Monthly Archives: May 2014

Suarez would find it difficult to reject Real Madrid, says lawyer

The Uruguayan has been linked with a switch to this season’s Champions League winners and his representative claims that he has a “predisposition for Spain”

Luis Suarez’s lawyer admits that the Liverpool striker would find it difficult to turn down a move to Real Madrid.
The 27-year-old has long been linked with a move to Carlo Ancelotti’s side but insisted earlier in May that he is happy to stay at Anfield.

Suarez, who finished as the Premier League’s top scorer with 31 goals this season, signed a new contract with Liverpool in December but the Uruguayan’s representative says that the forward would favour a switch to Spain if the opportunity arose.

“A year ago he was very likely to leave Liverpool,” Alejandro Balbi told Cadena SER of a summer that saw Arsenal push hard for his signature.

“Now I think it is very difficult because he is an idol, although clubs can offer a lot of money.

“If there is such a big offer from Real Madrid, it would be very difficult to say no. Luis Suarez has always had a predisposition for Spain.”

Liverpool make final £25m Lallana bid as Lambert arrives for medical

The Reds are keen to wrap up a deal as soon as possible and have told the Saints that they will not make a bigger offer, while team-mate Lambert should complete his move shortly

By Paul Clennam

Liverpool have made a final £25 million bid for Southampton forward Adam Lallana.

The Reds are keen to tie up a deal as soon as possible and are adamant that they will not return with more money should the Saints knock back their latest approach.

Tottenham are also in the race to sign Lallana but it is the Merseysiders who have shown concrete interest with two formal bids.

The first, worth around £20m, was made on the final weekend of the Premier League season but was rejected by the Saints.

The south-coast club are holding out for nearer to £30m for the England man, but Liverpool will test that resolve by making it clear that they will not stretch any further than £25m.

Lallana’s club and international team-mate, Rickie Lambert, will complete his Anfield move over the weekend after completing a medical on Saturday.

Both players will travel to Miami with the England squad on Sunday as they step up preparations for the World Cup in Brazil.

The Three Lions beat Peru 3-0 at Wembley on Friday evening thanks to goals from Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka.

Roy Hodgson’s men will play Ecuador on Wednesday and Honduras next Saturday, before opening their World Cup campaign against Italy in Manaus on June 14.

Hamann urges Liverpool to sign Lallana

The ex-Reds midfielder believes Brendan Rodgers should bring in the Southampton playmaker while Phil Thompson is adamant Steven Caulker would prove a good signing

By Farabi Firdausy

Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the club should secure the signing of England playmaker Adam Lallana.

As revealed by Goal, the Southampton captain has already been the subject of a £20 million offer from Brendan Rodgers’s side since the end of the season, but with the Saints valuing him at £30m, the bid was rejected by the St Mary’s outfit.

And with the Merseyside club closing in on a deal for Saints team-mate Rickie Lambert, Hamann feels Liverpool should push on and seal a deal for the talented midfielder as they look to bolster their squad ahead of a return to Champions League football.

“I think we can sign Lallana. If you see how we played last season, I think many players will be interested to play with us,” he told Goal.

“Liverpool have a great project for the future and we have a chance to sign him.

“Lallana will give us more balance in the depth of the squad. Next season we will compete in many competitions and probably will get more injuries and suspensions.

“His position is what we need at the moment and I think he will be suitable for us.”

Former Reds defender Phil Thompson, meanwhile, has called on the club to sign Cardiff City centre-back Steven Caulker in a bid to put a halt to their defensive issues.

The Reds conceded 50 goals on their way to finishing second in the Premier League last season, and Thompson believes the former Tottenham centre-back would prove the perfect fit.

“If Liverpool need a defender, I think the Cardiff City defender, Steven Caulker, would be the one. He also played under Rodgers’s guidance when at Swansea City,” he admitted to Goal.

“At the moment we have some British figures in the defensive line such as [Jon] Flanagan and [Glen] Johnson, but they are not players who play in Carragher’s position.”

Liverpool are also believed to be interested in Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand and Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno.

Sturridge: England team made up of winners

The Liverpool forward claimed Roy Hodgson’s side are not heading to South America to make up the numbers, with the manager himself hailing the victory against Peru as “perfect”

Daniel Sturridge labelled the England team “winners” after they began their World Cup preparations with a comfortable 3-0 win over Peru.

A fine effort from the Liverpool striker opened the scoring at Wembley before Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka struck in the second half.

And the 24-year-old was bullish in his claims that the Three Lions will not be heading for Brazil just to make up the numbers.

“For everybody it’s a case of not going out there to make the numbers up. I’m a winner, all the players are winners, ” he told ITV.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to win the World Cup but we’re winners. We’ll do our best.

“We’ll put 100 per cent in every training session, every match and we’ll try to bring some success.”

But the forward admitted that the team weren’t at their best with just over two weeks until their opening game against Italy on June 14.

“It was difficult because they defended well, they were very compact. We’ve worked very hard throughout the week also and we weren’t as sharp as we’d have liked to have been.

“It was great to be out there to try and put a performance on for the fans and I’m happy with the result.

“It’s not important about myself. It’s about the team and the preparation for us. It’s about putting in a shift, tactically, technically and doing everything possible to be in optimum shape for the first game.”

Manager Roy Hodgson, meanwhile, hailed the victory as a “perfect end to a perfect two weeks”, with his side now set to travel to Miami to take on Ecuador and Honduras.

“When you play against teams who get 10 men behind the ball you have to be patient, keep going. I never doubted we’d win the game,” he told ITV.

“I knew they’d tire and in the end I think 3-0 is the minimum we can accept from the game.”

