Iago Aspas Could Quit Liverpool In January

Liverpool striker Iago Aspas has hinted he could quit the club in January after becoming frustrated with his lack of playing time.

Aspas, who moved to Anfield over the summer in a £7.7million deal, has found himself fall down the pecking order after failing to score in his first six games for the Reds.

And after saying he was finding life tough with Liverpool last month, Aspas suggests he may have to leave to get regular playing time.

‘I’m finding it hard to be a sub at Liverpool having started games in the past few years,’ he said.

‘When I left Celta Vigo I was aware that to start for Liverpool wasn’t going to be easy.

‘And now the team is winning and we are among the leaders in the Premier League, it’s very hard to get a game.’

Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are Brendan Rodgers’ preferred options in attack, with the manager even changing to a 3-5-2 formation to suit them.

The move doesn’t bode well for Aspas, who says he is desperate to play games so he can force his way into the Spain squad for the World Cup.

‘Now it’s difficult to get in the Spain team because I’m playing less but I’m not worried about that,’ he continued.

‘However, I will try to get in the squad.’

Raheem Sterling Gets England Call

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has been added to the England squad, the Football Association has announced.

Sterling, who featured for the England Under-21 side in their 4-0 win over San Marino on Thursday, was drafted in following an injury to Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.

England faces a must-win qualifier against Poland at Wembley on Tuesday as they look to book their place at the 2014 World Cup. After Friday’s 4-1 win over Montenegro, Roy Hodgson’s men are top of Group H by a single point, with nearest rivals Ukraine facing San Marino in their final match.

England will be without Kyle Walker for the match after he picked up a caution in Friday’s win, so he is set to be replaced by either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones at right-back for the visit of Poland.

England Could Go For Tiago Ilori

Roy Hodgson has been told Liverpool’s Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori can play for England.

Former Northern Ireland striker Gerry Armstrong, now a respected analyst on Spanish football, has told the FA’s top brass Ilori is available because he was born in north London.

His father is Nigerian and lived in Manchester before moving to Kentish Town where Ilori was born. His mum is Portuguese.

Armstrong said: “His dad Kola came to England and lived in north London for a few years and that is where Tiago was born – which qualifies him.

“I recommended him to several English clubs but he interested Barcelona, Monaco and Bayern too.

“He signed for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers is convinced he has a bright future at the club.

“If that happens quickly, Roy will get a chance to see if he should try to get him into the England set-up. He played for Portugal’s Under 20s but he can still play for England if he wants to.”

Lucas Leiva Targets Brazil Stay

Lucas Leiva has stated his ambition to work his way back into the Brazil squad after coming on as a second-half substitute during their 2-0 victory over South Korea on Saturday.

The Liverpool midfielder replaced Oscar with 20 minutes remaining at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul to make his first appearance for the Selecao since 2011.

And now the 26-year-old has outlined his desire to earn a permanent place in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad ahead of the World Cup next year.

"My first goal in coming back to the squad is to earn a place for myself in the group,” he told TV Globol.

“I know we don't have many games until the World Cup, but I think that in the time I got recently I showed something.

"I talked to Felipao and he asked me to do a job similar to what I do for Liverpool and that's what I tried to do on Saturday.

"I felt really comfortable, especially since I know many of the guys here, some of them for many years.

“I think it’s important that I feel like I have always been here. Now we have another match against Zambia which will be really important."

The former Gremio man went on to echo statements from the camp this week that it is just as important that he prove his worth to the squad off the pitch.

"Scolari always talks about how he doesn't just analyze the games,” he continued.

“He's watching how we perform in training, too. We know he admires players who help form the group and we're trying to fit that profile.

“But, of course, when we get opportunities in matches we have to take them and show that we can remain here and be part of the World Cup squad. I believe that if I get these chances I will show that I am ready to be here."

