Aguero & Ozil IN but no Rooney: Pirlo names his ideal Premier League XI

The Italian has revealed his dream team which is dominated by Manchester City stars with players from Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea completing the line-up


He may never have played in the Premier League but Andrea Pirlo certainly knows a thing or two about playing with some of the best players in the world.

The 36-year-old World Cup winner, who claimed Serie A with both AC Milan and Juventus in a glittering career, also knows what it takes to win the league and has now come up with his very own Premier League dream team.

Speaking to ShortList, Pirlo – who now plays for New York City FC – opted for five players from parent club Manchester City: Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.

The remainder of the team is made up of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool stars with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Nacho Monreal competing the defence.

In midfield Philippe Coutinho, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez feature behind a single striker, Aguero, who Pirlo describes as: “Just one of the best strikers in the world, despite some injury problems. When he is fit and in the team, Manchester City look another class to everybody else in England.


02 2016

Klopp: Sturridge & Coutinho are like new signings!

The Reds are not expecting new arrivals before Monday night’s transfer deadline but the German believes welcoming his key players back into the fold will be as much of a boost

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will welcome Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Martin Skrtel back into training this week and joked that the return of the quartet is like unveiling new signings. 

The Reds are not expected to do big business ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline, with Klopp admitting “maybe something will happen, but I don’t believe that it will. I’m not sure on the outgoing side – not 100 per cent sure – but I don’t think that something will happen on the other side.”

The German coach will, however, have more options available after Tuesday’s Premier League clash at Leicester, with Sturridge, Coutinho and Origi set to complete full sessions ahead of Saturday’s hosting of Sunderland.

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“[They are] closer, close to returning to training,” Klopp told reporters at Melwood. 

“Martin needs two or three days’s more time. Divock and Phil and Daniel should return to training – Daniel on Wednesday and the other two on Thursday. That’s the plan.

“And Martin, I think, at the weekend. These are our transfers… four new players for LFC! That is good for us, of course. With the really long-term injuries [to Joe Gomez and Danny Ings], nothing has changed.”


02 2016

Klopp on Sturridge setbacks, Coutinho fitness and West Ham team selection

The striker’s comeback has been delayed yet again by a number of different problems, but the Brazilian playmaker is closing in on a return to full training

Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems continue, with Jurgen Klopp revealing the striker has had further setbacks and will not feature for Liverpool against West Ham on Saturday or Leicester on Tuesday.

The England international has still not managed to consistently train over a lengthy period, with different niggles hampering his progress.

Last week, the 26-year-old had completed four consecutive sessions, with Klopp stating if he could keep that up for 10 days, he would come back into contention.

However, Sturridge’s workouts have again been interrupted and he will play no part in the FA Cup encounter over the weekend, or the Premier League trip to the King Power Stadium.

“He’s still working; sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s a bit worse because of one or the other issues,” Klopp explained at Melwood on Friday.

“He did a lot of sessions in the last few weeks but it’s always interrupted through a few breaks. He needs consistency in sessions and that’s what we try to do.

“That’s normal [when you have] injury history. It’s not coincidence, some things are not right if you are injured that often. We have to be really sensitive with all the information we get and that’s what we try to do.

“We [try to] find a point from which we can really train and build up fitness. He could do a lot of sessions in the last few weeks but, how I said, [his progress is] always interrupted through a few different issues where we always have to wait for what will happen. That’s how it is.

“There’s no doubt that he’s a very, very good player, how everybody knows. But in this moment – and that’s how I understand it – he is not available so we don’t have to talk too much about him because he is not here.

“He cannot play tomorrow and for sure not against Leicester and I don’t know what happens after this to be honest.”

Meanwhile, Klopp revealed Philippe Coutinho is “close to returning to training, but not in the team training [yet].

“He [will finish] his last two-three sessions with rehab and then he will be back on the pitch with us,” Klopp said. The Brazilian has not featured since limping off with a hamstring injury in the FA Cup tie at Exeter on January 8.

Both Nathaniel Clyne and Jordan Henderson are still experiencing pain from their respective knee and heel concerns.

When asked if they could feature against West Ham, Klopp said: “Nathaniel, possibly, but we are not sure. He is much better, it was knee against knee and that’s really painful. There’s no doubt about the [durability] of Clyney. I asked him, ‘One is no pain, ten is big, big pain – where are we?’ and he said seven!

“Maybe you should have a rest, then. But now it’s three, two, one, hopefully zero and we will see. He will train today and we will know more about this.

“Hendo can be an option. He did really well for the team in a difficult time with a long-term injury, still having problems, only pain but it’s always pain.

“We now are on a really good way but we need to use these two days and hopefully he has recovered after an intensive time and is back in the race.”

