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Updated: 33 min 39 sec ago

Real Madrid team bus damaged by Liverpool fans prior to Champions League clash

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 00:00

There's a lot to be said for creating an intimidating atmosphere prior to a big game.

Not only is it a chance to get yourself riled up and excited for the match, it can also unnerve the opposition and possibly hand your side the advantage - something which has never been proved to actually work but, well, we do it anyway.

Real Madrid's team bus was damaged after being targeted by Liverpool fans near Anfield.

(via @ZanySebastien)pic.twitter.com/J9WACAELfE

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 14, 2021

One set of fans who've become synonymous with such displays prior to a big occasion are Liverpool fans. You remember the mass gatherings outside Anfield pre-COVID?

Anyway, it seems fans of the Reds have decided that not being able to attend grounds isn't going to stop them rattling their side's opposition, and so some idiots have decided to damage the Real Madrid team bus as it made its way to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Like seriously, what's the point? Breaking bus windows prior to a game because you think it'll help your team win? Do you even know what football is? Do you even know how the sport works?

Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane will be vying for a place in the Champions League semi-final | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

In a short video uploaded to ESPN's official Twitter account, a man can be seen scraping away the shards of tinted glass from the outside of the window caused by whatever was thrown at the bus.

Liverpool have released a statement condemning the incident: "We condemn unequivocally the actions that led to Real Madrid's team bus being damaged during its arrival to Anfield this evening.

"It is totally unacceptable and shameful behaviour of a few individuals. We sincerely apologise to our visitors for any distress caused. We will work together with Merseyside Police to establish the facts and identify those responsible."

This is the not the first time in recent years that Liverpool fans have taken their pre-game 'atmosphere' creation a bit too far.

In 2018, prior to a Champions League clash with Man City, Reds fans hurled objects at the Cityzens' team bus, smashing windows in the process. The club were subsequently fined by UEFA for the trouble.

Source : 90min

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Andy Robertson reveals Liverpool's game plan to beat Real Madrid

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson has revealed the Reds plan to press Real Madrid at Anfield as they attempt to overturn a 3-1 Champions League quarter-final deficit, hoping their intensity will disrupt the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos dictating the game.

Jurgen Klopp's side were criticised in the aftermath of their first leg clash a week ago for lacking their usual level of intensity. Real Madrid were able to cut through the Reds far too easily, enabling Vinicius Junior to score twice either side of a gifted Marco Asensio goal.

Liverpool were guilty of making it too easy for Real Madrid in the first leg | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Klopp admitted after the game that his team made it ‘too easy’ for Real that night. But Mohamed Salah’s away goal gives Liverpool a chance if they can get their performance right this time, while a 2-0 win would be enough to complete the comeback.

Robertson has explained that a big part of that will be not allowing Real to get into any sort of rhythm with their passing or possession. That means Liverpool relying on the high tempo pressing that has served them so well throughout Klopp’s time in charge.

“Real Madrid are one of the best at controlling games. When they’re in winning positions, they’ve got the likes of Modric and Kroos that can just stand on the ball for what feels like 10 minutes and you can’t get it off them,” Robertson told Liverpool’s official website.

Liverpool need to put Luka Modric under pressure on the ball | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

“We need to put these players under pressure, we need to put them all under pressure, we need to make their life a bit more uncomfortable than we did last week. It felt as if we gave all of them too much time on the ball, really, so we need to make it uncomfortable for them.”

Robertson is confident that Liverpool have enough of their own quality to hurt Real, but having the ball is crucial and they need to furiously fight to get it back if they lose it.

“When you look at all the big games we’ve played and all the good games we’ve played, it’s been down to the pressing being so good. So, we need to try to create that,” the Scot said.

?️ ??? ?????????? (@GegenPressPod)

Will the game against Real Madrid effectively be decided in the first five minutes? @Andy_Headspeath, @em_sandy & @AlexPurdy21 preview Liverpool's second leg in the Champions League quarter-finals. ?#LFC | #UCL

— 90min (@90min_Football) April 13, 2021

“We need the hard work and we need everyone willing to do it. The lads are always willing to do it so I’ve got no doubt about that, but it’s just about us trying to get close to the ball.”

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Source : 90min

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The Liverpool lineup that should start against Real Madrid

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 00:00

A win against Aston Villa in the Premier League is great and all, but focus now turns to overcoming a first leg deficit in the Champions League for Liverpool.

The Reds made a poor account of themselves against Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final and now have a big mountain to climb to overcome a 3-1 aggregate scoreline and progress into the last four.

"My job – and the job of the boys – is to channel your energy despite the forced distance. We know it’s still there, therefore we can still use it." ?

Jürgen Klopp's #UCL programme notes ⤵️

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 13, 2021

Jurgen Klopp's side have been weakened by injuries this season of course, but there is still enough quality available to let loose and put their singular away goal to use.

Here's how Liverpool should line up against Los Blancos on Wednesday.

1. Goalkeeper & defendersBring back the moustache | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Alisson (GK) - A shaky season continued at the weekend with a couple of mistakes, but Alisson is the man for the big occasion. Probably should've kept the moustache, though.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) - Was torn to shreds in the first leg, but the positive here is that there is no way in hell that he or Klopp are willing to let that happen again. Surely.

Nathaniel Phillips (CB) - Thrived at home against Villa at the weekend and can do the same again against Real Madrid on Wednesday. Nat Phillips on home turf is a force to be reckoned with (imagine saying that 12 months ago).

Ozan Kabak (CB) - Injuries mean the youthful duo have been thrown in at the very deep end, but it's all a great learning experience. Kabak has impressed and can only benefit from another game against top opposition.

Andy Robertson (LB) - In a side struggling for fitness, Robertson's reliability must be acknowledged. But he will need to improve on his first leg performance here.

2. MidfieldersThiago must start for Liverpool | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Fabinho (DM) - A case could be made to drop the Brazilian into defence for extra security, but that then leaves Real's impeccable midfield with even more room to operate in.

Thiago Alcantara (CM) - With Naby Keita hooked before the end of the first half in the first leg, it's fair to say that the Champions League-winning Thiago returns to the XI for this one.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) - The Dutchman has to show more attacking thrust with nothing to lose on Wednesday, and can be useful in exploiting a rocky Real defence.

3. ForwardsBobby is back. | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) - Liverpool's magic man will be expected to put in a big shift if they want any hope of somehow progressing beyond the last eight, but his first leg goal gives them a glimmer of hope.

Roberto Firmino (ST) - Leaving out Firmino in the first leg harmed Liverpool's ability to press effectively and ultimately left them wide open at times. He has to return to the XI.

Sadio Mane (LW) - He hasn't been in the finest of form by any means, but Mane was rested at the weekend and you'd back him to be able to turn things around.

