Reds target River Plate striker

Lucas-Alario

Liverpool are interested in a move for River Plate striker Lucas Alario, according to sources, writes Sam May.

Alario, 23, has been in fine form for Marcelo Gallardo’s side, since his arrival from Colon, scoring seven goals and making three assists in 16 appearances.

Having helped River to win the Copa Libertadores, the lifelong Boca Juniors fan, scored the winner in the Club World Cup semi-final against Sanfrecce Hiroshima back in December, before his side were beaten in the final by Barcelona.

He has good movement, reading of the game and is good at goal poaching. It his quick feet, his opportunism and range of finishing which seen him score a hatrick against Nueva Chicago in the Primera last September.

Born in Sante Fe Province, the young prospect, who is rated as one of the best in the country, but has been watched previously by Liverpool, with chief scout Barry Hunter keeping a close eye on him earlier this year.

Joining former club Colon aged 16, he moved to River in 2015. He is said to be worth £9.5 million. Jürgen Klopp is expected to bolster his attacking options this summer, and it seems Alario could be the man the Reds turn to, with Christian Benteke out of favour and Divock Origi out injured.

Can Daniel Sturridge be Liverpool’s Main Man?

Online Soccer Betting enthusiasts believe that Liverpool’s chances of success probably rest on the shoulders of Daniel Sturridge. With Divock Origi sidelined, Sturridge might be the hand that pushes Jurgen Klopp’s side through to Europa League victory.

The Liverpool striker’s confidence was most likely boosted by the two goals he scored a mere seven minutes after coming off the bench during the game with a clearly hapless Everton.

sturridge

Running swiftly between defenders before neatly putting the ball into the net, Sturridge’s fiftieth goal in sixty-nine starts for the Reds bodes well for his future with Liverpool; though, whether he can shrug off the words of Sportsmail’s Jamie Carragher remains to be seen.

Following Liverpool’s 4-0 win, Carragher’s salient comments, while appreciating his skill, encouraged Sturridge to question why he wasn’t in the first team. Could the fact that he isn’t playing stumble the soccer star’s belief in his abilities, especially considering the fact that Klopp has overlooked Sturridge ahead of three crucial games in three weeks, this including the game against Borussia Dortmund.

Divock Origi might have struggled under Brendan Rodgers but Klopp’s tutelage has allowed the young player to flourish and this has been to Sturridge’s detriment.

The England International probably didn’t think he would be spending so much time on the bench. With Origi out of the picture, sidelined after Ramiro Funes Mori’s horrendous tackle, Sturridge finally has the opportunity he has been starving for to finally shine.

Take into account Christian Benteke’s absence and there is nothing stopping Sturridge from finally stretching his legs. If Sturridge is half the player people believe him to be, then he will take Carragher’s words to heart and seize this opportunity ahead of the European Championship in France.

Once heralded as England’s top player, Sturridge cannot afford to not show up during matches, especially considering Klopp’s determination to maintain his rather stubborn stance regarding the striker.

The manager was quick to temper the hopes of Sturridge fans, assuring them that he had no intention of throwing Sturridge onto the pitch every single week, not with the fragility he seems to perceive in the player.

Admitting that Sturridge is indeed in great shape, Klopp doesn’t seem to believe in Sturridge’s ability play from the first to the last minute in every game, insisting on several occasions that he would do what he thought best for each game, which clearly means using Sturridge in the smallest doses possible.

One cannot deny the fact that Sturridge is clearly facing trying times. He is obviously desperate to make his mark at Liverpool, but whether he can wiggle free of Klopp’s doubts remains to be seen.

Sturridge has been keen to emphasize his minutes-per-goal ratio. Scoring every 101 minutes he plays this season (which is thirty minutes less than Origi, Benteke, and the rest), Sturridge believes Klopp should make more frequent use of his skills.

Klopp doesn’t have nearly as many options as he seems to believe. Liverpool is no longer pushing the Brazilian Roberto Firmino forward, and for good reason. Considering all the complaints he has raised about players that simply do not fit Liverpool’s invigorating style until Danny Ings returns, Klopp might have no other choice but to rely on Sturridge to give Liverpool the firepower it needs to finish in the top six, possibly even winning the Europa trophy in the process.

