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5 Performances to Look Out for on Liverpool's USA Tour

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentJuly 20, 2014

5 Performances to Look Out for on Liverpool's USA Tour

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    SCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press

    Liverpool fly out to the USA this week as part of their preparations for the forthcoming season, and are set to play four games against opposition from across Europe.

    • 23 July, AS Roma (Fenway Park, Boston)
    • 27 July, Olympiacos (Soldier Field, Chicago)
    • 2 August, AC Milan (Charlotte, North Carolina)

    With the Reds' World Cup stars returning to the squad, and four new faces in Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic, Brendan Rodgers has the chance to mould the side he wants for the 2014-15 campaign.

    With French international striker Loic Remy also set to join on an £8.5 million transfer this week, as per Mandeep Sanghera of BBC Sport, Liverpool's summer is shaping up to be very interesting indeed.

    Here we circle five key performances to look out for on the Reds' stateside tour over the next couple of weeks.

Liverpool's Global Brand

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Let's not kid ourselves here—Liverpool's tour of the USA is a glorified training session. They could quite easily arrange four equally testing pre-season friendlies in the UK, or at least Europe.

    The real reason is to continue the growth and promotion of the club as a brand, to flog merchandise, and to win more worldwide support.

    The Americans may not have been totally convinced that a football is round yet, but the USA national team's success at World Cup 2014 has further helped soccer stake its claim as the fastest growing sport that side of the pond, as per Jonathan Liew of the Daily Telegraph.

    It is vital that Liverpool keep up with their Premier League rivals by capitalising on such a large country with disposable income to produce additional revenue streams for the future.

Jordon Ibe

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Jordon Ibe has been a name that has excited Liverpool fans for some time now, though only based on brief glimpses of magic from the 18-year-old.

    His likeness to Raheem Sterling extends from his youth to the way he plays, carrying the ball at pace from midfield with dazzling runs and great confidence.

    In Liverpool's two pre-season friendlies so far this summer—a defeat at Brondby and win at Preston—Ibe has set up all three of the Reds' goals.

    Brendan Rodgers told the club's official website after the 2-1 victory over Preston on Saturday that there is no reason why the club's youngsters can't follow in the footsteps of Sterling and make a claim for a regular first-team place:

    The young players at Liverpool know they’re going to get a chance. They’ve seen Raheem progress from a youngster, and that gives them all hope.

    They know that if they do well and show the personality and commitment to play for Liverpool [they'll get a chance] – and they’re here because they have quality.

    If Ibe is to stay at the club this season, rather than being loaned out (as he did last season to Birmingham City), a decent performance on the USA tour will be a must—but he certainly has the ability to impress.

Emre Can

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Traveling Liverpool fans got a glimpse of new German under-21 international signing Can on Saturday at Preston, but his time on the pitch lasted just 20 minutes.

    Having picked up a calf injury in training earlier in the week, the former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was taken off "as a precaution," according to Rodgers, as per the club's official website.

    It will be interesting to see how he gets on in the rest of pre-season, how deep he plays and whether he is a contender to eventually keep Steven Gerrard out of the team.

Lazar Markovic

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    Unless you're an avid watcher of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, you probably won't know a great deal about Markovic, Liverpool's new winger-cum-forward.

    Of course the experts on social media have watched hours of heavily edited YouTube clips of the Serbian in action, but it's not until he dons the red of Liverpool that we'll be able to see exactly what to expect from the 20-year-old.

    Where will Rodgers play him? What will his role be? Does he go some way to replacing Luis Suarez? Lots of questions are waiting to be answered.

Brendan Rodgers

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Rodgers' pragmatic approach to his tactics will take another twist this summer.

    Having built his team around Suarez, Rodgers knows he can't replace such a unique talent. Instead, he must reshape the tools he has and bring in players to make up the 31 goals Suarez scored last season.

    The Northern Irish manager has already been experimenting this pre-season, playing a largely 4-3-3 formation against Brondby and Preston but changing the midfield shape from a flat three to a diamond in the latter game.

    That only lasted 20 minutes due to Can's injury, but it did give a glimpse of how Rodgers may ideally wish Liverpool to play this season.

    Lucas played the holding midfield role, with Can and Joe Allen side-by-side further up. That allowed Philippe Coutinho to sit just behind a front-two of Fabio Borini and Lambert.

    Another aggressive, attacking system reminiscent of Liverpool's relentlessness in the Premier League last year.

    Of course when the season kicks off at Anfield on Sunday, 17 August, the personnel will look very different, but Rodgers will continue to tinker with his tactics and formations this pre-season in preparation.

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