Liverpool have ignored Raheem Sterling's request not to be included in their squad for the pre-season tour of Australia and the Far East after naming the wantaway midfielder in their 30-man touring party.
The club released the full list of those included in the squad that will play games in Thailand, Australia and Malaysia in the coming weeks as they step up their preparations for the new Premier League season.
Led by new captain Jordan Henderson, five of their new signings will get their first run out in a Liverpool shirt, but attentions were quickly turned to the inclusion of Sterling despite the Manchester City target telling the club he does not want to be included.
Who could Liverpool sign to replace Raheem Sterling?
Who could Liverpool sign to replace Raheem Sterling?
1/7 Felipe Anderson
The Lazio midfielder has enjoyed his breakthrough season in Italy this year, but that has alerted a number of clubs across Europe including Liverpool. The 22-year-old Brazilian is contracted to the Serie A club until 2020 and will therefore cost a significant amount if he were to move this summer, but it’s believed he has the potential to become one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in the world if he continues his steep development curve.
2/7 Theo Walcott
Arsenal’s pace merchant is finding it hard to break back into the first team after recovering from the ruptured cruciate ligament that sidelined him for over a year. With doubts over his fitness, his suitability to the current Arsenal side and whether he’s a better option compared to his team-mates, rumours have linked him with a dramatic Arsenal exit. Liverpool would be one of the teams in for the England winger, who can also play in attack, and given that his speed can terrify any defence he would be a suitable option to replace Sterling.
3/7 Marco Reus
Any move for Reus appears to be hinged on firing Brendan Rodgers and hiring Jürgen Klopp, and given the noises coming out of Anfield, it’s unlikely to happen this summer. But if another transfer window goes belly-up, don’t be surprised to see Klopp at the club soon after with Reus in tow. The Germany international is a wonderfully gifted player who combines pace and skill to dazzle defences. He has struggled with a persistent ankle injury in recent months, but he would add a proven quality to the Liverpool ranks.
4/7 Divock Origi
Rodgers already knows one signing he will see arrive at Anfield in the summer as Belgium striker Divock Origi will complete the permanent move he agreed last year, having spent the season on loan with Lille. Rodgers could look to revert to the tactics he deployed last season when he had Luis Suarez to pair up with Daniel Sturridge, and although Origi is nowhere near the level Suarez was at present, the Northern Irishman will hope he has unearthed a gem when he arrives in the Premier League.
5/7 Alexandre Lacazette
The French forward is being courted by the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, but Liverpool could look to show a sign of intent by launching a bid for him before their rivals. Lacazette is equally adept at playing as a striker or out wide, and it would depend on how Rodgers would choose to deploy him to where he would feature. The France international has helped Lyon secure second in Ligue 1 and will finish the season as top goalscorers barring any heroics from Andre-Pierre Gignac, who trails by six goals.
6/7 Jeremy Menez
Menez’s brother and agent has fuelled talk of a move away from AC Milan by admitting he is likely to leave this summer, and even addressed rumours of a move to Liverpool as well as Monaco. However, at this point in time they are just rumours, and despite being able to play out wide he is more suited to an attacking role through the middle.
7/7 Ezequiel Lavezzi
The Argentine has fallen off the radar in recent months, but his future at Paris Saint-Germain remains far from certain and a move to the Premier League has always appeared on the cards. At home out wide on the wing, Lavezzi can also do a job up front, and would bring a physicality to the attack that is currently missing in Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Ibe.
Liverpool are currently considering their legal position should Sterling not show up when the squad flies out on Sunday, and with City primed to make a third bid of £40m plus £4m in add-ons, the club are prepared to place Sterling in the reserves in order to prevent him having a detrimental effect on the first-team.
James Milner, Nathanial Clyne, Joe Gomez, Adam Bogdan and Danny Ings are all included in the squad having completed transfer to the club during the summer, while new striker Divock Origi- who agreed to join the club last year but remained on loan at Lille – is also in line to make his Liverpool debut.
However, there is no Mario Balotelli in the squad as the Italian striker has been afforded compassionate leave following the tragic death of his foster father Francesco Balotelli. He returned to training last week, but has not been included in the list along with fellow striker Fabio Borini and the two have been linked with an Anfield exit this summer.
Liverpool face the Thai All Stars on Tuesday 14 July in Bangkok before flying on to Australia to play A-League sides Brisbane and Adelaide on Friday and Monday respectively, before wrapping up their tour with a match in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysia XI.
The squad will also fly out to Finland on 1 August for a match against HJK Helsinki.
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