Glen Johnson Set For Liverpool Return

The international break has been easier to stomach this time around for Liverpool, as it comes at a time when a handful of first-team regulars are on the cusp of making returns from injury--Aly Cissokho logged a full ninety minutes for the U21s on Monday, Philippe Coutinho should be only another week or so out, Joe Allen is nearing match fitness, and today we learn that Glen Johnson, who suffered an ankle injury near the end of his excellent performance against Manchester United prior to the previous international break, will be back with the squad in training on Tuesday.

Combined with the news about Liverpool's other squad members (and assuming a healthy return for those on international duty), Brendan Rodgers now has a good amount of depth in areas of need. He might yet need another week before he's ready to start, meaning Jordan Henderson would likely feature against Newcastle, but further into the month there's no question that Johnson slots in at fullback or wingback in the starting eleven.

The residual impact will be felt most in the midfield, where Rodgers will now have Henderson and Allen to add to the mix. It'll be interesting to see what happens once all are available for selection; the Lucas and Steven Gerrard pairing doesn't need much more written about it, and with Henderson's form and Allen's promise, there's a chance for Rodgers to tinker a bit more if he's willing to do so.

Glen Johnson's return is the point at hand, though, and it's unquestionably positive. He'd had his best performance in recent memory before coming off injured against United, and while it would be unfair to expect that same level immediately, we can hope that he's able to recapture that form once he's up and running again.

Allen Eyes Newcastle Return

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen is hoping to make his return to action against Newcastle this weekend.

Allen has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he picked up in the Capital One Cup victory over Notts County in August.

The Wales international is now close to returning to fitness and hopes to be available for the trip to St James' Park, admitting he sees it as a fresh start for him after picking up the injury so early into the new season.

"I'm almost there, basically," Allen told the club's official website. "The plan is to get back into training, get a good few days leading up to the Newcastle game and hopefully I'll be available for selection from there on.

"It has been a bit of a frustrating time - it always is when you're injured - but I'm finally getting there. It was the one I had in the back of my mind anyway, so it has worked out quite nicely in that sense.

"I was disappointed; I thought I would get back for the Wales games but unfortunately they just came a bit soon. But it has meant that I got a bit of extra rehab leading up to that game. I have been able to get ready.

"With the timing of the injury, I hadn't really got into the swing of things. This is a fresh start of the season for me personally. It is great to come back with the team doing so well."

Critchley Reveals Rodgers Lure

New Liverpool Under-18s coach Neil Critchley admits Brendan Rodgers' influence played a huge part in his decision to join the club from Crewe.

Rodgers lured Critchley to Anfield in the summer as he looks to revamp the club's youth set-up and help develop more homegrown youngsters.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given youth its chance at Anfield since taking over in the summer of 2012 having handed debuts to the likes of Jordon Ibe, Andre Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Jerome Sinclair and Conor Coady.

Critchley is confident that Rodgers' faith in the youth will help in his challenge to help develop players for the first-team.

"I had been at Crewe all my life and I had no aspirations to leave because I had a really good job," Critchley told the Liverpool Echo.

"But when Liverpool comes calling it's very flattering. Alex Inglethorpe (under-21s coach) approached me initially and then I met with the manager. I didn't know either of them before.

"The fact that Brendan played a part in me coming here was a massive pull. I think it makes a real statement that Liverpool are willing to give someone like me an opportunity.

"I'm not an ex-Liverpool player, I'm not a name, I've got no international caps, but I do have years of coaching experience.

"When I first arrived Brendan invited me down to Melwood and I spent a few days watching training. To be alongside him, Colin Pascoe, Mike Marsh and John Achterberg were great bedding in period for me.

"Brendan takes a massive interest in the Academy.

"He was here last week and knows all the players. He has great belief in the youth system and that gives us a better chance than most of getting players through.

"I love being here and the boys have been very receptive to the work. The under-18s are a talented group but they're not the finished article. It's my job to work with them on and off the training pitch to educate and guide them, and make them the best they can be."

Liverpool Hit Stadium Development Snag

There could be trouble on the wing for Liverpool FC - but it’s got nothing to do with their football.

