LFC NEWS

Media Watch: Read the latest LFC transfer rumours

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 08:41
Follow all of the latest LFC-related transfer rumours and newspaper speculation in our Media Watch section.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool are 'very interested in Lille star Renato Sanches'

HEAD NEWS - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 08:37

Liverpool are reportedly eyeing a move for Lille star Renato Sanches, with the French prepared to sell the midfielder this summer.

The 23-year-old has rebuilt his career in France after leaving Bayern Munich in 2019 following a disastrous loan spell with Swansea in the 2017-2018 campaign.

He played an important part in Lille's shock Ligue 1 title win last season but French outlet L'Equipe claim the club are open to cashing in on the midfielder, with Liverpool 'very interested' in making a move.

Full story: MailOnline

This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool are 'very interested in Lille star Renato Sanches'

LiverpoolFC.TV - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 08:37

Liverpool are reportedly eyeing a move for Lille star Renato Sanches, with the French prepared to sell the midfielder this summer.

The 23-year-old has rebuilt his career in France after leaving Bayern Munich in 2019 following a disastrous loan spell with Swansea in the 2017-2018 campaign.

He played an important part in Lille's shock Ligue 1 title win last season but French outlet L'Equipe claim the club are open to cashing in on the midfielder, with Liverpool 'very interested' in making a move.

Full story: MailOnline

This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool are 'very interested in Lille star Renato Sanches'

LiverpoolFC TV - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 08:37
Liverpool are reportedly eyeing a move for Lille star Renato Sanches, with the French prepared to sell the midfielder this summer.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Premier League pre-season plans: What are your club up to?

the Athletic - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 05:10
Many Premier League clubs begin pre-season training today, with Euro 2020 still having a week to run, the Copa America also at the semi-final stage and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Olympic tournament in Tokyo yet to even begin.

Throw in the difficulties of holding the now-traditional money-making overseas tours during a pandemic and plenty of new managers meeting their players for the first time in the English top flight, and this is going to be a pre-season unlike any other.

Premier League footballers must have at least three weeks off following international duty, so many will be joining up late with their clubs before the season starts on Friday, August 13 when newly-promoted Brentford host Arsenal.

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The 27 Liverpool players to return to Kirkby for day 1 of pre-season

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 18:00

Jurgen Klopp is to have a healthy sized squad at his fingertips when his players return for pre-season next week, with 27 first-team members expected to be available on day one.

Preparations for the 2021/22 season are to kick off on July 12, just a day after the conclusion of both the Euros and Copa America – that could see a handful of Reds involved.

It means the likes of Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino will not be present at Kirkby when Klopp, his backroom staff and his players reconvene as they hope to make it to the final day.

Nor will other Reds involved in the Euros, with Andy Robertson, Diogo Jota, Harry Wilson, Neco Williams and Xherdan Shaqiri all to transition back into the group, unless transfers are agreed in the interim.

The process of waiting for transfer dealings is also to see the likes of Loris Karius, full-back Anderson Arroyo, Marko Grujic, Ben Woodburn, Sheyi Ojo and Divock Origi report back.

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

But Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold are to be among the senior faces making their return, where each could have a tailored programme after respective injuries – as per David Lynch.

New signing Ibrahima Konate will be officially welcomed into the fold and will get a swift taste of what is to come as he will no doubt come up against Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in training.

Takumi Minamino will hope to catch the eye, as too will Harvey Elliott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita as they seek a more prominent role at Anfield in the coming season.

Academy players could also supplement a squad that will continue to be tweaked as the week’s tick by, with Reds hoping for a number of new faces to arrive in the transfer window.

Liverpool have yet to confirm their summer schedule, but a handful of friendlies are to be lined up in preparation for the important campaign ahead and give fans their first look at Konate and co.

Liverpool squad set for pre-season return on day 1

Goalkeepers: Adrian, Caoimhin Kelleher, Loris Karius, Marcelo Pitaluga

Defenders: Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kostas Tsimikas, Ben Davies, Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips, Anderson Arroyo

Midfielders: James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Marko Grujic, Ben Woodburn

Fowards: Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott, Taiwo Awoniyi, Sheyi Ojo

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Neymar handpicks Thiago in his technical top 5 in world football

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 15:35

In his 30 appearances for Liverpool to date, Thiago has made quite the impression and the prospect of what is still to come is an exciting one for Reds.