In memory of 96 football fans

The Hillsborough memorial in Liverpool city centre

27 years ago today thousands of Liverpool supporters left home and made the journey to South Yorkshire to see their club play Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium.

96 of them never returned home.

With the jury now out considering the evidence at the fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 we are limited as to what we can say about what happened that day, or about what happened in the days, months and years that followed, but we can say this:
Read more

LFC former players set to honour more Liverpool greats

The 2016 5Times Liverpool Former Players Association Gala Awards Dinner takes place early next month in Liverpool city centre

11206790_382449558629674_3652563462887110120_o

Reds legends past and present will be in attendance at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool on May 9th as the 5Times Liverpool Former Players Association hold their annual Gala Dinner, raising funds for charity whilst paying tribute to some of LFC’s most decorated and celebrated players.

Every year the event sees the club’s former players select their Player of the Season as well as picking new entrants to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Much like the Association’s annual Christmas dinner, the event is well supported by players and staff from the club. Brendan Rodgers attended the dinner when he was manager and handed out awards, whilst current boss Jürgen Klopp surprised the attendees at the Christmas event when he made an unannounced appearance – despite it falling on a day where he was busy not only with training sessions ahead of a game but also his press and media duties.

11187170_382449581963005_1022438580272841406_o

Last season’s Awards Dinner was attended by members of the first team including Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Simon Mignolet, with Olympic medallist Beth Tweddle and comedian John Bishop amongst the guests on previous occasions. Fans are also invited to the event, which also raises funds for charity.

Gerrard’s attendance in 2015 was one of his last public appearances whilst still officially a Liverpool player and the former players wanted to mark the end of his amazing career by presenting him with a special honour. Handed over by the chairman of the 5Times Liverpool Former Players Association, John Aldridge, the ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone Award’ was in recognition of everything Gerrard did in that Red shirt over all those years. In many ways it served as a welcome gift to Steven as he joined the distinguished ranks of sportsmen who can proudly refer to themselves as former Liverpool players.

Similar thoughts were in the minds of the ex-players back in 2013 when another recent legend was about to bid farewell to the club he’d been at since childhood. Jamie Carragher was set to embark on what we now know turned out to be a very successful career working as an analyst for Sky Sports, but he must have felt quite reassured at the reception he got from the Legends he would soon be joining as a former player.

1978490_246308398910458_8426198850965585206_o

Carragher was inducted into the Liverpool FC Hall of Fame, picked for the honour by the ex-players, and went in as a representative for the decade starting in the year 2000.

This year will be the fourth in succession that the Legends pick out someone who made a difference in each decade from the sixties onwards.

The Hall of Fame entrants for the 1960s so far are Ron Yeats, Ian Callaghan and Ian St John, with Phil Thompson, Phil Neal and Chris Lawler honoured to represent the 1970s.

Ian Rush, John Barnes and Alan Kennedy represent the 1980s Liverpool era with Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jan Molby recognised for their efforts in the 1990s.

Completing the Hall of Fame are Jamie Carragher, as mentioned, along with fellow heroes of Istanbul Didi Hamann and Steven Gerrard.

The medal haul of all those legends is phenomenal.

5times-awards-list_a

Next month’s dinner will see the fourth set of entrants in the Hall of Fame but the former players are keeping their identities a very closely-guarded secret, even from those they have actually picked.

As Alan Kennedy said last year, after finding himself with a place for the 1980s, the honour was a huge surprise: “I’m on the committee!” he said. “They’ve gone behind my back – I was waiting for Alan Hansen to come in!”

The event helps 5Times in its quest to raise funds for charities close to the player’s hearts and forms part of a number of initiatives involving the former players over the course of each year. 257211_109195139288452_1050469571_oBy holding events like the Gala Dinner and by taking former players all around the world the Former Players Association keeps the Legends in touch with the fans and helps numerous good causes.

