Liverpool’s transfer business, and a man chasing his own hat in the wind | Soccer

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Liverpool have been conspicuously struggling to fill the big gap in their squad left by the summer departures of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given not a single one of those players achieved anything positive last season – with the exception of some impressive bleep-test results in Milner’s case – you’d think this wouldn’t be too onerous a task. Anyone under 36 with two still-functioning legs and a work permit would be an instant upgrade. And yet the famous old bird has spent the last week flapping around with all the courtly grace of a man chasing his own hat in the wind, a golfer in hot pursuit of a trolley bound for that pond, a player hobbling off injured while warming up for their Werder Bremen debut. Whoops! There goes that dignity! It’s not been an edifying sight.

In the wake of this slapstick debacle, and the ill-fated, inept and reputation-of-Michael-Edwards-enhancing bids for Chelsea’s Moisés Caicedo and Chelsea-bound Roméo Lavia, you might think the club would attempt to shore up the remaining scraps of their honour. But it seems even that horse has long bolted, as instead they’re currently making another very public low-ball offer for a Premier League player, that tactic having charmed both Lavia and Southampton so effortlessly. In goes a £58m bid for Cheick Doucouré, then, with Liverpool using Lavia’s Chelsea deal as a guide price for the 23-year-old Mali international, despite Crystal Palace valuing him at £70m. Now, how’s this going to pan out, do we think?

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One deal Liverpool’s chief negotiator Jörg Schmadtke does appear to have struck from the comfort of his Ibiza villa is a £15.4m move for Stuttgart’s Wataru Endo. Nice one! Sorted! At 30 years old, and with nobody relentlessly banging on about him in the papers for the last few months, the prospect of the Japan captain arriving at Anfield was initially met with a lukewarm response on various Social Media Disgraces. But with news trickling through from folk who know who he is and have actually watched him play, explaining his figures in the Bundesliga for a struggling team are very impressive and that Stuttgart fans simply adore him, the mood music is beginning to improve.

Football Daily has nothing to contribute to that particular debate, choosing instead to remember the time, 23 years ago, when the club signed a 35-year-old Gary McAllister out of the blue, and wonder how the hot-take merchants of today would have immediately responded to that.


Farewell then, Michael Parkinson. The famed broadcaster and interviewer’s death at 88 was announced on Thursday and football has lost one of its great advocates. It was on Parkinson’s TV chat show that the general public better got to know George Best and Brian Clough, stretching their fame way beyond watchers of the old First Division – and giving those controversial characters, both of whom were confidantes of Parky, a sympathetic hearing.

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Parkinson himself penned several books about sport, including Football Daft, which mostly concentrated on the characters seen and heard around his beloved Barnsley FC in the 1950s, and made a legend of tough-tackling wing-half Skinner Normanton. “Although there were many more skilful and talented than he, there was no one who better represented what you were up against if you took on a collier from Barnsley.” On becoming a broadcaster, Parkinson moved to Manchester to work for Granada TV, becoming a regular drinking partner of Best at the infamous Brown Bull pub. “I can’t talk about George without wanting to cry,” Parkinson said last year.

Michael Parkinson interviews George Best back in 1975.
Michael Parkinson interviews George Best back in 1975. Photograph: William H Alden/Getty Images


“I believe competitiveness is important. That’s why I’m joining this league” – Neymar opens with a gag in his first sit-down interview as an Al-Hilal player.

“Saudi Arabia? I’ve got enough money in my life” – on the other hand, Juventus keeper Wojciech Szczesny is happy to stay put in Serie A.

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It’s the latest edition of Football Weekly, right here.

“I’m probably one of 1,057 readers to point out that Liverpool don’t have a monopoly on Kop stands, they just have the most famous one. Lize Kop (yesterday’s news, bits and bobs, full email) could endear herself to Leicester fans by saving a penalty at the South Stand end, known as the (Spion) Kop, a tradition carried over from Filbert Street” – Paul Vickers (and no others).

“Re: reflex reactions to player names (Football Daily letters passim) – ‘Divock Origi … he’s my baby’. Nowhere near the original but a Pavlovian reaction from me every time his name was mentioned” – Ian Porter.

“Prior to her retirement, any mention of Jill Scott automatically elicited an additional ‘Heron’ from my addled brain” – Barbara Colley.

“I know it’s not how you pronounce his name, but I always read ‘Marco Reus’ to the tune of ‘Rock Me Amadeus’. Oh-oh-oh-Marco Reus!” – Samuel Baker.

Send your letters to [email protected]. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Samuel Baker.

This is an extract from our daily football email … Football Daily. To get the full version, just visit this page and follow the instructions.

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