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Simon Mignolet 2016/17 Season Review: Impressive finish to cap comeback campaign

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 18:00
Inevitability and chance

The signing of Loris Karius in the summer meant most fans expected the German to start as No. 1 in August, with Mignolet as the sub. With Karius opting not to take part in the Olympics with his national team in order to get up to speed with the Reds, it seemed set in stone—but fortune intervened.

A broken hand for Karius meant it was Mignolet who began the season, and nobody can suggest he didn’t take his chance.

The early part of the season was good for the Reds, with attacking football and plenty of goals on show, and while Mignolet was beaten a few times, it wasn’t exactly because he was underperforming.

Even so, it seemed Klopp was only biding his time before introducing his new signing between the sticks, and the inevitable happened in late September. For 10 league matches, Mignolet sat on the bench.

Perhaps he would, at this point, have felt somewhat aggrieved; he hadn’t done too much to warrant losing his place, certainly not compared to his previous low spells of form, but he didn’t have long to wait for the next chance.

Karius’ uncertain start meant Mignolet was back in goal by mid-December and retained his place through to the end of 16/17.

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If he felt he had a point to prove after being taken out of the side unfairly, it’s fair to say that Mignolet did exactly that, showing up as a key player for the Reds in the strong run toward the end of the season, as he helped the team lose just one of the last dozen.

Defining similarities

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet celebrates the 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, this isn’t the first time the Belgian has had to win over doubters, even when they include his own manager.

In 14/15, errant performances and a series of mistakes led to Brad Jones taking over between the sticks under Brendan Rodgers, albeit briefly.

The Australian’s injury soon afterwards meant Mignolet was back, and in the final two or three months of the season he was probably the Reds’ best player—in a severely underperforming team, it must be noted.

Start poorly, finish strongly: a theme of Mignolet’s last few seasons at Anfield? If so, perhaps it’s not all his fault.

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When the expectation and assumption is that a player will fail, then every error and mistake is seized upon: groans in the stand, fume on social networks, helpless looks on the pitch. It makes for an uncomfortable work space.

But, similarly, winning back a position in the team brings a bounce of confidence with it: another chance to prove one’s worth, and perhaps a nod of acknowledgement that the player is the best choice for the role.

For goalkeepers and strikers, confidence counts double.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in action against Chelsea during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mignolet’s consistency in the final weeks and months of 16/17 helped the Reds qualify for the Champions League, of that there can be no doubt. Five clean sheets in the last six weren’t all down to him, but certainly he played a big part.

His aerial handling has been praised by the coaching staff and Klopp, while a number of key saves—Saido Berahino, Matt Phillips, Charlie Adam—all came at critical times and close scorelines in games the Reds went on to win.

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Anfield faithful

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the 2-0 victory over AC Milan during the International Champions Cup 2016 game on day ten of the club's USA Pre-season Tour at the Levi's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having ended the campaign as the established first choice, is Mignolet’s position now secure? No, not in the slightest, and that’s the biggest indication of how difficult it has been for him at Liverpool.

Emre Can, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge… they have their faults, have their flaws, but are forgiven mistakes quickly and admired for brilliance, long after the event.

Mignolet has never been afforded that luxury at Anfield.

Put it this way: Liverpool conceded far more goals in 16/17 directly as a result of his team-mates errors than because of Mignolet’s.

Perhaps it’s because he’s a goalkeeper, the last line of defence where mistakes are so harshly punished, but if fans are looking for an absolute iron-clad guarantee of zero tolerance mistakes, they’ll sadly be waiting a long time.

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Gigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer, Petr Cech—they’ve all cost their teams goals this season, despite being the elite in the position.

And yet Mignolet still, arguably, hasn’t done enough to win over the fanbase completely. The key question is, with regards to Liverpool’s success, how many would now pick Mignolet over Thibaut Courtois, David de Gea, Hugo Lloris?

There’s no official poll for such a wide-ranging question, but the suspicion would be that Mignolet might not win that vote. Fans still feel, in the main, that goalkeeper is an upgradeable area of the team where the gap to the top three can be closed.

Future in his hands?

Next season Danny Ward will provide even more competition for the role, and there’s every chance Mignolet will once again have to start on a level playing field against Karius in a bid to keep hold of the shirt.

Pre-season, injuries, qualifiers… there are lots of games to go around, and perhaps summer movement to take into account, but starting from scratch every summer has to be a burden which plays on Mignolet’s mind.

A never-ending battle, one he hasn’t yet lost, but seemingly cannot win.

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Best individual moment: Saves against Stoke City at crucial moments, particularly Berahino’s from close range.

Worst individual moment: Losing his place early in the season without due cause.

Role next season: Another battle to be No. 1 and it’s hard to predict who will win out, but considering his end-of-season form he probably deserves to start next term as first choice, barring summer changes.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

TIA End of Season Awards – Liverpool’s best and worst of 2016/17 season

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 17:48

Roberto Firmino also received numerous votes for second or third choice, with Joel Matip, James Milner and Emre Can getting just the one mention each.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Hull City with team-mate Sadio Mane during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

1. Sadio Mane

2. Philippe Coutinho

3. Adam Lallana

4. Roberto Firmino

Also polled votes: Joel Matip, James Milner, Emre Can

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Young Player of the Year

The criteria was players aged under 23, so Emre Can was not eligible. Surprisingly, that left few choices from the first-team squad, with Divock Origi finishing behind breakout stars Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn, and receiving the same amount of votes as under-23s captain Harry Wilson.

 Liverpool's goal-scorer Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold after the 2-0 victory over Leeds United during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold

2. Ben Woodburn

3 =. Harry Wilson, Divock Origi

5. Ovie Ejaria

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Most Improved Player

So close that the top two received the same number of votes. Simon Mignolet was perhaps the most improved in the second half of the season and Adam Lallana the most improved in the first half. So that works nicely.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet celebrates the 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

1 =. Simon Mignolet, Adam Lallana

3. Emre Can

4. Jordan Henderson

Also polled votes: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lucas

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Most Disappointing Player

This was another one that was relatively close and saw the biggest spread of votes, with no real runaway winner. Divock Origi ended up two points ahead of new signing Loris Karius, with Daniel Sturridge’s absence for much of the season seeing him in third.

This one seems a little harsh on Origi, who did hit 11 goals as a backup striker, but his performances often left a lot to be desired.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi in action against Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

1. Divock Origi

2. Loris Karius

3. Daniel Sturridge

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4. Nathaniel Clyne

5. Dejan Lovren

Also polled votes: Ragnar Klavan, James Milner

Goal of the Season

An absolute landslide for Emre Can, unsurprisingly, who took first place from all 12 writers who submitted votes.

It was though close between Mane’s goal at Arsenal on the opening day and Henderson’s at Chelsea.

 Liverpool's Emre Can celebrates scoring the first goal against Watford during the FA Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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1. Emre Can vs. Watford

2. Jordan Henderson vs. Chelsea

3. Sadio Mane vs. Arsenal

4. Philippe Coutinho vs. Arsenal

5. Roberto Firmino vs. Stoke

Also polled votes: Mane vs. Everton, Origi vs. Middlesbrough

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool lining up friendly in Dublin this summer

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 12:46

Liverpool are expected to announce a pre-season friendly against Spanish side Athletic Bilbao in Dublin this summer.


