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Updated: 20 min 14 sec ago

Luis Suarez warns “one of the best” Darwin Nunez after reclaiming his No. 9 shirt

42 min 57 sec ago

Luis Suarez has hailed Darwin Nunez as a “very good kid” who will be “one of the best,” but warned his Uruguay team-mate they’re competing for a starting spot.

Nunez showed his “respect” towards his elder ahead of Copa America, as he vacated his No. 9 shirt for the legendary Uruguay striker.

Suarez has been restored to Marcelo Bielsa’s squad for the tournament in the United States, and he will wear his old number as the Liverpool forward takes No. 19 instead.

It was a gesture which, as Suarez told AUFTV ahead of their opening clash with Panama on June 24, showed the “greatness and humility” of a player he believes will become “one of the best.”

? ????? ??? ?????

Acá está la foto.#ElEquipoQueNosUne pic.twitter.com/lkedc8lyGi

— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) June 17, 2024

“He, with the humility that he has, a very good kid, said ‘no, Luis, you’re the No. 9, I’m going to respect you when you’re not there if I’m going to grab it’.

“Those are details that demonstrate the greatness and humility of a player who is going to be one of the best, if not [already] one of the best in the world today.”

In quotes carried by Teledoce, however, Suarez warned his fellow striker that he intends to “compete for the position” in Bielsa’s starting XI.

“Apart from wanting to help, I come to compete for the position,” he added, “because I want that; to play, win and achieve the goal.”

 Uruguay's Luis Suárez during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between Uruguay and South Korea at the Education City Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Uruguay's Luis Suárez during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between Uruguay and South Korea at the Education City Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Suarez serves as a mentor of sorts to Nunez as part of the Uruguay squad, at 13 years his senior and having endured a similar pathway as a prolific striker who courted controversy.

Now 37, he plays his club football in MLS with Inter Miami, alongside former Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

But Suarez’s door is clearly always open for Nunez, and he compared their relationship to that of himself and Diego Forlan when he was breaking through in the Uruguay setup.

“When Darwin comes, he asks me things,” he explained.

2T7PJ2K Uruguay's Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Argentina during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

2T7PJ2K Uruguay's Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Argentina during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

“At the time [he debuted] yes, I was the starter, Edi [Cavani] was the starter, but he always came, asked, wanted to learn things and that is spectacular.”

Suarez added: “Having him in front of me, seeing how he trains, how he plays each game, how can I not stop to applaud him and celebrate?

“Yes, obviously I had my time, I enjoyed it a lot and I continue to do so.”

Nunez netted a hat-trick in Uruguay’s final warmup friendly before Copa America – a 4-0 thrashing of Mexico – taking his tally to eight goals and three assists in seven games since Bielsa took charge.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

‘Southgate’s biggest gamble’ – How media rated Trent Alexander-Arnold as midfielder

1 hour 18 min ago

Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s performance went under the microscope as England kicked off Euro 2024 with a 1-0 win over Serbia, with the jury seemingly still out.

Alexander-Arnold made his first major tournament start for England since 2018 when he joined Declan Rice in a two-man midfield for Sunday’s Group A opener.

He produced a mixed display in an adjusted role, performing as an out-and-out midfielder rather than moving into the engine room from right-back as he has at Liverpool.

It came with its critics, of course – and Jude Bellingham rubbished claims his team-mate is a defensive liability – with Alexander-Arnold given an undue level of scrutiny.

Here’s how the English press saw his first big night as an England midfielder.

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. England won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. England won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Guardian‘s Jacob Steinberg handed Alexander-Arnold a 6 out of 10, writing:

“Pressed well in first half but lucky Mitrovic did not punish a mistake. Lacked control.”

Mike McGrath of the Telegraph was more measured, awarding a 7 out of 10 rating:

“The odd mistake is worth the risk as he brings so much to the game with his switches of play and range of passes that others cannot see.”

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The lowest rating came from the Mail‘s Craig Hope, who believes Gareth Southgate’s “midfield experiment did not work” due to a 5 out of 10 display from Alexander-Arnold:

“Some good, some bad. More so of the latter, unfortunately.

“His mistake almost led to a Serbia goal in the first half and his passing surrendered possession on a couple of occasions.

“There were a couple of lovely balls to spring the likes of Saka clear, but on the whole this midfield experiment did not work.”

