
Average rating under Klopp: 6.15
On Raheem Sterling‘s £49 million to Man City last summer, Ibe was promoted to the rank of poster boy on Merseyside; Liverpool’s brightest young hope, poised for a breakout season in 2015/16.
Though the frustrating end to Sterling’s time at Liverpool soured the memory of his time with the club, and his first campaign with City has been far from an out-and-out success, his three seasons in the Reds’ first team showcased a pre-eminent talent.
Sterling was able to stretch defences with pace, beat defenders one-on-one with skill and combine with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez to blistering effect.
At exactly one year Ibe’s senior, Sterling was undoubtedly ahead in his development, and despite a summer spent at the club’s Kirkby academy facility under the watchful eyes of Kenny Dalglish and Alex Inglethrope, the young winger was hampered with unnecessary pressure.
Ibe started the Reds’ first two Premier League games of the season, playing over an hour in victories over Stoke City and Bournemouth, seemingly a key member of Brendan Rodgers‘ starting lineup.
Eight months later, however, he was left out of Klopp’s rotated side to take on the Potters.
Over the course of that eight months, Ibe had scored three goals and laid on a further four, and while this included a match-winning performance away to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League and a one-goal, one-assist cameo in December’s 6-1 win over Southampton in the League Cup, his form had unquestionably wavered.
His solo strike in the Reds’ 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the end of the season was an unexpected virtue, but 2015/16 was a campaign dogged by inconsistency.
Between the beginning of February and the middle of April, Ibe played just 48 minutes of league football, with question marks over his application in training, along with an unwelcome weight gain, no doubt fuelling Klopp’s end-of-season stance.
Big Changes in 2016/17
Liverpool’s miserable eighth-placed league finish, combined with defeat in the Europa League final, has left Klopp to plan for a 2016/17 campaign without European football.
While this has already proved to be a diminishing factor in the Reds’ summer transfer activity, with Mario Gotze seemingly rejecting a move to Merseyside in favour of fighting for his place at Bayern Munich, the implications on Klopp’s current squad could be more severe.
At a minimum, Liverpool could play just 40 games next season, and while 39 different players featured under Rodgers and Klopp in 2015/16, with 22 making over 10 appearances, there is no longer a need for such squad depth.
Furthermore, with FIFA imposing a change in the Football League’s loan system, scrapping the emergency loan, Klopp will be required to approach the summer transfer market with ruthlessness.
Big decisions will need to be made, with significant outgoings likely, both on permanent transfers and on season-long loans.
The shedding of fringe players such as Ibe, as well as loanees that could have hoped for a return to the first team such as Lazar Markovic and Sergi Canos, is likely a priority for the German.
Given Ibe’s form throughout 2015/16, a move to Watford or Southampton this summer can be understood, though whether Klopp would be right to sanction a permanent departure is questionable.
Should Liverpool Sell Ibe?
Assuming Klopp signs a new winger and the likes of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana continue their regular roles in the starting lineup, plus Ojo continues his rise through the ranks, there are likely to be few opportunities for Ibe in 2016/17.
After making the 10th-most appearances for the club last season, with 41, Ibe could see this drop to around half, with many likely coming from the substitutes’ bench or in cup competition.
Therefore, from Ibe’s perspective cutting ties with the Reds could be beneficial, as a place in the starting lineup at Watford, for example, would be easier to obtain.
The 20-year-old would also be following former academy team-mate Jerome Sinclair to Vicarage Road.
But while it is easy to paint Ibe’s four-goal, four-assist campaign as an abject failure, there were moments of true promise, showcasing the potential that made him a Wycombe regular at the age of 15.
His mature, goalscoring performance in Kazan and his subsequent run of form, averaging a This is Anfield rating of 7.17 over six games, his influential display in April’s 2-1 win away to Bournemouth and his stunning goal at the Hawthorns all point to a top player in the making.
While behind-closed-doors factors may be affecting Liverpool’s stance over Ibe this summer, from a playing perspective it would be more beneficial for the winger simply to leave on loan.