The club will have to make special provisions for bats in the new-look stadium if suspicions that the protected species roost at the ground are confirmed.

The club, which will soon submit plans to Liverpool City Council to increase Anfield’s capacity to 60,000, would be forced by domestic and international laws to ensure that all species of bats are taken into account.

If ecologists find any bats in areas where redevelopment is imminent then it could mean that a space for the bats would have to be incorporated into any new stand structure.

Law dictates that, as a protected species, bats must not be “adversely affected” by building work and studies will determine what can be done to accommodate bats and building work.

An LFC spokesman said the club was “not aware” that bats roost at the ground. But bats have been seen flying above fans’ heads at several recent matches and a local biodiversity group said sightings do confirm their presence inside the stadium.

Last month, fans were left ducking and finger-pointing when a bat was seen flapping over their heads as Brendan Rodgers’ charges scored one of their four goals in the evening League Cup fixture against Notts County.

The same night, a bat was seen flying in the Kop’s ground-level concourse area as fans headed for exit gates.

A Bats Conservation Trust spokesman said any Anfield development “must not harm bats’ conservation status”.

He said: “If it’s believed that bats are or are likely to be present at Anfield, an ecologist will have to establish how bats use the site and find out which species are present before undertaking building works, and any works will have to take any bats present into account to ensure they are not adversely affected.”

According to data records from The Local Biodiversity Records Centre for North Merseyside three Pipistrelle – which are a protected species of bats – were seen between 2008 and 2012 and a further six Common Pipistrelle bats – which are also a protected species – were recorded between 2000 and 2004 within a 1,000m radius of the stadium.

Other records show that 10 Chripera bats, which are considered to be a priority in north Merseyside, were seen around Anfield between 1990 and 2008.

A Reds' spokesperson said the club “is not aware” of any bats roosting in its stadium.

He added: “We have always said that any stadium expansion will be subject to detailed economic and social feasibility studies.”

A Liverpool council spokesman said any redevelopment is “subject to a planning application” and as part of that process there would be a “thorough environmental impact assessment”.

Merseyside bat enthusiast Charlie Liggett says that Reds fans have written to him after seeing bats inside Anfield.

Mr. Liggett, chairman of the Merseyside & West Lancashire Bat group, said: “A big bat was seen flying about the Main Stand in daylight during the half-time break. That was at last season's league fixture against QPR on May 19.

"It would have been a Noctule bat. It attracted the attention of 44,000 people and there was lots of finger-pointing.

"It flew towards the QPR fans, but then turned and went to the Kop.

“Strangely, it went back into the roof when the game commenced. I also have records of smaller Pipistrelles being seen at Anfield.

"And another person wrote to me to say that they saw a bat in Anfield. They rest up in the Main Stand.

"There would be adequate space for them to hang around in the stands. There are plenty of insects for them to feed on and in the trees of Stanley Park.”

Mr. Liggett added: “If it's just one bat, then it’s a bat roost. When a building is taken down it’s done in a careful way – where the bats are seen.

"The difficulty is finding them in a big structure like a stadium – it’s not that like finding them in a three-bedroom detached house.

“There would be a few people checking for the bat roost. An ecologist would use ultrasound gadgets to pick up their noises.

"There is a perception that bats are nothing, but the trouble but it’s not the case.

“But building something where bats are is not insurmountable.”

The bat group has a helpline on 0845 1300 228, offering advice for homeowners.

Meet Montenegro: The Red Eagles from the Black Mountain coming for England

Meet Montenegro: The Red Eagles from the Black Mountain coming for England is a post from: Just Football

by Manuel Veth

Once again England’s World Cup qualification campaign is on the line. A draw or even a loss against Montenegro could tumble England towards the Russian Roulette of qualification play-offs, or even a third place finish in qualification Group H, which would mean England would miss the World Cup next summer.

Montenegro is a small country situated on the Adriatic Sea, yet this small nation has been at the centre of European politics throughout the ages. When Yugoslavia erupted in a bloody civil war in 1992, Montenegro chose to stay within a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia.

