Liverpool completes signing of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker for world record fee

Brazilian International, Alisson Becker has become the most expensive goalkeeper in history after Liverpool paid Roma 65 million Euros (Ksh 7.6 billion) to land him.

Liverpool completed the signing with a world record fee.

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The Liverpool Football Club Instagram account even posted the photo below and captioned;

‘That first hug from the boss.’

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This came as a huge statement from Liverpool.

Alisson Becker arrived on Merseyside on Wednesday and underwent a medical at Liverpool’s Melwood training base.

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Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 kicks-off today in San Francisco

He signed a six-year deal before heading back to Italy to conclude the remainder of his holiday.

According to Daily Mail, upon putting pen to paper, the Brazil international told the Liverpool website:

‘I’m really happy, it’s a dream come true to wear such a prestigious shirt for a club of this size that is used to always winning.’

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Alisson continued:

‘In terms of my life and my career, it’s a huge step for me being part of this club and this family. You can be certain that I’ll give my all.’

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Above all,he admits playing at Anfield in April, where a rampant home side put five past him in an astonishing display, helped make up his mind.

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Mohamed Salah shares pictures of him relaxing on the beach ahead of his return to Liverpool training

Mohamed Salah looked relaxed in a recent post of his on social media.

The football superstar was in a panama hat,a pair of swim shorts and clutching a drink with the waves from the sea just around his ankles.

He looked happy and peaceful compared to during the World Cup.

He captioned the waves emoji on each post.

Usain Bolt is looking to join Australian football team

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Salah missed the opening game as he recovered from the shoulder injury.

 The Liverpool star returned for the final two group games against Russia and Saudi Arabia.

He scored both times, but could not prevent his country losing twice.

However, Mohamed will be well rested, ahead of the start of the new Premier League season next month.

Mohamed Salah signs new Ksh 26.5m-a-week contract with Liverpool

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Mohamed Salah signs new Ksh 26.5m-a-week contract with Liverpool

Liverpool’s pre-season preparations have got off to the perfect start after Mohamed Salah signed a new long-term contract.

According to Daily Mail,’the Egypt international is currently on holiday after playing at the World Cup but he has ended any discussion about his future after Liverpool ripped up his old terms and rewarded him with a deal that reflects his standing as one of the top players in Europe.’

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Kenyan Rich Kids Will Cry: Check out Floyd Mayweather’s Sh1.8billion watch

Salah, who had initially signed a deal worth around £100,000-per-week when he moved to Anfield from Roma 12 months ago, will now be one of Liverpool’s highest earners and having scored 44 goals in all competitions can expect to have doubled that figure.

It had long been a priority for Liverpool to reward Salah for his outstanding debut campaign. His tally of 32 goals in the Premier League broke a record for a 38-game campaign and he was instrumental in helping his side reach the Champions League final.

The new terms will keep Salah at Anfield until the summer of 2023 and crucially, there is no release clause.

It is now Liverpool’s policy when brokering deals with their players that release clauses are not included — that was a reason Emre Can chose not to renew his terms.

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MOHAMED SALAH’S STUNNING SEASON

Appearances – 52 | Goals – 44

Assists in the Premier League – 9

Individual honours

PFA Players’ Player of the Year

FWA Footballer of the Year

Premier League Golden Boot

Premier League Player of the Season

PFA Team of the Year

Onze d’Argent

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New Signings Grujic, Mane On Target As Liverpool Thrash Barcelona 4-0

New signing, Sadio Mane scored his first goal for Liverpool as they beat Barcelona 4-0 in the International Champions Cup at Wembley. Star forwards Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi also played in the match.

Mane opened the scoring sheet at 15 minutes before Javier Mascherano’s own goal doubled their lead.

Divock Origi and Marko Grujic were also on target in the second half to all but wrap up a convincing win for the reds.

England striker Daniel Sturridge missed the game due to a hip injury, while James Milner who recently retired from international duty, limped off before half time.

Lurching Liverpool eye League Cup final spot

Zigzagging across the road like a clown car they may be, but Liverpool are also just 90 minutes from Wembley ahead of Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final second leg against Stoke City.

A team that recorded seven 1-1 draws in nine games in September and October is beginning to gain a reputation for slapdash spectaculars, following the recent 3-3 draw at home to Arsenal and Saturday’s remarkable 5-4 victory at Norwich City.

It has made Jurgen Klopp’s side a breathless watch, but with a 1-0 lead to protect at Anfield on Tuesday, Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva knows that it is imperative his team tighten up at the back.