5Times Liverpool Former Players Association have taken players as far away as Australia and the West Coast of the USA as well as embarking on regular trips all over the UK and Ireland. It’s not just about formal dinners, the 5Times stage shows that have toured the world have all been priced at an affordable level meaning fans who lives miles away from Liverpool and who can otherwise only dream of meeting their heroes are given a real chance to get close to the Legends who made all those great stories happen.

All the 5Times events include auctions and raffles for special, rare and often unique prizes and help boost the funds raised for good causes.

When current boss Jürgen Klopp made that unexpected appearance at the last Christmas dinner he also gave the fundraising a massive boost. When he arrived he was asked to sign a Liverpool shirt which of course he gladly did. When this went up for auction he was taken aback at the fact it attracted a very generous bid of £1000.

klopp-with-robbie-and-aldo“Why don’t I sign some more?!” he asked – and so another four shirts were quickly rounded up for the manager to sign – and every single one raised another four-figure sum.

This year’s event is being held in honour of Liverpool’s ‘three lions’, the trio that represented England in their victorious 1966 World Cup campaign 50 years ago – Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan and the sadly recently departed Gerry Byrne.

When last year’s 1960s entrant into the Hall of Fame, Ian St John, collected his honour he humbly pointed to the quality of the teammates he had back then, not only Hunt, Callaghan and Byrne but also the likes of Tommy Lawrence, Ron Yeats, Peter Thompson and Tommy Smith. It was a squad became the blueprint for Liverpool teams for decades to come: “It was a fantastic team which set out how Liverpool would be for the next 50 years,” the Saint said.

“I was fortunate to play with some great lads,” he added.

11194422_382449395296357_390216258033666572_o

Some of those players from the 1960s were of course still around into the 1970s and Chris Lawler recalled the difference it made that everyone understood each other’s way of playing: “We all knew each other’s play,” said Lawler last year. “I spent my wedding night with Tommy Smith, he kept me awake with his snoring!” he laughed.

The players also select a Player of the Season each year and no explanation is needed as to why the winner of the 2013 and 2014 awards was selected, just to mention his name will suffice – Luis Suarez.

Last season was a difficult campaign for Liverpool and the former players would have had a tough job selecting a player of the season for a campaign most fans wanted to forget. They did pick one, Simon Mignolet, and although that might have surprised a few people the Legends felt they had good reason to pick him based on his turnaround – from the first half of the season where he was eventually dropped after much criticism to a second half where he kept numerous clean sheets.

One Legend said afterwards: “As former players judging these awards through a player’s eyes we appreciate how much of an achievement it is to go through some very tough times and to come back. Mignolet has been brilliant this second half of the season.”

11009858_382450068629623_1226614427609269867_o

Like the new entrants into the Hall of Fame, the former players are keeping the identity of their Player of the Season close to their chests but as Liverpool settle into a new era under a new manager they will have no shortage of candidates. Candidates who one day might just find themselves being referred to as Legends just like their predecessors.

Join the former players and their surprise guests at this year’s Gala Awards Dinner at the Hilton in Liverpool on May 9th. Tickets can be purchased through the 5Times Liverpool Former Players Association website at 5times.co.uk/dinner.

 

gala-dinner-1a

 

Who is Liverpool target Ethan Ampadu?

Untitled

Who is Ethan Ampandu? Sam May profiles the Exeter City wonderkid who is being targeted by a number of clubs, ahead of a summer move.

The talented teenager, 16, has been watched over 25 times by a few Premier League Clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

So who is he?

The young centre midfielder is the son of former West Brom, Swansea, Leyton Orient and Exeter City midfielder Kwame Ampadu, who also played for Republic of Ireland and is now part of the Arsenal Academy, as a coach.

He has a Welsh mother and has been involved in the England set-up, with the Three Lions keen on luring him. Having Ghanaian heritage, they are also said to be running the rule over the youngster.

It seems Arsenal and Manchester United do have the edge, with his father working in the academy, while Manchester United snapped up centre back Regan Poole back in September for £100,00 from Newport County, aged 16. Both will have a huge impact on his thinking.

