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Transfer Activity: Liverpool FC

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As much as Liverpool supporters have been contented with the arrivals of James Milner, Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan, the recent news of Hoffenheim’s Brazilian star Roberto Firmino is surely the biggest transfer story of the summer so far. Before then, the signing of Charlton Athletic’s 18 year old defender Joe Gomez was seen by most as a positive move. But in reality Gomez was one for the future and it will be a few years before Reds fans see Gomez in the starting line-up on a regular basis. Brazilian Connection Having agreed a deal of around £29 million, Firmino will have much expectations on his shoulders. The 23 year old Brazilian international is currently starring in the Copa America, linking up with fellow Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho in Brazil’s attack. Coutinho is filling in the void left by the suspended Neymar, while Firmino is leading the line as coach Dunga’s false number 9.

Firmino has shown at both club and national level that he can operate in any attacking position, and with Daniel Sturridge out till November, Firmino will likely be pushed up front for the first few months of the new campaign, supported by his Copa America partner-in-crime. The Brazilian attacker may even play off fellow new signing Danny Ings, such has his signing given manager Brendan Rodgers a much healthier headache, with forwards of higher calibre to choose from. Firmino’s career at Hoffenheim saw him score 35 league goals in 140 appearances, one goal every four games is a pretty decent return for an attacking player. Firmino will be looking to replicate his career high 16 league goals during the 2013/14 Bundesliga season. More than just goals, Firmino will have the presence and strength to cope with the English game, having started out as a defensive midfielder in his earlier days. Rodgers will hope Firmino can replicate the success of Liverpool’s last two South American signings, Coutinho and most notably Uruguayan Luis Suarez. The Brazilian international should be able to settle in well, with Coutinho and fellow Brazilian Lucas Leiva at Anfield as well. Defensive Hopefuls.

Away from what will be one of a few star signings this summer, Liverpool’s acquisition of England U-19 defender Gomez is less exciting but pretty intriguing. Gomez is surely seen as a replacement for the Sunderland-bound Sebastian Coates. However, rather than just go straight out on loan in this same summer, Rodgers will likely see Gomez as the ideal man to fill Jon Flanagan’s place until the latter returns to full fitness in November. Gomez might see some cup action – maybe even the Europa League – at right-back and once Flanagan returns to full fitness, the young recruit will be loaned out in January to continue his development – probably to a team in the second tier.

One defender hoping for a breakthrough season is Portuguese U-21 star Tiago Ilori. Having impressed against England U-21 at the U-21 European Championships for shackling Harry Kane, Ilori apparently rejected a move to Sunderland and will now be given a chance to fight for a first-team spot during pre-season. Ilori has much potential and Rodgers would do no better than to give the young Portuguese a shot, since Rodgers did sign him for £7 million two years ago and as Dejan Lovren has not necessarily inspired much confidence. Ilori also has the passing range and ability to play out from the back – traits that Rodgers desires.

Firmino’s price tag has probably spent much of Rodgers’ transfer budget, but with Coates, Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli among others likely to fetch decent prices, the manager can still push on with other targets like Nathaniel Clyne, Mateo Kovacic and Asier Illarramendi. However, Rodgers might be able to secure these signings should Manchester City really come through with their £50 million bid for Raheem Sterling. As the fee structure will likely be £45 million plus £5 million in add-ons, after taking away QPR’s 20% sale-on clause, Rodgers will be left with an immediate credit of £36 million. The higher management at Anfield has done well so far to hold firm with their valuation, as should City decide to withdraw from the bidding, Rodgers will still be able to use Sterling for the next campaign.

The rising English star should note how much he is yet to improve to be considered a genuine star. Sterling’s finishing and end product is still very raw, and moving clubs too early could be detrimental to his potential career. The likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and even Shaun Wright-Phillips are fine examples of English starlets moving too soon and failing to realise their potential. Sterling will do well to stay at Anfield and develop his game further, but should he still want to leave, £36 million for a player with little desire and poor attitude will be seen as good business. On the other side of the attitude spectrum is Danny Ings, who humbly took the number 28 jersey instead of more conventional numbers like 9 that forwards usually take. It just shows how much Ings values his Anfield move and also highlights his desire to further improve himself in order to reach his fullest potential at Anfield. This can only bode well for the Reds, as this combination of Ings’ willpower and the suitability of his playing style could see Ings be a much herald success next campaign.

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Liverpool

Dejan Lovren’s Champions League final display shows Liverpool don’t need another defender

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Photo: Getty Images.

There weren’t many positives for Liverpool to take from Saturday night’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid. Falling at the final hurdle was painful, particularly with the manner in which it came for the Reds, but one man enjoyed arguably his finest night in a Liverpool shirt: Dejan Lovren.

The much maligned Croatian has been slammed from pillar to post throughout his Anfield career with every transfer window seeing fresh calls for him to be replaced. Yet Jurgen Klopp has kept the faith with him, making him his first choice to partner Virgil Van Dijk in central defence, and in Kiev he repaid that faith.