And his ability is not lost on Neymar, who has faced off against the Spaniard on five different occasions at club level throughout his career – losing three of those clashes, including a Champions League final.

The two have both played for Barcelona but were passing ships, with Thiago having departed in the year that Neymar arrived back in 2013.

It means they have been limited to time on the pitch as members of the opposition when playing with the likes of Santos, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

 Bayern Munich's Thiago Alca?ntara during the final UEFA Champions League Group B match between FC Bayern München and Tottenham Hotspur FC at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago‘s touch and execution makes him a world-class operator and while he experienced a slow start at Anfield, there was never any doubt over what he could bring to the team.

The 30-year-old is one who will see an opening before others can react and constantly leaves an impression, and Neymar named him as one of five players he would consider more technical than himself.

Although, he was a bit hesitant to do so when asked to make the five-man list.

“More technical than me? I don’t know if I can answer that! With all the humility in the world, I consider myself one of the most technical players in football today,” Neymar told Oh My Goal.

“But I would say… [Lionel] Messi, [Eden] Hazard, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Marco] Verratti, I’m still missing one?

“More technical than me… Thiago!”

 Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s not hard to see why Neymar would select Thiago, with Liverpool’s No. 6 widely considered one of the world’s best in his position and he was chosen in good company.

Neymar’s antics can often take away from what he is capable of and so the question is, where would you rank Neymar within his five-man list when assessing technical ability?

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4 former Liverpool academy players making a trade in MLS

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 14:24

Liverpool, the city and the football club, has had numerous links to North America over the years, from trade and business to sport, music and culture.

Liverpool FC’s most obvious current links to the other side of the Atlantic are the large number of fans and LFC supporters groups based on the continent, and the current owners, Fenway Sports Group, who are based in Boston.

There are also American influences in the way Liverpool go about their business, most famously their attempts to adapt Moneyball methods of scouting and player analysis from baseball to football.

On the pitch, Steven Gerrard’s move to Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy was one of the more high-profile transfers made by North America’s designated first division, but below the surface there are many more MLS players over the years for whom Liverpool has played a part in their careers.

Here’s a look at some of those less familiar former LFC names currently plying their trade in the USA and Canada.

Chris Mavinga

 Liverpool's Chris Mavinga during the FA Premiership Reserves League (Northern Division) match against Bolton Wanderers at Prenton Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a couple of years in Liverpool’s youth and reserve sides, Mavinga returned to his homeland with Rennes before moving to Rubin Kazan and spending a few seasons out on loan back in France.

Following this unsettled start to his career, the Frenchman eventually found a home in Canada with Toronto FC, for whom he has now played over 100 games.

In his first season at Toronto, Mavinga played a big part in the club’s treble win as they collected the Supporter’s Shield (league title) MLS Cup (playoffs) and the Canadian Championship.

In the subsequent season, he was part of a memorable Concacaf Champions League quarter-final victory against Tigres before missing large parts of the rest of the campaign through injury.

The club finished runners up in the MLS Cup in 2019 and though they finished second in the league last year, were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by new-boys Nashville.

The 30-year-old has been a regular in the Toronto lineup so far this season, but they currently sit bottom in the overall standings.

Danny Wilson

 Liverpool FC's new signings Joe Cole, Danny Wilson and Milan Jovanovic with manager Roy Hodgson during a photo-call at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Big things were predicted for the left-footed centre-back on his arrival at Liverpool in 2010.

The Scotsman joined from Rangers for a fee of £2 million and there were tentative, hopeful comparisons to Alan Hansen.

Wilson failed to make the grade at Liverpool, though, and was soon looking to continue his career elsewhere.

Obligatory loan moves followed but he eventually moved back to Scotland on a permanent basis with Hearts and then Rangers, before moving to the United States with Colorado Rapids in 2018.

The Rapids are one of the lower profile MLS clubs but have had a reasonably good start to the 2021 season.

The 29-year-old Wilson now has over 60 appearances for the Denver-based side and has already scored one goal in their promising start this year.

Brooks Lennon

 Liverpool's substitute Brooks Lennon celebrates scoring the first equalising goal against Wolfsburg during the Premier League International Cup match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Appropriately named for someone who has spent time in both Liverpool and the USA, Lennon is still only 23 but has already played for two MLS clubs since leaving LFC’s youth setup.

The American initially joined Real Salt Lake on loan in 2017 before making the deal permanent a year later.