Source : 90min

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Liverpool vs Real Madrid preview: How to watch on TV, live stream, team news & prediction

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool host Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter final on Wednesday night with plenty of work to do if they wish to advance to the last four.

Real outplayed the Reds in the first leg in Madrid. Liverpool collapsed in the first half of the game and allowed Los Blancos to storm into a 2-0 lead, before Vinicius Junior added a second as the first leg finished 3-1.

Up next, we welcome @realmadrid to Anfield ⚽️

A big second leg performance needed ✊? pic.twitter.com/0omziu1iZW

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 12, 2021

Jurgen Klopp's side did manage to come away with an away goal courtesy of Mohamed Salah, however, and are more than capable of causing an upset should they rally for the occasion. The last time Real reached the quarter finals was 2018, when they went on to win the competition.

90min previews an intriguing and unfinished bout.

Where to watch

When is the match? Wednesday 14 April
What time is kick off? 20:00 (BST)
Where is it played? Anfield
TV Channel? BT Sport 2/BT Sport Ultimate (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? Bjorn Kuipers
VAR? Pol van Boekal

Liverpool team news

Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak have work to do to avoid being bullied like they were in the first leg against Madrid, with Los Blancos picking apart Liverpool's youthful backline in the absence of usual central defenders.

Jordan Henderson is still unavailable through injury, while Curtis Jones missed out at the weekend due to muscle problem and is doubtful, but should be available for selection.

Sadio Mane has been out of form of late, but was rested at the weekend and could return on Wednesday.

Real Madrid team newsVasquez is out for the season | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane's side have been similarly plagued by injuries to key players this season and travel to England with a further depleted squad.

Raphael Varane continues to isolate having tested positive for COVID-19, while the already-injured Sergio Ramos has also returned a positive test. Utility man and makeshift right back Lucas Vazquez limped off at the weekend and is out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury, joining fellow right back Dani Carvajal on the treatment table.

Eden Hazard continues to recover from an ankle issue and has not travelled, but Fede Valverde has shaken off a foot injury and made the squad, as has Toni Kroos who was substituted at the weekend.

Predicted lineups

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Real Madrid: Courtois; Odriozola, Nacho, Militao, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

Recent results


Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa - Premier League (10/4)
Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool - Champions League (6/4)
Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool - Premier League (3/4)
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool - Premier League (15/3)
Liverpool 2-0 RB Leipzig - Champions League (10/3)

Real Madrid

Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona - La Liga (10/4)
Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool - Champions League (6/4)
Real Madrid 2-0 Eibar - La Liga (3/4)
Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid - La Liga (20/3)
Real Madrid 3-1 Atalanta - Champions League (16/3)

Liverpool vs Real Madrid prediction Klopp needs a response from his side | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

For all of the criticisms of Liverpool and subsequent assumptions that Real Madrid were already through after the first leg, this tie is certainly not over.

A win at the weekend will no doubt spur on the Reds, and Klopp will have drilled it into his men not to produce a repeat of last week's nightmare performance.

Having said that, it has to take something special to beat Real Madrid, who have found their stride in 2021 and look seriously dominant.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid (Real Madrid win 3-2 on aggregate)

Source : 90min

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Bayern Munich turn down chance to sign Georginio Wijnaldum on free transfer

Tue, 04/13/2021 - 00:00

Bayern Munich have rejected the opportunity to sign Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman's salary demands proving too much for the European champions.

The prospect of Wijnaldum departing Anfield on a free transfer this summer is growing by the day, with the midfielder and the club unable to reach a compromise over a new contract.

Georginio Wijnaldum has been a key part of Liverpool's midfield for a number of years | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

A number of top European clubs have already lodged their interest, with Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman - who tried to sign Wijnaldum last summer - particularly keen to secure the services of his countryman.

90min recently revealed that Jurgen Klopp has made one final plea to the Liverpool board to secure the long-term future of Wijnaldum, but is resigned to losing him at the end of the season.

As the 30-year-old's representatives continue to explore all available options to them, German news outlet Abendzeitung-Muenchen report that Bayern have been offered the chance to sign Wijnaldum this summer - though they've decided against a deal due to the midfielder's high wage demands.

Hansi Flick is said to be keen to bolster his squad with midfield reinforcements at the end of the season, though his future at the club is up in the air.

While first-choice midfield pairing Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have developed into two of the finest midfielders in Europe in recent years, Die Roten's options aside from the duo are limited.

Corentin Tolisso has shown glimpses of brilliance since his mega-money move from Lyon back in 2017, though his injury record has prevented him from developing as the club would have liked.

The report adds that youngster Tiago Dantas is expected to be moved on in the summer and with Marc Roca failing to catch Flick's eye during his first season in Munich, Bayern's need to add to their midfield arsenal is clear.

Talented German international Florian Neuhaus has been touted as a potential summer arrival at the Allianz Arena this summer.

However, with Borussia Monchengladbach likely to command a handsome fee for their prized asset and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently conceding the club are struggling to cope with the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, such a deal may well prove to be little more than speculation.

Source : 90min

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PSG 'make contact' with Mohamed Salah & Harry Kane

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 00:00

Paris Saint-Germain are drawing up plans for life without superstar forward Kylian Mbappe and have already reached out to the representatives of both Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Mbappe's contract is set to expire at the end of next season and talks to secure his future have been dragging on for what feels like an eternity. Club director Leonardo recently admitted he was feeling good about the Frenchman's future, but until he puts pen to paper, the uncertainty will remain.

Mbappe's future remains up in the air | John Berry/Getty Images

According to Telefoot's Julien Maynard, Mbappe is prepared to delay his decision until the end of the season, when he will analyse PSG's proposal and consider interest from Real Madrid, and given the possibility of a summer exit is obviously on the table, PSG have started to look at potential replacements.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi is a well-known target, but Kane and Salah have both worked their way onto PSG's radar and contact has been made with the pair's representatives to figure out whether a move would be possible.

For Kane, it was manager Mauricio Pochettino who personally reached out to the Spurs man to discuss his future. Kane is understood to be keen to leave Spurs this summer if they fail to qualify for the Champions League - something Sunday's 3-1 loss to Manchester United won't have helped.

Kane is growing frustrated at Spurs | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Pochettino would prefer a reunion with Kane, but club officials are said to favour signing Liverpool's Salah this summer and a meeting was held with the Egyptian's agents last month.

There are no negotiations as of yet, however. PSG's primary goal is to tie Mbappe down to a new contract and talks will continue to be held between now and the end of the season to try and convince the Frenchman that he can achieve his goals at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe wants to be part of a side that can regularly compete for Champions League glory, and although PSG reached the final last year and have one foot in this year's semi-final after beating Bayern Munich last week, Mbappe appears to be unsure staying in Paris would be right for him.

