Welcome to the Liverpool ECHO's Friday live blog for your latest Liverpool news, rumours and transfer gossip.
Liverpool reportedly open talks with Rodrigo De Paul, Joel Matip returns to training while Real Madrid will let Eder Militao leave.
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Bayern 'join hunt' for Militao
Bayern Munich could reportedly rival Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur for the signature of Eder Militao.
Real Madrid are reportedly prepared to let the centre-back leave the club, with suggestions he could be allowed to depart on a loan with an option to buy this summer.
According to Goal, Bayern are also in the hunt for the centre-back and are targeting him as a replacement for David Alaba, who could leave on a free transfer this year.
The report claims that no official bids have arrived, but Bayern are in the hunt alongside the Premier League duo, while Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are also said to have made enquiries.
Bayern 'made' Thiago and Coutinho mistake
Bayern Munich have been told they made a mistake allowing Thiago Alcantara to leave for Liverpool without properly replacing the Spaniard.
And the German side have also been accused of not compensating for the loss of former Reds playmaker Phillippe Coutinho during the same transfer window.
That's the view of Bayern legend Lothar Matthaus and Ian Doyle has the story...
Hundreds line the streets for funeral of Liverpool fan, 12, who died on Christmas Day
Hundreds of mourners lined the street today for the funeral of a young Liverpool fan who died on Christmas Day.
Cason Hallwood died suddenly just hours after celebrating the holiday at home with his family.
The 12-year-old had asthma and allergies, and is believed to have died from an anaphylactic shock.
His death has devastated his family and community who all turned out to show their support on the day of his funeral.
Alex McIntyre and Jenny Kirkham have more HERE
Listen to the Blood Red podcast
The Blood Red podcast previews the biggest match of the season so far as Liverpool take on Manchester United in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.
Joining host Matt Addison are Ian Doyle, Paul Gorst and David Lynch as they look ahead to the huge clash, which could see Jurgen Klopp’s side move back to the top of the standings with a win over current leaders United.
Sadio Mane gesture
Love this from Sadio Mane.
So we all know he's introduced a new celebration at the request of a fan, dedicating it to their late grandfather.
Well he's now promised to retain the celebration for the rest of the season.
Liverpool 'interested' in Ibrahima Konate
Liverpool are reportedly interested in Ibrahima Konate.
Christian Falk of Bild claims the Reds have contacted Dayot Upamecano's representatives, but are also interested in his RB Leipzig team-mate.
Liverpool 'in talks' to sign De Paul
Liverpool have reportedly stepped up their efforts to sign Rodrigo de Paul.
According to Tojofichajes, the Reds have held initial talks to sign the Udinese midfielder and are ready to rival the likes of Inter Milan, Juventus and Leeds United for his signature.
Udinese are said to be feeling the financial pinch of the coronavirus pandemic, and are looking to raise funds this month as a result.
The Serie A side could cash in on De Paul and have even dropped a €35m price tag, with the report Liverpool view him as a potential replacement for Gini Wijnaldum.
Liverpool reveal best-selling shirt names
Liverpool have revealed who's their best-selling shirt name so far this season and, as you'd expect, all your usual suspects make the top 10.
Virgil van Dijk is first ahead of Mohamed Salah, with Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara rounding off the top five.
Roberto Firmino is sixth ahead of Diogo Jota with Trent Alexander-Arnold pipping Andy Robertson and Alisson rounding up the top 10.
Jurgen Klopp press conference podcast
Jurgen Klopp gives a fitness update on Joel Matip at his Liverpool v Manchester United press conference and gives his reaction to comments directed towards him by former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg.
Liverpool boss Klopp also reveals whether Naby Keita will be fit to face United at Anfield on Sunday and his admiration for Reds Devils duo Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
Fowler sends transfer message to Liverpool
Robbie Fowler believes Liverpool should enter the market for a centre-back.
The Reds could potentially be without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for the remainder of the season, while Joel Matip has also spent time on the sidelines this season.
And when asked, Fowler believes Liverpool should recruit a centre-back this month due to the injuries they currently have.
He told Goal:
“I think, ideally, yes - because of injuries.
“I won’t say they are struggling because they are right there. They are still progressing. To win the Premier League is always the toughest.
“Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, managers who have won the Premier League have always said that the next year is always the hardest.
