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Rafa Benítez Reportedly Finalizing Deal With Everton

2019 CFA Cup - Dalian Yifang v Shanghai Shenhua
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The former Liverpool manager is closing in on a return to Merseyside.

Rafael Benítez, the man who orchestrated the Miracle of Istanbul, is on the verge of making his return to Liverpool, but this time he’ll be guiding the boys in Blue instead of the ones in Red.

This news comes courtesy of Sky Sports, who are reporting that the beloved Spaniard is prepared to fill the vacancy created when Carlo Ancelotti resigned so he could return to Real Madrid earlier this month. If Benítez and Everton do indeed reach an agreement, Rafa would become the first man to manage both LFC and EFC.

Rafa was tipped to be on Everton’s wishlist shortly after Ancelotti’s departure, but the news didn’t get as much attention as it may have due to the fact that Steven Gerrard was also supposedly being considered for the role.

It’s hard to feel too much animosity towards Benítez over this. If this had happened before Jürgen Klopp came along and put Liverpool back on their perch, there might be some bitterness. But, given recent success, it’s hard to feel anger or disgust for the man who delivered one of the most sensational nights in football history.

On the flip side, it will be interesting to see how Everton supporters react to suddenly cheering on the man who was at the helm for one of their rival’s greatest triumphs. It’s not hard to imagine some Toffees having a difficult time accepting it.

One thing is for sure; there will not be a lack of narrative leading up to the next Merseyside Derby.

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Basque Reports Claim Liverpool Targeting Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak

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The 21-year-old Sweden international is said to be seen as the long-term successor to Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool’s top transfer priority heading into the summer was at centre half, and the club moved quickly to sign Ibrahima Konaté from RB Leipzig as a result. Their second priority is to sign a midfielder following the departure of Gini Wijnaldum to Paris Saint-Germain.

After that, and depending on whether new homes can be found for the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi, a forward could be targeted. And local Basque reports claim that the club’s top forward target is Real Sociedad and Sweden 21-year-old Alexander Isak.

According to Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Liverpool see Isak as an valuable short-term squad piece and potential long-term replacement for Roberto Firmino—though if true, given Isak stands 1.92m or 6’4”, it would likely signal a radical change in approach for the Reds.

In addition to being built more like Peter Crouch than Firmino, Isak isn’t a creative presence. He had 17 goals and two assists last year in the league for a goal or assist every 124 minutes from 16.47 expected goals and just 1.84 expected assists, with 0.38 key passes per 90.

By comparison, Firmino scored nine goals and seven assists for a goal or assist every 180 minutes, though he did that while creating 12.86 expected goals—a number that speaks to his struggles finishing—and 6.12 expected assists while making 1.37 key passes per match.

Isak’s goal return is exceptional for a striker his age—but he’s a very different sort of striker than Firmino or any Liverpool have had during Jürgen Klopp’s tenure. He’s also said to have a release clause of €70M, and Sociedad are unlikely to be willing to sell for less.

Add it all up, and there seems plenty of reason for skepticism, even if the chatter is coming from a local outlet. One interesting note, though, is that it wasn’t long ago that Sociedad were said to view Divock Origi as a potential target should Isak depart this summer.

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Rumour Mongering: Liverpool and Tottenham Ready to Trigger Pellegrini Release Clause

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The transfer chatter out of Italy has Lorenzo Pellegrini choosing between the two English sides and a Roma stay.

The consensus is that Liverpool will seek to sign a midfielder this summer to replace the departed Gini Wijnaldum, and while the likes of Florian Neuhaus and Youri Tielemans have dominated the rumour mongering headlines, there are other possibilities.

Other possibilities like 24-year-old Roma midfield Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been linked with the Reds in recent months. Now, at least according to the Italian transfer chatter, it’s a three-way race for the player with Liverpool quite possibly leading the way.

According to Calciomercato, both the Reds and Tottenham Hotspur have been won over by the player’s bargain €30M release clause and are fully ready to trigger. Meanwhile, Roma are still trying to get the player to agree a new deal—but Pellegrini is resistant.

In fact, if the rumour is to be believed, despite their efforts to re-sign him, Pellegrini has recently signalled to Roma that he will be moving on. For Liverpool, though, there might be some questions over Pellegrini’s fit for Jürgen Klopp’s uptempo system.

At least on paper, it’s easier to see how players like the more heavily linked Neuhaus and Tielemans would fit into the side. Still, Pellegrini looks a quality progression specialist and that €30M release clause would make him quite the bargain on talent.

As such, while we have some doubts about the legitimacy of transfer rumours linking him to the club, depending on how Liverpool intend to evolve their midfield there’s a case to be made for why he might be a legitimate target for them this summer.

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Liverpool’s 2021-22 Fixture List Revealed

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The Reds will kick off their season against last season’s Championship winners Norwich City

The Premier League have announced the full slate of 2021-22 fixtures, and Liverpool now know that they will play the other 19 English top flight sides twice each. Home and away. For a 38-game league schedule. Try not to act surprised.

Still, despite that the sum of it all may be fairly predictable, there’s always some fun and interesting—or annoying—details to be found in a new season’s fixture list, and 2021-22 will be no different for Liverpool or the club’s fans.

It all kicks off on Saturday, August 14th on the road against newly promoted Norwich City, as in what feels like something of a tradition the Reds raise the curtain on another season by facing last year’s top side in the Championship.

Then, after a home game against always difficult Burnley, they finish September with their first headlining match, hosting Chelsea on the 28th. Last year’s upstarts Leeds then kick off a September that on paper looks a month to build momentum.

October looks tough, with a home game against defending champions Manchester City on the 2nd and a trip to Old Trafford to face Man United on the 23rd. Then November gets Arsenal and Everton, with Spurs in always busy December.

Beyond the fixtures, a the Christmas turnaround between Leeds on the 26th and Leicester on the 28th is cause for both annoyance and concern—but that kind of holiday scheduling at this point is par for the course in the Premier League.

Then, the home and away gets reversed and 2022 kicks off on the road against Chelsea on New Year’s Day as we work our way towards May 22nd and a home date against Wolves as the final game of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

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Nasarawa United skipper Makama speaks about Champions League ambitions

Nasarawa United captain, Emmanuel Makama has admitted that the Lafia-based NPFL side’s CAF Champions league or confederation’s cup ambition has become heated up.

Makama, in a chat with brila.net, noted that his side had resolved right from the start of the league season to pick a continental ticket.
“We believed in ourselves before the season kick-started, and we have already said it that no matter what, we will take the ticket for continental football this season,”
“And if you can check the record we are really doing well, there is no one they will put in a seat of play that will not play very well. So, I believe in my team, our coaches, and our management, everything is moving well and no matter what, we are going to earn our continental ticket.” He concluded.

The post Nasarawa United skipper Makama speaks about Champions League ambitions appeared first on Latest Sports News In Nigeria.

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