The versatile young player has played in numerous positions, from his time at Liverpool as a forward to regular games at right-back in MLS.

He now plies his trade for one of the more high-profile and well-supported teams in MLS, Atlanta United.

From here he’ll be looking to raise his own profile to the point where he’s in consideration for the United States national team, and maybe even a move back to Europe.

He also has an Irish passport, which was used to facilitate his move to Liverpool, so maybe the Ireland national team will show an interest in him at some point.

Brad Smith

 Liverpool's Brad Smith in action against Exeter City during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Australian wing-back who also represented England at youth level made a handful of appearances for Liverpool having risen through the youth ranks as a teenager.

He has 11 appearances for the club in total across games in the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, and the Europa League.

In search of more regular football, Smith moved to Bournemouth on a permanent deal after a short loan spell with Swindon Town, but he was unable to break into the starting XI.

His first spell with Seattle Sounders came on loan from Bournemouth in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In the latter, he made 29 appearances as the West Coast club won the MLS Cup with Smith starting in the final against Toronto FC, which Seattle won 3-1.

The move was made permanent in 2020 and the 27-year-old has appeared regularly for the club in 2021 as they’ve risen to the top of the MLS standings in style, with Smith notching up three goals and two assists already.

MLS will no doubt be a future destination for other young players who are unable to achieve the difficult task of progressing from academy to first-team at one of Europe’s top clubs.

And given the rise of US players such as Sergino Dest at Barcelona, Weston McKennie at Juventus, Brenden Aaronson at Red Bull Salzburg, and Gio Reyna at Dortmund, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an American player donned Liverpool red at some point in the near future.

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Jordan Henderson greeted with England “round of applause” after “crucial goal”

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 11:40

Jordan Henderson continues to earn the applause of those around him, this time for his “professionalism” and breaking his England duck in what was his 61st cap.

The Liverpool skipper has seen all his Euro 2020 minutes come off the bench to date, providing experience and energy in the final moments for Gareth Southgate’s team.

Had it not been for a groin injury that led to three months on the sidelines, Henderson would have been expected to be a regular in the starting XI.

But the reduced game time has not disheartened the 31-year-old, who remains a reliable and calm head and personifies what it means to be a team player.

And after missed penalties, offside calls and agonising misses, Henderson’s long wait for his first senior England goal ended with a brilliantly timed header against Ukraine for what was the final goal in a convincing 4-0 win.

It was just rewards for Henderson, who was welcomed with a “round of applause” by his teammates after he helped England book a place in the semi-finals.

“It’s a sign of his professionalism. First, he was coming on for Kalvin Phillips, then about 20 seconds before he came on we recognised Declan Rice had an issue so we changed,” Southgate said of his vice-captain.

“But he already knew the runs that Declan was supposed to be making with corners and that’s a great example for any young professional.

 Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage

“He listens in the meetings, he knew both the players that he might be able to come on and replace, he knew the detail of their runs.

“It’s a small thing but it’s ended up as a crucial goal. Everyone gave him a round of applause as he came in!”

The passionate goal celebration was one Liverpool have come to know and it would cap off a brilliant 33-minute appearance, one that saw him complete more passes than any other England midfielder.

He was lauded after the final whistle, and rightly so, for not just his influence on the field but off it too, with Harry Kane helping to lead the charge.

Hendo and the boys delivered ?? Always love seeing the passionate celebration of the skipper #getoffmestonesy#threelions pic.twitter.com/qBziQO73QK

James Milner (@JamesMilner) July 4, 2021

“I’m so happy for Jordan. It’s been a long time he’s been playing for England and I know he’s been desperate to score that goal,” Kane told reporters post-match.

“I said before the tournament that he’s a great leader and a great role model to have in this team and this squad.

“He brings a lot to us, whether he’s playing or on the bench so it’s great for him to come on and great for him to score.

“The boys are buzzing for him. He’s a top, top guy. I’ve known him for a long while and couldn’t be happier for him.”

The skipper could now face teammate Thiago in the final should both England and Spain win their semi-final fixtures against Denmark and Italy respectively.

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“It’s about time!” – Jordan Henderson savours England 1st as final 4 awaits

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 10:20

Jordan Henderson says England are ready to take the next step by beating Denmark in the game of their lives.

After topping Group D and overcoming old foes Germany, the Three Lions’ remarkable Euro 2020 run continued in Rome as Gareth Southgate’s side ran out 4-0 quarter-final winners against Ukraine.