The match is due to be played on August 5, providing Jurgen Klopp‘s side with a final warm-up before the season kicks off the following weekend.

Due to be played at the 51,700 seater Aviva Stadium, it would see the Reds face the Basque side who finished seventh in La Liga last season.

Liverpool played at the Aviva Stadium twice in 2013/14 – once in pre-season, against Celtic, and once in a post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers.

If confirmed, it will mean no home friendly at Anfield for a third summer in a row. This had become a tradition but the Main Stand expansion meant this wasn’t possible the last two years.

With over 40 smaller projects at Anfield this summer – including a slight expansion of the Kop, new disabled seating areas, and a new pitch being laid – it appears that a home friendly has again not been possible.

The last Anfield pre-season friendly was against Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

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Liverpool have so far confirmed their participation in the Asia Trophy – where they’ll face two Premier League opponents of either West Brom, Crystal Palace or Leicester – and the Audi Cup in Munich – where they’ll face two of Bayern, Atletico Madrid or AC Milan. They’ll also face Hertha Berlin to mark the two club’s 125th anniversary.

Domestic friendlies closer to home in July are expected to be announced next week.

The Reds are to hold a training camp in Germany, set to be in the scenic area of Rottach-Egern in Bavaria, 35 miles south of Munich. Klopp previously took his Dortmund squad there in pre-season in 2010.

Summer dates for the diaryJune

14th: New Premier League fixtures released

July

TBA: Local domestic friendlies

19th: Asia Cup Trophy: vs. Leicester, Palace or West Brom (Hong Kong)

22nd: Asia Cup Trophy: vs. Leicester, Palace or West Brom (Hong Kong)

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29th: Friendly: vs. Hertha Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

August

1st: Audi Cup: vs. Bayern, Atletico or AC Milan (TBC) (Munich)

2nd: Audi Cup: vs. Bayern, Atletico or AC Milan (TBC) (Munich)

4th: Champions League playoff qualification draw

12th: New Premier League season begins

15th/16th: Champions League playoff first-leg

22nd/23rd: Champions League playoff first-leg

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Divock Origi 2016/17 Season Review: Moments of promise in 11-goal season, but more required

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 12:20

Divock Origi, 2016/17 (All competitions)

Started: 21
On as a substitute: 22
Unused sub: 4
Goals: 11
Assists: 3
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.13 (Rank= 19th)

Fringe player early on

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and Divock Origi after the 5-0 victory over Burton Albion during the Football League Cup 2nd Round match at the Pirelli Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite his efforts the previous year, Origi didn’t manage to force his way back into Jurgen Klopp‘s starting lineup in August.

Daniel Sturridge found himself in exactly the same boat, too, with the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino very much Klopp’s first-choice front-line.

Origi was introduced as a second-half substitute in the 4-3 win at Arsenal on the opening weekend, but his cameo summed up many of his performances in 2016/17.

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He failed to get into the game, offering little as a target man and almost being a hindrance to the rest of the teams. Things weren’t much better at Burnley in Liverpool’s next outing.

A first goal of the season at Burton in the League Cup did at least get Origi’s campaign up and running, but his chances continued to be limited in the Premier League.

Another relatively ineffective cameo was produced at Tottenham, although he offered more when brought on in the 2-1 victory away to Chelsea.

A second goal in as many League Cup starts came Origi’s way against Derby County, with his excellent finish almost identical to the one he scored at Southampton in the same competition last season.

Having continued to warm the substitutes’ bench throughout the autumn, the 22-year-old was finally given a run of matches, due to an injury to Coutinho.

Best spell of the season

 Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the first goal againstSunderland during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Origi’s best moment of the season at that point came in the 2-0 win at home to Sunderland – the game that saw Coutinho leave the field early.

It was the Belgian who replaced the Brazilian with 33 minutes on the clock, and he made himself a hero on an afternoon that proved frustrating for long periods.

With time running out and Liverpool looking like dropping points at home to the league’s worst team, Origi curled home from the left-hand side in front the Kop, sending Anfield wild.

It seemed to act as a confidence-boost to the striker, who then went on a very productive run of form in front of goal.

He wrapped things up in the League Cup victory over Leeds United, before his stunning finish from a tight angle put the Reds 2-0 up at Bournemouth.

Klopp’s men may have lost 4-3 in depressing fashion, but that should take nothing away from the brilliance of Origi’s goal.

He made it four in as many matches in the disappointing 2-2 draw with West Ham, and for good measure, he scored in a fifth consecutive game at Middlesbrough. Origi’s display at the Riverside Stadium was one of his best of the season.

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Unfortunately, that pre-Christmas run would end up being the high point of the Belgium international’s season.

Flattering to deceive

 Liverpool's Divock Origi looks dejected after missing a chance against Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In fairness to Origi, almost every Liverpool player fell off a cliff in the early months of 2017, but his form felt particularly frustrating.

Having not had too much football under his belt he was fresher than most, and with no Coutinho or Mane in the picture, he had a wonderful chance to impress Klopp.

After his goal at Boro on December 14, he scored just once up until the end of March – a late consolation in the FA Cup defeat to Wolves in January.

Not only had his prowess in front of goal deserted him, but he was too often a static figure up front, losing possession too easily and blunting an attack that had looked so magnificent without him.

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In January, February and March, Origi had just one performance that was given higher than 6.5/10 in our post-match player ratings, which is telling.

In the final couple of months of the season, there were moments to shout about here and there, but he was still a far cry from the player we had witnessed score both home and away against Borussia Dortmund a year earlier.

A good strike at home to Everton helped kill of Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals, and he also nodded home against Bournemouth and poached a late effort in the 4-0 thrashing of West Ham earlier this month.

Eleven goals for the season should never be ignored, especially with 22 of his 43 appearances coming from the bench, but they masked some limp performances.

In a season that saw many Liverpool players improve, Origi went backwards.

Improvements & future role

 Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the second goal against AFC Bournemouth during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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It is common knowledge that Klopp is set to spend big this summer, and competition for places mean Origi really needs to find another level.

At 22, he is fortunate that time is still on his side, but youth can only be used as an excuse for so long. The likes of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku are of a similar age, at the end of the day.

With Firmino a favourite of Klopp’s, Sturridge potentially sticking around and a new striker likely to come in, Origi has a right to feel concerned.

That being said, he remains a player with many things in his locker to become a top striker one day, and selling him would be a mistake.

A squad role next season makes sense – even a loan move to somewhere like Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle isn’t the worst idea – as he looks to overcome a disappointing campaign.

Best Moment: The goal against Bournemouth

Worst Moment: 3/10 performance at Stoke

Role next season: Squad player

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool named among clubs interested in Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 12:19

Liverpool have been listed among a number of clubs said to be interested in signing Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy this summer.


Mendy, 22, has been one of many impressive players for the French side in 2016/17 – as they lifted the Ligue 1 title and reached the Champions League semi-finals.

