Ahead of a massive Champions League match this evening against Real Madrid, Liverpool have been linked to a possible move for the next raising star of Portuguese football Ruben Neves (17). (Source: Daily Mirror)
The Portuguese youngest only joined up with the first team squad during the summer. This was caused by an injury to team mate Mikel Agu. He went on to impress Porto Manager Julen Lopetegui during pre-season and began the new season as a member of his first team squad.
Ruben Diogo de Silva Neves is only 17, but he is already breaking records. He became the youngest ever player to score in the Portuguese League. He was aged 17 years and 155 days at the time. His goal came after 11 minutes of the match. (Source: Wikipedia)
The defensive midfielder has enjoyed an promising start to the season. He has played ten times and scored one goal. Liverpool are not the only Club keen on securing his services. Italian giants Juventus are reportedly watching the situation. He may have some big decisions to make come the end of the season. Any deal may include the option of the loan back to Porto.
The Number 36 of Porto has many qualities for one so young. He has vision, is astute when it comes to his positioning of the pitch and can pass the ball with precision. He sounds like the type of player Rogers is keen upon.
He has been compared to Sergio Busquets of Barca, which is maybe why the Reds have watched him three times so far this year.
Already during his short playing career, he has captained his Country at the UFEA U17 European Championships. More recently Neves has played and scored for the Portuguese U21 side. He looks certain to have a big future for his Country.
With European Champions Real Madrid heading to Anfield on Wednesday for a crunch Group B clash, the lads take an Uncensored look at Liverpool’s chances
By Adam Jones @adamjones_28
Mario Balotelli has his much publicized problems right now, going six Premier League games without a goal since returning to England and producing some questionable performances in recent weeks. Aside from a spirited display in the Merseyside derby, his performances have lacked the necessary commitment and temperament that Liverpool fans are used to and demand from their team. The first goal on Sunday epitomised Balotelli at the moment; turning his back on proceedings and throwing his arms down by his side – only to turn around to see Richard Dunne had turned Glen Johnson’s cross into his own net.
Balotelli’s attitude is hardly likely to fill his teammates with confidence – something that has been clearly noticeable all season so far in Phillipe Coutinho. The young Brazilian’s ability is founded on belief and with Balotelli flailing his arms around and failing to make the type of breathless running that a certain Uruguayan did last season, Coutinho has struggled to make his mark at all.
Balotelli’s style; direct and into feet, looking to find a yard on a defender before unleashing a shot, also fails to accommodate the plethora of creative talent behind him – specifically Coutinho.
Coutinho’s brilliance can only be exercised when he has options to slide through passes for players making runs behind the defence. We saw that on Sunday with the Reds’ decisive goal – Sterling’s run was clever and Coutinho’s pass with the outside of his foot was breath-taking. If you look at his best assists from last season, namely Sturridge’s goal in the first half demolition of Arsenal at Anfield – Coutinho perfectly found Sturridge who had peeled off Per Mertesacker before finishing with aplomb.
Compare that with this season, however, and Coutinho’s performances have been well below par considering his pre-season form. At home to Aston Villa, in particular, the Brazilian struggled to dictate play the way he would like to with very little happening in front of him. With only the sluggish figure of Balotelli ahead of him, Coutinho’s willingness to play the killer pass was flawed given the options weren’t there to do so in the first place. He either reluctantly looked to go wide or force uncharacteristic one-twos more synonymous with players like Jack Wilshere. That performance epitomises Coutinho’s problems this season and it all stems from Balotelli’s style and attitude.
Bear in mind that on the eve of the season’s curtain raiser following an inspired display against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield, many were demanding Rodgers to build his side around the little Brazilian. A cameo performance on Sundayshould reinforce the manager’s faith in the number 10 – but only if he changes his tactics upfront.
Real Madrid is an exception – any result would be a huge bonus, but with Sturridge out for another fortnight or so, Rodgers could tinker with his side in the league by giving Sterling an even more advanced role in Sturridge’s absence. With Balotelli not even scoring he offers nothing to the side, but with Sterling making his dynamic movement off the last defender, Rodgers knows he has an alternative at his disposal to the current problems.
Last season’s explosive attacking displays, which took the team so close to the title, were based on the unpredictability of the forward players. Balotelli is the antithesis to this dynamism – static, predictable and lazy. For Coutinho to thrive and re-establish the side’s attacking fervour, Rodgers has to address this issue.
The 3-2 win over QPR papered over the cracks of what was another poor performance. Yes we have our reasons for not being quite at our best, but team cohesion and injuries are something you have to plan for well in advance, and we knew these would be issues we’d have to deal with.
We made some big changes in the summer, but not big enough that it should be taking this long to adapt, and having this much of an effect on our performance in the meantime. We haven’t significantly changed the way we play, and we brought in players who were supposed to slot right into our way of working. In the first few games, you could accept the odd moment of misunderstanding or miscommunication. But by now, it shouldn’t be a problem. Look at the way Southampton had similar, if not even more, changes to their team, yet have knuckled down and become even better. We can’t keep claiming that we’re in transition or still gelling, as it’s becoming a bit of a cop out.
We’ve also been unlucky with injuries. But we had an entire summer and a very substantial transfer budget to address the issue of our squad depth. Daniel Sturridge is an injury-prone player, so we knew we’d have to account for his absence at some point in the season. We signed Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, neither of whom have scored a league goal for us this season. We seem very hesitant to give Lambert a run of games, which confuses me. I can’t say I was all for signing the England international in the summer, but Brendan Rodgers clearly was. But now the opportunity is coming up to use him, and we’ve decided he isn’t even good enough to displace a very out of form Balotelli. He just appears to be a signing to make up the numbers, when perhaps we would have been better off spending more on an established player, who we would trust 100% to use if needed. Considering the gamble that signing Balotelli was, one that is not paying off at the moment, we really needed to reinforce our strike force a bit more than we did.
We also started the season with Steven Gerrard seemingly set as our defensive midfielder/deep-lying playmaker, but now we’re back to trying him further forward because he hasn’t been offering enough protection to our defence. That leaves us short a defensive midfielder though, with either Lucas Leiva, who hasn’t been his best for well over a year, or the inexperienced Emre Can the only real candidates. Again, this is an issue we should have foreseen in the summer and dealt with when we had the chance.
Defensively we have simply been a shambles this season. Every ball into the box seems to cause chaos, and opponents are probably just as confident of scoring against us from a corner as from a penalty. The ‘lack of leadership’ line has become a bit of a cliché, and it’s more the lack of quality that worries me at the moment. The defenders shouldn’t need someone shouting at them telling them to go and clear a standard high ball. Or stick to their man on a set piece instead of ball watching.
What’s really worrying is that mentally we are beginning to doubt ourselves, and you can see this nervousness and lack of belief in our play. Making mistakes is one thing, but they happen to everyone. What I don’t like to see is players buckling under pressure, and showing a negative attitude when things don’t go their way.
For all our failings, nothing is yet a disaster. Considering our performance levels, things could be a lot worse for us. But we can’t keep using the same excuses, and should just accept the fact that we need to get better, and quick. We have Real Madrid up next, and at the rate we are making mistakes, you could forgive the neutrals for thinking we’re going to get battered. So we need to look at it as an opportunity to put on a proper performance, and get back to the level we were at last season. When we were convincingly beating Arsenal, Everton, Man U, Tottenham, Man City etc at Anfield last year, we were desperate for these big Champions League games to come along to test ourselves against Europe’s best. Now the moment has come, and we can’t throw it away and cave in just because we’ve got a couple of injuries and the squad haven’t gelled yet. Come on Liverpool, time to man up.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)