Liverpool latest: Defender hints at leaving, German wonderkid scouted

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The start of the new Premier League season is just over a week away, and Liverpool will be hoping to improve on last term's second place finish. The Reds open up their campaign against Southampton, and skipper Steven Gerrard says that the club's American tour has helped the team from a fitness perspective, despite losing to Manchester United on Monday night.

"The lads are a lot fitter and sharper now and we will be ready for Southampton," said Gerrard. "The games we have played have been against high calibre opposition and have been a good test for the team. For the World Cup lads, we’ve only been back now maybe 14 or 15 days and we are starting to feel a little bit better. The other lads are obviously a little bit ahead of us, but in a couple of weeks’ time we will all be up to speed and ready to get three points against Southampton."

Manager Brendan Rodgers has brought in three Southampton players this summer, with one of those being defender Dejan Lovren. He looks set to compete with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho, but one centre back who wants to stake a claim for a first team place is Tiago Ilori, who joined the Reds from Sporting Lisbon last summer. After a loan to Granada and speculation of a similar temporary stay at Deportivo La Coruna, Ilori says he wants to play for Liverpool - and may consider his future if he can't.

"I want to stay and prove that I deserve a chance at Liverpool," explained Ilori. "I don't know what will happen. If I have no opportunity to play here, then I'll have to think. But my first goal is to stay here."

Rodgers added to his squad today with the signing of Atletico Madrid right back Javier Manquillo on a two-year loan deal. The Spaniard, 20, adds competition for places with Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan and Martin Kelly, and spoke about his delight at signing for Liverpool.

"I'm very happy to have signed for Liverpool," said Manquillo, who was also linked with Arsenal. "I think it's one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Any footballer would want to come and play here."

Another player who Liverpool are being linked with is young German winger Julian Brandt. The Bayer Leverkusen youngster, 18, has been watched by Liverpool scouts having impressed at the Under-19 European Championships in Hungary, and could be an alternative to fellow youngster and Liverpool target Zakaria Bakkali.

Finally, there has been a departure today, as midfielder Conor Coady has left Merseyside to sign for Huddersfield. The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Sheffield United, but has signed a three-year deal with the Terriers, with Liverpool getting £500,000 for the highly rated youngster.

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