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Categories: LFC NEWS

Experience, game time & highlights: How every Liverpool player fared at the 2018 World Cup

Mon, 16/07/2018 - 21:28

Eight Liverpool players went to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and half of them stayed there until the end of the tournament.

The Reds contingent did themselves and their club proud, whether they were regular starters or playing a supporting role at international level.

Eight of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad from last season were selected, while a ninth has recently joined who was in Russia—Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri.

Aside from being extremely entertaining to watch for fans, the World Cup is a pinnacle of sporting achievement which the players themselves can be justifiably delighted with being a part of.

Here we look back at the past four weeks and lay out exactly who achieved what in Russia, starting with those who exited earliest first.

Mohamed Salah, Egypt

 Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the first goal from a penalty kick during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group A match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Group stage, 4th
Appearances: 2
Total World Cup minutes: 180
Best moment: Scoring his nation’s first goal from open play since 1930

Salah was always facing a race against time to be fit for the finals, after his Champions League final-ending shoulder injury.

He eventually sat out the first match and Egypt conceded a costly late goal; Salah returned and scored twice in two games but couldn’t inspire his team to an historic win.

Some off-field issues also clouded his time in Russia and perhaps it wasn’t quite as special in the end for the Egyptian King as it might have been.

Marko Grujic, Serbia

 Liverpool's Marko Grujic applauds the supporters after a preseason friendly match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Liverpool at the Aviva Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Group stage, 3rd
Appearances: 0
Total World Cup minutes: 0
Best moment: Being named in the squad

It was a watching brief for Grujic, who was a surprise call-up to the 23 in the first place.

No doubt the experience will have done him the world of good in being part of the squad and having the excitement build—but he’ll be frustrated to not have featured.

Serbia could have gone through but a costly defeat to Switzerland was the defining match. More success at international level is no doubt ahead for Grujic in future.

Sadio Mane, Senegal

 Senegal's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Group H match against Japan at Yekaterinburg Arena. Sergei Bobylev/TASS

Stage reached: Group stage, 3rd
Appearances: 3
Total World Cup minutes: 270
Best moment: Skippering his nation at the finals

Mane led his Senegal team into a very open and exciting Group H, and they were headed to the last 16 until the final minutes of the third game.

Playing both as a hard-working wide man and a playmaker behind a striker, Mane was key for his team and his early performances were impressive.

He perhaps didn’t quite hit the heights he’s capable of in the final group game as Senegal crashed out, but this was still a decent showing in Russia from the forward.

Xherdan Shaqiri

 Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel 1893) celebrates scoring the first goal against Denmark during the UEFA Under-21 Championship Denmark 2011 Group A match at the Aalborg Stadion. (Photo by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Last 16
Appearances: 4
Total World Cup minutes: 351
Best moment: Scoring a brilliant late winner in a crucial match

He wasn’t a Red heading into the tournament, but he certainly is afterward.

Shaqiri was a key figure for the Swiss as they held Brazil to a draw, then produced a massive turnaround against Grujic’s Serbia.

From a goal down, Shaqiri dribbled late on in the match and produced a cool, composed finish to win the game 2-1 and all but seal passage to the last 16.

Another tournament where his importance to the national team was highlighted.

Roberto Firmino, Brazil

 Brazil's substitute Roberto Firmino during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Quarter-finals
Appearances: 4
Total World Cup minutes: 82
Best moment: Scoring moments after coming on in the last 16

One of the great mysteries of the 2018 World Cup will be why Brazil boss Tite continually went with Gabriel Jesus up front instead of Firmino.

The Reds’ No. 9 was continually more impressive when coming on for the ineffective Man City forward, and more than once was a catalyst for Brazil to find the right result.

He scored against Mexico to wrap up progression to the last eight, but didn’t earn the start his performances deserved.

Simon Mignolet, Belgium

 Belgium and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during a training session at the Cardiff City Stadium ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Round Group B match against Wales. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Semi-finals, 3rd
Appearances: 0
Total World Cup minutes: 0
Best moment: Bronze medal

Simon Mignolet went as Belgium’s backup goalkeeper, and stayed on the bench throughout.

His team-mate Thibaut Courtois picked up the Golden Glove award, which highlights the challenge ahead of Mignolet for game time.

There’s no telling what role he played in the dressing room of course and presumably he was a supportive squad member, but there’ll be perhaps a tinge of regret for the stopper that he wasn’t able to feature at the finals.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, England

England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at Kaliningrad Stadium - Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

Stage reached: Semi-finals, 4th
Appearances: 1
Total World Cup minutes: 79
Best moment: Appearing at the World Cup at 19

Having impressed enough last term to earn a call-up for the finals despite being uncapped, it wasn’t quite the fairytale end to the season many might have expected.

Keiran Trippier was England’s wing-back and he impressed, keeping Trent on the bench throughout—other than the final group stage match against Belgium.

There, the teenager showed flashes of ability in his crossing and good work on the ball, but the tempo of the game and an entire team being switched around prevented any real quality in the performance overall.

What an experience for him, though, learning and watching the seasoned pros and being caught up in the hype and the excitement.

It won’t be the last major tournament he plays at, that’s for sure.

Jordan Henderson, England

 England's Jordan Henderson during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Round of 16 match between Colombia and England at the Spartak Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Semi-finals, 3rd
Appearances: 5
Total World Cup minutes: 482
Best moment: Being widely recognised as one of England’s best performers

He’s had to do things the hard way, has Henderson, but this tournament perhaps opened the eyes of some non-Liverpool fans as to why he is so important to England.

When he was absent, the midfield was easily cut through and lacked a presence; when he played, his passing, tackling and leadership were all evident.

A very fine tournament from the Reds’ captain indeed, who even wore the England armband for a brief period—no doubt a proud moment at a World Cup finals.

Dejan Lovren, Croatia

 Croatia's Dejan Lovren is surrounded by France players during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Final match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Stage reached: Final, runner-up
Appearances: 7
Total World Cup minutes: 651
Best moment: Playing in a World Cup final!

Forget for a moment whether you love or loathe Dejan Lovren, he is to be applauded for playing a key role for his national team in arguably their most proud footballing moment.

An ever-present other than the dead-rubber third group game, when he came on as sub, Lovren was the centre-back of choice for Croatia and showed every side of his game in Russia.

Mistakes were present, but so too was his infallible self-belief, his penchant for big tackles and clearances and a whole lot of determination.

Lovren did what comparatively few other footballers will ever do: he reached, and played, in a World Cup final.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Rafa Camacho: Jurgen Klopp’s versatile youngster proving invaluable this pre-season

Mon, 16/07/2018 - 21:00

Liverpool academy winger Rafa Camacho has slotted into a variety of roles for Jurgen Klopp in pre-season, with his versatility an invaluable asset.

So far this summer Klopp has called upon five players from his youth ranks, with Kamil Grabara, Caoimhin Kelleher, Nathaniel Phillips and Curtis Jones joining Camacho among more familiar faces.

Along with returning loanees and fringe figures vying for places, these youngsters have fleshed out the Reds’ pre-season squad while the World Cup has played out in Russia.

Phillips, Jones and Camacho have featured in all three of Liverpool’s domestic friendlies so far, and each has performed with distinction when called upon.

For Camacho it has been particularly testing as Klopp employs him and Pedro Chirivella as his utility men, but he has stood up to the challenge as he eyes a more focal role.