Harry Kane’s brace was complemented by efforts from Harry Maguire and Henderson on an unforgettable night in the Eternal City, setting up Wednesday’s Wembley semi-final against Denmark.

Southgate’s men lost to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and fell to Holland at that stage of the following year’s Nations League, but the vice-captain is confident they can go further this time.

“We have always felt we are continuing to grow and improve as a team,” he said. “We feel we are ready to take the next step.

“It’ll be a really tough test against Denmark and they are a very good side.

 England's Jordan Henderson celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Ukraine and England at Olimpico Stadium on July 03, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Chris Ricco - UEFA)

“We have played against them not so long ago, they are a tough side and we have to be at our very best if we want to progress to the final.”

Asked about the team bond that Southgate has fostered, Henderson told BBC: “That is important in tournament football.

“You are away for a long period of time and there are players who aren’t playing as much as they would have liked. We have so many good players in the squad.

“The lads who haven’t been playing as much have been outstanding. They are training hard when they haven’t played, doing extra work, being there for the lads who are playing and supporting them in the changing room.

“You can see the celebrations when the goals go in and that’s the best squad I’ve seen in terms of that in a tournament. We are getting our rewards for it so far.

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“We need to continue that for the next few days going into the biggest game of our lives on Wednesday and give absolutely everything to try to get into the final.”

Substitute Henderson’s night was made all the more special by scoring his first England goal on the night of his 62nd cap, ending the longest wait for an outfield player to net for the Three Lions.

“It’s about time, it’s been a long time coming,” the second-half introduction said.

“I have felt one coming and thankfully I’ve managed to get on the scoresheet.

“I’m delighted for the lads because overall the performance was fantastic and will give us good momentum going into the next game.

 Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage

“I always felt it would come eventually, but I always try to contribute the best I can on the pitch, I never really think about that I need to score goals.

“There are a lot of other players to do that. I need to concentrate on my job on the pitch, what I need to do, what the coaching staff and payers need me to do.

“Of course I would have liked to have scored more goals but I can’t complain. I’m here, contributing and managed to get on the scoresheet.”

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Trent Alexander-Arnold ready to ‘hit the pre-season’ on injury comeback

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 09:54

Trent Alexander-Arnold is preparing for his sixth pre-season under Jurgen Klopp off the back of a quad injury, and the No. 66 is ready to get going.

The 22-year-old was dealt a cruel blow earlier in the summer after he was forced to drop out of England’s European Championship squad after picking up a grade two quad tear.

After all the debate that surrounded his selection, it was a bitter blow just a day after being confirmed as a member of Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad.

A four to six week recovery period was the provided timeline. Nearly five weeks on, Alexander-Arnold is making positive progress and is expected to partake in a full pre-season, which starts on July 12.

“Every day is a new step, every day is getting better and getting fitter. Going into pre-season will be good,” Alexander-Arnold told BBC sport during England’s win over Ukraine.

“Having a few weeks’ rest and then hitting the pre-season and trying to push on from there.”

 Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0 and finished 3rd in the table. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

They will be welcome words for Reds and after missing just 16 games over the last two seasons, the break will no doubt do wonders for the right-back ahead of 2021/22.

But that he missed out on the chance to represent his country remains a disappointment, but he is a proud supporter from afar as England head into the semi-finals.

“It’s disappointing for me personally not to be there but it still puts a smile on my face seeing the lads out there doing so well, going far and seeing the nation get behind them,” he continued.

“The support everywhere has been amazing. To see that and to know all the lads, having been there for a few weeks with them, I know they’re going to do us proud.”

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Alexander-Arnold will be part of the first wave of Reds to return to training in eight days’ time, where Virgil van Dijk has already declared himself “pre-season ready.”

The duo are expected to be joined by the likes of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Sadio Mane, James Milner, Kostas Tsimikas, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold provides positive fitness update

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 09:16
Trent Alexander-Arnold is making positive progress in his recovery from injury.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Academy alumni: Phil Brazier - the history maker who found his own way

LiverpoolFC TV - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 09:00
The alumni project run by Liverpool FC's Academy keeps in contact and supports those who have been part of the Kirkby set-up and departed in years gone by.
Categories: LFC NEWS

What it’s like to play for Rafa Benitez

the Athletic - Sun, 07/04/2021 - 05:02

He is Everton’s latest new manager, the culmination of a month-long search and an appointment that has grabbed the attention of the footballing world.