Kolo Toure suffering with malaria ahead of World Cup

The Ivorian should be able to return to training ahead of the tournament in Brazil after falling ill on a trip to Abdijan before he arrived in Dallas for a training camp

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure will miss Ivory Coast’s friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina after being diagnosed with malaria.

The 33-year-old, who previously suffered with the illness in 2008, fell ill during a trip to Abdijan prior to joining up with the Elephants’ World Cup squad in Dallas and will now sit out Saturday’s match in St. Louis.

Toure’s condition is not thought to be serious and team doctor Cyrille Dah believes he will return prior to his side’s World Cup opener against Japan in Recife on June 15.

“Since Wednesday Kolo has been having treatment. This treatment will end on Friday,” he told the Ivorian Football Federation’s official website.

“We have therefore told him to rest. He will not participate in the match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, but will return early next week.”

Toure has made 107 appearances for his country, scoring six goals, and appeared 20 times in the Premier League during his debut season at Anfield.

What does the summer hold for Mario Balotelli?

The Italy international was AC Milan’s top scorer last season but there is a good possibility that the Euro 2012 star could be on his way out of San Siro this summer

By Mark Doyle

Six years ago agent Mino Raiola received a phone call from his most prized client, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “There is a phenomenon here at Inter,” the Swede enthused. “He’s a black guy who does what he wants with the ball at his feet. You have to come to see him.” That even a player as extravagantly gifted as Ibrahimovic was blown away by the ability of a teenage Mario Balotelli underlines just how prodigiously gifted the Italian was.

But then, Balotelli’s talent has never been in doubt. Unlike his temperament. Indeed, when AC Milan were linked with a move for the then-Manchester City forward in January of last year, club owner Silvio Berlusconi castigated the Palermo native’s character. “The name of Balotelli never came into my thoughts,” the media mogul declared. “He is a rotten apple and could infect every group where he goes, even Milan.”

In a wholly unsurprising development, the Rossoneri signed the player for a reported deal worth up to €25 million (£22m) a matter of weeks later. Berlusconi, of course, had an excuse for his character assassination, claiming that his comments had been part of a master plan concocted by CEO Adriano Galliani designed to drive down City’s asking price.

However, just under 18 months later, it seems that Berlusconi believes that he was right all along; that SuperMario is indeed a rotten apple – and one capable of spoiling the whole barrel.

Balotelli was Milan’s top scorer last season, netting 14 goals in Serie A – twice as many as any other Rossoneri player. But, as they say, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. And Balotelli’s numbers are deceiving. His form has been maddeningly erratic. His mood likewise. There were tears on the bench after his substitution against Napoli in November, prompting the Gazzetta dello Sport to ask on their front page: “Are we losing Mario?”

Balotelli then lost it himself. After a woefully lethargic showing against Roma in April, he lashed out at Sky Sport Italia analyst Giancarlo Marocchi and former AC Milan players-turned-pundits Christian Panucci and Zvonimir Boban during a shocking and explosive post-match interview.

Rotten apple? | Balotelli rowed with both coach Clarence Seedorf and his team-mates last season

Boban had some sympathy for Balotelli the man but was scathing in his appraisal of Balotelli the player. “It’s a shame, as he is a good guy,” the Croat lamented. “But he lacks self-criticism. He will go along his path as always. We are paid to talk, but he doesn’t seem to understand these situations. His performance against Roma was shameful. He just walked around the pitch annoying all his team-mates.”

And there’s the rub. According to the latest reports, the pervading feeling at Milanello is very much that Balotelli is now more trouble than he’s worth. He has, it is said, become a divisive element within the dressing room.

Indeed, as far back as December, Berlusconi had been expressing his dissatisfaction not only with Balotelli’s behaviour but also that of his vast entourage. “I’ve had enough and the decision is made,” he was quoted as saying by Secolo XIX. “Mario is officially on the market and we need to sell him before the end of January.”

Milan subsequently denied that the striker would be sold midway through the season but it now seems that Balotelli is bound for the exit door.

The widely held view is that the striker will either move to Monaco or return to England. Milan are understandably delighted that Monaco are in the running, given the vast wealth at the disposal of club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev.

The proposed transfer also appeals to Balotelli. The 23-year-old has, of course, been a Milan fan since he was a child but without any form of European football to look forward to next season, the Rossoneri have nothing to offer him. Monaco, by contrast, boast Champions League football and an increasingly impressive squad, while Monte Carlo benefits from favourable tax rates.

However, Balotelli could easily go back to England. Manchester United were linked with the forward earlier this year but they have other striking priorities. However, both Arsenal and Liverpool are considered serious contenders for his signature.

Arsenal’s lack of an alternative to Olivier Giroud ultimately undermined last season’s Premier League title challenge. Liverpool, of course, had no such problems scoring goals thanks to the prolific partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge but manager Brendan Rodgers is keen to add to his attacking options, the paucity of which were so painfully underlined by Iago Aspas’s already infamous cameo appearance in the crunch clash with Chelsea during the title run-in.

There is also a third less likely but far more intriguing scenario: that Balotelli could stay in Italy. In recent days, it has emerged that Juventus are monitoring his situation closely. The Serie A champions took a calculated risk on another City misfit last season, Carlos Tevez, and it paid off spectacularly. They are tempted to do likewise with Balotelli, particularly as Mirko Vucinic, Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella and loanee Pablo Osvaldo have all been deemed surplus to requirements.

Of course, whether Milan will actually allow the one and only superstar within their ranks leave is still unclear. Raiola claims that Galliani has already assured him that the player will not be sold this summer. However, things change and money talks. Particularly when it comes to Milan, who are in dire need of funds to overhaul their squad. As even Raiola admitted, “from here to August 31 we’ll hear many rumours on his future.”

As ever with Balotelli, it seems that the only certainty is constant uncertainty.

Follow Mark Doyle on