So who is the Portuguese, and how can he secure a place in Klopp’s first-team squad this season?

 Liverpool's Rafael Camacho on the pitch before a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Rafa Camacho

Age: 18
Position: Winger
Signed from: Man City (free)

Camacho was signed as a 15-year-old in 2016, having spent a fruitless two-year spell with Man City, struggling to adapt after leaving southwest Portugal for northwest England.

His final six months with City saw him loaned to Queluz side Real SC, where he joined their U19 squad, but given his potential as a young talent Liverpool remained eager to secure his services.

Handed an opportunity on moving to Merseyside, taking up a regular role with the U18s, he quietly impressed, providing Neil Critchley with an intriguing prospect in attack.

When Critchley took over as U23s manager and Steven Gerrard arrived in his place Camacho excelled, with his new coach nurturing him as a right wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation.

Camacho’s displays for the U18s and U19s primed him for a call-up to Klopp’s squad for training at Melwood in February, and he has remained there since.

He travelled regularly for Premier League and Champions League games, and was named on the bench alongside Jones for April’s 0-0 draw with Everton after an injury to Alberto Moreno in the warmup.

 Liverpool's Rafael Camacho shoots at goal during a preseason friendly match between Bury FC and Liverpool FC at Gigg Lane. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Camacho is a quick, skilful, direct winger whose apprenticeship in a deeper role has allowed him to develop the tactical flexibility and organisational qualities required in Klopp’s system.

His willingness to both track back out of possession and put pressure on defenders moving forward underlines a commitment to adjust to life in senior football.

But his defining quality remains the ability to create magic in the final third, with an unpredictability to his game that has set him apart from fellow youngsters such as Bobby Adekanye and Yasser Larouci.

This was witnessed with a sensational goal against Man United in the UEFA Youth League last season under Gerrard, six minutes after replacing Adekanye at Prenton Park.

Picking the ball up on the right flank, Camacho cut inside onto his left and fired a dipping effort over Alex Fojticek and into the far corner to seal a 2-0 victory.

The following day, the teenager was training alongside Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, with Klopp labelling him part of Liverpool’s “next generation.”

 Liverpool's substitute Rafael Camacho celebrates scoring the second goal during the UEFA Youth League Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Camacho is an unassuming character whose development has been overshadowed by the exploits of Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn and Rhian Brewster, but his potential is clear.

Speaking after his goal against United, Gerrard hailed how his contribution “helped the team breathe,” while Woodburn said it was a finish he had seen from his team-mate “plenty of times,” agreeing that it “took a lot of pressure off.”

This game-changing quality will be vital for Camacho if he is to earn a place under Klopp, with Mane and Salah established as first-choice wingers and Xherdan Shaqiri arriving as competition.

His performances during pre-season so far suggest he may be able to do so, albeit largely driving forward from right-back, which saw him net his first senior goal to open the scoring against Tranmere.

And despite Liverpool’s frustration at Bury in the following friendly, he was a constant threat as he adopted a more attacking role on the left, creating chances and testing the goalkeeper drifting inside.

 Liverpool's Rafael Camacho celebrates scoring the first goal with Sheyi Ojo during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

This versatility has allowed Klopp to rotate his depleted side throughout the Reds’ opening games this summer, and it will give Camacho a better opportunity of claiming a role in 2018/19.

With Woodburn, Divock Origi, Harry Wilson, Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Kent all expected to leave the club on loan or on a permanent basis this summer, he and Jones could provide Klopp with cover.

Though Liverpool are well-stocked at right-back, and with the arrival of Shaqiri are in a healthier position in attack, Camacho’s youth boosts his chances.

The hope will be that, if they remain a full-time fixture at Melwood this season, Camacho and Jones can impress Klopp enough to gain minutes in the FA Cup and League Cup.

And if, as has been the case in recent seasons, injury strikes out wide, their experience this pre-season could give them the platform required to step up and fill in for their senior counterparts.

Though still a work in progress, with consistency his aim, Camacho is certainly one to keep an eye on.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Lovren displeasure, Wilson loan future & rumours of 2 offers made – Liverpool FC News Roundup

Mon, 16/07/2018 - 18:49

The World Cup is over and focus shifts back to domestic matters and the upcoming campaign for Liverpool FC.

Main headlinesHarry Wilson edges closer to Derby switch

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

The battle to sign Reds winger Harry Wilson on loan looks to have taken in over a dozen clubs now.

Teams such as Swansea and Norwich City have been keen on signing him, but the Mirror report Derby County are close to a deal.

Wilson was left out of the Reds’ 0-0 draw at Bury over the weekend, with Jurgen Klopp admitting a loan switch was close.

His long-term future remains with Liverpool though, after a new deal was signed last week.

Lovren not impressed by France

 Croatia's Dejan Lovren is surrounded by France players during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Final match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dejan Lovren ended on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Croatia were beaten by France despite playing largely well, and the centre-back was unimpressed with the victors’ approach.

“They had their one tactic and you have to respect it,” said Lovren, according to BBC Sport. “They waited for their chance and scored. They played every game like that.

“I’m disappointed because we lost the game but played much better football than them.”

The defender is set for a three-week holiday now before returning to Liverpool a week before the new Premier League season gets underway.

U23s’ opponents revealed for PL International Cup

 Liverpool's manager Neil Critchley during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ U23 side will again take part in the Premier League International Cup competition this term.

A 24-team tournament, half are Premier League 2 teams and the other half are from club academies around Europe, with a group stage and knock-out format. The Reds reached the semi-finals last season, losing to Porto B.

This year, Liverpool will face Hertha Berlin, Villarreal and Swansea City in the group stage.

Neil Critchley will again lead the team as U23 boss.

Adam Lewis called up for England duty

 Liverpool's Adam Lewis celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Youth League Group E match between Liverpool and Spartak Moscow FC at the Spartak Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The World Cup might be over but the international tournaments are still ongoing.

This week, the U19 European Championships get underway and the Reds will have one representative in the England team, with left-back Adam Lewis in the squad.

The tournament takes place in Finland and England are the reigning holders from last year.

Lewis could first be in action on Tuesday, with England facing Turkey.

Reds ‘make offer’ for Cillessen

 The Netherlands' captain Arjen Robben, goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and Jeffrey Bruma before the International Friendly match at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The first of two bids that Liverpool have seemingly made—though not yet reported by any hugely credible source.

French Canal+ journalist Romain Collet-Gaudin tweeted on Monday that the Reds have made an offer for Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, but included no details on fee or whether it was accepted.

By contrast, the Mail’s Dominic King rejected the notion an offer had been made.

Want to know more on Cillessen either way? We’ve got you covered right here.

Can the Vida links please stop

 Croatia's Dejan Lovren celebrates after the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Semi-Final match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium. Croatia won 2-1 after extra-time. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dejan Lovren in dreamland: Liverpool want to pair him at the back with international team-mate Domagoj Vida.

Perhaps something got lost in translation when Reds fans were talking about pairing up Virgil van Dijk with Matthijs de Ligt?

Anyway, the Mirror cite Turkish reports as suggesting the Reds have gone back in with a new offer for Vida.

