Luis Suarez shuts down Darwin Nunez comparison with “own story” to write

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 14:40

Luis Suarez has looked to distance Darwin Nunez from any comparisons to his time at Liverpool as he backed the young forward to “write his own story” at Anfield.

Nunez became the third Uruguayan to join Liverpool after arriving in a deal worth up to £85 million, with Sebastian Coates and Suarez both signing for the club in the early 2010s.

But it is Suarez’s history at Anfield that has drawn comparisons after swiftly captivating the Reds faithful on his way to scoring 82 goals in 133 appearances.

The former No. 7 has already expressed his desire to see Nunez top him in Liverpool’s goalscoring charts but he sees no desire to compare beyond the two being forwards and Uruguayan.

“He [Nunez] will write his own story at Liverpool,” Suarez said, via the Mirror.

“He is Uruguayan and he is a forward but that is where the comparisons stop – he is a special player and doesn’t need to be compared with anybody.

 Benfica's Darwin Nunez during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at the Estádio da Luz. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He is going to a great club with one of the best coaches in the world, players he can learn off, and of course those special fans.”

The journey Nunez will enjoy at Liverpool will be his own, carved out by his own experiences and accomplishments and while Suarez will be there for advice, he does not feel the 22-year-old needs it.

“I can be there to offer him advice about England and about the style of play – but I don’t think he will need it – he will let his talent do the talking,” Suarez added.

That’s not to say that Nunez does not take privilege in following a similar path to that of Suarez, who he has shared the pitch with six times for Uruguay.

“It is an honour for me to follow in your footsteps! I hope I can perform like you did in Liverpool!” Nunez said in a recent Instagram exchange.

And with pre-season returning in less than two weeks’ time, it will not be long before fans see the start of Nunez’s first chapter at Liverpool.

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Liverpool fans love footage of Calvin Ramsay’s bag of tricks as U13s player

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 13:01

Calvin Ramsay is Liverpool’s latest signing of the summer, and the young right-back has had fans talking on social media after a video surfaced of him showing off his tricks at under-13s level.

The Scot became Liverpool’s third senior signing of the summer over the weekend, following Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez through the doors.

Ramsay is set to take the position as Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s deputy and the teenager himself likened his skill set to that of Liverpool’s No. 66.

“Obviously, I’m a right-back, pretty attacking – I like to attack. I’m OK defensively as well, but my main attribute is attacking,” he told LFCTV.

“[Trent is] similar to the way that I play. His attacking, his crosses, he can use both feet, his passing range is obviously quite similar to mine.”

And as Liverpool fans continue to get to know Ramsay after his move, a video has surfaced of the right-back performing flicks and tricks for the camera whilst with Aberdeen’s U13s.

? Calvin Ramsay back when he was with the Aberdeen U13s! pic.twitter.com/rKVHLBOhQU

— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) June 19, 2022

We don’t think too many of us were doing that at 13, and to think it was only around five to six years ago for Ramsay, who will turn 19 in July.

And fans enjoyed what they saw, with plenty of cracking reactions:

This made me smile … a lot https://t.co/9bQrHPag65

— Simon Hindley (@SimonHindley) June 19, 2022

That’s quite ridiculous https://t.co/CRRacvEHYv

— Kossy (@Kyle_koss) June 20, 2022

Lmao… compared to what I looked like at 13 falling over myself running. https://t.co/aTRBtkQ4il

— Nick Cardenas (@Ncardenas04) June 20, 2022

Wish I could do this at 27 ? https://t.co/B4iQNbYvvL

— Gage Cooper (@coachcooperg) June 19, 2022

At least we know he can dribble past Harry Maguire… https://t.co/nR1Ntv2TIw pic.twitter.com/qTDfvkRGQl

— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) June 19, 2022

Project Trent Alexander Arnold https://t.co/XmdPMLVTxz

— . (@_Riddxck) June 19, 2022

Ball mastery, doesn’t matter which position. Get the foundation’s right. https://t.co/GSsRRiVxOO

— David Clements (@dclements54) June 19, 2022

Early signs are good! ? https://t.co/af4FaEGwLk

— Patrick McNiff (@PatrickMcNiff1) June 19, 2022

I like this. A lot. Welcome Calvin Ramsay. https://t.co/DKbYW3njEO

— Tom Thelwell (@ThelwellTom) June 20, 2022

It’s cracking footage of a young teenager aspiring to reach the top, and he’s doing just that only a handful of years later!

Ramsay was not short on confidence in his introduction to Liverpool fans and he is looking forward to show what he is capable of, starting in pre-season in less than 14 days’ time.

“It was a dream come true to play for Aberdeen, and now to be at one of the biggest, if not the biggest, clubs in the world, it’s a massive achievement,” Ramsay said.

“I’m looking forward to trying to show the fans what I’ve got.

“Hopefully I can come in pre-season, show everyone at the club, the staff, the players, what I’ve got, then I’ll see what happens from there.”

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Jürgen Klopp problem is about to get even worse as Liverpool fixtures repeat could force U-turn

Liverpool.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 13:00

There are precious few advantages from a winter World Cup, but Liverpool might just believe that they have gleaned one. After all, by top-flight standards, a surprisingly small number of Jürgen Klopp’s players will be jetting off to Qatar — it’s the closest he will get to the genuine winter break he has always craved. Yet in order to accommodate it, the rest of the schedule has never looked so intense.

Discounting the World Cup, if Liverpool were to play every available game of the season again, it looks likely that they would have a total of two midweeks off between August 29 and May 28. This is a truly gruelling timetable. Even with his masterful squad management, Klopp found his team to be running out of steam at the business end of the last campaign, and it is hard to see how he could avoid that happening again.

Even with the slightly earlier season start date and slightly later finish, there is still an increased demand for midweek fixtures in order to accommodate Qatar. It seems inevitable that Klopp will have cause to give plenty more exasperated press conferences on the back of two important games falling ludicrously close together.

READ MORE: Liverpool could reverse Sadio Mané transfer via £12.8m raid on Bayern Munich star with key trait

READ MORE:Liverpool have Man City transfer edge money cannot buy and Bernardo Silva may be set to prove it

There are a few mitigating factors. Klopp has finally got his wish of reinstating five substitutions on a permanent basis, which should help manage the load. Meanwhile, BT have said that they will avoid situations where teams playing in Europe on Wednesday night get placed in the early Saturday slot. But this is little more than window dressing for what is undoubtedly a ridiculous calendar.

While the likes of Mohamed Salah, Luis Díaz and Joël Matip will miss the World Cup, there are plenty of Liverpool stars who will be representing their countries. Fabinho has already played as many career games as a typical 34-year-old: he is not a central part of the Brazil setup, but he is likely to be involved. Darwin Núñez will be away with Uruguay. It remains to be seen how much he is used, but Trent Alexander-Arnold will surely at least make the England squad.

For these players in particular, there will never have been a more intense season. The Carabao Cup fourth round is scheduled to take place three days after the World Cup final. Then it’s straight back into the swing of Premier League games; if a team remains in both domestic cups and requires replays in the FA Cup, the players may be facing two matches a week all the way through to April 24, including a week of internationals in late March.

It seems a lifetime ago when the top flight agreed to a ‘winter break’ of sorts, giving every team a staggered fortnight off — between Covid and Qatar, player welfare is going backwards.