That contrasted the view of Sky SportsSam Blitz, who rated Alexander-Arnold an 8 out of 10 after a “very encouraging display”:

“A livewire. Had plenty of shots from midfield and took up good areas – while his smart interception created the Walker chance in the first half.

“He was taken off as England needed more energy in midfield, but the Liverpool player showed he can do the running side of the game as well.

“He made that mistake for Aleksandr Mitrovic’s first-half chance but it was a small dot on a very encouraging display.”

GOAL‘s Richard Martin was among those nonplussed by a “hit and miss” showing, seeing the positives and the negatives as a 6 out of 10:

“Hit and miss, losing the ball in a dangerous area and being let off the hook by Mitrovic, but also set up a sweeping attack with a clever pass to Saka.”

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Harry Latham-Coyle of the Independent also gave Alexander-Arnold a 6 out of 10:

“A couple of loose early moments but offers intriguing dimension in midfield. A decent start in a role he will hope to refine over next few weeks.”

As did his colleague Mark Douglas, giving him a 6 out of 10 in his ratings for The i:

“Playing him in the midfield is Southgate doing what was asked and taking the handbrake off.

“I’m yet to be convinced he doesn’t give the ball away too easily to be the answer throughout the tournament.”

More forgiving but agreed in a 6 out of 10 rating was Dan Kilpatrick, writing for the Evening Standard:

“The jury remains out on Southgate’s big experiment.

“The Liverpool man’s range of passing caught the eye and he stung the goalkeeper’s palms with a long-range effort.

“But it is not clear if he has the positional discipline for a midfield role and Serbia’s best chance of the first half – a shot flashed wide by Aleksandar Mitrovic – came from his loose touch.”

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) shakes hands with head coach Gareth Southgate as he walks to the bench as he is substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) shakes hands with head coach Gareth Southgate as he walks to the bench as he is substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ben Fleming, writing for the Metro, offered a similar level of analysis and the same 6 out of 10 rating:

“Was brought in to provide more creativity in central midfield and certainly did that at points with pinpoint switches of play.

“Nearly punished by Mitrovic after giving away the ball cheaply in the first half and sacrificed in the second half when England wanted more bite in the middle of the park.

Jury still out.”

Finally, Conor O’Neill of football.london joined with another 6 out of 10, writing that the tweak in role “still needs time to pay off”:

“Gareth Southgate’s biggest gamble with his team selection and the experiment of shifting the Liverpool right-back into midfield still needs time to pay off despite some nice passing.”

England are next in action on Thursday evening, when they face Denmark in a 5pm kickoff – and it remains to be seen whether Alexander-Arnold will keep his place.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jude Bellingham has perfect response for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s England critics

1 hour 57 min ago

Jude Bellingham labelled criticism of Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s defending “a lot of rubbish” as he praised his England team-mate after beating Serbia 1-0.

Alexander-Arnold made only his second tournament start for England as he lined up alongside Declan Rice in midfield in Sunday’s Euro 2024 opener against Serbia.

The 25-year-old did so in a role different to what he’s used to at Liverpool, but one many have claimed should be his position for the long term.

But in the buildup to kickoff in Gelsenkirchen, all the focus was on Alexander-Arnold’s supposed defensive issues, which afterwards goalscorer Bellingham laughed off.

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“He makes it so easy for me, because he can control the game so well,” he told ITV.

“Defensively, I think, in that position, I know people talk a lot of rubbish, but I think he was so aggressive with the back-to-goal pressure.

“And it really helped me as well, because it meant I got a breather when he went out.

“I think we understand each other well with the ball, he wants to play positive all the time, he wants to play forward all the time.

“I think we accept as team-mates who have that kind of quality that we’re going to lose the ball, and that’s fine, we’ll win it back for each other and we’ll keep playing. I thought he was brilliant.”

 England players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his post-match press conference, Bellingham doubled down on his praise, insisting Liverpool’s No. 66 is “unmatched” in quality and “always positive” on the ball.

“I loved [playing with him],” said Bellingham, who played further forward as a No. 10.

“I think we had a great balance with the ball, without the ball, particularly in possession I thought Trent was brilliant.

“He conducts games so well. He’s very calm on the ball. His technique and quality’s unmatched, I think, in terms of what he can do with the ball.

“He’s always positive and that really helps someone like me who wants to get on the ball all over the pitch and try and attack their back line.