Dejan Lovren, who was on the bench in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final victory over Stoke, is fit enough to start against the Hammers. Fellow centre-back Martin Skrtel is still unavailable though as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Steven Caulker is expected to get a full run-out in the heart of defence.

Asked whether he would field a young team at Anfield, Klopp replied: “Yes, but it depends what is young in your opinion!

“It will be a different team, for sure, to the last game. We have no other chance. As I’ve said, [we ran] 156 kilometres [against Stoke]. We had a few players that ran 17 kilometres in this game, the highest speed ever and a few things like this. Nobody forced it before the game – ‘Please try to break all records!’

“It was the game; we wanted to go to the final and we had to fight for it. We did it and that’s great. We cannot say, ‘Come on, it’s West Ham, it’s the FA Cup, it’s the world championship or whatever. And then again against Leicester and again against the rest.’ It doesn’t work like this, so we have to make a few changes.

“We will make them but only because we want to win the game – that’s the only reason. When I think of the Exeter game at Anfield, it was great. It was a really great atmosphere, unbelievable, sold out, perfect.”


01 2016

Nightmare for Klopp as TWO Liverpool players limp off

Dejan Lovren joined Philippe Coutinho in suffering an apparent hamstring injury at the Britannia Stadium, increasing the Reds’s significant numbers on the sidelines

Jurgen Klopp has been dealt a double injury blow with Dejan Lovren joining Philippe Coutinho in limping out of Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Stoke City.

Coutinho was forced off after just 18 minutes after seemingly hurting his hamstring when delivering a ball into the box before Lovren was forced off with a similar issue 15 minutes later following a sliding tackle.

The Croatia international was replaced by James Milner, who himself has only just returned from injury, with Lucas Leiva retreating into defence.

Liverpool are currently without Danny Ings and Joe Gomez due to long-term injuries, while Divock Origi, Martin Skrtel and Jordan Rossiter are expected to be sidelined for a number of weeks.

Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson have both returned to the first team but since suffered setbacks, while Jon Flanagan is building up his fitness after a serious knee injury.

Mamadou Sakho, meanwhile, missed the clash at the Britannia Stadium due a minor knee problem.


01 2016

Coutinho limps off for Liverpool… but Klopp still leaves Benteke on the bench

The Brazilian could miss games against Arsenal and Manchester United, with the injuries suffered by him and Dejan Lovren meaning the Reds currently have 10 players sidelined

Liverpool have been dealt another injury blow after Philippe Coutinho was forced to limp out of the Reds’ League Cup semi-final first leg clash against Stoke City.

The Brazil international seemed to hurt his hamstring when looking to deliver a cross into the box at the Britannia Stadium and was replaced by Jordon Ibe after just 18 minutes, with the latter going on to score the opening goal of the game.

Liverpool had made a flying start to the match, laying siege to Stoke’s goal early in the contest, with Coutinho involved in much of that early endeavour.

But after receiving treatment on the back of his thigh, Coutinho eventually decided he was unable to continue and hobbled off the pitch.

Manager Jurgen Klopp could have turned to Christian Benteke – who scored match-winning goals in back-to-back games over the Christmas period but was dropped for Tuesday’s match – but opted instead for Ibe.

GOALREAD MORE  | Klopp reveals Sturridge setback

The decision will create further question marks over Benteke’s long-term future at Anfield under Klopp, with the Belgian previously having been overlooked in favour of injured countryman Divock Origi.

Coutinho’s injury, coupled with that of Dejan Lovren – who, incredibly, went off with a hamstring problem 15 minutes after Coutinho – means Liverpool now have 10 players sidelined, the joint-most of Premier League clubs alongside Newcastle.

The Brazilian is almost certain to miss Liverpool’s next match on Friday evening away to Exeter in the FA Cup Third Round, while his involvement in matches against Arsenal and Manchester United is also in doubt.


01 2016

Lucas expects Coutinho to stay at Liverpool

The Brazilian believes his compatriot will think twice about leaving Anfield due to the lack of first-team minutes he received at Inter before joining the Reds in 2013

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva insists  Philippe Coutinho is happy at Anfield and expects him to stay at the club for the foreseeable future.

Coutinho has consistently impressed since joining Liverpool from Inter in January 2013 and has recently been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But Lucas believes his compatriot, who is under contract until 2020, will think twice before seeking a move to another club due to his experience in Italy.

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“I think we can hang on to Coutinho,” Lucas told the Daily Mail. “The one thing I know [is] he is very happy here.

“He was at Inter and it didn’t work for him, but he has found his feet here and he feels that people like him. He considers that>


12 2015

Liverpool must fight for trophies – Coutinho

The Brazil international wants to mark his progress at Anfield and repay Liverpool’s faith in him by helping the Reds to a trophy

Liverpool have an excellent opportunity to end their wait for silverware this season, according to Philippe Coutinho.

