Liverpool line up Neto as Valdes bid stalls

EXCLUSIVE: The Reds have been in talks with the former Barcelona goalkeeper for some time but are exploring other options amid concerns over his fitness and hefty wage demands

By David Craddock

Liverpool are weighing up a January bid for Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto as their move Victor Valdes continues to stall, Goal understands.

Valdes is a free agent since leaving Barcelona at the end of last season and, earlier in October, had looked set to join Liverpool on the provision that he could prove his long-term fitness.

The 32-year-old tore knee ligaments at the end of March, ruling him out for around seven months and scuppering a proposed move to Monaco, and there are concerns at Liverpool about the extent of his recovery, as well reservations about his hefty wage demands.

There has been recent talk of a four-day trial at Melwoood for Valdes to prove his fitness, though Reds boss Brendan Rodgers appeared to rule out any interest in an interview with AS published on Monday.

When asked if he would sign another Spanish player this winter, Rodgers simply replied: “No”.

Brazilian shot-stopper Neto is a long-term target of the Merseyside club and has emerged as a potential alternative in recent weeks.

The 25-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season and he is looking for a new deal worth double the €600,000-per-year that he currently earns.

Those demands, less than €25,000-per-week, are considerably less than Valdes’s and would comfortably fit inside Liverpool’s budget, while Neto is also seven years younger than the former Barca man.

“I am not thinking about the renewal,” he told ESPN over the weekend. “I’m just concentrating on my work and being in good form. The club would like me to renew straight away but we haven’t reached an agreement yet. Fiorentina remains my first choice.”

Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas has also been considered as competition for current No.1 Simon Mignolet, but, as with Valdes, Liverpool harbour similar concerns about his value and capability.

Casillas has increasingly come under fire in Spain following his poor performances at the World Cup, and lost his place between the sticks to Manchester United’s David de Gea for their Euro 2016 qualifier in Luxembourg.

His future at Real Madrid also remains in doubt following the arrival of Costa Rican Keylor Navas, as well as rumours of a move for De Gea and summer interest in Chelsea’s Petr Cech.

Liverpool have been in search of a new goalkeeper to provide back-up for Mignolet, who arrived from Sunderland last summer. The Belgian’s form had dipped towards the end of last season and he has attracted criticism at times during the current campaign.

Diame is Arsenal's loss and Hull's gain – Davies

The Senegal midfielder had long been linked with a move to the Gunners but joined Steve Bruce’s side over the summer and scored in their 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium

Hull City defender Curtis Davies has praised Mohamed Diame for his goalscoring start to life at the club, declaring himself delighted that the Senegalese midfielder chose the Tigers over Arsenal.

Diame has made an excellent start at the KC Stadium, scoring four goals in five games, including the equaliser at the Emirates Stadium in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Gunners.

And Davies revealed that he has been surprised by the quality that the former West Ham and Wigan midfielder has brought to the club.

Davies told reporters of Diame: “He’s been brilliant. His quality, his composure … he’s definitely added to our squad. I was expecting a hustle-and-bustle midfielder, a strong, get-about player. I thought the goals would come but to get four in five is ridiculous.

“Arsenal were meant to get him on about two or three occasions. I’m not sure if it was something to do with the medicals. He nearly went there when he was at Wigan and West Ham.

“I don’t know why it didn’t happen but I’m delighted it didn’t and that he came to us instead. I’m particularly delighted he’s travelled halfway round the world this week, put in that performance and scored a composed goal like that.”

The draw moved Hull up to 11th place in the Premier League as they prepare to face Liverpool at Anfield.

Manolas: I rejected Juve & Arsenal for Roma

The defender has no regrets over his decision to join the Serie A outfit and believes they can go far in the Champions League

Konstantinos Manolas has claimed that he turned down offers from Arsenal and Juventus this summer in favour of a move to Roma.

The Greece international moved to Stadio Olimpico from Olympiacos for an initial €13million, with a possible further €2m due if he reaches certain milestones.

The 23-year-old was hot property after impressing at the World Cup and he admits Juve and Arsenal were both options for him as well, but he is content with the decision he made.

