Jack Grealish has been linked with a move away from Aston Villa in the past, and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a known long-term admirer.

Grealish is currently on holidays after Euro 2020, but talks of a huge transfer to City have not gone away.

Could the Premier League champions be about to make their move?

 

MAN CITY SET TO TABLE GREALISH BID

Manchester City are set to officially commence their move for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish with a £75m bid, claims the Daily Mail.

According to the report, Villa will hold out for £100m for their star England international.

Villa have no desire to sell Grealish for anything less and will know Guardiola is keen to secure his services.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have opened talks with Sevilla about potentially signing French centre-back Jules Kounde, according to The Guardian. The 22-year-old has a release clause worth €80m (£68.4m).

- Arsenal have enquired with Inter about star forward Lautaro Martinez, reports the Telegraph. It is believed Inter may be willing to sell the Argentina striker for €90m (£77m).

- Eurosport reports that West Ham are interested in a move for Manchester United defender Phil Jones who has struggled with injury in recent times.

- Newcastle are closing in on a deal for Arsenal's Joe Willock, and it could be finalised  within the next 48 hours after his loan stint last season, claims Mail Online.

- Liverpool may sign Wolves' Spanish winger Adama Traore in a cut-price £30m deal, according to the Star.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota hopes it is only a matter of time before he can experience playing in front of a full capacity crowd at Anfield for the first time.

The 24-year-old is gearing up for his second season with the Reds after joining from Wolves in September 2020.

Although playing to an empty Kop for almost the entirety of 2020-21, Jota made a blistering start to life on Merseyside with seven goals in his opening 10 appearances, making him the first Liverpool player to achieve that feat since Robbie Fowler in 1993.

The Portugal international, who represented his nation at Euro 2020, would go on to find the net 13 times for Jurgen Klopp’s side in all competitions – a tally only bettered by Mohamed Salah (31) and Sadio Mane (16).

That goals return was all the more impressive considering he missed three months of his maiden campaign with a knee injury sustained during the Champions League clash with Midtjylland in December.

Upon his return to action, Jota sampled playing in front of a reduced Anfield crowd as spectators were gradually reintegrated towards the end of the season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Aaron Ramsey has not set the world on fire since joining Juventus from Arsenal two years ago.

It has been reported in Italy that the Serie A club are ready to listen to offers.

Ramsey reportedly earns £250,000 per week and Juve are said to be keen to ease that burden.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS SHOCK MOVE FOR RAMSEY

Tottenham are lining up a shock move for former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, claims The Sun.

Juventus may be looking to offload the Wales international, who has made 46 league appearances in two seasons in Turin.

Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici is keen to bring Ramsey back to London to team up with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham have ramped up their bid to sign Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero who will cost around £40million (€46m), according to The Telegraph.

- Marca claims Inter, Sampdoria and Genoa are monitoring Real Madrid's 23-year-old striker Luka Jovic.

- Monaco's Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic has agreed to join Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on a deal until 2024, reports Sky Sport.

- The Telegraph reports that Newcastle United  are keen on signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe, with a loan or permanent move discussed.

- Sky Sports claims West Ham are still interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who spent last season on loan at Fulham.

- Italian clubs Lazio and Napoli,  along with Spanish outfit Villarreal,  fancy Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, reports Sky Sports.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed centre-back Virgil van Dijk is in contention to make his long-awaited return from injury in Thursday's pre-season friendly with Hertha Berlin.

Van Dijk appeared just five times for the Reds in the Premier League last season and missed the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained against Everton in October.

The 30-year-old was included as part of Liverpool's squad for their warm-weather training camp in Austria this month, but he was not used in last week's 1-0 win over Mainz and Klopp made clear he would not rush the defender back.

However, the Liverpool boss is now ready to give Van Dijk some minutes at Tivoli Stadion, while fellow centre-back Joe Gomez – who has not featured since injuring his knee while on England duty last November – is also closing in on a return.

"I hope, I am not sure, there is the opportunity Virgil could play a few minutes. He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring him in, but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we'll see," Klopp told Liverpool's website.

"If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense. Joe is very close. There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but he is very close.

"If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good.

"I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. 

"It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever. It is a long season and we prepare them after these very, very serious injuries for the rest of their careers and not for the first game of the season.

