Premier League’s top 10 midfielders

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The Premier League has some of the most diverse, talented midfield players in world soccer, but who makes up the top 10?

10. MOUSSA DEMBELE (Tottenham)

The classy Belgium international has fitted into life at White Hart Lane brilliantly, and was awesome at Fulham before that. He is an all-round midfielder, combining creativity, power and pace to great effect. Still only 25, he will get better and better.

9. YOHAN CABAYE (Newcastle)

The Frenchman is a terrific player, and Newcastle will do well to keep hold of him in the summer. Short and stocky in build, he plays with a ferocious style off the ball but with an elegance on it. He is now a fixture in France’s side more often than not, and has been a great signing by Alan Pardew.

8. MICHAEL CARRICK (Man Utd)

Many say he’s overrated, many say he’s underrated. Carrick’s effectiveness is one of soccer’s big talking points at the moment, but the bottom line is that he’s a terrific player. He has played with a calmness and authority all season for Manchester United and has been their most consistent player. He is neat and tidy on the ball, reads the game well and does a lot of unnoticed defensive work.

7. JACK WILSHERE (Arsenal)

In a few years time Wilshere will be much higher on the list; he really is an exceptional talent. His return from long-term injury has been a huge boost for Arsenal, and at such a young age he is already displaying leadership skills beyond his years. Future England and Arsenal captain, perhaps? He passes brilliantly, runs with the ball, tackles hard and always does his best for the team. The 21-year-old will be England’s best player of his generation.

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6. SANTI CAZORLA (Arsenal)

What a brilliant debut season the tiny Spaniard has had at The Emirates. Typically Spanish in style, he is deadly at shooting with both feet, has wonderful technical ability and has scored crucial goals throughout the campaign. Real Madrid and Barcelona must be wondering why they didn’t sign him while he was still in Spain.

5. MAROUANE FELLAINI (Everton)

The Everton star is unplayable on his day. Tall, aggressive, strong, great in the air and with the ball at his feet, the 25-year-old Belgian international has been a revelation in his time at Goodison Park. He can play defensive or offensive midfield- even as a second striker sometimes- and is one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League.

4. DAVID SILVA (Man City)

This time last year Silva could’ve been top of this list, but he has just dropped in quality ever so slightly of late. That said, he is still a superb soccer player, capable of opening up defences with his amazing passing talent. He has a left foot as good as any in the league and, when he is at his best, he is one of Manchester City’s key men.

3. STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool)

Some thought Gerrard’s injury problems last year would destroy him as a player, but he has come back and been colossal for Liverpool this season. He has altered his game slightly to a more defensive role, but his influence is still as great as it has always been for club and country. One of the Premier League’s greatest ever players, he has played every single minute in the league this season.

source: Getty Images

2.YAYA TOURE (Man City)

At times the 29-year-old walks around the pitch like he’s not interested, looking lazy and slow, then he bursts into life. When he’s in full flow he is literally unstoppable, running at great pace but also incredible strength. He is a giant of a man in midfield, and at his best there is arguably no more influential player in the Premier League. Like  many of City’s players this season he has struggled to find top gear, but he’s still an outstanding soccer player.

1. JUAN MATA (Chelsea)

The Chelsea superstar has been quite wonderful this season, constantly saving his side when others around him aren’t performing. He has scored goals, assisted many others and is just always brilliant in every game he plays. He is a creative genius with a wand of a left foot, but he also does the dirty work and helps out defensively when he has to. He’s basically David Silva but with a bit more strength and desire to his game. His talent deserves to be shown off at Barcelona, and the Premier League is lucky to have him gracing it.

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.