It could leave Klopp with no choice but to field massively weekend cup sides. The blends of youth and experience that we saw last season might have to give way to entirely junior outfits. Especially if the likes of Takumi Minamino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are moved on this summer, Liverpool will simply not be able to compete on four fronts again, and tough priorities will have to be set.

Nor is there even the silver lining that this is a one-off. While the concept of a winter World Cup will hopefully be consigned to the past, the fixtures will just keep on coming. From 2024/25, the Champions League has sneaked in another bundle of matches, always seeking extra revenue. It seems that each new season brings with it a fresh scheduling horror.

Rival fans love to sneer at Klopp and his concern for player welfare, painting it as some kind of big-club privilege. But it is getting to the stage where everyone will have to admit that Liverpool had a point all along: things are getting ridiculous, and the schedule for this season only serves to underline that reality.

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Liverpool youngster helps keep clean sheet in winning start to U19 Euros

ThisIsAnfield.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 12:02

It was the perfect start to the under-19 European Championships for Liverpool youngster Jarell Quansah, with the defender helping keep a clean sheet in England’s opening win.

Quansah has been a member of Liverpool’s academy since the age of five, working his way up the ranks and earning plenty of plaudits throughout his journey so far.

The 19-year-old is a centre-back by trade but his versatility has seen him utilised at right-back on occasion, but it is the former where he made his start for England.

Quansah was one of three Liverpool academy players to be selected for England’s U19s Euro squad this summer, and was the only representative in the starting XI for Sunday’s opener against Austria.

Harvey Davies missed out on the squad entirely while Luke Chambers was an unused substitute, watching on as the Young Lions secured a 2-0 victory.

A goal in each half from Aston Villa‘s Carney Chukwuemeka and Tottenham‘s Alfie Devine placed England into an early lead in Group B after Israel and Serbia played out a 2-2 draw.

Quansah played the full 90 minutes at right centre-back, effectively keeping Austria at bay alongside his defensive partner Ronnie Edwards, from Peterborough.

Showcasing his passing range and burst of pace off the line, Quansah looked more than at home on the big stage in what was a dominant defensive performance.

And the clean sheet will prove a welcome boost of extra confidence for the teenager, in what was his fourth appearance for his country at U19s level.

England now have meetings with Serbia (June 22) and Israel (June 25) to come, and only the top two teams in each group progress to the semi-finals of the competition.

It’ll prove an invaluable experience for Liverpool’s academy trio and Chambers and Davies will each hope to play a role in the tournament, with eight countries in the running for the crown.

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Liverpool have Man City transfer edge money cannot buy and Bernardo Silva may be set to prove it

Liverpool.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 11:30

When it comes to the transfer market, having the most money tends to be a major advantage. Clearly, the more cash you can offer, the more likely a deal is to get done.

But there are certain things that money cannot buy. Liverpool are by no means poor — they have just committed to a potential club record £85m investment in Darwin Núñez, offset by a number of sales including Sadio Mané — but they equally do not have the unending riches of clubs like PSG, Newcastle United and Manchester City.

What Liverpool do have, though, is the prestige to match the clubs at the very elite end of the game. Once a stepping stone to Barcelona or Real Madrid, there is far less of a fear of the Spanish clubs poaching their players these days thanks to Jürgen Klopp.

READ MORE:Liverpool could reverse Sadio Mané transfer via £12.8m raid on Bayern Munich star with key trait

READ MORE:Liverpool know Raphinha transfer reality is setting in but FSG 'Plan B' could line up perfectly

Philippe Coutinho was the last player to make that jump, and that did not go to plan. Liverpool may have lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid, but both teams are among the very best in the world.

Liverpool also have a transfer plan that makes superstars, rather than buys them. Mohamed Salah has been linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid at times during his Anfield career, but never that seriously.

Should Salah be available on a free transfer next summer, both parties would no doubt be interested, but his representatives have already intimated that he would prefer to remain in England.

So while there are legitimate concerns about where Salah might end up, a move to La Liga is not the inevitable conclusion that would once have been the case.

Reports in Spain over the last couple of days have shown that Manchester City have no such luxury. Erling Haaland, before he has even made his debut, is being touted for a move to Real Madrid.

Haaland supposedly has a release clause in his contract of just over £100m and the Spanish giants are lining up his signing to replace Karim Benzema either next summer or the one after.

Then came news of Bernardo Silva reportedly telling Manchester City that he would like to move to Barcelona should a transfer deal worth considering be placed on the table.

Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City hierarchy are going to be in Barcelona this week to discuss other matters, it is said, and a transfer deal for Silva — who, like Raheem Sterling, is linked with an exit every single summer — could come up in conversation.

It would seem odd for a player to want to move from the Premier League champions to the rebuilding project that Xavi is undertaking (and it remains to be seen whether it is remotely close to being financially viable), but the allure of one of the traditional giants could prove too big to reject.

That is a problem for Manchester City, with Silva one of their key men over the last few seasons — and Haaland viewed as a major coup.

While Liverpool need to sort something out with Salah to avoid the outcome of him signing for a rival — and possibly even Manchester City themselves — Haaland and Silva prove that even having the resources to pay the Egyptian whatever he wants does not come without its own issues.

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Why Liverpool signed Nunez and how Klopp might switch to 4-2-3-1 to help him

the Athletic - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 05:13

Liverpool’s scouts were called to a meeting at the AXA Training Centre in Kirkby last month, where prominent figures from the club’s recruitment department challenged them to improve.

A necessary message, apparently, not because standards have slipped but because of the fear they might.

The operation at Liverpool is one of the most respected in European football but this is a period of change, with Julian Ward taking over from Michael Edwards as sporting director.

The transition has been gradual and subtle rather than sudden and significant, but Ward cannot afford for any of the employees representing him in the field to let up — even if the division he now leads is earning more recognition for the stealth and speed at which it has brokered deals for Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez across successive transfer windows.

luis-diaz Luis Diaz (Photo: Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

It is a sign that nobody in a position of influence at Liverpool believes they have cracked the market.

Ward’s watchers were also impressed by Benfica’s Rafa Silva in the process of their research on Nunez and had the right-sided attacker been a few years younger, then maybe Mohamed Salah’s future would have become a little clearer.

Instead, the Portugal international — who turned 29 in May — remains in Lisbon and Salah will form part of a Liverpool forward line next season, which will pose new questions for rivals because of a redesign.

Like Ward, Jurgen Klopp does not think the team he leads is infallible. Last season, Liverpool found it harder against opponents like Tottenham Hotspur, whose point at Anfield tipped the title race in Manchester City’s favour. Spurs could have won that night, having defended well from their 18-yard line as a narrow back five, keeping the ball in front of them as much as possible before targeting the space left by Liverpool’s attacking full-backs.

As the campaign climaxed, Klopp’s tactical adjustments in each of Liverpool’s final two games were understandably lost as the story of the day switched towards City reclaiming the Premier League title and Real Madrid succeeding in the Champions League final.

Against Wolverhampton Wanderers, whose set-up was similar to Spurs, Liverpool had toiled until Klopp switched from the 4-3-3 formation to 4-2-3-1 with the introduction of Roberto Firmino as a No 10. Though Firmino’s touch was off for the remaining 20 minutes of the game, his presence freed up space for those around him. A 1-1 draw became a 3-1 victory – not that it seemed to really matter given the afternoon ended with celebrations in Manchester.

