Former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has spoken about moving to the Reds at 15 in an incredibly personal account of his early years in the game.
Sterling hasn’t always been in favour with Reds fans due to the circumstances of his departure, but that’s nothing compared to the treatment he has received from certain sections of the media.
In a revealing interview with Players Tribune, he has opened up about his younger years which shaped his life and career, including moving to England and then on to Liverpool.
Sterling was with QPR originally, but had the chance to move north to the Reds at age 15.
While still a young age, Sterling tells the story of how it was apparent to him that this was a key moment in his development.
But the real turning point came when I was 15. Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home. And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighbourhood.
They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football.
In my head, I was like, O.K., this is it. My mum sacrificed her life to get me here. My sister sacrificed her life to get me here. I’m here. Let’s go.
For two years, I went ghost. You can ask my friends. When we had a day off, I’d come back to London on the train for a day to see my mum, and then it was back to Liverpool. I was shut down from the world. Just building myself up as a footballer.
While Sterling may have moved on from Merseyside, it’s clear from his interview that Anfield has made a lasting impression on one particular area in his life—his daughter.
A title-winning winger he may be, but there’s only one wide forward being sung about in House Sterling, as he tells it.
So the other day, my daughter’s running round the house singing a little song. And her dad had just won the league with City. Just got 100 points in the league, actually. Does she care?
Haaaaa! Mate, she don’t give two Scooby-Doos about Manchester City. She’s Liverpool through and through.
She’s running through the halls like Raheem Sterling, and you know what she’s singing?
Runnin’ down the wing!
Salahhhhh la la la la la la la!
Can you believe that? Cold-blooded, mate.
The wide-ranging interview covers Sterling’s early growth, his move from Jamaica to England and the sacrifices his family—his mother and sister, particularly—had to make.
It really is a story of success in the face of adversity, and despite being one of the country’s key players and a template for success, he is vilified in parts of the national media.
Naturally, there’s no need to explain which part: it’s always the same, isn’t it?
That unsavoury sub-section is addressed and dismissed by Sterling, criticised as not understanding or caring to understand the motivations behind his successes, and the subsequent rewards it has brought.
“If you grew up the same way I grew up, don’t listen to what certain tabloids want to tell you,” Sterling says.
“They just want to steal your joy. They just want to pull you down.
“I’m telling you right now…England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.”
The entire story is well worth a read and Sterling goes on to discuss his youth teams, school days and the culture back home in Kingston.
Argentina were hideously bad in their latest World Cup setback on Thursday, but Dejan Lovren‘s impressive form continued.
Another three matches lay tantalisingly in front of us on Thursday, as the group stage slowly begins to reach its business end.
Australia and Denmark earned a share of the spoils first up, France edged out Peru and Argentina were humbled by a buoyant Croatia side.
As usual, there were talking points galore.The Good
Imagine being told back in October that Lovren would be bossing it at a World Cup and keeping Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo quiet in the space of a month.
It has been quite a turnaround in fortunes for the likeable centre-back since his nightmare away to Tottenham and he was excellent as Croatia humiliated Argentina 3-0.
That’s back-to-back clean-sheets for Lovren and his teammates this summer, and they are a definite dark horse at this tournament.
There is a lovely balance to the team, especially in midfield, where Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic cut an imperious duo, not to mention the more unsung Marcelo Brozovic.
Speaking of the ever-majestic Modric, his 25-yard strike that made it 2-0 was another cracker at this World Cup.
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) June 21, 2018
If Modric is an ex-Spurs hero, one of their current superstars, Christian Eriksen, didn’t allow him to take all the limelight.
The Dane’s wonderful half-volleyed finish with his weaker left foot put Denmark 1-0 up against Australia, before VAR allowed Mile Jedinak to equalise from the penalty spot.The Bad
Brilliant from Modric but in all the years of watching Argentina I can’t remember them ever having such a poor side.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 21, 2018
Let’s dedicate this entire section to Argentina, shall we?
Lionel Messi and his hapless teammates kicked off at 7pm in the UK, at the exact same time I was starting an hour of 7-a-side.
My team suffered badly in the heat after a reasonable start, but as the minutes ticked by, we eventually conceded three goals in as many minutes, all of which were walked into the net in embarrassingly easy fashion.
As I raced back for the second-half of the Argentina game, I was not expecting to sit down and see them resemble my unfit, disinterested bunch.
In fact, they were even worse, and Rakitic’s clincher in the dying minutes was painfully easy.
One lad during my game had a shot that was so wayward the ball almost rolled into a sports hall 50 yards away – he would have been a star man for Argentina, such was their ineptitude.
You have to feel for Messi, who cut a disconsolate figure all evening, and his country are perilously close to a galling group stage exit.The Feeble France
France were tipped by many to win the World Cup, due to their team being littered with world-class attacking talent.
After a limp 2-1 win over Australia in their opening match, Didier Deschamps’ men were hoping to produce a more flamboyant showing against Peru.
Barring the odd smattering of class involving Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, Les Bleus were not impressive in the slightest, though, and the media back home will still be deeply unimpressed.
Mbappe’s fortunate goal settled matters, but Peru had every right to feel a little hard by. Much like Egypt, they have exited the World Cup in sad fashion.
France won’t be lifting the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time in 20 years unless they improve drastically.Pundit of the Day – Pablo Zabaleta
I’m giving this to Pablo Zabaleta for one reason – he looked so devastated in the BBC studio after Argentina lost that he could do with a pick-me-up.
This accolade will no doubt do him the world of good.Friday’s matches
Roberto Firmino‘s Brazil are back in action on Friday, although manager Tite has confirmed that Gabriel Jesus will again start up front again against Costa Rica. No idea why.
Nigeria face Iceland in what is a huge game for Argentina – they will be praying Iceland don’t win – and the evening entertainment sees Marko Grujic‘s Serbia take on Liverpool target Xherdan Shaqiri’s Switzerland.
Brazil vs. Costa Rica (Group E) – 1pm – ITV
Nigeria vs. Iceland (Group D) – 4pm – BBC
Serbia vs. Switzerland (Group E) – 7pm – BBC
Follow Henry’s World Cup blog each day in our dedicated World Cup section, here.
Despite 280 appearances across seven years for Liverpool, Jordan Henderson remains a player who still very much splits opinion among the fan base.
The debate around Henderson is amplified to an even greater extent on the international scene, as his performances for England tend to draw extreme reactions from fans of other clubs, regardless of how well he actually plays.
There appears to be a somewhat fixed opinion for many people that Henderson lacks the quality to be England’s first choice central midfielder — and for many Liverpool fans, he’s a player who should be upgraded upon in terms of the starting XI.All-change under Klopp
Undoubtedly, the past few years under Jurgen Klopp have not been easy going for Henderson, with a chronic heel injury severely limiting his game time and consistency.
Under the German’s management, he has also undergone a significant positional transition into a holding midfielder, rather than the all-action, box-to-box role he fulfilled under Brendan Rodgers.
It’s easy to forget just how integral Henderson was to Liverpool’s title challenge in 2013/14 and how much the side suffered in his absence following his suspension against Man City at the back end of that season.
The following campaign, he went on to record an impressive 14 assists and seven goals, despite a disappointing season for the team overall.
Since taking on the captaincy role from Steven Gerrard in 2015, there have been recurrent questions around his leadership credentials. Much of that, however, stems from the fact that his predecessor was arguably the greatest player in Liverpool’s history and set a standard which was impossible to maintain.
It’s unfair to measure Henderson against such a legendary figure, as he is a different player in his own right.