“So, I look forward to having more minutes with him, enjoying how we can develop and how we can get used to each other’s game, and seeing how far we can take the potential.

“And of course, as always, Dec was fantastic. I think he’s one of the best in the world in that position. He’s a joy.”

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) shakes hands with head coach Gareth Southgate as he walks to the bench as he is substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 England's Trent Alexander-Arnold (R) shakes hands with head coach Gareth Southgate as he walks to the bench as he is substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group C match between Serbia and England at the Arena AufSchalke. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alexander-Arnold gave his own view on the night as he spoke to ITV after the game – which saw him replaced by Conor Gallagher after 69 minutes, having fired more shots on goal than any other player (three).

“It was good, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said.

“I felt prepared through the conversations and the work that we’d done throughout the week.

“This is something that may seem brand new, but it’s not, we’ve been working – me, the manager, [assistant] Steve Holland – very hard on this role for the past year.

“So a lot of prep’s gone into it, a lot of information, a lot of learning, and a lot of analysing has gone into it.

“They gave me a role to do today and hopefully they feel like I executed it, help contribute to the win and keep a clean sheet.”

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Categories: LFC NEWS

The 11 players to watch at Euro 2024 – 4 ex-Liverpool & 7 transfer links

4 hours 46 min ago

With Euro 2024 upon us, we have named 11 non-Liverpool players that you should be watching at the tournament.

Ten Liverpool players are taking part in this summer’s European Championships and you can read all about them in our guide to the tournament here.

However, this list offers you an alternative list of names to keep an eye on as you aim to satisfy your footballing needs during the break from club football.

The ex-Reds

 Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during a training session at the Dalga Arena on day one of their UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during a training session at the Dalga Arena on day one of their UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Surprisingly, there are just four former Liverpool players taking part in this summer’s Euros, with one of those a late call-up for Germany.

That man is Emre Can, who only made the squad after Bayern Munich’s Aleksandar Pavlovic was forced to withdraw with tonsillitis.

Despite not being first-choice, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has already made an impact at the tournament, scoring a late goal against Scotland after replacing Toni Kroos with 10 minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, two of Liverpool’s Premier League winners are in action – Xherdan Shaqiri represents Switzerland and Gini Wijnaldum joins Liverpool’s current Dutch trio.

The other ex-Red is a surprise name you may have forgotten played for Liverpool, Peter Gulacsi. The Hungarian goalkeeper was around the club from 2008 to 2013, never making an appearance.

After loan spells at Hereford, Tranmere and Hull, he left for Red Bull Salzburg having made the Liverpool first team bench 51 times.

Gulacsi has played for RB Leipzig since 2015 and played 71 matches for Hungary, including their Euro 2024 opener – a 3-1 defeat to Switzerland in which Shaqiri didn’t make it on as a substitute.

Linked in the transfer market

 Borussia Dortmund's Nico Schlotterbeck, almost lost in the yellow smoke, during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Borussia Dortmund's Nico Schlotterbeck, almost lost in the yellow smoke, during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Most of these players have been very loosely linked to the Reds, but they are well worth watching as they will be among the next big stars of European football.

Nico Schlotterbeck – Germany & Borussia Dortmund

Schlotterbeck didn’t feature against Scotland in Germany’s 5-1 win, but did go to Euro 2024 expecting to play a part.

He was selected off the back of an impressive season for Borussia Dortmund in which he played all but one game on their road to the Champions League final.

He is in a high percentile for every ball-playing metric along with tackles (93rd), interceptions (71st) and blocks (87th), having shone with Dortmund in the campaign just gone.

 
David Hancko – Slovakia & Feyenoord

 Wales' Tyler Roberts (L) challenges for the ball against Slovakia's Dávid Hancko (R) during the opening UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group E match between Wales and Slovakia at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by Gareth Davies/Propaganda)

 Wales' Tyler Roberts (L) challenges for the ball against Slovakia's Dávid Hancko (R) during the opening UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group E match between Wales and Slovakia at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by Gareth Davies/Propaganda)

Hancko is a player Liverpool have been rumoured to be interested in even before Arne Slot took over from Jurgen Klopp.

With 93 appearances across his last two campaigns, he isn’t injury prone and suits the mould of a left-sided defender that Liverpool are looking to acquire.

Hancko’s agent claimed the Reds held interest interest when he spoke to TN.cz in January, and the arrival of Slot could enhance that.