"Losing a little bit of patience for them to return as a supporter or as a coach even is not bad, it just means they were pretty good and we want them to be back in the team."

The imminent return of Van Dijk is a major boost for Liverpool, who sorely missed the Dutchman's leadership and defensive attributes last season, having played every match in their successful 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

Only one defender in the league bettered his 191 aerial wins during that season, while he attempted and completed more passes than any of them. Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, was the sole defensive player to have more than his 3,624 touches.

Liverpool won 81.4 per cent of the 43 Premier League matches Van Dijk played between August 2019 and his injury, but that fell to just 51.5 per cent between October and the end of the season when he was out of the team.

Van Dijk is not the only player in line to return to the Liverpool side this week, with Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota set to feature against Bundesliga side Hertha.

Robertson and Jota represented Scotland and Portugal respectively at Euro 2020, but both players linked up with their club colleagues last week and are now deemed ready to feature in pre-season action.

"They will have minutes, that's the plan. They obviously trained completely normal all the time now and we try to involve them," Klopp said.

Liverpool also have friendlies against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna to come before beginning their Premier League campaign against Norwich City on August 14, so Klopp will continue to rotate his side during the upcoming matches.

"Some of the players are ready for 60 minutes. It will be hard for them definitely, but it means then others play 30 minutes and stuff like this, or even maybe 20 minutes and these kind of things," he said.

"Pre-season is about trying. It's a proper, proper challenge to make all these individuals to bring them in the best possible physical shape and make us more ready or stronger as a team. 

"Unfortunately, football is not like cycling, so you don't miss it completely but the pedals and stuff like this just go away so quick that's incredible. So we have to work on that again, that's what we do.

"Today is a really tough [double session]. I like it, the players probably sleep now already and that would be better because this afternoon it would be really hard."

Xherdan Shaqiri has revealed he is ready to leave Liverpool and hinted he would enjoy playing under Maurizio Sarri at Lazio, praising the Italian coach's attacking style of play.

The Switzerland international joined the Reds in 2018 but has remained on the fringes of the first team throughout his time at Anfield.

And after enjoying Euro 2020 success, in which he became Switzerland's outright top scorer at major tournaments, Shaqiri has suggested his time under Jurgen Klopp may be coming to an end.

"Fortunately, football has helped me achieve many of my dreams," Shaqiri told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport. "I was lucky enough to play with great teams and to win many titles.

"Who knows, maybe I could get something even with the Swiss national team. My contract [with] Liverpool expires in 2022, in 2018 I signed a four-year deal.

"The important thing at this moment in my career is to be able to play regularly, but that hasn’t always been the case in the last three seasons.

"This is why I told Liverpool that I feel ready for a new challenge. They accepted my wish and will seriously consider the offers that will come. They will not stop me."

Opportunities have been limited for Shaqiri at Liverpool as he has made just 45 top-flight appearances across a three-year spell, during which he has scored seven goals for the 2019-20 Premier League champions.

But the 29-year-old, whose 10 chances created at Euro 2020 were three more than Ricardo Rodriguez for the Swiss, proved his quality as he was one of Vladimir Petkovic's standout performers at the tournament.

While Shaqiri explained there had been no direct contact from clubs yet, he made clear his desire to keep playing regularly and praised the development of Italian football.

"I'm only 29 years old, I have played in some of the best leagues in Europe, and I would like to continue being a part of them," Shaqiri said. "I’m not yet thinking about the end of my career, it’s a future I imagine far away. We will see what destiny has in store for me.

"I think it’s not just my opinion that football in Italy has developed substantially in recent years. The win at the European Championship is there to prove it, a well-deserved result.

"Just take a look at how many Premier League players have moved to Serie A."

The former Bayern Munich winger, who has been directly involved in 51 goals in 96 appearances for his country, has limited experience in Serie A, too, given he spent six months with reigning champions Inter in 2015.

Asked whether a move to Italy and, more specifically, Lazio was an option, Shaqiri spoke glowingly of Sarri's qualities and complimented sporting director Igli Tare.

"Igli Tare has been doing an excellent job at Lazio for years," Shaqiri commented. "If it's true that he has great respect for me, then I’m honoured.

"I have been following Lazio for a long time, they are a top team. In general, due to my characteristics, I like to play more attacking football and Sarri practices it. It would be intriguing."