£20 million is the price this time, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla also interested. Besiktas want £30 million. Let’s end the ‘bidding war’ here, then.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Who impressed and who struggled in Bury 0-0 Liverpool

Sat, 14/07/2018 - 23:33

Liverpool’s third pre-season match ended in a 0-0 stalemate at League Two side Bury and there were more disappointing performances than positives.

Having won back-to-back fixtures and scored 10 goals in the process in their opening two games, the hope would have been for the Reds to showcase their attacking prowess once more—especially against a side who had conceded 10 in two themselves.

But it didn’t transpire that way as Jurgen Klopp‘s team put in a sluggish and sloppy display, and indeed Bury went closest to scoring.

The 0-0 draw will be a frustration to some—including the fans who watched, in fairness—but there were still a handful of good displays to point to.

And, of course, it’s a pre-season match: fitness-building is the more important issue at hand.

Staking a claim

 Matt McNulty/Sportimage via PA Images

Once again there were a couple of younger players who showed Klopp what they have to offer, with Curtis Jones the pick of the bunch.

An inventive and positive first-half display from the teenager saw him roam the left channel, between attacking midfield and wider when in possession.

Most of the Reds’ good work came when he was involved and looked to either go one-on-one with his man, or else quickly combine with his fellow attackers.

Tactically and technically, Jones has impressed this pre-season, lowly though the opposition has been.

Elsewhere it was reasonably slim pickings, but Naby Keita showed a handful of good moments in the second half.

 Liverpool's Naby Keita during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

His ability to win the ball, switch gears and quickly run at the opposition defence caused problems more than once and he looked most likely to provide a route to goal after the break.

Joe Gomez was also a decent performer, this time taking to the field at right-back.

Several times he opened space down the flank with an overlap and driving run, while defensively he was untested.

Shockers from the seniors

 Liverpool's Divock Origi during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Unfortunately that was about it for the genuinely good displays, and there were far more who seemed either tired, lacking a first touch or simply didn’t have the toolkit to break down the fourth-tier side.

Divock Origi, once again, was a passenger in the game. He was stationed wide left for much of the first 45, but came central as the half went on and the Reds dominated the ball.

His one big chance saw him go one-on-one with the keeper, but a shot was easily saved when a square pass might have yielded a tap-in for a team-mate.

Fellow striker Dominic Solanke was also relatively anonymous after the break, seeing one shot blocked on the line and offering little threat or link-up play otherwise.

 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Several of the Reds’ senior squad have been labelled ‘inconsistent’ in the past, perhaps few more so than Alberto Moreno.

The left-back has had a pretty good last 12 months, rarely letting the team down when he was first-choice at the start of last season and playing a squad role thereafter.

Against Bury, however, his touch was well off, his passing was woeful and he almost cost a goal when he sold Loris Karius short with a backpass.

Outside of the seniors, Ben Woodburn had the least-encouraging half of football: misplaced passes all over and one great chance to score spurned.

Mixed bag

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s pre-season, though, so all performances have to weighed in that regard, both the positives and negatives.

Tiredness, rustiness, lacking match sharpness: whatever the reason, the displays simply won’t be as polished as in-season and that has to be accepted.

As such, it was no surprise to see a few of the more talented players in the team put in games which were encouraging one moment, frustrating the next.

Virgil van Dijk‘s first game back followed this pattern as he read the game well and looked in good shape, but was ponderous in possession more than once and missed a couple of challenges when stepping out of the back line.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during a preseason friendly match between Bury FC and Liverpool FC at Gigg Lane. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Daniel Sturridge looked a cut above with his touch and vision early on, but spurned a couple of opportunities to quickly pass and create shooting chances.

A note, too, for goalkeeper Kamil Grabara: he played the final half-hour of the match and made a couple of commanding aerial claims, showing good confidence and reading of the match.

That was about all he had to do, but it will do his confidence good regardless.

Overall it was certainly 90 minutes of more negatives than positives for the Reds on the pitch, but no injuries, a couple of returning faces and another step toward full fitness made it a worthwhile endeavour nonetheless.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp on Origi, Sturridge future & emergence of Curtis Jones

Sat, 14/07/2018 - 20:09

Jurgen Klopp wasn’t too worried by a 0-0 scoreline against Bury, but discussed three of his attacking players after the match.

The Reds toiled in the sun at League Two side Bury and couldn’t find a route to goal, seeing a couple of efforts cleared off the line.

At the other end, Bury hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed for offside as the Reds’ third pre-season game ended goalless.

Klopp blamed the slight lethargy in his side on the pitch condition and on an intensive training schedule, suggesting the workload given to them by him played a big part.

The boss wasn’t overly happy with some of the work in the final third, though, and took particular aim at Divock Origi for spurning a first-half chance, as report.

 Liverpool's Divock Origi during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“I wanted us to score, I don’t like the a few situations; first half with Divock when maybe he can pass the ball for an easy goal.

“It’s the part of the season when players try to impress me, but I’ve told them already: ‘You impress me not by scoring any goal; if you see someone in a better position then that impresses me much more.’

“Making the right decisions when you are really tired, when it is really warm and the ball is not really rolling is very difficult. I knew that before, and that’s what we saw today.”

Strike partner Daniel Sturridge was much more heavily involved than Origi, and impressed on the ball without ever going close to scoring.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Sturridge, indeed, has been one of the early stand-outs for the Reds this summer and Klopp has refuted suggestions that a departure for the No. 15 is imminent.

“That’s funny – it’s my third pre-season here and every year we talk about the same things, and [Sturridge] always had a future, not a problem!

“I always said there’s always a future, it’s about what we do in the moment. In this moment, all good, but we don’t have to make decisions now in this situation, that’s how it is. In this moment, I don’t think like this about my players.

“It’s not that I think ‘maybe he’s in or he’s not in’ with these guys.

“With the young ones, yes we have to make these decisions, but not with the others. They show up and then it’s for me it should be easy at the end [to make a decision].

“Until then [the end of the transfer window], we have to make decisions but it’s still wide open, right? It’s closing tomorrow? No, good.”

Finally, Klopp had words of praise for Curtis Jones, with the attacking midfielder having made a big impression in pre-season so far.

 Liverpool's Curtis Jones during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

The manager alluded to a patient approach still being required with Jones, but there’s clearly plenty of talent which the manager appreciates.

“He [Jones] is like the others, like Ben Woodburn was a year before or Trent Alexander-Arnold. It’s good, very good for us.

“It’s not about showing up once or twice, it’s about making the right decisions. Physically, he seems to be ahead of the others because he is taller, but there is a lot of his body he can still change with muscles.

“There is enough there, it is good for the moment and all these boys are good footballers. But you see it, it is difficult – one year older and everyone thinks you need to make the next step because the next young boy is coming.

“We don’t expect anything, we are only happy we have another one. It’s a long wait and we are calm enough.”

As more of the youngsters head out on loan this summer, Jones may well be one of the few left to continue his development training with the seniors.

And if he keeps impressing when surrounded by his more experienced team-mates, a competitive first-team debut might not be too far off at some point this season.

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“Kid is one hell of a player,” “Was expecting at least a goal” – Fans react to Bury 0-0 Liverpool

Sat, 14/07/2018 - 19:36

Liverpool failed to find a breakthrough against a spirited Bury outfit as they played out a 0-0 draw, but fans remained optimistic over the showing of one particular youngster.

The Reds’ third pre-season outing failed to reap its rewards on the scoreboard but their League Two opponents provided yet another stage for Jurgen Klopp‘s youngsters to impress and his senior charges to gear up for the season opener.