Salah is also on the radar | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Most of the speculation surrounding his future involves a potential move to Real, who have been waiting for Mbappe to hit this point in his contract so they can swoop in with a 'bargain' bid of just over £100m and finally sign their dream target.

There have been conflicting reports over whether Real actually have that money, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting them hard enough to crack a hole in their once-bottomless pit of transfer funds, but PSG feel as though the possibility of the Spanish side making a bid is still there.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Source : 90min

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Why Luis Suarez returning to Liverpool would make no sense whatsoever

Sun, 04/11/2021 - 00:00

There are some transfer rumours that just make you want to close whatever device you're staring at and stop thinking about football for a while.

Luis Suarez back to Liverpool this summer? Unquestionably one of those rumours.

Since the Uruguayan left the club for Barcelona back in 2014, the Reds have completely overhauled the way they do transfer business. The appointment of Jurgen Klopp dovetailed with the promotion of Michael Edwards to sporting director in 2016, and the club ditched their previous scattergun approach for a data-driven recruitment model that led them back to the top of the mountain.

At the core of that approach are some golden rules for new signings that they have more or less stuck to staunchly; players typically have to be young enough that there is room for growth, relatively cheap, and free from injuries that have the potential to flare up.

People brought into the club typically have a certain type of personality too; there's no question that Klopp prefers hungry, unproblematic characters prepared to put their own egos to one side for the benefit of the team.

Now, if you're sitting there now thinking 'Luis Suarez is almost none of those things' then you'd be absolutely correct.

5⃣0⃣0⃣ career goals for Luis Suarez. pic.twitter.com/QIIVsAXJ3w

— 90min (@90min_Football) March 21, 2021

Now 34, he's just been sidelined with a muscular injury which could end his season, and is preparing to walk out on a contract with Atletico that sees him rake in £160,000 per week.

But regardless, a report by Todo Fichajes is being regurgitated by a number of titles in England, claiming that Liverpool are 'one of two options' on the table for the veteran this summer.

It's claimed that he has grown disillusioned with life under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid, feeling the manager's tactics - which require him to work hard off the ball - are causing his injuries to flare up.

In other words, he wants a move to a club where he'll have to run less.

So he's allegedly signing for Liverpool, where counterpressing is a way of life.


The argument for the signing is that, well, he'll be available for free. He'll add some experience to the forward line - which currently includes three players who turn 30 in the next year - and 'guaranteed goals' to a team who have struggled to find the back of the net this season.

#OnThisDay in 2012...

Suarez v Norwich...

You know how it goes... ? pic.twitter.com/JHM08KfNlr

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 29, 2017

That second point may hold some merit. The Reds' chance conversion rate is the worst in the Premier League by a distance, so having a predatory striker with a track record of scoring goals in the group might not be a bad thing. It could have a similar effect to Edinson Cavani at Manchester United this season.

The question, though, is does his potential impact merit a break from strategy in almost every measurable way? You'd have to say no.

Liverpool have moved on since Suarez last played for them. From top to bottom, the club is a different entity to the one he left. They've moved past the need for short-term signings, and every piece of transfer business they conduct is carefully considered from all angles, so as to avoid any costly disasters.

Suarez to Liverpool. Verdict? Unlikely | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

With all the negative PR towards the end of his last spell at Anfield, then, it seems highly unlikely they'd want to go back to Suarez. Particularly when he doesn't even fit into their plans.

But hey, maybe they will.

Either way, I'm turning my laptop off and forgetting about football for a bit.

Source : 90min

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Bayern Munich ready to test Jurgen Klopp's resolve if Hansi Flick leaves

Sun, 04/11/2021 - 00:00

Exclusive - Bayern Munich are prepared to see just how committed Jurgen Klopp is to Liverpool this summer - if they find themselves needing to replace current boss Hansi Flick.

Flick has been outstanding since taking over at Bayern in November 2019, leading the club to an unprecedented sextuple last season and keeping them in the running for both the Bundesliga and Champions League trophies this time around.

Flick is expected to take over the German national team | ANNEGRET HILSE/Getty Images

Bayern have no desire to part ways with Flick, but sources have revealed to 90min that there is a feeling he may leave the Allianz Arena this summer in favour of taking over from the outgoing Joachim Low at the helm of the German national team.

With the uncertainty growing, Bayern are considering their options when it comes to replacing Flick, and Klopp has been identified as the dream target by many at the club.

As a result, Bayern are ready to test Klopp's resolve by offering him the chance to take over Germany's biggest club this summer, with some in the boardroom feeling as though he may be growing frustrated at Liverpool.

Klopp has been unimpressed with the Reds' recruitment this season. He wanted Timo Werner last summer but was told by owners Fenway Sports Group to wait 12 months and eventually lost out on his signature to Chelsea, and his plea for a new centre-back before injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also fell on deaf ears.

Klopp has been disappointed with Liverpool's transfer strategy | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

More recently, the board's refusal to sanction a new contract for midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has left Klopp feeling less than impressed. 90min revealed he has personally urged FSG to keep the Dutchman around, but Wijnaldum still seems set to walk away from Anfield this summer.

That being said, Bayern are well aware that there is a difference between being unhappy and wanting to leave, and there is an acceptance that actually convincing Klopp to leave Liverpool would be a Herculean task.

He has already turned down the chance to replace Low as Germany boss, insisting he is prepared to see out the terms of his contract with Liverpool, but Bayern are ready to come knocking again to see whether Klopp can resist the chance to join one of Europe's most successful clubs.

Bayern will give Klopp the chance to return to Germany | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Klopp has never hidden his admiration for Bayern. He interviewed for the job in 2008 but eventually lost out to Jurgen Klinsmann - a decision executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told ZDF the club regret enormously - and he has never shied away from heaping praise on Bayern's success.

Bayern feel as though they have a better chance than most of convincing Klopp to walk away from Liverpool, and while they acknowledge just how difficult it could be, club officials are prepared to try before turning to plan B.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Source : 90min

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Liverpool owe it to Nat Phillips if they qualify for the Champions League

Sun, 04/11/2021 - 00:00

Prior to this season, Nat Phillips had just one Liverpool appearance to his name, and it seemed as if that would be his lot.

There was no real attempt to keep him at Anfield amid interest from Germany. With a year left on his deal and four centre-backs ahead of him in the pecking order, it was hard to imagine any sort of Liverpool future for a player whose chance had come and gone.

He looked dispensable - but now you wonder where they would be without him.

Nat Phillips vs Aston Villa

• 86% passing
• 62/72 passes (1st in game)
• 3 chances created (1st)
• 85 touches (2nd)
• 10/13 aerial duels (1st)
• 2/3 tackles
• 7 clearances (2nd)

Colossal performance. Getting better every week ? pic.twitter.com/ITfrNmACII

— LFC Stats (@LFCData) April 10, 2021

Fast forward six months and while Phillips' long-term future is still up in the air, he's one of the first names on Jurgen Klopp's team-sheet. His cause has been aided by a freakish slate of injuries, but he has earned his spot on merit with a number of dominant performances which seem to improve with every passing week.