In 2003 the old Yugoslav Republic was replaced by a less centralized state union named Serbia and Montenegro. This union would lay the foundation to the eventual independence of Montenegro in 2006.

In 2006 a referendum was held that would decide the independence of one of Europe’s smallest countries. The vote narrowly passed when 55.5% of Montenegrins voted in favour for independence (in order for the vote to pass 55% had to be in favour).

Today Montenegro is a country full of paradoxes. After the Balkan Wars, Montenegro stopped printing money and instead used the Deutschmark as its currency. Today it uses the EURO: Montenegro is therefore one of only a few independent states in Europe that doesn’t have its own currency.

The ethnic makeup of Montenegro is equally confusing. When I travelled through the Balkans in 2008 with my fiancée, at one point we unfortunately found ourselves stranded in a small village due to the bizarre bus schedules. As we had to reach Dubrovnik the same day, we rented a taxi that would drive us for €50 along Montenegro’s cost to Dubrovnik in Croatia.

As we drove through the Montenegrin countryside to the tunes of the Scorpions I asked the taxi driver where he was from. He said he was from Montenegro, but that his parents were Croatian. As we, however, crossed the border into Croatia he produced a Serbian passport.

In my mind this highlights the paradox of today’s Montenegro; it is a very small multi-ethnic state which for its size is extremely good at sports, and especially good at football.

Many observers would be hugely surprised if Montenegro pulls off a win against England at Wembley. People who have, however, followed the rise of the red eagles might not be surprised at all if Montenegro took something at Wembley. To put this in perspective, Montenegro’s population of about 600,000 means that the country has the same population than Liverpool.


Montenegro perhaps has benefitted from the fact that they previously were part of a union with Serbia and prior to that with Yugoslavia. Many of the players of the national team were developed by big clubs in Serbia.

Stevan Jovetic for example is a product of Partizan Belgrade. Other players, such as Fulham defensive midfielder Elsad Zverotic, were born abroad. Zverotic was raised in Switzerland, to which his parents fled during the time of the Yugoslav War in the early 1990s.

Stevan Jovetic Montenegro

Stevan Jovetic: Montenegro’s main man

But perhaps Montenegro’s biggest star, Mirko Vucinic, was not only born and raised in Montenegro but also played for his local team Sutjeska Niksic before making the jump to Italy in 2000 to play for Lecce. Vucinic has since played for Roma and since 2011 is part of Juventus.

Another interesting name on the Montenegro roster is Fiorentina defender Stefan Savic. In 2011 Savic made the jump to the English Premier League when Manchester City signed him for £6 million from Partizan. Like Jovetic, Savic is a product of the Serbian youth development system. The same is true for young defender Marko Vesovic, who was born in Titograd (the former name of Montenegro’s capital Podgorica) but actually grew up in the Serbian town of Lucani.

Perhaps this is also one of the greatest dilemmas that Montenegro currently faces. The two youngest players in the squad are 22 and most players are currently at the zenith of their careers. Although Jovetic is only 23 this might be the first and last time for a long while that Montenegro might have a chance to qualify for a major tournament.

As a now independent country, Montenegro’s next generation of footballers might not benefit from the better infrastructure of the Serbian football schools.

National league decline

In terms of a national football league, Montenegro faces a further problem. During the state union with Serbia the First League of Montenegro was one of two second divisions within the league pyramid of Serbia. With independence, the former second division became the Montenegrin First League. Today the league is ranked 42nd in Europe right above the Lichtenstein Football Cup and just below the Icelandic Premier League.

It is the last step in the fragmentation of the Yugoslavian football league system, and already the club teams from the former Yugoslav Republics have shown decline. With the loss of infrastructure and success also came a slowdown in talent production. This is bad news for Montenegro in general as the country will probably never again be able to emulate its current success.

What does this mean for England? Well the news is not good. All this has only made Montenegro very aware of the fact that it has to win now in order to achieve the ultimate goal for the country from the Black Mountain.