It is understood Paul Tisdale’s side will receive compensation should the player depart, although Ampadu himself claims he would like to stay with the West Country club for now, to continue his studies.

Ampadu, who attends St Luke’s Science and Sports College, helped his side to consecutive Victory Shield wins in 2014 and 2015, captaining the Welsh side throughout.

Exeter have produced a number of exciting prospects over the years, with Matt Grimes joining Swansea in January 2015.

It is clear, Ampadu could move away from St James park this summer, so where would be the best move for the youngster who is seen as one of the best in the country?

Follow Sam on Twitter: @Sam95May

Reports: Allen and Ibe catch Watford’s eye

Liverpool have been strongly linked with Mario Gotze and Jonas Hector, but new players coming in means existing players going out and Watford could be the next destination for a couple of Reds first teamers.

 
Jordon Ibe and Joe Allen

Reports in Wednesday’s papers suggest Watford could be in for two of Liverpool’s first team players this summer as they look to strengthen ahead of their second season back in the top flight. According to the Guardian, Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe could become Hornets players at the end of this campaign.

Neither player is getting as much playing time for Liverpool as they would like, Joe Allen in and out of the side but unable to force his way past Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. Ibe, meanwhile, hasn’t started a league game for over two months, his last one in the dramatic away win against Norwich in January, and now seems to be finding himself behind Sheyi Ojo in Jurgen Klopp’s plans.

This lack of appearances has caught the attention of both their coaches at international level and may be enough to make Watford’s interest mutual.

Allen was awarded Man of the Match in Wales’s defeat to Ukraine and afterwards the Welsh boss Chris Coleman alluded to the midfielder’s difficulties getting those games for the Reds. “Joe’s a great player,” said Coleman. “I don’t use that term loosely. It’s unfortunate he’s not playing much for Liverpool but, for us, he’s irreplaceable.”

ibe-1321

Ibe, who is still only 20, was a second half substitute for England U21s last week but was sent off before the end of the game and boss Gareth Southgate suggested that might have been down to a lack of confidence stemming from not having the rhythm that regular games will bring.

“I think players, especially at Jordon’s age, go through peaks and troughs,” Southgate said. “He doesn’t look full of confidence at the minute and we have got to try and help him get to the level that we think we can achieve.

“He doesn’t look like he is in a rhythm. That’s disappointing for him but no reason that he can’t find it again.”

Southgate went on to compare Ibe’s situation – he’s now suspended for one of the U21 fixture to that of Reds team mate Andre Wisdom. Wisdom’s last appearance for the U21s saw him sent off and by the time he was eligible to play the manager had moved onto other players instead.

At 20 years of age Ibe has plenty of time left in him but being out of the side like this means he has a gamble to take this summer, as found on Grizzly Gambling, should Watford make a serious approach: Does he move south in the hope of more playing time or remain at Anfield and fight for the regular starting place he has already enjoyed?

joe-allen-jurgen-klopp

Allen has – unsurprisingly – often struggled to live up to the “Welsh Xavi” tag he was so foolishly given when he first signed for the Reds but under Klopp, in the games he has been given, he has shown he is a far more capable player than many give him credit for.

Ex-Reds striker Ian Rush has been impressed with Allen under Klopp and hopes Liverpool hang on to his fellow Welshman: “Joe’s frustrated by not being in the team,” Rush said.

“I’ve seen a lot of players who are happy on the bench, but the thing with Joe Allen is he’s not happy doing that. If he’s not happy then he might well want to move on.

“I think he can do a great job for Liverpool. When he came on against Northern Ireland that was the difference.

“I’ve noticed the last few times he’s played for Liverpool, he’s getting in scoring positions and getting the odd goal, which he hasn’t done before.

“The Euros will be big for him, to prove that he should be playing every week. For me, I hope that’s for Liverpool.”