Throughout the first half of 16/17, Henderson grew into the No. 6 role and began to demonstrate his ability to dictate games from a deeper position. Using his mobility and intelligence to shield the defence, he also provided a solid base to allow Liverpool’s more attacking players to flourish from.
Although perhaps not his natural role, Henderson has undoubtedly matured under Klopp both as a player and as a captain.
From a leadership perspective, it’s clear to see how Liverpool’s players look up to Henderson and respect him as a senior figure, and he’s often seen directing his team-mates where to be on the field.
Additionally, it’s clear he has been offering advice to guide younger players like Trent Alexander-Arnold through games, as well as being the most likely player to get in the referee’s ear when he feels necessary.
You only have to listen to how he speaks in his post-match interviews, or the way in which he went out of his way to make sure the players celebrated with the Sean Cox banner in front of the away supporters in Rome, to see how Henderson understands and embodies the values of the club.
He might not be Gerrard, but all he does is about putting the team first, and in that sense, he’s everything you would want a Liverpool captain to be.Multiple roles in one
In terms of his role in the side, Henderson’s job is an extremely demanding one as it is largely his responsibility to provide defensive cover in midfield—while also allowing the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah to play with such freedom.
Not only does Henderson read the game well and make important tackles and interceptions to break up play, he is also tasked with setting the tempo and keeping the ball moving quickly through the midfield.
This is a role he performs better than any other midfielder at the club, or for his country.
A common criticism levelled at Henderson is that he plays far too safe on the ball, only passing sideways or backwards rather than making incisive forward passes.
Yet you only have to watch him on a weekly basis for Liverpool — or for England against Tunisia — to see how this narrative doesn’t hold up in reality.
In England’s opening World Cup game against Tunisia, Henderson was one of the standout performers for Gareth Southgate’s side, selected to start as the lone holding midfielder in a 3-3-2-2 set-up.
He played several exceptional, pinpoint, long-range forward passes to create dangerous attacking situations, and had a superbly struck 25-yard volley well saved.
He also provided energy and drive from midfield throughout the game as England chased a late winner.
All midfielders pass sideways and backwards, as it’s an inherent part of the job.
What Henderson does well is to wait for the right opportunity to play an ambitious forward ball, rather than aimlessly firing long passes at any opportunity in the vague hope of finding a team-mate.
The likes of Frank Lampard, Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand all rightly praised Henderson’s performance.
And yet, the bizarre phenomenon of England fans still criticising him was evident all over Twitter after the game, despite having fulfilled his role in the side to very good effect.
Henderson has surely cemented his place as England’s first-choice midfielder for the remaining two groups games, ahead of Tottenham’s Eric Dier.
He was able to replicate the kind of form he showed for Liverpool at the back end of last season on the international stage, where he has struggled to do so at times in the past.Anfield future
Regarding his future at Liverpool, Henderson faces greater competition for his starting spot than he has done in a long time following the arrival of Fabinho from Monaco; the Brazilian is widely regarded as one of the best specialist defensive midfielders in Europe.
While Henderson has performed the anchoring role admirably, it is not his most comfortable position and there have been occasions where his lack of natural defensive instincts have been exposed.
Such competition is only healthy, however, and those assuming that Fabinho’s arrival will signal the end of Henderson’s time as a regular starter at Liverpool might be in for a surprise.
As Klopp demonstrated with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Robertson last season, he is not afraid to be patient with new signings and gradually ease them into the side, using time on the training ground to allow them to adapt to Liverpool’s style of play and the role he demands from them.
Given the complexity of playing the No. 6 role in this Liverpool side, it’s quite possible that Fabinho might also be slowly integrated rather than immediately thrown in as first-choice.
Meanwhile, Henderson’s experience and know-how will still most likely see him start a significant number of games in that role.
As Fabinho settles in, Klopp will also have the option of potentially fielding Henderson in a more advanced role.
From there, he is able to break forward and use his energy and creativity in the final third, rather than operating in a more disciplined role at the base of the midfield.
The arrival of Naby Keita could also provide a very different type of option in that deeper role in certain games.
The £52 million signing from Leipzig—although more likely to play the majority of games further forward—has the ability to turn and dribble past opponents from deeper areas, in a way which isn’t part of Henderson’s game.Tactical options
There might also be occasions where Klopp deploys more of a 4-2-3-1 shape, as he did against Brighton in the final game of last season, in which he may opt to use a double-pivot.
Henderson alongside Fabinho would provide enough defensive cover to allow the boss to effectively field four attackers in front of them.
Therefore, having the contrasting skillsets of Fabinho and Keita to complement the existing midfield options, will give Klopp much more scope to find the right balance of creativity and solidity in his midfield set up.
At the age of 28, Henderson is one of the few experienced figures in this youthful Liverpool squad, having played in multiple cup finals and international tournaments throughout his career.
From everything you hear from Klopp and the players, he’s a highly influential and universally well-liked figure in and around Melwood—a role which supporters don’t get to see first hand.
Henderson will remain an important part of Liverpool’s squad for the foreseeable future.
While in the long run, the likes of Fabinho and Keita will be expected to form an integral part of Liverpool’s evolving midfield in seasons to come, there remains a very important role for Henderson next season, as these new arrivals bed in.
He can be expected to start a significant number of games as a result.
Both for club and country, he remains a player vastly underrated by many, but trusted and admired by team-mates, managers and experts working within the game.
Although not world class by any means—and not without his flaws—Henderson is a far better midfielder than he is often given credit for.
While his place in the Liverpool side will come under greater pressure than ever before with the arrivals of Fabinho and Keita, he will nonetheless continue to be an important figure for club and country for some time to come.
Emre Can has finally joined Juventus after months of flirting with them and Liverpool supporters have been reacting to the news.
There has been an inevitability about the German moving to the Serie A champions for months now, and on Thursday he officially became a Juventus player.
It brings an end to four seasons at Anfield for the 24-year-old, during which time he often appeared to be a divisive figure.
His potential is great, though, and while Can’s ability to blow hot and cold was infuriating, losing him is a blow for the Reds.
Here’s the best of the fan reactions to the news on social media.Supporters had mixed feelings about Can’s reasons for leaving, with his vast earnings seemingly key:
Anyone wondering why Emre Can left @LFC for Juventus: he will be earning a minimum £11m a year for the first two years of a four year contract in Italy. That's £220,000 a week, which would have made him Liverpool's highest earner. By some distance.
— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) June 21, 2018
€16m sign on fee. €220k per week. Live in beautiful Turin. Slower, less aggressive (physically less demanding) league. Play in his preferred position. Massively historic, successful club.
I don’t blame Emre Can one little bit. He’s not an LFC fan. Owes us nothing really.
— Graeme Kelly (@GraemeKelly1) June 21, 2018
£14 million signing on fee for Emre Can at Juve, blimey. His agent has pulled an absolute blinder there.
— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) June 21, 2018
Looks like Emre Can is getting a €16 million signing on fee. Fair play to him!
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) June 21, 2018
Emre Can getting a 16m EUR signing-on fee is the latest evidence to re-inforce my theory that 98% of pro footballers are motivated only by money
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) June 21, 2018
All these “fair play” to Emre Can posts.
I’m sorry but I won’t praise anyone who runs down their contract & LFC lose out on a potential £35m+ asset.
He’s chosen money – his life, his choice.
I’m not praising him for it though.
— LFC4LIFE (@LFC4LIFENET) June 21, 2018
Emre Can said it wasn’t about money.
Emre Can takes a £14m signing on fee from Juventus.
Never took to the guy. Never felt like his heart was with the club.
Only disappointment is that we don’t get a transfer fee.