A man crossing the divide from red to blue, splitting the fanbase along the way, faced with the task of reviving Everton and proving he is still the manager who won major trophies with Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Much has been written about Rafa Benitez over the years, but what do those who have worked with and players for his teams really think?

The Athletic breaks down Benitez’s key managerial areas to get a sense of what makes him tick, how he works and what his methods ask of his sides.

Man management

Easygoing Carlo Ancelotti had a pat on the back for his men, a debonair wink. Pep Guardiola’s teams love him. Jurgen Klopp has bear hugs and high fives.

But how does Benitez bond with his players, if at all? Well, it depends who you ask. He is renowned for his consistent approach: no favourites, no pandering to stars but also no attempt to capture goodwill by securing anyone’s affection.

There will not be hairdryer half-time rages, or training ground rants either. But Benitez expects players to buy into his methods and systems, without particularly caring if they like him.

Some are so inspired by his sheer professionalism, knowledge and tactical acumen that they warm to him.

Juan Mata played starred in Benitez’s controversial and ultimately successful spell as Chelsea’s interim manager in 2012-13.

The attacking midfielder scored 19 and created 35 goals that term, as Chelsea won the Europa League and finished third. “I really enjoyed playing for Rafa,” he says. “I had one of my best seasons. It was obvious that the atmosphere around the club was not ideal but on the training ground, players increasingly bought into what he was doing. He overcame a lot and showed his character.

“He prepares methodically. It’s rare to meet somebody who thinks about football as compulsively as Rafa. It is his whole life. He is a real strategist, everything is controlled, he has an obsession, positively. Every coach has his own way. Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Rafa, they prepare the smaller details and reduce the margins by which luck can decide things. Rafa is right up there.”

Juan Mata Rafa Benitez Chelsea Mata thrived under Benitez at Chelsea (Photo: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

For others, who prefer a more personal approach, Benitez has been a tougher prospect.

Another former Chelsea player from that year recalls a man who was harder to love.

“Under the circumstances, he did an unbelievable job, I have respect for that,” he tells The Athletic. “He got results. You can’t hold that against him.

“But in terms of man-management, it was not the best. You couldn’t compare him with someone like Carlo (Ancelotti).

“On a personal note, he was probably one of the least enjoyable managers I played under. I felt he acted like a school teacher. It wasn’t like he had loads of run-ins with people, but there just wasn’t that likeable factor about him. You didn’t warm to him. You read things from (Steven) Gerrard and (Jamie) Carragher and it was similar.

“But you could speak to others at Chelsea and they might have enjoyed working with him more.”

A source from Benitez’s Liverpool days says players will quickly learn it is “Rafa’s way or the highway”.

“When players challenge him, he does not like that,” he says. “But most managers do not. He is quite distant. He is all about football. With Carragher, Gerrard and (Fernando) Torres, there were disagreements and tension. Now he’s older, maybe he has got better with age — although sometimes you become more rigid with age.

“There is no shouting, though. He does not like face to face. He will not have an argument with you. He will just ignore you. If you try to have an argument with him, he will avoid you and then that’s it.”

With other staff at his clubs, Benitez can be personal and warm. One source recalls how, at Newcastle, he bought each member of the club’s administrative staff a Christmas present to thank them for their work.

Training and tactics

This is perhaps where Benitez truly shines. Few have worked with the 61-year-old who do not respect his expertise and approach at the whiteboard or on the training pitch.

Here it is all about embedding his systems, ensuring his teams can, as much as possible, be in control of games.

“He brought stability, a bit more control,” says the former Chelsea player. “He liked to play with a lot of balance, He would want two players to be on the edge of the box rather than just the one, so if it got cleared, we’d win possession back. Someone else might want more players in the area to try and score.

“But Rafa wanted to control the game rather than it being end to end, leaving us more wide open.”

Starting on Monday, Everton’s players should expect a rigorous and intense pre-season.

There is likely to be a lot of tactical work without the ball. The Italians call it “lavoro a secco”, relating to the fitness and tactical sessions. “A secco” means without the ball (running, shadow play), whether it is the physical or tactical side.

Benitez will start from the back; not necessarily playing out from there but having a strong defensive set-up that means everyone must be part of the defensive effort. Everyone must be involved with the tactical shape and creating the structure, to build the mentality of a team difficult to break down.

