Klopp eyes targets
Liverpool manager determined to sign top targets as clubs continue to strengthen their teams
LIVERPOOL manager Jürgen Klopp is determined to sign the club’s top targets ahead of the new season, saying he has 100% backing from the owners in a complicated transfer window.
The Merseyside club have already recruited winger Mohamed Salah from AS Roma and striker Dominic Solanke, whose contract expired at Chelsea.
British media have reported that Klopp is interested in signing RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, but a £57 million (R963 million) offer was rejected by the Bundesliga side.
“We pretty much have all you need. But at the end it is still business,” Klopp told the British media.
“You go out and see the car that you have been dreaming about your whole life ... you say ‘here is the money’ but they say to you ‘I don’t want to sell the car’. You say ‘but I have got the money’ but they say ‘I don’t want to sell’.
“They say ‘go for another car in another colour’ but you say ‘that’s okay but I want this’. Things like this happen in life, not only football.”
Liverpool are set to visit Watford in their opening game of the season on August 12.
MANCHESTER United manager José Mourinho has suggested that striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could yet be offered a new deal at Old Trafford.
The Swede was released by the club at the end of the last campaign as he recovers from a longterm knee injury, but Mourinho says if the forward can prove his fitness, he may yet make a dramatic return to the club.
“If the decision is to stay and wait until December — he can’t be back until then — why not wait? We are speaking and changing ideas.”
Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in 46 appearances for United last season before he suffered a serious knee injury in April that will likely keep him out until the end of the year.
ARSENAL forward Alexis Sanchez should be left alone to decide his future, captain Per Mertesacker has said, as speculation continues to swirl about the Chilean’s plans.
Sanchez, who was the North London side’s top scorer last season with 24 league goals in 38 matches, is entering the final year of his contract and is yet to sign a new deal.
“He needs a break now,” Mertesacker told reporters during the club’s preseason tour.
“He needs to relax. He has done a lot for us. He played almost every game last season and then the Confederations Cup.
“You need to leave him alone to make up his mind [about] what he wants to do. It’s his decision. If he feels good, comfortable, he can play with freedom.”
Arsenal won both their preseason friendlies in Australia and are currently in China, where they will play German champions Bayern Munich tomorrow and Premier League champions Chelsea on Saturday.
WEST Bromwich Albion have completed the signing of Egypt defender Ahmed Hegazi on a seasonlong loan deal from Al Ahly, the Premier League side said yesterday.
The 26yearold caught the eye of Baggies boss Tony Pulis during the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, in which the centreback helped Egypt to a runnersup finish.
West Brom have the option to make the deal permanent at the end of next season, and Pulis is delighted to have got his man.
ENGLAND and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has been “hard done by” and deserves more respect, West Ham United captain Mark Noble said amid media reports linking the shotstopper with a loan move to the London club.
In a career spanning more than a decade, Hart has made 348 appearances for the Premier League club and has 71 caps for England, but is not City manager Pep Guardiola’s firstchoice keeper and spent last season on loan at Italy’s Torino.
Noble says the competition for a starting spot among the keepers at West Ham will increase if Hart arrives as he contends with Adrian and Darren Ran dolph, and called for the 30yearold to be given more respect.
“In my opinion, he [Hart] has been a little bit hard done by in recent years. He has been fantastic for England and for his club for the last 10 years, and he probably deserves a little bit more respect.”
SERIE A club Fiorentina have signed Bulgaria Under19 international defender Petko Hristov from Slavia Sofia on a fiveyear deal.
The 18yearold, considered to be one of the best young players in the Balkan country, was a key figure in Bulgaria’s team at the European U19 championship in Georgia this month.
“I’m ready for this challenge,” Hristov, who was a regular at the seventime Bulgarian champions Slavia last season, making 30 appearances, said of his move to Italy.
BAROKA chief executive Morgan Mammila has confirmed that the club have agreed a deal to sign Zambian striker Brian Mwila from Green Buffaloes.
Mwila is set to arrive in the country in the next few days to pen a threeyear contract with Bakgaga, following on from the recent signing of Zimbabwean winger Talent Chawapiwa and Tanzanian defender Abdi Banda.
Mwila scored in Chipolopolo’s 21 friendly win over Bafana Bafana at Moruleng Stadium on June 13, netting with a powerful leftfooted drive at the nearpost past Ronwen Williams.
BRISBANE Roar have signed former Italy and Middlesbrough striker Massimo Maccarone as their marquee player for the next ALeague season.
The 37yearold will head to the twice Australian champions from Empoli, where he won his two international caps in 2002 during a first spell at the club.
“We are pleased and excited to welcome a player of Massimo’s calibre to Brisbane,” Roar boss John Aloisi said. “His playing career is impressive and we are confident that Massimo’s experience at the highest level will strengthen our already talented squad.”
MANCHESTER City have spent heavily in the close season to strengthen an already powerful squad and midfielder Raheem Sterling says winning the Premier League is the top priority.
City, who last won the title in 2014 and finished 15 points behind champions Chelsea last season, have added goalkeeper Ederson for a reported £34,7 million, midfielder Bernardo Silva for £43 million and defender Kyle Walker for £50 million.
Sterling said all the pieces were in place for a title run.
“We need to be winning trophies; we need to be getting that Premier League title back,” the 22yearold told the club’s website.
City will begin their preseason campaign against Manchester United in the United States on Thursday in the International Champions Cup.
AC Milan have signed Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia on a threeyear deal from Serie A rivals Lazio for an undisclosed fee.
The 31yearold won four Belgian titles with Anderlecht before moving to Lazio in 2013. He scored four goals in 29 league appearances last season as Lazio finished fifth.
“AC Milan are delighted to announce the signing of Lucas Biglia from SS Lazio. The player has penned a threeyear contract through to 30 June, 2020,” the club said on their website.
“The Argentinian is a quality player with a strong tactical sense. Biglia is important on and off the ball, starting the move for the team, with great vision of play and a talented setpiece taker.”
OMAN international goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has signed for Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal from English Championship side Reading.
Al Habsi was the first goalkeeper from the Gulf region to play in the English Premier League, initially spending four years as Jussi Jaaskelainen’s understudy at Bolton Wanderers before joining Wigan in 2011 after a yearlong loan period.
The highlight of the 35yearold’s career came in 2013 when he won the FA Cup in the middle of his fiveseason stint with Wigan Athletic, which ended when he signed for Reading in 2015.
Al Habsi was able to join Al Hilal after the Saudi Arabian Premier League relaxed rules on overseas players, permitting clubs to field foreign goalkeepers.
NEW Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde laughed off the idea of bringing in new players yesterday, saying the best signings were the players already in the dressing room.
“I’m more than happy with the way things stand,” said Valverde when pressed on the potential signing of Paris SaintGermain midfielder Marco Verratti.
“Happy with the players, happy with their work and their attitude,” he said, as his players prepare for their trip to the United States tomorrow.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is reportedly still in Manchester United’s longterm plans. At present he is recovering from a knee injury.