— Olé (@Ole_LFC) June 21, 2018
People saying "Emre Can moved for money" yeah he probably did, same reason we move jobs.. he's not an LFC fan and he's moving to Turin, earning 220k a week and getting a 16 mil sign on bonus
I'm no way an Emre fanboy but leave it out will ya
— Marty Sikora (@marty_sikora) June 21, 2018While some were upset to see Can depart Anfield, others were unaffected by the news:
Emre Can. Hype in a haircut. Don't care.
— Karl (@TheCenci) June 21, 2018
Some fans seem more upset that Jon Flanagan has left rather than Emre Can. Bizarre.
— Kloppite (@PeteKopite) June 21, 2018
Wish Emre Can farewell for going to Juventus, on his day he was one of our best midfielders but never a consistent starter for us at his time. Always greatful for his vital goal against Watford which got us top 4 last year. Pleasure for his service at the club, danke Emre!
— Samue (@VintageSalah) June 21, 2018
See you then Emre. Never as bad as half the people said, never as good as the rest said. Capable of brilliant performances, capable of utter dross. He’s got his move, we’ve got Keita and Fabinho. C’est la vie
— Ste Davies (@StevenD1977) June 21, 2018
Emre Can has finally arrived in Turin.
Juventus fans, if you think that was slow – wait until you see him play.
— Paul (@Kolology) June 21, 2018
“Good luck to the lad, gave us everything he had until the day he left. He wanted a new challenged and dealt with things the right way.”
– Daniel Wade on Facebook.
“To be honest, on review I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He knew Klopp is buying several better players than him, and has moved to a league more suited to his pace.”
– Andrevv VVagner on Facebook.
All the best, Emre.
When you were good you were amazing, but when you were bad you were almost unwatchable.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) June 21, 2018
Emre Can divides opinions. Very good young player. Still. Overrated. People say he’s young. Fine. The thing is. There’s so many youngsters in world football, who are far younger than him and are better. That’s the whole point with him.
— Timmy Robson (@WaveyTimz277) June 21, 2018
Emre Can was underrated he’ll be a big miss for Liverpool ?
— Luke Honan (@LukeHonanLFC) June 21, 2018
Oh, look. Emre Can taking way too long to finish a move. Shocked.
— NTX (@NTXabi) June 21, 2018
See Juve have confirmed Emre Can ? pic.twitter.com/Hxuqe2rJ0n
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) June 21, 2018
It’s Jurgen Klopp‘s third summer in charge at Liverpool and the challenge now is for the German to take the Reds to the next level – namely, winning trophies.
After achieving Champions League qualification in his first two full seasons in charge, and leading the club to three finals – although suffering defeat in each – Klopp faces a difficult challenge to progress to the next level.
With a squad that is now firmly his, Klopp will continue his evolution this summer but there won’t be wholesale changes made; increased squad depth and some key additions to the spine of the side are top of the agenda.
We put the key questions for this summer to the vote; from the keeper situation, who should or shouldn’t be sold, what’s needed in terms of arrivals and ultimately what’s the main aim for 2018/19.
Place your votes below and we’ll reveal the full results later this week.
Clyne spent the majority of last season on the outside looking in, with a back injury restricting the right-back to just five first-team appearances.
Speaking earlier this month he lamented how “the players are all going out to train while you’re off to the gym or the physio room, day after day,” as he now sets his sights on reclaiming his role.
But he remained a part of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad, and joining Soccer AM’s Adam Smith for their ‘Teammates 2.0’ feature Clyne gave his take on the rest of the squad.
Unsurprisingly, he highlighted Salah as the club’s best player, and explained how he made an instant impact on his £36.9 million move from AS Roma.
“As soon as he came in for pre-season, when we were [outside] running, I think he ran [for] the longest,” he recalled.
“We had a little bleep test going on, and while everyone else came off he was still running, still going, so you could tell that he was fit and ready to go into action.
“Now you see him on the football pitch, he’s good on the ball, he’s scoring goals and he’s so quick. He’s a nice guy, very nice.”
Asked who was the dressing room DJ, Clyne revealed Dejan Lovren‘s love for 50 Cent: “That’s all he plays, everything is 50 Cent, he knows all the songs word for word.”
He also added that the last song on Liverpool’s matchday playlist is Lil Wayne’s Right Above It, saying “when it comes on you know it’s time to go out.”
Clyne faces a big challenge to regain his starting place after Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s breakthrough season, but he will certainly provide Klopp with another excellent option.
The 27-year-old is likely to start in Liverpool’s first game of pre-season, when they travel to the Deva Stadium to take on Chester on July 7.
VAR was again successful on Wednesday, but it was hard not to feel sorry for a hard working Iran against Spain.
The joy of three back-to-back matches keeps on coming, although Wednesday’s fixtures were almost certainly the least exciting of the tournament so far.
Portugal bored their way to a 1-0 victory over Morocco, who therefore became the first team eliminated from the World Cup, and Uruguay won by the same forgettable scoreline against Saudi Arabia.
Spain finished off the evening with a nervy win over Iran – a hat-trick of 1-0s – but it was littered was far more drama and entertainment value than the day’s earlier offerings.
There was much to discuss.The Good
Spain’s clash with Iran wasn’t a game to necessarily plan your evening around, but it was comfortably the best match of the day.
The star-studded Spaniards were given a tough examination by their little-rated opponents and needed a typically ugly, and extremely fortunate, Diego Costa strike to give them the lead.
— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) June 20, 2018
Just as we were all rejoicing about a dramatic Iran equaliser soon after, VAR intervened and correctly ruled that Saeid Ezatolahi’s effort was offside.
This has to be mentioned in the ‘good’ category because it was further good use of the technology, despite it depriving us of a great underdog moment.
That game also brought up the funniest moment of the tournament so far, when Iran’s Milad Mohammadi decided to attempt a flip throw-in the 94th minute!
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the greatest World Cup moment ever. pic.twitter.com/TobJPvpGO5
— Dylan Walsh (@dylanwalsh_) June 20, 2018
One thing that also deserves to be mentioned before we all forget about it is Rui Patricio’s stunning save against Morocco earlier in the day.
It might not have been quite at the level of Gordon Banks’ famous stop to deny Pele for England in 1970, but it was special in its own right and preserved Portugal’s narrow lead.
Save of the tournament so far, without question.The Bad
Benatia with three good chances today. Disappointing for Morocco they've all fallen to him, but not sure exactly who else has looked like they would have finished them….
— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) June 20, 2018
Medhi Benatia went into the World Cup as Morocco’s captain and one of their key men, but he had a nightmare against Portugal.
Defensively he was an accomplished presence, but at the other end he missed several glorious chances to keep his nation in the tournament.
The last thing you want is having to rely on a centre-back to bury big opportunities and Benatia’s ineptitude perfectly illustrated this.
See Pepe is still a dick.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018
Speaking of Benatia, he was involved in the most pathetic piece of cheating this summer – unsurprisingly, Pepe was at the centre of it all.
The former Real Madrid defender was barely prodded on the shoulder by his opponent, but hit the deck like he had been floored by an Anthony Joshua uppercut. He makes Sergio Ramos look like Mother Teresa!The Dull Favourites
— Joey Mac (@TheBigMac75) June 20, 2018
If there’s any justice, Portugal and Uruguay will not go too far at this World Cup, judging by their showings on Wednesday.
The two sides were odds-on favourites to comfortably see off Morocco and Saudi Arabia, but only solitary goals from Cristiano Ronaldo – his fourth goal of the tournament takes him back to the top of the standings – and Luis Suarez saved their respective bacon.
Their style of play was almost painful to watch, with almost no attacking intent (Portugal) and quality (Uruguay) on show once they were ahead.