In one of his national newspaper columns, former Liverpool defender Carragher recalled the relentless focus on being compact.

“If you asked me to say the one word I heard most during training and games, it would be him shouting ‘compact’,” wrote Carragher. “We knew exactly what he wanted us to do and when he wanted us to do it. This came through repetition on the training ground, drills being done over and over again until he was satisfied. It demanded a high level of concentration and there was no laughing and joking’.

RAFA-BENITEZ-NAPOLI Benitez drills tactics into his players constantly (Photo: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

“You could call it counter-attacking as a style,” says a source familiar with Benitez’s methods. “Most coaches do similar training now. Seventy per cent of the drills are identical — games, boxes — but then the other 30 per cent is the message you send and what the manager puts the focus on.

“Some coaches might be more relaxed defensively and focus on what you can do with the ball, the movements you can make together to develop understanding. But Rafa is the opposite. It will be all together, compact shape, lots of tactical work, forget about the ball, defend well and then we can use the space if we win it back. Depending on the players, you can use space by using speed, like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, or use space between the lines if you don’t have players running in behind.“

Although he has clear core fundamentals, Benitez is not wedded to one particular system,

“It may be five as he did at Newcastle, or 4-2-3-1 he favoured at previous clubs,” says one source close to Benitez. “He puts the team in that shape and has long, long sessions on working to make players compact and their movements when they are out of possession, to do the lateral movements, the covering, restricting passes.”

For many, though, Benitez’s approach left a lasting positive impression.

“He worked unbelievably hard for us on the tactical side of the game,” recalls midfielder Oriol Romeu of the 2012-13 season in west London. “His organisation and attention to detail were staggering. In the little time I actively worked with him, I learned an awful lot. I still have some notes I took from his sessions.

“I loved his video sessions, where I’d make a list of the opposition’s strong and weak points and try to capitalise. I will take his qualities into my own coaching one day.“

Communication

Benitez is a man supremely in control of his emotions. That extends to his communication style which will not veer into tub-thumping or rousing rhetoric.

“Rafa has a colder, rational approach,” says an individual who saw Benitez close up at Real Madrid. “He doesn’t understand why people communicate (in a rousing way). He has a logical approach and that’s just his personality, to have everything under his control in the dressing room, signings, boardroom.”

After defeats, Benitez does not deliver long tirades, nor does he lavish praise after a triumph.

RAFA-BENITEZ-ROLANDO-AARONS-JAMIE-STERRY Benitez with Rolando Aarons and Jamie Sterry, right, at Newcastle (Photo: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

“He didn’t talk too much after a game, whether it was good or bad,” he continues. “He doesn’t show much emotion either way. It is rare for him to raise his voice.

“He is not someone who provokes players by shouting at them to connect with their feelings. If a player is having a bad first half, he will try to rectify it through logic and shape, rather than digging into the emotional connection with a player.

“That’s why his relationships with players can be a little distant, but many people are like this. He finds it hard to express his emotions. It is not necessarily a negative. But it does explain why he is rarely close to players. You could have a newborn and it would just be, ‘All good? Fine, OK, OK, OK’. That’s what he’s like. There isn’t the real bonding.”

Discipline

Even Pepe Reina, a close ally who has played under his compatriot at several clubs, recalls Benitez’s uncompromising discipline.

He tells a story in his autobiography about a Champions League defeat by Besiktas in 2007, when upon returning to the hotel for their post-match meal, Reina ordered a beer. The barman sheepishly informed him that Benitez had blocked the order.

At his third stint in management, with Extremadura in Spain, he discouraged players from chewing gum in public because he thought it was bad for the club’s image.

At Valencia, where he won two La Liga titles, the players complained because Benitez asked the chef to stop serving fatty foods, such as the ice-cream treat his predecessor Claudio Ranieri had allowed. His decision to remove second helpings and paella even led to crunch talks between players and club doctors.

Indeed, were it not for the intense pressure, training ground sources came to suspect he would have occasionally dropped Cristiano Ronaldo to make a point during his spell at Real Madrid.

“If you lose the ball and don’t give help to the full-back, then it exposes the team,” he explains. “Can you force Ronaldo to do that though? In a big game, he can do that but in 80 per cent of the games, he just will not do that because he wants to be fresh to attack rather than chasing players. That’s the big player’s mentality.”

This is where James Rodriguez, who was often indulged — tactically and otherwise — by Benitez’s predecessor at Goodison may have further cause to consider his future.

