Mohamed Salah

Coutinho rocket helps LFC to PL Asia Trophy (video)

1 Comment

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho helped Liverpool come back from an early deficit to win the PL Asia Trophy on Saturday in Hong Kong.

Islam Slimani gave Leicester City an early lead in front of a heavy pro-Liverpool crowd at Hong Kong Stadium, but Coutinho delivered the goods on both goals in a 2-1 win.

The tournament win is Liverpool’s first in its second trip to the PL Asia Trophy Final.

[ EXCLUSIVE: Strootman talks Roma w/ PST ]

First he crossed for Salah to head home, and then he scored the above goal by cutting in from the left and lashing a shot past a flailing Kasper Schmeichel.

We’ve seen this one before from Coutinho, just not on this particular continent. The Brazilian remains a Barcelona target, but looks prepared for the season in whatever land he sets foot.

Strootman loving life at Roma, aims to keep paying club back

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Strootman is in love with Roma.

The club, the city, the fans, name it: The relentless 27-year-old has renewed his commitment to AS Roma with a new contract, and understands how players like Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi devote their entire careers to i Lupi.

“It’s Rome,” Strootman exclaims, speaking ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup.

“You’re not going to leave easy. This is Rome. We all have the ambition to win something here, and to celebrate with the fans. Totti told us when he won the scudetto in 2001, there were parties for three months. If you win something here, it’s going to be really special. About the city you don’t even have to talk, it’s so beautiful you cannot compare it with anything else.”

[ MORE: FIFA’s Infantino in hot water ]

Yeah, the Eternal City is pretty nice, but it’s most celebrated football club is growing in magnitude, too. Roma’s finished second in Serie A three of the past four seasons, and last season came within four points of its first scudetto since the aforementioned win earlier this century.

Strootman was a massive part of the campaign, returning to the elite form displayed in his first season at the club and in previous campaigns with PSV Eindhoven. He scored six times with seven assists between Serie A and the UEFA Europa League, averaging 2.7 tackles per game, 1.7 interceptions, and 1.4 dribbles per Serie A contest.

That his reclamation of that status came after knee surgeries limited him to 18 matches over the previous two seasons was sweet (if nervy).

(Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

“For me it was like such a relief, especially in the beginning you’d play a game and you’d be happy to play,” Strootman said. “If you won everyone was happy with the win, but I was just happy that I didn’t get injured again. The fitness coaches and technical staff did a great job. I played 50 games, we made the Champions League, and I signed a new contract. I was happy to pay them back on the pitch. I feel good.”

Payback is a theme in our talk with Strootman, who speaks glowingly of club chairman James Pallotta, the American businessman who stood by the midfielder during his injury struggles (NOTE: PST profiled Pallotta in depth last summer).

“He brought me here when he started the project, and he’s always supported me even during my injuries,” Strootman said. “He would call me, and was always there for me. I always told him, when I’m fit I want to pay you back with my play on the pitch. He’s like a president should be.”

It’ll be different from Strootman this season, and not just because of the changes to the Roma roster. Gone are Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger, Leandro Paredes, and retiring Francesco Totti. Arriving are Maxime Gonalons, Hector Moreno, and reports of bids for Riyad Mahrez and the impending arrival of Aleksandar Kolarov excite the fan base.

I Lupi are a club which has been on the precipice of greatness for some time. Now with the Champions League group stage and battles with not just Juve and Napoli but surging AC Milan and Inter Milan, Strootman says it’s time to stop talking big and start acting it out.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to raise game ]

“The last couple years we talked in the preseason about winning the scudetto, winning cups, but we have to show it on the pitch,” he said. “We still need some time, that’s normal, but we need to show on the pitch that we are hungry. We’re a young team with some experienced players. It’s a good mix. We have to show it from the first competition and game by game.”

Strootman also admitted, as many have, that American soccer continues to grow in renown around the Netherlands and Europe in general.

“I think it’s rising,” he said. “A lot more players from Holland are going over to MLS. I don’t see a lot of the games because they don’t show them in Italy. But when you’re here and see the friendly games against the big teams, the level is going up. MLS is getting higher and higher.”

Roma faces Spurs at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Liverpool beat Palace with Solanke, Origi on target (Video)

Leave a comment

Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in Hong Kong on Wednesday with Jurgen Klopp‘s men reaching the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy, much to the delight of many of the local fans.