This sees the big clubs from around Europe circling for their star players, with Man City already completing the signing of midfielder Bernardo Silva for a reported £43 million.

Now it’s claimed, by French outlet RMC Sport, that City also want to sign Mendy but will face competition from other clubs, among them Liverpool.

It’s claimed that City are in discussions over a 45-million-Euro move for Mendy, but that Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United are prepared to match that offer.

Barcelona are also said to be interested in the impressive defender who made his national debut in March.

While Mendy would, of course, be an impressive signing for Liverpool it seems highly unlikely they would be willing to spend almost £40 million on the left-back, especially given that Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita – two players who are reported to be Jurgen Klopp‘s main priorities this summer – are expected to cost around £50 million each.

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Liverpool’s main left-back interest is said to be Fulham’s 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, who would be available for less than half the price of Mendy.


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Categories: LFC NEWS

Emre Can 2016/17 Season Review: Encouraging start & finish for future captain

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 09:30
Emre Can 2016/17

(All competitions)

Started: 26
On as a substitute: 6
Unused sub: 1
Goals: 5
Assists: 2
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.55 (Rank = 11th)

Highs and lows

 Liverpool's Emre Can in action against West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Once he worked his way into the team, Can began to make sure he stayed in it.

Solid performances against Man United, West Brom, and Crystal Palace laid the foundations for excellent displays against Watford and Bournemouth.

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The No 23 had three goals and two assists to his name by the end of the year, but a knee injury saw him out of the team in early December.

Despite only missing two games as a result of this injury, he came back into the squad as a substitute and struggled to find his best form in the new year.

A run of games towards the end of January were particularly uninspiring, and his displays against Swansea at home and Hull away were among the worst he’s put in for the club.

 Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Hull City's Alfred N'Diaye during the FA Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This saw him dropped to the bench again, but he was able to return after February’s welcome break from games with renewed vigour and belief.

He would become a vital part of the starting eleven and his performance at the Etihad Stadium in the 1-1 draw against Manchester City earned him a 9/10 in our player ratings.

He would go on to score two more goals, and his strike which secured three important points at Watford is one of the best overhead kicks you’re ever likely to see.

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Emre Can winning #MOTD goal of the season. Was nearly as beautiful as the man himself. ??

pic.twitter.com/y5sYufGbhM

— Sam (@_SamAlex) May 21, 2017

It will go down as one of the best goals in the club’s history and will easily take any goal of the season awards on offer from the 2016/17 season.

Role in 2017/18

 Liverpool's Emre Can celebrates scoring the first goal against Watford during the FA Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Going forward, Can will be looking to build on the dominant performances he’s put in towards the end of the season, and he’ll hope to retain his place in the side even when captain Henderson returns.

Speaking of captains, Can could be a prime candidate for a leadership role in the future, and appointing him as one of the vice captains in the squad, possibly replacing Lucas Leiva, could be a good move heading into a new season.

James Milner is the current incumbent, but should the club sign an actual left back then this season’s stand-in could see his playing time limited, opening up more opportunities for armband sharing. And with Henderson’s continued injury problems, the third captain may be leading the team quite regularly next term.

In terms of position, Can seems to have settled into the defensive midfield role, using his defensive skills when required but also getting forward to join the attack when the situation requires.

It’s an area of the pitch where Liverpool have struggled for some time, and they haven’t had a consistent presence in that area since Javier Mascherano left the club.

Can has a tendency to give away needless fouls and learning when to foul at the right time, in the right areas, will be something he needs to add to his game.

The number of fixtures the club will have next season means that any player will struggle to play every game, but Can should be a regular presence in the first team as he looks to cement a starting place at both club and international level ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

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Best moment: His goal of all seasons vs Watford.

Worst moment: Swansea at home: subbed in the second half after a woeful display.

Role next season: First team regular and candidate for a captain’s role.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Why Liverpool record transfer spend headlines should be no surprise this summer

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 21:00

But that the Reds have consistently been subject of such reports now should come as no surprise.

After all, this summer will see Liverpool boast financial power like never before.

Indeed, the Reds will apparently bank a staggering £148 million in ‘prize’ money for a Premier League season in which a top-four spot was secured for just the second time in eight seasons.

Healthy rewards for competing in the Champions League will also follow, providing we come through the qualifier to reach the lucrative group stage.

UEFA general secretary David Taylor draws Liverpool out during the Champions League Group Stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

And on top of that treasure, helpful sums will be recouped from unwanted goods like Mamadou Sakho – for whom £30 million is wanted – Lazar Markovic, and others whose sales will add to Klopp’s kitty.

That will reportedly be an initial £100 million, but could easily be significantly boosted as the boss seeks to build a squad capable of competing on four fronts next season.

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All this will likely see a record-breaking summer arrive at Anfield, with spend of £150 million and possibly higher completely realistic – especially with how crazy transfer fees are in the modern game.

That a GCSE student age player now commands a £38 million fee in the case of Vinicius Junior to Real Madrid, while players at clubs like Burnley’s Michael Keane earn £25 million, shows how far – or not – money now goes.

With Klopp targeting “quality” and not quantity by his own admission, serious money will have to be paid with targets likely to be closer to £30-£35 million individually – or even more in Virgil Van Dijk’s case.

The Reds’ reported No.1 defensive target will command £50 million alone to sign from Southampton – and perhaps even more if a bidding war opens with Man City and Chelsea.

It’s an eye-watering sum for one player, and would likely leave at least another £150 million required to ensure quality is added in all areas needed.

 Southampton's Virgil Van Dijk in action against Liverpool during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds need a left-back, winger, striker, and another attacking, creative midfielder to significantly strengthen the core group at Klopp’s disposal.

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Indeed, with only 17 Reds having made 10 or more starts in 2016/17, the boss ideally requires at least five quality additions to his core group to have 22 trusted options.

Two suitable players in each position would provide a lot closer to the depth required to properly compete across the two main stages next season.

A record total will almost certainly be required given the fees likely to be involved, and Liverpool should not hesitate to conduct.

If you don’t pay, you don’t get but you do get left behind, and mistakes made last time Champions League football was secured cannot be repeated.

Failure to sign appropriate quality in summer 2014 resulted in a woeful campaign, in which we embarrassingly crashed at the group stage and finished sixth in the league, also ending another season trophy-less.

Such errors cannot afford to be repeated after waiting so long to get back to where we belong.

A record-breaking summer of spend is likely to be needed to guard against it, and one thing for sure is that it won’t be a surprise.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Brazil boss Tite’s quotes on Coutinho to Barcelona create misleading headlines

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 19:07

Despite Philippe Coutinho reiterating his commitment to Liverpool this month, reporters continue to ask the questions over a move to Barcelona for the Brazilian.


This time it’s Brazil national team manager Tite who has been asked about a move to the Nou Camp for the 24-year-old.

It must be said that the quotes are nowhere near what the sensationalist headlines have been proclaiming on Friday afternoon.

Tite was asked about whether he thought it would be logical that Barcelona would want the connection of Coutinho and Neymar to play together — who wouldn’t answer yes to that?!