He may be the antithesis of the modern day central defender, but he embodies the dogged will to win that Liverpool have rediscovered in their charge towards Champions League football.

The Reds' victory over Aston Villa made it three league wins on the spin for the first time since September, and while Trent Alexander-Arnold grabbed the headlines, Phillips was once again their best performer.

The big defender threw himself at everything and won ten aerial duels - the rest of his team won nine between them. He won the battle with Ollie Watkins and his understanding with Ozan Kabak sat at the core of a first Anfield win in almost four months.

Nat Phillips won 10 (TEN) aerials against Aston Villa, more than the rest of the Liverpool starting XI managed combined (9).

The most by a Liverpool player in a single PL game this season. ? pic.twitter.com/Q822KfAHc0

— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 10, 2021

And he was much better at the things he's normally criticised for. He pulled off three key passes, as many as Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, and continues to prove himself as an adaptable footsoldier for Jurgen Klopp.

He's been a huge part of the late season resurgence that has kept Liverpool alive and kicking in the hunt for Champions League football, and for now, he won't be looking any further than the task in front of him.

Yet it's all a little bittersweet, since Phillips' recent emergence isn't likely to save his Liverpool career.

There's going to be a defensive shakeup at Anfield in the summer. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will return to take cornerstone roles. Kabak's arrival is set to be made permanent, while there is talk of a new arrival, with RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate still heavily linked.

All of that spells bad news for Phillips, who doesn't appear to have a long-term role in a replenished defence.

He's been a revelation, but in reality, he's plugging a gap. With his contract due to expire, it may be best for everyone if he moves on and keeps his momentum building elsewhere.

Over the past four months, though, Phillips has gone from a perceived Championship-level defender to one who can mix it with the best in the top flight.

The battling attributes that have helped Liverpool back into top four contention have plenty to offer, and he will walk away from Anfield with a CV that looks immeasurably more impressive than it would have a year ago.

He may not be heading to the top with Liverpool, but Phillips deserves immense credit for how he has defied expectations to help the club through the Klopp era's darkest hour.

Source : 90min

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Trent Alexander-Arnold stunner evidence of striking Gareth Bale similarity

Sat, 04/10/2021 - 00:00

It was a moment which caused every commentator in England to subconsciously utter the phrase, "Who else but Trent Alexander-Arnold?"

The 22-year-old went from zero to hero, hitting a last-minute thunderbolt to hand Liverpool their first win at Anfield in 2021, fire them back into the top four of the Premier League and banish a whole posse of demons.

Happy Come On GIF by Liverpool FC - Find & Share on GIPHY

The 2-1 victory over Aston Villa was a huge milestone in the Reds' season, and one which led Jamie Carragher to ask "Are you watching Gary Neville?" in response to the former Manchester United man's hypothetical decision not to select the full-back in his ideal England XI ahead of Euro 2020.

And while it was a wonderful moment for the player, club and all Liverpool supporters, it didn't really prove anybody wrong, on this occasion.

In fact, it all but proved Neville's point.

The pundit's gripes around Alexander-Arnold is his lack of defensive awareness and killer instinct at the back. Those issues came to the fore in midweek, when the youngster inadvertently assisted Marco Asensio with a headed back-pass, and then fell asleep to allow Vinicius Junior to add a third.

What Neville would agree on, however, is that Alexander-Arnold's desire to bomb forward and attack is a menacing weapon in the right situation. The defender's ability in the final third makes him one of the most impressive crossers of the ball in the game, and his quality in possession has led Carragher to draw comparisons with Manchester City magician Kevin De Bruyne.

? | Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Aston Villa:

100 touches
2 clearances
1 interception
3/3 tackles won
4/7 ground duels won
100% dribble success
3 chances created
1 match-winning goal

Young sensation. Proved Southgate wrong. Won Liverpool all 3 points today. Pure brilliance. pic.twitter.com/ZDheLgWKz4

— Hwang❕ (@Hwang1872) April 10, 2021

It was his offensive play which caught the eye against Villa, and ultimately settled the game on Saturday. He was a man possessed down that right-hand side, overlapping beyond Mohamed Salah and whipping in a number of crosses which his teammates couldn't quite capitalise upon.

His raking ball (which probably should have been intercepted by Matty Cash) found its way to Diogo Jota and ultimately led to the disallowed equaliser - a decision all football fans would probably agree to be quite harsh.

That love for putting defenders under pressure by picking out the difficult cross-field balls or his constant need to be in possession strikes of a man destined to play higher up the pitch in the future.

In fact, his match-winning contribution came from an area he should never have been occupying in his current role.

⚽ Trent Alexander-Arnold has scored his first PL goal from outside the box this season with his 31st shot from outside the area

— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 10, 2021

As Liverpool pushed for the equaliser, Xherdan Shaqiri collected the ball on the right wing, only to find no Alexander-Arnold marauding behind him. He instead blasted a cross into the mixer, which deflected to the edge of the penalty area on the left-hand side.

From there, our protagonist popped up, took the ball in his stride and whipped a delicious curling shot into Emiliano Martinez's far corner. The question, 'What is he doing there?!' sprung to mind, although that wasn't the only point to ponder.

'Should he be there more often?' was equally as intriguing.

We know his strengths, and we are all too aware of his weaknesses. So, would it make sense for him to try and learn another trade on the pitch then, in order to make full use of his attacking qualities?

A special moment | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A freer role in a midfield three must have crossed Klopp's mind at some point, especially if he had more competition in that right-back spot.

That's not to rule out his skills as a full-back, though. He has guarded that flank in a side which has won the Champions League and the Premier League, collecting a whole stack of individual accolades in the process.

But it was evident when a certain Gareth Bale burst onto the scene at Southampton and Tottenham as a pacy and blistering left-back that his attacking talents were wasted in the penultimate line of defence, and that feeling is beginning to linger with Liverpool's current right-back.

There are differences between the pair's skillset, of course, but also an awful lot of similarities - for that reason we shouldn't be too surprised to see a similar shift in Alexander-Arnold's position, and Liverpool's recruitment plans, over the next year or so.

Source : 90min

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Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa: Player ratings as Alexander-Arnold bags vital late winner

Sat, 04/10/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool climbed into the top four of the Premier League with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds dominated from the off, and Mohamed Salah should have broken the deadlock early on, but he rolled a shot wide of the post when clean through against Emiliano Martinez. The Egyptian missed the target again soon after, and Villa capitalised upon the hosts' poor finishing when Ollie Watkins blasted under Alisson Becker, who should have done better.

