Atletico Madrid join Alisson race


Atletico Madrid will launch a move for AS Roma goalkeeper this Summer.

That’s if they lose current number one Jan Oblak, according to a report by Mundo Deportivo – in which they claim that the Spanish club have identified the Brazil international as the ideal replacement.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been credited with a long standing interest in bringing the former Internacional stopper to Anfield at the end of the season.

But the race is hotting up as Roma consider the kind of fee they will demand to allow him to make an exit from the Stadio Olimpico this Summer.

Big spending giants Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain are both said to be closely monitoring his situation as they line up offers to prise him away from Italy when the season ends.

Recent reports have claimed that Real Madrid could offer as much as £70m to sign him – which would usually be too much for rivals Atletico to rival, but they would have plenty of money to play with if they lose Oblak.

Arsenal and Chelsea are both said to be keen on signing the Slovenian international – who has a release clause written in his contract with the La Liga club which says he can leave for £88m.

Liverpool have also been linked with a move for Oblak, who once had a brief trial at Anfield during his teenage years, but that fee is likely to be too high for the club to consider paying.

It looks like there could be a lot of keepers moving around the continent this Summer.

Wijnaldum gives graphic details of infection


Liverpool midfielder Goerginio Wijnaldum has given graphic details on the infection which forced him to miss games.

The Holland international, who is on duty with his country this week, sat out the matches against Newcastle United, West Ham United and FC Porto recently.

And he has gone into quite a high level of detail as to why!

“I was hit by a violent infection which caused me to lose weight.” he told De Telegraaf.

“I woke up one night and suffered from diarrhoea. The next morning I called the doctor who asked me if I could come to the club.

“There I was again bothered by my stomach and the doctor immediately sent me away. He was afraid that I would infect other players.

“It lasted for two weeks. After five days blood had already been taken from me, but it did not show what was there.

“Only after my faeces was examined did bacteria appear.

“Antibiotics made me sicker but then it got better. I’ve had to work on my fitness again.

“I have trained hard but on Saturday I noticed that I need rhythm for the way I want to play.

“It’s going better but I’m not as fit as before I got sick.” he finished.

Ronaldo wants Salah at Real Madrid


Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has given his approval for a bid to be made for Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

That’s the latest claim being made by Spanish outlet Don Balon, who are reporting that the Portugal international has told Los Blancos that he is happy for them to launch a move to land the Egypt international.

Speculation has been rife that the Spanish champions are going to try and get a deal done this Summer for the twenty-five year old to swap Anfield for the Bernabeu.

But Liverpool are determined not to lose another key player to one of the Spanish giants after seeing the likes of Luis Suarez, Xabi Alonso, Philippe Coutinho and Javier Mascherano all make moves to La Liga.

Salah has given no indication that he will seek a move away from the club this Summer following what is turning out to be a fantastic debut season after his move from AS Roma last year.

Reports this week have claimed that the club are going to reject any interest in the forward after his sensational start to life as a member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

And the German himself is highly unlikely to give the green light to the club allowing Salah to make an exit after just one single season in his squad.

So it seems that Cristiano Ronaldo is not going to get what he wants this time – if there is actually any truth to these claims that is.

Liverpool outsiders in Bale race


Liverpool look unlikely to be the club who bring Real Madrid star Gareth Bale back to the Premier League.

The odds of the Wales international moving to Anfield this Summer have slipped back to 33/1 following speculation that he could be a target at the end of the season for the club.

Instead, it is Chelsea and Manchester United who are rated as the teams most likely to land the former Tottenham Hotspur winger as he considers a move away from the Bernabeu, according to the Daily Star.

Reports have linked Bale with a switch to Anfield to become part of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, but it has seemed highly unlikely all along given the combination of his age, price, wages and fitness.

Manchester City are rated at 20/1 to bring him back to England, while a return to Spurs is priced at 12/1 – and a switch to join their rivals Arsenal is deemed far less likely at odds of 66/1.

Chelsea and United lead the way with odds of 6/1 and that seems about right given their financial circumstances and track records of paying hefty transfer fees for players who might just be past their best.

Most of the talk around a transfer to Anfield is likely to be down to Real Madrid’s apparent interest in signing Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, with a part-exchange deal mooted in the Spanish press.

Can looking to join “very big club”


Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has revealed that he has not made a decision on where he will be playing next season.