“Rafa would have the temptation of playing Lucas Vazquez over Ronaldo because he saw holes and weaknesses in the team defensively.

“There are managers who don’t like big stars in the team because they become too big and unbalance his team defensively. The balance is difficult, admittedly.

“If he thinks you are not giving enough on the ball, he may think a player is not giving him anything as he is unbalancing the team completely. So you are better out of the team. Obviously, you cannot take that decision at Real Madrid given the politics, but tactically, he probably would have liked to.”

The fans

Benitez’s rhino hide has been referenced much in the wake of his Everton appointment, with many supporters far from welcoming.

The former Chelsea player is not surprised the Spaniard did not let it stop him from taking the job.

“Yes it was obvious (how unpopular he was),” he tells The Athletic. “You could hear the songs during the games. But as a player, you have a job to do and Rafa was the same. He didn’t really care or let it affect him. That’s why I don’t think what’s happening with Everton supporters will trouble him. It hasn’t put him off taking the job so what does that tell you?

“He comes across as a stubborn character, which I think helps in that situation. By the end, I think a lot of Chelsea fans had respect for the work that he did.”

Another source from his Chelsea days agrees, although Benitez is human. He enjoyed the adoration, which persists still, of supporters at Newcastle and despite the stoic demeanour, those closest to him say he admitted being aware of the negative noise at Chelsea.

At the end, Benitez did not emerge for a lap of honour after his final game at Stamford Bridge, despite what he had achieved.

“Deep down, it did bother him in my opinion,” he says. “He was hurting that he could not get the fans behind him. Of course, it was difficult. We had away games where our own fans sang ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ and the home fans laughed at Rafa and joined in.

“I remember our own fans carrying P45 banners. It was like a surrealist movie. I had never seen that intensity of opposition from a fanbase really.”

Benitez though, the man so in control, ploughs on. Just as he will do at Everton during these uncertain early weeks and months; bringing method where there is madness, logic where there is chaos, and, ultimately, caring little who likes him as long as they do what he says.

(Design: Sam Richardson)

Get all-access to exclusive stories. Subscribe to The Athletic for ad-free, in-depth coverage of your favorite players, teams, leagues and clubs. Try a week on us. START FREE TRIAL He is Everton’s latest new manager, the culmination of a month-long search and an appointment that has grabbed the attention of the footballing world.

A man crossing the divide from red to blue, splitting the fanbase along the way, faced with the task of reviving Everton and proving he is still the manager who won major trophies with Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Much has been written about Rafa Benitez over the years, but what do those who have worked with and players for his teams really think?

The Athletic breaks down Benitez’s key managerial areas to get a sense of what makes him tick, how he works and what his methods ask of his sides.

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Euro 2020: Jordan Henderson scores as England reach semi-finals

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 21:52

Jordan Henderson scored his first goal for England on Saturday night to help them secure a spot in the semi-finals of Euro 2020.

The Liverpool skipper came off the bench in the second half to net the fourth of a 4-0 victory over Ukraine in a last-eight tie. 

Six minutes after being introduced in place of Declan Rice in Rome, Henderson found himself free in the penalty area and emphatically headed Mason Mount’s corner into the back of the net.

Harry Kane (twice) and Harry Maguire were also on the scoresheet for the Three Lions, who will now play Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday.

It's been a tough old season for Jordan Henderson... but what a reward! His first goal for England! Watch and lis… https://t.co/Q4Ey5ycxVv

— BBCMOTD (Match of the Day) 3rd Jul 20:26

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Euro 2020: Jordan Henderson scores as England reach semi-finals

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 21:52
Jordan Henderson scored his first goal for England on Saturday night to help them secure a spot in the semi-finals of Euro 2020.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Jordan Henderson gets his first goal as England cruise into Euro semi finals

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 21:50

Jordan Henderson netted his first goal for his country as England cruised into the Euro 2020 semi-final, beating Ukraine 4-0 in Rome on Saturday night.

The Liverpool captain headed home a corner shortly after coming on as a substitute for Gareth Southgate’s side, who were already 3-0 up after goals from Harry Kane (2) and Harry Maguire.

It was Henderson’s first for his country in his 62nd appearance for England – the longest run for any player’s first goal for England.

Henderson replaced Declan Rice just before the hour and headed home Mason Mount’s corner six minutes after coming on.