Yes, yes, I know football is supposedly ‘only about winning’ but there was no need to adopt such grim tactics against lesser teams.
Sod being impartial – I hope they go out as soon as possible, even though Suarez is the greatest player I have ever seen in a Liverpool shirt.Pundit of the Day: Roy Keane
Roy Kane was loathsome as a player, mainly because he spearheaded Man United‘s dominance in the 1990s, but he is capable of punditry genius from time to time.
That genius came to the fore on ITV before the Spain game, as he superbly gave his thoughts on Iran boss Carlos Queiroz – former assistant to Alex Ferguson.
Never one to mince his words, Keane brilliantly described what he wanted to do to Queiroz after being disrespected by him years ago:
— Nick Davies (@neekyjd) June 20, 2018
Keane might be a miserable bastard who occasionally becomes a bit of a parody, but this World Cup is better for having him around.
He’d put in a two-footed tackle on his mum if it led to winning!Thursday’s matches
Thursday sees Dejan Lovren return to action, five days after helping Croatia beat Nigeria 2-0. This time the Liverpool man is up against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, which promises to be a cracker.
Elsewhere, Denmark and Australia tussle in the opening contest of the afternoon, which is followed by unconvincing France’s clash with Peru.
Denmark vs. Australia (Group C) – 1pm – ITV
France vs. Peru (Group C) – 4pm – ITV
Argentina vs. Croatia (Group D) – 7pm – BBC
Follow Henry’s World Cup blog each day in our dedicated World Cup section, here.
We round up the best Liverpool-related news and transfer rumours on Wednesday, as the Reds’ World Cup players continue to take centre stage.
A different goalkeeper is likely to be tipped to join Liverpool every day until the transfer window closes in August.
The 6’5″ Pavlenka impressed in the Bundesliga last season, keeping 10 clean sheets, while 29-year-old Sommer is an experienced figure with 36 international caps to his name.
While both are good ‘keepers, it begs the usual question: are either a significant upgrade on Karius, as someone like Alisson or Jan Oblak certainly would be?
It’s debatable.Gerrard Set to Sign Former Team-mate
Steven Gerrard is slowly putting the pieces of his jigsaw together at Rangers, and it is no surprise to see him linked with Liverpool players.
Ovie Ejaria has already moved to the Scottish giants on loan ahead of next season, as well as coaches Gary McAllister, Michael Beale, Tom Culshaw and Jordan Milsom, and now Jon Flanagan is set to join him.
According to the Glasgow Evening Times, the right-back is undergoing a medical and is poised to link up with Rangers at their pre-season training camp in Andalusia.
The Scottish Premier League is closer to Flanagan’s level, and he could prove to be a solid signing for Rangers following his release this summer.Praise for Henderson Continues
Jordan Henderson has been widely lauded for his performance in England’s 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday night, with the Liverpool captain influential in the middle of the park.
Someone who has continued the praise for the 28-year-old is Gerrard, as he told BBC Radio 5 live:
“I’ve worked very closely with him and not only is he a fabulous player, he’s a great kid as well.
“[He’s] Someone who works so hard at his game, stays behind all the time after training, working on every single department of his game.
“I think with Jordan, when he’s at Liverpool with the armband, people expect him to go and get 15, 20 goals a season [but] he’s not that type of player.
“He’s a workhorse in the middle of the park, he does a lot of unnoticed work, he’s a grafter in there, and at the same time he uses the ball very, very well.
“So if you judge Jordan Henderson on them jobs, what he’s asked to do, he does a fantastic job in my opinion.”
It’s nice to see Henderson being rewarded for an excellent display, with the midfielder so often a figure of ridicule in the past.
Perhaps the widespread audience is beginning to appreciate him slightly more.Klopp on Van Dijk’s “Spontaneous” Liverpool Debut
Klopp has spoken about choosing to play him for the derby at Anfield, admitting on the club’s end-of-season DVD that it was a risk that ultimately paid off handsomely.
“It was not a tough decision, it was only a spontaneous decision.
“In the morning, I actually thought he will not play. But we had one session in the morning and I came out on the pitch and [said], ‘Ah, come on, why not?’
“It’s not that I didn’t want him to play obviously, we bought him so we wanted him to play. But it was the first game, against Everton, if something goes the wrong direction it’s not a cool start and we want a good start for him.
“But then I thought he’s ready for it, so we did it and it was a genius decision! He scored the first goal, in front of the Kop, so that’s not too bad.”
It wasn’t a bad way for the most expensive defender in the history of football to announce himself to his new supporters.
His towering late header was one of the moments of the season, and the 26-year-old’s influence has only grown from that point on.
Liverpool have stressed they are “committed to finding the best possible answer” as they plan to move ahead with the Anfield Road end expansion.
Work on the Main Stand expansion was concluded in 2016, with a further 8,500 seats added to the stadium along with improvements made to the concourse and outside the ground.
Meanwhile, plans for a new training ground to include both first-team and academy facilities on the current Kirkby site were announced in 2017, as part of a £50 million renovation.
But there are still proposals under consideration to redevelop the Anfield Road end, and speaking at a Fans Forum on Saturday chief operating officer Andy Hughes confirmed the club’s intentions.
Hughes revealed that while the focus is currently on the training ground, with work set to begin in July, Liverpool are “completely committed” to another stadium expansion:
“Our priority right now is the training ground, the contract for which is currently out to tender, and ideally work will begin on that project in July.
“While this process is continuing, outline planning permission for Anfield Road is in place and does not expire until September 2019, which is later than had been reported in some quarters.
“It’s important to stress that we are applying the same level of rigour to this process as we did to the Main Stand process but Anfield Road is very much a live process and we will look to vary the outline planning permission that we have if necessary.
“From our point of view, there is no shortage of time or effort that is being put into this project to make it as good as it possibly can be. The programme is on track and we are completely committed to this project.
“We definitely can raise the money and we are committed to finding the best possible answer, assuming it is viable from all points of view.”
The new training ground is designed to improve the relationship between the first team and the academy, improving the pathway for young players into the senior squad.
Meanwhile, the club are believed to be finalising plans for the Anfield Road end expansion as they consider three designs, though as Hughes stresses they have outline planning permission until late 2019.
The expansion would add 7,000 extra seats to the stadium, bringing its capacity to around 61,000.
Liverpool are less than two weeks away from the start of pre-season training ahead of 2018/19, but five players are still sidelined through injury.
The Reds will return to Melwood on July 2, as Jurgen Klopp prepares his non-internationals for a flurry of friendlies on domestic soil.
Trips to Chester, Tranmere Rovers, Bury and Blackburn Rovers come before the tour of the United States, where those involved at the World Cup are likely to join up with the squad.
Here’s when the quintet are likely to return to action.Joe Gomez
Out since: May
Potential return: Start of pre-season
Gomez suffered another frustrating setback when he required ankle surgery that ruled him out of the Champions League final, having played through the pain for Liverpool in the final weeks of the season.
The 21-year-old is already working outside at Melwood having remained on Merseyside for the summer, and should be fit to take part against Chester next month.Joel Matip
Out since: April
Potential return: Start of pre-season
Matip’s layoff came at an untimely juncture for the Reds, with Klopp forced to draft youngsters Nathaniel Phillips and Conor Masterson into his travelling squad for the biggest games of the season.
The Cameroonian underwent surgery on his thigh after picking up an injury in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, and like Gomez should be back to fight for his place in Cheshire.Allan Rodrigues
Out since: April
Potential return: Early August
After a promising season with Hertha Berlin in 2016/17, Allan’s spell with Apollon Limassol last time out saw his progress stall, and his time in Cyprus ended early due to a shoulder injury.