The Germany international is out of contract this Summer and will not be short of offers if he decides to end his spell at Anfield by moving to another club.

Italian champions Juventus have been strongly linked with a bid to sign him, but speculation that he could move to Serie A has cooled in the past month or so as other links have emerged.

A return to his homeland to play for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich again has been touted and he refused to rule out the prospect.

“Sure, the Bundesliga would interest me, why not? Although I must say honestly that the level has waned in recent years.” he told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“The Premier League has the power to spend more money on players than the Bundesliga. This is very, very important for players.

“I have the self-confidence to say that my qualities are sufficient to play in a very big club next season.

“That’s what every footballer dreams of because that’s the reward for the work.

“I’m doing great in England. The Spanish league is also attractive. The same applies to Germany, where tactics are concerned, and the Italian club football, which has recently caught up.

“Incidentally, the same applies to France, this league has now established itself as one of the best in Europe.

“Therefore, I do not want to exclude anything because I do not know what I will do from the summer.” he finished.

There is also speculation that he could stay in England to sign for another Premier League side, with Manchester City said to be interested in a deal to take him to The Etihad.

What do Liverpool need to do to push for next year’s title?


Liverpool appear to have most of the ingredients for a concerted push for Premier League glory following a series of impressive displays in domestic and European competition this season, but earning premium silverware remains elusive for now.

Boss Jürgen Klopp has suggested that the club must “become winners” in order to make the leap from perennial top-four finishers to league title winners. The German claims that “being aggressive” will be fundamental to any success, and it is one of the reasons why the Reds are always a joy to watch. It can be argued that a positive mentality may need to be tempered by a more pragmatic approach during some games, as Liverpool are still prone to conceding poor goals in vital moments.

There is no doubt that Klopp’s team have the firepower to support a Premier League title push after scoring 73 goals in the first 31 games of the season and putting five past Porto in the Champions League. Liverpool’s attacking play has been breathtaking this season, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino thriving in their respective roles across the forward line, and it is one of the reasons why it will be worth placing a bet at on the Reds during the coming months.

Ensuring that Salah remains at Anfield will be key to any title aspirations. That’s just how good the Egyptian has been during his debut season at the club. The 25-year-old’s impressive four-goal haul against Watford in mid-March underlined his incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time, while his 28 strikes in the top flight is already a record for a Liverpool player in his first season.

New signings will need to be made to ensure that a platform is built for improvement for the 2018/19 campaign. Naby Keïta will join the club from RB Leipzig in July, and there is already excitement in the city that the 22-year-old could be the player to reinvigorate the central-midfield area. Klopp has also stated that he is ready to spend big to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United after completing a £75 million deal for Virgil van Dijk in January.

Klopp said recently: “This club will do what we have to do. The owners are ready for that. That was the sign for it but it doesn’t mean we only spend in this [expensive] category. It’s all about timing, doing the right thing at the right moment. If the player is the right player this club will pay big money.”

Liverpool perhaps need another star player or two in defensive positions, with a readymade replacement for Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet and an upgrade on Dejan Lovren a possibility. The back five has been an area of concern for some time now, but the arrival of Van Dijk will hopefully herald the start of a new era of plentiful clean sheets, record-breaking goal-scoring, and EPL title wins.

Kewell backs Salah for Ballon d’Or


Former Liverpool winger Harry Kewell has backed Mohamed Salah as a contender for the Ballon d’Or award for 2018.

The Egypt international has been in sensational scoring form for the club since his arrival from AS Roma last Summer and Crawley Town boss Kewell believes he could carry it on to claim the prize.

“People are saying about Player of the Year, but I’d even go that next step.” he is quoted by KingFut.

“If he was to have a fantastic World Cup, gets a couple of goals and plays well, and then continues again next season, why not go for the Ballon d’Or?

“He’s got the goals, I don’t see why he couldn’t win it.

“It’s a part of the game that players believe they can do, but when you get someone who can actually dribble, obviously the best is Messi, who can run at defenders and be able to chop and change on a dime, and Salah can do this, you just can’t stop it.

“That’s the key with Salah – he drives at people, he’s chopping, turning, dribbling and people just don’t know how to deal with him.” he finished.

Only Barcelona megastar Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo have won the prize over the past decade, so Salah will have his work cut out beating those two to it this year.

Salah will not be available for sale


Liverpool will refuse offers for Mohamed Salah this Summer.