“If we can score five goals and defend set-pieces especially a little bit better, we would be winning games more comfortably,” he told the Liverpool website after the victory at Carrow Road.

“But it will give us a lot of belief. On Tuesday we have a very big game, a semi-final and a chance to go to Wembley. We will do everything we can to get there.

“It’s one of the biggest games of the season until now and a good chance for us to go to Wembley. We don’t need any more motivation.

“We will recover and for sure everyone will be 100 percent, mentally and physically, for Tuesday.”

A draw will suffice for Liverpool to reach a first major final since 2012, when they won the League Cup and lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final, after Jordon Ibe’s first-half goal settled the first leg on January 5.

With Everton leading Manchester City 2-1 in the other semi-final, there is the prospect of a first Merseyside derby in a major final since the deciding match of the 1988-89 FA Cup, which Liverpool won 3-2.

But Liverpool’s fans cannot know which version of their team will show up — the slick, counter-punching side that won 3-1 at Chelsea, 4-1 at City and 6-1 at Southampton, or the meekly surrendering one beaten in recent weeks by West Ham United, Watford and Newcastle United.

– Shawcross doubt –

Injuries to Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel mean that Klopp must continue to depend on the unconvincing centre-back partnership of Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure, which was badly exposed at Norwich.

But Adam Lallana could return to the starting XI after rising from the bench to lash home the 95th-minute winner at Carrow Road.

Stoke went into the first leg on the back of impressive victories over Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton, but their form has tapered off somewhat since the turn of the year and they were beaten 3-0 at Leicester City on Saturday.

Injuries have also started to bite, with captain Ryan Shawcross a doubt for the trip to Anfield after suffering a recurrence of a back problem at Leicester.

However, their attacking trident should be realigned after Xherdan Shaqiri made a successful return from a hamstring problem at the King Power Stadium while Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic were being rested.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes, seeking to steer the club to their first League Cup final since they won the tournament in 1972, said the loss to Leicester was “one of those days to forget”.

“We needed to be better, but we’ll be looking to bounce back quickly,” he added.

“We have managed to do that more often than not. We have a huge game on Tuesday and I expect my team to respond very quickly.”

Everton and Manchester City meet at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday with the visitors in pole position after goals from Ramiro Funes Mori and Romelu Lukaku secured a 2-1 first-leg win at Goodison Park.

Sergio Aguero scored twice as City drew 2-2 at West Ham United on Saturday, while Everton lost 2-1 at home to Swansea City on Sunday.

Fixtures (aggregate score in brackets)

Tuesday (1945 GMT):

Liverpool v Stoke City (1-0)

Wednesday (1945 GMT):

Manchester City v Everton (1-2)

Photo Credits : AFP

Origi, Sturridge fire Liverpool into League Cup last four

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp attempted to keep Divock Origi’s feet on the ground after the Belgium international opened his account for the club with a hat-trick at Southampton.

Origi, 20, had not scored in 10 previous appearances since joining up with Liverpool in the close season following his 2014 transfer from French side Lille, where he spent last season on loan.

He scored three times as Liverpool came from behind to demolish Southampton 6-1 on Wednesday, taking them into the League Cup semi-finals, but Klopp said that he was still some way from the finished article.

“It was really good from him, but he’s still young and has to learn,” said Klopp, whose side will play Stoke City over two legs in the last four.

“He has to be patient, that’s the truth. In 10, 15 years, when he looks back on his career, he’ll have no idea about the games he didn’t make (play) in this moment. He can take the time to train.”

Origi’s display eclipsed that of his strike partner Daniel Sturridge, who marked his first start under Klopp with a brace that sparked the game’s turnaround after Sadio Mane’s first-minute header for Southampton.

Sturridge applied smooth finishes to fine passes from midfielders Joe Allen and Emre Can in the 25th and 29th minutes, leaving him with a return of four goals from five appearances this term.

The England forward had not started a game since October 4 due to knee and foot problems, prompting Klopp to suggest he might be too sensitive to pain, but the German was thrilled to see him in full flow for the first time.

“I said to him after the game: ‘Now I know what everybody’s talking about,'” Klopp said.

After Origi had put Liverpool 3-1 up by applying a glancing touch to Alberto Moreno’s low drive on the brink of half-time, Southampton coach Ronald Koeman switched to a three-man defence.

Briefly, Southampton obtained a foothold, only for the visitors to strike three times in the final 22 minutes as Origi completed his hat-trick either side of a low drive from substitute Jordon Ibe.

It was Southampton’s heaviest home defeat since a 6-0 loss to Brentford in March 1959 and Koeman suggested that he would review his tactics ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the Premier League’s bottom club Aston Villa.

