Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson keen to keep key Liverpool stars

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admits the club are having to work hard to persuade some of their disenchanted stars to stay.

There has been fevered speculation about the futures of striker Fernando Torres, captain Steven Gerrard and midfielder Javier Mascherano since the Reds finished a disappointing campaign under Rafael Benitez.

The Spaniard's June departure intensified rumours about the future of a number of players, and although Hodgson has spoken to Gerrard he is yet to meet Torres or Mascherano, who are still on leave after the World Cup.

Speculation continues to grow about an impending Chelsea bid for Torres, while Mascherano has been linked with a reunion with Benitez at Inter Milan or a move to Barcelona, who were interested in him 12 months ago, and his agent is actively talking up the prospect of a transfer again.

However, Hodgson has stressed from the moment he took over on July 1 that he wants to keep his key players.

“We are working very hard on making certain the players we have at the club who you would call the ‘good players’ are going to be with us for next season,” said the Englishman.

“The board are working very hard in that area. Some players are a bit disenchanted after what happened last season and we want to make sure we get that enchantment back.”

As well as the reported exodus, a host of names have been linked with moves to Anfield as Hodgson looks to strengthen a squad which under-performed in the previous campaign.

The 62-year-old has made no secret of the fact he wants to bring in fresh faces but he dismissed the lengthening list of players which are being linked with the Reds.

“We are looking to add to and improve the squad, but I prefer not to talk or say what we are doing until we have something concrete to announce,” he added.

“We are being linked with players left, right and centre and it amuses me that we are sometimes linked with players we haven't even heard of.

“I have great faith in the Liverpool public that they will see through the snippets of information they may read, take it with a pinch of salt and wait for an official announcement.”

Hodgson welcomed new signing Milan Jovanovic — whose free transfer was set up by Benitez prior to his departure — to the club's Swiss base today.

“I'm very pleased we have got Milan. He looks a very keen and enthusiastic player and it's good to have players who are desperate to play for the club,” said the boss.

“He scores goals for club and country and I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of him.”

Belfast Telegraph


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