The following weekend in Paris, Klopp turned to Firmino again and he had more joy individually but could not change the course of the game. Carlo Ancelotti’s assessment of Liverpool’s predictability after Real Madrid’s victory was damming.

“It helped that Liverpool were easier to decipher than the others because they have a very clear identity and we could prepare the way that we did,” he said. “We knew what strategy to take — don’t give them space behind the defence to run into. Perhaps our football wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful on an aesthetic level, but playing out from the back to incentivise their pressing wasn’t a great idea.”

(Photo: Joosep Martinson – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Firmino’s future has barely been spoken about given the focus on Salah and Sadio Mane but Klopp clearly still values him. Perhaps the arrival of Nunez will give the Brazilian an opportunity to redefine himself for a second time in his Liverpool career and alter the threat angles from the team as a whole.

Firmino arrived in 2015 as an attacking midfielder and was initially deployed on the right. For six years, he was Klopp’s centre-forward but Diogo Jota’s yield and the performances of Mane in the position last season seemed to bring that era to an end.

In 2021-22, Firmino played just 20 league games but that number will surely increase if Klopp accommodates Nunez and makes Liverpool less predictable by using a shape he was familiar with at Borussia Dortmund.

At Kirkby, it is still believed that Firmino’s touch is better than any other player. His capacity to connect team-mates and drag defenders around could prove to be vital if Klopp leads with 4-2-3-1 or leans on it when the going gets tough. The addition of Fabio Carvalho will also help Klopp in this area.

During his time as Liverpool’s manager, Klopp has deployed his team from the beginning of matches in a 4-3-3 formation on 300 occasions. Thirty-five times, he has used 4-2-3-1 and in 13 games, 4-4-2. This preference has led to Liverpool’s creation points being in the wide areas.

Last season, Liverpool created 29 per cent of their chances from central areas of the pitch compared to 38 per cent from the right and 33 per cent from the left.

Across the league, Liverpool’s record from central areas was the fifth lowest. Adding a No 10, therefore, might improve creativity from the centre and overload an opponent’s back five with as many as six attacking players (four attackers plus the full-backs).

As an energetic forward who relishes one-on-one battles with defenders, it is thought Nunez’s presence will help Liverpool pin other teams back and give those behind him the room to do damage. A tactical switch of this kind would suit Thiago, allowing him to create from deeper positions while also offering Liverpool double the protection in midfield from any counter-attack.

There is a confidence that Nunez will be able to adjust quickly to Liverpool and the Premier League. 

One of the vogue online jokes relates to Liverpool’s longstanding interest in the players they sign. Roberto Firmino? His talent was recognised fresh from the womb — but, of course, they waited until he was mature enough to move him to Anfield.

There is, however, something that connects Firmino to Nunez, in that both players emerged far away from their country’s cultural centres — and, therefore, far away from any believable vantage point.

Firmino was born in Maceio, more than a thousand miles to the north of Rio de Janeiro, and Nunez was brought up in Artigas, a town on the opposite side of Uruguay to Montevideo. Salah and Mane were the same — forwards whose lives were defined by Egyptian and Senegalese villages before they became national heroes.

In that process, there has been rejection and sacrifice. Firmino was turned away from some of the biggest clubs in Brazil, Salah was ignored in his homeland and Mane’s route to the top was indirect and without certainty.

Klopp tends to work well with characters like these because he knows — as with himself — the desire to prove something has the potential to propel a career further than any natural ability.

Liverpool did not know about Nunez in Artigas, but they do now and this increased the belief that he possessed the right profile for them. They knew, for example, that the first time he went to Penarol, the most famous club in Uruguay said no. They also knew that when he returned, he found it difficult to adapt, and that years later, he suffered a serious injury and almost gave up football.

In 2013, Juan Ahuntchain had taken over as a coaching coordinator at Penarol when he received a call from Nico Gomez about an “interesting” footballer in Artigas, where he operated as a scout. Gomez was going to send him three boys but there was also Nunez, who had already been turned away by Penarol.

Jose Perdomo, a former club captain who led Penarol to the Copa Libertadores title in 1987, was dispatched to the north of the country. In Nunez, he saw a pair of skinny legs but after only a few touches of the ball he could see that he had the speed, power and courage to pass defenders who were bigger than him: a “European-type”.

The boy from the interior did not like it in Montevideo. He missed Artigas, where he returned only to be convinced back again by his representative Edgardo Laslavia, who made living arrangements for him to stay in a house that could accommodate his parents whenever they wanted to visit.

Nunez liked to train, and he listened closely to the advice of the coaches. He began to grow. His running strides became longer, he became more aggressive in everything he did, including his shooting.

This earned him a promotion to the first-team set-up at 17. He would still play for the under-18s, however, and in his desperation to prove himself, he started to do too much during youth games. This led to him tearing a cruciate knee ligament. Though he was told initially the recovery would last six months, it was nearly a year before he was training fully again and during this time, he told coaches that he felt an enormous weight of pressure, “that everyone was betting on him and he could not provide answers”, according to Perdomo.

Though he thought about quitting football and returning to Artigas, “we convinced him with his team-mates not to leave”, Perdomo recalled. “His team-mates were very important because they contained him when things didn’t work out.”

In November 2017, he made his first-team debut, but his knee still wasn’t right and he did not feel ready to play. Through gritted teeth, he proceeded but this led to him needing a second operation.

His entry point to professional football was not easy. By 2018, he was playing regularly for Penarol but struggling to score. There was criticism from journalists and fans. Upon his departure from the club to Almeria in 2019, he had not convinced everyone that he was ready for Europe. Those who really knew him, however — men such as Perdomo and Ahuntchain — saw his potential in a more positive light.

Nunez in action for Penarol (Photo: Jorge Bernal/AFP via Getty Images)

His performances for Almeria attracted attention from the Premier League. In the summer of 2020, Brighton & Hove Albion thought they were close to securing a deal for him having previously dealt with the Spanish club over the transfers of Leonardo Ulloa and Tomer Hemed. Almeria had just been beaten in the second-division play-offs but COVID-19 restrictions put a spanner in the works because they could not bring him to England for face-to-face talks.

Nunez was regarded then by Graham Potter as a younger, more mobile version of the 36-year-old Glenn Murray. He went to Benfica, instead, after the Portuguese champions missed out on Edinson Cavani when he joined Manchester United, prompting the Portuguese giants to switch their attention.

Last summer, Brighton tried again but found the process complicated this time because Benfica were trying to reach the Champions League group stages. The price kept going up and once Benfica had qualified, they weren’t interested in selling.

In January, West Ham believed they were very close to securing a £45 million deal but Benfica were never likely to sell at that price when they had progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League, which meant that the player’s price had the potential to skyrocket.

That is exactly what happened. Before Liverpool’s quarter-final with Benfica — where Nunez scored in each leg — Manchester United had arranged to meet Benfica’s president Rui Costa to discuss a deal but Costa and his family suffered food poisoning celebrating his birthday. With the meeting postponed, United officials were unconvinced and took it as a snub. It did not help United that new manager Erik ten Hag, who likes Nunez a lot having seen him score against Ajax in the Champions League, was not appointed by the time Liverpool started to gain headway in their pursuit. Ten Hag, it is believed, has also since prioritised other positions for improvement — particularly midfield.