If the Red Eagles want to soar to a major tournament they have to do it now, and they’ll be determined to do whatever it takes to beat England at Wembley.

Manuel Veth is a contributor to Just Football specialising in the economics and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet football. Read more from him at Futbolgrad and follow him on Twitter @homosovieticus.

(Photo credits: main image (#1) via Sidewinder and #2 via AZ on Flickr)

The post Meet Montenegro: The Red Eagles from the Black Mountain coming for England appeared first on Just Football.

3 To See: World Cup 2014 qualifying special – England v Montenegro, Portugal, Ecuador

3 To See: World Cup 2014 qualifying special – England v Montenegro, Portugal, Ecuador is a post from: Just Football

England v Montenegro (UEFA World Cup Qualifying)

Friday 11 October 2013, Kick-off 20.00 BST

It seems that off-field controversy follows the English national team wherever they go. This time the build-up to England’s crucial World Cup qualifier has surrounded the eligibility of non-English born players for the England team after Jack Wilshere’s comments.

However, on the field of play, England face a tricky encounter against Montenegro at Wembley on Friday night. England currently top Group H with 16 points but are closely followed by Ukraine and Montenegro in second and third respectively with 15 points apiece. Anything less than three points for England would place Roy Hodgson’s side under immense pressure in the final qualifier against Poland.

Hodgson welcomes back strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge after the pair missed September’s qualifiers through injury. England will however be without the injured Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson and Theo Walcott. Everton’s Leighton Baines is expected to fill the left back spot.

Of concern for England will be the drop in form of goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Manchester City shot stopper has come under heavy criticism for his recent displays. Hodgson has however insisted he will persist with his number one, and Sky Bet pundit picks both think Hart should start ahead of John Ruddy and Fraser Forster.

Montenegro have included inspirational captain Mirko Vucinic in the squad despite the forward recently struggling with injury. The Juventus striker picked up a thigh injury in the Champions League 1-1 draw at home to Galatasaray. He has not played since and Montenegro have a number of injury concerns with Vucinic, goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic, centre-back Marko Basa, midfielder Milorad Pekovic and possibly Miodrag Dzudovic all potentially missing from what would be manager Branko Brnovic’s strongest starting XI. Stevan Jovetic is however available and should captain the side.

The Three Lions have remained unbeaten throughout this campaign, drawing four and winning four of their matches. However, England’s only victories have come against minnows Moldova and San Marino. Hodgson’s cautious and rigid approach has taken England this far and they will now require two really good performances to secure automatic qualification. Montenegro with qualification hopes of their own will no doubt be out to spoil the English party.

Who are Montenegro? Read a full profile of England’s opponents here.

Portugal v Israel (UEFA World Cup Qualifying)

Friday 11 October 2013, Kick-off 20:45 BST

Portugal host Israel at the Alvalade stadium in a crucial Group F World Cup qualifier. While Israel still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the play-off round, Portugal are desperate to secure an automatic berth at the World Cup. Should group leaders Russia take three points away at Luxembourg, Portugal would need a result to keep in hunt for an automatic spot come the final day.

Portugal will have to be at their very best if they are to stand a chance of topping the group. Israel held Paulo Bento’s team to a 3-3- draw in Tel Aviv in March. Furthermore, Portugal will be fielding a makeshift defence this time around as Fabio Coentrao is suspended while right backs Joao Pereira and Miguel Lopes, as well as centre back Bruno Alves are all out injured. Zenit St Petersburg’s Luis Neto is likely to partner Pepe in the centre of defence.

Striker Helder Postiga is also out suspended and once again Portugal’s hopes will rest on the broad shoulder of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward has four goals in qualifying thus far (including a hat-trick v Northern Ireland) and will aim to propel his side to World Cup qualification.

The Israelis were in with a very real chance of qualification but a draw at home to Azerbaijan and a loss away to Russia has severely dented their chances. Israel will look at back at having only collected two points from their two fixtures against Azerbaijan as the main reason should they miss out on qualification for the play-off round.