All indications are Raphael Varane is set to move on from Real Madrid. 

The France international appears locked in on one destination. 

Manchester United are said to be close to a deal for the defender. 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED CLOSE TO VARANE MOVE

Manchester United have been linked to Raphael Varane in transfer rumours for months. 

Now it appears the move could come to fruition, as Marca reports United and Real Madrid are close to a €50million (£42m) agreement. 

Though the Mirror reports some at the Premier League club are worried the 28-year-old is merely using them to get a better deal out of Madrid, Fabrizio Romano says United are "confident" a deal is close and that no other clubs are involved. 

 

ROUND-UP

– With his Arsenal contract set to expire next year, Alexandre Lacazette is in demand, and Calciomercato says Atletico Madrid are pondering a potential €15m offer. 

Erik Lamela is set to join Sevilla in a swap deal, with Tottenham getting Bryan Gil, Marca says, while Romano says Spurs will also get €25m in the deal and Gil will sign through 2026.  

Newcastle are eyeing Ross Barkley as a potential addition if they cannot pry Joe Willock away from Arsenal, says The Athletic, with a loan move for Leicester's Hamza Choudhury also a possibility.

West Ham could make a move for Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, says the Express. 

Ben White's £50m move from Brighton to Arsenal will be official next week, reports Romano. 

Paris Saint-Germain have had talks with Kalidou Koulibaly's agent about a move from Napoli, reports Corriere dello Sport. 

Roma have offered €15m for Barcelona's Clement Lenglet, says Sport. 

Harry Wilson has ended a 16-year association with Liverpool to join Championship outfit Fulham ahead of the 2021-22 season. 

Wilson – who has signed a deal that could see him stay at Craven Cottage until 2026 – progressed through the ranks of the Reds after joining at the age of nine. 

The 24-year-old made just two appearances for Jurgen Klopp's first team, however, and has spent much of the past four seasons out on loan. 

Spells at Crewe Alexandra and Hull City were followed by a successful stint at Derby County in the 2018-19 season.

He spent a season in the Premier League with Bournemouth in 2019-20, scoring seven goals as the Cherries were relegated, while last term he was on loan with Championship side Cardiff City. 

Wilson has been capped 29 times by Wales and featured for the Dragons in their Euro 2020 campaign, receiving a red card in the closing stages of their 4-0 last-16 defeat to Denmark. 

Fulham also announced the signing of goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga on Saturday after he left Tottenham last month, the 29-year-old Argentine signing a two-year deal.

Jurgen Klopp revealed Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have looked "really good" in pre-season training with Liverpool, though made clear the need for patience over the returning duo.

Van Dijk and fellow centre-back Gomez were long-term absentees during the Reds' unsuccessful title defence in the 2020-21 campaign, making a combined total of just 12 Premier League appearances.

Both are closing in on a comeback but Klopp insisted after the 1-0 friendly win over Mainz on Friday that neither are likely to feature in the next fixture, which sees Liverpool take on Hertha Berlin.

Asked by the club's official website if the defenders could play next Thursday, he replied: "Yeah, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately. But they look really good.

"Look, I think, they do everything, they play football, we keep them in training, we do the things we can do, they don't do too much and stuff like this.

"We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not for a pre-season game. I will not risk it for a game here, so we have to see.

"We have a lot of games still coming, pre-season games, but I don't see them being involved for the next one."

Liverpool recorded a first win during pre-season action thanks to a late own goal against Mainz, Luca Kilian turning Owen Beck's cross into the net in the 86th minute.

Klopp had included a host of first-team regulars in his starting XI, which saw Harvey Elliott utilised in a midfield role, before a much younger line-up were introduced after half-time.

A number of the squad remain absent following their exertions at Euro 2020 and the Copa America, though Scotland captain Andy Robertson has joined up with his team-mates in Austria.

"I am happy about a lot of situations I saw," the Liverpool boss said of the game against Mainz.

"I saw in the first half some really good football where we came through, we passed, we passed the ball quite quickly, quick enough against a good, organised side, a deep-defending side and this kind of stuff. It was far away from being perfect, but it is absolutely okay.

"Second half I saw the boys, the kids, fought for a result and they got it. They forced it and I am happy about that."

Sadio Mane feels he has benefitted from an extended break as he looks to regain his best form for Liverpool in 2021-22.

