Lucas: I almost left Liverpool, but now I'm fully committed

The Brazil international was linked with a move away from Anfield during the summer but now wants to help the Reds get back to the top of the Premier League

Midfielder Lucas Leiva admits that he came close to leaving Liverpool during the transfer window but will now be giving his all for the club.

The Brazil international was heavily linked with a move away from Anfield, and the Reds even held talks with Besiktas regarding a possible transfer .

But after missing out on Liverpool’s opening two Premier League matches, the 28-year-old has started against both Arsenal and West Ham with Jordan Henderson injured.

And Lucas insists he is keen to focus on pushing Brendan Rodgers’s side back towards the top of the Premier League after a difficult summer.

“It’s been very intense [the window], to be honest,” he told Liverpool’s official website.

“I think the last couple of years, every transfer window my name is [linked with a move].

“Of course there are times when you think you might have to move on and I was very close to moving but one thing I will always have is commitment to this club.

“I’ve been here so long and I always said if I had the choice to be here and be happy, I would always choose Liverpool.

“When your future is in doubt, you might have to think of another solution, but I’m happy that it didn’t happen and I’m here to fight for the club as I have been doing for eight years.

“I’m just looking forward to a good season and putting Liverpool back where it belongs. I have this chance to say I’m fully committed.

“I’ve been here so long and I really love this club, I just need to now focus on my performance and help in the way the manager and the staff asked me to help.

“Hopefully, I’ll be an important player for the club this season.”

'No issue between Van Gaal & De Gea' – Mata

The Manchester United playmaker is in no doubt that his Spain team-mate will be welcomed back into the fold, despite being frozen out so far this season

Juan Mata insists that there has been no falling out between Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal and David De Gea over the goalkeeper’s collapsed move to Real Madrid.

After months of speculation, De Gea looked set to complete a deadline-day move to the Santiago Bernabeu that would have seen Blancos No.1 Keylor Navas move in the opposite direction.

However, the relevant documentation was not lodged with La Liga in time, meaning De Gea must remain at United, until at least the January transfer window.

Given the Spain international has yet to see a minute of Premier League action so far this season, there has been speculation that Van Gaal will leave De Gea in the stands for the final year of his contract.

Mata, though, insists that there is no issue between the two and says that he fully expects United’s Players’ Player of the Year for the past two seasons to have another big campaign at Old Trafford.

“I don’t think there’ll be a problem with the club, the coach or the fans,” the Spain playmaker told reporters. “That’s how I perceive it.

“The fans love [De Gea] very much and he’s highly regarded by both the club and the coach. I think it will still be the same.

“The last two years David has been the best player in our team. His saves have earned us a lot of points. I have no doubt this will be a very good year, too.”

Mata also dismissed the suggestion that De Gea’s focus has and will continue to be affected by his inability to complete his proposed move to Madrid.

“I’ve talked with him a lot,” the former Chelsea man added. “There have been hectic and stressful days but he is such a quiet, centred person, nothing changes him.”

Nolito denies Barcelona interest

The former Blaugrana attacker insists that neither he or his agent has received an offer to return to Camp Nou

Celta Vigo star Nolito has denied reports Barcelona made a bid for his services this summer.

The 28-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to Camp Nou, having played under Blaugrana boss Luis Enrique during the coach’s time in charge of the Galician club.

Nolito even admitted in an interview last week that it would be difficult to turn down a return to Barca, having spent three years with the Catalans’ B team between 2008 and 2011, as well as making two Liga appearances for the senior squad.

However, he insists that he has yet to receive any approach from the European champions, telling Faro de Vigo: “I never had the option of moving to Barcelona. When people say so many things and they assumed I was going to Barcelona, ​​I had to go out and talk.

“Neither my agent, me or anyone at Celta called. I said if the club came to get me, I would go.”

The forward then revealed he could even sign a new contract in the near future, while denying the deal would include a reasonable buy-out clause in order to encourage interest from Barca.

“Today there is nothing signed, but what I do know is that my agent is talking with Celta but I try to stay out of those discussions,” Nolito added. “What I want is to put a stop to the rumours.

“It is a pain because everyone asks you if you are leaving. It’s a little overwhelming, but I try to stay out. I try to follow my own way and focus on the job.

“There will be no advantage for Barcelona in my release clause. If we agreed to renew the contract the clause will be agreed by my representative, Celta and me.

“If Barcelona come after me they have to speak with Celta. I’m focused on playing and I’m not aware of what will happen at Christmas.”

'Man Utd? Rubbish. Bale might retire at Real… and he is already at Ronaldo's level'

The Welshman’s representative says he is happy with life in the Spanish capital and hopes his client remains there for the rest of his career

Gareth Bale was never close to joining Manchester United in the transfer window and is so happy at Real Madrid that he could retire at the club, according to his agent, who also believes that he has matched Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Wales international was heavily linked to a move to Old Trafford throughout the summer, despite being a first-team star for Madrid since he joined two years ago.

However, Jonathan Barnett says both he and Bale see the 26-year-old’s long-term future as being at the Santiago Bernabeu.

When asked at Soccerex if the former Tottenham player was ever likely to move to United, Barnett replied: “That was complete rubbish. Gareth Bale has never said he wants to leave Real Madrid and Madrid have always said how happy they are with him.

“Why would he want to leave? It doesn’t make sense. He was nowhere near leaving.

“I’m not going to rule out a return to the Premier League, but he’s contracted to Madrid for a few more years and hopefully he’ll stay for the rest of his career.

“He loves it there and things are going well for him. I’m proud of how well we have helped him settle in there.

“It has worked very well. Everything is taken care of for him.”

Barnett also believes Bale is almost at the level of Madrid talisman Ronaldo.

“I think in the next two or three years I think he’s going to be seen as the best player in the world. He wants to win the Ballon d’Or and I think he’s got a great chance.

“He’s not there to compete with Ronaldo, but in terms of what he has achieved at the club, they are almost level already. Ronaldo has been there for 10 years and Gareth has been there for two and a half.”

Hernandez joining Bayer Leverkusen is a great story – Bender

The Bundesliga side’s captain is delighted with the acquisition of the Mexico international and believes it shows how attractive the club has become in recent years

Bayer Leverkusen captain Lars Bender has hailed the signing of Javier Hernandez as a “great story” and believes the deal shows how attractive the Bundesliga side have become.

The Mexico international, who spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, joined the German side from Manchester United in the summer after being deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.

Bender, though, welcomes the signing and believes the 27-year-old will add a lot to the club.

“It’s a great story with him,” he told Bild. “We have got a quality player and signing him shows that we have a sporting appeal have gained attractiveness.”

Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling insists Hernandez will add to the attacking potency of the side.

“He is a great footballer. He is very fast and can help us confuse our opponents,” he explained.

And goalkeeper Bernd Leno added: “Bayer has reached a good value in Europe in recent years and he brings a lot of experience into our young team.”