That’s according to The Times, who are reporting that only Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona can afford the kind of money it would take to change the situation.

Brazil international Neymar made a move last Summer which changed the landscape of the transfer market and that has seen Salah’s value rise massively after his impact at Anfield this season.

Paris Saint German paid Barcelona around £200m to sign Neymar and that saw player prices rise dramatically – including that of Philippe Coutinho, who swapped Anfield for the Camp Nou in a deal worth a reported £145m in January.

Liverpool paid what now looks a modest fee of £37m to bring the Egypt international back to the Premier League from Serie A club AS Roma before Neymar made his move and it is looking a better deal with each goal.

Salah has now scored thirty-six goals so far this season, following his four goal haul in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Watford at Anfield and that has seen interest in his services increase.

The article reports that both Manchester City and Manchester United know that Liverpool would point blank refuse to do business with them if they made a move for Salah, so he would not be staying in England should he leave the club.

But it looks highly unlikely that the twenty-five year old will be pushing for an exit after just one season with the club – and Jurgen Klopp would not be keen on letting another star player walk out of the door.

A report from ESPN also claims that Salah has no release clause in his contract.

Their Liverpool correspondent, Glenn Price, has written that “a source” has informed them that there is no release fee set in his deal with the club.

Liverpool’s free transfer signings


Liverpool could lose Germany international Emre Can on a free transfer at the end of the season if the midfielder decides against signing a contract extension with the club. Everyone connected with the club would be disappointed to see a player of his value, reputation and potential make an exit with the club recouping nothing for his services. But we have been the beneficiaries of free transfers in the past.

So here we take a look at what happened when the club signed players on freebies…

Markus Babbel

When the club completed the signing of Markus Babbel from Bayern Munich on a Bosman free transfer back in 2000, it was seen as quite the coup. He had attracted bids from Real Madrid and Manchester United before making the move to Anfield. Some thought his best years were behind him, but he went on to be a key component in Gerard Houllier’s treble winning side of 2000/01. He added those trophies to the four Bundesliga titles, two German cups and UEFA Cup he had won with Bayern. He was also a part of the German national side which claimed the European Championship title at Euro 96 in England. He would have gone on to make many more appearances for the club had he not contracted the debilitating Guillan-Barre syndrome in 2001. It left him in a wheelchair for a while and put the skids on his Anfield career. He never recaptured his best form and was loaned to Blackburn Rovers before returning to German football with VfB Stuttgart. A contender for the best right-back the club has had during the modern era.

Jari Litmanen

The Finland international grew up supporting the club, but didn’t manage to realise his dream of represting Liverpool until signing in January 2001 on a free transfer from Barcelona. He had made his name as the star player in the great Ajax side of the nineties before leaving them for the La Liga giants on a Bosman deal in 1999. Roy Evans had tried to bring him to Anfield previously, but wasn’t afforded the required funds to get the deal done. Gerard Houllier subsequently attempted to bring him in when his Ajax contract expired, but was beaten to the punch by Barcelona. Louis Van Gaal was in charge at the Camp Nou at that time and the two were reunited when he followed his former coach to Spain. But things took a turn for the worse when Van Gaal was sacked and Litmanen was dropped from the team. He was able to finally head to Anfield less than two years after joining the Catalans. But things didn’t turn out as he would have hoped, despite a promising start. Houllier opted to use him sparingly, despite heralding him as a “world class” talent upon signing him. Litmanen decided to call it quits and headed back to Holland to rejoin Ajax in 2002.

Gary McAllister

The Scotland international arrived at the club in the Summer of 2000 at the ripe old age of thirty-five. It was a surprise deal to most onlookers as he left Coventry City to move to Anfield, but few doubted it was the right thing to do when he left just two years later to become player-manager of his former club. McAllister added experience, nous and class to a young Liverpool side in need of just that. It was a masterstroke by Gerard Houllier to bring the veteran midfielder in and it paid off for the Frenchman. McAllister made a big contribution as Liverpool won three cups and qualified for the Champions League for the 2001/02 campaign. His last ditch free-kick at Goodison Park to seal a 3-2 win over Everton will go down in folklore, along with his penalty against Barcelona to beat the Spanish side in the UEFA Cup semi-finals. He had a short lived spell as a coach at the club under Brendan Rodgers in 2015 and will forever be remembered as a legend at Anfield.

