Schalke 04's Holtby celebrates a goal against Hannover 96 during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Gelsenkirchen

Where Lewis Holtby, Tottenham, Schalke and the economies of big-time soccer collide


What’s an early arrival worth for one genuine, card-carrying, ballyhooed prize of an incoming summer transfer?

And that what’s an early departure worth for an outgoing one?

These are the tough negotiating points between Germany’s Schalke and England’s Tottenham at the moment.

Lewis Holtby is en route from Germany to the North London club, having already signed a pre-contract and set to report to White Hart Lane during the summer transfer period. But Spurs want to spur the deal, to get it moving now rather than later.

So they have offered Schalke almost £1 million (about $1.5 million) to make it a rush job, which would see the 22-year-old midfielder move in January.

For Spurs, Holtby would provide needed cover for a thinning midfield; a knee injury will keep defensive midfielder Sandro out for perhaps the rest of the season.

Holtby is an attacking midfielder, so it would not be a this-for-that replacement, exactly. It would, however, provide Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas some options. But the German club is holding out for about double the current asking price.

Here’s why both clubs want the emerging German international: Spurs are fourth in the table, and that means a good shot at Champions League soccer next year. (Don’t forget, that’s why Clint Dempsey moved across London from Fulham in the first place, for his chance on the big UEFA stage.) Fifth-place Everton covets Spurs’ spot in the table. Liverpool and Arsenal, two teams more accustomed to landing those European spots, are right behind and desperate to keep hope alive.

The full standings EPL are here.

Schalke sits 5th in the Bundesliga table. The European placement looks similar there, with three automatic spots into Champions League and a fourth-place finisher going into qualifying for the lucrative tournament.

So the economics matter. If Spurs get Holtby early and qualify for Champions League, they could very well make back the money – even if it might be difficult to quantify Holtby’s impact. Of course, Schalke could stand to lose more than the $2 or $3 million they make if they fall out of fourth.

Where are those data-inclined kids from Freakonomics when you need them?

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).