“People always want to beat the champions. Therefore, they work that little bit harder, run that little bit harder.
“Liverpool are in a great space and they are playing unbelievable football. Eventually, the results will be a little bit better.
“The championship is still Liverpool’s to lose. They are the team to catch. Manchester City will run them close - but they probably need someone to come in.
“For a supporter point of you want your team to be the very best. Jurgen and his staff are certainly looking into it.”
United told they 'will never have a better chance to win at Anfield'
Paul Scholes believes Manchester United will never have a better chance to win at Anfield than this weekend.
Scholes also believes his old team can be genuine title contenders this season - but says they have to overcome a mental block in big games first, starting this weekend.
He told ESPN:
“It feels strange to say it but I actually do think United can win the league because it’s been such a weird season.But it’s all about winning the big games now.
“They haven’t done that yet. People can say they won at Leicester on the final day of last season to qualify for the Champions League, but that wasn’t a big game like going to City, Liverpool or Chelsea and winning when it matters.”
Before he added:
“United will never have a better chance to win at Anfield.
“It’s a massive advantage in their favour that there will be no fans inside the ground and, in my opinion, more important than Liverpool’s injury problems in defence.
“Whenever I played at Anfield, the crowd was the biggest influence on the game.It was always so tough to go there because of that - but it’s not a factor on Sunday.”
Klopp outlines what Matip must do to play against Man United
Liverpool are giving Joel Matip every chance to be available for the titanic top-of-the-table tussle with Manchester United on Sunday.
Matip has been absent for the last three games having limped out of the home draw against West Bromwich Albion on December 27 with an adductor problem.
Fears were raised the Cameroonian would be absent this weekend having not trained with the team in midweek.
But with two sessions still remaining before the visit of United, Klopp is refusing to rule out the centre-back.
Ian Doyle has the full story here.
Jurgen Klopp LIVE
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be speaking to the media this afternoon ahead of his side’s huge clash with Manchester United this weekend.
The Reds boss will preview Sunday’s Premier League showdown by speaking to reporters via video call from the AXA Training Centre.
Click here for our dedicated LIVE press conference blog.
Liverpool eyeing Leipzig pair
Liverpool are reportedly interested in signing Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.
That is according to Sport BILD journalist Christian Falk, who is reporting that Liverpool have made ‘contact’ with Upamecano’s ‘management’ while the Reds are ‘also interested in Ibrahima Konate’.
The 22-year-old has a release clause that comes into effect in the summer, but despite that, the German club are not considering selling their defensive linchpin halfway through the season.
While Konate has also been linked with the Reds in recent months.
Liverpool ‘will offer Van Dijk a new contract’
Liverpool will reportedly offer defender Virgil van Dijk a new contract.
Van Dijk’s current contract expires in the summer of 2023, but journalist Fabrizio Romano is reporting that the Reds will offer the centre-back a new deal.
His report also goes on to claim that “negotiations will begin in the coming months,” with the defender still sidelined with a knee injury.
He told CBS Sports:
“Liverpool, on the other hand, are focused on the return of Virgil van Dijk. The board has plans to offer the Dutch defender the renewal of the contract, and the negotiations will begin in the coming months.”
Marcus Rashford has revealed Jose Mourinho advised the striker to be more ‘savvy’ to win penalties while in charge of Manchester United.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp recently stated ‘United had more penalties in two years than he has had in five-and-a-half years’ at Anfield after his side lost 1-0 to Southampton last week.
In turn, a debate creaked into motion in a number of parts including unexpected areas such as former referee Mark Clattenburg, as the pressure intensifies ahead of the top of the table clash on Sunday.
Now, England striker Rashford has admitted he and his teammates are often demanding penalties but it comes from a desire to score goals and prevent the opposition from taking the ball away, rather than a desire to just go to ground as quickly as possible.
Peter Harris has the full story here.
Pogba makes Liverpool admission ahead of United clash
Paul Pogba believes Liverpool’s titanic tussle with Manchester United on Sunday won’t decide the title.
But the United midfielder admits he is expecting a “battle” when the Premier League champions entertain their bitter North West rivals.
United stand three points clear of Liverpool at the summit after Pogba’s deflected goal earned a narrow 1-0 win at Burnley on Tuesday.
The France international was injured for both meetings between the sides last season and has featured in the fixture just three times, each occasion ending in a draw.