Rush and Robbie

Rush, who will be on stage with fellow hitman Robbie Fowler in a Legends show tour that takes in cities including Glasgow this summer, says Allen knows where the back of the net is: “At the end of the day, he can score goals,” Rushie said. “The thing is with Brendan, he was happy to never give the ball way, to get the ball from the defence and move it around the midfield, but what I like about Joe is he knows to get a regular game these days he has to score goals.

“He’s done that a few times, Christian Benteke is knocking it down and there’s Joe in the six-yard box! He wasn’t doing that under Brendan.

“Playing for Wales, he looks really confident and that gives them a real boost.”

Allen will have 12 months left on his existing contract at the end of this season.

Top 10 players who could leave Liverpool this summer

jurgen-klopp-liverpool-new

With Kolo Toure and Jerome Sinclair all but certain to leave Anfield in the summer, Sam May takes a look at other potential players who could be heading through the Anfield exit door.

Christian Benteke

The 25-year old Belgium international has failed to live up to his £32.5 million price tag since joining from Aston Villa in the summer. Having had the chance to put the game out of sight against Southampton, he dragged the ball across the face of the goal, a miss that proved costly. Despite gaining confidence from his penalty at Crystal Palace, it is clear he doesn’t fit Liverpool’s style. The fans have been left frustrated by his recent displays and a move could be ideal for all parties. Having seen limited game time; a move could be the right choice for the player as he looks to recapture his form. Behind Sturridge and Origi, Benteke has previously been linked with a move to Tottenham as back up to Harry Kane, but whether this could happen in the summer is unknown.

Jordan Henderson

It would be seen as surprise to most Liverpool fans should he leave Anfield. It seems since taking over the armband from Reds’ legend Steven Gerrard, Henderson hasn’t been the player, fans would have been hoping for. Pressure of trying to live up to the expectations it seems. His performances have dipped and been disappointing of late. Liverpool need a leader in the middle of midfield, somebody who can take control, and be a game changer. With his relentless energy, being tenacity in the tackle and growing leadership skills, he’s a player who seems well equipped to perform in Klopp’s setup – just not as a captain. Recently linked with a £25 million move to Tottenham, it seems Liverpool could be persuaded to cash in on the 25 year-old in the summer. Klopp will see the qualities the England international adds to the team, although he will be acutely aware that if this is a side that is going to challenge for the top honours, many areas of the XI, including central midfield, need upgrading.

Martin Škrtel

Perhaps not the most popular man since his display against Southampton with many fans calling for the 31-year old to be axed. In the first half, the chase for Champions League football was on… then came on Martin Skrtel. By the end of the match, it was totally different. It wasn’t just the fact they had shipped two goals it was the fact the Reds’ lost the game. It was a nightmare return and 45 minutes for the defender, a day to forget. Despite this, we shouldn’t take away the fact; he has been one of the most solid defenders since arriving eight years ago from Zenit St. Petersburg, it’s a season too far. Having made his debut back in 2008 in the FA Cup against Havant and Waterlooville, the Slovakian defender has made over 300 appearances for the club. It seems time is running out for Skrtel. With the arrival of Joel Matip in the summer and another potential centre back, there could be no place for the long serving centre back. Tah? Süle? Subotic? These are just a couple of names Liverpool could target as his replacement.

Alberto Moreno

Spaniard Moreno has failed to live up to expectations since sealing a £12 million move from Sevilla in 2014. Scoring his first goal in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham that year – Liverpool fans thought they had a consistent and found a quality left back since John Arne Risse. Moreno does have something to offer, but he hasn’t lived to up what is required to make the grade at Anfield. He has blistering pace but commits needless fouls. Liverpool have recently been likened with many-left backs – but should Klopp sign 1. FC Köln Jonas Hector in the summer as his replacement? He would definitely be the perfect addition or rival Moreno for the left-back starting birth. He does however offer a balance to the equally forward-thinking Nathaniel Clyne on the opposite flank, and fits into Klopp’s style of play. No Liverpool player finds a team-mate with more deliveries into the box than Moreno, excluding corners. Should he be sold in the summer?