Goncalo Inacio – Portugal & Sporting CP

2K9F8NJ Goncalo Inacio of Sporting CP - Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP, UEFA Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK - 26th October 2022

2K9F8NJ Goncalo Inacio of Sporting CP - Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP, UEFA Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK - 26th October 2022

Another defender on the list, Inacio made his way through the Portuguese youth ranks before being awarded his debut in November 2021.

After three strong seasons playing for Ruben Amorim’s Sporting, he will play in his first international tournament this summer, but may not start under Roberto Martinez.

His competitors for a starting spot in Portugal’s defence include Pepe, Ruben Dias and 20-year-old Benfica centre-half Antonio Silva, who is also worth watching.

Joao Neves – Portugal & Benfica

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Neves is another of Portugal’s talented young players whom Martinez has trusted to slot into his senior squad.

The midfielder has even been predicted to start by many, which would see him potentially keep Matheus Nunes and Ruben Neves out of the team.

A move for him by Liverpool could be scuppered by the fact he reportedly has a release clause of over £100 million.

Johan Bakayoko – Belgium & PSV Eindoven

 PSV Eindhoven's Johan Bakayoko during the UEFA Champions League Group B game between PSV Eindhoven and Arsenal FC at the Philips Stadion. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 PSV Eindhoven's Johan Bakayoko during the UEFA Champions League Group B game between PSV Eindhoven and Arsenal FC at the Philips Stadion. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bakayoko is one of those names that is frequently mentioned on the rumour pages of the internet, so we’ve included him on this list as he will likely end up at another top club, if not Liverpool.

Playing as a right winger, he excelled for PSV in their Eredivisie-winning team this season. From the right, he scored 14 and assisted 14 goals in 47 matches.

Liverpool have been linked to several right-sided forwards already this summer and Bakayoko fits the profile the Reds are targeting, as a left-footed attacker with an eye for goal.

Milos Kerkez – Serbia & Bournemouth

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) gets past Bournemouth's Milos Kerkez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) gets past Bournemouth's Milos Kerkez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kerkez might not be an exciting name to sign, but he could be a smart acquisition should Liverpool decide to pursue the Bournemouth left-back.

As a 20-year-old, he would be an ideal candidate to play back-up to Andy Robertson given Kostas Tsimikas could leave this summer.

While he has a few years left yet, Robertson isn’t getting any younger either. Liverpool do, though, already have a couple of good young left-backs at the club in Owen Beck and Luke Chambers.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Tactics: How Klopp’s kids can fit into Slot’s Liverpool – 7 roles explained

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 18:00
Jurgen Klopp left behind an enviable generation of academy talent at Liverpool, but where will those outstanding youngsters fit into Arne Slot‘s system?

‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ was the mantra for Klopp’s Liverpool.

A generation of talent broke into the first team in 2023/24, including a dramatic Carabao Cup final win that ended with six academy players on the pitch.

An Academy full of character ?? pic.twitter.com/Hfd8a7hyxs

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 25, 2024

Now Slot is the man to impress. Having given 12,334 minutes to academy talent at Feyenoord in the league-winning 2022/23 season, he’s certainly open to working with young blood.

So how might each of these young stars fit into Slot’s Liverpool?

READ FIRST: Arne Slot tactics: Feyenoord system and how Liverpool FC could set up

Harvey Elliott

 Harvey Elliott of Liverpool celebrates 4-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Photo by Ryan Brown/Propaganda)

 Harvey Elliott of Liverpool celebrates 4-0 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Photo by Ryan Brown/Propaganda)

Age: 21
LFC appearances: 119

We’ll start with an easy one.

Elliott has fully broken through now, playing a vital role in Liverpool’s unlikely title challenge of 2023/24.

The boyhood Liverpool fan can play as a No. 8, a No. 10 or a right winger in Slot’s system, and has shown real quality both in his performances and his end product – notching 11 assists in all competitions in the season just gone.

I only include him as a reminder that, incredibly, he’s still only 21.

Role under Slot? The new head coach will love his versatility, just like Klopp.

Jarell Quansah

 Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 21
LFC appearances: 33

Composure on the ball (mistake at Old Trafford aside) and dominance in defensive duels saw Quansah leap from a League One loan to 33 senior appearances.

By the end of the campaign he’d overtaken Ibrahima Konate as the preferred partner to Virgil van Dijk.