Ian Doyle has the full story here.
Carragher makes Liverpool Man United prediction
Jamie Carragher believes Manchester United beating Liverpool this weekend would “send shockwaves through the Premier League”.
The two go head-to-head in a top-of-the-table showdown at Anfield on Sunday, with United going into the game three points ahead of the reigning champions.
And Carragher told Sky Sports:
“I actually think it’s a bigger game for Liverpool. The onus is more on them.
If United got a result there, that’s when the belief would come that they could win the league.
“I still think people think United may fall away and Liverpool have still got that edge, but if they won at Anfield that would send shockwaves through the Premier League.
“It’s a game where Liverpool need to show they are the champions, they are the better team, get the result and also a performance that puts Manchester United back where they are.”
Before Carragher continued:
“I don’t think Manchester United have ever really hurt Liverpool with the counter-attack at Anfield, like they have done against Manchester City in the past.
“There is no doubting the devastating effect United could have on the counter, especially with Liverpool’s problems at centre-back and questions over whether Joel Matip will be back there.
“But I don’t think Liverpool will change, if you look at their record at home, they have dominated for the last three years.”
Celtic and Rangers are ready to compete for the transfer of Liverpool forward Taiwo Awoniyi.
Awoniyi joined Liverpool’s academy from Lagos’ Imperial Soccer Academy in the summer of 2015 for £400k, and is currently on loan at Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
And now according to 90min, as well as Premier League interest, it is Celtic and Rangers who are leading the chase for the forward.
The report claims Liverpool said to be seeking a fee of around £5M for Awoniyi, who has made 14 Bundesliga appearances so far this season and has five goals and two assists to his name.
A report from the Guardian, RB Leipzig are not considering selling Dayot Upamecano this month even though he can leave in the summer for a cut-price €42m.
The report claims that several Premier League clubs are interested in the defender, including Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United, as are Bayern Munich.
The report also claims that the 22-year-old has a release clause that comes into effect in the summer, but despite that, the German club are not considering selling their defensive linchpin halfway through the season.
However, the report does claim that Leipzig are resigned to the Frenchman leaving in the summer and have a shortlist of potential replacements, with Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan among their top targets.
Van Dijk 'boost'
Virgil van Dijk could still make a return from injury before the end of the season, according to a new report.
The Dutchman underwent successful surgery in London back in October after he suffered an ACL injury in the early stages of the 2-2 draw with Everton.
Van Dijk was forced off injured inside the opening 10 minutes at Goodison Park after being on the end of a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The Anfield club have not given a time frame for how long the £75million man will be absent, but Jurgen Klopp is hopeful that due to the centre-back being a quicker healer it should speed up his recovery process.
But now The Sunday World is reporting that there is ‘some hope’ that Van Dijk can still play again before the 2020/21 campaign is concluded.
Reports naming the Premier League champions in connection with Sergio Ramos, David Alaba and Sven Botman have been both tentative and speculative.
Even with a settled and fully fit squad, Liverpool’s name rarely disappears from the transfer rumour mill, but reports are becoming more varied and tenuous as the month goes on.
One player who is of genuine interest, however, is Brighton’s Ben White.
Liverpool scouted the centre-back extensively last season during his loan spell with Leeds, with talent spotters regularly dispatched to Elland Road to watch him in action in the Championship.
Despite positive reports, there was always an acceptance that White would need more seasoning at the top level.
Leeds tried and failed to land White on a permanent deal last summer, seeing three bids rejected as the Reds looked on from afar.
Paul Gorst and David Hughes have the full story here.
Eder Militao 'made available' by Real Madrid
Right, you don't need me to tell you about Liverpool's injury woes in defence this season.
And Jurgen Klopp's stance that a new arrival in January remains unchanged.
But could Real Madrid help prompt a change of thinking from the Reds?
According to Duncan Castles, on the Transfer Window Podcast(via HITC), the La Liga giants are happy to loan out the 22-year-old for the rest of the season, with a potential option to buy in the summer.
“One player who has been mentioned is Eder Militao, the centre-back at Real Madrid who is out of favour there.
“Madrid are trying to offload the player, they want ideally to sell. I’m told their asking price is €50 million (£44.5m), but there is the option there of getting Militao on a six-month loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the season.”