“It’s true, Juventus sought me out after the World Cup. I could also have ended up at Arsenal,” he told Il Tempo. “But I never went to London as it was reported.

“Now for me there is only Roma. I’m very happy to have come here.”

An impressive second-placed finish last term helped Roma secure Champions League football and they have started their European campaign with four points from matches against CSKA Moscow and Manchester City.

Next up in Group E is Tuesday’s encounter with German champions Bayern Munich and Manolas is confident of clinching top spot as he believes there is no limit to the success Roma can enjoy in the tournament.

“It will be a difficult match against one of the best teams in Europe,” he continued. “I do not know how it will end against Bayern, but it will be a challenge not to be missed.

“There are no limits [to what we can achieve in the Champions League], we want to get as far as possible. We are also able to win the group, why not…”

Manolas has made six Serie A appearances for Roma so far, who sit just one point adrift of leaders Juventus after seven matches.

Ronaldo '100% certain' not to rejoin Manchester United – Ancelotti

The Real Madrid coach is completely confident that his talismanic forward will not rejoin his former club next summer and expects him to retire at the Santiago Bernabeu

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is “100 per cent certain” that Cristiano Ronaldo will not rejoin Manchester United next summer and expects the Portuguese to retire at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The winger has been in astonishing form for Los Blancos ever since his €96 million move in 2009 but has left the door open for a return one day, with reports suggesting that the Red Devils could try to make it happen in 2015.

Ancelotti, though, believes that Ronaldo has no reason to leave Spain.

He told The Sun: “Everyone can be changed and substituted but Ronaldo is now the best in the world and it [would mean] Madrid lose the best player, which is a huge loss.

“But this won’t happen – because Ronaldo will go to the end of his career at Real Madrid. I’m 100% certain he will be here next season not at Manchester United, 100%.

“He’s happy here, he’s loved here by everyone. It’s a perfect relationship at this moment so I don’t think it will change. Ronaldo will finish his career here.”

Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling is another name to have been linked with Madrid in recent weeks after continuing to impress for club and country but Ancelotti dismissed the notion as implausible.

“To think of another striker for the Real Madrid attack is really extremely difficult,” he argued. “It’s clear that Sterling is not in our plans.”

Suarez: I thought I'd ruined my career

The Uruguayan has admitted that he thought he was finished at the top level after being banned for biting for the third time in less than four years

Luis Suarez has revealed that he cried tears of relief when his move to Barcelona was confirmed as he feared he had ruined his career by biting Giorgio Chiellini at World Cup 2014.

The Uruguay international was hit with a four-month ban for sinking his teeth into the Italy defender during their nations’ meeting in Natal on June 24.

Despite the suspension, Suarez, who initially denied deliberately biting Chiellini, was still able to leave Liverpool for Barca when the summer transfer window opened.

However, the striker has now revealed that in his darkest hours, he was worried that he would never be allowed to complete his dream move to Camp Nou.

“I felt I had ruined my career,” Suarez told TV3.

“At first, I did not want anyone to know anything. I locked myself away with my family, but then I reflected on what I had done, I apologised and felt liberated.

“By then discussions with Barca had begun, and when Pere [Guardiola, his agent] called me to tell me it was done, I began to cry, because of the situation I was living and the support that the club was offering me.

“I felt happy about the commitment the club had shown me.

“But I was still afraid that the repercussions of the incident might halt the deal. I knew that could happen.”

As it stands, though, Suarez is now set to make his Barca debut in next Saturday’s Clasico clash with Real Madrid.

Suarez is understandably desperate to resume his club career but he says that he has not been begging coach Luis Enrique to start him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I’m not imagining myself playing in the game but I am preparing for it with my colleagues,” he explained.

“But it’s not in my personality to ask the coach to let me play that game.

“I hesitate to tell Luis Enrique I want to play at the Bernabeu.”

Suarez, though, already feels right at home in Catalunya and says he would like to finish his career with Barca.

“if I have the opportunity to retire here, that would be the perfect career for me,” the 27-year-old stated.

Suarez signed a five-year contract when he joined Barca for a reported €94 million on July 11.