Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren believes the arrival of winger Mohamed Salah will help them break down the stubborn defences which caused them so many problems last season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side displayed scintillating form in the first half the campaign but the loss of speedy forward Sadio Mane to the African Nations Cup coincided with a slump in form.
Their problems were compounded when the Senegal international’s season was prematurely ended by a knee problem in early April, and with Daniel Sturridge also missing two months from February with injury the Reds were left looking rather one-paced and easy to defend against.
Lovren believes the addition of Salah, who scored on his first appearance for the club in Friday’s 1-1 friendly draw at Wigan, will help address that issue.
“Mane had his injury and we missed him,” said the Croatia international.
“We saw (Salah on Friday) and we will see more of his qualities. He needs more time as he’s only had six days with us and everything is completely new (but) I think he will be perfect in this system.”
The only other arrival so far is England Under-20 World Cup winner Dominic Solanke, who joined after his contract expired with Chelsea, but he has already shown glimpses of promise in two separate 45-minute outings so far.
“I think they (Salah and Solanke) have their qualities and Jurgen knows what he needs and what the team needs to improve,” added Lovren.
“I think he made a good choice. These guys work really hard on the pitch and in training so it is always good to welcome such players like these.
“Quality players are always welcome but we have other players like Mane, Phil (Coutinho) so I think it will be a difficult job to get in the first XI with so many good players.”
Liverpool are hopeful of tying up an £8million deal for Hull left-back Andrew Robertson, although not in time for him to fly out to Hong Kong with the squad for the Premier League Asia Trophy, while they are also pursuing RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita as their primary midfield target.
Speculation continues to link the Reds with Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, despite the club having to publicly end their interest in the Holland international after Saints accused them of tapping up the player.
If that was to be resurrected it would bring additional competition for Lovren, who only signed a new five-year contract last season, but he is not worried.
“I can’t talk about that. I am just concentrating on Liverpool and my fitness. I think the biggest thing is to improve my fitness,” he said.
“It is pre-season but the most important thing is to be free of injuries. I want to be 100 per cent.
“I just need some consistency. (Last season) something happened like an injury or illness and then it was two steps back and I needed a good run to be back in shape so I am preparing myself as best I can.
“I have said many times I am very proud they (Liverpool) believe in my and they have given me a chance to work here. It is a pleasure to be here with this squad.
“We have such a talented squad, such stars who people want to buy but we are here with a reason – because of the club – and no-one wants to go.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Former England and Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham has joined Indian Super League champions Atletico de Kolkata as head coach for the new season.
Sheringham, who made 51 England appearances between 1993 and 2002, joins another United hero Steve Coppell as a coach in India.
Kolkata believe Sheringham’s experience with United, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur will help the team as they seek a third ISL title in four seasons.
“One of the top goal scorers and an exceptional player himself I am hopeful Teddy will bring his fine planning skills to lead the way for ATK,” Kolkata owner Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, said in a statement.
Sheringham, 51, said he was “excited to be joining ATK and can’t wait to get started”.
He said: “Sanjiv Goenka has told me about the Indian Super League and it seems like a great place to follow your football dreams and ambitions.”
Coppell meanwhile left last year’s runners up Kerala Blasters this week and will coach Jamshedpur to prepare for the new season in October.
Kerala have picked another Manchester United veteran, former assistant coach Rene Meulensteen, as their new boss.
The ISL, which will be in its fourth season, will grow to 10 teams this year.
With the transfer window now officially open from July 1, the frenetic nature of speculation is only going to increase.
Rumours are starting to gather pace and we take a look at the latest stories doing the rounds in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Spanish giants Real Madrid are content in the knowledge they may have to wait until the end of the summer transfer window to land coveted France and Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, according to Marca.
The 18-year-old has emerged as football’s hottest prospect, with Arsenal, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain all also prepared to pay a world-record fee in excess of £120 million (D577 million) to land him.
Real remain confident the allure of the Bernabeu and head coach Zinedine Zidane will ultimately be too overwhelming for Mbappe, no matter the intense competition.
Such a seismic move was never going to be instantly decided.
Mbappe is spoiled for choice and doesn’t seem to know exactly what he wants to do, whether that is to maintain his rapid development with the Ligue 1 champions or head to a grander stage. Madrid are always going to be in the mix for such uber talents and their quiet confidence seems well placed.
Although president Florentino Perez is not reportedly willing to match the huge wage offers of PSG and City, Mbappe’s lifelong love of Madrid should see him end up playing in white sooner or later.
The prospect of a second-successive monster summer transfer has been dashed for Argentina and Juventus hit man Gonzalo Higuain, according to the front cover of Tuttosport.
The well-connected Turin newspaper has declared the Old Lady have knocked back a massive €100 million (Dh421.2 million) bid from Chelsea as they search for a Diego Costa-replacement.
This figure would have represented a €10 million (Dh42.1 million) profit on the fee paid to snatch Higuain from Napoli 12 months ago.
With 31 goals in 68 international appearances and a colossal 32 strikes in 55 run-outs in his debut season for beaten Champions League finalists Juve, it is clear to see why Chelsea could be interested in Higuain.
Yet it is hard to get behind this transfer. Higuain, for all his undoubted quality, will be 30 in December and he does not seem physically cut out for the rough and tumble of the Premier League.
Also, could this be a ploy by the perennial Serie A winners to get their enraged fans back on side after the shock sale of outstanding centre-back Leonardo Bonucci to AC Milan?
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks to have finally landed a left-back after an £8 million (Dh38.5 million) move was teed up for Scotland and Hull City’s Andrew Robertson, according to The Sun.
The 23-year-old was a rare shining light as the Tigers went straight back down into the Championship last season.
An agreement to land the recent Burnley target is expected to be secured this weekend.
It is not a name to get the Reds fanatics revved up, but Robertson’s recruitment should at least should provide a potential solution for a problem position.
Midfielder James Milner excelled expectations when shoved into the new role last term, yet a return to the Champions League could see him exposed. And the less said about calamitous Spain left-back Alberto Moreno, the better.
Robertson will be delighted to take a major step-up in his career. Whether such an attack-minded player who was part of a porous defence which conceded a division-high 80 goals is the long-term answer, only time will tell…