Mane scored 11 times in the Premier League last season as Liverpool failed to defend their title.

That was his second-lowest tally for Liverpool since he joined from Southampton in 2016-17, with the Senegal forward only netting fewer league goals in the 2017-18 season (10), while last term also featured a run of just three strikes in 20 games before helping himself to a double against Crystal Palace on the final day.

Mane did however keep up his creativity, supplying seven assists from 61 chances created – the most opportunities he has crafted in a Premier League season since his arrival in England seven years ago.

Only in 2018-19 (3,085) did Mane play more minutes than in 2020-21 (2,810), and the 29-year-old believes the longer break he was able to have before he joined up with the Reds' pre-season training camp in Austria has provided a much-needed boost.

Asked if he felt in better shape compared to before the 2020-21 season, Mane told Liverpoolfc.com: "Yes, sure.

"I think it's always important as a player to have a break because I can say since I came to Liverpool this was the first time I have had four weeks or more holidays, so I think that sometimes helps a lot. 

"I could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp, which for me was unbelievable! I am not complaining about having one week or two weeks' holiday, but I think it's always extra [helpful] for us to have this long period of holiday. 

"At the same time, we have been working in individual training, which is also important because you could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp and ready to go for the new season.

"To be honest, everybody, and myself for sure, feels more ready. I always say tiredness is here [in the head] and obviously you have to be mentally strong to cope with it, but at the same time I think resting is the best thing.

"I think now we have all rested properly so this is another advantage for us. We are looking to be ready for the season now."

Liverpool fell way short of competing with Manchester City for the title, though Jurgen Klopp's side will point to the impact injuries to key players – mainly in defence – had on their efforts.

The Reds lost Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip to season-ending injuries, while Jordan Henderson also failed to return after sustaining a problem in February.

"I think not only me, I think everybody [is excited]!" Mane said when asked how positive it was to see Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip back in training.

"As a player we all become like fans because if you see your team-mate getting back in training and fit, you just say, 'Wow!' 

"When I see Virgil, Joe and Joel, after every training session I say, 'My friend, how are you feeling?' because I think to have everybody back in the team is just incredible.

"Because we know what they are capable of doing for the team and for us the most important thing is the team, so having those players fit, 100 per cent – I think you can always see the smiles of the boys and say: 'Wow, what a season it’s going to be for us again.'"

Eden Hazard has struggled for impact at Real Madrid two years into his five-year deal.

The 30-year-old signed with Madrid for a reported €100 million (£86m) from Chelsea in 2019.

Hazard has battled against injuries and poor form in Spain, making 43 appearances and scoring five goals in two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA WEIGH UP SHOCK HAZARD RETURN

Eden Hazard could make a sensational return to Chelsea and end his underwhelming spell with Real Madrid, reports AS.

Chelsea are weighing up a shock move for the Belgium attacking midfielder, who spent seven years with the Blues.

The report did not disclose any financial details but cited Hazard's strong connection with Chelsea's squad and desire to re-discover his best football.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Manchester United are plotting a cut-price move for Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka as a replacement for Paul Pogba, who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain in recent days.

- Tottenham's swap deal for Bryan Gil from Sevilla in exchange for Erik Lamela will soon be finalized according to Sky Sports. Spurs will also pay £21.6 million (€25m) for the winger.

- Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowsk is "interested" in a contract offer from Chelsea after his agent spoke to the Blues, claims Bild. Lewandowski is seen as Chelsea's alternative option should they fail to land Erling Haaland.

- Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri could be among those sold by Liverpool in an off-season clear-out, according to the Liverpool Echo. Divock Origi and Nat Phillips were also mentioned in the report.

- talkSPORT reports that Arsenal are preparing a £30m bid to sign Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale . The Times claims the Gunners have been told to raise their offer.

A youthful Liverpool side played out a 1-1 draw with Wacker Innsbruck in their first 30-minute friendly in Austria before a stronger Reds side were held to the same scoreline by Stuttgart.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and new signing Ibrahima Konate were included in the line-up for the second shortened friendly against the Bundesliga side, while fit-again Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and January signing Ben Davies featured for the younger team against Innsbruck.

Alexander-Arnold returned to the playing squad for the first time since suffering a thigh injury on England duty in June against Austria, which subsequently ruled him out of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 campaign that ended in shoot-out heartbreak to Italy.