Tite said:

“Yes. Absolutely yes. I don’t want to be pretentious and give an opinion on Barça, but who wouldn’t want a player like Coutinho? That magic, that capacity to invent and create something, that change of rhythm, the way he builds play…”

Which is fair enough.

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Asked about the possibility of Coutinho joining Barcelona, Tite said: “Look, if I was Klopp I would fight to make sure I kept hold of him.”

He even states “Just to be clear, I’m talking hypothetically” when saying that “he is the ideal player for Barca.”

Again, fair enough. He probably is the ideal player for Barca. The first part has conveniently been missed by some media reporting the quotes.

Interestingly, Tite says he’s discussed with Klopp about Coutinho’s future role, saying:

“Yes, it’s something we’ve talked about. I even spoke with him and Klopp about the possibility. We need to create alternatives. Of course, there will be doubts. Will he be better-marked in the middle? Will you lose that element of surprise? We will only know when we use him there.”

It’s hardly Tite urging Coutinho to move to Barcelona, in fact, nowhere does he suggest that he should, it’s just Tite answering honestly a direct (and leading) question about whether Coutinho would be a good player for Barcelona to sign, especially given his connection with Neymar.

So yeah, ignore the “Coutinho urged to leave Liverpool for Barcelona” and “Coutinho transfer to Barcelona talked up” sensationalist headlines. Nowhere does he urge Coutinho to sign for Barcelona.

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It’s going to be a long summer.


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Categories: LFC NEWS

Quiz: Can you name all Liverpool’s Champions League goalscorers?

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 18:26

Liverpool will, hopefully, be back the Champions League next season – but how well do you remember the Reds’ goalscorers in the competition?


Since being rebranded as the Champions League in 1992, Liverpool have appeared in Europe’s elite competition in nine seasons.

In total, 41 players have scored for the Reds in the Champions League (including qualifiers), you have 10 minutes to recall them all.

We’ve given you a hint with the nationality of each player.

Good luck!

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Steven Gerrard rues not working alongside Jurgen Klopp during his playing days at Liverpool

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 17:55

Steven Gerrard believes he would have won multiple trophies at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, had the Reds boss been in charge during his peak years.


It is clear that Gerrard and Klopp have a strong relationship, with the Reds manager almost acting as a mentor to the incoming U18s coach.

Gerrard took part in Wednesday’s 3-0 friendly win over Sydney FC, rolling back the years to show his class.

The 36-year-old cannot say enough good things about Klopp, and feels his trophy haul would be even greater had the German managed him.

“I was thinking if Jurgen Klopp had been at the club a bit earlier what might have been,” Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.

“There’s no doubt about it, if he had been here three or four years I believe I would have been part of him delivering big trophies for this club.

“It’s his aura and the way he is with you – how he makes you feel.

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 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard and Borussia Dortmund's head coach Jurgen Klopp during a preseason friendly match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I went out there to play in a friendly and I felt like it was the World Cup final. That’s what he gives players.

“We’re blessed to have him and hopefully we can go from strength to strength over the summer. Everyone is excited.”

The Liverpool legend also spoke about how vital the return of Champions League football at Liverpool is, following the Reds’ fourth-place finish.

“It was such a key result against Middlesbrough,” he added.

“To have Champions League football back is very important for this club.

“Now we have to seize the moment. It can’t be like it was a couple of years when we got back into the Champions League but it quickly fizzled out. It can’t be like that.

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 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after a post-season friendly match against Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium. (Pic by Jason O'Brien/Propaganda)

“We’re in the qualifying stage but you’ve got to realise that to get to the latter stages of the competition you are talking about top, top class opposition.

“Top class individuals and managers. It’s important that we keep trying to move forward.”

Gerrard doesn’t feel it will be too difficult to acquire some top names this summer, with a combination of Liverpool and Klopp a mouthwatering prospect.

“If I’m a top player around Europe and Jurgen picks the phone up and I get offered the chance to play for this club, which is moving forward in every single department and has a world class manager leading it, I’d be jumping at that opportunity,” he said.

“I want to play for him and I am 37 next week! For me, it’s such an exciting project. Not just because we qualified for the Champions League but the whole project.

“The next three, four, five, six years, whatever it turns out to be, are going to be very exciting and players will want to be a part of what Jurgen is doing.”

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Dejan Lovren 2016/17 Season Review: Erratic campaign sees Croatian take a backward step

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 17:30
Promising partnership with Matip

 Liverpool's Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Divock Origi during the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When it emerged Lovren’s solid partnership with Mamadou Sakho would break up, concern arose as to how the Croatian would deal with defensive change.

Lovren has proved dependant on a leading presence alongside him to perform, which was illustrated again immediately at the start of the season.

Indeed, he started poorly when required to take a leading role next to Ragnar Klavan at Arsenal and Burnley – posting successive lowly 5/10 ratings.

However, improvement followed when Matip entered, with Lovren benefitting from the Cameroonian’s leadership which allowed him to take a simplified stopping role.

Lovren’s form instantly stabilised and he produced a man-of-the-match performance at Chelsea, scoring a brilliant volley in what was his highlight of the season.

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 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren celebrates after the 1-0 victory over Watford during the FA Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A second injury prevented him building on that display, but Lovren continued his upturn with solid if unspectacular showings in the early season 11-match unbeaten run.

Within that he netted a second goal in victory at Crystal Palace, but also showed worrying signs as he gifted an equaliser with a horror error – and it wasn’t long before he regressed entirely posting a 4/10 performance at Bournemouth, again without Matip.

Lovren did perform well at times without his leading partner – notably in keeping clean sheets with Klavan against Middlesbrough, Everton and Man City in December.

But the ex-Southampton man was always at his best with Matip – the duo clearly Liverpool’s best pairing as evidenced by the Reds going unbeaten in 14 games in which they played together.

Crystal Palace ended that run, but only after Lovren shone while dominating Romelu Lukaku in derby-day success at Anfield.

However, that leading performance was one of few eye-catching displays from Lovren, who struggled with consistency and injuries.

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Inconsistency & injury struggles

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren looks dejected as his side lose 1-0 to Southampton during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For too much of the season Lovren’s form was erratic, making him an unreliable presence at centre-back – even alongside Matip.

Indeed, that he earned a 7/10 rating or higher in just 10 of his appearances is a damning indictment of his consistently below-par performances.

While he shone against Chelsea and Everton, and impressed against Man City and United, the positives were outnumbered by woeful outings against Palace (twice) and Bournemouth, and poor games with Arsenal, Burnley and Stoke to name a few.

There was little middle ground with Lovren’s form, which mirrored the up and, mostly, down fortunes of Liverpool’s back-line and was also a key reason behind them.

Persistent injuries didn’t help, with the Croatian suffering a frustrating eight set-backs during the season, denying the chance to build rhythm or confidence.

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His intermittent presence proved even more costly than inconsistent form, with the lack of a stable partnership contributing heavily to Liverpool’s defensive failings.

So when the Croatian was handed a new contract in April it certainly raised eye-brows

Unwarranted new contract

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp and Dejan Lovren after the 2-0 victory over Sunderland during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having long been reported that a new deal for Lovren was looming, it was no surprise when he eventually committed to an eye-watering £100,000-a-week, four-year contract.