A poor opening half saw Liverpool’s attack struggle to effectively link up, and while sweeping changes at half-time saw an increase in tempo, a breakthrough failed to arrive at Gigg Lane.

Here is how supporters reacted to Liverpool’s goalless draw on Twitter and our forums.

In a quiet opening period, Curtis Jones continued to impress and look at home within the senior setup…

I really like this Curtis Jones kid. Looks very composed considering he’s surrounded by first team players

— Kopite Corner (@Kopite_Corner) July 14, 2018

If Nabil Fekir is even half as good as Curtis Jones we need to sign him up.

— Ben Might Say (@BenMightSay) July 14, 2018

Curtis Jones off target from distance. He's been bright and busy, backs himself on the ball which is great to see in one so young. Pretty low-key half generally from #LFC

— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) July 14, 2018

Curtis Jones’ body feints should be illegal. Kid is one hell of a player.

— Paddy (@AnfieldPyro) July 14, 2018

“Curtis Jones also looking very handy so far in pre-season. Could definitely be one to watch.”

Cynicaloldgit on the forums.

Been super impressed with Curtis Jones so far this pre season, definitely one to watch for next season!! #LFC

— Jack (@Jackr_21) July 14, 2018

Enjoyable watching Curtis Jones. Always scanning, positionally aware, good passing range, intelligent movement, wants the ball, defensively diligent, has the proclivity to make the right decision rather than the one that looks most flash. #LFC

— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) July 14, 2018

Curtis Jones looks so comfortable on the ball, quick drop of shoulder to change directions, has the defenders on strings, something Coutinho did so well. #LFC #LFCPreSeason

— The Normal One (@Shai_lfc) July 14, 2018

Divock Origi on the other hand, didn’t impress…

Divock Origi doesn’t even look like a footballer at the moment. He’s regressed dramatically over the last 18 months.

— Ben D'Arcy (@ben_darcy) July 14, 2018

Abject half, but it happens. No need to worry, unless you're Divock Origi – this pre-season is probably his last chance to impress, and he's doing the exact opposite of that against teams he should be bullying.

— James Martin (@JamesMartin013) July 14, 2018

Poor half from LFC. Origi couldn't cross his legs at the moment..

— Macers (@Macers2000) July 14, 2018

A goalless first 45 minutes arguably as poor as the second half against Tranmere midweek. Origi not comfortable wide left & looks low on confidence after squandering a one-on-one, @LFC's best chance

— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) July 14, 2018

Pedestrian half from LFC. For someone who’s suppose to have a point to prove, Origi doesn’t look arsed one bit

— Baby Keith (@PatMacauley) July 14, 2018

Divock Origi is not LFC standard. Not too sure how many times we need to say that.

— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) July 14, 2018

There were mixed reactions to the performance and result and the hope will be for improvements in future games.

I know it's preseason and all that jazz….. but I was expecting at least a goal from Liverpool against a team that's shipped 10 in their last two games.

— Stuart2Caven™© (@Stuart2Caven) July 14, 2018

“A good run-out for the players, a magnified training session. But credit to Bury for defending well all through the match.”

Hope in Your Heart on the forums.

Another run out under the belts for the lads didn't get the win today but plenty of positives from the game some of the youngsters are looking great. #LFC #YNWA #Reds #TheKop #Liverpool

— Chris Kelly (@BigChrisLFC34) July 14, 2018

Well that was shite but it is preseason. All about getting fit. Onwards we go to Blackburn! #LFC #LFCFamily #Liverpool

— Rob (@Koppite4004) July 14, 2018

“I wouldn’t call it dull it was a good run out for our new signings and younger players; also Lallana looked great and full of energy. It would have been nice to have got a couple of goals but it wasn’t to be. Overall though there was some great link-up play and we created some fine chances and it gives us reason to be excited for the new season #YNWA”
Chris Parker on Facebook.

Liverpool lacking any real pace of play today and we're all too predictable. Only pre season but Klopp will likely be unhappy with today's outing. Bury, however put in a terrific shift, held a good shape throughout and could play football at the right times.

— JayB1892 (@JayB1892) July 14, 2018

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Xherdan Shaqiri on Salah, Klopp and winning trophies with Liverpool

Sat, 14/07/2018 - 01:39

Liverpool’s latest signing Xherdan Shaqiri has made it clear he has joined the club to help the Reds win silverware in the coming campaigns.

Joining officially on Friday night, the Swiss international put pen to paper after cutting short a post-World Cup holiday to undertake a medical with the Reds.

He will add depth and quality to the Reds attack, and has quickly stated how last season’s fast, offensive football left a big impression on him as an opponent.

Shaqiri almost joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich several seasons ago, and has told about how pleased he was to finally make the move.

“As a player you always want to be on the biggest stage in football. A few years ago I wanted to come too but it didn’t happen. I’m really happy that now I’m finally here.

“I want to improve myself too, I want to be with the best and I want to win titles. That’s what I’m here for.”

Shaqiri will be in contention for a place in the team alongside last season’s top scorer, Mohamed Salah. The Swiss wide man has been impressed by his new team-mate’s successes in the Premier League – but it’s not the first time they crossed paths.

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He came for training and a trial when I was at Basel. He came to train two or three times, I trained with him,” Shaqiri said.

“Then I went to Bayern Munich and he stayed in Basel. I’m happy that I see him here. He had an amazing season last year and I hope he can do it this year too.

“I’m very happy for him that he had this beautiful season because he is a very nice guy, a good guy.”

In his first interview with the club, Shaqiri also revealed that he followed the Reds’ campaign in Europe last season.

 Liverpool players celebrate after the 7-6 aggregate victory over AS Roma during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between AS Roma and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Olimpico. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“They had a very good season last season. I was very sad they lost in the Champions League final; that’s football sometimes.

“I’m looking forward to the new season. I hope we can do it together again and I hope at the end we have some trophies in our hands.”

A recurring theme in Shaqiri’s words were the desire to win silverware with the club, and he’s sure that the combination of Anfield, Jurgen Klopp and the top talent on show can help that happen.

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

It’s an amazing stadium. I played there with Stoke and I knew it before – there’s an amazing atmosphere with amazing fans. I hope I can enjoy it and give them something back with the team.

We can give them a lot of happiness and success. We want to win games and be successful.

In football there are challenges everywhere. Of course Liverpool have top players, very good players, young players. It’s difficult for everybody.

I’m very glad to be here and I believe in myself. The most important thing is to be a team and win as a team. There isn’t only 11 players on the pitch, it’s more than 11 players who win titles.

I’m really pleased to be here and I want to show myself.

It was amazing football [last season] with high intensity in the game. I was always an admirer of Jurgen Klopp so I’m really happy to be here and to be part of this team. I think I will fit perfectly at this football club.

Of course. I want to win titles – that’s my ambition.

I already know how to win from Bayern Munich, we won the treble and it was an amazing feeling.

I’m confident we can win a lot of titles. The fans deserve to win titles. Hopefully we have a good season and try to be hungry to win titles.

Shaqiri will wear the No. 23 shirt for the Reds, inheriting it from Emre Can.

His addition to the squad gives Klopp serious options in attack, at least while the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Harry Wilson and Divock Origi are all still around taking part in pre-season.