There is still no place for veteran midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who has been without a club since the start of the season and has hardly featured in Israel’s qualification campaign.

Portugal have their work cut out but Ronaldo remains adamant his side can qualify for Brazil 2014 automatically. “I remain convinced that we will be able to regain top spot even if our fate isn’t entirely in our own hands,” the Real Madrid playmaker said on Wednesday.

Ecuador v Uruguay (CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying)

Friday 11 Oct 2013, Kick-off 22:00 BST

Equal on points but separated by goal difference, Friday’s encounter between Ecuador and Uruguay will go a long way yo determining who qualifies for the World Cup automatically and who has to settle for the play-off.

After a terrible start to the qualifying campaign, three consecutive victories have left Oscar Tabárez’s squad with much needed momentum heading into the final two qualifiers. They will also be seeking revenge after Ecuador held them to a draw in Montevideo in September 2012.

Ecuadoria’s Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda has named a squad mostly consisting of local players. The tragic early death of Christian Benitez has been a blow to their morale and the players admitted they have struggled to cope since. Ecuador will require four points from their final two fixtures against Uruguay and Chile to secure automatic qualification.

Ecuador will surely be concerned with the recent form of Luis Suarez. The Liverpool forward has returned from his 10-game suspension and is immediately back on the scoresheet. Uruguay’s top scorer thus far in the qualifiers will be partnered by Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani. The former Napoli man will have to tread carefully though as he is one of a few players one booking away from a suspension and missing the final match against Argentina.

Ecuador has failed to win in the previous four qualifiers and vital to their hopes will be the form of Felipe Caicedo and Antonio Valencia. Caicedo has scored six goals in qualification campaign so far. They will however require a flawless performance against on form Uruguay outfit. Tabárez’s charges will look to avoid the play-off round and know full well three points is crucial ahead of a tough encounter against Argentina.

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Gerrard Inspired Luis Suarez To Stay

It was no secret this summer that Liverpool forward Luis Suarez wanted out of Liverpool - and Arsenal wanted him in.

However, Suarez has today revealed that loyal Merseysider Steven Gerrard inspired him to stay with the Reds this season - the captain was very vocal about keeping the striker on board.

The Uruguayan told his national media: "I do not know if he prayed but what he said is what he feels because he was talking to me all the time.

"Gerrard, for me, is a legend in Liverpool and a great team-mate that helped me a lot.

"His attitude was an extra boost for me to take the decision to stay in Liverpool - both he and the fans of Liverpool influenced much for that. I admire him for the great player he is worldwide.

"For me he will always be a benchmark and at club level he is the best player I have played with in my career, as a person and as a footballer."

Suarez recently faced a 10-match ban after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April, but has since returned on top-form after a partnership with Daniel Sturridge saw him net three goals in two league games, moving the Anfield boys to the top of the Premier League table alongside Arsenal.

The 26-year-old also told the Uruguayan media that he believes he is calmer now on the pitch, and isn't looking to return to his controversial ways.

He said: "I am aware that in recent matches that I played I've been calmer. I am very self-critical and I realized that playing well, with more tranquility, is helping me a lot.

"I realize and I prefer to continue and not be the same as before."

So far the Red's have won six of their seven Premier League matches - a vast improvement on the start to their last season which saw them win only one match in seven.

Liverpool's next Premier League clash is away at St James' Park to Newcastle United this coming Saturday.

Liverpool Step Alongside Arsenal In Michu Battle

Reports suggest Liverpool will join the chase for Swansea City star Michu alongside Arsenal who have been linked with the Spaniard all year.

According to Italian publication Tuttomercato, Liverpool is to challenge Arsenal for the 27-year-old who was recently valued at £30million by Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.

The Daily Star believes the introduction of Liverpool into a potential transfer battle could raise Michu’s value even further.