After a 3-3 draw at Anfield, Klopp approached Benfica’s caretaker manager Nelson Verissimo and congratulated him for his team’s run in the competition, along with their performance in the game. During that exchange, he also told Verissimo that in Nunez, Benfica were in possession of a fine footballer.

Geography had made it easier for Liverpool to examine Nunez’s development since moving to Spain three years ago. The reports on the club’s database go back to Penarol, however, where he was a team-mate of midfielder Maxi Rodriguez, the former Liverpool midfielder who testified for the player’s appetite in training.

According to Rodriguez, he was a “fighter”, who always turned up early and seemed to push himself further than any of the club’s youngest players. For Klopp — who takes time-keeping very seriously — this was another reason to bring him to Anfield and place him at the centre of his second Liverpool.

When he rocked up in Kirkby last week to pose for photographs and conduct interviews with the club’s in-house media team, he lived up to his reputation by arriving much earlier than anyone expected.

(Top photos: Getty Images/Design: Kris Sheasby)

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Golden Games: The 50 greatest individual Premier League performances ranked

the Athletic - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 05:05

In the breathless moments after the final whistle in the Premier League, a player is ushered into a makeshift interview suite, told he has been named the man of the match and invited to make grand, sweeping conclusions about the game and its significance.

After a particularly impressive individual display, the player might be asked: “Where does that rank?” — to which the default answer is “Yeah, no, it’s right up there.”

“Right up there” is a safe response because, truly, how can a player be expected to self-analyse so soon?

Players know when they have played well or played badly, but over the course of 90-plus minutes of physical exertion and intense focus, in and out of possession, alternately going on instinct and making split-second decisions under pressure, they are rather unlikely to have considered their performance in any wider context.

The question will always be asked, though, because when watching sport we love to quantify the unquantifiable. It is never enough to say you have witnessed a great performance. There is always the temptation to wonder and debate where it ranks.

All of which brings us to Golden Games, a series in which The Athletic writers will pay tribute to what we consider the 50 greatest individual performances of the Premier League era. (And before anyone says it, yes, we know very well that football existed long before 1992 but, given that this summer brings the 30th anniversary of that particular rebranding exercise, it feels an opportune moment for this.)

So … 30 seasons. Would you like to guess how many individual performances that adds up to? Well, let’s talk you through it.

From the historic opening weekend in August 1992 — when all but 13 of the 242 starters were from the British Isles and when all the hype about “A Whole New Ball Game” seemed terribly misplaced — to that dramatic, climactic Sunday afternoon last month, there have been 11,646 matches. Each match has had 22 players in the starting line-up, so that’s … yes, 256,212. And top of that there have been 53,737 run-outs as a substitute, so that makes…

Yes, that’s right. Well done to all of you who knew that precisely 309,949 appearances have been made in the Premier League by a total of 4,488 players.

No fewer than 653 of those appearances, spanning a 20-year period with Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and West Bromwich Albion, were made by Gareth Barry. That might sound like an awful lot until you realise that it is just 0.21 per cent of the total. You could throw Ryan Giggs (632 appearances), Frank Lampard (609), James Milner (588) and David James (572) into the mix and you would still be just short of one per cent of the total appearances made.

Will any of Gareth Barry’s 653 appearances make the final list? (Getty Images)

And here at The Athletic we’re looking to celebrate the top 50. That isn’t the top one per cent. That isn’t even the top 0.1 per cent. It’s the top 0.01613168618063 per cent. It’s like asking you to name the 50 best days of your life… if you lived to the age of 849.

But without wanting to give away too many spoilers, Ali Dia’s solitary appearance, that infamous cameo for Southampton against Leeds United in November 1996, didn’t make the top 50. Neither did Peter Enckelman’s nightmare for Aston Villa against Birmingham City in September 2002 or Jon Walters’ tough afternoon at the office (two own goals and a missed penalty) for Stoke City against Chelsea in January 2013. See? We’re three down already. We’ll be down to 50 in no time.

I’ll let you in on something. We didn’t actually put all 11,646 matches into consideration. We just spent weeks debating — and not just among ourselves — which performances over the course of the Premier League era stood out in our collective memories.

This isn’t just about the big names and the best players. We did that for our Premier League 60 series two years ago — and some of the arguments are only just beginning to quieten down. 

Around half of the players who made that list appear in this one too, but there are some very notable absentees, along with a few others who are best remembered for one extraordinary performance — a day when “Where does that rank?” might actually have elicited a straightforward answer.

Of course, our selections are subjective. Newspapers have run player ratings for decades and in more recent times there have been many more sophisticated attempts to use data to measure individual performance, but, whether it is whoscored.com or the Sky Sports Power rankings (which respectively had Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min as the best performer in the Premier League this season), no system is foolproof.

Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, was narrowly short of a perfect ten (9.7) when he scored a hat-trick for Manchester United against Norwich City in April, but was that really one of the great Premier League performances? Or was, say, his display away to Tottenham last October (one goal, one assist, a mere 8.5 on the whoscored.com scale) more impressive?

So this exercise was not data-driven — not least because data from the first two decades of the Premier League is so disappointingly scarce. Instead, we tapped into our memory banks, scoured the archives, debated endlessly and sought wider expertise to build a very, very long list of performances that was ultimately and arduously whittled down to 50.

As well as the beat reporters at the clubs we cover full-time, we sought the expertise of fans and writers from clubs like Barnsley, Blackpool, Bradford City, Oldham Athletic, Reading, Swindon Town and Wigan Athletic. If we couldn’t find room for, say, the goalkeeping heroics of Matt Clarke or a hat-trick from Jan Aage Fjortoft or Aruna Dindane, we wanted to make sure we did at least give them every consideration.

fjortoft Fjortoft’s performance was among the hundreds (and hundreds (and hundreds))) considered (Getty Images)

We had just one ground rule. No player could feature more than once. So if, let’s say, a brilliant Belgian midfielder at a club in the north-west was already on our list for one spellbinding performance from 2017 and he then produced another in the final weeks of this season, it would have been a question of picking between those two displays. That particular player might end up featuring once (spoiler alert) but neither he nor anyone else is going to make it twice.

Instead, we have produced a list that we feel reflects the great and the good and, crucially, a few performances which proved exceptional in more ways than one.

Inevitably we found more room for feats of goalscoring and creative genius — and goalkeeping — than for understated excellence in other areas. (Seriously, you try persuading your colleagues of the merits of Billy Kenny’s performance in the first Merseyside derby of the Premier League era when it’s almost 30 years since you watched it in a teenage, drunken haze and when, deep down, try as you might, all you can really remember is a couple of crunching tackles.)

But we have insisted on a variety, so that it isn’t just a case of recalling one hat-trick after another. We have also been careful to ensure a sensible spread. Some seasons don’t feature at all, but the early years of the Premier League feature prominently; in fact, at the time of writing (because you can never rule out a last-minute change with these things), I’m delighted to tell you that no season features more frequently than 1993-94.

Some of you might be annoyed or bewildered that a certain performance or a certain player — or even a certain club — doesn’t feature.

Please don’t be. It’s not intended as a definitive list. It’s a bit of fun, designed to give our readers something more to enjoy during the gap between one Premier League season and another. (To give our writers something to write about over the summer, you mean? How dare you. There is always plenty going on. This is just another offering.)