While Klopp was delighted to tie down the “outstanding defender” – who was controversially named the ninth best centre-back in Europe – the same joy didn’t grip the fan base with the deal announced days after Lovren was at fault for both goals in defeat to Palace.

His form certainly doesn’t warrant such reward or an extended Anfield stay having failed to prove his top-level quality in three years on Merseyside, and this summer should really have seen Lovren depart.

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The new deal presents concern for numerous reasons – but mostly for Klopp’s worrying trust in underperformers and the potential impact on transfer business in a summer defensive issues must finally be fixed.

Business could now be jeopardised given the finance committed to Lovren, who, worryingly, seems set to continue as first choice, despite needing to see a reduced role for 2017/18.

Reduced role for 2017/18

 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Middlesbrough during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lovren’s season was by no means a disaster but it was certainly one that highlighted his flaws.

His form disappointingly regressed, with his failure to eradicate errors with positional play and decision making leaving him far from the composed, consistent presence needed.

This failure to improve ultimately shows that Lovren lacks the consistency, mentality and quality to be a first choice option for a Champions League team.

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His reliance on a stabilising partner to perform at a level even close to that expected of a Liverpool centre-back is not good enough – and proves he’s not the reliable figure needed.

A reduction to a backup role should follow next season, with the Croatian having at least proved himself as a capable stand-in alongside a leader.

Klopp has admitted it would “make sense” to sign a new centre-back this summer, and that his centre-backs must be capable of defending in “big spaces” – which Lovren is not capable of.

Klopp must use Liverpool’s improved pulling power to upgrade Lovren with genuine quality as the Reds prepare to compete on Europe’s elite stage.

Failure to do so and keeping Lovren as one of the two main centre-backs could cause serious problems unless an improvement in his performance, consistency and fitness follows.

Best Moment: Overall performance and superb volleyed finish at Chelsea

Worst Moment: Performance at Anfield against Crystal Palace, who never fail to bring out the calamitous in Lovren.

Role next season: Backup centre-back

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Categories: LFC NEWS

‘A dream fulfilled’ – Alexander-Arnold on the privilege of playing alongside Gerrard

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 12:24

Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold says he fulfilled a childhood dream by playing alongside his hero Steven Gerrard in Australia.


The duo were named in the Reds’ starting lineup for the 3-0 friendly win over Sydney FC on Wednesday, with Gerrard and Jamie Carragher returning to the first-team for one night only.

Alexander-Arnold never looked daunted by being in such illustrious company, producing a confident performance at right-back.

The 18-year-old has spoken of his delight at playing with Gerrard, admitting it is something he had longed for over the years.

“As a kid I always said that my dream was to play in a game with Stevie,” Alexander-Arnold told the Liverpool Echo.

“I thought that chance had passed to be honest, especially with him retiring last year.

“I know it wasn’t a competitive game but I’ll take it anyway. It was brilliant to have him as a teammate and I’ll tick that one off my list.

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 Liverpool's Steven Gerrard in action against Sydney FC during a post-season friendly match at the ANZ Stadium. (Pic by Jason O'Brien/Propaganda)

“That iconic pass Stevie does – I used to watch that week in week out. To be on the receiving end of a couple of those was a privilege.

“Every kid growing up in Liverpool tried to emulate that kind of Steven Gerrard pass.”

Alexander-Arnold also touched upon the influence of Gerrard at Anfield, with the 36-year-old set to become Liverpool’s U19s coach next season.

“He’s given me some great advice over the course of the season. He said he’s always there for me if I need to ask him anything. That’s great to know,” he added.

“He’s such an important figure and has a vital role at the club now. Everyone looks up to him.

“I don’t think you’ll find anyone at the Academy who doesn’t look up to Steven Gerrard. He’s the perfect role model, on and off the pitch.

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“To have him in a full-time role at Kirkby is incredible for the Academy and I can only see more success coming from there.”

Finally, the promising teenager discussed his own season, saying he is surprised by his progress but cannot afford to rest on his laurels.

“I never expected it to go as well as it did. I’m grateful and happy for the opportunities and the faith the manager showed in me,” he said.

“I have to come back better, fitter and stronger. The game is getting quicker every single season so you need to come back ready to battle for a place.

“You know there are going to be some new signings so in pre-season you have to fight for a position and show the manager why he can rely on you. Hopefully I’ll do that.”

Alexander-Arnold made giant strides in 2016/17, making 12 appearances for the first-team, and his future looks extremely bright.

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Unlike so many academy prospects at clubs of Liverpool’s stature, he genuinely looks as though he could make the grade in the coming years.


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Jordan Henderson 2016/17 Season Review: Injuries wreck a year of great promise

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 12:00
Jordan Henderson, 2016/17

(All competitions)

Started: 27
On as a substitute: 0
Unused sub: 1
Goals: 1
Assists: 4
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.70 (Rank= 9th)

Shaky beginnings

 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson of Liverpool battles for the ball with George Boyd of Burnley in action the FA Premier League match at Turf Moore. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

With some fans crying out for an out-and-out defensive midfielder to come in, Klopp’s decision to play Henderson in a deep-lying role was met with negativity.

Having forged a career out of being a box-to-box presence with limitless energy, there were definite question marks about Henderson’s ability to dictate play and showed a disciplined positional sense.

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When Liverpool made the trip to Arsenal on the opening weekend, it’s fair to say Henderson did little to allay our fears about his new position.

An unconvincing showing was masked by the fact that the Reds won 4-3 in thrilling fashion, but at Burnley the following week, the fanbase found itself at meltdown central.

Henderson, like almost every one of his teammates, was abysmal at Turf Moor, and it led to endless negativity surrounding his role.

He appeared to lack knowledge and purpose in front of the back-four, and his greatest strength, running, was effectively being negated.

Henderson is one of the most strong-minded characters at Anfield these days, however, and he roared back superbly to silence his critics.

Captain role

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring the second goal against Chelsea during the FA Premier League match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Much like a foreign player taking time to adjust to the Premier League, Henderson grew in stature after a less-than-convincing start at the base of the Liverpool midfield.

The trip to Tottenham saw Henderson impress against a combative Spurs midfield of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama, but even more authoritative form was to come.

Liverpool dismantled champions Leicester City at Anfield, with Henderson’s expert use of the ball starting moves in a slick manner, before a starring role against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The skipper was magnificent on a rare Friday night game, and while his stunning 30-yard strike earned the headlines, his all-round game helped the Reds boss their opponents on their own turf.

Henderson was again influential in the wins over Hull City and Swansea City – in the latter, he really drove the team forward when they trailed. His precise assist allowed Roberto Firmino to head home the equaliser.

With Liverpool looking like both the country’s most exciting team and genuine title challengers, their captain continued to look one of his side’s most dominant performers.

He never performed lower than a six out of 10 between the Burnley defeat and Christmas, and while his level may have dipped slightly once the winter months arrived, it was hard to fault him.

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Liverpool’s woeful January saw many squad players struggling for fitness and form, but Henderson did himself justice more than most.

