Reina happy in Liverpool, Touré and Papadopoulos linked with Reds

PEPE REINA has told Cadena Ser, a radio station in Spain, that although he finds reported interest from Barcelona “flattering”, there hasn’t been any contact he’s aware of and that he and his family are happy in Liverpool.

“I have three more years with Liverpool,” said the Reds keeper. “I’m satisfied, comfortable and my family are very happy. Rumours are difficult to control but it’s flattering when a club like Barca are interested in you. I don’t know if there has been contact between the clubs or with my agent. At the moment I don’t think there’s anything serious.

“I don’t know how long I’ve got left in football, what I do know is I want to enjoy what remains and feel appreciated and at Liverpool I have that.”

Reina’s time at Barcelona was before their recent return to dominance; he moved to Villareal in 2002: “The years I was in Barcelona were very good, I don’t have any bad feelings about not succeeding there. I played more than 50 games when I was less than 20, it helped me grow a lot. I would have liked to have played there more, of course, but there’s no need to over-dramatise things.”

Rumours about Reina’s future are likely to continue until the transfer window closes.

Meanwhile there are strong links between Liverpool and a number of possible new signings in defence. With Jamie Carragher retiring on Sunday and doubts about the futures of Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel there could be a break in the recent club policy of signing players 24 years old or younger with one signing decidely more veteran than Liverpool’s last bunch of signings.

That older player strongly linked to Anfield is Manchester City’s Kole Touré. The 32-year-old becomes a free agent this summer and is now reported to be set for a medical with Liverpool after his club’s post-season tour.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Schalke’s Greek international defender, is also being mentioned in reports today and the Liverpool Echo suggest Liverpool are willing to pay £12m for the 21-year-old.

20-year-old Tiago Ilori, of Sporting Lisbon, could sign for around £3m with 24-year-old Toby Alderweireld, of Ajax, also getting a mention in reports.

Merseyside Derby preview – could home advantage count once again?

THIS Sunday, the second Merseyside derby takes place at Anfield and with all seemingly lost for the home side and Everton harbouring slim hopes of qualifying for Europe next season, it could be one of the more meaningless recent games between the two sides. Despite the feeling that both teams’ campaigns are petering out, the upcoming match could be a classic.

Anfield is the venue for this weekend's Merseyside derby

Moyes to break habit of a lifetime

Throughout his time as Everton boss, two things have eluded David Moyes – silverware and an away victory against Liverpool. While they have a slight chance of making the Champions League places, he’ll want his side to do it, but poor form from some of his ‘star’ performers could see them consigned to Europa League football at best with a defeat.

Nikica Jelavic, for example, has been abysmal of late. He’s only scored once since the turn of the year, leaving team-mates Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini to pick up the pieces. On the other hand, Leighton Baines hasn’t been too bad and will want to impress before he inevitably joins a bigger, more ambitious club.

Luis who?

Luis Suarez won't be around to score goals for LFC this season

The suspension of Luis Suarez after yet another controversial incident was expected to see the offensive firepower of Liverpool seriously weakened. Fortunately, as the 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle United showed, they have others they can rely on including the improving Daniel Sturridge. He’s up against a better team this weekend, but he should have a few chances to get on the scoresheet.

Overall, the team without Suarez seems more cohesive and fluid, which is exactly what they could have done with earlier in the season. The likes of Jordan Henderson and Phillippe Coutinho have managed to impress in the past few months, and look like being key players in a couple of days’ time, not to mention for next season.

History in our favour

In the earlier fixture, a 2-2 draw was played out, although the Toffees have only won two of the last 10 meetings in all competitions. For the record, Liverpool have won five. The last time Everton won in the league was in the 1999/00 season, where they won 1-0. This was before Moyes arrived at Goodison Park and turned them into a borderline European-class side on a shoestring.

Liverpool are betting favourites to win the match at 20/21 with Ladbrokes. Home advantage will count for a lot, as will the form of Sturridge and Coutinho. However, we have a little less to play for than Everton, and they seem to have got over a recent bad patch, losing just one of their last eight games, although the Reds have lost just once in nine league outings.

Whatever the result may be, there could be a chance of a red card being shown at some point. The Merseyside derby has seen an astonishing 20 sending-offs since the formation of the Premier League in 1992. That’s more red cards than any other fixture in Premier League history, amounting to nearly one in every two matches!