Right from the off, Lovren had work to do as he covered for Trent Alexander-Arnold as he burst forward, with Lovren looking like a world-beater as he marshaled Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, keeping their impact to the bare minimum.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

In the second half, he made a crucial contribution as it was his header from James Milner’s corner which teed up Sadio Mane to poke in from a few yards out and equalise, giving the travelling Kop hope of a comeback.

Another was almost equally as important as he produced arguably the best challenge of the match, diving in to nip the ball off of Gareth Bale’s toes as he looked to secure a hat-trick in the closing stages.

Winning all of his aerial challenges and all of his tackles, the signs of nerves and calamity that he has previously displayed on big occasions were long gone. Lovren looked composed, strong and focused just when his team needed him most.

Few will argue that Jurgen Klopp does not need to move to make defensive signings this summer, given that even with Joel Matip returning, there are effectively only three centre-backs at the club, but Lovren’s display in Kiev showed that whoever joins won’t be a first-team regular.

Adding depth is key to the Reds’ business plans this summer, in all departments, and if Liverpool can add a growing talent at a cheaper price rather than breaking the bank for a first team regular, it could be a major boost.

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Liverpool round-up: Klopp reacts; Salah injury latest; defenders targeted

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Photo: Getty Images.

Saturday night was one for Liverpool to forget as they crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid and manager Jurgen Klopp was in no mood to hide his emotions after the final whistle.

“I’m not fine, I’m the opposite of fine, but I try to be professional. I said it a few times, I’m turning 51 next month or so, I lost games in my life before, I won games in my life before – I know how to deal with that. What you cannot avoid is the feeling you have the night after the game,” he explained to the club’s website.

“We all feel really, really bad, and the way home will not be the best trip we ever had in our life but we have to accept it now. We wanted everything and got nothing, or minus something with the injury of Mo.

“At the end, it’s a football game, we tried everything to win it, that’s why I wouldn’t change anything in my preparations. I did the best I could and it was not good enough and I have to accept that, that’s it.”

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Klopp also gave an injury update on star man Mohamed Salah to the club’s official website, with speculation that a suspected dislocated shoulder could lead to him missing the World Cup with Egypt this summer.

It would be a devastating blow for the forward after an incredible campaign, but Klopp insisted that the club did not yet know the extent of the injury. He confirmed that Salah had gone to hospital for an X-ray.

On a more speculative note, news agency EFE, as reported by America TV, claim that the ex-Roma man has spoken to his family on Sunday to tell them that he will still be fit enough to travel to Russia.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Away from the devastation of Champions League final defeat, The Independent say that Liverpool are considering moves for Burnley‘s James Tarkowski and Newcastle’s Jamal Lascelles to strengthen their back line ahead of another assault on the Premier League next season.

There is no doubting that the Reds need to add more strength in depth over the summer, but given Dejan Lovren’s upturn in form towards the end of the campaign any player coming in will have a battle on their hands to line up alongside Virgil Van Dijk. With Joel Matip soon back from injury, it will be interesting to see just how much Liverpool would be prepared to spend.

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Liverpool must pay whatever necessary to replace Loris Karius

Liverpool lost the Champions League final last night with the German culpable.

Mathew Coull

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Liverpool’s Champions League dreams were dashed in Kiev last night, as Gareth Bale put the Reds to the sword. His stunning overhead kick was however bookmarked by two awful mistakes by Liverpool keeper Loris Karius.

The German inexplicably threw the ball into the path of a Karim Benzema block before Gareth Bale’s hopeful shot in the 82nd minute squirmed from his grasp into the back of the net. It was a horror-show night for the stopper who had only just started to convince Liverpool fans he was up to the task of being their number one.

As much as you have to feel sorry for the ‘keeper, one thing was made evidently clear by his performance. Liverpool must buy a new goalie this summer.

(Photo credit should read MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Plenty of names have been mentioned in the past few months. Liverpool have been linked with Jack Butland, The Sun reported a £35 million price-tag for the Stoke and England star. The same price-tag has been mooted for AC Milan stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma in The Mirror.

The other goalkeeper who has been mentioned is Alisson of Roma. Whilst the Italian side are not keen on selling the player, a price-tag of £70 million has been mentioned in the past, which would make him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

What is now apparent is, that whoever Liverpool decide on as the best option between the sticks, they must pay whatever necessary to bring that man in.

(Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Alisson, Donnarumma, Butland? It is not important who. All three would be a huge upgrade on Karius and perhaps plug the one main weak link left in this current Liverpool side.

If it is £35 million or £70 million, the chequebook has to be made available to Jurgen Klopp to bring in the keeper Liverpool need to challenge for silverware once again next season.

As stunning as Bale’s second goal was, the fact is Liverpool might have come away with glory from Kiev if Karius was not between the sticks.

That is the sort of problem which must be solved, regardless of the cost.

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