Adam Lallana

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Rodgers hints at interest in ‘fantastic’ free agent-to-be Lallana

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Brendan Rodgers has begun his recruitment of Adam Lallana in the most thinly veiled of ways, calling the Liverpool midfielder “a fantastic player” and saying “he will be weighing up his options” ahead of the expiration of his contract this summer.

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal ]

Simply put, if Rodgers gets his way, Lallana will be wearing the blue and white of Leicester City next season — quotes from Sky Sports:

“Adam is a fantastic player and one I brought into Liverpool. I have been aware of his talents since he was a young player at Southampton.

“He has done brilliantly [at Liverpool] and I’m sure he will be weighing up his options. But, I don’t need to speak about that now. We’ve spoken about that all through January. I don’t need to speak about the summer transfer window.

“I would only add he is a top-class player.”

[ MORE: The race for Premier League promotion is red-hot ]

Leicester won’t be the only Premier League side to come calling if/when Lallana’s contract expires without a new deal in place, but the shared history which Rodgers points out could prove a tiebreaker over any other club offering a similar financial package. Lallana has been at Anfield since the summer of 2014, when Rodgers was the Reds’ boss.

Champions League squads changes for four PL teams

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Monday was the deadline for all clubs to submit their final 25-man squads to UEFA for the knockout phase of the Champions League. With all four qualified Premier League teams still in the mix, it’s time to run through each club’s squad and see who made the cut and who was left at home.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tottenham sees goalkeeper Hugo Lloris back in the fold after a serious elbow injury forced him to withdraw from the Champions League squad in October.

One significant note, thanks to new UEFA rules instituted during last year’s competition, no players are cup-tied for the knockout phase regardless of what competition they played for in the group stage. This is particularly of note to Liverpool who was able to add winger Takumi Minamino to the list despite the former RB Salzburg player having been deployed for the German club in the group stage before his January move. Spurs also benefitted from the new rule as Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes both would have previously been cup-tied.

The most notable exclusion comes for Tottenham Hotspur who sees Victor Wanyama left off the squad, having made just one appearance for Spurs since September in a six-minute showing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage finale. Liverpool also left off young defender Sepp van den Berg who was sacrificed for the inclusion of new boy Minamino.

For Manchester City, the injured Leroy Sane was left on the squad with nobody new arriving. The same occurred for Chelsea who saw Ruben Loftus-Cheek still in the group despite his recovery from an Achilles tear.

Liverpool

IN: Takumi Minamino (transfer, RB Salzburg)
OUT: Sepp van den Berg

Full squad: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan, Caoimhim Kelleher*; Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Adam Lewis*; Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones*, Herbie Kane*, Neco Williams*, Yasser Larouci*; Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Rhian Brewster*.

Manchester City

IN: [none]
OUT: Angelino (loan, RB Leipzig), Ian Poveda (transfer, Leeds United)

Full squad: Ederson, Claudio Bravo Scott Carson; John Stones, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo, Eric Garcia*; Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden*; Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea

IN: [none]
OUT: Marc Guehi (loan, Swansea City), George McEachran (loan, Cambuur)

Full squad: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Jamie Cumming*, Nicholas Tie*; Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori, Emerson, Reece James*; Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount*, Callum Hudson-Odoi*, Christian Pulisic, Billy Gilmour*, Tammy Abraham, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi.

Tottenham Hotspur

IN: Steven Bergwijn (transfer, PSV), Hugo Lloris, Gedson Fernandes (loan, Benfica)
OUT: Christian Eriksen (transfer, Inter), Danny Rose (loan, Newcastle), Kyle Walker-Peters (loan, Southampton), Victor Wanyama, Troy Parrott

Full squad: Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Paulo Gazzaniga, Alfie Whiteman*, Brandon Austin*; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vergtonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, Juan Foyth*, Ben Davies, Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga*, Timothy Eyoma*; Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Gedson Fernandes, Oliver Skipp*, Jamie Bowden*, Harvey White*; Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn.

*denotes a “List B” player, who must be born on, or after, 1 January 1995 and eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday. A club can list an unlimited number of List B players, whereas they may only list 25 List A players

James Milner supports young Liverpool FA Cup squad at Anfield

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Alisson went home to Rio. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Adam Lallana vacationed across the pond to Miami. Fabinho and Roberto Firmino soaked up the sun in the Maldives.

Not James Milner. He spent his February break in the 45-degree Anfield cold with the Liverpool youth team.

With Reds boss Jurgen Klopp giving the first team its February hiatus unchallenged, the manager instead sent the youth team to play in the FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town, winning the match 1-0 on a late own-goal. Milner was on hand to watch the young squad, even training with the team before the match and giving a team talk as well. According to one report, he was even one of the most excited figures in the post-match dressing room after the victory.