He was excellent at home to both Chelsea and Spurs – he was poor in the loss to Hull, in fairness – but sadly, the victory over Mauricio Pochettino’s side ended up being his final match of the season.

Injury curse strikes yet again

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applaud the travelling supporters after the 2-0 defeat to in Hull City during the FA Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What looked to be nothing more than a bruised foot back in late February was a season-ender for Henderson – a huge blow for both him and the team.

The much-improved form of Emre Can did help, but without the 26-year-old available, the speed of Liverpool’s play was far more pedestrian.

Passing is Henderson’s most underrated attribute, and it was his quality in possession that played such a key role in the Reds’ blistering autumn form.

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These ongoing injury problems are now a genuine cause for concern – he cannot seem to enjoy an injury-free season – and the club seem strangely quiet about exactly what the issue is.

With competition for places set to be fierce next season, Henderson needs to rid himself of his current fitness woes, or risk his future becoming uncertain.

Improvements & future role

As an actual player, Henderson was making huge strides, when fit, so there really wasn’t a huge amount for him to improvement upon.

A little bit more creativity wouldn’t go amiss, but around that pre-Christmas period, all facets of his game were impressive. That is unless you are one of those incapable of giving Henderson any credit.

His future role feels hugely dependent on how fit he can stay – there is a growing worry that he could become as injury-prone as Daniel Sturridge.

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Klopp has openly said he isn’t looking for a new defensive midfielder, so the role is still likely to be Henderson’s if his body allows him to play regularly. Although Can may have something to say about that.

For half of the season, he was in the running for Liverpool’s Player of the Year award, but yet again, we were left wondering what might have been. 26 appearances is not enough, especially for Liverpool’s captain.

Henderson needs a relaxing summer and productive pre-season, before hopefully launching himself into the best period of his career.

That all sounds a little hopeful, though, sadly.

Best Moment: The stunning goal at Chelsea

Worst Moment: The woeful showing at Burnley

Role next season: First-team player (if fit)

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Naby Keita would cost Liverpool £50 million this summer – reports

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 11:58

Reports on Friday suggest Liverpool would need to spend at least £50 million to sign midfielder Naby Keita from RB Leipzig this summer.


Keita is said to be a top target, along with Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk, but both would smash the Reds’ current £35 million transfer record.

Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff is quoted saying: “We have decided that we will not sell any player from our starting line-up.

“Ralf Rangnick (sporting director) told this to our team at the end of the season. We will keep our team together and keep on developing.”

Mintzlaff’s comments echo the report by This Is Anfield’s Chris Williams last week, who explained that Liverpool could be wasting their time pursuing Keita, and his teammate Timo Werner, as RB do not need the income from Premier League clubs and are extremely ambitious.

Keita, 22, would seemingly be an ideal signing for Liverpool, but the negotiations may not be simple and the price could eventually scupper a deal.

Will Liverpool continue to pursue one of Jurgen Klopp‘s main targets, or move on to less priority players such as Arsenal‘s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Video: Hilarious footage of Jurgen Klopp trying Aboriginal culture in Sydney

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 11:19

Jurgen Klopp made sure he enjoyed his brief trip to Australia, with the Liverpool manager embracing the Australian culture in typically good-spirited style.

[embedded content]

The Reds made a flying visit Down Under earlier this week, taking on Sydney FC on Wednesday, before flying home the following day.

Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win at the AMZ Stadium, but once the match was done and dusted, the squad was allowed a bit of downtime.

Players shared their experiences on social media, with trips to the zoo, Bondi Beach and the local hospital all included.

Klopp also made sure he let his hair down, and the brilliant video above shows exactly what the German got up to in his spare time.

The hilarious footage shows Klopp trying his hand at traditional Aboriginal dancing – much like Peter Crouch, he has some good moves for a big man.

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The 49-year-old also tries, and fails, to throw a boomerang, and his attempts to play the didgeridoo prove equally hopeless.

When he fails to throw the javelin, he jokes that his throwing is “like a vegetarian!”

It is so refreshing to see a manager enjoying himself away from the stresses and strains of football, and there is something so genuine about the way in which Klopp goes about his off-field duties.

Sometimes, it is easy to take for granted just what a fabulous manager and character Liverpool have at the helm.


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Categories: LFC NEWS

James Milner 2016/17 Season Review: Hit-and-miss campaign for Liverpool’s auxiliary left-back

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 09:00

Started: 39
On as a substitute: 1
Unused sub: 2
Goals: 7
Assists: 3
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.30 (out of 10) (Rank = 16th)

Off to a flier in a new role

 Liverpool's James Milner scores the first goal against Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Michel Vorm from the penalty spot during the FA Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alberto Moreno‘s appalling performance in the Europa League final was the final straw for most supporters, who were desperate for a new left-back to arrive last summer.

As the weeks passed, though, Jurgen Klopp didn’t appear to be rushing to sign one, before making it clear that Milner would be his shock first-choice in the role.

Having carved a career out of being a versatile midfielder, occasionally slotting in at full-back, this was a decision that caused a mixture of intrigue and meltdown among the fanbase.

Having missed the season opener at Arsenal, with Moreno once again a weak link, he was thrown into the team for the ill-fated trip to Burnley.

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He looked horribly out of place in his new position at Turf Moor, but Milner suddenly started to flourish, playing a key role in Liverpool looking like genuine title contenders.

The Englishman’s penalty helped earn the Reds a point at Tottenham – it was the first of seven inch-perfect spot-kicks he would convert in 2016/17 – and he shone in consecutive victories over Leicester City, Chelsea and Hull City.

Liverpool’s fourth win on the bounce, the 2-1 victory at Swansea City, saw Milner’s mental fortitude and vast experience on show, as his 84th-minute penalty won Klopp’s side a huge three points.

Despite the odd hiccup here and there, the Reds’ second-oldest outfield player continued to thrive, with his intelligence on the ball, link-up with Philippe Coutinho and no-nonsense defensive style all impressing.

Like so many Liverpool players, however, Milner seemingly hit a brick wall once 2017 arrived.

Running through treacle

 Liverpool's James Milner looks dejected after missing a chance against Hull City during the FA Premier League match at the KCOM Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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At 31, there were always concerns that Klopp’s all-action playing style would eventually take its toll on Milner, and it began look increasingly clear that his tank was emptying at a fair rate.

January was an abysmal one for the team, and Milner really struggled to provide the same energy and general quality that he had before Christmas.

Crosses were being lumped hopefully into the penalty area, heavy touches were all too frequent and opposition wingers were suddenly exposing his defensive weaknesses.

Aside from an important penalty against Man United at Old Trafford, Milner just was not playing well enough, and Moreno’s own incompetence was arguably the only thing allowing him to keep his place.

A three-out-of-10 performance at Hull was a low point, and he also struggled greatly away to Southampton in the League Cup semi-final first-leg.

Add to that an anonymous display at champions Leicester, and a hapless outing at home to Burnley, and it’s fair to say Milner’s year did not start well at all.

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Spirited but limited end to the campaign

 Liverpool's James Milner in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In many ways, the pattern of Milner’s 2016/17 form perfectly summed up Liverpool’s season, with his final couple of months dogged, spirited and but unpredictable.