Allan is currently recovering at Melwood following surgery, and is likely to return in August—which effectively rules out the possibility of a pre-season outing, with another loan planned in order to secure a work permit.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Out since: April
Potential return: November
Oxlade-Chamberlain was making considerable progress when his excellent challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov in April’s 5-2 win over Roma left him writhing in pain on the turf at Anfield.
The 24-year-old had established himself as one of the most exciting players in Klopp’s squad, but now a knee injury will keep him out until at least November—but a return in the new year could be more likely.Rhian Brewster
Out since: January
Potential return: Late August
Brewster delivered the Reds with a boost in agreeing a five-year contract after uncertainty over his future, but the youngster remains sidelined following ankle and knee surgeries.
He will be promoted to Klopp’s first-team squad on his return, but while it was hoped he could make an impact in pre-season he is not set to make his comeback until the season has begun.
Marko Grujic could be facing a permanent move away from Liverpool this summer, as two high-profile Serie A sides register interest in the midfielder.
Grujic is yet to establish himself as a regular at senior level on Merseyside, and has made just 14 appearances since becoming Jurgen Klopp‘s first signing in 2016.
The Serbian spent the second half of last season on loan with Cardiff City, and played a key role in their promotion from the Championship.
This has led to both Cardiff and fellow newcomers Fulham contacting Liverpool over a possible loan deal, which at 22 could be ideal for his development.
However, Goal‘s Neil Jones has reported interest from both AC Milan and Lazio, who would be looking to sign Grujic on a permanent basis.
Atalanta are also claimed to have joined Cardiff and Fulham in pursuit of a loan move, with Gian Piero Gasperini’s side looking to build on an impressive seventh-placed finish last time out.
But facing his third consecutive season out of Klopp’s first team does raise the question as to whether the Reds should cut their losses on Grujic.
Jones speculates that Liverpool would not sell for less than £10 million, which conflicts with reports from Italy that Lazio could sign the youngster for around £6 million.
The report elaborates further on the futures of a host of academy players, too, with Ryan Kent on Leeds United and Rangers’ radar and Sheyi Ojo interesting Aston Villa, Stoke City, Birmingham City and Derby County.
Allan Rodrigues could attract offers from across Europe, while Taiwo Awoniyi is expected to remain in Belgium, with Club Brugge and Anderlecht in pursuit after his 10-goal season with Mouscron.
No other departures are close at this stage, though Danny Ward is at target for Norwich City, Danny Ings could join Crystal Palace and Daniel Sturridge is available, with Sevilla, Besiktas and Fenerbahce in the hunt.
Simon Mignolet is also expected to leave, Lazar Markovic is in talks with Olympiakos and the likes of Adam Bogdan, Connor Randall, Matty Virtue and Pedro Chirivella should move on.
Liverpool are likely to sign a new goalkeeper this summer, but with their current targets out of reach who else could challenge Loris Karius?
The Reds have been touted with a move for a stopper since Karius’ concussion-prompted nadir in the Champions League final, though their initial candidates have proved elusive.
Both Alisson and Jan Oblak look unlikely to make the move to Merseyside, with the suggestion being if Jurgen Klopp cannot secure a world-class alternative he could keep faith in his compatriot.
But Simon Mignolet is still expected to depart, with the Belgian needing regular first-team football after losing his place as Liverpool’s No. 1, opening up the prospect of a new arrival regardless.
If Alisson is unattainable, Liverpool will be considering a host of options either to bulk out the squad or take over as Klopp’s new first choice.
Here are 10 goalkeepers who could either replace or challenge Karius this season.Alphonse Areola
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
PSG stopper Areola has been touted with a move to Newcastle United with the Ligue 1 giants widely expected to sign free agent Gianluigi Buffon as their new No. 1.
The France international remains flawed, but emerged with vast potential and has developed into a reliable shot-stopper who kept 22 clean sheets in 44 appearances last season, and could be available for around £17.5 million.
Replace or challenge? It would be a gamble, but having Areola contending for the role of first choice could be the prompt Karius needs.Koen Casteels
Casteels may be third-choice ‘keeper for Belgium, but he is a swiftly improving talent yet to reach his prime, and his strong performances last season came despite Wolfsburg’s nightmare campaign.
Standing at 6’6″ he is certainly built to be a goalkeeper, and Casteels meshes this imposing physicality with great reflexes and a command of the penalty area, refined over 112 Bundesliga appearances to date.
Replace or challenge? Casteels could arguably come in as Liverpool’s new first choice.Yann Sommer
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach
Having honed his craft with Basel in his native Switzerland, Sommer made the move to join Gladbach in 2014, replacing the Barcelona-bound Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
He’s reliable in the penalty area, with his shot-stopping ability particularly impressive, and though he lacks height at 6’0″ he has adjusted his approach to navigate this; he’s a Bundesliga mainstay, and his experience could be very useful.
Replace or challenge? Relations with Gladbach are fraught, but Sommer was open to a Premier League move in the past, and would be a capable replacement.Thomas Strakosha
With speculation over moves for Alisson and Oblak dampening, Lazio’s emerging star Strakosha has been floated as a possible alternative by the Italian press.
It is easy to see why Klopp would be interested, with Strakosha a key factor behind his side’s title challenge in Serie A last season, having shone in big-game situations—though he can still improve.
Replace or challenge? Valued at £35 million by Lazio, Strakosha could be a reasonably priced replacement as No. 1.Mat Ryan
Liverpool were credited with an interest in Ryan prior to his move from Club Brugge to Valencia in 2015, but he’s since arrived in the Premier League and proved his credentials at Brighton.
Ryan is an athletic, front-footed goalkeeper with great distribution, fine reflexes and a growing aerial ability, and bar his 6’0″ height he has few weaknesses.
Replace or challenge? It may be an underwhelming signing, but Ryan is primed to step up as a top No. 1.Jasper Cillessen
Another goalkeeper linked with the Reds as hopes of signing Alisson faded, Cillessen would have motivation to leave Barcelona after two years as Ter Stegen’s deputy.
The Dutchman is deserving of a first-choice role at a top-level side, and possesses all the qualities required to operate behind Klopp’s high defensive line.
Replace or challenge? A surefire replacement, and arguably Liverpool’s best alternative to Alisson.Nick Pope
The England international is an excellent under-the-cosh stopper, but it remains to be seen whether he has the all-round quality required after a career that has taken in spells with Charlton Athletic, York City and Bury.
Replace or challenge? Sticking with Karius as No. 1 would be a better fit, but Pope could provide him with a welcome jolt as backup.Peter Gulacsi
Club: RB Leipzig
Five years ago Gulacsi left Liverpool having made no appearances for the club over six seasons, taking up reserve duties as Pepe Reina’s understudy.
He’s proved himself a very impressive goalkeeper since joining Red Bull Salzburg in 2013, and now with sister club RB Leipzig he’s fulfilling his potential in a title-challenging side.
Replace or challenge? From apprentice to master, Gulacsi would be ready to replace Karius.Samir Handanovic
Club: Inter Milan
Handanovic certainly doesn’t fit the billing as a Liverpool signing in the Fenway Sports Group era, but his proven quality could be exactly what Klopp’s side require.
Though he’s ageing, he has garnered a reputation as a world-class stopper at Inter, and he could fill the void with distinction at Anfield.
Replace or challenge? If Klopp is willing to persevere with Karius, Handanovic could arrive to allow the German to improve under the radar.Danny Ward
The hysteria surrounding Karius’ performance in Kyiv undermines the initial perception that Liverpool were in safe hands for years to come, with both Ward and Kamil Grabara also in the ranks.
