Steven Gerrard

Liverpool players rolling the dice before Merseyside derby

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The extraordinary international efforts of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard are raising question marks around Liverpool ahead of this weekend’s rivalry match with Everton.

The match, set to kick-off on Saturday at 7:45am ET on NBCSN and NBC Live Extra, will be the 221st meeting between the two clubs and is one that Liverpool has dominated in the modern era.

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool has won 18 of the 42 league encounters, drawn 15 and lost only nine. Perhaps more poignant, Everton has only taken three points off their neighbors once in the last 13 league meetings (a 2-0 victory on October 17, 2010).

And while the majority of both sides remain away on international duty, the commitments and decisions of Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard are creating an uneasy feeling among Kopites.

Suarez, who is on duty with Uruguay, plays at home to Jordan on Wednesday evening, one day later than most international sides. The tight schedule means the striker will hop a plane on Thursday and make the trip from Montevideo to London, a flight that takes over 13 hours. At the earliest that means Suarez will be back in Liverpool by late Thursday night, giving him 24 hours to get acclimated and have a quick training session ahead of Saturday’s kick-off.

It’s a turn-around that Brendan Rodgers won’t be happy with but fortunately, Uruguay won the first leg of the two legged clash with Jordan 5-0, meaning it’s unlikely the striker will need to go the full 90.

While Suarez’ situation is a minor concern that of Sturridge and Gerrard deserves greater weight.

Both players were unable to go in England’s 0-2 loss to Chile last Friday, Sturridge due to a thigh injury and Gerrard due to an ongoing hip issue. But both have pushed to get themselves healthy – with Gerrard going so far as to receive pain killing injections – and are currently set to start against Germany.

It’s a decision that boggles the mind. Granted, Germany is a long-time rival of England so both Sturridge and Gerrard will naturally be motivated to play but it’s just a friendly. The match means nothing. Perhaps if either player was not guaranteed a spot on the England squad going to Brazil you could understand the urgency. But that’s clearly not the case.

Making matters even more odd is the fact that Germany coach Joachim Low has already noted his intent to play fringe players as he seeks to solidify his squad for World Cup 2014. Notably, Lowe has already sent home Manuel Neuer, Phillip Lahm and Mesut Ozil not because they are injured but merely because they needed rest.

So what’s the point in risking the health of Sturridge and Gerrard in this game?

It’s a question many a Liverpool supporter may be asking himself ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

Beckham on plans for MLS in Miami, stadium talks continue

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David Beckham is hoping for his Major League Soccer franchise to be run just like the club he supports: Manchester United.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Beckham, 40, is still working on finalizing a stadium for his MLS team to play in, more on that below, but he has been speaking about his dream of becoming an owner and has earmarked the 2018 MLS season as when his franchise will arrive on the scene.

Beckham spoke to the Daily Star in the UK about his vision for the MLS club, and says the team he came up through the ranks with and played for professional for 12-years is the benchmark.

“We want the club to be run professionally — everything needs to be run like a club like Manchester United,” Beckham said. “You have to look at it like that. Luckily, I’ve had a little bit of experience in that and I definitely will be a demanding owner. I want the team to be successful and the club to be successful, so I think I have to be demanding.”

The former United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder also spoke about the lengthy delays with the stadium deal and how “dealing with the political side of things in Miami has been a lot more difficult” than he expected.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

In fact, a source has told ProSoccerTalk that the proposed stadium site for Beckham’s franchise, directly next to Major League Baseball franchise Miami Marlins’ home, Marlins Park, in Little Havana, is still some way from being signed off on as many restrictions will be placed on Beckham and his ownership group before the first shovel hits the ground. Beckham himself said in his latest update that in six weeks time he hopes to name the stadium site.

However the source confirmed that any stadium announcement deal could be someway off as Beckham’s ownership group – which includes PR tycoon, agent and close friend Simon Fuller, plus Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure – still haven’t hammered out many of the specifics of a stadium deal with the City of Miami, while negotiations with the Marlins are also expected to take months before any stadium deal can be confirmed. The source added that the Marlins are positive about turning derelict land opposite their current Marlins Park home into an MLS stadium, but there are several conditions which have to be met in order for the stadium to be given the green light by the MLB franchise. These conditions include no MLS games conflicting with Marlins games, sponsorship deals not conflicting with those the Marlins have on the outside of their stadium and various other facets including transportation links and infrastructure.

Beckham's plans for an MLS stadium in downtown Miami had to be shelved.
Beckham’s initial plans for an MLS stadium in downtown Miami had to be shelved.

The source goes on to note that several high-ranking City officials and business operators in and around Miami Dade County still feel unease towards Beckham and the razzmatazz surrounding his initial stadium plan to house his MLS team on a prime waterfront location in Downtown Miami (see photo, above) next to the Miami Heat’s American Airlines arena. Beckham has since accepted that his opening stadium plan was “cheeky” but many business leaders had their noses put out of joint and many are making it increasingly difficult for a stadium deal to get over the line for the former LA Galaxy star.

In terms of the specifics surrounding a potential new home for what will now, given the delays, surely become MLS’ 24th franchise in either 2018 or 2019, the location picked is just over two miles from Downtown Miami with good links via public transport and roads. It is in a neighborhood which has a tough past but is on the up as rap star Pitbull has just built a huge academy (Sports Leaders and Management Charter Middle/High School) offering opportunities for education to underprivileged children in the Little Havana community. Along with Marlins Park, the addition of an MLS franchise would undoubtedly bring plenty of jobs into the area and help boost the economy further.

Beckham’s dream of owning a team in Miami is edging closer to realization but it seems like it’s still some way off having a stadium to call home.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.