Another nerveless penalty at former club Man City earned the Reds a point, and he cut a more consistent figure in the gritty wins over Everton, Stoke City and West Brom.

Milner also still managed to put in some sloppy performances, though, with his quality lacking as Liverpool dropped points against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Southampton.

In typical Milner style, though, his produced a strong performance on the final day of the season, with his impact down the left noticeable in the must-win visit of Middlesbrough.

It brought an end to a season that was often a mix of good and bad, with not a huge amount of middle ground.

The longer the campaign went on, the more it became clear that Milner was running on empty. He was far from perfect, but Klopp’s decision to play him at left-back succeeded, on the whole.

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Improvements & future role

 Liverpool's James Milner in action against Middlesbrough during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Milner will turn 32 next season, and while his fitness levels are excellent for his age, he can no longer be considered a regular in 2017/18.

He is limited as a left-back, with his crossing needing plenty of work, but it is hard to see him improving at this stage in his career.

Milner can still be a very dependable squad player, though, filling in all over the pitch when injuries inevitably arrive, and key players need a rest.

He will rarely let the team down, as he has shown endlessly over the years, but he is not someone to take Liverpool to the next level.

The way in which Milner has conducted himself all season has been exemplary, but we would be kidding ourselves if we said he’d set the world alight. A more low-key role in the squad awaits.

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If he’s still first choice left-back next season, serious questions should be asked.

Best Moment: The winner against Swansea

Worst Moment: The missed penalty against Southampton

Role next season: Squad player

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Categories: LFC NEWS

“He’s absolutely top level” – Steven Gerrard full of praise for Liverpool forward

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 00:30

Steven Gerrard has described playing alongside Roberto Firmino as “an absolute pleasure,” following Liverpool’s friendly win over Sydney FC.


The Reds won 3-0 against the A-League champions on Wednesday, with over 70,000 Liverpool fanatics watching their heroes at the ANZ Stadium.

Gerrard was named in the starting lineup, along with fellow Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, and dovetailed with the current crop of stars effectively throughout.

Firmino’s performance caught the eye more than anyone, with his close-range finish capping off an effortlessly brilliant display.

Gerrard knows a top player when he sees one, having played with some truly great footballers during his career, and he believes Firmino is genuinely top-drawer.

“To play with Firmino, especially, was an absolute pleasure,” Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.

“I would have loved to have played with him for a couple of years.

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“He’s a very intelligent footballer. He’s on that same wavelength – he sees things. There are players and there are levels and he’s absolutely top level.”

 Liverpool's Steven Gerrard warms-up before a post-season friendly match against Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium. (Pic by Jason O'Brien/Propaganda)

Speaking about the match itself, Gerrard admitted it was a special occasion, adding that Jurgen Klopp ensured the game had a professional feel to it.

“I loved every second of it. Every time you get the opportunity to put the red shirt back on, you never turn it down,” he added.

“This was obviously a bit special coming out here to give a bit back to our amazing fanbase. To play for Jürgen and be around the team was fantastic.

“There’s no such thing as a friendly when you’ve got a Liverpool shirt on. I’m the same, whatever type of game it is – I just give it what I’ve got and give it my best.

“All the lads were professional. They are coming off the back of a very long season. They could have easily switched off but with a manager as demanding as Jurgen there was no chance of that happening.”

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It was great seeing the Liverpool legend back in a Reds shirt, and he still looked as though he could hold his own at a relatively high level.

He and Firmino would have been a match made in heaven if they had played together during Gerrard’s prime – for the Brazilian to receive such praise from a player of the former captain’s stature says a lot.


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Categories: LFC NEWS

Why Ryan Sessegnon is the perfect fit for Liverpool’s left flank

Thu, 25/05/2017 - 21:00
Taking his chance

Perhaps surprisingly he was given immediate chances in the first team. He started a League Cup match against Leyton Orient in August and was soon making his league debut against Leeds United in the same month.

Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon - Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

In the next Championship game against Cardiff, he came off the bench at the end of the first half to replace the injured Floyd Ayite, and went on to score his first goal for the club.

In doing so he became the first player born in the 21st Century to score in English league football, at the age of 16 years and 94 days.

“Ryan can be good for us. He made a great impact for us. He is a real winner and he is just 16 years and three months,” said Jokanovic at the time.

“I’m sure in the future he can be big part of my squad and help us. He can play in different positions.”

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And so it proved. Sessegnon went on to make 17 starts in the 2016/17 season, giving him 25 appearances in total given he was brought on from the bench eight times.

His performances against Cardiff and Fulham in the FA Cup were particular highlights, as were his two goals against eventual champions Newcastle at St James’ Park.

Where does he play and what can he do?

Sessegnon can play anywhere down the left-hand side and has the potential to become one of the best left-backs England has seen.

But as happens with many exceptionally talented full backs, he could end up in a more pivotal position further up the pitch or in midfield.

His brace against Newcastle came from the left wing, where he was his side’s biggest attacking threat alongside striker Sone Aluko, but he’s also scored goals from left back.

 Wales' Cameron Coxe in action against England's Ryan Sessegnon during the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Qualifying Round Group 6 match at the Nantporth Stadium. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

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Attacking full backs aren’t a new invention, but the role is evolving and players in the position need to be complete footballers to be considered successful.

Liverpool have a long history of utilising forward thinking full-backs, with Phil Neal being the prime example of a good all-rounder, but many of the club’s better players in the position in modern times have been defensively solid, first and foremost.

The ability to carry out defensive responsibilities is a question regularly asked of marauding full backs, and Sessegnon does have some strengths in this area despite his youth and inexperience.

Like Alberto Moreno he has the pace to cover counter-attacks, which is vital in a high defensive line, but he also has the ability to marshall opposition attackers into positions which are favourable to him — a trait which is often lacking in the Spaniard’s game.

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As with many full-backs, he can have trouble with crosses, which is mainly due to a lack of height, but at a reasonable 5’ 10”, with more positional awareness and increased strength as he ages there should be some improvement in this area in the coming years.

Though he’s primarily left footed, one of Sessegnon’s seven goals in the past season did come from his right foot, and his general work on the ball is very handy for a wide player.

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This will be useful as full backs are often involved in build up play in tight areas on the touchline, and they need the ability to play incisive forward passes when the option is there, which is something Liverpool currently lack.

He also has the work rate and mentality to want to press off the ball, which is a prerequisite for any signing Klopp makes.

View from The Cottage

As alluded to, his attacking prowess suggests that his future position could lie further forward, and this is something we asked Fulham fan Russ Goldman of Cottage Talk about when we got his thoughts on the player.

What do you think Sessegnon’s best position will be long term?

I think his best position will be in the midfield on the left.

As he continues to develop as a player, his scoring ability with his pace will make for an incredible combination.

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On top of that, he is not a selfish player as he is not afraid at all to make that pass to set up a teammate. His influence on a match I believe will be greater in the midfield.

What would you say are his main strengths?

His main strengths will start with his pace, along with his skill to get into dangerous areas and either shoot or pass.

However, the reason why I feel he will be a special player is his awareness of how his team wants to play, and how he can make a difference in each match.