“We know we can play good football,” said the Dutchman, whose side have lost their last three games in all competitions.

“We can create, we can score, but the balance at the moment between attacking, defending is really poor. That’s my responsibility.

“Maybe we have to change the system. Maybe we have to play more defensively, more (sitting) back, waiting.

“I don’t like that because I’m a manager who likes to go forward, but we will speak about that tomorrow morning with the players, about what’s the best to do to prepare ourselves for Saturday.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Rodgers praises Liverpool for burying Stoke ’embarrassment’

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the determination shown by his players in the 1-0 victory over Stoke City will serve them well for the rest of the season.

The Reds were thrashed 6-1 at the Britannia Stadium on the final game of the previous Premier League campaign, but on the same ground in their opening fixture of this season -– just 77 days later — battled to a narrow victory.

It was secured courtesy of a superb long-range strike from midfield playmaker Philippe Coutinho late in the game on the back of a disciplined defensive display from the visitors.

“It is always difficult when you come to Stoke. To get a win where we were 11 weeks ago, I thought it was an outstanding collective performance,” Rodgers said.

“Defensively we were strong and then we know we have the quality to win a game.

“It was a one-off game when we lost 6-1, a unique game. I knew it was a one-off but it still happened and you have to be better and more resolute and that was what we were working on in pre-season making sure our defensive organisation was better.

“For me it is about performing well and showing character. It was about ensuring the personality came out. Eleven weeks ago it was embarrassing but I think that puts it to bed.

“You saw a team with the determination and will which bodes well for the future.”

Rodgers also hailed the quality of the decisive goal from Brazil international Coutinho which arrived four minutes from time.

“It was a great turn and he got away from the Stoke midfield and produced and a wonderful shot,” he said.

“I think he already is already one of the stars of the Premier League and he has showed that with his quality.”

The Liverpool boss was also satisfied with the performances of his debutants, and the resolve they showed.

“The players we have brought in have that character,” Rodgers added.

“Christian Benteke up front, you saw his quality, his movement, his strength his power and that ability in the air. He was outstanding.

“Joe Gomez, 18 years of age, playing against a really good player in Jonathan Walters and as the game went on he got stronger.

“Nathaniel Clyne has been outstanding since he came in and James Milner has that experience.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt Liverpool were fortunate to have 11 men on the pitch after Reds centre-back Dejan Lovren caught Potters forward Mame Diouf with an elbow in the first half.

Hughes said: “If it merited a yellow, the referee thinks something untoward has gone on and he has thrown an elbow.

“I had some sort of explanation from fourth official Jon Moss and I had a quizzical look on my face.

“The referee thought it was a yellow card for an elbow. If that is the case, he was fortunate not to get a red.

“But we’re not disappointed with our performance. Sometimes when you are up against the top teams a moment of brilliance like the one from Coutinho takes the game away from you.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Liverpool star Sterling to ask for transfer — reports

Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling is set to rock the Premier League club by telling them he wants to leave in the close-season, according to reports on Monday.

Sterling and his agent Aidy Ward put contract negotiations on hold earlier this season despite being given what Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers described as a “fantastic offer”.

It was reported that offer would have increased the 20-year-old’s wages to around £100,000-a-week and, in response to mounting criticism of his attitude from frustrated Liverpool fans, the England international was forced onto a public relations offensive in which he denied he was a “money-grabber”.

But Liverpool have been unable to convince their prize asset to sign the new deal and the BBC and the Daily Express say Sterling and his agent have asked to meet Rodgers and Reds chief executive Ian Ayre, possibly as soon as Friday, for showdown talks when he is expected to demand a move.

Sterling is believed to want to play in the Champions League and Liverpool will be missing from Europe’s elite club competition next term after a disappointing Premier League campaign, which sees them in fifth place, seven points behind fourth placed Manchester United, heading into the final round of fixtures.

Manchester City are said to be interested in signing Sterling, with Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea also reported to be watching the situation with interest.

Liverpool are believed to be determined to hold onto the youngster, whose current contract runs until 2017, and US-based owners Fenway Sports Group will demand a fee of around £50 million before they would consider selling.

Sterling’s bombshell announcement is another blow to Rodgers, who has struggled to replace Luis Suarez following the Uruguay forward’s move to Barcelona last year.

Rodgers has also had to cope with the continued injury problems of England striker Daniel Sturridge, while also planning for life without captain Steven Gerrard, who will end his 17-year association with Liverpool when he joins LA Galaxy at the end of the season.