Ward spent the entirety of last season floundering as third choice despite an eye-catching loan spell with Huddersfield in 2016/17, and his vocal presence and hulking, athletic approach should not be overlooked.
Replace or challenge? It’s debatable whether Ward could replace Karius, but he deserves to be given a chance to challenge the No. 1.
There were very differing fortunes for Liverpool’s two African superstars on Tuesday, while an unlikely name tops the Golden Boot standings.
Three matches were on offer, with all 32 teams in Russia playing at least once by the time the action was done and dusted for the day.
Japan stunned Colombia in the first offering, Senegal got the better of an off-colour Poland side and hosts Russia beat Egypt 3-1.The Good
Captained his side to their first World Cup win since 2002, I think Sadio Mané enjoyed that one. pic.twitter.com/pFUqq5ZJku
— Anfield Express (@AnfieldExpress) June 19, 2018
It’s less than two years since Sadio Mane cut a disconsolate figure in the African Cup of Nations, having missed the decisive penalty in Senegal’s quarter-final shootout defeat to Cameroon.
This time, he skippered his country to a deserved 2-1 win over Poland, with his trademark grin after the game an endearing image.
In truth, Mane has had far better games in his career, but his mere presence made a difference and Senegal have taken a giant leap towards the last 16.
Meanwhile, what the hell are Russia playing at?
This time last week they were being called the worst team in the nation’s history, with some even tipping Saudi Arabia to beat them in the opening game.
After winning that match 5-0, they then blitzed Mo Salah‘s Egypt in a second-half burst, scoring three times and sending Liverpool’s main man crashing out of the tournament.
The brilliant Denis Cheryshev was again integral to Russia winning, and another brace has seen him leapfrog Cristiano Ronaldo in the goalscoring charts, taking his tally to four.
He is already only two off the total of the 2014 Golden Boot winner, James Rodriguez.The Bad
Salah’s season may have been extraordinary, but it hasn’t half been a depressing end to 2017/18 for him.
After the misery of Kyiv, a clearly undercooked ‘Egyptian King’ could do nothing about Egypt going down 3-1 to Russia, despite scoring from the penalty spot.
Every touch was a little heavy, his decision-making was erratic and most importantly he didn’t have his usual mobility to take him past players.
On the plus side, Liverpool will have their star man back for the majority of pre-season, so every cloud and all that!
It was also a bad day for legendary strike duo Radamel Falcao and Robert Lewandowski, who were both playing in their first-ever World Cup match. Their respective Colombia and Poland sides were both beaten in surprise fashion, and the two veterans barely had a sniff of goal.The Theatrics
This might be a personal gripe that nobody else is having at this World Cup – I’m strange like that.
It has been a fantastic first six days in Russia – maybe the best start to a major tournament since France ’98 – but the one thing frustrating the life out of me is the time wasted by players being on the ground.
We all know that gamesmanship exists and that individuals will often take time out of games to aid their own teams, but this feels like another level altogether.
Just the slightest fouls are leading to players writhing around in agony, and most frustrating is the fact that the correct stoppage time is not subsequently being added.
For what it’s worth, the standard of refereeing has been excellent, with a lot of the histrionics not earning players free-kicks.
Unfortunately, their rolling around eventually leads to the play stopping, though.
Keep your eyes out for it today – I’m not just being a misery, I promise.Stat of the Day
How’s this for a belter of a statistic: Russia’s eight goals already mean they have scored the same number of goals as Spain did in their triumphant 2010 campaign.
Try and get your head around that.Wednesday’s matches
It’s a rare day of no Liverpool players in action on Wednesday, although former Reds hero Luis Suarez will be looking to recover from his dreadful opening performance when Uruguay take on hapless Saudi Arabia.
Portugal’s clash with Morocco looks an entertaining first game of the day, although the evening offering of Iran vs. Spain might not be a classic.
Portugal vs. Morocco (Group B) – 1pm – BBC
Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia (Group A) – 4pm – BBC
Iran vs. Spain (Group B) – 7pm – ITV
Follow Henry’s World Cup blog each day in our dedicated World Cup section, here.
Mohamed Salah is facing an early exit from the World Cup after Egypt lost their second consecutive Group A game on Tuesday night.
A 3-1 win for Russia gave the hosts a comfortable victory to add to a 5-0 triumph in their tournament opener, and they are now favourites to make the last 16.
But having also lost in their first fixture, Egypt will exit the World Cup if Uruguay take at least a point from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday afternoon – which is highly likely!
This pours further misery on Salah after his tragic end to a sensational maiden campaign with Liverpool, having also been forced off midway through the first half of the Champions League final.
The shoulder injury he suffered at the hands of Sergio Ramos kept Salah out of Egypt’s unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Uruguay, and he was clearly rusty in St Petersburg.
After scoring 44 goals in 52 games for Liverpool on their way to Kyiv and firing his nation to their first World Cup since 1990, but clearly still labouring with the injury he struggled to make an impact against Russia.
Salah showed character to play with the issue and he scored a late penalty after he was brought down in the box, but it did little to improve Egypt’s hopes of progressing beyond the group stage.
Their final game comes against Saudi Arabia on June 25, and after that he will be given an extended break before returning for pre-season.
Liverpool’s non-internationals will report back to Melwood on July 2, with friendlies scheduled against Chester, Tranmere Rovers, Bury and Blackburn Rovers before the tour of the United States.
Though Salah won’t feature in those domestic clashes, he is now likely to make an early appearance in the International Champions Cup, potentially against Borussia Dortmund on July 22.
It will be scant consolation for the Egyptian King, however, as his talents are deserving of much more on the international stage.
Steven Gerrard departed Liverpool U18s for Rangers last month, with the Reds legend taking on his first senior management role.
The club have taken a while to replace Gerrard, but the search for his successor looks to have reached its conclusion.
According to the Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce, U16s manager Barry Lewtas is set to take over.
It is an in-house promotion, with Liverpool likely to be making few new signings to their coaching staff at the academy this summer, as they look to streamline their operation.
On Monday, it was confirmed that U23s assistant manager Mike Garrity had left his role, in a continued shake-up at Kirkby.
Lewtas joined Liverpool in 2013, following spells with Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.Ings Off To Palace?
You can only admire the work ethic shown by Danny Ings, having recovered from back-to-back cruciate ligament injuries, but the 25-year-old is not good enough to be a member in this Liverpool squad and a new challenge looks set to await him.
A mid to lower-table Premier League club is where Ings belongs, despite his best efforts to prove his worth with the Reds.Mane Praises “Special” Firmino
The Senegalese is well aware of how influential his Brazilian teammate is at Liverpool and he also brilliantly touched upon his admirable attempts to mimic Firmino’s famous celebrations:
“He’s a hard worker and an incredible player,” said Mane, on Liverpool’s official 2017-18 end-of-season DVD.
“He can see in his eye and what he’s doing all the time on the pitch, working for the team like a defender and he’s a striker!
“This is special for him and it makes him a very, very, very important player for us.
“I try my best but I’m not as good as him! He was talking to me, saying ‘why don’t you dance like we said all the time?!’ and I said: ‘Hey Bobby, I’m shy, I can’t dance like you!'”
This just highlights the team spirit that exists at Liverpool these days, with no egos to be seen and everyone pulling in the same direction.
Mane’s Senegal take on Poland in the World Cup on Tuesday afternoon, while Firmino will hope to start for Brazil on Friday when they face Costa Rica.Can’s Move To Juventus Nears Completion, Again
Emre Can‘s Liverpool exit has been inevitable for months, but his proposed move to Juventus has taken an eternity to be completed – is he walking to Turin?
