Liverpool look to young Inter man to ease pressure on Gerrard

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There were only five games that Liverpool played this season without Steven Gerrard leading them out at the start, which is quite a heavy workload for a 33-year-old.

Add to that the responsibility Brendan Rodgers placed on him in the latter part of the season in his deep-lying midfield role and the weary legs and extra pressure could have been what caused that infamous loss of footing at Chelsea.

Whether the world works in such a spurious way or not, the Northern Irishman is clearly keen to add another ball-playing midfielder to the Reds’ ranks for next season.

The extra matches playing in the Champions League will add to Liverpool’s schedule means Gerrard, off the back of a World Cup summer, simply won’t be able to play so regularly next term. As a result, the club are keen to bring in Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic to ease his workload.

If Liverpool want another crack at the title in 2014/15, which they are 5/1 to be successful in, then recruits to Rodgers’ threadbare squad are a necessity and the young Croat has been earmarked as a potential arrival.

More forward thinking than Gerrard is now, Kovacic is lauded around footballing circles for his ability to pass the ball while natty footwork often allows him to beat an opponent on the dribble too.

Despite signing a new contract in April, there could be a ray of light for the Anfield club still capturing Kovacic’s signature, as his number of appearances for Serie A’s fifth-placed side have been limited under Walter Mazzarri.

Whether the 13 starts he managed in Italy’s top-flight this season would be topped in the Premier League remains to be seen, but with Philippe Coutinho also likely to need a deputy over the course of the season, the 20-year-old Croat will have every chance.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.