The five-time European champions have not won a trophy since claiming the League Cup in 2012 after a penalty shootout against Cardiff City.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are into the knockout phase of the Europa League, have reached the last four of the League Cup and face League Two Exeter City in the FA Cup third round.

And Coutinho, who has been in fine form during the first half of the season, wants to cap his progress at Anfield with a first winners’ medal.

“We’re in a very good position. It’s the goal of everyone involved, we’re all focused on fighting for the trophies and I think we have a great chance in the competitions we’re in this year,” he told the club’s official website.

“We’re going to fight for that and I hope we win a trophy this year.

“[I’ve had] three wonderful years. As I’ve said, in the beginning I was given a very warm welcome, from the fans, the team, everyone who works here at the club.

“So I’m very grateful to the club, and now I hope to be able to help the team win trophies, it’s very important to keep battling.

“We learn little by little. When you arrive here, the football is very different, the style of play, it’s more intense, you use your body more, it’s faster.

“These things I think I’ve improved on since I arrived, as I came from a different style of football, and I hope I can continue to improve.”


12 2015

Coutinho thrilled to be back after 'awful' injury absence

The Brazil international was frustrated at being sidelined with a hamstring injury and has praised the supporters for the atmosphere during the Europa League draw with Sion

Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho is thrilled to be back in action after missing four matches with a hamstring injury.

The 23-year-old suffered the problem in November’s 4-1 win at Manchester City, in which he scored his fifth Premier League goal of the season.

After making his comeback in Liverpool’s last two matches, the former Inter player revealed how hard he finds it to be on the sidelines.

“I am feeling much better. I am training and available for selection. It is the best thing, because to be out injured is very difficult – it is awful,” Coutinho told the club’s official website.

“Of course, we love playing football and when we are available for selection, it is the best thing. I am feeling good and I hope I can help the team out in the best possible way.”

The Brazil playmaker made his return as a substitute against Sion in the Europa League before starting Sunday’s dramatic 2-2 draw with West Brom at Anfield, where he was impressed by Liverpool’s desire.

Coutinho added: “We didn’t give up at any time. It was a very difficult game against a team that sat back and the atmosphere inside the ground was amazing.

“The supporters were urging us on, so the goal was very important and we were satisfied given the way things were going. The fans are there supporting us and that’s really important, as I have said before.

“We hope it will be like it was in the last game until the end of the season, everyone united, so we can achieve positive results in the league.”


12 2015

Coutinho can be world's best if he stays at Liverpool – Lucio

The defender believes his countryman has the potential to become one of football’s greats and urged the playmaker to remain at Anfield

Philippe Coutinho can become the best player in the world – if he remains at Liverpool, according to former team-mate Lucio.

The Brazil international has become Jurgen Klopp’s centric playmaker with a number of scintillating performances since the German took charge at Anfield.

Fellow countryman Lucio, who played alongside the Reds star at Inter between 2009 and 2012, believes Coutinho has the ability to be the world’s very best and credits himself for the 23-year-old’s professionalism.

“I am very happy that he is having success at Liverpool,” Lucio told Sky Sports

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“There is potential to be the best player in the world, of that there is no doubt. But it will depend on what happens around him. He is only going to get better.

“When he was at Inter, he wasn’t playing and we got closer, and lived nearby to each other.

“My family got to know his family, and gave all our support, and we helped him achieve what he has with that support. Everything that he is doing now is down to his marriage and family. His attitude is perfect.”

Coutinho, who joined Liverpool for £8.5 million in 2013, has been linked with Barcelona in recent months.

However, Lucio says the attacker must turn down Camp Nou and remain on Merseyside, and expects Coutinho to prosper further under Klopp’s tutelage.

“I think that is a personal decision for him. Barcelona have a lot of great players –  that could leave him in the shadows,” Lucio added.

“Liverpool is the right place for him to become the best. He has his space, and can play where he wants.”


12 2015

Coutinho travels to Sion but Ibe out with illness

The Brazilian has missed four games due to a hamstring problem but is back in contention for the final group game in the competition, while the winger has a cold

Philippe Coutinho is part of Liverpool’s travelling squad for the Europa League clash in Sion, but Jordon Ibe is left out due to illness.

The Brazilian playmaker has missed the past four games due to a hamstring problem, but took part in training on Wednesday and is now available again.

Daniel Sturridge is expected to be out for weeks due to the same complaint, but captain Jordan Henderson is on the flight to Switzerland.

Lucas, Alberto Moreno and Joe Allen have stayed on Merseyside, as Jurgen Klopp has decided to rest the trio.

The squad is otherwise full-strength. Connor Randall and Ryan Fulton, who have both signed new contracts with the club on Wednesday, are part of the party along with Brad Smith.

Liverpool top Group B, and are a point ahead of their hosts. The Reds have already qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament.


12 2015