Joe Cole

The England international arrived at Anfield in the Summer of 2010 soon after Roy Hodgson was appointed to succeed Rafa Benitez as manager. Many supporters had high hopes for the former Chelsea midfielder, but the tone was well and truly set when he was sent off against Arsenal in the opening Premier League match of the season. He never looked capable of recapturing his best form and had a similar fate to that of his manager when he was loaned to French club Lille a year later. He ultimately left to make a permament return to boyhood club West Ham United in January 2013. Few were sad to see his Anfield career come to an end.

Craig Bellamy

The Wales international had already played for the club when he came back from Manchester City on a free transfer. Kenny Dalglish, who was having his second spell in charge of the club, decided it made sense to re-sign the striker on deadline day in August 2011 and it proved a good decision. He scored the goal which sent the club to the 2011/12 League Cup final when he notched against former club City at Anfield. He also provided the assist for Andy Carroll to head the winner against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final. Liverpool won the League Cup final, but were beaten in the FA Cup by Chelsea. Cardiff City were the beaten finalists in the League Cup and Bellamy went on to return to the Welsh club at the end of that season.

Kolo Toure

The Ivory Coast international centre-back was another free transfer signing from Manchester City. He arrived at the club in the Summer of 2013 following the retirement of Jamie Carragher to add some experience to the defence. He signed a two year deal and later signed a one year extension to continue his spell at Anfield into the 2015/16 season. The sacking of Brendan Rodgers didn’t mean an end to his time at the club, as Jurgen Klopp kept him around until the end of that season. Toure was drafted in to start the Europa League final against Sevilla, which the club lost 3-1, following Mamadou Sakho’s suspension. But the veteran defender was the best player that night and did not deserve to be on the losing side. He was, however, subsequently released and followed Rodgers north of the border to sign for Celtic, where he is now a coach following his retirement last year.

Boudewijn Zenden

Holland international Zenden arrived at the club on a free transfer deal in the Summer of 2005 from Middlesbrough. He had impressed for the Premier League club following a spell with Chelsea and went on to play in the 2007 Champions League final for the club, which resulted in a 2-1 loss against AC Milan in Athens. His contract was not renewed after that game, however, and he went on to sign for Marseille on a free transfer before returning to English football for a brief spell with Sunderland.

Robbie Fowler

This will probably be the free transfer signing most Liverpool will remember the most fondly. One of the biggest fan favourites the club has ever seen, Fowler left to join Leeds United in 2001 following a strained relationship with manager Gerard Houllier. Few thought that he would ever return to the club, especially as his goalscoring form had declined after joining Manchester City from Leeds. But Rafa Benitez decided to bring him back to the club in January 2006 and the decision was met with jubilation by supporters. He made a false start on his second debut against Birmingham City when he had a goal ruled out for offside, but he finally got off the mark a month later in the 5-1 midweek win at Anfield over Fulham – the same club he scored his first goal for the club against. He went on to score goals against West Brom, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers to help earn a one year extension to his contract. He only made six league starts in his final season with the club, though he did score his first Champions League goals for the club in a 3-2 loss against Galatasaray. He captained the side on his final appearance against Charlton Athletic in May 2007. He signed a two year contract with Cardiff City that Summer.

James Milner

Milner was another player to join on a free transfer from Manchester City when he signed in the Summer of 2015. He decided to call time on his spell at The Etihad in order to seek more regular football, particularly in the centre of midfield, and was given assurances by Brendan Rodgers that he could get this at Anfield. The Northern Irishman was subsequently sacked a matter of months later, but successor Jurgen Klopp has kept the former England international as part of his squad and he remains vice-captain to skipper Jordan Henderson to this day. He has since scored against City and been booed by his former supporters, which didn’t seem to bother him in his celebrations. What the future holds for the thirty-two year old remains to be seen. He is on relatively high wages for a player of his age and standing at the club, but his versatility and work-rate remain useful traits for Klopp to utilise.

Can Lallana reclaim a place in the team?


Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana looks to have a tougher task on his hands to hold down a spot in Jurgen Klopp’s team going forward.