It’s that ability to play out that will appeal most to Slot.

The new gaffer is happy to play forwards quickly once the space is available, but the buildup unit will see a lot of the ball at first – moving it around to encourage pressure and create space inside the opponent’s block.

The centre-backs are also asked to play progressive passes forwards when the opportunity arises.

For all his undoubted talents, Konate is not renowned for this. Quansah may keep his place in the starting lineup as a result.

Role under Slot? Battling to stay Van Dijk’s first-choice partner.

Conor Bradley

 Liverpool's Conor Bradley after the UEFA Europa League Group E match day 5 game between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Conor Bradley after the UEFA Europa League Group E match day 5 game between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 20
LFC appearances: 28

Bradley well and truly arrived in 2023/24.

The right-back went from Player of the Year at Bolton to scoring his first Anfield goal and starting a Wembley cup final (both against Chelsea, funnily enough).

Given his chance when Trent Alexander-Arnold went out injured, the Northern Irishman was so good that the team’s system pivoted around him.

Out went the inverted right-back and in came the lung-busting, overlapping Bradley to press high up the pitch and punctuate moves in the final third.

This is not how Slot typically uses his full-backs. He relies on width in attack from his wingers, with full-backs more likely to stay deeper and more central.

 Liverpool's Conor Bradley sprints through to score the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Conor Bradley sprints through to score the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is because, if the ball is turned over, the full-backs are closer to their own goal and thus more able to track back and defend the space behind them – something Liverpool have struggled with.

Slot can be pragmatic in pursuit of success, and he has a highly talented individual to work with in Bradley.

But whether the system or the player can bend to suit the other is a question to answer in pre-season.

Role under Slot? Unclear, but he has shown he can emulate Alexander-Arnold’s role.

James McConnell

 Liverpool's James McConnell during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's James McConnell during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 9

Every young player has years of coaching in Liverpool’s aggressive out-of-possession approach throughout the age groups.

But when Liverpool needed to mould an academy player into a defensive midfielder for the first team in 2023/24, McConnell’s technical security meant he got the call.

Taking the ball under pressure during the high stakes of the Carabao Cup final showcased a composure and maturity beyond the 19-year-old’s tender years, and he later laid on a brilliant assist in the FA Cup.

Hull City have already expressed an interest in him as a result.

Slot, meanwhile, is a serial player-improver. It’s the reason he’s had immediate success at every club he’s managed, it’s how he succeeds on a budget, and it’s what FSG have hired him to do at Liverpool.

If he’s meant to look to the academy as much as the transfer market, McConnell would be a great place to start.

Role under Slot? If he stays, an option at No. 6.

Bobby Clark

 Liverpool's Bobby Clark looks on during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Everton FC Under-21's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Bobby Clark looks on during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Everton FC Under-21's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 14

Clark rarely performs the spectacular. He receives the ball well, he releases the ball at the right time, and he counter-presses effectively.

The most eye-catching quality he has demonstrated in 14 appearances is to not catch the eye.

He simply looks like he belongs in the engine room of an elite team, despite being just 19 years of age.

Slot asks his midfielders to show for the ball and rotate fluidly in order to play short, quick passes that disrupt the opposition’s defensive shape.

Clark’s in-possession game is perfect for this.

The No. 8s for Slot are also supposed to contribute goals and assists higher up the pitch, so that’s an area for Clark to improve if he is to kick on.

Role under Slot? The perfect candidate as one of the No. 8s.

Jayden Danns

 Liverpool's Jayden Danns celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Jayden Danns celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 18
LFC appearances: 5

One of the most sought-after profiles in modern football is the ‘nine-and-a-half’. A striker who can link play like Roberto Firmino but also score goals like Erling Haaland.

Danns’ ability to both link play and score helped him break into the first team and earned comparisons with Harry Kane.

Before we get too excited, though, Danns is far from the level of a Harry Kane just yet.

He’s scored two senior Liverpool goals, both against Championship opposition, and is still building the physical capacity to compete at the elite level.

There’s a reason Klopp left him on the bench when seeking a goal at Goodison Park in April.

In terms of profile, Danns is a major asset for Slot to inherit. Next season is likely too soon to expect a major contribution at Anfield – but then, many would have had said the same last summer.

Role under Slot? Chances may be slim, but more experience to come up front.