Photo Credits : AFP

United punish Gerrard, Chelsea extend lead

Manchester United punished Steven Gerrard’s moment of madness as Juan Mata’s double secured a vital 2-1 win over bitter rivals Liverpool, while leaders Chelsea reestablished their stranglehold on the Premier League title race with a 3-2 victory at Hull on Sunday.

United were already leading through Mata’s composed finish in the 14th minute at Anfield when Gerrard made Liverpool’s task even harder as he earned a red card just 43 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute.

Making his final appearance against United before his close-season move to LA Galaxy, Gerrard was sent off, for the eighth time in his career, for a clear stamp on Ander Herrera.

United took full advantage of their numerical superiority as Mata scored a quite brilliant second goal in the 59th minute.

Angel di Maria picked out the former Chelsea midfielder with a clipped pass that Mata converted with a stunning bicycle kick.

Daniel Sturridge got one back for Liverpool 10 minutes later, but Brendan Rodgers’ side couldn’t find an equaliser, leaving Gerrard to apologise for a mistake that could cost his team a place in next season’s Champions League.

Fifth placed Liverpool are now five points behind fourth placed United in the race for a top four finish and Gerrard said: “I have let my team-mates and manager down today, even more importantly I let all the supporters down and I take full responsibility for my action.”

United’s victory would have been even bigger if Wayne Rooney’s stoppage-time penalty hadn’t been saved by Simon Mignolet, but boss Louis van Gaal was content with a success which keeps them one point behind third-placed Arsenal.

“It’s an amazing result for the fans, because we’ve beaten Liverpool three times this season. We now have a gap from positions five, six and seven which is very important,” he said.

“We kept the ball and created a lot of possibilities to score. I said whoever could beat the pressure shall win. Juan Mata was very good.”

– Superb strike –

At the KC Stadium, Chelsea survived some self-inflicted wounds to secure a win that kept them firmly on course to win the title for the first time since 2010.

After second-placed Manchester City had closed to within three points on Saturday, the west Londoners are now six points clear again, with a game in hand making their position even stronger.

Jose Mourinho’s side took just 78 seconds to go in front as Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard advanced to the edge of the penalty area, where he lashed a superb strike past Allan McGregor.

The Blues looked in complete control in the ninth minute when Spain striker Diego Costa cut in front the left to curl a fine finish into the far corner for his 19th league goal of the season.

But Hull reduced the deficit in the 26th minute thanks to Egypt international Ahmed Elmohamady, who swept home Andrew Robertson’s cross from close range.

And Steve Bruce’s team equalised just two minutes later after a disastrous piece of play from Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

When Branislav Ivanovic pushed a risky backpass towards Courtois, the Belgian tried to take a touch before clearing, but he allowed the ball to trickle away from him towards Hernandez and the Uruguayan forward gratefully accepted the present as he slotted into the empty net for his first goal since October.

Courtois redeemed himself with a series of second half saves and Chelsea grabbed a priceless winner in the 77th minute when McGregor allowed a fairly tame shot from French forward Loic Remy, who had only been on for three minutes, to escape his grasp and trickle into the net.

At Loftus Road, Everton erased the frustration of their Europa League exit with a 2-1 success at lowly QPR.

Roberto Martinez’s side had bowed out of Europe with a humbling 5-2 defeat at Dynamo Kiev on Thursday, but they took the lead in the 18th minute through Seamus Coleman.

QPR drew level when substitute Eduardo Vargas struck from close-range in the 65th minute.

But on-loan Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon won it for Everton in the 77th minute to move the Toffees nine points away from the relegation zone and leave second-bottom QPR four points from safety.

Photo Credits : AFP

Liverpool look to maintain Champions League charge

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool’s return to form in the league has coincided with Philippe Coutinho’s progression as a key player at Anfield.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight domestic matches and have put themselves back in the hunt for a Champions League spot as they prepare to face Burnley on Wednesday.

Brazilian Coutinho has played a prominent role as the Reds have improved and has scored twice in his last two appearances – victories over top-four rivals Southampton and Manchester City.

Rodgers believes the 22-year-old will be a contender for player of the season.

“He’s certainly going to be up there, there’s no doubt about that,” Rodgers said. “He’s played very well.

“That period of the season where the team suffered at the beginning of the season, it was our lack of penetration at the top of the field.

“He’s the player that thrives on that – he’s normally the player that makes the last pass to those guys running in to score the goals.

“We didn’t quite have that in the opening months, and obviously he suffered because he had to stay longer on the ball and wasn’t as effective.

