With Liverpool becoming increasingly frustrated in their pursuit of Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, Brendan Rodgers is ready to turn his attention to Argentina international Marcos Rojo. The Europa League winners are holding out for £20m, but the Reds feel that the asking price is too much for the Spain Under-21 international. Twenty-four-year-old Rojo could be a cheaper alternative. The Argentine has impressed since moving to Sporting Lisbon from Spartak Moscow in a £3.5m deal in 2012. Rojo is an attacking full-back who would certainly fit into Rodgers’s philosophy at Liverpool, scoring four goals in 25 appearances in the Portuguese top flight last season. And the Reds manager would have been encouraged by Rojo’s performance against Bosnia-Herzegovina as he showed his desire to get forward and maintain the width in the Argentine side. It was the Sporting wing-back’s glancing header that led to Sead Kolasinac’s own goal.
Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is well-known to be seeking a move away from the Bundesliga champions after struggling to dislodge the likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery at the Allianz Arena. With Liverpool already linked to a number of high-profile names in Germany’s top-flight, it is inevitable that the Switzerland international is another named touted as a Reds target. Despite being given just 782 minutes of first-team action in the Bundesliga last season, Shaqiri still managed to end the campaign with impressive figures of six goals and two assists. And if the playmaker’s man-of-the-match performance in a 2-1 victory over Ecuador is anything to go by, Shaqiri would be a good fit at Liverpool. The 22-year-old may be relatively small in stature, but the Swiss midfielder’s low centre of gravity makes him difficult to ease off the ball and he looked like Switzerland’s best chance of breaking down a rugged Ecuador defence. His set-piece delivery was the only blot in an otherwise accomplished performance. Rodgers will watch on with interest as Shaqiri and Switzerland face a much sterner test in their next Group E encounter against France.
Few would have heard of Guillermo Ochoa before this World Cup, but the Mexico goalkeeper was one of the top-three trending topics on Facebook during his nation’s goalless draw with Brazil on Tuesday night. Ochoa had already been linked to the Premier League before his shot-stopping heroics. The Ajaccio man is set to become a free agent in a couple of weeks, and Arsenal and Liverpool are reportedly interested in the goalkeeper. The 28-year-old denied Neymar in the first half with a reflex stop that has been likened to Gordon Banks’s famous save from Pele’s header at the 1970 World Cup. With Liverpool preparing for Pepe Reina’s departure, Ochoa would prove a capable understudy for Belgium international Simon Mignolet. Ochoa’s bravery to rush out and smother a Paulinho effort suggests that he has the temperament to succeed in the Premier League, too. Whilst his second-half save to deny Thiago Silva from six yards out was not to dissimilar to Jerzy Dudek’s memorable stop to deny Andriy Shevchenko in the Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005.
Liverpool face competition from Manchester United in the race to sign one of the stars of the World Cup so far – Daley Blind. The Holland international was a key member of the Dutch side that demolished world champions Spain 5-1 in their opening Group B game last Friday. Blind showed pinpoint accuracy to find Robin van Persie as the United striker scored the best goal of his career to cancel out Xabi Alonso’s opener. Blind was instrumental in putting the Dutch into the lead for the first time, too, as he conjured a delightful pass to unleash Arjen Robben after half-time. Liverpool have reportedly opened negotiations with Ajax over a possible swoop for the £9.5m-rated 24-year-old, although the Amsterdam club will attempt to trigger a bidding war following Blind’s performance last week. The left-back would certainly be a much cheaper alternative to Moreno and is quality is unquestioned, fresh from winning the Eredivisie player of the year.
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