As with the Premier League 60 series, we hope you’ll enjoy the content rather than worry unduly about the rankings or any perceived slights on your favourite player or club.

It is inevitable that some clubs feature more than others (and some not at all), but there is a wide range of players, a wide range of personalities and a wide range of stories behind the performances. And sometimes the context, the circumstances and the backstory will allow us to see a player’s contribution in a very different light.

In some cases, where the facility allows, we will use Wyscout to evaluate the performance and analyse it in painstaking detail. In other cases we might look at it through the eyes of his opponents.

And, where possible, we will get some insight from the players themselves — and perhaps now, decades on in some cases, they will be able to recall through the mists of time that the performance in question really was right up there. Right up in the top 0.01613168618063 per cent.

(Main graphic — photos: Getty Images/design: Sam Richardson)

We will thread every article in this series below, as well as collecting them together here.

No 50: Jamie Vardy, for Leicester City v Manchester United

No 49: Wayne Rooney, for Everton v Bolton Wanderers

No 48: Mesut Ozil, for Arsenal v Leicester City

No 47: Jay-Jay Okocha, for Bolton Wanderers v  Tottenham Hotspur

Jay-Jay Okocha, Bolton, Golden Games

No 46: Niall Quinn, for Sunderland v Chelsea

No 45: Mark Viduka, for Leeds United v Liverpool

No 44: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for Manchester United v Nottingham Forest

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool know Raphinha transfer reality is setting in but FSG 'Plan B' could line up perfectly

Liverpool.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 03:00

It’s easy to understand why Liverpool might admire Leeds United winger Raphinha. In a side that spent the 2021/22 campaign teetering on the boundary between safety and relegation, he managed to hit 11 goals, ranking him inside the Premier League’s top 15 scorers.

He only provided three assists, some way down on his 2020/21 tally of eight, but a more accurate representation of his creative threat is his expected assist tally of 6.8 — the eighth-best in the division.

And beyond the numbers, Raphinha is electrifying to watch, playing with equal degrees of joy and appetite.

Unfortunately, Liverpool may miss their opportunity to sign him. Mohamed Salah, the incumbent right winger, has vowed to see out the final year of his contract, and so there won’t be a vacancy in that position for at least 12 months.

READ MORE:Second Liverpool transfer U-turn would be huge risk as confirmed FSG arrival means plan is clear

READ MORE:Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are just the start as Liverpool have new double contract dilemma

This summer, it’s probably fair to say FSG have neither the means nor the inclination to pursue Raphinha, nor would the player accept a back-up role, even in the short term.

While the situation could be very different in 2023, it seems the ship will have sailed by that point.

Raphinha is seemingly bound for a top side this summer, with The Athletic reporting that Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea are all targeting the 25-year-old. It’s been suggested that the player’s preference is to move to Barcelona, but the debt-riddled La Liga giants may be in no position to pay.

Crucially, Leeds are willing negotiators. They’re ‘sympathetic to Raphinha’s ambition' and will not be ‘unfair or obstructive if their valuation is met’.

If indeed Raphinha does join a Premier League rival, then it would probably be a step too far to label him ‘the one that got away’, given that Liverpool never seemed to formalise any interest. But there may certainly be an element of ‘what if’.

The Brazilian is one of two players who have looked like leading candidates to replace Salah. The other is West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen, who may now become the priority for FSG.

Jürgen Klopp has made no secret of his admiration for Bowen, dubbing him an ‘unbelievable player’ before the Hammers visited Anfield in March. And in the background, the Reds have been ‘monitoring him for years’, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Bowen’s efforts last season will only have strengthened their admiration. He was one of only three players, along with Salah and Mason Mount, to reach double figures for both goals (12) and assists (12). And only Salah (36), Son Heung-min (30) and Harry Kane (26) recorded more direct contributions overall. His Premier League Player of the Season nomination was well deserved.

Unlike Leeds, West Ham will not countenance the sale of their star attacker this summer. London World claim that the Irons will refuse to ‘yield to pressure’ from interested parties, and that stance looks to have been heeded for the time being.

Significantly, a separate report from the Evening Standard revealed that West Ham are planning to hold talks with Bowen over a contract extension, with his current deal due to expire in 2025.

If Bowen is hesitant to commit amid very real interest from Liverpool and other elite sides, and those talks are unsuccessful as a result, then West Ham’s position might well be different next summer. A lucrative sale may have to be considered.

There will inevitably be calls for Liverpool to replace a player of Salah’s standing with someone who has already established themselves as world class. But Klopp appears to have a great deal of faith in Bowen, and it’s the kind of signing FSG have made before.

Even more so than the Sadio Mané of Southampton and the Diogo Jota of Wolves, Bowen is shining at an upper mid-table outfit and looks ready to explode when, inevitably, he makes a step up. The pieces may be falling into place for a move to Anfield in 2023.

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Second Liverpool transfer U-turn would be huge risk as confirmed FSG arrival means plan is clear

Liverpool.com - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 01:00

Whether it is down to the changing of the guard between Michael Edwards and Julian Ward or merely imperfect reporting of the facts, there is a perception that Liverpool have changed their minds quite a bit already this summer. Most recently, it emerged that FSG are apparently weighing up the idea of not selling Nat Phillips, despite seemingly only agreeing to an initial loan in the first place in order to help facilitate a permanent sale. Now, a second and related U-turn could be on the horizon.

Neco Williams left the club in very similar circumstances in January, departing on a loan to the Championship with a view to a potential permanent sale. While there was a little less emphasis on the future transfer — FSG were initially not even going to consider loan bids for Phillips — the underlying motivation was much the same. With Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back for Liverpool, there must have been an acceptance within the club that the young Welshman’s long-term future lay elsewhere.

In fact, in allowing Williams to leave mid-season, Liverpool left themselves short at right-back. At times during the run-in, Joe Gomez was forced to deputise there. The full-back was not surplus to requirements in terms of the overall squad picture, yet FSG still let him go out on loan: the motivation surely must have been financial, with the idea being that a successful second half of the season could lead to a big transfer.

READ MORE:Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are just the start as Liverpool have new double contract dilemma

READ MORE:Liverpool could break transfer 'done' pledge for Real Madrid star who could be FSG stop-gap

In this respect, FSG could hardly have hoped for more. Williams returned from Fulham with a winner’s medal around his neck, having helped them back to the top flight. He also built up an impressive highlights reel, chalking up eye-catching assists and goals alike. Still only 21, there is bound to be a major market for the Liverpool player.

Despite this, it seems Liverpool are now toying with the idea of keeping Williams on the books. The Mirror reports that he has been told he can leave on loan — a path they are also considering for fellow automatic promotion winner Phillips.

There is some sense behind another loan move. The case of Phillips helps to illustrate the argument : still relatively young and still under contract for a long time, another impressive campaign (this time in the top flight) is likely to help rather than hinder resale value. Add to that the potential loan fees, and it looks like the most profitable route for Liverpool and FSG.

Many of the same considerations apply to Williams. At 21, he is younger than his defensive colleague. His contract runs until 2025. And he probably had the slightly more impressive Championship spell, suggesting he has the greater potential to really kick on and boost his value in the Premier League.