It certainly helped that he was due at Melwood for recovery from a muscle injury that has forced him to miss the last month of action, but his presence with the youth squad clearly had an impact on both the players and the boss.

“He trained with us yesterday and that obviously gives a boost,” said 18-year-old Neco Williams, who was part of the matchday starting lineup for Liverpool. “For him to be here today, to be in the changing rooms giving us advice, cheering us on I thought it was unbelievable from him. All the lads will cherish that. It was a special night for a lot of us, a night that we’ll remember for a long time especially the debutants.”

“He trained with us yesterday and he asked whether he could come along. I think the answer is: ‘Yes, of course you can.’ It was very respectful to ask,” said youth team manager Neil Critchley, who took charge of the FA Cup game for Liverpool with Klopp also on holiday. “He then said: ‘Can I come in the dressing room?’ What do you think? ‘Of course!’ He was giving words of advice, he was getting right behind the players. He was vocal in the dressing room. He was animated. He was vocal behind me, I could hear him. He was genuinely delighted at how the boys performed and I can’t thank him enough.”

Milner, known for his no-nonsense personality and his dedication to the game, seems form fitted to this kind of action. The 34-year-old has been with Liverpool since joining from Man City in 2015, making 205 appearances for the Reds across all competitions.

The Premier League’s brief February break sees the club have two weeks off, with its next match coming against Norwich City on February 15. This year is the first that a break was built into the schedule.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Southampton

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Liverpool puts its unbeaten Premier League season on the line Saturday when Southampton visits Anfield (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The storyline is going to be the same each week until someone scores more goals than the Reds in a single match. They have won 23 of 24 matches and only 14 more to go.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The next scrap comes with Saints, who have been thriving after early-season misery. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men have risen to ninth place, three points off fifth-place Manchester United.

Liverpool beat Saints 2-1 at St. Mary’s on Aug. 17.


Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT —  Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mane, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Adam Lallana, Divock Origi.

Southampton: OUT — Stuart Armstrong. QUESTIONABLE — Yan Valery, Jannik Vestergaard, Shane Long.


Probable lineups

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Minamino, Firmino, Salah.

Southampton: Gunn, Bertrand, Bednarek, Stephens, Danso, Boufal, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Adams, Ings


What they’re saying

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s future: “How can you see the hunger to stay at Liverpool? It looks to me like he is really settled to be honest. I have no idea, actually, but you could ask me the same question for all the others and I have no idea. I didn’t think about it until [the press] asked me.

Virgil van Dijk on leaving Southampton for Liverpool: “The decision I made has not been too bad. I’m 28 now and I want to fulfil every dream I ever had. Life can be short. Your career can be short as well. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I’m enjoying playing with this team and this manager. We can’t look too far ahead. But right now, I’m enjoying it. I don’t look at the table. You [only] need to look at the table at the end of the season.”

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl on loaning Kyle Walker-Peters“If he feels comfortable here and plays well and we feel comfortable with him and he likes to play with us, there is always an option to get him in the summer. Even if it’s not written down, there’s always an option. I always say, small flowers, you have to look after them and give them water and then they sometimes turn into beautiful flowers. This is something we try with all the young players and give them the chance to develop.”


Prediction

The Reds find a stiff test, but another 2-1 win.

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

In the Mixed Zone: Liverpool v. Man United

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LIVERPOOL — To make sure you have every angle covered for the marquee Premier League games, our new feature “In the Mixed Zone” will take you behind-the-scenes and into the tunnel areas to hear from the star players moments after their magic has decided games or drama has ensued.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The idea is to set the scene of being inside the tunnel area in Old Trafford, by the dugouts at Stamford Bridge and in the swanky new players area in Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium as Premier League stars walk out of the dressing room and break down the game with media members around the world.

We will tell you what they are saying and the kind of antics going on amid the hubbub of the mixed zone as players from both teams have their say on the 90-plus minutes of action we’ve just witnessed.

[ MORE: Rashford injury update

Here’s the scene from deep inside Anfield in the hour or so after the full time whistle blew between Liverpool and Manchester United as the Reds won 2-0 and now sit 16 points clear, with a game in hand, at the top of the Premier League table.

Safe to say one set of players were more keen to stop and chat with us than the other…


6:35 p.m. (local time): Mixed zone open as Virgil Van Dijk is shown on the TV screens speaking to Jamie Carragher preaching “one game at a time” for Liverpool’s title push. Come on, Virgil. Start picking your suit out for the big celebration in May. More from Virgil later on in the mixed zone as he stops to speak with Pro Soccer Talk…

6:42: A Liverpool legend is hanging around the press room. His assessment of the game and Liverpool’s dominance over Man United? “The perch is looking very strong again…” Liverpool’s 19th title, one short of United’s record 20, is in reach.