? Half-time at Anfield and Ollie Watkin's goal has Villa in front but VAR once again the talking point!

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Liverpool thought they'd pulled level through Roberto Firmino on the stroke of half-time, but his dinked strike was ruled out for an offside call against Diogo Jota in the buildup to the goal. Jurgen Klopp's men did equalise just before the hour-mark however, as Salah was on hand to tap home after Martinez parried Andy Robertson's shot.

Villa almost regained their advantage on 62 minutes, Trezeguet's curling effort striking the inside of the post before bouncing away, before the Reds got their reward for long periods of dominance when Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a stunning shot inside the far post to clinch a huge three points.

Liverpool player ratings1. Goalkeeper & Defenders Focus | MARTIN RICKETT/Getty Images

Alisson Becker (GK) - 6/10 - Had to be alive to pinch the ball ahead of Watkins from a short back-pass. Poor attempt to save Villa's goal, and should have done better.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) - 7/10 - Curled a dangerous free-kick just over the bar, before firing a brilliant match-winner to save the day. Decent deliveries all afternoon.

Nathaniel Phillips (CB) - 7/10 - Almost played Watkins through on goal but Alisson spared his blushes. Did well enough against the English striker however, and largely kept him quiet.

Ozan Kabak (CB) - 5/10 - Too weak in the initial challenge, then couldn't get across quick enough to block Watkins' shot. Not his finest hour.

Andy Robertson (LB) - 8/10 - His misdirected effort fell to Firmino, who did the rest. Alas, offside. Repeated his heroics in the second half, and this time his parried shot fell to Salah, and he did bring the Reds level. On a different planet to his teammates.

2. Midfielders Using his experience | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

James Milner (CM) - 6/10 - Tidy on the ball, but couldn't make any sort of impact in the final third. Dispossessed and almost gifted Villa a second in the second half.

Fabinho (CM) - 7/10 - Played so much of the game on the edge of Villa's penalty area, moving play from side to side with urgency. Couldn't protect his backline from the turnover in play which caused Villa's first-half strike.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) - 6/10 - Scurried up and down the pitch, and saw a shot blocked by some stoic defending. Subbed.

3. ForwardsAmong the goals | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) - 7/10 - Lively from the off, but wasteful in front of goal. Somehow missed a simple one-on-one, but couldn't fail from a yard out to pull Liverpool level.

Roberto Firmino (ST) - 6/10 - Thought he'd got the Reds on level terms, but his clever finish was all for nothing due to an offside flag.

Diogo Jota (LW) - 7/10 - Headed just over the bar from Robertson's corner, and caused Cash a few issues with his clever runs in behind. Produced a stunning first-time pass to feed Robertson to level.

4. Substitutes Introduced | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Thiago Alcantara (CM) - 6/10

Sadio Mane (LW) - 5/10

Xherdan Shaqiri (RW) - 7/10

Aston Villa player ratings5. Goalkeeper & Defenders Got away with one | LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/Getty Images

Emiliano Martinez (GK) - 7/10 - Tested early doors by Salah, but kept out his front-post drive. Produced a good save to deny Robertson, but could only parry into the path of Salah. Unlucky to see his final save cancelled out by Alexander-Arnold.

Matty Cash (RB) - 7/10 - A solid first half against Jota. Was lucky that his missed interception went unpunished, due to an extremely harsh offside call.

Ezri Konsa (CB) - 7/10 - Had Villa's first shot on target, but headed straight at Alisson. Threw himself in front of the ball on a number of occasions. Booked.

Tyrone Mings (CB) - 6/10 -
Got away with a proper clanger, allowing the ball to roll under his foot and through to Salah. Lucky for him, the striker misfired. Recovered to lead the backline against a barrage of crosses and balls into the penalty area.

Matt Targett (LB) - 7/10 - Lost Salah a few times on that flank, but got back in to block crosses and reduce the danger from his wing. Did a decent job on the whole.

6. Midfielders Getting stuck in | Pool/Getty Images

John McGinn (CM) - 7/10 - Slotted a superb ball through for Watkins to break the deadlock. Harassed the Liverpool midfield and gave them so little time on the ball.

Douglas Luiz (CM - 6/10 - Struggled to help his side get a foothold in the game, and then picked up a head injury just before the half-hour mark. Carded, not for the first time. Broke up Liverpool's attacks efficiently.

Marvelous Nakamba (CM) - 6/10 - Surrendered possession far too easily on a couple of occasions, landing his teammates in danger. Dashed around, putting his endless energy to good use.

7. ForwardsCelebrations all round | Pool/Getty Images

Bertrand Traore (RW) - 5/10 - Dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box, and was generally poor throughout.

Ollie Watkins (ST) - 8/10 - Very isolated early on and was forced to invent chances from next to nothing. Got his chance just before half-time and rifled it home.

Trezeguet (LW) - 7/10 - Buzzed around the final third trying to press the Liverpool backline into a mistake. So unlucky to hit the post with a brilliant effort under pressure. Left the field in tears through injury.

8. Substitutes Subbed on | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Ross Barkley (CM) - 5/10

Anwar El Ghazi (RW) - 6/10

Jacob Ramsey (CM) - 6/10

Source : 90min

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Jurgen Klopp hints at giving out of form Sadio Mane a 'break'

Sat, 04/10/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that out of form forward Sadio Mane could be left out of the starting lineup that faces Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, suggesting that the Senegal international needs a mental ‘break’ after a relentless few years.

Despite assists in his last two Premier League games, Mane has only scored seven goals in the league so far and only once in his last 13 appearances in the competition. He did score home and away against Leipzig in the Champions League, but his form has become a major talking point.

Jurgen Klopp has hinted Mane is suffering with low confidence | Pool/Getty Images

As Liverpool prepare to host Villa, who won 7-2 in the reverse fixture back in October, the expected return of Roberto Firmino from the start after coming off the bench against Real Madrid in midweek and the presence of Diogo Jota gives Klopp the chance to pull Mane from the spotlight.

“We all know how good Sadio Mane is, what a player he is and what he did for us,” Klopp is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

“But obviously the numbers scoring-wise are not great at the moment and he knows that. For a player with the mind-set of Sadio, he wants to do extremely well. But this is the situation he is in,

“There is no physical problem for Sadio, not a real one - we all need breaks from time to time, that is clear - but it's not a general problem. It's just the situation. If you don't score for a while, then strikers start thinking. There is a moment when you start thinking exactly the right things again and then it will be fine again. We have to make sure this time is not too far away.”

Liverpool go into the Villa game having only scored once at Anfield in the Premier League this calendar year and failing to win at home in the league since victory over Spurs on 16 December.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Source : 90min

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Liverpool ready to trigger buy option for Ozan Kabak

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 00:00

Exclusive - Liverpool are ready to trigger their buy option in Ozan Kabak's loan contract after being impressed with his development in recent months.