Lastly, another strength would have to be his confidence. He plays with no fear and is not afraid to make a mistake which is huge in his development.

Young players can sometimes lack defensive nous, does this apply to Sessegnon, and does he have any other weaknesses?

He is definitely still learning the defensive side of his game, but his pace has already helped him improve a great deal in this area.

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He has made mistakes defensively, but I think this is good experience for his future development as a player.

Does he have the work-rate required to play in an intense system such as Klopp’s?

His work rate is at an extremely high level as he has already played in a a very attacking style at Fulham, so I don’t think he would be affected at all negatively at Liverpool.

However, he is such a young player who is still learning so I do think the best place for him in the immediate future is to stay at Fulham.

He will get his chance soon enough to play at the highest level, but to continue to improve as a player, to become the finished article, I hope he stays at Fulham.

However, if he does want to leave Liverpool is the right place for him.

My hope is that he signs a professional contract with Fulham. If that does happen and a decision is made for him to go to larger club, I would highly recommend a loan back to Fulham for at least one more season.

I have seen too many examples of young players moving to soon like Patrick Roberts and Wilfried Zaha.

For him to become the player he can be, the best place for him right now is Fulham.

Why he’s the perfect fit for Liverpool

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after a post-season friendly match against Sydney FC at the ANZ Stadium. (Pic by Jason O'Brien/Propaganda)

Despite Russell’s warnings, many Reds fans would believe that a player with this talent would get in the Liverpool team regardless of his age.

The problems at left back are there for all to see.

Moreno isn’t trusted and James Milner isn’t a left back, so if the teenager were to sign for the club then there should be plenty of first team opportunities.

Sessegnon on the left, and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right would have Liverpool’s (and maybe England’s) full back positions boxed off for years, but they would also challenge for more pivotal and more influential roles further up the pitch, such is their talent.

This versatility can be key for a young player as they look to get first team football wherever they can, and seeing as Klopp is short of both left backs and pacy wingers Sessegnon fits the bill perfectly.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jose Mourinho: Football’s biggest hypocrite?

Thu, 25/05/2017 - 20:50
Made to look foolish

 Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez and Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I don’t want to win the UEFA Cup. It would be a big disappointment for me if I win it”.

Those were the words of Mourinho back in 2013, after arch-enemy and former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez had won the Europa League with Chelsea.

Fast forward four years, and he is on the verge of tears in Stockholm, as his side overcame a Ajax under-23s team in typically “thrilling” Mourinho style. It’s hilarious.

It's all over. Could be called a tactical masterclass by Mourinho but in reality he's parked the bus against an U23 side in a European final

— Jamie (@VerrattiEN) May 24, 2017

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Then, of course, there were the constant mentions of United doing the ‘treble’ this season – something ludicrously delusional, even by Mourinho’s standards.

The image of him and the players holding three fingers up could be one that lives long in the memory.

Counting the Community Shield as a trophy is beyond ridiculous – it’s as simple as that.

Just to prove this isn’t total bias against United, I felt equally embarrassed when Liverpool supporters tried to claim Gerrard Houllier won five trophies in the calendar year of 2001.

 Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho shakes hands with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the goal-less draw during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He didn’t, because the Community Shield and European Super Cup are, in the grand scheme of things, completely meaningless. They are played like friendlies, key players are often rested and other fans couldn’t care less about them.

United and Mourinho deserve congratulations for winning two cups this season – let’s not be too bitter here – but their manager’s antics are more than worthy of ridicule.

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Let’s not forget he also famously called Arsene Wenger a “specialist in failure”, which summed up the lack sportsmanship he has. He also pokes people in the eye, which is a bit unhinged.

It’s not like Mourinho went and spent yet more ridiculous sums of money last summer, and ended up finishing sixth in the Premier League, is it? Or made the entire Chelsea squad loathe him last season? That’s failure.

For a club of United’s wealth, and looking at the world-class players they signed a year ago, coming sixth is every bit as appalling as anything David Moyes or Louis van Gaal did at Old Trafford.

That includes Moyes signing Marouane Fellaini and Van Gaal doing that bizarre fall to the ground in the Old Trafford dugout.

Let’s not forget that everyone had pencilled in United and Man City for a two-way fight for the title back in August. That went well.

Classless

 Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho during the Premiership match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Would we adore Mourinho if he had managed Liverpool to many successes? Probably.

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Liverpool, though, is as a club is built on integrity and class, two things that Mourinho doesn’t, and never will, have.

Dare I say it, but United have always been viewed in a similar manner when you cast club tribalism aside, but their man in charge is slowly turning them into the northern version of Chelsea.

You could admire United under Ferguson through the most gritted teeth imaginable, but there really is nothing to like about Mourinho’s side.

Sure, he will win them trophies, perhaps even another Champions League crown, but the damage that he will do at the same time will eventually leave United in a mess. It always happens.

There are United fans left, right and centre now doing a full 180, trying to justify Mourinho’s tiresome behaviour, but deep down they’re thinking the same thing as the rest of us.

Perhaps some United fans won’t admit it but aren’t exactly endeared by his tactics and antics either.

His laughable comments are predictably coming back to bite him, and will continue to do so.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Video: Liverpool FC’s top 10 Premier League matches of 2016/17

Thu, 25/05/2017 - 20:30

Liverpool FC were involved in some memorable Premier League games this season, but which match stands out from the rest in 2016/17?

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The Reds have gained a reputation as one of most entertaining teams in the country, which is both a compliment and a criticism in equal measure.

On their day, Jurgen Klopp‘s side can blow anyone away with their breathless attacking football, but they can also fall apart at will, too.

In a 38-game season that produced many great contests, LFCTV have counted down the Reds’ 10 best league matches, with some interesting results.

The countdown starts with Liverpool’s two most recent matches, with the final day win at home Middlesbrough up first, followed by the 4-0 drubbing of West Ham at the London Stadium.

In at number eight is the swatting aside of Everton at Anfield last month, while the richly-deserved 3-1 home triumph over Arsenal comes in next.

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The Gunners’ north London rivals Tottenham were dispatched of in similar style on Merseyside, and that win comes in ahead of the New Year’s Eve defeat of Man City, with Gini Wijnaldum scoring the only goal.

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the winning goal against Everton in injury time during the FA Premier League match, the 227th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In fourth place is the unforgettable 1-0 victory at Goodison Park just before Christmas. While it may not have been a classic for the neutral, Sadio Mane‘s last-gasp winner was the stuff of dreams for Reds around the world.

Into the top-three, and the 6-1 annihilation of Watford makes the cut. Liverpool were on fire at that point, with the title genuinely feeling within reach.

The runners-up prize goes to the 4-1 mauling of champions Leicester City in front of the newly-opened Main Stand, with the Foxes powerless to do anything on the day.

There was only won winner, though – the opening day win at Arsenal.

Liverpool’s prevailed in an epic clash, coming from behind to lead 4-1, before almost gifting Arsene Wenger’s side a point.

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Mane made a dream debut, Philippe Coutinho was unplayable and the travelling Reds were given the perfect start to the season.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable campaign.


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