6:45: The pitch-side monitor for VAR is rolled out by one man, who is crouching over. Not used today, and only used once across the 229 Premier League games so far. What a lonely, lonely job setting up that equipment must be…

6:47: Okay, here come the lads. First up, a coupe of Brazilian midfielders are talking. Fred and Fabinho hug each other then speak to Brazilian TV. Fred has his match shirt in a bag, Fabinho has his suitcase on wheels with a No.3 luggage label on it. Fred’s sneakers have some fancy metals studs on the back of it. Fred was Man United’s best player.

6:52: Luke Shaw talking to our partners Sky Sports that United were just pleased to stay in the game until the final minute: “Very disappointed. We didn’t really deserve that – especially 2-0. When it was 1-0 it was really good. We had that chance with Anthony Martial. The lads gave it their all. We didn’t have many chances, but those that came we should have taken them. We know their qualities, and there were periods where we had to defend well. Last 30 minutes we controlled it. We didn’t take our chances and they took them. Van Dijk is a massive guy and threat for them on set-pieces. It’s disappointing for us. In the first half, over the past year – Liverpool have blown teams away in the first 20 minutes. We were still in the game until the 90th minute.”

6:55: “USA, USA!” Liverpool’s American owner John W. Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti stroll past us and then disappear through a side door. More from them to come.

7:02: Man United’s players keep trudging through. Local lads Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard and Brandon Williams are all downbeat as they walk through. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is not far behind with his headphones on and hood up.

7:05: Hello. The referees now roll through. Craig Pawson looks like a deer in the headlights, which seems to be his default look. Fourth official Jon Moss looks far from delighted, which seems to be his default look.

7:06: Owner John W. Henry is back and he and his wife greet the assembled media. One journalists asks “How many games do you reckon, John?” in reference to how many games until Liverpool win the title. His response while wearing a wry smile: “There are 16 games left, right?” The billionaire from Illinois has played this game before…

7:09: Man United’s players are now coming through at a rapid rate as captain Harry Maguire gives it a simple “not today, mate” when asked for an interview.

7:15: Andy Robertson stops to speaks to us and during his interview Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walks out of the main press conference and pats him back. They then shake hands. Lot of mutual respect there.

As for Robertson on the game: “We had so many chances we could have put this game out of sight. A really good performance from us but luckily Mo just topped it off at the end and we could relax for 20 seconds! Today, looking back at the game there is room for big improvement. Some of the stuff we did was excellent. I thought our midfield three were different class today and ran the game and that was so important. We were a wee bit sloppy in possession, particularly me in the first half, a few of the balls went out. But we got the goal and I think the goal that got disallowed was a bit soft but that’s football. We started the second half really well, we had them pinned back and it looked like a matter of time until we got the goal. But when you don’t get the goal Man United start to get a bit of confidence from that and we should have killed them off in that moment, but we did in the end.”

7:17: Robertson asked about Liverpool edging closer to winning a first title in 30 years: “We are not getting carried away. Until the champions sign is above our head we don’t believe anything because, yeah, it is a comfortable lead, 16 points, but we know how tough this league is. We beat Man United and then we go away to Wolves who are flying and it is an incredibly tough game. We know in a couple of weeks the table can change. It is up to us to stay 100 percent focused and not allow that to happen.”

7:20: Brazilian TV sum up what Fred said to them earlier: “We should have taken our chances” was his assessment of Man United, who somehow hung in there until the 90th minute. To be fair, United did have one or two glorious chances.

7:23: Virgil van Dijk stops for a chat as we ask him about the fans finally chanting “We’re going to win the league!” and if he agrees with that sentiment. Safe to say VVD isn’t getting carried away.

Focusing on Liverpool’s display against Man United, was this about staying focused as they dominated but didn’t score a second until stoppage time?

“Obviously we want to score more goals. We had quite some opportunities to make it easier but in the end you need to find a way to win a game. We defended a little bit deeper at times because they kept pressing, they kept players up and you need to find a way and we did but we could have made it easier.”

As for his goal, the Dutchman towered above Man United’s Harry Maguire and Brandon Williams to head home the opener to set the tone for a dominant win. Did Liverpool target United on set pieces?

“Obviously every game we try to look at the set-pieces to score. We have players that can be very dangerous including myself but it is not always easy and today I think it was a perfect set-piece. We wanted to target the near post and I’m happy it was very important.”

7:28: James Milner and Adam Lallana then walk through in different directions with their kids. Lallana’s kid in full kit. Good effort. Maybe Lallana Jr. was almost on the bench for the FA Cup win against Everton a few weeks ago…

7:30: Okay, all of the players have gone home. Cameras are turned off. The Mixed Zone is closed.