In the shorter term, his arrival might also be the boost one or more of those players need to produce even better performances and keep themselves in the manager’s thoughts.

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“Bargain,” “£2m less than Ibe,” – Liverpool fans react to Xherdan Shaqiri signing

Fri, 13/07/2018 - 23:44

Liverpool have completed the signing of Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri for £13.75 million, and fans are mostly happy with his arrival.

The 26-year-old becomes the third signing of the summer following Fabinho and Naby Keita, arriving to add much-needed depth to Jurgen Klopp‘s attack.

The manager himself called it a “no brainer” and that’s how most fans see the signing too.

The new Reds’ No.23 will fly out with the squad to America next Saturday, having interrupted his post-World Cup holiday to head to Merseyside on Thursday evening and complete his medical and media duties on Friday.

Most fans highlighted the bargain nature of the signing

Think Shaqiri will prove a bargain for that fee. Quality squad option to lessen the burden on Mané and Salah, loads of experience at a high level and a potential game changer off the bench. Really smart piece of business.

— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) July 13, 2018

Shaqiri for £2m less than Jordon Ibe.

— Distance Covered (@DistanceCovered) July 13, 2018

£13m for Shaqiri is going to be the best bit of business in the transfer market since Liverpool paid £8m for Andy Robbo.

— Joe (@JoeScouse_LFC) July 13, 2018

I think Shaquiri will need to adapt his game a little to fit into Klopp's #LFC. But at 26 he is a very good addition and great value for money. Has always had the talent – no better manager than Klopp to get the very best out of him.

— Si Steers (@sisteers) July 13, 2018

Absolute no-brainer signing Shaqiri at £13m, amazing that #LFC had a free run at him. Loan out Wilson and Woodburn and, if they come back ready, double our money on the re-sale. #brilliantbusiness

— David Gillett (@D9VYG42) July 13, 2018

8 goals and 7 assists in the worst team last season. Very tidy buisness this. I remember wanting him to sign some years back and was gutted we didn’t get him. Reckon he’ll be a class act especially with our quality players around him..??

– Alper Koker on Facebook

People will scoff at Liverpool signing Shaqiri but if they need one thing, it's squad depth. Shaqiri provides another option.

And are they really going to sign somebody to get in front of Salah?

— Daniel (@TheMilkGuzzler) July 13, 2018

Think Shaqiri will do well here. Happy with that signing.

— Green Scouser (@Green_Scouser) July 13, 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri will be a massive addition to the already enviable Liverpool squad, Klopp only needs to pitch his tactics right for most of his acquisitions to fit in Liverpool.

— JasonBannerman (@jasonbannerman) July 13, 2018

Shaqiri is a fucking unit. Sturridge will pull a hamstring just looking at him.

— Dan McLaughlin (@Dan23_92) July 13, 2018

We used to buy young inexperienced players as squad players cos we were not in the CL and couldnt attract top talent, now we get players like Xherdan to come and sit on the bench ! but with the CL, FA, LC and league, he will get games, and make an impression….. look forward to see him ripping open a few stubborn defences. Times are really good for LFC right now. Enjoy the change in fortunes, embrace the change etc..

– Geebo in the forums

On Shaqiri, it'll be nice to have someone who can score from free-kicks again.

— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) July 13, 2018

That's the smile of a man when he realises he's got Salah, Mane and Firmino and can forget about Chupo-Moting, Diouf and Berahino for good

— Kaby Neita (@BecOfTheKop) July 13, 2018

There were also nice words from Stoke fans:

I’ve seen plenty of ‘good honest pros’ play for Stoke City, I’ve seen some top footballers too. Xherdan Shaqiri made me excited to go and watch us. The lad is special, and I’m glad he’s going to a fanbase that adores talent.

— Championship Dave (@davidcowlishaw) July 13, 2018

One fan rightly highlighted the strange reaction from some who were somehow seeing a negative in the signing:

Plastic fan in 2017 : the squad has no depth #KloppOut
Plastic fan in 2018 : I didn’t want Shaqiri #KloppOut
ffs get a grip

– Nicolas Doyle on Facebook

With Shaqiri adding to Fabinho and Keita, now fans want two more signings:

Fekir and a keeper basically and I think we'd be done. There were rumours/are rumours we're keen on a CB as well.

— LFCZA ?? (@LFCZA) July 13, 2018

We are moving in right direction let’s get fekir deal done and a goal keeper, then we are good to go.

– Kingsley Okwudili on Facebook

Happy with the Shaqiri signing. Now for a goalkeeper .. any goalkeeper!

— Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) July 13, 2018

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Jurgen Klopp highlights Xherdan Shaqiri qualities which made move a “no-brainer”

Fri, 13/07/2018 - 23:11

Liverpool have completed the signing of Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri and Jurgen Klopp says the move was a “no-brainer.”

The Reds made Shaqiri their third capture of the summer, following the arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho.

Filling out the squad in the attacking areas of the pitch has been a big priority for the Reds this summer, with just three senior forwards largely relied upon last season.

Shaqiri can play on both flanks, thereby giving the option to Klopp to rotate Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane when required—and the boss says the new arrival has all the qualities required.

Added to that, former club Stoke’s relegation meant Shaqiri was available for a low-cost deal of around £13.5 million, making it a straightforward decision.

“I think the English phrase to explain the decision to sign Xherdan is a ‘no-brainer,’” Klopp told

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“When someone like him becomes available in this way you have to react if you are smart – and we have.

“He has speed and ability, has the right amount of arrogance on the football pitch, real bravery to want the ball and influence things. To play for us these are mandatory requirements.

“We are the perfect move for him in this moment as well I think, because he needs to push himself and challenge himself and our environment encourages that.

“We will want him to express himself but also learn and improve the areas of his game where he can still make progression.”

On what Shaqiri can add to the squad, Klopp noted his versatility, but also the mentality of a player who was impressive at international level this summer.

“From our perspective, he is someone who makes a big difference to the squad and team, because he can fit in so many positions in our system. He gives us greater flexibility in how we can use our current players also. This is cool.

“I know him well from his time in Switzerland and especially Germany – I have been a long-time admirer. But the added bonus now is that he knows the Premier League and what it takes to perform in this uniquely intense environment.

“He also did really well at the World Cup – so he comes to us full of belief and confidence.

“Finally, Xherdan the person will fit in perfectly at Liverpool I believe. He has personality and drive – he is someone who will feed off the positive emotion of our crowd.

“He joins a dressing room of really good lads and I know they will welcome him with open arms and help him settle and integrate quickly.”

The need to sign players of a certain mindset and mentality has been an absolute requirement for Klopp, so there should be no fears over Shaqiri’s attitude.

Fans will look forward to seeing another goalscoring wide forward at the club, lessening the burden on Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino in the new campaign.

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Tackles, interceptions, creativity – How Xherdan Shaqiri compares to Sadio Mane & Mo Salah

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 19:00

Xherdan Shaqiri is set to join Liverpool as backup for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, but are concerns over his quality and work rate warranted?

The Reds are closing in on a deal for the 26-year-old Stoke City winger, and he is expected to join up with first-team squad for this month’s tour of the United States.

A release clause in his contract with the Potters made him available for around £13.5 million, ensuring a cut-price squad option for the new campaign.