Jose Enrique

Almost a certainty to leave. Liverpool will look to offload the 30-year old Spaniard who is earning £65,000 a week. Recently, turning down a move to former club Newcastle it is not known where could move to in the summer. He has gone from being essential, to sporadic and has a mixed spell on Merseyside. With his contract expiring in June it’s not known whether he will find another club who will pay him the same wage. Jurgen Klopp had told Enrique that he wasn’t in his plans, but player himself decided to stay and try and fight for his place. Having signed in 2011 for £6 million by former manager and club legend Kenny Dalglish, he now finds himself a regular in the Under 21s, and behind Alberto Moreno and Brad Smith.

Adam Bogdan

Seen at the time as a good move, Bogdan has made some high profile and costly errors since arriving on Merseyside. Most noticeably against Exeter and Watford, he has found himself behind current number one, Simon Mignolet and Danny Ward. Having failed to take his chance when given, it’s seems the 26-year old Hungarian stopper is surplus to requirements and will look for a new club when the window re-opens. Many goalkeepers have been linked with the Reds’ including: Timo Horn, Loris Karius, Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, so it seems there isn’t a place for Bogdan.

Mario Balotelli

Having recently been linked with a move to West Ham, it seems Liverpool could look to offload misfit, Mario Balotelli. The 25-year old, endured a tough time on Merseyside after joining the club from AC Milan in 2014. Having been shipped out on-loan by former manager Brendan Rodgers, who brought him in, he still hasn’t hit the ground running in Serie A, making just 10 appearances, scoring three goals. His agent Mino Raiola recently stated that Klopp could revive his Liverpool, but whether that will happen is unclear.

João Carlos Teixeira

The 23-year old Portuguese attacking midfielder has recently been linked with a £12 million move to Fiorentina. Joining the Reds’ from Sporting Lisbon in 2012, he has had limited game time on Merseyside, becoming a fringe player. Having had spells with Brentford and Brighton on-loan, he was brought back to Liverpool hoping to revitalise his Anfield career. Many Liverpool fans hope he will be handed a deal in the summer, when his current contract runs-out. He has a lot to offer and needs to be given more of a chance it seems. Should Klopp keep him at Anfield?

Luis Alberto

Alberto made just nine appearances, since swapping Sevilla for Liverpool in 2013 in a £6.3 million deal. Brought in by Brendan Rodgers, he struggled to adapt to Premier League football and was shipped out on-loan to Malaga and Deportivo La Coruña, where he remains. He will return to pre-season training in the summer but could be moved on following the squad re-shuffle which is set to take place. Klopp will look to strengthen his midfield, and Alberto doesn’t fit the German’s style, a move seems very likely.

Andre Wisdom

It seems a move away from Anfield is very likely. The 22-year old defender who is currently on-loan at Norwich City joined the Reds’ in 2008 from Bradford City. There is no place in the squad for Wisdom and a permanent move to the Canaries could be possible in summer. Making 22 appearances before moving out on-loan, he will look to find a new club this summer, as Klopp looks to strength his side ahead of the new campaign.

 

Golden Götze – Why swapping Munich for Merseyside would be the best option

mario-gotze-cropped_ms4s8917rng71ed6nvnqbvoi3

From winning the World Cup with Germany, to claiming four Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, why swapping the Allianz Arena for Anfield would be a great move for all parties, writes Sam May.

Jurgen Klopp is keen on a re-union with Mario Götze, as the German boss looks to bolster his squad in the summer ahead of the new campaign.

Honoured as “one of the best talents Germany has ever had”, by Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer, the glowing midfield magician – would write a new chapter for the Reds, should he swap the Bundesliga for the Barclays Premier League.

A step in the right direction going forward should we say. The World Cup wizard, who scored the winning goal in the final in Brazil back in 2014 after beating Argentina, has suffered a frustrating time in Bavaria of late.

Born in Memmingen, the 23-year old playmaker is seen as future Ballon d’Or winner. The fact is, his style would be a key part in what Klopp is trying to create at Liverpool. Under his former manager Klopp, the young, creative attacking midfielder played a huge part in Dortmund’s previous title successes and was a linchpin in the middle of the midfield. Unpicking locks under pressure against crowded defenses is a specialty element to his game.