The Reds had been tracking Kabak for a while and eventually pulled the trigger on a loan deal in January, bringing him in to help cover for the long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

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Liverpool consider Teun Koopmeiners as Georginio Wijnaldum replacement

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool have been linked with AZ Alkmaar and new Netherlands international Teun Koopmeiners as a possible replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum is into the final three months of his Liverpool contract, hasn’t looked close to signing a new one, and will be able to leave as a free agent when it expires in June.

Georginio Wijnaldum is running down his Liverpool contract and is increasingly likely to leave as a free agent this summer | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The 30-year-old, bought for £25m from Newcastle in 2016, has been heavily tipped to join Barcelona on a free transfer, which would mean reuniting with former Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman.

With Wijnaldum’s departure increasingly likely, Liverpool will soon have a void to fill in central midfield and Koopmeiners is a name that is now coming up.

AS reports that Liverpool are the latest club to show an interest in him and is seen as an ‘ideal candidate’ to make up for the loss of fellow countryman Wijnaldum this summer.

However, there has already been interest in his services from Roma, Napoli, Inter and Sevilla.

Koopmeiners could cost €20m (£17.4m) | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Koopmeiners could cost around €20m (£17.4m) and has even been likened in some quarters to Real Madrid and Germany veteran Toni Kroos because of his range of passing.

He is still only 23 but is already AZ captain, having first joined the club at the age of 11 and progressed through the youth ranks to the first-team. He made his senior debut in 2017 as a teenager and has been a regular ever since.

Koopmeiners also made his Netherlands debut in 2020 in October and was called up during all three international squads in the autumn, although he missed out last month in order to play at the first part of the Under-21 European Championship finals instead.

Koopmeiners is typically a defensive midfielder, whose presence at Liverpool could allow Thiago to have a freer role in future, but his goal stats are impressive because of his role as penalty taker at AZ – he is also good at free-kicks.

Seven of his 15 Eredivisie goals this season have come from the penalty spot. He has also scored two direct free-kicks, although it means there have still been six goals from open play.

It should also be pointed out that Wijnaldum has not generally been a goalscoring midfielder for Liverpool, and while they may not be exactly the same kind of player, Koopmeiners could be a good fit in what will soon be an evolving Reds team.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Source : 90min

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Teun Koopmeiners: Things to know about the Netherlands international

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool's love affair with midfield gem Georginio Wijnaldum looks as though it could be coming to an end, with the two parties seemingly unable to come to an agreement during contract negotiations.

With Wijnaldum appearing to be on his way out of Anfield, what better way to plug the midfielder gap he'll leave than with another talented Dutchman seven years his junior.

Teun Koopmeiners has been earning plaudits from all over Europe for a good few seasons now, and the AZ Alkmaar man is reportedly on the Reds' shortlist this summer as they look to bring in midfield reinforcements.

But who is Koopmeiners and what is there to know about him?

1. Appointed AZ Alkmaar captained aged 21Teun Koopmeiners was appointed AZ Alkmaar captain at just 21 years of age | ANP Sport/Getty Images

One of the best facets of Koopmeiners' game is his leadership ability, so much so that he was named as AZ Alkmaar's captain at just 21 years of age.

But don't be fooled into thinking he's the leader of a side brimming with veterans and so his job as captain is minimal - Alkmaar's squad is full of talented youngsters such as Owen Wijndal, Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu, so Koopmeiners' role at the club his huge.

2. Recently made his senior international debutTeun Koopmeiners made his senior international debut against Mexico last year | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Koopmeiners has been a regular in the Dutch youth teams over the past six years, though he was awarded his senior international cap last year.

He made his debut in the Netherlands' friendly with Mexico last October, with Wolves' Raul Jimenez handing his side a 1-0 win.

Koopmeiners has been tipped as the future of the Netherlands midfield alongside Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong.

3. Can fill in at centre-backTeun Koopmeiners has filled in at centre-back on numerous occasions for AZ Alkmaar | BSR Agency/Getty Images

Ahhhh now Liverpool's sudden interest makes sense.

Not only would Koopmeiners be able to plug the gap left by Wijnaldum in their midfield, he can also fill in at centre-back and has done so on more than a handful of occasions over the past few seasons.

The Reds have endured an injury nightmare in defence this season and so the signing of Koopmeiners would provide extra backup were they ever to endure similar woes in the future.

4. Hit double figures in his last two league campaignsTeun Koopmeiners is an accomplished penalty taker | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

One look at Koopmeiners' goalscoring stats from the last three campaigns will have Liverpool fans licking their lips at the prospect of signing him. The 23-year-old has bagged 30 goals in 77 outings - a stat made all the more impressive by the fact he's played a lot of games at centre-back.

But - and it's a big 'but' - a lot of those goals have come from the penalty spot, though it can't hurt to have an accomplished penalty taker in the side.

5. Style of playTeun Koopmeiners representing the Netherlands Under-21 side | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Like a lot of Dutch midfielders, Koopmeiners' biggest strengths lie in his technical ability rather than his physical prowess.

He may not be particularly quick but his maturity and intelligence sets him apart from the rest of the AZ Alkmaar squad.

The 23-year-old is the orchestrator of his side's progressive play and he likes to sit deep in midfield and control the tempo of the game.

6. He's attracted Premier League interest beforeTeun Koopmeiners has been attracting interest across Europe for a while now | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Given the fact he's been his side's standout performer for many years now, it probably won't come as much of a surprise that Koopmeiners' been attracting interest from some big sides for quite a while.

Premier League clubs have been paying particular attention to his development with West Ham, Leeds and Everton all credited with an interest in securing his services.

However, the interest isn't limited to these shores, with Serie A giants Napoli, Roma and Inter also monitoring the youngster.

Source : 90min

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Liverpool consider Teun Koopmeiners as Georginio Wijnaldum replacement

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool have been linked with AZ Alkmaar and new Netherlands international Teun Koopmeiners as a possible replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum is into the final three months of his Liverpool contract, hasn’t looked close to signing a new one, and will be able to leave as a free agent when it expires in June.

Georginio Wijnaldum is running down his Liverpool contract and is increasingly likely to leave as a free agent this summer | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The 30-year-old, bought for £25m from Newcastle in 2016, has been heavily tipped to join Barcelona on a free transfer, which would mean reuniting with former Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman.

With Wijnaldum’s departure increasingly likely, Liverpool will soon have a void to fill in central midfield and Koopmeiners is a name that is now coming up.

AS reports that Liverpool are the latest club to show an interest in him and is seen as an ‘ideal candidate’ to make up for the loss of fellow countryman Wijnaldum this summer.

However, there has already been interest in his services from Roma, Napoli, Inter and Sevilla.