The England international is still coming back from an injury that has wiped out most of the season for him and he will be hoping to get enough football under his belt to claim a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI at the World Cup. But he won’t be the only midfielder at Anfield with that aim. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the club from Arsenal last season and has improved his form a great deal since his first few appearances for the club. Not only does he represent an obstacle to Lallana at club level, but he is also a rival for a place in the national side. Lallana will also see RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita arrive on 1st July and the Guinea international is certain to start next season as a first-choice midfielder in Klopp’s side. That will only mean increased competition for a place in the team and Lallana could see his standing in the squad drift from being a regular to a more peripheral role. The former Southampton man was a key player for Klopp during the 2016/17 season, in which he contributed eight goals and seven assists in the Premier League. But he has suffered a fairly serious injury since then and is in danger of becoming yesterday’s news.

The 0-0 stalemate against Porto was a fine example of how Lallana could struggle next season. He was utilised in a more advanced position, similar to the one he initially played for the team after signing, and he looked too slow for that role. His best hope is to make a claim for himself to return to the side in the link position between attack and midfield, which Philippe Coutinho occupied until his exit in January. But Lallana doesn’t appear to offer enough creativity or goal threat to be a genuine long-term contender. His goal return and assist contribution last season was decent, but it was his energy and pressing which was most valuable to the team. Klopp has tweaked the way he sets out his side since the Brazilian joined Barcelona and there is less of a gap where the playmaker used to ply his trade. Lallana was never going to be a like for like replacement, but he had the chance to stake a claim for the spot in the side and it hasn’t so far worked out for him since he came back into the side. Perhaps his frustration with his situation was shown when he was sent off for manhandling an opponent while playing for the under-23 side to gain some sharpness.

That dismissal could also have been due to frustration with his lack of mobility. Lallana has never been a fast player, but he turns thirty in May and that is never going to be plus in his favour with Klopp. The German has always tended to keep the average age down in his squads and the current one is no exception. At twenty-six, Virgil Van Dijk is a relatively old signing for Klopp, especially when considering the price tag. But he has almost four years on Lallana and hasn’t reached his peak yet. It could be strongly argued that Lallana has gone past his now, especially in this system, and he may never again be a first-choice player at the club. He will become one of just four players in their thirties in the squad in May, along with James Milner, Ragnar Klavan and Simon Mignolet – and none of those look assured of anything more than a potential future as bit-part players at Anfield. Links to Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi won’t bode well for Lallana either, given the fact the Nigeria international is just twenty-one years of age. All of this doesn’t mean that Lallana will be sold this Summer, far from it, but it shows that he is likely to see his game time reduce going forward and he will take on a role similar to that of Milner.

The midfield has been highlighted as the area which needs to the most improvement in the Summer. And many will agree with that sentiment. Emre Can looks increasingly likely to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season and Lallana won’t be able to offer cover for the German. They play different roles and if Can does end up moving on, another player will likely be signed to cover the loss. Lallana is more likely to be competing with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita and Wijnaldum for a slightly more advanced midfield role. He is likely to lose out in the battle with those younger players, particularly the first two, for starts next season. He hasn’t made a big claim for a place of late, with no goals or assists contributed so far this season. His biggest input to the first-team so far this season was winning the penalty against Everton at Anfield in the FA Cup third round win. Aside from that, it’s hard to pinpoint many moments where he has positively impacted on a game for us.

In his defence, he has been coming back from injury and is still looking for match sharpness – and the level of performance expected here is physically demanding. But maintaining that lack of impact is only going to go against him in an era where hitting the ground running is a major asset for a player. Klopp has shown a lot of faith in Lallana and is unlikely to give up on him any time soon, but he will need to start repaying that faith with some goals and assists before the season is over. We are still in a fight for a top four spot and have a huge tie coming up against Manchester City. David Silva has shown that a lack of pace and mobility is not an immovable obstacle. The Spain international is thirty-two years old now and is an integral part of one of the most mobile and intense sides the Premier League has seen. So precedent is there.

Many supporters started the season with Lallana in their own first-choice sides for the campaign, but many would now favour a midfield trio without his presence. That of course shows how fickle football fans are in the modern era, but the game moves faster than ever and it isn’t without reason that he would now be a backup player in the minds of many a Red. Ultimately it is only important what Klopp thinks, but Lallana isn’t starting many games and looks well short of the level required to do so regularly. Perhaps his manager has afforded him the rest of the season as a sharpening exercise and will use him more next season, but the odds of that aren’t favourable.

While it is clearly a shame for Lallana, on a personal level, that the team has evolved and his place in it is under scrutiny, it is of overall benefit to the club that Klopp has not allowed things to stand still. Long may the improvements continue and debates over who should play carry on. It’s always better to have options than teams which pick themselves.