After breaking in to the side at Dortmund he showed why German football has found a rare and immense talent. His flare, technical awareness, composure on the ball was evident to those in the Yellow Wall.

His €37 million transfer to Bayern Munich in 2013 was a surprising one. Becoming Guardiola’s first signing; he became German Football’s most expensive transfer, until Mesut Özil joined Arsenal. Klopp claimed Götze wanted to work under the stewardship of tactician Guardiola, using that as the reason for his departure. His career at the Bundesliga champions has never really took off. Spaniard Guardiola hasn’t gambled or given him the chance he would have wanted.

The fact is, he needs to be playing week in week out to look sharp and avoid looking sluggish on the pitch. He needs an arm around him, which Klopp will give him. It would also help him to get back to his best – a reunion with his former mentor? Being a versatile player he can play on either the left or right wing, attacking midfield role as well as the false nine position. His blistering pace, dribbling skills, tenacious tackling and play making capabilities has seen him become one of the best young players in world football. He has made just 12 appearances in this campaign, netting four times and making two assists. Despite his glowing CV at such a young age – the “German Messi” is determined to continue his development.

So just were would he fit in at Liverpool?

Klopp’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation would be the perfect option for Götze. The Reds’ could continue to use shining star Roberto Firmino as a lone front man. He has made 37 appearances in all competitions to date, scoring nine goals and made nine assists. Some of Liverpool’s best displays have come when the 23-year old Brazilian has played at the tip of the attack. He impressed in the 4-1 win over Manchester City and is improving game by game. Moving Firmino would mean Götze would sit next to Coutinho. As the jury is still out on Benteke, moving Firmino could be a shrewd move. As Götze can play on the flanks, he can get between the lines of the fullbacks and get forward – this would also help Sturridge. James Milner, the two Brazilians and Jordan Ibe are options but Milner, Coutinho and Firmino like playing through the middle, so he could fit in there.

At 23, and the scorer of a World Cup winning goal, his confidence would rub off on the rest of the red men. Could Klopp secure his services?

Who is Jonas Hector?

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 07:  Jonas Hector of Koeln reacts during the Bundesliga match between Bayer Leverkusen and 1. FC Koeln at BayArena on November 7, 2015 in Leverkusen, Germany.  (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Reds are keen on a move for FC Cologne left-back Jonas Hector. He is seen as a possible replacement for Alberto Moreno, should the 23 year-old Spaniard be moved on in the summer. So just who is he?…. Sam May profiles the £6 million rated player.

Fact file:

Age: 25

Place of birth: Saarbrucken, Germany

Club: 1. FC Köln

Position: Left back (with versatility)

What could Reds fans expect?

Jonas Hector has been with Bundesliga side FC Köln since joining in June 2012 from junior club SV Auersmacher where he played for four-years.

He has been an influential part of the back four for the German side this season, hence the speculation of a move to the Barclays Premier League.

Despite being a left back by trade, he can play in a defensive midfield position too – which would give the Reds an extra option through the middle. He may also be seen as cover for Moreno though, who was brought in by former manager Brendan Rodgers from Sevilla in 2014 for £12 million.

At 6ft 2 ins, he is sets a commanding figure,good in the air but also has blistering pace, offering Liverpool no less than three options – Left back, left wingback or centre back. He has made 26 appearances to date for Peter Stöger’s side who currently sit in mid-table 12th position. Being attack-minded, he is known for his dangerous deliveries into the opposing box, so left wingback may be the preferred option. Being left footed he would add balance to the current team as only Moreno is naturally left sided.

His versatility and range of attributes make him the perfect package for what Klopp is looking for. Hector was called up to Joachim Löw’s German national side on November 14 last year, ahead of the UEFA European Qualifying match against Gibraltar, and a 4-0 win resulted.

Capped 10-times for the German national team so far, he has a bright future and who knows it may be under Klopp as part of his revolution. Liverpool has not had a consistent left back since John Arne Rise, so a move to secure someone for the berth, and that versatility would be an astute one.

