Gerrard: Morelos has had his head turned

By Sports Desk August 06, 2020

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard believes star forward Alfredo Morelos has "had his head turned" by speculation over his future.

Morelos played 77 minutes against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday but was unable to add to his 14 goals in this season's tournament as Rangers' lengthy Europa League run came to a close.

Moussa Diaby scored the only goal at the BayArena to conclude a 4-1 aggregate passage into the quarter-finals for the hosts.

Morelos has been heavily linked with a move to Ligue 1 side Lille, with Rangers' moves to sign attackers Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten on Tuesday widely interpreted as them preparing for life without the 24-year-old Colombian.

Asked by BT Sport whether he expected Morales to be at the club next week, Gerrard replied: "I don't know, I can't control what goes on outside.

"Everyone knows he's had his head turned, for sure. There's no denying that.

"But we just move forward. My focus is on the team and the players that want to be here and my focus is certainly on [Rangers' next game against] St Mirren.

"If a bid comes that the board like and are interested in, and the player tells me face to face he wants to go then we'll see what happens."

Gerrard refuted the suggestion that Morales' performance against Leverkusen had been compromised by the prevailing uncertainty.

"I don't think so. I think Alfredo's professional enough to block the noise out and focus," he said.

"He hasn't had the best of games tonight but we haven't as a team either.

"There are no fingers pointed at anyone. We've given it our best shot and unfortunately we fell short.

"We all have to improve, but Alfredo needs to remain focused."

Related items

  • Chelsea can match Man City standard, says Tuchel Chelsea can match Man City standard, says Tuchel

    Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel believes the Blues can challenge for the Premier League title next season as they look to close the gap on Manchester City.

    City are 14 points clear atop the table and on track to secure silverware, while fifth-placed Chelsea fight to qualify for the Champions League this term.

    Tuchel's Chelsea are 21 points adrift of Pep Guardiola's City, having finished 33 points behind Premier League champions Liverpool in 2019-20.

    Chelsea have struggled to compete for the title since reigning supreme in 2016-17 – the London outfit were 26 points behind City in 2019 and 30 in 2018.

    But former Paris Saint-Germain boss Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard in January, is confident Chelsea can match the standard set by City and Liverpool next term.

    "If you read these numbers out loud then it seems not," Tuchel said ahead of Thursday's showdown with Liverpool. "But we should not limit our thoughts. We should try and not prepare for excuses.

    "The amount of points shows how big the gap is. But it has to be the ambition to close it as fast as possible.

    "It's a thin line between the argument and giving already an excuse to myself and the players. I don't want to do that. It's not my nature and you can only push yourself to the limit if you don't accept it from the beginning.

    "Will we close the gap to City this season? No. But next season on we start with zero points. City were in trouble this season and nobody took advantage. It's proven in sports that you can do an extraordinary step, improve staff and grow if you catch the momentum.

    "Now we are challenging for top four, which was a big task when we stepped in, and from next year we will challenge for all titles."

    Chelsea have lost their last two away league games against Liverpool, last losing more consecutively at Anfield between September 1992 and October 1997 (six).

    Tuchel is unbeaten in his first nine matches as Chelsea boss in all competitions (W6 D3), with only Jose Mourinho (10 games) and Luiz Felipe Scolari (12 games) having longer unbeaten starts as Blues managers.

    German tactician Tuchel added: "I have to earn it that I can have the same time as [Liverpool manager] Jurgen Klopp and Pep.

    "This was no gift to them. I think everybody in the club saw what they are doing and this is what I have to prove. I have to live every day to make my impact here and to show that I deserve the same amount of time to build teams. But I don't have the feeling that it's an obstacle that holds me back from building."

  • Klopp warns Liverpool will struggle to sign players without Champions League football Klopp warns Liverpool will struggle to sign players without Champions League football

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted the faltering Premier League holders will struggle to "excite" potential signings without Champions League football.

    Klopp helped end Liverpool's 30-year wait for an English league title last season, but the defending champions are struggling to replicate that form this season.

