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Liverpool

Two Liverpool players ready to make an impact at the World Cup

Ruari Macneil

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With the season nearing an end there is still a tremendous amount on the line for Liverpool with a Champions League final on the cards. The club have won five European cups in their time and are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition and, having not won a major trophy for quite some time, the prospect of lifting Europe’s most prestigious piece of silverware again is very exciting.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have enjoyed a terrific season since the January transfer and have found some remarkable consistency, especially in terms of their attacking prowess. With the World Cup just around the corner after the Champions League final, the Reds’ Russia 2018 representatives will be hoping to carry on the good work from their club campaign and help their countries to successful tournament runs.

The following duo may have the best chance of impacting the World Cup this summer for the better of their respective nations.

Mohamed Salah

With Egypt having qualified for the World Cup this summer, Mohamed Salah’s rise as arguably the world’s form footballer this season could not have come at a better time. Salah has been incredible since joining Liverpool from Roma last summer and blasted beyond the 40-goal mark for the season, having averaged a record of nearly a goal a game for the Anfield club.

In fairness, Salah has always enjoyed a terrific goal-scoring record for his country, with 33 strikes in 57 caps so far, and will be hoping to lead the team forward with his contingent of fellow English-based players. The 25-year-old looks ready to set the competition alight, and having grabbed the headlines from start to finish this season, the whole world will be watching on intently.

 

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane has been another star to play a huge role in the success at Liverpool this season, as a vital component of the magnificent front three constructed by Jurgen Klopp. The Senegalese forward has bagged nearly 20 goals so far this campaign, and still has the chance to reach that tally before the season is out, heading to Russia in red hot form.

Mane has a decent record with Senegal, scoring 14 goals in 49 caps so far, and will be hoping to get on the score sheet during his debut World Cup. With Colombia, Japan and Poland in their group, Mane’s Senegal actually have a decent chance to go through, especially with the talent at their disposal. As the country’s star player, Mane will be leading the likes of Oumar Niasse, Idrissa Gueye, Keita Balde and Mame Biram Diouf by example, as they look to make their mark in front of the rest of the world.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Liverpool

Liverpool news round-up: Fitness latest; Fekir move planned; midfielder deal imminent

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Photo: Getty Images.

Milner and Can ready for Saturday

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed that midfield duo James Milner and Emre Can will be fit to face Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev.

“Millie was clear [he would be fit] and Emre is a surprise,” Klopp told the club’s official website.

“He told me he would come back, try this and that and then we would talk to people. We thought it would be difficult, but he came back and from the first day it was like, ‘OK, that looks good, how do you feel?’ ‘Very good’ and then the next day ‘very good’ again.

“Now he trains completely normal. He’s a nice option and that’s why he is with us.”

Milner missed the final Premier League game of the season with a muscle strain whilst Can has been out since March with a back problem.

(Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Summer move planned for Fekir

The Telegraph say that Liverpool are planning to up the ante in their move for Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir after the Champions League final with the club confident of getting a deal done for a fee in the region of £60 million.

The 24-year-old is seen as a natural replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who Jurgen Klopp is yet to replace since he departed for Barcelona in January, and is one of the club’s top targets for the summer transfer window.

Can deal imminent

Whilst a transfer saga surrounding Fekir may only just be beginning, one could be coming to an end for midfielder Emre Can. His contract will come to an end this summer and he is now expected to join Juventus on a free transfer with an announcement looking to be closing in.

Gazzetta dello Sport report that Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta expects the deal to be done “within 10 days” as the 24-year-old waits for Liverpool to close their season against Real Madrid in Kiev.

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Liverpool

Dejan Lovren epitomises Liverpool’s progression since previous Real Madrid meeting

Max Cohen

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Dejan Lovren
Photo: Getty Images

The last time Liverpool played Real Madrid in the Champions League, the approaches of the two clubs could not have been more different.

The clubs played twice in the 2014 group stage, with Los Blancos smashing Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield and winning 1-0 at the Bernabeu.

Dejan Lovren was particularly culpable for the Reds’ first loss at home, as he was torn to shreds by the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Nonetheless, much has changed at Liverpool since those weak performances more than three years ago, with centre-back Dejan Lovren representing the Reds’ progression from continental lightweights to European Cup finalists.

In an interview this week with The Guardian, the Croatian defender claimed that the current Liverpool side is unrecognisable from the team that surrendered to Real Madrid in their 2014/15 Champions League campaign.

“The only thing that is similar is the name, Liverpool,” Lovren told the Guardian. “I am so much more confident in the team now than I was then. I feel the team is ready to battle against every team in the world.”

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

These confident proclamations mark a fitting response from a player who has come a long way since he first arrived at Anfield.

Lovren has come under immense criticism for his performances at Liverpool, lambasted for a lack of pace, propensity for lapses in concentration, and poor decision making.

And even as recently as October, the Croatian was horribly found out during an abysmal first half performance against Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet, Lovren admirably picked himself up from past disappointment and has become an integral piece of Jurgen Klopp’s defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.

The 28-year-old has played every single minute of the knockout stages in Liverpool’s Champions League campaign, and will surely play a massive role in stifling Real Madrid’s high-octane attack in Kiev.

Dejan Lovren will be hoping for a far different response from Liverpool than their performance some three years ago, and his personal improvement will determine the Reds’ success on Saturday.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa would be the perfect platform for Harry Wilson if they are promoted

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa are 90 minutes of football away from a return to the Premier League, and they are already looking at potential signings for next season if they are promoted.

The Midlands side face Fulham at Wembley on Saturday in the Championship play-off final with a place in the top flight up for grabs. And, should Villa bring an end to two years outside of the promised lands of the Premier League, they will be determined to recruit properly to prepare themselves for next season.

According to the Scottish SunLiverpool are looking for a loan fee of £250,000 to snag impressive academy prospect, Harry Wilson, in a deal that would also see financial penalties issued should he not get the required amount of first-team action.

Wilson has been one of the brightest prospects in the Reds academy for many years and his recent form in the Championship is highlighting why there is such a buzz for this talented youngster and why the Villains should swoop.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Since departing for a temporary move to Hull in the January window, the 21-year-old has been in fine form, netting seven goals in 13 appearances to help Nigel Adkins’ side avoid the drop.

The youngster also made his international debut in his first start for Wales under new boss Ryan Giggs and netted a maiden goal for his country against China.

Despite the winger’s talents, it seems impossible to think that Wilson could break into Liverpool’s irreplaceable ‘fab three’ which means another loan move would be the best option for his development, and Villa’s potential promotion to the Premier League could set up the perfect platform in the top-flight for the youngster.

Loan deals are never ideal, permanent signings are what supporters want to see, but this is is a move that could be a benefit for both parties and something Steve Bruce should strongly consider.

The Villains likely have enough quality at their disposal to compete strongly in the Championship again next season, if they don’t win their play-off, Wilson could give them serious depth.

The winger is an elegant and languid play maker in the mould of Jack Grealish, and the combination of the two could get fans very excited for next season.

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