After twelve straight days of football, a break between the group stages and knockout rounds at Euro 2012 comes as something of a shock to the system—at least if you're not a fan of the Finnish Veikkausliiga and getting set to watch FC Lahti take on Haka Valkeakoski. I does, however, mean that with attention given a chance to focus on something other than the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, all of a sudden there's more Liverpool news leaking out. Strange coincidence, that…
* The biggest news so far this week following Monday's release of the 2012-12 Premier League schedule is that Alberto Aquilani's agent has started talking again, suggesting there's every chance his client will stay with Liverpool for the coming season:
We will have to wait and see what [Brendan Rodgers] thinks about the player and whether Alberto will be of any use to the Reds. Alberto has a contract at Liverpool for another two years and they will let us know about their intentions soon. He would be happy to stay at Liverpool if he was given the right opportunities.
The agent, Franco Zavaglia, goes on to say that one way or another, after freezing him out at the end of the season to avoid triggering his automatic transfer, AC Milan isn't a possible destination for his client and that rumours the player would buy out his own contract in order to facilitate a full time move there are patently untrue. Aside from that last bit, however, if all of this sounds rather familiar that's because it's pretty much the same thing he says every time Aquilani's future at Liverpool comes up, and despite the rather predictable talk of his client's willingness to stick around it always seems to end the same way for one reason or another.
* Moving from a player almost nobody expects will actually be at the club despite that he has a contract to one almost everybody expects to join up any day now, there's further reason to believe a deal for Gylfi Sigurdsson is imminent after TSG 1899 Hoffenheim released a statement saying that the player has been given leave for the first two weeks of pre-season in order to complete a move to the Premier League. If it turns out the move he's been given time off to complete sends him somewhere other than Liverpool, a great many will end the month feeling thoroughly embarrassed. Realistically, though, this news leaves little doubt—if there ever really was all that much—that Sigurdsson to Liverpool is little more than a formality, and that with Michael Laudrup now installed as Swansea's manager there's little to get in the way of completing the deal.
Moreover, along with giving Sigurdsson time off to complete the move, the Hoffenheim statement says they have an understanding with the player that if a deal isn't finalised by the end of the month they expect he will rejoin them with the intention of remaining for the coming season. One way or another, then, Sigurdsson's future looks set to be decided by June 30th at the latest.
Liverpool's 2012-13 shirt lineup [click to embiggen]
* After the excitement over the release of Warrior's Liverpool home kit, the mixed reactions to the new away kit will have been a major disappointment to both the club and manufacturer. And if that wasn't bad enough, that was soon followed by widespread negative buzz about a third kit that was believed to be purple, orange, and covered in tribal patterns. Whether done intentionally to counter this wave of negativity or not, a leaked picture of the dreaded third kit appears set to decrease the number of times people use words like "dreaded" in close proximity to "third kit" heading forward.
Even if it's not as striking as the new home kit and to some might rather echo the look of a goalkeeper's shirt, after all the hand-wringing in recent weeks it seems to at least be not that bad. The primary colour is expected to appear more purple in real life than it does in the leaked photo, and there are rumours that the shorts may or may not be orange to match the trim, and that there are in fact faint tribal patterns visible on the sleeves will always be a sticking point for some. Still, it won't be the worst third kit the club has ever had. And even if it doesn't look to be the best one, either, after the widespread panic "purple, orange, and tribal patterns" caused that's at least something.
We'll be back to get you ready for the start of the Euro 2012 knockout rounds, but in the meantime, while you wonder if you haven't already heard this all before…