Journalist Fabrizio Romano says the 24-year-old will undergo his medical this week, as the transfer finally reaching its conclusion.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 18, 2018
There is no doubt that failing to keep hold of Can is a blow, given his quality, but he is also far from indispensable.
Call it biased, but choosing to leave Liverpool at such an exciting time feels like a questionable decision, even though he is joining Italy’s most successful team.
The acquisition of Fabinho has already filled the void that Can will leave, which is far better planning than we have seen under so many past managers, following the exit of key men.Liverpool Linked With Pope
Another day, another transfer story tipping Liverpool to sign a new goalkeeper this summer.
With Alisson in the running to join Real Madrid and Jan Oblak’s £88million release clause at Atletico Madrid too high, is Klopp now turning his attention to Burnley‘s Nick Pope?
The Mirror think so – not the relatively reliable David Maddock, though – with the report saying Liverpool “have been building up their information on Pope with a series of background checks on the 26-year old.”
Although Pope had an excellent season at Turf Moor, there are huge question marks about him being an upgrade on Loris Karius, much like past targets such as Jack Butland and Alex McCarthy.
This isn’t a rumour that should be believed for the time being, at least.
Speaking of keepers, Football Italia now claim Thibaut Courtois is the frontrunner join Real Madrid, which could change the Alisson situation.
They claim the European champions have been “priced out of a move” for the 25-year-old Brazilian – which could be good news for Liverpool.
Lyon captain Nabil Fekir has rejected claims he has long-term knee problems, following the breakdown of his proposed move to Liverpool.
Fekir was close to becoming the Reds’ third signing of the summer after they agreed a £48.4 million fee with their Ligue 1 counterparts earlier this month.
But the deal collapsed after complications arose during his medical, with Liverpool pulling out after suggestions they had attempted to renegotiate terms with Lyon.
The 24-year-old had his heart set on a move to Anfield, and this will have come as a blow on the eve of France’s World Cup campaign.
On Monday evening, however, Fekir’s agent Jean-Pierre Bernes insisted “this is not the end of the story,” renewing hopes of an eventual transfer.
And speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning the attacking midfielder claimed he had no issues with his knee, despite having torn his ACL in 2015 and suffering two further injuries afterwards.
“My knee is super good. We work a lot on it, we reinforce it. But I honestly feel like before my injury,” he told reporters.
Fekir was also questioned on the possibility of a revived deal with Liverpool, but despite meeting club president Jean-Michel Aulas on Monday he stressed that “we did not at all discuss my situation at Lyon.”
“You know I am here with France, I am happy, and I am not here to discuss my personal situation. We will see about all that later,” he added with a smile.
This is a largely predictable response from Fekir regarding his future, but leaving it open-ended suggests he is still looking to leave Lyon.
The pressure was on Jordan Henderson to perform for England on Monday night, but the Liverpool man excelled as the Three Lions beat Tunisia 2-1.
Much of the talk in the leadup to England’s World Cup opener surrounded Gareth Southgate’s selection dilemma of whether to go with Henderson or Eric Dier in defensive midfield.
Despite the Spurs man looking favourite to occupy the role at one point, Liverpool’s skipper was eventually preferred as England kicked off their campaign.
Harry Kane’s double, including a dramatic stoppage-time winner, earned Southgate’s men a crucial victory, and Henderson more than played his part with an influential showing.
His range of passing caught the eye all evening and he was authoritative throughout, looking every bit a player who recently captained his club side to the Champions League final.
The 28-year-old does not always receive widespread acclaim, but dominant voices within the game lauded his performance, including ITV pundits Gary Neville and Martin O’Neill:
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 18, 2018
Neville described Henderson as a “manager’s dream,” highlighting how he had endeavoured to alter his approach in recent seasons, and suggested he had warranted selection over Dier:
“His game’s changed so much. Think about four years ago when Liverpool nearly won the league under Brendan Rodgers…he was a box-to-box midfield player and Steven Gerrard was sitting in there.
“Now he has evolved his game, he’s matured. He’s able to do what Martin’s just showed us in terms of sitting back. He wouldn’t have been able to do that a few years ago.
“He wants to learn all the time, he works hard, he’s conscientious, he’s a manager’s dream.
“And tonight—when he was under pressure to win the spot, he looks like he’s cemented [it].”
Frank Lampard, working for the BBC this summer, was also full of praise for his former international team-mate:
“With Jordan Henderson I wasn’t properly sure what kind of midfielder he was a couple of years ago, he was a bit of an all-rounder.
“But he’s certainly a leader, he’s matured on and off the pitch and he’s used real intelligence to take that role.
“He’s got great drive in him. The one question you mentioned is can he get a pass a bit earlier and we saw that he can tonight.
“You need a passer and you need the movement between the lines and we had that both, particularly in the first half.”
On social media, many showered Henderson with praise…
Be proud @JHenderson ??brilliant performance mate!! Happy for you ??
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) June 18, 2018
Jordan Henderson was really good for England tonight. Little help from Alli and Lingard in midfield, he gets a lot of stick, but he was one of the best players on the pitch this evening.
?gbeng vs ??
— Joseph Musker (@JosephMusker) June 18, 2018
Might have been Jordan Henderson’s best game for England. Replicated his Liverpool form: won the ball back, kept shape, retained possession and then pinged four or five really incisive passes. Terrific performance.
— Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) June 18, 2018
Jordan Henderson has been one of the best players for England tonight and should’ve had an assist early on until Sterling fluffed his chance. Been our best passer and our vocal player for England. Doesn’t deserve the hate on him in the England side and also for us.
— Samue (@VintageSalah) June 18, 2018
I know I bang on about Henderson & I'm sure it bores many of you to tears, but I'm delighted he played so well on a big stage last night.
The praise he is receiving from pundits is fully justified, and his lazy detractors are very quiet.
Am pleased for a really decent man.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) June 19, 2018
JORDAN HENDERSON WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU!
GO ON LAD!!!
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) June 18, 2018
It’s June 2018 and the rest of the footballing world are finally starting to realise Jordan Henderson is a top footballer. Took long enough but we’ve known it for ages. pic.twitter.com/UcLkBTLDOk
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) June 18, 2018
Jordan Henderson can pass a ball better than anybody
— LFC Stanley House ?? (@LFCStanleyHouse) June 18, 2018
Harry Kane and Kieran Trippier outstanding for England tonight. All set for the usual stuff after this – but also thought Jordan Henderson did really well too.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) June 18, 2018
If Toni Kroos v Mexico put in the performance Jordan Henderson did last night
1: twitter fans would have drowned in a sea of their own skuzz
2: Germany wouldn’t have lost
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) June 19, 2018There were, of course, the usual dissenting voices…
Jordan Henderson’s distribution is flipping rubbish! ?gbengv?? #worldcup2018
— Fi (@eawoman) June 18, 2018
Can anybody tell me what Jordan Henderson actually does to merit a starting place in England’s line up, let alone captain Liverpool. He is rubbish.
— Ryan (@Ryan_Beauchamp) June 18, 2018
What is Jordan Henderson?
— Watched Toffee (@WatchedToffee) June 18, 2018
Ball going backwards and sideways a lot. Who's the DM? Oh, it's Jordan Henderson.
— Andrew (@AndrewStraits) June 18, 2018
England are next in action against Panama on Sunday afternoon, and after Henderson’s comfortable display in Volgograd he could keep his place over Dier in midfield.
However, with Belgium to come next Thursday he could be preserved—as Southgate’s first-choice defensive midfielder.