But though his ability is unquestioned, there are reservations among supporters and pundits alike whether Shaqiri has the attitude required to operate within Klopp’s system.

Here, we compare his output from the 2017/18 season with that of Mane and Salah, who he will alternate with when required, with per-90 statistics from their defensive and offensive contributions:

(Statistics via Squawka‘s Comparison Matrix.)

Though their roles were markedly different last season, it is interesting to note how Shaqiri holds up to Klopp’s key wingers in terms of his off-ball work.

The Swiss averaged over double the amount of successful tackles per 90 as Salah, while he made more interceptions than both the Egyptian King and Mane.

Tasked with being Stoke’s primary outlet, Shaqiri also created more chances per 90 on average, and while this clearly impacted on the frequency of his shots, he was marginally more accurate than Salah when testing the goalkeeper.

It is also notable that the Potters’ No. 23 was more creative than both Salah and Mane despite being equally as involved in Stoke’s passing play as Liverpool’s top goalscorer.

However, on a basic level Shaqiri’s impact in the final third will be measured in terms of goals and assists:

(Statistics via WhoScored.)

He scored eight goals and laid on a further seven assists in the league last season, topping the Stoke charts for both, but he was outperformed by both Mane and Salah.

However, as Potters supporter David Cowlishaw told This is Anfield back in June, their reliance on the diminutive winger put considerable pressure on him to perform.

“With Marko Arnautovic and Bojan out of the picture, Shaqiri was our sole creative force,” Cowlishaw explained, “but alas, his abilities weren’t enough to keep us in the Premier League.”

Only Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino outscored Shaqiri in the Liverpool squad in the league, and the Reds’ No. 11 was the only player to lay on more goals.

Shaqiri registered the same number of assists as Mane, Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Klopp has clearly acknowledged the need to lighten the workload of his first-choice front three.

 Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The key criticism aim at Shaqiri, however, comes in his work rate and perceptions of his poor attitude.

Gary Neville, speaking to ITV as part of their coverage of Switzerland’s 1-1 draw with Brazil at the World Cup, labelled the ex-Bayern Munich winger as “unprofessional” for his approach in 2017/18.

“He could score the goal of the tournament and he could have the most amazing game,” he conceded.

“But he could also be there for three matches, do nothing and just amble and wobble around.”

Shaqiri’s defensive statistics bely that view, though Cowlishaw added “he is not a man for tracking back and running around.”

This may, as Neville touched upon, be due to the lack of quality around him on a sinking ship at Stoke last season, with the player himself expressing his frustration in March:

“The feeling that even a Ronaldinho could do little in this team is sobering.

“I had to realise that it’s a bit different when you have players like Ribery and Thiago at Bayern or Icardi and Kovacic at Inter.

“Here at Stoke I cannot exert too much influence, simply because there is a lack of quality around me.

“I cannot just down tools but it would take something extreme for Stoke in the transfer market this summer to revive my enthusiasm.

 Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri looks dejected after missing a chance against West Ham United during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have been largely flawless in terms of signings since Klopp took over in 2015, and this is partly due to the manager’s insistence that he judges their character before sanctioning a deal.

Klopp makes a point of meeting every potential signing, and if there were any fears of Shaqiri having ‘downed tools’ at Stoke this will have been allayed in his conversations with the German.

Like Oxlade-Chamberlain before him, Shaqiri will arrive under scrutiny from supporters due to his previous performances in the English top flight.

But his productivity during a decidedly poor campaign for Stoke under first Mark Hughes and then Paul Lambert should be evidence enough that this is a £13.5 million deal worth pursuing.

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Shaqiri to join for US tour, Grujic returning to Cardiff – Wednesday’s Liverpool FC News & Rumour Roundup

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 18:00

We round up the latest Liverpool FC news and transfer rumours on Wednesday, ahead of England and Croatia’s huge World Cup semi-final.

Main HeadlinesShaqiri To Join Tour of US?

 Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Stoke City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On Tuesday night, reports emerged that Liverpool had opened talks with Stoke City for Xherdan Shaqiri.

The potential transfer has been mooted for a while now, with Jurgen Klopp keen to add depth in wide attacking areas for next season.

The Daily Mail‘s Dominic King believes Liverpool will try to wrap up a £12 million deal before they depart for their pre-season tour of America on July 21.

Shaqiri is set to return to Stoke training on Monday after his World Cup excursions, and a deal can therefore be expected to be announced in the near future.

Grujic To Return To Cardiff

Cardiff City's Marko Grujic ( Steve Paston/EMPICS Sport)

Marko Grujic spent the second half of last season on loan at Cardiff City, helping Neil Warnock’s side seal promotion to the Premier League.

With first-team opportunities at Liverpool set to be hard to come by in 2018/19, it looks as though the 22-year-old is returning to Wales.

Football Insider reports that the Reds and Cardiff “have agreed a deal in principle” for the Serb, who made a total of 14 appearances for the Bluebirds last season, scoring once.

You have to wonder whether Grujic has a long-term future at Anfield but a year in the Premier League will certainly be good to see.

Reds Interested In Rebic?

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Ante Rebic has shone for Croatia at the World Cup, helping them reach Wednesday’s semi-final against England.

It was his expert volley that set the Croatians on their way to a famous 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage.

According to Sport Bild, the 24-year-old has caught the eye of a host of top clubs, with Liverpool one of those in the mix for his signature.

The Eintracht Frankfurt man is believed to favour a move to Bayern Munich, though. Other reported suitors are Man United, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Probably nothing in this link at all.

Henderson Heaps Praise On Lovren

 Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren applaud the supporters after the 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

England and Croatia face-off in the second World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, with Henderson and Lovren both to start.

The Liverpool skipper has been full of praise for his club teammate, lauding his all-around quality as a centre-back despite flack often coming his way.

“He had his fair share of criticism but he’s done so well over the last six months, especially after the start of the season, he bounced back so well,” Henderson told reporters.

“He’s got everything: he’s aggressive, good in the air, good on the ball, a real leader as well, always talking. I’m so pleased for him, he’s a great person, great character but hopefully this journey ends for him.”

Who will come out on top in Moscow and move on to the final against France on Sunday?

Markovic Not Finding Many Suitors

 Liverpool's Lazar Markovic during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is no shame in forgetting that Lazar Markovic is still a Liverpool player, having not represented the Reds competitively since May 2015.

The Serb will never play for the Reds again, but Turkish Football claim he is struggling to find a new permanent club, despite being offered to Galatasaray.

Goal‘s Neil Jones does believe Fenerbahce and Anderlecht are interested in signing him, however, having played for both on loan in the past.

What a wasted talent.

Ojo Keen To Keep Impressing

 Liverpool's Sheyi Ojo celebrates scoring the second goal during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Much of Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday centred around Loris Karius‘ latest mistake, but Sheyi Ojo was a bright spark.

The young wide man scored the Reds’ second goal with a lovely finish and was a constant threat with his pace and power.

Speaking to, Ojo says he hopes he did enough to impress Klopp, as he looks to remain at Anfield this summer:

“I was on the right wing and the manager always talks about being aggressive, being direct.

“It was a good one-v-one opportunity and I was trying to get some space and managed to get the shot off and score the goal.

“Every time I’m on the pitch I just want to play free and attack as much as I can and hopefully score and assist.

“I managed to do that today and it was really good but I think the most important thing is to just keep improving and that’s what I’ll look to do in the next couple of games.”