    Liverpool are not only 22 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City, but they are also sixth and two points adrift of the top four in the race for a Champions League berth.

    The Reds have been linked with the likes of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, but Klopp issued a transfer warning ahead of Thursday's blockbuster clash against fifth-placed Chelsea.

    "The main reason for qualifying for the Champions League is always financial," Klopp said. "It is a great competition to play in but for the club it's about [finances].

    "Sure, you want to excite some players. In the beginning we were sitting with some players who had offers from clubs who played in the Champions League and it was like 'ok, sorry, we can only offer nothing or Europa League!'

    "But apart from that it's always about finances. This year there is no difference, I would say. I hope people still see we do our absolute best and try everything to make it happen, but we will see how it will end up.

    "It is not that the owners called me and said 'if you don't qualify for the Champions League then this or that will happen', because we are all together. We all understand the situation. They know we try absolutely everything to qualify for the Champions League again, that's clear."

    Klopp, meanwhile, is ready to block his players from representing their countries during the international break due to quarantine protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    World Cup qualifiers are set to take place this month but under current COVID-19 guidelines, arrivals from countries the United Kingdom regards as high risk are subject to 10 days of hotel quarantine.

    "I think all the clubs agree that with the same problems, we cannot just let the boys go and then sort the situation when they come back by placing our players in a 10-day quarantine in a hotel. It is just not possible," Klopp said.

    "I understand the needs of the different FAs but this is a time where we cannot make everyone happy and we have to admit the players are paid by the clubs so it means we have to be first priority."

    Klopp added: "We just deal with what other people decided so we got kind of used to it. But I think everyone agrees we cannot let the players go and play for their country and come back and quarantine for 10 days in a hotel."

    Liverpool have lost each of their last four Premier League home games, as many as they had in their first 100 at Anfield under Klopp. The Reds have never lost five consecutive home games in their history, either in the league or all competitions.

    Meanwhile, Liverpool have won each of their last four Premier League meetings with Chelsea, netting 11 goals and conceding four. The only team to win five in a row against Chelsea in the Premier League is Blackburn (seven between February 1993 and May 1996).

  • Koeman cools PSG comeback talk after Barca stun Sevilla en route to Copa del Rey final Koeman cools PSG comeback talk after Barca stun Sevilla en route to Copa del Rey final

    Ronald Koeman cooled talk of Barcelona replicating their astonishing Copa del Rey comeback when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

    Barca overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit as they stunned Sevilla 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou on Wednesday to reach the Copa del Rey final.

    Ousmane Dembele gave Barca hope with a first-half goal and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen provided more life when he saved Lucas Ocampos' penalty 17 minutes from the end.

    Gerard Pique capitalised in stoppage time, doubling Barca's lead on the night and levelling the semi-final tie 2-2 on aggregate, moments after Sevilla's Fernando was sent off.

    Martin Braithwaite then put Barca ahead early in extra time as the LaLiga giants moved through to face Athletic Bilbao or Levante in the decider.

    Barca will also have to come from behind on March 10 if they are to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, with Koeman's side trailing Ligue 1 holders PSG 4-1 following the opening leg on home soil.

    Speaking to reporters post-match, Barca head coach Koeman said: "2-0 it is easier for a comeback, even though it isn't easy, but 4-1 is still something else.

    "And they have a great team with great players and as in any match, we start the game to win and during the game we are going to see if there is a chance to go ahead.

    "If not, we will have to accept it and keep going in the same way."

    Barca have struggled for form and consistency during Koeman's first season at the helm – the Spanish powerhouse five points adrift of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a match in hand.

    Koeman's Barca also lost to Athletic in the Supercopa de Espana final this season.

    "It is true [that this was his happiest night as Barça coach in which he felt more proud of his footballers]," Koeman said.

    "It is a strong step towards wining an important title. Also, with a 2-0 against as we had to make a very complete game. As a coach, you cannot ask for anything more. We have fought, we have created, we have played and make it till the last second from a psychical point of view.

    "I trust that we deserved to go ahead and now to play the final because we were the better team in both matches."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.