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Spain Through, Jovanović Signs, and Hodgson on Gerrard and Torres

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Spain in the final to face Holland and Liverpool get their man...

Who's on board for a three-year deal after spending his last four seasons at Standard Liège in Belgium.

This has been in the works for most of the spring and summer, so there's absolute zero shock value here. But as we start to talk about what we think Liverpool need and how the squad can be improved, a left-sided winger was always going to be part of the conversation. Whether or not Jovanović is the man that fans wanted, he's arrived and sounds ready to get going (via the link above):

"It is an honour for me to sign for one of the biggest clubs in football. I cannot wait to start working with the manager and I'm looking forward to joining up with my new teammates on our Swiss training camp."

What doesn't come through in that quote is that he was almost suffocated by the Standard Chartered logo that worked its way into his arrival picture.

I suppose at this point we can start hypothesizing about his place in the squad---which I think, at least for the time being, is fairly close to the starting eleven. Yesterday we talked about some of the potentialities for Liverpool's formation in the coming season, but regardless of how Roy Hodgson sends them out, the departure of Yossi Benayoun leaves Liverpool without an experienced, consistent, and in-favor winger. I don't think this signing means the club should stop looking for wide talent, but it's a positive addition. Jovanović seems to be a bit talented, a bit quirky, and more than anything, excited to be at a big club with ambition. Now there's just the small matter of remaining a big club and asserting some sort of ambition.

So welcome to the Serbian winger, and let's hope that he's the first of a few signings that will improve the club.

In my breathless excitement to announce a signing that we all knew was coming forever, I skipped past the biggest news to come out yesterday, which was Spain's 1-0 victory over Germany. We knew the all-European final was set, but with the win we're assured of having a brand-new World Cup champion.

For all the talent over the years between the two nations, it's the first final for Spain and a first crack at the trophy since 1978 for the Dutch. We know we'll see Dirk Kuyt and we've got to remain hopeful that we'll see Fernando Torres in some capacity. Winning without him yesterday is not the greatest of indicators, but were it not for the short-sightedness of Pedro late in the match we'd have had the goal we've been wanting for a month. And there's no telling how del Bosque will want to approach a Dutch side that, despite their 100% record, are still fighting against criticisms of their style of play and performances. 6-0-0 and playing in the final just isn't what it used to be.

Regardless, it's going to be a fascinating final and guarantees that we'll have a Liverpool thread on both ends.

The last bit of news for the day is the comments made by the new boss on the current talent in the squad---obviously the names on everyone's minds are Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Here's Hodgson's thoughts via the Daily Express, first on the captain:

"I anticipate there might be a situation where other big clubs will try to sign Steven but he gave no indication that he wanted to leave. Nobody at the club wants him to go so I will be doing my utmost to make sure he stays. I am confident he will."

As much as vague details on personal conversations can be encouraging, this sounds like a good thing. We still haven't heard or read anything directly from Gerrard regarding his future, but I'm hesitant to take the oft-traveled "no news is bad news" route. He's been committed and re-committed to the club for years, and I still think the allure of leading the team back to the top is a huge lure for him. That road to the top certainly seems a bit longer after the struggles of last season, but I'm confident that Hodgson has slightly more knowledge of the situation than I.

And if you appreciated the relatively vague nature of the Gerrard statements, you're about to be blown away by Hodgson's comments on Torres:

"Fernando is a wonderful striker and I understand the fans' concerns about his future. Unfortunately with the World Cup still on I won't be able to meet him face to face for another few weeks - that's just circumstance and you won't hear me complaining about it.

"When I do meet him I will be doing everything I possibly can to convince him that Liverpool is the place to be. If he sees progress I am confident that he won't want to go anywhere else. I think he understands the club and the city."

Once again we see two things---the presence of the World Cup as a practical barrier to having any sort of significant contact (as it should be) and the need to assure a top player that Liverpool aren't going to be slumming it over the next few seasons. Again, it's a sign of the times that every story about keeping/importing talent is accompanied by this pervasive and annoying self-consciousness, something you wouldn't have dreamed Liverpool would need to be doing after their history and the 2008-2009 season.

But it's where they're at, plain and simple. The changes that we've known that club has needed (and that the brass at the club has promised) have not yet arrived, and the month of July is likely going to fly by once the World Cup is over. It can't and won't be down to Hodgson to communicate that there's progress being made at the club---the players aren't stupid, and they know better than anyone how the troubles at the top have impacted any sort of progress they've tried to make.

Only four days left until the World Cup final, and less than ten until the first friendly against Al-Hilal in Austria.