It seems likely FC Köln will reject any offers for their star man in the summer, who is under contract until 2018, but this may be only to push up his value if the right approach was made.

Could Klopp Kop this fellow German? We may find out in the summer.

Opinion: Stop thinking about money and start thinking about cups

Football in England is growing increasingly obsessed with the importance of finishing in the top four – but not for the right reasons, argues Jim Boardman.

uefa-cup

Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield tonight as the two sides meet for the first time ever in Europe. The prize on offer over the two legs – the return is in a week, on St Patrick’s Day, at their place – is a spot in the last eight of the Europa League.

Yes, the Europa League. The competition derided so long as the inferior sibling of the big-bucks Champions League, a competition billed as an inconvenience by fans, pundits, players and managers alike. It’s like the League Cup of Europe, a tournament looked down upon by snobbish supporters with blinkered eyes focussed on bigger prizes, snobs who see these trophies as pieces of tat and consider the whole idea of being involved to be beneath them.

How many of them then complain that football is losing its soul, that players are being paid too much, ticket prices are too high, club owners are out of touch, that the atmosphere inside the grounds has become sterile?

 

Before it was called the Champions League, you had to actually be a champion to take part in Europe’s main club competition, either the champions of your own domestic league or the Champions of Europe. Nowadays countries like England get four places – a fifth of their top flight – in what we used to call the European Cup. How many of them set out at the beginning thinking they could actually win the thing? How many of them are just happy to be playing in UEFA’s posher, more lucrative, tournament?

How often do you hear people talk about the importance of finishing in the top four?

How often do they say it’s important because it then means they are in with a chance of winning the European Cup next year?

It’s never important for that reason is it? It’s only ever important because of the financial benefits of finishing in the top four.

You’d be forgiven for thinking nobody wants to be in the Champions League to win it these days. They are in it for the money, the money that makes their club’s owners, managers and players richer but doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to how much it costs them to pay on the door to get in and see it. At least that’s how it seems.

It’s not just the money, of course, it also gives them the chance to see some of the world’s best players visit their ground. It’s like a series of exhibition matches because nobody really seems all that bothered about ending another season without that famous trophy in their hands.

shank-uefa-cup

Meanwhile the Europa League is seen as some kind of penance that has to be served for not finishing high enough on the league for one of those ‘lucrative Champions League places’.

Now, all of a sudden, people are talking about the Europa League being a competition worth winning. Is it for the chance to lift a trophy, once known simply as the UEFA Cup, that has been lifted by so many illustrious sides down the years?

No, it’s because you get a place in that ‘lucrative Champions League’.

Luis Van Gaal, Manchester United’s current manager, said: “United and Liverpool is always a big game. It’s historical and even bigger now because both teams are fighting for a Champions League place.” Or fighting for the chance to see their captain lift that trophy? No? He probably didn’t get asked that, to be fair.

Klopp, who says “It’s a great tournament,” found himself answering questions about his priorities and whether this was an easier route to one of those lucrative Champions League places than trying to get into the top four. “We will try to keep focused on the games rather than working out the best way into the Champions League,” he said.

“Now you can see the finish line in this tournament there are only good teams left,” he added.

“It’s something like a small version of the Champions League in its own right.”

Exactly, Jürgen. It’s a tournament in its own right with its own lump of silver at the end. At least someone is looking at it that way.

Tonight, at Anfield, Liverpool take on Manchester United for the chance to make it into the last eight of the Europa League, which would be one step away from the semi-finals, another step to the final and the chance to lift a trophy that remains iconic, regardless of how much effort is being put into making it little more than a token exchangeable for money and exhibition games next season.

There’s a reason why fans don’t have songs about finishing in the top four or the money their clubs will make for playing in a particular tournament. If money finally does win in football there won’t be any songs at all, unless they’re piped in, the customers will expect to be entertained, not to be part of the entertainment themselves.

The Europa League is still a pot worth winning, it shouldn’t take a Liverpool v Manchester United fixture to show that.

1 2 3 4 5 39