“Now, the dynamics in the team are very good – the pressing and movement off the ball – and that allows him and his technical quality to really shine. He’s started to add goals to his game and has scored some fantastic goals.

“Very importantly, he is contributing to the team and for him there are still improvements to make with him being so young.”

Liverpool will again be without Jordan Ibe and Steven Gerrard. Ibe has been ruled out for several weeks with a knee injury, while Gerrard has been out since February 10 with a hamstring strain.

Burnley are without a win in their last seven matches but Rodgers says Liverpool will not underestimate their opponents.

“Sean (Burnley manager Dyche) has got them very well organised, they have great motivation when they play, great commitment to try and stay in the league and they’re fighting. They’re a team we’re wary of.

“They’ve given absolutely everything and I’m sure Sean will be up there as one of the candidates for manager of the year, irrespective of what happens.”

Burnley will look to striker Danny Ings to provide their main attacking threat.

The England Under-21 international has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool at the end of the season when his contract at Burnley expires.

Sean Dyche, Burnley’s manager, expects the 22-year-old to play his normal game.

“His determination has been there for all to see,” Dyche said.

“I think he has been delivering good performances no matter what. He had the one quiet one, and other than that, he has been very good in his performance level, very good around the group and wants to do well for this football club. The rest will take care of itself.

Burnley took points from trips to Manchester City and Chelsea and Dyche reckons that mentality gives them hope ahead of facing Liverpool.

“The weight of expectation is on who we’re playing against because it’s Liverpool,” Dyche said.

“All the world is thinking they’ll win but it’s not that easy.

“We know what a good side they are.

“They’ve spent a lot of money on players and it’s taken a while to come together but since Christmas, you can see that’s started to happen.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Besiktas oust stunned Liverpool on penalties

Turks Besiktas knocked Liverpool out of the Europa League on Thursday in a thrilling Istanbul clash at the scene of one of the English club’s greatest triumphs, clawing back their first leg deficit and then winning on penalties.

With an estimated 70,000 Besiktas fans creating a cauldron-like atmosphere, Liverpool knew they faced a tough task on a balmy February evening at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, taking a slim 1-0 lead from the Anfield home leg in the round of 32.

Besiktas levelled on aggregate in the 72nd minute with a stunning strike from Tolgay Arslan, assisted by a deft back heel from Senegalese striker Demba Ba, sending the match into extra time and then a penalty shoot out.

With penalties level at 4-4 and all the takers holding their nerve, Arslan skillfully slotted in. Dejan Lovren stepped up for Liverpool but his effort went high, leaving the player unconsolable and Besiktas fans running onto the pitch in joy.

The stadium had special memories for Reds fans as the scene of the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final where the team famously pulled back a three goal deficit to defeat AC Milan on penalties.

But Liverpool were this time without talismanic leader Steven Gerrard, who starred on that famous night in Istanbul but is still nursing an injury in his last season for the club.

Liverpool wanted to give Gerrard a fairytale send off with a glorious run in a European competition but the famously fanatical black-clad fans of the Eagles worked hard to raise the roof, with deafening whistles every time a Liverpool player touched the ball and dozens of flares burning in the Istanbul night sky.

Banners raised on the stands included ‘welcome to hell!”, a favourite slogan from Turkish fans for visiting foreign teams.

– Ba always dangerous –

Helped on by the vociferous support, Besiktas pushed forwards in the early stages but their well organised moves were let down by some scrappy touches.

Mario Balotelli, looking uneasy and clearly targeted by Beskitas, saw yellow in the 10th minute after a bizarre tackle which saw him upend Veli Kavlak.

Besiktas searched for ways to provoke the volatile Italian, starting a game for the first time since November.

He managed to cool down for the second half of the game but was substituted for Adam Lallana just before the end of normal time, prompting another broadside of boos.

On 19 minutes Raheem Sterling forced an impressively acrobatic save from Cenk Gonen with a long range effort. At the other end, Ghana’s Daniel Opare could have done more when left with open space on 22 minutes but scuffed his shot.

But Liverpool then began surging forwards in sustained attacks, with Sterling a particular danger.

In no way overawed by the occasion, Besiktas started the second half strongly with Simon Mignolet blocking a dangerous ricochet shot from Serdar Kurtulus.

Arslan came close when a long range effort zoomed past Mignolet’s left post in the 70th minute with Besiktas now looking much the more aggressive side.

But the midfielder then found the net in the 72nd minute, leaving Mignolet with no chance and sending an electric shock through the already pulsating stadium.