[ LIVE: Stream PL Asia Trophy here ]  

Goals in the second half from Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi did the damage as the Reds were the more dangerous team throughout against Frank De Boer‘s new-look Palace side.

Liverpool will now face Leicester, who beat West Brom on penalty kicks earlier on Wednesday, in the final of the tournament on Saturday (8:30 a.m. ET), while Palace will play West Brom (6 a.m. ET) in the third-place match.

Klopp’s side went close in the first half  through Mohamed Salah, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, while Simon Mignolet denied Keshi Anderson as Crystal Palace looked dangerous on the break.

After a host of changes at half time Liverpool pushed hard for the opener and it arrived via substitute Solanke, his first goal for his new club.

Divock Origi’s clever flick found the Englishman and the former Chelsea forward struck a superb low effort into the far corner to put the Reds 1-0 up.

Marko Grujic smashed an effort wide after also being booked for a nasty challenge on the impressive Wilfried Zaha, as Liverpool eased to victory in the humid conditions with Origi finishing off from close range after Philippe Coutinho‘s effort from James Milner‘s cross was blocked.

2-0 to the Reds, much to the delight of the majority of the crowd in Hong Kong.

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp waiting to spend big

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp has been speaking about Liverpool’s transfer dealings over the summer.

As always, the German coach has a slightly different way to discuss it.

[ MORE: Auba a good fit for Chelsea? ]

Speaking to Sky Sports with Liverpool in Hong Kong for the Premier League Asia Trophy, Klopp revealed that although he’s frustrated at not getting his top targets this summer he is willing to wait to land the players he wants.

“We pretty much have all you need but at the end, it is still business,” Klopp said. “You go out and see the car that you have been dreaming about your whole life. “You say ‘here is the money’ but they say to you ‘I don’t want to sell the car’. You say ‘but I have got the money’ but they say ‘I don’t want to sell’. They say ‘go for another car in another color’ but you say ‘that’s okay but I want this’. Things like this happen in life, not only football. It is pretty simple. You can imagine how it works.”

“It is not that we are doing something that other clubs are not doing – that we are more silly or they are more smart. If I could decide alone, we would be complete from the last day of last season – done, shoot, there’s the new team, thank you very much – but that is dreamland.”

Klopp has chased Virgil Van Dijk and Naby Keita all summer long but both Southampton and RB Leipzig have refused to budge from their eye-watering estimations of over $90 million for their star players. After their very embarrassing apology to Southampton, Liverpool’s plans to sign Van Dijk appear to be over but Keita is a possibility as he demands a move away from the Bundesliga outfit.

What Klopp appears to be saying is that he has the money to spend on VVD and Keita, but that the selling clubs are overvaluing the duo.

Left back Andrew Robertson from Hull City is said to be another player on Klopp’s radar but so far two attacking players, something Klopp has plenty of, are the only arrivals at Anfield with Mohamed Salah (a club-record signing of $44.9 million) and Dominic Solanke coming in.

Klopp went on to state that Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, back him completely and that he “didn’t ask if I could buy Ronaldo or the other guys from Barcelona but I am absolutely fine with this. If they could make it quicker, you can imagine they would be here and trying. It’s not about money or something like this.”

So, Klopp is backing FSG and his board to get the deals done and said he is more concerned with adding players who fit into the plan for the team.

Time will tell if he’s willing to wait. After all, that brand new car center back is worth waiting for.

Strootman takes shot at Roma sales

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman appears to be annoyed at the recent exodus from the Italian capital.

After the announcement that defender Antonio Rudiger was departing for Chelsea, Strootman posted on social media his well wishes to the German, before remarking, “Ps I hope that this will be the last goodbye of this summer.”

Roma has sold three pricey players this summer, including Rudiger. They offloaded electric winger Mohamed Salah to Liverpool, and saw Brazilian midfielder Leandro Paredes join Zenit St. Petersburg. Mario Rui is also rumored to be on his way to Napoli in the next few days, while starting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny returned to Arsenal at the expiry of his two-year loan.

It’s not all bad news for Roma, a club known for a positive cash flow in the transfer market. They’ve brought in a number of cheaper options, including 22-year-old Dutch right-back Rick Karsdorp from Feyenoord and 21-year-old midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini from Torino.

Strootman has been at Roma since moving from Feyenoord in 2013.