  • Man City have signed Riyad Mahrez for £60 million
  • Andriy Yarmolenko has joined West Ham from Borussia Dortmund
  • Arsenal signed Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira

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Nabil Fekir saga “not over” – French press claim negotiations ongoing

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 17:27

Liverpool are claimed to be still working on a deal to sign Lyon attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir, with progress expected after the World Cup.

Fekir is part of the France squad who booked their place in Sunday’s final through a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday night.

Didier Deschamps’ side will take on either England or Croatia in Moscow, though Fekir’s bit-part role so far suggests he will be fortunate to feature at Luzhniki Stadium.

Regardless, his involvement in Russia has stalled any developments with a possible move to Merseyside, with Liverpool’s initial deal with Lyon breaking down at the beginning of June.

However, speaking to Get French Football News on Wednesday, RMC Sport journalist Loic Tanzi has maintained that the Reds’ “will come back” for the 24-year-old once the tournament ends.

Tanzi claims “everything had been sorted but the minor details,” with Fekir’s desire to play for Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp‘s insistence he was his primary target, ensuring “the saga isn’t over.”

He speculated on the collapse of the previous agreement with the Ligue 1 side, with it being Tanzi’s opinion that “if it had been medical, Liverpool would have stopped the transfer right there and then.”

“At the moment negotiations seem to be going on,” he elaborated, contrary to suggestions in English media.

“There’s a possibility that they’re using his knee as a means of paying less, but in the end, they have the money and they know he wants to come.”

NABIL FEKIR during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 game between Lyon and Villareal - First Round (Photo Stephane GUIOCHON/Maxppp/PA Images)

This raises the prospect that Liverpool, Lyon or Fekir’s representatives attempted to renegotiate at last minute, and the proximity to the World Cup saw this fail.

If this is the case, and Tanzi is to be believed, Liverpool could well revive their interest after Sunday.

The lack of concrete alternatives touted so far could be another indicator that the Reds have not given up on Fekir, while the Guardian‘s Andy Hunter has also added fuel to the fire.

Concluding his report on the Reds’ move for Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri he claimed the deal “may yet be resurrected.”

Fekir’s move to Anfield was so close that he underwent media duties with LFCTV before joining up with the France squad, though this was not out of the ordinary due to his imminent flight to Russia.

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Phil Neal and the superhuman desire that saw him set an unbreakable record for Liverpool

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 09:00

Injuries are part and parcel of football, but Phil Neal’s incredible appearance record for Liverpool proved the resilience it takes to stay at the top.

The history of the Reds is littered with heroic figures. For every Steven Gerrard, there is an Alex Raisbeck, for Mo Salah, there’s Roger Hunt and for Kenny Dalglish there is Billy Liddell.

Few men though, can match the almost superhuman feats of Phil Neal. Did you know that he once went six seasons without missing a single game?

Bob Paisley’s reputation for signing great players is legendary. His very first, a young right-back by the name of Phil Neal, would go on to play 650 times for the club and become Liverpool’s most decorated player.

He would win 16 major honours for the club, including eight league titles and three European Cups.

Neal arrived from Northampton Town in 1974 for the sum of £66,000. When weighed against his achievements, that has to be one of the greatest bargains in the history of the game.

(L-R) Liverpool's Jimmy Case and Phil Neal, who scored the final goal, kiss the European Cup

He contributed his fair share of goals too, scoring 69 times and proving himself deadly from 12 yards. He once scored 11 times in a single season, earning himself the nickname Zico, after the great Brazilian star.

The secret to Phil’s success was his undeniable consistency and relentless desire. These qualities would see him play through a fractured cheekbone and a broken toe.

In these days of sports science and squad rotation, it’s hard to imagine this ever happening again.

However, for all his silverware, goals and appearances, there is one statistic that marks Phil Neal out as a very special Liverpool player, and that’s his record for consecutive starts for the club.

Between October 23, 1976 and September 24, 1983, Neal played a record 417 games without interruption. That’s six seasons without missing a single game.

However, even that doesn’t tell the whole story. His run was ended after an injury sustained in a game against Man United. It would put him out for just three matches, after which he played a further 127 consecutive games.

 Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport)

We all have our heroes. They are often strikers or supremely gifted flare players. They are rarely right-backs.

However, when it comes to commitment to the cause, consistency and sheer desire, there is nobody who comes close to Phil Neal.

Imagine being given the chance to play for Liverpool. Nothing short of death would stop you grabbing every opportunity to pull on that shirt. You want every player to feel that way too.

In Phil Neal, Liverpool supporters had that for 11 years.

Jeff Goulding is the author of two Liverpool books; ‘Red Odyssey: Liverpool FC 1892-2017’ and ‘Stanley Park Story: Life, Love and the Merseyside Derby’.

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Liverpool “open talks” over Xherdan Shaqiri deal

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 01:08

Liverpool have opened talks over a deal for Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri, according to reports on Tuesday night.

Shaqiri was heavily linked with a move to Merseyside last month but with the Swiss international at the World Cup, no progress had been made.

The 26-year-old reportedly has a release clause of between £12 million and £13.5 million.

The Telegraph‘s Midlands reporter John Percy writes that “Liverpool have opened talks with Stoke over a deal” but adds that the release clause is more than the widely reported £12 million.

He adds that the deal should be “sorted this month.”

Presumably, with a release clause – whatever the fee is – the negotiations should be pretty straightforward.

It was claimed last month that Liverpool had already met with the player’s representatives so a move could happen quickly.

Jurgen Klopp likes to have new signings in early so they can be integrated into the squad, and having Shaqiri in time for the Reds’ trip to America at the end of next week would be very beneficial.

Xherdan Shaqiri

 Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri looks dejected after missing a chance against West Ham United during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Position: Right Winger
Nationality: Swiss
Age: 26
Potential fee: £12m (release clause)
First reported by: Guardian
Also reported by: Times, Mirror, Mail
Previously linked: In 2014.

Adding Shaqiri would give Liverpool greater options in attack and provide much-needed cover for Mohamed Salah in particular.

Shaqiri played four games for Switzerland at the World Cup, scoring one and assisting another. Last season he scored eight goals and assisted seven despite playing in a poor Stoke side that was ultimately relegated.

Liverpool will be hoping that he can be as successful a signing as Andy Robertson was after he joined from relegated Hull City last summer.

Shaqiri is not seen as an alternative to Nabil Fekir, and Jurgen Klopp is said to still be seeking a new No.10 to play in a more central role in attacking midfield.

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Jurgen Klopp defends Loris Karius after latest error in Tranmere 2-3 Liverpool

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 00:29

Loris Karius was culpable for Tranmere Rovers’ first goal in Liverpool’s 3-2 friendly win on Tuesday, but Jurgen Klopp deflected blame from the ‘keeper.

The Reds were 3-0 up and cruising when Ollie Norburn’s driven free-kick escaped Karius’ clutches and fell into the path off Jonny Smith for a tap-in.

Another strike from Amadou Soukouna reduced the deficit further, and Karius left the field with his head bowed, consoled by James Milner as he walked towards the tunnel.

In a flashback from his performance in the Champions League final in May, this performance did little to convince the 25-year-old’s detractors.