Stefan Bajcetic

 Liverpool's Stefan Bajcetic during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Stefan Bajcetic during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 19
LFC appearances: 22

His 2022/23 breakout campaign was so good that a complete absence in 2023/24 hasn’t quietened the talk around Bajcetic.

The major question has been around his position.

Breaking in as a No. 6, usurping the ageing Fabinho, Bajcetic paired his technical security with endless running and crunching tackles.

But his press-resistance and dribbling ability, as well as an underrated cool in front of goal, suggest his best position is as the No. 8.

Unfortunately for him, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch all have similar attacking upsides.

Bajcetic’s long-limbed style of tackling and his robustness in physical duels make him best suited to a deeper role – at least in the short term.

Role under Slot? More chance in the No. 6 role for now.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Cody Gakpo excels in true position as he scores in Netherlands Euros comeback

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 15:59

Cody Gakpo scored and excited on the left wing for the Netherlands, as Virgil van Dijk‘s team beat Poland 2-1 at Euro 2024.

Manager Ronald Koeman chose to play two of Liverpool three players in the Netherlands squad, predictably leaving Ryan Gravenberch on the bench.

Slightly surprisingly, Van Dijk was partnered by Stefan de Vrij who beat out competition from Matthijs de Ligt and Tottenham‘s Micky van de Ven to start.

To the centre-halves’ right, Denzel Dumfries started instead of Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geertruida.

You need a bit of luck sometimes…

Cody Gakpo in the right place at the right time for the Netherlands. #BBCEuros #Euro2024 #POLNED pic.twitter.com/WFHZtaq914

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 16, 2024

The biggest threat from the Netherlands came through Liverpool’s Gakpo, who caused constant problems down the left, often creating chances for Memphis Depay.

Gakpo went close early on when he drilled a shot towards the near post. He had a great opportunity later in the half, too, when he skied over from little more than six yards out.

It was actually underdogs Poland who took the lead, however, thanks to Adam Buksa’s header from a Piotr Zielinski inswinging corner.

Van Dijk almost responded from a corner immediately, but his sweetly struck volley was angled too closely to the goalkeeper.

The Netherlands’ work paid off, though, in the 29th minute when Gakpo’s long-range shot took a wicked deflection to beat Poland’s goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny.

With the scoreline still at 1-1, Koeman threw more Red influence into the mix, bringing on Gini Wijnaldum for yellow card-burdened Joey Veerman in the 62nd minute.

????? Level in Hamburg at the break…#EURO2024 | #POLNED pic.twitter.com/TiKn1qG6Vb

— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) June 16, 2024

18 minutes later, Gakpo and Depay were replaced by Wout Weghorst and the Liverpool-linked Bayer Leverkusen winger, Jeremie Frimpong.

It didn’t take long for tournament specialist Weghorst to make an impact, scoring his team’s second just two minutes after entering the pitch.

With Gakpo performing excellently on the left during the first half, Liverpool supporters were excited about what next season could bring.

Gakpo just so clearly a left winger it really is bizarre he's barely played there for us.

— Phil Blundell (@PhilBlundell) June 16, 2024

Gakpo and international tournaments. I don’t know what it is but he loves it.

— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) June 16, 2024

Look at how good Gakpo looks playing off the left

It’s almost as if you play a player into their natural position and they perform wonders

He’ll smash it for us next season

— Tom Little (@TomL1ttle_) June 16, 2024

Gakpo has been absolutely brilliant on the left! What a deserved goal.

— Anfield Sector (@AnfieldSector) June 16, 2024

Cody Gakpo as a left forward is the way to go #euro2024 #LFC

— Charlotte Coates (@CACoates96) June 16, 2024

Just look how comfortable Gakpo looks on the left. Everything he does is second nature – just play him to his strengths and everything will follow

— GakpoFC (@GakpoFC) June 16, 2024

Impressive half from Gakpo, even though he should have scored a second, & more evidence of probably his best position, on the left of the attack. Netherlands the better side, but wasteful with the chances their good build-up has created. Another open contest. #POLNED #Euro2024

— Rob Greenwood (@robgreenwood1) June 16, 2024

Up next for Van Dijk and co. is a tough match against France at RB Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena. There, they will come up against Ibrahima Konate if he is selected to start.