If any team was going to score in the frantic last minutes of normal time it was Besiktas, with Ba rattling the crossbar in the final seconds off a Gokhan Tore corner to the despair of the local fans.

Besiktas started extra time driving forwards as Ba tested Mignolet with another powerful shot.

With Liverpool seeming to flag, Ba pushed a good chance high over the bar in the 25th minute of extra time before the game drifted into penalties.

Photo Credits : AFP

Squabbling Liverpool seek solace at St Mary’s

The harmony — or lack of it — in Liverpool’s squad will fall under the microscope on Sunday when Brendan Rodgers’s side visit Southampton in a clash of Champions League qualification hopefuls.

Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Besiktas in the Europa League on Thursday was overshadowed by an incident in the build-up to the hosts’ late winner when substitute Mario Balotelli snatched the ball from stand-in captain Jordan Henderson before scoring the penalty that settled the game.

Regular captain Steven Gerrard, analysing the first-leg match for ITV as he convalesces following a hamstring injury, said Balotelli’s behaviour had been “disrespectful” to Henderson.

But Henderson and Balotelli downplayed the altercation after the game — the former in a television interview; the latter, inevitably, on social media — and Rodgers said he would make sure the matter was put to bed.

“That is my job to manage that. It is what I do behind the scenes every day,” the Liverpool manager told his pre-match press conference.

“You see from the way the team has been playing recently the respect and commitment they show for each other.

“The only thing I would say on it is I don’t like the etiquette. You don’t like to see four or five players around a football looking to take it.

“It was maybe more the etiquette which was not as we would have liked, but we got the end result.”

While the incident caused Liverpool embarrassment, there is no denying that they have returned to something approaching their best following a run of one defeat in 17 matches.

The burst of form has taken Rodgers’s side to within sight of the Premier League’s Champions League qualifying places, where Southampton currently occupy the fourth and final berth.

With Liverpool four points back, victory for the visitors on Sunday would fuel belief for players and supporters alike that a testing season could yet end with a return to Europe’s premier club competition.

– Lallana fears jeers –

Liverpool edged Southampton 2-1 on the season’s opening day and won 3-0 at St Mary’s last season.

Southampton have failed to score in their last two home games — losing 1-0 to Swansea City and drawing 0-0 with West Ham United — but coach Ronald Koeman believes Liverpool’s expansive style will give his side more opportunities.

“Swansea and West Ham didn’t come here to play open football and that gives us more difficulties,” he said.

“We didn’t have the quality to break it down, but Sunday’s game will be different. It is all about sharpness in the box.

“I’m surprised they (Liverpool) have four points less than we have. To come closer, they have to win.”

Former Southampton captain Adam Lallana is set to make his first appearance at St Mary’s since leaving for Anfield last year and he has admitted that he expects a hostile reception.

“I’m not stupid enough to think the way I left didn’t leave a sour taste in a few people’s mouths,” he told BBC Radio Solent this week.

But Koeman refused to be drawn on the England midfielder’s remarks, saying: “I don’t talk about players who come back to the club where they played last season because I could do that every week.”

While Gerrard remains sidelined, Raheem Sterling is in contention to start for Liverpool after returning from a foot injury.

Balotelli, meanwhile, will also hope to start after scoring twice and supplying one assist as a substitute in his last three appearances.

Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (adductor muscle) and forward Shane Long (fractured ribs) are both available for Southampton, but Ryan Bertrand, Toby Alderweireld, Jay Rodriguez and Emmanuel Mayuka are all out.

Photo Credits : AFP

Liverpool have made Sterling ‘incredible offer’: Rodgers

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has told Raheem Sterling he should accept the club’s “incredible” contract offer for the good of his career.

Sterling has yet to sign a new deal with the Reds despite lengthy negotiations and Rodgers revealed on Monday that the 20-year-old had received an offer of significantly improved wages around one month ago.

The England international has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and several other European heavyweights are also said to be interested in his signature.

But Rodgers insists Liverpool have been more than generous with their offer, especially since he believes Anfield is the perfect environment for the youngster to continue his meteoric rise since joining from QPR in 2010.

“The club has offered an incredible deal for a young player and I have spoken to Raheem a number of times and he is very happy here and I think you see that in his game,” Rodgers said.

“He has made some great strides in these last couple of years and has now got reward for that and hopefully his representatives can find agreement with the club.

“What he has been granted here is an opportunity — we see it with lots of young players — and they get rewarded for that but we are certainly not a club who are going to give out way, way above what a player is worth at a certain time in a career.

“It is not a case of giving any player, I’m not talking about Raheem here I’m talking in general, what they want.