Divock Origi opened the scoring with a spot-kick in the first game as the Belgian forward profited from a handball that came from full-back Owen Beck's cross.

But Origi's penalty was swiftly cancelled out by Ronivaldo's header past Loris Karius and that meant it was honours even between Jurgen Klopp's men and the Austrian side.

In the follow-up game against Stuttgart, Philipp Forster capped a slick move off to give Pellegrino Matarazzo's men the lead as he finished past Adrian inside the opening 10 minutes.

Liverpool, though, responded through Mane, who squeezed a shot in from close range after Kostas Tsimikas had initially got on the end of James Milner's cross.

And with neither team finding a winner inside 30 minutes, the Reds had to settle for two draws in their two run-outs at their camp in Austria.

Klopp's team next face Mainz on Friday before friendlies against Hertha Berlin, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna round off their pre-season preparations.

Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic has joined Porto on a permanent deal.

The 25-year-old spent 2020-21 on loan with the Primeira Liga club, making 39 appearances in all competitions.

That was Grujic's latest spell away from Liverpool, whom he joined from Red Star Belgrade in 2016, having also previously spent half a season with Cardiff City and two years at Hertha Berlin.

He was the first signing of ​the Jurgen Klopp era at Anfield but featured just 16 times for the Reds in all competitions.

Serbia international Grujic linked up with the Liverpool squad for this month's pre-season training camp in Austria, but the Merseyside outfit confirmed on Tuesday that he has officially ended his five-year association with the club.

"Everyone at Liverpool FC thanks Marko for his contributions to the club and wishes him the best in his future career," the 2019-20 Premier League champions said in a statement.

Porto are reported to have paid an initial €12.15million (£10.5m) for Grujic, who was also rumoured to be a target for fellow Portuguese side Sporting CP and Italian club Sassuolo.

Grujic scored twice as Porto finished second to Sporting in the Primeira Liga last season and featured eight times in Sergio Conceicao's side's run to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The 6.94 aerial duels Grujic won per 90 minutes in the Portuguese top flight last season was behind only Pedro Henrique (7.94) and Rio Ave's Ronan (8.62) among those to have featured more than three times in the competition.

Grujic also won more tackles per 90 minutes than any other Porto player who started six or more games in the league last season, the Serbian's tally of 1.32 putting him slightly ahead of Otavio (1.31).

A Liverpool stalwart might make an early exit from the club.

Jordan Henderson is under contract for two more years and is said to want an extension.

But talks have reportedly not progressed, potentially opening the door for outside suitors.

 

TOP STORY - HENDERSON COULD LEAVE ANFIELD

Completing a new deal for Henderson is reportedly not a priority for Liverpool's ownership this off-season, and The Athletic says a move could be on the cards for the England international.

The report cites Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino as a long-time admirer of the midfielder and notes Henderson's close friendship with Atletico Madrid's Luis Suarez as potentially weighing in favour of a move to one of those clubs.

Liverpool are said to be eager to get something in return for Henderson, should he leave, after watching Georginio Wijnaldum move to PSG on a free transfer last month.

 

ROUND-UP

- If the rumoured swap deal that would send Saul Niguez to Barcelona and Antoine Griezmann to Atletico falls through, the Daily Mail reports that Liverpool and Manchester United could swoop for the 26-year-old Spaniard.

- Raphael Varane's expected move to Old Trafford is gaining momentum, as Fabrizio Romano reports the Real Madrid centre-back has told United he is "ready" to accept their contract offer should the clubs agree to terms.

- Tottenham are set to acquire Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta on loan through next season with a €15million option to make the move permanent, says Romano, and Football London reports Atalanta defender Cristian Romero also is in talks to join Spurs.

- Manchester United's Donny van de Beek could be headed to Barcelona on loan, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Villarreal are the leaders to sign Arnaut Danjuma away from Bournemouth, the Sun reports, with Villa and Southampton also possibilities for the Dutch forward.

- Burnley winger Dwight McNeil is Everton's top transfer target according to the Mirror, though the Liverpool Echo says Aston Villa may also be in the mix.

Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott has been challenged to take the "next step" at Anfield this season by manager Jurgen Klopp.

Elliott has played nine times for Liverpool and impressed last season when he was loaned out to Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.