He joined West Brom on loan in the January transfer window but a hamstring injury limited the striker to just six appearances for the Baggies.
The 28-year-old is currently set to report back to Melwood for pre-season training on July 2, but with Firmino established as Jurgen Klopp‘s first choice his prospects are limited.
Given Sturridge’s fitness issues in recent years, and his questionable suitability within Klopp’s system, he is the most likely to depart in the transfer window.
Sturridge’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and the Reds are looking to capitalise on any remaining value and “are unwilling to part company on the cheap.”
Sevilla are touted as a possible destination, while there is also interest from Turkey, with Besiktas heavily linked of late—though Fenerbahce’s “interest is most concrete.”
When Sturridge does leave Anfield it will come with a tinge of regret, after his early promise sparked Liverpool’s unlikely title challenge under Brendan Rodgers in 2013/14.
His healthy rivalry with Luis Suarez saw him net 25 times in 33 games that season, but he has been plagued with injuries ever since.
Klopp’s arrival in 2015 saw his game time reduced significantly, with clear reservations over his ability to operate in a high-intensity pressing side.
In a way, £15 million remains a lofty valuation for a striker with such wavering fitness, but with Sevilla keen on a deal back in January the hope is negotiations will be swift.
Our final World Cup group stage preview turns to Group H, perhaps the most evenly matched quartet and with a key Liverpool figure involved.
The seeds for the group are Poland, but unlike some others there’s no chance they can be seen as a runaway favourite to progress.
In any given fixture, it would be difficult to call a victor with any certainty between themselves, Colombia and Senegal.
Japan are the fourth and perhaps lesser-fancied nation, but this group could throw up plenty of surprises and twists along the way.Group Insight
[embedded content]Fixtures & UK TV Info
Mane plays as a second striker for Senegal, not just racing away to lead the attack but in linking play deeper, using his dribbling to open spaces and his underrated passing to open play in the channels.
He’s a star for them, and he’ll need to be if they are to progress.
Most of the rumoured players Liverpool have been interested in have fallen by the wayside, but Mina represents an interesting option.
Barcelona certainly want rid of him for a year at least to free up a non-EU slot in their squad.Ones to Watch
No doubt Mina will be on the watch-list of some Reds fans, given the ongoing links.
But Mane’s team-mate for Senegal, Ismaila Sarr, is very much worth watching.
He’s lightning quick, very good with the ball at his feet, was wanted by Barcelona before his Ligue 1 move and, at age 20, clearly has a lot more development ahead.
Then there are the famous free-kicks of Japan’s Honda to wonder vaguely about—admit it, you’ve only seen him play twice since that goal in South Africa in 2010.
And Robert Lewandowski’s anguish when he spurns another chance for Poland from six yards, and David Ospina making a fifth miraculous save and wondering whether he might just be the answer to Liverpool’s woes…
You get the idea, you know how the World Cup goes.Who Goes Through?
Tough call for this group, but we’re being bold.
Colombia are going to go through as group winners, but certainly not with nine points. Their second match, against Poland, could prove crucial.
Alongside the South Americans, it’s Magic Mane being Senegal’s hero, and sending them through to the last 16, quite possibly as the only African representatives in the knockouts.
Go on, Sadio lad.
Further additions are still expected this summer, and a rumour that has come out of the blue has linked Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso with a move to Anfield.
According to Calcio Insider—let’s face it, far from the most reliable of outlets—a source close to them has said it is Tolisso’s “dream” to represent Liverpool.
Tolisso became the most expensive player in Bundesliga history when he joined Bayern for €41.5 million last summer, and he scored six goals and registered four assists in the league in 2017/18.
The 23-year-old also started for France in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Australia at the World Cup, and is generally a box-to-box midfielder.
He would certainly be a good addition, but don’t bank on it happening any time soon, with Bayern no doubt keen to keep hold of a prized asset.Besiktas Make Progress in Sturridge Pursuit
Daniel Sturridge has no future at Liverpool, having never suited Klopp’s style of play from the moment the German arrived on Merseyside.
Having been on loan at West Brom since January, a permanent move for the 28-year-old will almost certainly come to fruition this summer.
Fanatik believe Besiktas have moved a step closer to bringing Sturridge to the club, with manager Senol Gunes giving the board the green light to sign him.
It would bring to an end a Liverpool career littered with moments of genius, but also one that flattered to deceive because of injury problems.Brazil Boss Showers Firmino With Praise
Brazil are the favourites to win this summer’s World Cup, but manager Tite’s decision to play Gabriel Jesus over Roberto Firmino feels increasingly baffling.
The Man City youngster is an excellent player with huge potential, but Firmino’s form and confidence are on another level at the moment.
That was highlighted on Sunday, as Liverpool’s No. 9 did more in his short cameo than Jesus managed all game, twice coming close to earning Brazil a 2-1 victory over Switzerland.
After the game, Tite admitted he was impressed with Firmino’s showing, perhaps hinting he would start Friday’s match against Costa Rica.
“Roberto Firmino is living in a moment of confidence. When he entered the pitch, he did a good job. He played very well,” Tite told reporters.
The Brazil boss is a big fan of Jesus, however, so don’t be surprised to see him keep his place.Liverpool Legend Gives Trent Intriguing Advice
On Monday night, Alexander-Arnold could make his World Cup debut, should Gareth Southgate use him off the substitutes’ bench against Tunisia.
The 19-year-old’s meteoric has been the stuff of legend over the last 12 months, and someone who is impressed is former Reds favourite Steve McMahon.
He has told Alexander-Arnold, in what is a rather original piece of advice, to diarise his adventure in Russia, standing him in good stead for the future.
“This is a success story for him and for Liverpool, because it can only make him better,” McMahon told LiverpoolFC.com:
“It’ll be exciting for Trent [and] he should come back buzzing even if he doesn’t play a game [because] he’s been part of the setup at a World Cup finals—something youngsters don’t tend to get.
“He should be looking forward to it. He had a tremendous season with Liverpool, and my piece of advice to him would be to keep a diary.
“I wish I’d have kept a diary every day—training, things I did, things I liked, things I didn’t like.
“I wish I’d wrote it all down and savoured the atmosphere so I’d have a scrapbook as such for that World Cup finals, because in 20, 30 years’ time, you’ve forgotten about what it was like and you forget all the little details that you went through.
“Keep a diary, a scrapbook that gives you a detailed analysis of the World Cup finals that you went to for your first time.”
In fairness, it is something Alexander-Arnold may end up treasuring in years to come, as he looks to blossom into a star for club and country.Reds Target Cillessen Linked With Move to Italy
Make no mistake, ongoing rumours linking the Reds with a move for a new goalkeeper will not stop emerging all summer.
Loris Karius‘ performance in Kyiv has ensured that, with possible replacements lined up, from Alisson to Thomas Strakosha.
According to Mundo Deportivo, another option, Jasper Cillessen, has caught the eye of Roma.
With Alisson likely to join Real Madrid before the start of the season—Liverpool are not out of the hunt yet, though—the Giallorossi will be in need of a new man between the sticks.
Cillessen has a £50 million release clause at Barcelona, which could be a stumbling block, but Roma director of football, Monchi, is thought to have already been in contact with Barca.
Let’s wait for the next target to emerge at Liverpool, should Cillessen head to Stadio Olimpico.Liverpool Decline Checkatrade Trophy Place
There are now just two teams who have turned down a place for their academy sides in next season’s Checkatrade Trophy.
Known as the EFL Trophy, the competition used to include clubs from only League One and League Two, but academy teams in the Premier League and Championship were introduced in 2016.
Six Premier League clubs originally declined the offer, but that figure has since dwindled.