“We want to reward our best talents as they are a big part of our future and we are confident that will all be in hand and sorted very soon.”

Rodgers has nurtured Sterling through a difficult period off the pitch over the past couple of years, when he found himself embroiled in a couple of court cases, and has been rewarded with some impressive performances from the youngster.

However, he has been keen to keep the England international grounded and he wants to ensure he and other Liverpool rookies do not get distracted by the trappings of fame and fortune.

“It is very important for young players, not just Raheem, that they have something to strive for,” he added.

“If they get too much, too young then it really sabotages their development.

“That is why we communicate with the player and their advisers – if they have advisers.

“If they are given sound advice they will see that. It is about mapping out the career of a player, it is not just about this deal.

“In Raheem’s case we believe this will be the best place for him and I believe he knows that as well.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Everton deny Gerrard victorious final derby

Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in the Merseyside derby to 10 games but departing captain Steven Gerrard had to content himself with a 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday.

Gerrard was playing in his 33rd and last Premier League game against Everton, who he will not line up against again unless the two sides meet in the Europa League.

But an 18th victory proved beyond him as Liverpool’s climb towards the top four was slowed on a lacklustre evening at Goodison Park.

Brendan Rodgers’s team had won their previous three league games, but Everton, without a victory in this fixture since October 2010, proved unyielding opponents to leave Liverpool four points below the Champions League places.

In contrast to Gerrard, 19-year-old winger Jordon Ibe made just his second Premier League start for Liverpool after being recalled last month from a loan spell at Championship club Derby County.

Almost inevitably, though, it was Gerrard who had the first effort on goal with nine minutes gone.

The former England captain — second only to Ian Rush as his club’s highest scorer in derby matches with 10 goals — saw a 25-yard free-kick touched over the bar by Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles.

Robles had to be alert moments later to deny Ibe his big moment as he saved at the youngster’s feet after Raheem Sterling had found room to direct the ball across goal from the left.

But Robles was nowhere near a stinging long-range effort from Ibe in the 27th minute that crashed against the post following a surging run forward as Everton felt the absence of injured left-back Leighton Baines.

The home side did have James McCarthy back for the first time since Christmas following hamstring trouble and the midfielder was instrumental in trying to drive Everton forward in response.

Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas were also productive down Everton’s right flank and from one Coleman cross, Steven Naismith should have done better than head the ball tamely into the ground.

– Tempers flare –

More of the threat came from Liverpool, though, and they turned up the pressure at the start of the second half.

Philippe Coutinho twice slipped in Sterling for efforts that were saved by Robles and Gerrard saw a spectacular volley deflected just over his own bar by Naismith.

Rodgers looked to press home that advantage as just 10 minutes after the break he sent on striker Daniel Sturridge, who netted a late equaliser at Goodison last season in a 3-3 draw.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez countered by replacing Mirallas with new loan signing Aaron Lennon in a bid to take the initiative away from the visitors.

The England international, recruited on loan from Tottenham Hotspur on transfer deadline day, did help stem the tide with some positive early touches.

Decent chances remained elusive, however, as Everton looked for a first home win in four games and only a second league victory in eight after stopping the rot with three points at Crystal Palace a week ago.

Top scorer Romelu Lukaku looked an isolated figure, but Liverpool could not force a breakthrough themselves as Phil Jagielka blocked an effort from Sturridge.

Frustrations surfaced in the 77th minute in a flare-up that yielded bookings for Naismith and Muhamed Besic and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.

Naismith made way for Ross Barkley moments later and the substitute almost created a late winner for Everton as he helped the home side finish strongly.

The England playmaker perfectly teed up the rampaging Coleman, but the Irishman’s angled drive was well saved by Simon Mignolet to leave the honours even for the fifth time in six meetings.

Photo Credits : AFP

Liverpool announce record New Balance kit deal

Premier League giants Liverpool on Thursday announced that they have agreed the biggest kit supplier deal in their history with American sportswear manufacturer New Balance.

In 2012 Liverpool signed a six-year deal worth £25 million ($38.1 million, 33.4 million euros) a season with Warrior Sports, whose parent company is New Balance.

Their kits will be made by New Balance from next season onwards in a deal reportedly worth up to £300 million ($457m, €400m)).

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership with one of the world’s leading sportswear brands, which is a record-breaking deal for the club,” said Liverpool’s chief commercial officer Billy Hogan in a statement.