That match kicks off at 8pm (BST) on June 21.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jurgen Klopp admits he “didn’t realise” Adam Lallana was “insecure” at Liverpool

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 14:23

Adam Lallana was one of Liverpool’s most transformed players under Jurgen Klopp, and it wasn’t just on the pitch that he helped change the player’s career.

When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, Lallana was yet to win over supporters after his move, 15 months earlier, from Southampton, where he has now returned.

Speaking to Sky Sports in a tribute to Klopp, the Englishman admitted that when he arrived at Liverpool, he was “insecure, big time” and “didn’t feel comfortable in the dressing room, on the pitch [or] in the kit.”

However, when Klopp arrived things turned around for the No. 20.

“Straightaway he took that away,” Lallana said.

“Straightaway that big aura and that big smile just hit you.”

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Reacting to his former player’s comments, Klopp admitted: “I didn’t know and I didn’t realise that Adam Lallana felt like he felt before I arrived.

“Obviously I was not there, but I loved the player from the first moment.”

Despite being hampered by injuries, Lallana became one of Klopp’s most loved players and epitomised how he wanted his team to play.

The famous image of Lallana coming off against Tottenham, in the German’s first match, and falling into his arms was a sign of how quickly the players had taken to the new boss.

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana embraces manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

 Liverpool's Adam Lallana embraces manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Kloppaganda)

The 2015/16 was arguably Lallana’s best, as he started 38 games and helped push Liverpool on to the League Cup and Europa League finals. He was also one of England’s best players on the international scene at the time.

One of his finest performances in red came in the Europa League semi-final against Villarreal.

With Liverpool trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Spain, an emotionally charged Anfield were put at ease when an early own goal drew them level.

From then on, Lallana was brilliant for Liverpool in an attacking lineup also featuring Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.

The latter got the second goal after 63 minutes, but it was Lallana who sealed the game and sent the Reds through to the final, with a composed flick into the net.

He would leave Liverpool with a Champions League, Premier League and Club World Cup medal around his neck, and none of it would have been possible without the shoulder of Klopp to lean on.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

I met Jurgen Klopp at Taylor Swift – an “extraordinary and memorable night at Anfield”

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 11:55

Taylor Swift has wowed fans on her three nights at Anfield on the spectacular Eras Tour, and one Liverpool supporter was there to see it up close – and meet with Jurgen Klopp!

Rob Glover, a Liverpool native who has embarked on a career as a professional dancer and choreographer in the United States, was at Anfield to experience one of the most incredible shows from a musical artist.

“It was one of the best team performances I have ever seen at Anfield – and Taylor, the main striker, never let us down with a hat-trick of performances,” says Glover.

“She captivated the audience with her stellar shows night after night, delivering hit after hit with the precision and flair of a top striker scoring 20+ goals a game. Playing for over three hours straight, the equivalent of playing every single second of two back-to-back 90-minute games, three nights in a row, without a substitute, she demonstrated incredible endurance and artistry.

“The energy in the stadium was electric, and Taylor Swift’s command of the stage was nothing short of legendary, cementing her status as a true superstar.”

Glover, who is also CEO of BootRoom Productions, is well placed to comment on the show overall thanks to his years working in stage choreography.

“To have stood in the centre of that pitch, with the noise of a full crowd, watching a team of unreal dancers move with exquisite choreography and finesse, all complementing and feeding their main goal scorer up top, was an unforgettable experience,” he praises of the Swift and her overall team.

“Taylor Swift killed it the entire night. She and her dancers whizzed up and down the pitch, every now and again I glanced up, seeing a view I have looked at my entire life: the Centenary Stand and Liverpool’s greatest ever’s name etched above, Sir Kenny Dalglish.

“It was a surreal blend of music and football heritage, making for an extraordinary and memorable night at Anfield.

“It was a real full “Centre Circle” moment of my life that I will never forget and forever cherish.”

Meeting Jurgen

Glover attended two nights of Swift at Anfield, as Liverpool football legends from Klopp, to Sir Kenny Dalglish, Robbie Fowler, Bruce Grobbelaar and plenty more took in the incredible show.

“I was lucky enough to have seen two of the three shows, and night one was beyond special as I was with my client and dear friend, legendary former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, and a man that reminded us all to believe once more, a man that gave my generation a glimpse of the glory days, Jurgen Klopp.

“Standing upstairs in the Main Stand, in close proximity to Jurgen and Bruce, two men who know full well the majesty of Anfield in a footballing sense, taking it all in was truly special.”