Jenkins admitted that the Gareth Bale move to Real Madrid earlier this summer was a prime example of every player having a price.

"We've seen with Tottenham and Gareth Bale that every player has a price. We are not in that bracket with Tottenham but they sold a top player. We are realistic about that side of things," said Jenkins.

Michu earned his first ever call-up to the Spanish national team this week as replacement for the injured David Villa.

The forward will be hoping to play some part in Spain’s World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia but will be happy just to have his name in the squad having as recently as 2005 played in the fourth tier of Spanish football.

Liverpool Looking To Bring Back Alonso

Brendan Rodgers could be planning a shock move to bring Xabi Alonso back to Anfield – but may face competition from Chelsea.

Liverpool sold Alonso for £30million back in 2009 but the Spaniard is out of contract at Real Madrid at the end of this season.

According to the Daily Star, the Spanish giants could be willing to sell the midfielder in January to avoid losing him on a free transfer next summer.

The 31-year-old could break Liverpool’s policy of signing young talent as Rodgers prepares to battle Chelsea for his signature.

The midfielder would be a popular signing with supporters, as he became a fans’ favourite during his five year stint at Anfield, whilst skipper Steven Gerrard admitted to being ‘devastated’ when Alonso left the club.

However, Alonso played under Jose Mourinho for several years at Madrid and the Chelsea manager will also fancy his chances of convincing his former player to join him at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool Linked With Dortmund’s Jakub Blaszczykowski

Liverpool has been linked with making a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, as manager Brendan Rodgers plans his January reinforcements.

According to Tutto Mercato, the Reds are keen on the 27-year-old and are pondering making a bid to acquire him from the Bundesliga giants at the start of 2014.

Liverpool is thought to have money to spend in January and is mindful of last term, when positive additions during the month boosted the club.

Last January Liverpool snapped up Philippe Coutinho from Inter and Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea, both of whom have been deemed successful purchases.

Now Rodgers could try to repeat the trick with further purchases to give his side a shot in the arm for the final push towards a Champions League place.

The Poland international joined Dortmund in 2007 from Wisla Krakow and has flourished at the Ruhr giants.

It remains to be seen whether Jurgen Klopp's side will consider parting company with the established winger, or whether Liverpool will have to switch their attention elsewhere.

Liverpool Prepare Move For Atletico Madrid Star

Liverpool are weighing up a £17million bid for Atletico Madrid star Koke in January, reports talkSPORT.

The 21-year-old midfielder has been in inspirational form for Los Rojiblancos in the early part of 2013/14, turning in a number of scintillating performances for Diego Simeone's side.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has been alerted to Koke's potential, after the Spain international scored twice and made six assists in eight La Liga appearances so far this term.

With Liverpool short on central midfield options, the Northern Irishman is keen to strengthen his squad with the addition of the Primera Division starlet.

However, a move to Anfield when the transfer window reopens in the New Year is by no means certain, with Atletico determined to keep the talented youngster at the Vicente Calderon beyond the current campaign.

Simeone's side have made a perfect start to the new season, and currently sit second in the table - behind Barcelona on goal difference - having won all eight of their league games this season.

Liverpool To Block Martin Skrtel Departure

Liverpool are prepared to block any move for Martin Skrtel from his former club Zenit, according to ESPN.

Speculation has grown recently over the future of Liverpool's Slovakian defender, who was linked with a move away in the summer.

The 28-year-old lost his place to Jamie Carragher last season and has only recently managed to nail down a starting place under manager Brendan Rodgers.

Reports suggest that Zenit are preparing a £16million bid in January for the defender, which is nearly £10million more than they sold him for back in 2008.

Skrtel hinted he was ready to reevaluate his future at Liverpool after his lack of first-team football back in May.

With Rodgers signing four defenders over the summer, including central defenders Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago llori, Skrtel's chances at Anfield may be limited.

Rodgers, who has recently switched formation to a back three, does not want to lose another defending option as Sebastian Coates is out with a long-term knee injury.