But this second U-turn may be a risk too far for FSG. After all, with Phillips, there is at least the residual possibility of keeping him at Liverpool if a transfer on suitable terms does not materialise. Virgil van Dijk and Joël Matip are getting on in years, and Joe Gomez faces an uncertain future. There is a route into a squad role for the hero of 2020/21. For Williams, the same does not hold true.

After all, Liverpool have just bought Calvin Ramsay, the transfer having been confirmed yesterday morning. The Scot is a mere 18 years old, making Williams look like a seasoned campaigner by comparison. Between him and Alexander-Arnold, the right-back position is locked away for comfortably over a decade: there is simply no need for further cover.

Buyers will be aware of this, and every year that Williams is not sold is a year that his value decreases. It seems clear that he will not want to sign a new contract at Liverpool: even with the expiry date still distant, precious few clubs will want to come in with bumper bids for an asset that is clearly not wanted long-term at Anfield. The best time to sell him was before Ramsay even arrived; the second-best time is now.

Perhaps Liverpool are pinning their hopes on the winter World Cup, where Williams has a reasonable chance of impressing for Wales. This would give his transfer value a nice boost. But even then, he will still be the third-choice right-back at club level, and anyone seeking to acquire him will know that FSG are playing with a weak hand. The benefits of delaying the sale are not at all guaranteed.

FSG have got plenty of transfer gambles right over the years, and they have earned a degree of trust. But while loaning Phillips out again makes sense in isolation, adding Williams to the mix makes it look more like a hoarding policy. Outgoing business is every bit as hard as making new signings, and Ward cannot stall forever at Liverpool.

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Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are just the start as Liverpool have new double contract dilemma

Liverpool.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 22:00

Mohamed Salah’s contract situation has been the centre of attention at Liverpool for some time now.

At first, it was uncomfortably lurking beneath the surface, but it progressively came to the fore, and now time is ticking. There’s a very real prospect that, 12 months from now, Salah will be leaving Anfield on a free transfer.

It was inevitable that the issue would demand so much coverage. This is one of the best players in the world, potentially about to part ways with one of the biggest clubs.

READ MORE:Liverpool could break transfer 'done' pledge for Real Madrid star who could be FSG stop-gap

READ MORE:Diogo Jota must change one thing at Liverpool as Darwin Núñez transfer could become a positive

The consequence, though, is that other players receive less publicity. It’s feasible that this left Sadio Mané, whose deal also expires in 2023, feeling a little underappreciated, making the opportunity to be the main man at Bayern Munich all the more attractive.

Amidst all the speculation about Salah and Mané, other futures are at stake too. Naby Keïta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, most notably, Roberto Firmino could quietly be heading for the exit door too.

And now there are two more contract dilemmas on the horizon that might again slip under the radar.

There are three first-team players due to be out of contract in 2024. One of them is Joe Gomez, but he’s expected to pen an extension, according to the Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe, and so it’s the futures of Thiago and Joël Matip that are truly intriguing.

This may initially seem like a distant concern, but by January, they might well have reached the final 18 months of their deals, a reality which can’t be ignored. Just ask Salah and Mané about how quickly these things come around.

Thiago demonstrated last season that he remains one of the best midfielders in the world. He was particularly impressive in the spring, winning Liverpool’s Player of the Month award for April after a succession of man-of-the-match-worthy displays.

But the big concern for Liverpool will be his availability. He missed 20 games over the course of the campaign with three separate injuries — one calf, one hip, one thigh. His absence was keenly felt in costly draws against Brentford and Brighton in the autumn.

Thiago will be 33 by the end of his current contract and, from a business standpoint, it might be regarded as imprudent to renew his deal, especially when you consider that he’s one of the club’s highest earners.

Matip’s situation isn’t actually all that different. He too is one of the best in his position, not only in the Premier League but also in Europe.

But historically, he has also been riddled by injuries. Since he joined Liverpool in 2016, he’s been sidelined for a cumulative 95 matches by 12 different complaints.

Fans had become resigned to recurring lay-offs but last season, Matip was surprisingly injury-free. He made 42 appearances in all competitions, a new personal best for his Anfield career.

But while there hasn’t been a visible impact as yet, the worry is that the succession of injuries he has suffered will ultimately limit his longevity at the top level. And, unlike in the case of Thiago, Liverpool have already recruited a ready-made successor in the form of Ibrahima Konaté.

Indeed, after starting the Champions League final, the Frenchman may look to firmly establish himself as Virgil van Dijk’s number one partner next season. That's before considering the aforementioned pending renewal for Gomez.

Liverpool might be more inclined, then, to offer Thiago a new contract. But negotiations with both players may hinge on their willingness to accept shorter-term deals.

And if they’re both missing for lengthy periods next season, then the club may hesitate to even open talks in the first place. In those circumstances, there’s a very real prospect that Matip and Thiago are sold next summer or, more likely, leave on a free transfer in 2024. Move over, Salah and Mané: there's a new saga in town.

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Why Joe Gomez’s 11-start season was still a positive for Liverpool defender

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 18:00
Joe Gomez did not enjoy the game time he may have hoped for Liverpool in 2021/22, but it was far from a campaign of doom and gloom for a player still yet to peak.

When Gomez stepped towards the touchline in Innsbruck on July 29, alongside his long-term defensive partner Virgil van Dijk, it was a truly significant moment.

Two of the biggest casualties of Liverpool’s horrendous run of injuries during their title defence, Gomez and Van Dijk made their long-awaited returns in a 4-3 friendly loss to Hertha Berlin.

The younger of the pair had missed eight months with a freak knee injury suffered in training with the England national team – the latest in a series of long-term setbacks.

It was a landmark for Gomez and Van Dijk, who went on to make two more appearances each for Liverpool in pre-season.

But while Van Dijk soon picked up where he left off as the Reds’ centre-back general, things were much slower for Gomez throughout the campaign just gone – leading to a spell of uncertainty.

Joe Gomez, 2020/21

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez takes a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez takes a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Started: 11 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 10
Unused sub: 28
Goals: 0
Assists: 1

Overall Season Rating: 7.12

An unwanted role

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“This is probably the most challenging one, for sure,” Gomez reflected on his 261-day layoff with a ruptured patellar tendon, in an interview in August.

He added: “It’s been mentally really challenging in the sense that having to rebuild my body this many times.

“I think some players sometimes when it happens we see it as a project, a chance to come back better, stronger and I had that many setbacks and warnings I was already so grateful to be fit and to be playing, I didn’t really need the reminder at the time.”

It is hard not to feel sympathy for Gomez, one of the most humble characters in the Liverpool squad, with four major injuries to contend with in his seven seasons at Anfield so far.

In that respect, that he was able to return and play a part in a relentless campaign should be considered a victory in its own right.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez lines-up with team-mates before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez lines-up with team-mates before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But while he looked forward to a “fresh start,” there is no doubt Gomez will have been disappointed with the lack of minutes afforded to him upon his return.

He made 21 appearances in all competitions – remarkably, the fourth-most in his seven terms with the club – but was limited to only 11 starts.

Only four of those were in the Premier League, the first of those coming at home to Norwich on February 19 – almost seven months after that comeback appearance in Austria.

Nineteen players clocked more minutes than Gomez (1,022), including January signing Luis Diaz, with Van Dijk (4,530) one of three to play over four times the amount of his fellow centre-back.