Returning in 2017/18, with a season of first-team football boosting his development, Ibe could rejoin Klopp’s hopefully resurgent Reds to take up a squad role and prove his ability.
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In another eventful day of Liverpool transfer news, we round up the latest from the Reds’ business in the summer market.
Wednesday saw reports of likely moves away from Merseyside for Jordon Ibe, Lazar Markovic, Ryan Fulton and Samed Yesil, as Jurgen Klopp‘s busy summer continues.
While his squad depart for international duty and post-season breaks, the German is not set for a rest, as he builds a new-look side for 2016/17.
Here’s the latest Liverpool transfer news, including a “90 percent” chance of Martin Skrtel leaving Anfield.
Skrtel “90 Percent” to Leave, Besiktas Interested
Falling behind in the centre-back pecking order in 2015/16, Skrtel has seemingly made his mind up over his future, telling Klopp that he is looking to leave the club this summer.
Having already secured the signing of Joel Matip on a free transfer, Klopp is already pushing forward in his plans to revamp the Reds’ defence, leaving Skrtel with little choice but to move on.
According to the Slovak’s agent, speaking to local TV, he is “90 percent” likely to depart, with Turkish side Besiktas among those interested.
“Besiktas is one of those interested in Martin, but we haven’t reached a point where I can confirm Martin is going there, or anywhere else,” he told TV Markiz.
“But I can say that it is 90 percent sure Martin will leave Liverpool, but it is far from closed.”
Skrtel had previous garnered attention from Serie A clubs including Inter Milan, but Besiktas remain the most likely destination at this stage.
Balotelli Returns to Liverpool as Milan Confirm Exit
There is no feasible future for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool, but for the time being the controversial striker is heading back to Merseyside.
This comes after AC Milan president Silvo Berlusconi moved to confirm that Balotelli would not remain at the club beyond the expiry of his season-long loan deal this summer.
“Balotelli’s contract with us has expired and there are going to be many players leaving us,” Berlusconi explained on Wednesday.
“Players like Alex, [Philippe] Mexes, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng and Balotelli are all out of contract and there will be others released too.”
For now, Balotelli will return to Liverpool, but with Serie A newcomers Crotone interested, along with clubs from the Chinese Super League, he is unlikely to stay for long.
Liverpool Join Race to Sign Oxford
Seventeen-year-old defender Reece Oxford enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with West Ham United in 2015/16, making his Premier League debut as a 16-year-old back in August.
Starring in the Hammers’ 2-0 win away to Arsenal, Oxford nullified the threat of Mesut Ozil, operating in a holding role in midfield.
Spending the rest of the season flitting between his roles in the first team and as captain of the U21s, Oxford underlined his status as a high-potential talent, prompting a new contract offer from West Ham.
But having rejected an extension to his current deal, Oxford has sparked the interest of Liverpool, Man City and Man United, according to the Mirror.
Oxford is believed to be valued at £10 million, and Klopp could look to employ his track record with youth development to convince the Englishman that Anfield is the right destination.
Lorient Claim Reds Bid for Guerreiro
Already chasing Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, it is clear that Klopp is looking to bolster his ranks on the left side of his defence, providing competition for Alberto Moreno.
But following Moreno’s poor performance in the Europa League final, whether Klopp will be looking to replace the young Spaniard remains to be seen.
According to Alex Hayes, vice-president of Ligue 1 side Lorient, the Reds have made a bid for their star left-back, Raphael Guerreiro.
“For now, four major foreign clubs, including Dortmund and Liverpool, have made an offer,” Hayes revealed on Wednesday.
However, Hayes insists that Lorient won’t “sell to break even,” and Liverpool would need to make “an offer we cannot refuse” before they consider sanctioning Guerreiro’s departure.
Guerreiro is a Portuguese international with a burgeoning reputation around Europe, and the Reds’ interest could well be worth following through.