Kelly Happy To Bide His Time

Liverpool's Martin Kelly admits he will have to be patient as he looks to find a way back into the first team after regaining full fitness.

The 23-year-old made a welcome return in last month's Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United, almost exactly a year after being sidelined by a cruciate knee injury.

He suffered a minor setback after that game but insists he is now recovered and awaiting his opportunity.

"You have to have a lot of patience in football as well as knowing when you are given your chance you have to take it," he said.

"It has taken a long time to get back to full fitness. I feel really strong physically now and I am biding my time to get my chance and grab it with both hands.

"It has taught me to look after myself in terms of what my body needs to cope with demands of the Premier League and over the past 12 months (I've been) getting myself to a physical condition which will cater for that and I'm raring to go to get that chance."

Kelly has had a couple of outings for the Under-21s to help him get up to speed and that has been beneficial.

"From a development (point of view) and confidence in terms of my knee it has been fantastic," he added. "It is much more difficult playing in the Premier League and Capital One Cup than reserve team level.

"I've done those few games as a physical aspect and I'm glad they've had me. It has been vital for my rehab.

"It felt good to be back. It was long-awaited. I was not rushed into coming back by the manager.

"He was always saying I had to be confident and the injury I had does knock your confidence but I'm past that barrier now and ready to push on."

Liverpool Keeper Backed To Join Barca

Pepe Reina is good enough to fill Valdes' shoes claims international team-mate Fabregas.

Valdes is set to depart after 11 years at the Camp Nou, increasing speculation about a possible replacement for the Catalan.

Reina, who is currently on loan at Napoli from Liverpool, rose through the youth ranks at Barcelona's famed youth system.

The Napoli 'keeper, who has represented the national team 29 times, has long been tipped to replace Valdes.

Fabregas insists it will be weird to see someone else in goal for the Spanish Giants when the time comes.

"Victor has been here for 10 years and none of us can imagine another goalkeeper in his place when we turn and look at our goal," Fabregas told Radio Catalunya.

Fabregas, who joined Barcelona from Arsenal, believes his international teammate could be the one to replace their out-going 'keeper.

"But one of the things that Pepe can bring is that he knows all of us. He provides a very good atmosphere in the dressing room and is experienced."

Fabregas, who returned to Barcelona in a deal worth £35 million plus £5m in add ons, has become a regular under new boss Gerardo Martino, appearing in 13 games this season for the Catalans.

Reina left Barca's academy to join Vilarreal before joining Liverpool in 2005.

Yeovil Loanee Returns To Liverpool

Liverpool youngster Michael Ngoo has had his season-long loan spell with Championship outfit Yeovil Town terminated by mutual consent, reports the Daily Star.

The 20-year-old striker made two starts and five substitute appearances for Gary Johnson's side in 2013/14, prior to leaving Huish Park.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will send Ngoo back to the Anfield club's development squad, as it's understood he is still some way off making a breakthrough in the first-team.

He'll join up with Alex Inglethorpe's U21s and continue his development with the Merseyside academy.

"Ngoo has returned to the Reds' Kirkby training complex after his loan spell with Championship side Yeovil Town was ended by mutual agreement," read a statement on Liverpool's official website.

"The England youth international has been with the Reds since joining from Southend United in September 2009."

Ngoo is yet to feature for the Liverpool senior side, but enjoyed his most prolific spell on loan in the Scottish Premier League with Hearts in 2012/13, where he scored five goals in 16 appearances.

That's not to say that there isn't an opportunity for emerging young talents to establish themselves in Rodgers's first-team, with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom the most recent examples of Liverpool promoting from within.

Koscienly added to injury list but important player returns right after the break

By 1970’s Gooner Unfortunately Koscienly has a calf problem which he picked up in training with France last Tuesday and will probably miss the team’s forthcoming fixtures against Australia on Friday and Finland on Tuesday. The short term seriousness of the injury has led to the last minute call up of 18 year old Zouma who may well be the subject of a transfer bid from Arsenal, Man Utd and