It was to be a bit-part role for Liverpool’s No. 12, then, but to his credit, whenever called upon he largely delivered.

Right-back rise

 Liverpool's captain Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's captain Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gomez was solid if unspectacular in his first two starts of the season against AC Milan and Norwich – wearing the captain’s armband in the League Cup win over the Canaries – before letting his standards slip against Preston and Leicester.

In those two outings, he was culpable of sleepwalking at times and, as a result, gifted chances that should have been easily avoided.

The turn of the year brought a new role and a new lease of life, however, with Gomez handed his first Premier League start of the season against Norwich.

One of seven changes to Klopp’s lineup, he took up duties as right-back and shone: robust, full of energy, clinical in possession and showing the drive needed when filling in for the world’s best in that position.

His crossing had improved, as had his judgement on the ball, while time spent honing his long-range passing over the summer clearly paid off.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. The game ended 0-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. The game ended 0-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That seemed to convince the manager of his abilities out wide, with five of his six starts between that 3-1 victory and the end of the season coming at right-back.

He was the standout performer on a surprisingly tough night at Nottingham Forest, even going close to breaking his seven-season duck in front of goal, and followed that up with another strong showing against Watford 13 days later.

A more functional night against Benfica was up next, before a sensational display in the 1-0 victory over Newcastle that kept Liverpool’s title hopes alive at the end of April.

After that game, Gomez acknowledged the value of his supporting role, ensuring Liverpool “stay at it” despite a number of changes to the starting lineup ahead of the Champions League semi-final decider at Villarreal.

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It may not have been the role Gomez hoped for upon his return from injury, but it is crucial to note that not every player recovers as quickly as Van Dijk did.

In a way, one of the biggest positives of the campaign was the optimism he showed after a potentially damaging injury on his final start of the season at Southampton.

Gomez avoided a serious issue that night at St Mary’s, but it could have been far worse.

And shrugging off those freak collisions is a big hurdle for any player on the comeback trail, let alone one treading it for the fourth time.

The season just gone should be considered a frontier for Gomez, then, rather than a marker of his long-term standing under Klopp.

A two-fold challenge

 Liverpool's captain Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's captain Joe Gomez during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All signs are that, despite his lack of minutes throughout the campaign, Gomez will not only be staying at Liverpool beyond the summer, but also extending his contract.

That can only be considered a positive for the Reds, with the 25-year-old still one of the best defenders in the Premier League regardless of injuries.

But if he does pledge his future to Anfield as expected, he will do so on the understanding that there is a big challenge ahead.

Not only are Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate firmly cemented as top-level options ahead of him in the centre-back pecking order, but Klopp has also moved to bring in Calvin Ramsay as a like-for-like backup to Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.

 Liverpool's (L-R) Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip celebrates with the trophy after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's (L-R) Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip celebrates with the trophy after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That would suggest that Gomez’s end-of-season niche as an improving right-back may have been erased, though he is undoubtedly a player who thrives in adversity.

Leapfrogging the likes of Matip, Konate and Ramsay is not out of the question by any means, but Gomez will need to take his new-found tools and that hardened mental strength into battle with him next season.

Best moment: A Man of the Match performance at right-back against Newcastle

Worst moment: The lack of starts

Role next season: Realistically, fourth choice – but a battle with Matip and Konate awaits

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Liverpool duo training together in Marbella to kickstart pre-season early

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 14:57

Rhys Williams and Leighton Clarkson are looking to gain an early advantage over two weeks before Liverpool’s pre-season starts, training together in Marbella.

With Darwin Nunez, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay all now through the door, it is widely expected that no more signings will be made at Anfield this summer.

There is, however, a group of players whose futures remain in question and are likely to be resolved in the coming months.

At least on a short-term basis, two of those players are Williams and Clarkson, who ended last season as part of the Liverpool under-23s squad following unsuccessful loan spells.

They both departed Merseyside last summer, only to return midway through the campaign having made just seven appearances for Swansea and Blackburn respectively.

 Liverpool lift the trophy after winning 1-0 in the Lancashire Senior Cup Final match between Burnley FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the County Ground. (Pic by Sam Fielding/Propaganda)

To their credit, the academy graduates put the disappointment behind them to end the season strongly, including triumph over Burnley in the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup.

Liverpool are likely to consider loan offers for both Williams and Clarkson this summer, but they could also be given a chance to impress Jurgen Klopp in the early weeks of pre-season training.

It is heartening, then, that they have already been working on their fitness together during a post-season holiday in Marbella.

In a post from Williams on Instagram, the 21-year-old centre-back shared a series of photos of him alongside Clarkson:

Every player from the Liverpool squad will have been given individual training programmes to maintain their fitness over the off-season, but it is clear that Williams and Clarkson are eager to impress.

Whether that results in a role in Klopp’s first-team squad remains to be seen, particularly given the competition in both defence and midfield.

Williams ended the season as de facto fifth choice at centre-back, but is behind Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez, with Nat Phillips, Sepp van den Berg and Ben Davies all, as it stands, to return from loan.

 Liverpool's Leighton Clarkson during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Leeds FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at Elland Road. Leeds United won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, there is a sense that Tyler Morton could be given more chances in the middle of the park next term, while Carvalho also joins a group comprised of Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho, Naby Keita, James Milner, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

That could, in all likelihood, restrict the opportunities given to Clarkson – who Klopp has previously compared to German legend Philipp Lahm.

Nevertheless, Williams and Clarkson can only aim to outperform their team-mates both on and off the pitch if they are to convince Klopp in the summer ahead.

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Liverpool’s new Nike away kit ‘confirmed’ by official phone case partner

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 14:26

Liverpool are yet to release their new Nike away kit for the 2022/23 campaign, but a well-known leak appears to have been confirmed by a very unlikely source.

As is now tradition, Liverpool are set to unveil their next away and third kits over the coming two months, having already released the home kit for the new season.

But as is now also typical, a number of leaks have already been made regarding the design of the new shirts – including one ASOS model inadvertently revealing the third kit in a post on TikTok.

Back in March, the reliable Footy Headlines shared leaked mockups of the away shirt featuring an iridescent design over a white backdrop, with black accenting.

It was unclear whether this would be the final design, as though Liverpool will sign off with Nike months in advance, early models are always subject to change.

Now, however, an update from the club’s official mobile phone case partner has seemingly confirmed that it will, in fact, be the shirt for 2022/23.

Leak on away confirmed by the clubs official mobile phone case partner. pic.twitter.com/rHylz4rk4i

— Kyle (@KB2X) June 17, 2022

A photo shared by @KB2X on Twitter, and subsequently reported by Footy Headlines, shows two example designs for a new range of phone cases, including one in line with the new home kit.

Alongside the red design is a white case with an iridescent pattern, which is strikingly similar to designs previously leaked, including on an official Liverpool ball reported by Ofoball in March.

* Mockup based on leaked information.

This is, of course, not yet full confirmation that this will be the away shirt Jurgen Klopp‘s side will be wearing next season.

But it certainly seems increasingly likely that will be the case, as more often than not these leaks prove to be accurate.

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Luis Suarez has surprise influence on Liverpool’s new right-back

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 13:23

Liverpool are bringing in a new generation of talent and, though it may be difficult to read, the still-active Luis Suarez was Calvin Ramsay’s favourite growing up.