“Like Liverpool FC, New Balance has over 100 years of heritage and a global footprint and they have a presence in many countries across the world, which will all feature LFC kit.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Liverpool announce Australia trip

Liverpool will return to Australia later this year as part of their pre-season preparations for the 2015-16 campaign, the Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

Liverpool, who last visited Australia two years ago, will play Brisbane Roar at Queensland’s Suncorp Stadium on July 17 before tackling Adelaide United at the Adelaide Oval three days later.

“We visited Australia for the first time two years ago and the support we received from our Australian fans was incredible,” said Liverpool chief executive officer Ian Ayre in a statement released by the club.

“Liverpool FC has over 600,000 supporters in Australia and we look forward to meeting as many of them as possible while we are in the country.

“Pre-season is an important time for the team as they prepare for the upcoming season and the matches against Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United are an exciting part of that preparation, giving our supporters a chance to see the team up close, no matter how far away from Anfield they live.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Balotelli’s agent says he shouldn’t have left Mancity

Mario Balotelli has been left “insecure” and his Liverpool performances have wrecked his confidence.

Striker Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola claims the Italian will not leave Anfield until he has proved himself.

But Raiola admits: “Balotelli is very disappointed with himself, he’s going through a bad time like he’s never had before.

The agent says that  the plan is for him to continue at Anfield. He reportedly told him on Monday ‘You have a four-year contract and I will not send you away. You only leave Liverpool (valued) at 60-70 million (euros – £45m), and I win my bet, or you will die there’.

“It’s the first time I have made a speech like that to a player – I’ve seen him quiet, changed, different from when he was at Milan.

“People don’t know him but the truth is that Mario is an insecure boy, and it’s down to his insecurity that maybe he does stupid things.

Ivanovic sinks Liverpool as Chelsea reach final

Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time header sent Chelsea into the League Cup final at Liverpool’s expense as the London club edged a breathless semi-final second leg 1-0 on Tuesday.

The Serbian’s goal gave Jose Mourinho’s side a 2-1 aggregate win, taking them into a March 1 final against either Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United and cutting off one of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s paths to a golden send-off before his departure for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 34-year-old now has only the FA Cup and Europa League to aim for, while Chelsea remain on course for three trophies after bouncing back from their humiliating 4-2 loss to third-tier Bradford City in the FA Cup.

Tuesday’s gruelling encounter at an electrified Stamford Bridge will have taken its toll on Mourinho’s squad, however, ahead of Saturday’s crucial home game with title rivals Manchester City in the Premier League, with Cesc Fabregas notably forced off by injury.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa is also at risk of respective punishment after twice appearing to stamp on Liverpool players — Emre Can in the first half and Martin Skrtel, with whom he fought a running battle, in the second.

Last week’s first leg was also a spiky affair and a number of contentious incidents made referee Michael Oliver the centre of attention during a break-neck first half in west London.

Chelsea had two penalty appeals turned down, firstly when a shot from Willian struck Lucas Leiva on the hand and then when Skrtel appeared to catch Costa with his foot as the burly Spain striker looked to wriggle down the byline.

The second appeal was particularly compelling, but Liverpool felt that Costa should have already been sent off by then after he trod on Can’s ankle right in front of the two dug-outs.

– Fabregas hobbles off –

Mourinho made nine changes to the team humbled by Bradford, but Kurt Zouma kept his place ahead of Gary Cahill at centre-back and the 20-year-old Frenchman made an uncertain start.

He had to sprint back to dispossess Raheem Sterling after misjudging a header on halfway and when Philippe Coutinho took him out of the game with a body-swerve, Thibaut Courtois was obliged to block with his feet.

Courtois also jutted out a hand to parry a shot from Alberto Moreno, who had been released by a glorious pass from Gerrard, but Chelsea finished the half strongly, with Oscar twice shooting wide.

Both teams lost players to injury early in the second period, with Fabregas hobbling off after being caught by his own captain John Terry before Mamadou Sakho ceded his place to Glen Johnson.

Round Two of the Costa-Skrtel clash, meanwhile, saw the Slovakian defender left in a heap after the Chelsea striker landed on his foot.

Chelsea began to take charge, with Eden Hazard and Ramires shooting wide and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet twice thwarting Costa.

Moments later, Mourinho reacted furiously when Jordan Henderson, who was on a booking, handled the ball but avoided a second caution.

With Mario Balotelli sent on by manager Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool went into extra time knowing they had to score due to Chelsea’s away goal, but it was the hosts who struck, with Ivanovic heading in Willian’s right-wing free-kick in the 94th minute.

Henderson headed Liverpool’s best chance of an equaliser wide, while Gerrard’s night ended amid frustration as he was booked following a tangle with the irrepressible Costa.

Photo Credits : AFP