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Liverpool have today announced four UK friendlies that will take place this July to kick-off the Reds pre-season programme before they head to America.
· Tranmere Rovers v LFC, Friday 8 July, Kick-off 7pm BST
· Fleetwood Town v LFC, Wednesday 13 July, Kick-off 7pm BST
· Wigan Athletic v LFC, Sunday 17 July, Kick-off 4pm BST
· Huddersfield Town v LFC, Wednesday 20 July, Kick-off 7.45pm BST
The Reds last met with Tranmere Rovers in a pre-season friendly.
Moving further north for the clash with Lancashire-side Fleetwood Town – the Reds last came across the Cod Army for a friendly in 2003.
Wigan Athletic will host Liverpool at the DW Stadium – the two teams have not met since their 2013 Premier League clash when the Reds won 4-0 with Luis Suarez scoring a hat-trick.
To round off the four UK pre-season friendlies before heading to America, the team will head to West Yorkshire for an evening kick off with Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium – the first time the teams have met since the FA Cup third round in 1999.
The fixtures show a clear sign that Jurgen Klopp has had a say in the Reds’ pre-season plans, with a far more low key approach than in previous years.
LFC will continue their summer training in California, where they’ll be based in Palo Alto, training at Stanford university. They will compete in the International Champions Cup against Chelsea and AC Milan, then back to London to face Barcelona at Wembley.
Tickets for the Reds pre-season friendlies in the UK will go on sale soon.
Liverpool FC pre-season 2016/17 dates:
- June 3 – Copa America starts
- June 10 – Euro 2016 starts
- June 15 – New Premier League fixtures released
- June 26 – Copa America ends
- July 10 – Euro 2016 ends
- July 8 – Tranmere Rovers (a) (7pm BST)
- July 13 – Fleetown Town (a) (7pm BST)
- July 17 – Wigan Athletic (a) (4pm BST)
- July 20 – Huddersfield Town (a) (7.45pm BST)
- July 27: Liverpool v Chelsea
Rose Bowl; Pasadena, California. 8:30pm Pacific time (4.30am BST, July 28)
- July 30: Liverpool v AC Milan
Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, California. 7pm Pacific time (3am BST, July 31)
- August 6: Liverpool v FC Barcelona
Wembley, London. 5pm BST
- August 13: 2016/17 Premier League season starts
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After Mario Gotze committed his future to Bayern Munich, club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has stressed he “consider” a move away.
Though Gotze said on Monday that he was “[looking] forward to the new season in Munich,” the transfer saga is set to continue as Liverpool push for a £20 million deal.
The Reds are reported to have offered the 23-year-old the opportunity to become one of the club’s highest earners, with the possibility of a reunion with former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp always a deciding factor.
But despite having seemingly turned down a move to Merseyside, speaking on Wednesday evening, Rummenigge suggested that Gotze may wish to leave Bayern in search of first-team football.
“We made everything clear to Mario. He knows what the club thinks and he knows what the future coach thinks,” he said.
“Mario has to consider for himself whether he wants to constantly get minutes.
“I talked to him, also Ancelotti. Mario knows Bayern’s thoughts.
“Maybe he just wants to go into the European Championships without any speculation.”
This serves as a rather damning indictment of Gotze’s future prospects at the Allianz Arena, though Rummenigge’s comments on the attacker’s involvement in Euro 2016 may bear weight.
Gotze is currently with Joachim Low’s Germany squad to take part in a series of warmup fixtures, and is likely to make the final squad for the summer tournament in France.
The prospect of impressing at the Euros and earning a more high-profile move could be an attractive one to Gotze.
With Liverpool having failed to qualify for European football next season, Klopp’s influence would be crucial if he is to persuade Gotze to trade the Bundesliga champions for his Premier League hopefuls.
While it is unlikely Gotze will make the move to Liverpool after publicly shunning their interest, Rummenigge has made it clear that Bayern aren’t set to offer him a key role.
For the sake of his development, Gotze would be wise to move on from Munich this summer.
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