Koopmeiners could cost €20m (£17.4m) | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Koopmeiners could cost around €20m (£17.4m) and has even been likened in some quarters to Real Madrid and Germany veteran Toni Kroos because of his range of passing.

He is still only 23 but is already AZ captain, having first joined the club at the age of 11 and progressed through the youth ranks to the first-team. He made his senior debut in 2017 as a teenager and has been a regular ever since.

Koopmeiners also made his Netherlands debut in 2020 in October and was called up during all three international squads in the autumn, although he missed out last month in order to play at the first part of the Under-21 European Championship finals instead.

Koopmeiners is typically a defensive midfielder, whose presence at Liverpool could allow Thiago to have a freer role in future, but his goal stats are impressive because of his role as penalty taker at AZ – he is also good at free-kicks.

Seven of his 15 Eredivisie goals this season have come from the penalty spot. He has also scored two direct free-kicks, although it means there have still been six goals from open play.

It should also be pointed out that Wijnaldum has not generally been a goalscoring midfielder for Liverpool, and while they may not be exactly the same kind of player, Koopmeiners could be a good fit in what will soon be an evolving Reds team.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Source : 90min

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Fabinho seen laughing with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez after Champions League loss

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho was spotted sharing a laugh and a joke with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez after the Reds' 3-1 defeat at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Tuesday.

Fabinho played the full 90 minutes in the Champions League quarter-final first leg but was unable to prevent Liverpool falling to defeat at the hands of Real, who roared into an early lead through Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema and wrapped things up later on with another Vinicius strike.

Florentino Perez holding Vini’s hand & Fabinho. pic.twitter.com/5X8PLC2hS6

— R•Madrid Pics ? (@RM_Pictures) April 7, 2021

It was a rough night for Liverpool, but Fabinho seemed in high spirits after the game as he met with Perez in the tunnel, which has seen him face criticism from a handful of supporters.

However, there was really nothing malicious in this one at all as Marca note the pair simply reminisced about Fabinho's time in the academy at Real.

The Brazil midfielder joined the club on loan in 2012, spending most of his one-year spell as the starting right-back for the Castilla, but he was handed his senior debut by Jose Mourinho in a 6-2 win over Malaga in 2013.

Fabinho in action for Real Madrid | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

"With us you played as a right-back," Florentino recalled to Fabinho.

"Yes, but to play right-back now...what a player you have in Vinicius," Fabinho responded.

Real declined to make Fabinho's loan move permanent and he instead sealed another temporary switch to Monaco in 2013, where he blossomed into an elite defensive midfielder and earned himself a permanent switch in 2015.

Fabinho took his talents to Monaco instead | Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

After three more years at Monaco, Fabinho would go on to join Liverpool in a £39m deal, and after a rocky start to life in England, he has fulfilled the potential Perez seemingly saw in him when he brought him to Real all those years ago.

Fabinho will be hoping for a better performance from Liverpool when Real come to Anfield for the return leg on April 14, when they will have their work cut out for them to overturn a 3-1 deficit.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Source : 90min

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Liverpool 'not pursuing' Ibrahima Konate deal

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 00:00

Liverpool are now not thought to be pursuing a move for RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, despite initial reports suggesting a deal was close to completion.

Late in March, it was reported that Liverpool were 'finalising' the signing of the 21-year-old, whose £35m release clause makes him one of the most affordable young defenders around. However, Leipzig immediately cast doubt on the rumour by stating Liverpool was 'not an option' for Konate.

Player Profile: Ibrahima Konate

Things have gone a little quiet since then, but SportBILD (via Sport Witness) have brought it back just to shoot it down. As the story goes, Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff was so bemused by the story that he contacted Liverpool to find out what was going on, only to be told that Konate is 'not an issue' for Jurgen Klopp's side.

It is still expected that Konate will leave Leipzig this summer, but it's said pretty confidently that his next destination won't be Liverpool, who are not thought to be interested in the centre-back at this point.

That doesn't definitively mean that Liverpool will not sign Konate, whose affordable release clause means things can change at any given second, but most in Germany seem confused as to why this story started circulating in the first place.

Sky Deutschland recently stated that there was 'no concrete offer' for Konate just yet, although the Frenchman is thought to be increasingly unhappy with manager Julian Nagelsmann's treatment of him, leaving the door open to a potential move away.

Chelsea and Arsenal have both recently been credited with an interest in Konate, and with Liverpool's negotiations not thought to be anywhere near as close to completion as initial reports suggest, there could still be some twists and turns in this one.

As for Liverpool, they are still expected to pursue a new centre-back this summer. BILD believe that the man at the top of their wish list is already at the club. Ozan Kabak, who joined on a half-season loan from Schalke, can become a permanent signing by activating an option to buy which sits at around the £18m mark.

Kabak's loan is expected to be made permanent | Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Turkey international has been solid since moving to Anfield in the summer. He has managed nine appearances in all competitions, and although he hasn't fixed Liverpool's defensive problems completely, he has done enough to show why he was billed as one of the Bundesliga's finest young defenders last season.

There have been rumours that Liverpool want to sign two centre-backs this summer. Kabak seems likely to be the first, but all the signs suggest he won't be partnering Konate next year.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Source : 90min

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Vinicius Junior proves he belongs on the grandest stage against Liverpool

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 00:00

When news of Eden Hazard's omission from the Real Madrid squad to face Liverpool on Tuesday night filtered through to Jurgen Klopp, you'd have forgiven the German tactician for allowing himself a wry smile.

Well, we say 'wry smile', one of 90min's Liverpool moles actually sent us this clip of him shortly after he was told...

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The Belgian may be struggling for both fitness and form this season - and has been since his 2019 switch to the Spanish giants, if we're honest - but hearing of the twinkle-toed forward's absence would undoubtedly have provided a boost to the Liverpool squad ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Instead, the Reds' fragile backline would be tasked with shackling Vinicius Junior, a seemingly far more attractive proposition given the youngster's inability to produce when Real need him most.

Hazard's injury woes have meant Vinicius has been a mainstay in Zinedine Zidane's side this season, yet of the 68 goals Real had mustered in all competitions throughout the 2020/21 campaign, the Brazilian had contributed just four.

And it's not just the current campaign in which he's flattered to deceive. Since arriving from Flamengo in 2018 in a €46m (£39.75m) move which subsequently made him the most expensive player under the age of 19 ever, the pacy forward hasn't really lived up to expectations, with Real's purchase of Hazard in 2019 testament to that fact.

The 20-year-old has managed just seven La Liga goals in three seasons in the Spanish capital, with his current assists tally bettering his goals tally by just one.

???????????. ???????. ???????????. ???????????.

Whatever word you use to describe it, one thing is for sure...

