Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba tak

Shanghai Shenhua threatens to contest Didier Drogba transfer, appeal to FIFA

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Apparently there are two interpretations of whether Shanghai Shenhua fulfilled their commitment to seemingly Galatasaray-bound Didier Drogba. The first — the one the player and destination club are working under — is that months of unpaid compensation frees the former Chelsea star from his contract with the Chinese Super League club. The working assumption is that Shenhua were something like three months behind on their payments to Drogba, delinquency that leaves the Ivorian free to pursue a new career path.

The second has Shenhua moving toward an appeal to FIFA.

According to reports, the club Drogba joined last summer is “deeply shocked” that the 34-year-old is trying to move to Turkey, though it might be better to say they’re shocked he’s trying to move without compensation. Read between the lines of comments from Shanghai and you can see a future, modest settlement between Gala and Shenhua.

Cue the we have nothing to lose, so let’s give this a try legalese:

“We understand that Drogba is eager to participate in the European Champions League,” they added in a statement.

“Shanghai Shenhua Football Club and Drogba on 1 July, 2012 officially signed a formal contract for a period of two and a half years.

“The club has acted in accordance with this contract, and has effectively fulfilled the responsibilities and obligations of the club.

“Shanghai Shenhua is prepared to collate all the evidence and information and submit it to Fifa in order to protect its interests.”

They’ll collate the evidence, say ‘OK, you know we really mean this, right’ then take one million Euro to drop it. At least, that’s what this looks like at first blush, but from our seats on the outside, it’s impossible to know. Maybe Shenhua has a bunch of old school pay stubs they’ll throw down on a desk in Zurich and demand Drogba’s new deal be ripped up.

MORE: Minds caught in 2010 over Gala’s big moves

For now, Drogba and Galatasaray seem pretty sure they’ve got a deal. With Drogba set for at least another week in South Africa, we don’t need an answer tomorrow. But thanks to Shenhua’s reaction, we will eventually need an answer.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.