It resulted in a typically passionate celebration for the England No.8, finally getting his goal for his country.

In his 33 minutes, Henderson was superb, showing typical energy, drive and enthusiasm – despite the game well won.

It's been a tough old season for Jordan Henderson… but what a reward!

His first goal for England!

Watch and listen to #UKRENG on the BBC https://t.co/SgXUFtqSx6 #Euro2020 #bbceuro2020 pic.twitter.com/pSXdUR6FiU

— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) July 3, 2021

Speaking post-match, Hendo showed typical humility, saying: Hendo: “It’s about time to be honest! It’s been a long time coming. Thankfully I’ve managed to get on the scoresheet but overall I’m delighted for the lads tonight.”

 England's Jordan Henderson celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Ukraine and England at Olimpico Stadium on July 03, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Chris Ricco - UEFA)

England will play Denmark, who beat Czech Republic 2-1 in Saturday’s other quarter-final, on Wednesday night at Wembley.

The other semi-final sees Italy face Spain on Tuesday, again at Wembley.

Jordan Henderson is so good. We are better with him with him in the team. A leader and quality footballer. Reads the game superbly, passes excellently.

— Whitehouse Address (@TheWAddress) July 3, 2021

YES Hendo lad @JHenderson. What a performance this is from @EnglandFootball and brilliant momentum now for the next game. Some tough decisions for Gareth for the semi-final and hopefully will have everyone available to select from. https://t.co/ijBeIPV2Bt

— DrZaf (@sportsdrzaf) July 3, 2021

It means that Liverpool teammates Henderson and Thiago could meet in the final next Sunday.

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Liverpool goalkeeper departs for £3m – first sale of the summer

ThisIsAnfield.com - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 16:53

Liverpool have confirmed the sale of 22-year-old goalkeeper Kamil Grabara to FC Copenhagen, with the club bringing in a fee in the region of £3 million.

Grabara joined the Reds from Ruch Chorzow in a £250,000 deal in 2016, and was a regular on the fringes of the first team throughout his time with the club.

After a loan spell with AGF Aarhus in 2019, the Pole spent a campaign with Huddersfield in the Championship, before returning to AGF in the Danish Superliga for the 2020/21 season.

There, he caught the eye of their rivals FC Copenhagen, who moved to complete a permanent transfer for the goalkeeper worth £3 million.

Liverpool negotiated a 20 percent sell-on clause in the deal, which could prove lucrative in the future if Grabara is able to cement himself as an option for the Poland national team.

Grabara failed to make an appearance for the first team at Liverpool, but was named on the substitutes’ bench for the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the League Cup in 2018.

An outspoken character with strong reflexes and command of his penalty area, Grabara was a popular figure at AGF and the club were keen to extend his stay.

Instead, he will be playing against them next season, having committed to Copenhagen on a five-year deal.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between S.S.C. Napoli and Liverpool FC at Stadio San Paolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I am really looking forward to being part of FCK, which is not just a big club in Denmark and Scandinavia, but also in the rest of Europe,” he told the Danish club’s official website.

“I know the club from my time in Denmark, and I have been in Parken as an opponent. It is a great place to be a football player, and I look forward to trying it out here as an FCK player.

“I arrive ready to win titles and play with the best in the world at F.C. Copenhagen, but I also come to be a better goalkeeper.

“I know the competition is tough at this club, but I am ready to work hard on the training ground and be part of the team so that we all develop.”

All the best, Kamil!

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Kamil Grabara completes permanent move to FC Copenhagen

LiverpoolFC.TV - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 16:44

Kamil Grabara has completed a permanent transfer to FC Copenhagen.

The Polish goalkeeper finalised a switch to the Danish Superliga side on Saturday after a five-year spell as a Liverpool player. 

Grabara joined the club's Academy set-up in the summer of 2016 and represented the U18, U19 and U23 sides during his first two seasons on Merseyside.

He trained regularly with Jürgen Klopp's first team and featured during their pre-season programme ahead of 2018-19.

The 22-year-old’s development was also aided by productive loan spells at Huddersfield Town and AGF Aarhus.

Everybody at Liverpool FC wishes Kamil all the best for the future.

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Kamil Grabara completes permanent move to FC Copenhagen

LiverpoolFC TV - Sat, 07/03/2021 - 16:44
Kamil Grabara has completed a permanent transfer to FC Copenhagen.
Categories: LFC NEWS

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