For many Liverpool supporters, it still feels very recent that Suarez was tearing it up at Anfield and on the road in a red shirt.

The Uruguay striker spent three years on Merseyside between 2011 and 2014, scoring 82 goals and laying on 46 assists in 133 games for the club, including a ridiculous 31 goals and 19 assists in 37 appearances in his final campaign.

Since leaving Liverpool in 2014, Suarez enjoyed six years with Barcelona before making the successful switch to Atletico Madrid, where he is due to leave this summer as a free agent.

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the second goal against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the second goal against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Still only 35, it is mind-boggling to consider the former Reds No. 7 as an influence on young players now making their way to the club.

But that is the case for not only fellow Uruguayan forward Darwin Nunez, but also Scottish right-back Ramsay, who revealed in his arrival interview that Suarez was one of his favourites as a child.

“I know I’m a defender, but I quite liked Luis Suarez when he was here,” Ramsay, who was only 10 during the 2013/14 season, told LFCTV.

“I thought he was brilliant. I’d say he was a big one.

“Obviously Steven Gerrard as well, he’s a legend here. Hopefully I can go on and make my mark as well!”

It was Ramsay’s father, Graham, who first introduced the youngster to Liverpool, taking him to see a game as a two-year-old, which sparked a lifelong connection.

Though he has previously pledged his allegiance to Aberdeen, it is no surprise that upon swapping Pittrodie for Anfield the right-back has claimed himself a Reds fan.

“Obviously I support Liverpool,” he said.

“I was here when I was young and can remember it well. Obviously, my dad showed some photos which I don’t really want to be seeing!

“But it’s a massive club, it’s an unbelievable feeling to be here and I’m ready to get started.”

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Liverpool still have four big deals to complete this summer as Julian Ward just getting started

Liverpool.com - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 13:00

Liverpool have been pretty decisive in the transfer market already, and it hasn’t even officially opened.

Darwin Núñez, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay have all signed for the club, with the Scot's arrival being confirmed this morning. The trio will potentially cost the club around £100m, should all bonuses and add-ons be met.

But according to most sources, that will be the end of Liverpool’s dealings in the summer market, with the club focusing solely on departures and recouping money. The likes of Takumi Minamino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nat Phillips and Neco Williams could all be moved on permanently as they hover around the fringes of the first team.

READ MORE:Man City have major Erling Haaland problem that Darwin Núñez transfer ensured Liverpool avoid

READ MORE:Six senior players who Jürgen Klopp could sell this summer as Liverpool set to make millions

But handling the outgoings is not the extent of the to-do list for Julian Ward. Liverpool will also aim to do four further deals this summer: extending contracts.

It’s been reported that the club will sit down with Naby Keïta, Joe Gomez, Harvey Elliott and Diogo Jota and discuss renewing deals with the quartet.

All four had variable seasons for Liverpool in 2021/22. Keïta arguably produced his most consistent work for the club since joining, as he avoided injuries for most of the season, but crowned things with an abysmal Champions League miss; Gomez hardly played due to the increased competition for places; Elliott started brightly before suffering that horrendous double fracture that kept him out for three months, and Jota scored goals for fun in the first half of the season before tailing off in the second as he lost his place in the side.

Yet all four of them are cherished by Jürgen Klopp, and so it makes sense to renew their deals and keep them at the club for the foreseeable future.

Keïta’s contract is obviously the most pressing one of the four, given that it expires in 12 months’ time. Klopp has more than once expressed how much of an admirer he is of the Guinean’s, but of course it’s always been about maintaining his fitness and finding rhythm.

Keïta played more minutes last season than in any of his previous ones at Anfield, and while a divisive figure among fans, renewing his deal is a logical move.

Gomez’s situation is a little trickier to call, as he’s reportedly unhappy at the lack of game time he received in 2021/22. Had he not switched to cover Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, Gomez would have hardly kicked a ball for Liverpool all season. He’s been the big loser in the increased competition for places at centre back, with Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konaté and Joël Matip all ahead of him.

Liverpool clearly value Gomez, but it remains to be seen if staying at the club is best for his future prospects, especially with the World Cup just around the corner.

Elliott’s situation seems a mere formality, and likely the easiest contract to settle. The youngster broke through to the first team at the start of the season before his injury curtailed his development. But the club clearly see a bright future for him and so renewing his deal won’t be any issue.

Jota will also likely not cause any issues in extending his deal. Jota was the biggest loser in the Luis Díaz deal, as his impact was so immediate, he was handed the starting position on the left-hand side. Sadio Mané was then shifted inside to the centre and Jota was relegated to the bench.

It seems like Jota is now Liverpool’s fourth choice attacker, but given the amount of games Liverpool play in any given season, he will still play a fair amount of games.

Should Liverpool tie each of the four down to long term contracts, then it would be a very smart move by the club, leaving just the biggest of the lot to try and finalise — Mohamed Salah’s. Good luck with that, Mr. Ward.

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Ramsay: I joined Liverpool because of the pathway for young players

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 12:00
Calvin Ramsay revealed his decision to join Liverpool was massively influenced by the club's reputation of providing the platform for young players to flourish in the first team.
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'Bags of potential' - Jürgen Klopp excited by Calvin Ramsay signing

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 11:30

Jürgen Klopp is confident Calvin Ramsay will continue his impressive and swift development after sealing a move to Liverpool FC.

The Scotland U21 international right-back has signed a long-term contract with the Reds to join from Aberdeen, subject to international clearance, where he played 39 games, provided nine assists and scored one goal following a senior debut in March 2021.

A breakthrough season in 2021-22 ended with Ramsay being voted Young Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers’ Association.

And Klopp sees in the club’s new No.22 a promising mix of experience for his age and significant scope for more improvement at Anfield.

“Calvin is another exciting young player, so we’re very pleased,” the manager told Liverpoolfc.com of his third recruit of the summer.

“He has bags of potential. He is only 18 years old at the moment, although turns 19 soon and already has a decent number of first-team appearances for a defender of his age.

“He is athletic, smart, confident, with good technical ability and – always crucial – is eager to learn. So there’s lots to like.

“Experiences of European and U21 international football have been really important for him and his development, too.

“Signing so early in the window is fantastic for him as it means he’ll be with us for pre-season. That helps so much, particularly for a younger signing coming to us.

“He and we will have patience with each other. I think we have proved ours is the ideal environment to nurture and harness the qualities and talent of a young player.

“So we’re all really looking forward to working with him and seeing him improve and develop.”

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'Bags of potential' - Jürgen Klopp excited by Calvin Ramsay signing

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 11:30
Jürgen Klopp is confident Calvin Ramsay will continue his impressive and swift development after sealing a move to Liverpool FC.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Calvin Ramsay's LFC squad number revealed

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 11:00

Calvin Ramsay will wear the No.22 shirt for Liverpool FC.

The Scotland U21 right-back has become the Reds’ third new signing of the summer after completing a switch from Aberdeen on a long-term contract, subject to international clearance.

Ramsay has selected the No.22 jersey for his new club.

Previous wearers of the number for Liverpool include Titi Camara, Chris Kirkland, Simon Mignolet and Momo Sissoko.

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Calvin Ramsay's LFC squad number revealed

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 11:00
Calvin Ramsay will wear the No.22 shirt for Liverpool FC.
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