Toni Kroos' 50-yard assist for Vinicius Junior was out of this world! ✨ pic.twitter.com/v8d8bM7H4p

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 7, 2021

So, a nice easy comfortable night for Trent Alexander-Arnold to concentrate on the attacking side of his game with little to worry about behind him then? Ermm...

The youngster absolutely ran riot against the Reds, bagging his first ever brace for Real as Zidane's men recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory against last season's Premier League champions.

Just as the 'TAA should defo be in the England squad cos he can kick it good' brigade were hanging out the bunting following the Liverpool right-back's display against Arsenal at the weekend, he was absolutely torn to shreds by Vinicius in one of the finest individual performances of this year's Champions League.

His strike to open the scoring on the night was a microcosm of his display. Firstly, he showed the awareness and the anticipation to run in behind Liverpool's high line as Toni Kroos picked up the ball in his own half, before Vinicius produced a touch of absolute class to chest the midfielder's pass away from the retreating Nat Phillips and smash the ball beyond Alisson.

Vinicius Jr is having a blinder! ??#UCL pic.twitter.com/LyUyxW7e92

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2021

Many of the plaudits went to Kroos for his inch-perfect through-ball - and he really shouldn't be denied them given the quality of the pass - but it was the run, the composure and the quality of Vinicius that meant the pass did the rounds among the game's highlights.

The Brazilian tormented the Liverpool back line all evening with his mazy runs, boundless energy and quality on the ball, and he was rewarded with his second of the night shortly after the hour mark.

In truth, the strike which secured his first brace for Madrid was very little more than abject defending from Phillips as he allowed Vinicius the freedom of the penalty area before the Brazilian swept the ball home, and that's not something we'll discard from our assessment of the youngster's display.

He was up against an occasionally shambolic Liverpool defence and a right-back whose defensive ability has been called into question with regularity of late.

Vinicius Junior was on fire against Liverpool | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

However, it was up to Vinicius to expose Liverpool's weakness - which is exactly what he did.

On one of football's grandest stages and in the eerie setting of an empty Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Zidane needed one of his big-name players to step up and drag his side towards the Champions League semi-final.

Vinicius may not have been the first name that sprung to mind when the Real boss was thinking who could grab the game by the scruff of the neck prior to kick off, but he produced the goods when his side needed him most.

Source : 90min

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Sadio Mane's rapid decline should be a major concern for Liverpool

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 00:00

The inquest into Liverpool's officially failed title defence is well underway, after Manchester City's victory over Leicester City put top spot mathematically out of the Reds' reach.

With eight games to play, Jurgen Klopp's men have already surrendered their crown, languishing an unbelievable 25 points behind Pep Guardiola's side, and there are genuine concerns that the champions won't even make the top four this season.

Bored Jurgen Klopp GIF by Liverpool FC - Find & Share on GIPHY

This fall from grace could never have been predicted at the start of the campaign, and while many are willing to chalk it up to bad luck with injuries to key players, others are keen to scratch deeper below the surface and uncover exactly why the wheels have fallen off at Anfield.

Liverpool's misfortune in the centre-back department has been done to death, and tales of their defensive woes will be told for generations. But aside from the problems at the back, there is an even greater concern growing for Klopp and his staff.

That concern is the spiralling form of Sadio Mane.

The Senegalese forward was all at sea in the Spanish capital on Tuesday evening, as the Reds succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final, giving them a mountain to climb in the return leg at Anfield on April 14.

Mane's performance was so bad, that it led ex-Liverpool star Stephen Warnock to suggest the best course of action would be to drop the 28-year-old from the starting lineup altogether, for the benefit of the team.

I’m sorry but it’s time for Sadio to come out of the team. Never thought I’d be saying that but he’s miles off it. #RMALFC

— Stephen Warnock⚽️?? (@StephenWarnock3) April 6, 2021

Strong words, when discussing the 2018/19 Premier League top scorer, and a key contributor to the Champions League and Premier League successes over the past three seasons. But the time has come to talk about Mane's abysmal form, which appears to be one of the main factors behind Liverpool's nosedive.

The truth is, when Mane plays well, Liverpool play well. In fact, the Reds have not lost in any of the 10 league games in which he has provided a goal contribution. However, these offerings are scarce in comparison to previous years.

His seven strikes and six assists in 27 league appearances speak of a man whose confidence has fallen through the floor, and the year 2021 has been a particularly rotten patch - where he's mustered a solitary Premier League goal.

Mane has endured a torrid 2021 | Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Mane's numbers are a far cry from last season's tally, when he scored 18 goals and provided nine assists. What is so striking about his statistics from the title-winning campaign, is the consistency and regularity in which he delivered for the Reds.

Those 18 strikes came in 17 different matches, managing a single brace against Newcastle United back in September 2019. Now, while some may see his inability to double up in matches as a drawback to his game, it instead highlights that he could be relied upon for a goal in almost half of their fixtures.

Moreover, eight of those goals arrived in games which Liverpool won by a one-goal margin, while his brace proved decisive in the aforementioned 3-1 victory over the Magpies.

95 - Of all players to have scored 10+ goals in @ChampionsLeague knockout stage matches, Sadio Mané currently has the best minutes per goal ratio in the history of the competition. Pivotal. pic.twitter.com/OuMTgyJVtZ

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 18, 2019

A clutch performer, then.

And so, while Mohamed Salah may grab the headlines for his regular braces and hat-tricks, Mane has always been the man scoring when it mattered most, helping his side across the line.

So, now that Mane's clutch moments have dried up, it's no surprise that Liverpool are losing games by a single goal or looking blunt in attack. Instead, Salah is now the man responsible for all the goals in this side, given Roberto Firmino's apparent free pass as a non-scoring striker.

But what has caused Mane to fail so miserably this season? Have the injuries to defenders meant that his position and role in the team has changed? Perhaps. Has the arrival of Diogo Jota, or the constant praise of Salah unsettled him? Maybe.

⏱️ Mins-per-goal of Liverpool forwards in all competitions this season:

1️⃣ Diogo Jota - every 105.8 mins
2️⃣ Mo Salah - 128.9 mins
3️⃣ Sadio Mane - 249.6 mins
4️⃣ Roberto Firmino - 444 mins

? What a signing Jota has been! pic.twitter.com/UzqWHtv0t3

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 6, 2021

Or could it be that after five years at Anfield and having achieved everything he set out to achieve, Mane has lost that hunger and motivation which separated him from the other forwards in the English top flight? It's hard to say.

However, one thing is for sure. The power is shifting under Klopp, and Jota's superb half-hour cameo against Arsenal on Saturday evening demonstrated that new blood is the answer to injecting some desire and ruthlessness into that previously untouchable front three.

The fact that we're even discussing dropping one of the attacking trident tells you everything you need to know. This is not the same Liverpool as last year, and the time may have come to accept the need for some new life - no matter how painful it may be.

Source : 90min

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