Sport Soccer

Monday 19 February 2018

In brief: Lucas agrees new Anfield deal

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva, who has recently been linked with a move to Napoli, has signed a new long-term contract to remain at Anfield. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said: "Since I came in he has been a great asset to the team and has done tremendously well."

Dalglish had some more good news on the fitness of captain Steven Gerrard, whose rehabilitation from a groin operation on March 10 appears to be ahead of schedule. "Steven's training, so he has done really well to get where he is," said the manager.

Elsewhere, midfielder Alberto Aquilani is willing to return to Liverpool at the end of the season if Juventus do not want to sign him on a permanent deal.

The 26-year-old is on a season-long loan with Juve, having failed to impress in his first season at Anfield after joining from Roma.

Juventus do have the option to purchase Aquilani at the end of the current campaign, but if they do not exercise it, he is happy to go back to Anfield.

He said: "The future? I'm at Juve, but I don't know what will happen.

"I'm on loan and if I'm not retained I'd go back to Liverpool and the best league in the world. We'll see."

Aquilani has also been linked with a move back to Roma, who are on the verge of being bought out by Thomas Di Benedetto, a partner of the company which owns Liverpool.

Asked if he would go back to Roma, he said: "It is a delicate question. I would do, but I think it will be difficult. As a fan, I'm curious to see what happens, especially if they begin to buy players and to revolutionise the team."

Benayoun makes return

Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun made his comeback after six months out with a torn Achilles with a 20-minute appearance for Israel in a 1-0 victory over Georgia on Tuesday.

The former Liverpool playmaker came off the bench for the game in Tel Aviv, but is unlikely to be considered for the Chelsea squad to face Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Chelsea last night denied reports from Israel that they had opposed Benayoun's decision to join up with the national team, and said that he went with their blessing.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was reported to be delighted that Benayoun had managed to get some time on the pitch under his belt, but does not want to put the midfielder in the Chelsea squad until he is sure he is 100pc fit.

Kranjcar seeks move

Niko Kranjcar is seeking a move away from Tottenham in pursuit of regular football. The Croatian midfielder has featured in just nine league games this season and yesterday admitted he wanted to play more.

"I will be trying to find a football club where I can play regularly, like any footballer would," he said.

"It depends who wants me, if anyone wants me. I obviously miss football. I'm not in my best shape because I don't play week in, week out. I'm ambitious, I want to play."

Irish Independent

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