But speaking to reporters after the game, Klopp held up mistakes from Milner and Pedro Chirivella in the buildup to Soukouna’s goal in an effort to defend his No. 1:

“It is obvious, we don’t have to hide it. Yes, he could have made that save, even though the ugly shot was not easy to deal with.

“I’ve seen this situation 500 times at least in my life—bam, against the chest, going down. No one likes that in these situations.

“No one likes that goal but if we talk about the second goal I think it was Milly’s fault together with Pedro.

“Two brilliant footballers make this mistake, which one was the bigger? I would say the second goal but we don’t talk about that.

“Now Loris concedes that goal but we cannot start the story always after each mistake.

“Mistakes will happen. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, he doesn’t like it but they do happen so let’s carry on and make the best of all these situations to learn from it.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius looks dejected during a preseason friendly match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Klopp also offered his stance on how to aid Karius’ recovery from Kyiv, insisting that while media scrutiny was inevitable it would not improve the situation:

“You can all stop it immediately—promise? You never ask again, that would be one little step.

“Yeah, it will probably happen for a while until he has a few fantastic games, that is how the situation is. We cannot change that.

“Our job is to perform and you do what you do and that is part of the deal.”

Little more could be expected from the manager after another difficult night for Karius, but it can certainly be debated whether this is his genuine stance.

Liverpool are widely reported to have pursued another goalkeeper this summer, with Roma’s Alisson the primary target, but a failure to secure a deal has left Klopp to keep faith with his compatriot.

Karius was ironically cheered when he made simple catches at Prenton Park, and the anxiety within the crowd following his error highlighted a mountain he needs to climb in order to succeed.

It is questionable whether the German can do so, but with Danny Ward pulling off an excellent save in the first half Klopp could be considering handing a bigger opportunity to the Welshman.

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LIVE: Tranmere vs. Liverpool – Follow the Reds’ pre-season friendly here

Tue, 10/07/2018 - 20:45

Liverpool visit Tranmere Rovers in their second pre-season friendly of the summer on Tuesday night; we’re live to bring you the latest from Prenton Park.

Tranmere vs. Liverpool is live on LFCTV and kicks off at 7:30pm (BST). Our coverage updates automatically and is brought to you by Henry Jackson.

Have your say on Twitter using @thisisanfield and @HenryJackson87.


First Half: Ward; Camacho, Phillips, Klavan, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Lallana; Kent, Ojo, Solanke

Second Half: Karius; Clyne, Gomez, Chirivella, Moreno; Milner, Woodburn, Jones; Wilson, Origi, Sturridge

Coverage loads below (App users click here):

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Confirmed Liverpool lineup vs. Tranmere: Fabinho & Keita start together for first time

Tue, 10/07/2018 - 20:03

Jurgen Klopp has named two different XIs for Liverpool’s second friendly of pre-season, as they take on League Two side Tranmere Rovers tonight.

As with Saturday’s 7-0 thrashing of Chester, the Reds will share duties over the 90 minutes in order to build fitness at the beginning of a gruelling nine-game summer.

But struck by injuries to Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Ings and Rhian Brewster and with Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum not considered, Klopp’s options were limited.

Danny Ward starts in goal, behind a back four of Rafa Camacho, Nathaniel Phillips, Ragnar Klavan and Andy Robertson.

In midfield, Fabinho will take his place in the No. 6 role, joined by Naby Keita and Adam Lallana in a possible 4-3-3 formation.

With the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane absent until the tour of the United States, Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo and Dominic Solanke line up in attack.

Liverpool will rotate at half-time at Prenton Park, with Joe Gomez, James Milner and Harry Wilson among those prepared to take over.

Liverpool first-half XI: Ward; Camacho, Phillips, Klavan, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Lallana; Kent, Ojo, Solanke

Liverpool second-half XI: Karius; Clyne, Gomez, Chirivella, Moreno; Milner, Woodburn, Jones; Wilson, Origi, Sturridge

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Harry Wilson signs new long-term contract with Liverpool FC

Tue, 10/07/2018 - 19:04

Liverpool winger Harry Wilson has signed a new long-term contract with the club, just six months after putting pen to paper on his previous deal.

Wilson has been with the Reds since the mid-2000s, and has risen through the academy ranks to the fringes of Jurgen Klopp‘s first team.

After a successful half-season on loan with Hull City last time out, the 21-year-old Welshman netted a brace in his first appearance of pre-season to help Liverpool win 7-0 at Chester.

With speculation mounting over another temporary spell away from Merseyside, the club have confirmed Wilson has agreed an extension to his contract.

He is reported to have signed a five-year deal, which will keep him at Anfield until at least 2023, though he is now expected to leave on loan.

Twelve clubs in the Championship have already contacted Liverpool over a possible season-long move, including relegated Swansea City, Stoke City and West Brom.

Hull have also expressed an interest, but after his productive run at the KC Stadium he should be targeting a switch to a club with promotion aspirations.

Wilson could even be ready for a spell at a bottom-half Premier League side, though the Reds will be eager to ensure regular game time as Klopp earmarks him for a future role in his side.

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Curtis Jones during a preseason friendly match between Chester FC and Liverpool FC at the Deva Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda) Divock Origi

Speaking on the announcement of his contract, Wilson insisted his “short-term focus is to keep trying to impress the manager day in, day out in training.”

“[I want to] keep trying to score goals, [get] assists, help the team out and then I’m not looking too far beyond that,” he explained.

“I feel if I do well enough here, everything else will take care of itself.”

Liverpool have already allowed Ovie Ejaria to join Rangers on loan, while Adam Bogdan will see out the remainder of his Reds contract during his season with Hibernian.

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Paulo Dybala move ruled out as Jurgen Klopp continues search for attacking midfielder

Tue, 10/07/2018 - 13:45

Reports linking Liverpool with a move for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala have been rubbished, despite Jurgen Klopp still eyeing a new No. 10.

A deal for Lyon attacking midfielder Nabil Fekir broke down at the beginning of June, and speculation over an alternative has dampened while the World Cup plays out.

One name touted with a switch to Anfield in recent weeks, however, is Dybala, whose availability is suggested to have stemmed from Cristiano Ronaldo’s proposed move to Turin.

Argentine outlet Futbol Mercado claimed Liverpool were “willing to pay €90 million” for the 24-year-old, who has scored 68 goals in 140 games since leaving Palermo for Juve in 2015.

The fee, around £80 million, would not have been unfeasible, while Dybala represents a top-level talent with considerable potential that would boost Klopp’s attacking options significantly.

But according to the Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce on Tuesday morning, Dybala is not on the Reds’ list of targets.

This comes despite Klopp’s priority in the market being a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who left for Barcelona in a £142 million deal in January.

NABIL FEKIR during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 game between Lyon and Villareal - First Round (Photo Stephane GUIOCHON/Maxppp/PA Images)

Though there remains hope an agreement for Fekir can be revived, Pearce adds that “there have been no further talks with Lyon and their club president Jean-Michel Aulas now expects him to stay put.”

Liverpool’s pursuit of Fekir highlights the blueprint of the player Klopp is searching for: a versatile, goalscoring attacking midfielder who can press, drive at defences and create chances.

There are few genuine alternative on the market, with the Reds claimed to have considered West Ham‘s Manuel Lanzini as a possibility prior to his long-term ACL injury.

Fekir is still at the World Cup with France, who play Belgium on Tuesday night to determine England’s potential opponents in Sunday’s final.

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