The 18-year-old had seven goals and 11 assists in 41 Blackburn outings in the league, a spell he hoped would increase his chances of getting "in and around" the Liverpool first-team in 2021-22.

Only two players registered more assists than Elliott in the Championship last season – Emiliano Buendia (16) and Michael Olise (12).

Elliott is poised to be involved in Liverpool's two 30-minute friendlies against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart on Tuesday, with another warm-up fixture against Mainz on Friday.

"Harvey made a step, I have to say. He looks in a proper shape, really, really fit," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"He came back in a good shape and is here now in full training obviously.

"You can see last year really worked well for him. Now let’s make the next steps together."

Elliott became the youngest player to ever start a competitive game for Liverpool at 16 years and 174 days when featuring against MK Dons in the Carabao Cup in September 2019.

The former Fulham product, who signed a new long-term contract with the Reds earlier this month, has been taking tips from Liverpool's top stars as he eyes a breakthrough season in the Premier League.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders recently detailed how Mohammed Salah gave Elliott some advice about eating habits to the teenager during their pre-season training camp in Austria which pleased Klopp.

He added: "What is really nice about the story is that we created really an atmosphere where the boys care about each other as well, they really want to help each other.

"Most of these players were not in the same place like Harvey is in that age. 

"But everybody wants the group to be in the best shape, maybe that’s the example more for that story.

"It could happen with James Milner constantly that somebody takes something from him. That’s this team, that’s us and I really like it a lot."

Trent Alexander-Arnold is feeling pain-free and is eager to make his return for Liverpool this week after recovering from a thigh problem.

The right-back sustained the injury during England's 1-0 win over Austria in a friendly on June 2 and was subsequently ruled out of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 campaign.

He has taken part in full training during the Reds' pre-season training camp in Austria, however, and may feature in Tuesday's 30-minute friendlies against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart.

"I'm fully pain-free. I've been doing a lot of rehab when we were off over the summer with the physios and the medical staff, which was good," he told Liverpool's official website.

"I feel fit, I feel healthy and I'm back in full training now, so it's good. It's good for me.

"I've done quite a few sessions with the lads now. I feel fit enough to play. But the decision comes from the manager, the staff and obviously the medical staff.

"They need to talk and see if it's worth the risk. If not, there's a game on Friday [against Mainz] as well.

"Whether it's a case of a few minutes on Tuesday and play a bit more on Friday, ease me in like that, who knows? Either way, I'll be ready to play."

Alexander-Arnold has been a Liverpool regular for the past four seasons and featured 45 times in all competitions in the last campaign.

He created an 14 Opta-defined big chances in 36 Premier League games last term, a tally bettered only by Kevin de Bruyne (19) and Bruno Fernandes (20), leading to seven assists.

Since making his debut in the competition for Liverpool in December 2016, only team-mate Andy Robertson (37) has laid on more assists than Alexander-Arnold (33) among defenders.

The academy product's return will therefore be considered a major boost for Jurgen Klopp, but the Reds will remain patient in their bid to get the defender up to full speed in time for their Premier League opener against Norwich City on August 14.

"If you give me the opportunity at any point to train at 100 per cent I would have taken it," the 22-year-old said.

"But there were still things we needed to do. We needed to finish off the last stage of rehab and make sure we ticked all the boxes before we put me back in. 

"And I think we've been able to do that. Now, being back in full training with the lads is good. It feels good and I feel good out there. 

"We've got a lot of players out here, a lot of numbers, so we've got enough players to chop and change and keep the intensity really high, which is vitally important in the early stages of pre-season.

"We've got to try to get as much intensity into the legs as possible and push each other as hard as we can without going too far."

Fellow defenders Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are also closing in on a comeback after returning from injury lay-offs of various lengths.

The absence of Van Dijk for the majority of 2020-21 undoubtedly contributed to a poor campaign for Liverpool, though they did at least recover to finish third in the Premier League.

Alexander-Arnold has talked up the influence of the Dutchman, who also missed Euro 2020 for the Netherlands, both on the field and off it.

"In and around the team, he's such a big difference for us," Alexander-Arnold said. "He's an amazing guy, an amazing player. The impact he has on us is huge. 

"He knows that himself and knows the role he needs to play within the team, as a leader and as one of the captains. 

"He's a big part of the team and everyone is really pleased to see him back training and in and around the team."

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