Of the actual meeting with Jurgen, Glover explains: “Meeting Jurgen was an unplanned, unexpected, random serendipitous occurrence.

“He was a follow music lover and and simply there in attendance alongside his bride to soak in all the majesty of it all like the rest of us.

“Personally, it was so strange to be stood there talking music, Taylor, the magic of Anfield, and paddle tennis in the sunshine.”

Football and choreography

Explains Glover of the two passions of his life combining in such a unique and spectacular way: “I see life through a dancer’s lens, how every time I watch football I see choreography. I have grown up with country music, and I have had a front-row seat to some of the most amazing performances at Anfield over the years from my season ticket seats that I inherited from my grandfather and great-grandfather.

“I also had a front-row seat to the digital growth and rise to fame of Taylor while living stateside and being in Nashville.

“Music and sports, often seen as distinct forms of entertainment, share a profound ability to unite people and evoke powerful emotions. Both arenas demand skill, dedication, and a level of artistry that captivates audiences worldwide.

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“The experience of watching a perfectly executed football match is akin to witnessing a masterful musical performance; both involve synchronisation, strategy, and an emotional connection that resonates deeply with fans.

“The merging of these worlds at Anfield, with Taylor Swift’s concerts, highlights how integral they are to our cultural fabric. They transcend mere entertainment, becoming a source of inspiration and community.

“Ultimately, music and sports are intertwined in the broader landscape of entertainment, each enhancing the other’s impact and reinforcing their shared importance in enriching human experience.

Finally, Glover wishes to thank Swift and her team for bringing magical moments to so many people of the city of Liverpool, such as those attending as part of the Owen McVeigh Foundation:

“To all involved in bringing Taylor to Anfield, I offer my congratulations and heartfelt thanks.

“I love that Anfield’s largest attendance record now belongs to a solo female artist, a true icon and a global superstar. As Taylor embarks on her Eras Tour, we are now about to embark on the next era at Anfield, just as I am now in my own life.”

You can follow Rob on LinkedIn and Instagram, and find out more about BootRoom Ventures here.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Roy Keane claims Trent Alexander-Arnold will be “ripped to shreds” in new position

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 11:28

Man United legend and football pundit Roy Keane has claimed Trent Alexander-Arnold will “be ripped to shreds” in midfield during the latter stages of Euro 2024.

With Gareth Southgate reportedly playing Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England’s first match against Serbia, Keane and Gary Neville were debating the merits of this.

And it seems a narrative has already begun to take shape about the Liverpool player’s abilities.

Speaking on ITV 1, Keane was very sceptical of Alexander-Arnold’s midfield credentials.

?? "I'm struggling in my mind to see how we go the whole way with that back four." – Gary Neville

Will defence be England's Achilles heel this tournament? ?#Euro2024 pic.twitter.com/ENO6mT7P0T

— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 15, 2024

He said: “I think they’ll be fine in the group. I think Trent will be fine in his position in them matches, but against the real top teams, I think he’ll be found out very much so.

“I think he’ll be ripped to shreds if he plays against one of the better teams in midfield. I don’t think he’ll be up to it.”

Keane’s former Man United teammate, Neville, was less scathing, but still wary of Southgate’s reported decision.

“I think against Serbia who are going to play deep, we’re gonna need, to be fair, to find a way to cut them open,” the pundit commented.

“I can see why Trent works in this particular match.

“What Trent playing there does is allow basically Kyle Walker to stay back, basically as a third centre-back, which he’s done for a lot of the season with Man City.

 Tuesday June 11, 2024.

 Tuesday June 11, 2024.

“It allows Trent to go in there on that right-hand side and deliver almost as a right back then come back into defence.”

While some may agree with Keane, there is nothing to really back his claim up – Alexander-Arnold has never played in that position long enough to suggest he would crumble.

If he were to be exposed, it would likely be a fault of the system rather than his shortcomings. However, that isn’t the narrative that is taking shape.

Southgate’s side have a group they are expected to progress from comfortably, that also contains Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia.

The “better teams” Keane referred to that Alexander-Arnold will supposedly be “ripped to shreds” against include France, who England could meet in the semi-final if they both win their groups.

We’ll see then if Liverpool’s three-time Champions League finalist and five-time major trophy winner can cope with decent opposition.

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Categories: LFC NEWS