Kolo Toure keen to kickstart career at Liverpool

Ivory Coast international played just 29 league matches in the last two campaigns at Manchester City

Brazil’s Paulinho celebrates scoring against Uruguay during the semi-final of the Confederations Cup. The midfielder will join Tottenham Hotspur in a €2O million deal. Photograph: AP Photo

Brazil’s Paulinho celebrates scoring against Uruguay during the semi-final of the Confederations Cup. The midfielder will join Tottenham Hotspur in a €2O million deal. Photograph: AP Photo

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 22:10

New Liverpool defender Kolo Toure is looking forward to becoming a full-time footballer again after two years of limited action. The Ivory Coast international played just 29 league matches in the last two campaigns at Manchester City and views his move to Anfield as the chance to make up for lost time.

“Liverpool have given me the chance to show that at 32 I’m still one of the best defenders, and I will fight for that,” said the centre-back, who yesterday officially signed for the Reds after his contract expired with the former Premier League champions. “These past two years of being ‘part-time’ have helped me refresh and be more hungry.”

Toure leaves brother Yaya behind at the Etihad Stadium but he knew it was not an option for him to remain at the club. “I haven’t spoken to him yet really because he’s been on holiday but he’s going to be on his own there now,” he added. “I wish him the best but I knew I had to leave City. I’ve come next door and that’s a great move for me.”

Toure is seen by manager Brendan Rodgers as a short-term replacement for the retired Jamie Carragher. He certainly has a wealth of Premier League experience, having played for Arsenal before his switch to City, but with Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel still at the club he knows he will have to fight for his place. “I am used to competition. When I came into Arsenal the competition was Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Tony Adams — it was hard competition,” he told liverpoolfc.com. “The only way to improve a team is to make players fight for their place.”

Toure joined his new team-mates and fellow new arrivals Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Simon Mignolet for the first day of pre-season at the club’s Melwood training ground before formally signing his contract. “It’s like coming to a new school,” he said. “But as soon as I came, Steven Gerrard came up to me and told me that if I needed anything, I could come to see him — that shows the spirit and mentality of this club.”

The only absentees were those players who have had international duty this summer. Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, club and national team-mate Sebastian Coates, and Spain goalkeeper Jose Reina have all been at the Confederations Cup in Brazil and so have been given an extended break. Suarez’s future remains in doubt, however, after a series of interviews while back in South American in which the 26-year-old criticised his dislike of the British press and admitted a move to Real Madrid would appeal.

Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey also rejoined his team-mates despite speculation about his future increasing. The 21-year-old has been linked with Norwich, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Swansea. Swans chairman Huw Jenkins claims he has already opened discussions with the Liverpool about the midfielder.

Paulinho move
Influential Brazil midfielder Paulinho has confirmed he will join Tottenham Hotspur from Corinthians in a €20 million deal. The 24-year-old, who was voted the third-best player at the Confederations Cup, will link up with his new team-mates at White Hart Lane after a short holiday. “The other interest we got was from Inter but the only offer came from Tottenham,” he said.

A powerful box-to-box midfielder, Paulinho, scored 34 goals in 167 games for Corinthians.

Steve McClaren is back in English football after agreeing a short-term deal, understood to stretch initially to three months, to join Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff at Queens Park Rangers in the Championship.

The former England manager has been out of work since his second spell in charge of FC Twente was curtailed in February, and will take up coaching duties at Loftus Road as they seek a swift return to the top flight. Redknapp is already working with his assistant, Kevin Bond, and the first-team coach Joe Jordan, with Steve Cotterill having also coached within the set-up on a short-term basis since January.

Wayne Rooney put himself in the firing line by questioning his own Manchester United future last season according to former assistant boss Mike Phelan. Rooney is due to have talks with new boss David Moyes this week that will determine the next stage of his career. Sources close to the discussions have claimed it is presently “60-40” that the England striker will end his nine-year association with Old Trafford.


Clarification
One of the major stumbling blocks is going to be the clarification Rooney is seeking to Alex Ferguson’s statement last May that the former Everton man had asked for a transfer. It has been established Rooney did not formally request a move — as he did in 2010 — he merely wondered whether Ferguson saw any long-term future for him at the club. However, the perception of an unhappy player remains. And Phelan accepts it could be an issue. “It is a difficult one,” Phelan told BBC Radio Five Live. “I think you can put your first one down to inexperience maybe, the second one is putting yourself right out there. “Somewhere along the line there will be some words said, there will be some meetings, and they’ll see if its still alive and worth going for or they’ll call time on it.”

Phelan, who lost his job as part of Moyes’ backroom shake-up is still of the opinion Rooney should stay. “He is still is at the greatest club he could be at, so why would you want to jeopardise that unless you want a fresh challenge,” said Phelan.