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The 10 most in-demand players this summer

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Between the end of the current season and the beginning of next, there will be huge amounts of transfer business done around the world. But who are the 10 best players whose futures will be most under the microscope this summer?

10. MAROUANE FELLAINI (Everton)

The 25-year-old Everton star player is still the club’s record signing, since he joined for $23m in 2008. The Belgium offensive threat is now attracting the attention of the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, and if Everton get a bid of something like $35m for his services it is likely he will leave Goodison Park.

9. DAVID VILLA (Barcelona)

A few years back he was the most respected striker on the planet, but he has declined since his broken leg, and there is a good chance he will leave Camp Nou in the summer. Because of his age, 31, his transfer fee will not be huge, but his wages will be. There is no doubt he is still worth taking a gamble on, and a move to the Premier League, with Arsenal interested, is a distinct possibility.

8. VICTOR VALDES (Barcelona) 

The Barcelona ‘keeper has confirmed that he will leave in the summer for a new challenge, and there will be plenty of clubs bidding for the Spaniard. In his younger days he wasn’t rated too highly, but he has matured hugely as a player. Liverpool’s Pepe Reina has been linked with a swap deal with Valdes, while Arsenal need a top ‘keeper, so like his teammate David Villa, he could soon be playing in the Premier League.

7. CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Ajax)

The 21-year-old Danish international is one of the most highly rated youngsters in Europe, with many great clubs monitoring his progress. A technically gifted, creative player, the Ajax star will cost a lot of money but will be worth every buck. Liverpool, in particular, have been heavily linked with acquiring his signature.

source: Getty Images

6. NEYMAR (Santos)

If the Brazilian sensation was definitely leaving Santos in the summer then he would be right at the top of this list, but his future in uncertain. Many think the 21-year-old will become the greatest player on the planet one day, and Barcelona and Real Madrid look favourites to sign the little genius. It looks more likely that he move abroad after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and expect a colossal transfer fee when he does move.

5. ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (Borussia Dortmund)

The Dortmund and Poland starstriker is on fire this season, scoring 30 goals in 41 games, and there is much speculation about his future. Part of him will want to stay at Dortmund, especially given their current success, but the other part will be tempted by a move to a European giant. Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed an interest in the 24-year-old, while Real Madrid have also kept a close eye on him.

4. LUIS SUAREZ (Liverpool)

Like Neymar, Suarez would be higher on the list if there was more certainty that he was leaving Liverpool in summer. The little Uruguayan has been sensational in the Premier League this season, and many feel he should be at a club that can turn him into an ever more special player. His heart is telling him to stay at Anfield, but his head is telling him to join Pep Guardiola’s revolution at Bayern Munich.

3. EDINSON CAVANI (Napoli)

Suarez’s strike partner for Uruguay looks very likely to leave Napoli at the end of the season. The leading goalscorer in Serie A is regarded as one of the form players of world soccer, and he has the ability to transform a team. Manchester City are strong favourites to sign him, with Roberto Mancini unhappy at his side’s lack of goals lately. Madrid have also shown an interest. The fee could be in the region of $45m.

source:

2. GARETH BALE (Tottenham)

The 23-year-old Welshman is a phenomenon when he is in top form, and he is one of the most unstoppable players on the planet. He has probably stayed at Spurs for longer than many expected, but this summer really does look like the end of his North London adventure. Madrid are favourites to sign him, with Barcelona close behind, but don’t be surprised to see Ferguson make an audacious bid to take him to Old Trafford.

1. RADAMEL FALCAO (Atletico Madrid)

There are some hugely in-demand soccer players around at the moment, as this list shows, but none are being talked about as much as Falcao. Atletico Madrid’s 27-year-old superstar striker has been linked with every big club you can imagine, and will almost certainly join one of them for about $60m in time for next season. Madrid, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, City, Bayern, take your pick. The Colombian will end up at one of those sides in the summer.

Thanks, but no thanks: Sampaoli turns down vacant Argentina job

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 18:  Head coach Jorge Sampaoli of Chile looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Chile at Maracana on June 18, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli says he has turned down an offer to manage the Argentina national team.

Sampaoli tells Sevilla’s website “I had a call from the president of the (Argentine football) federation, but it would be irresponsible for me to leave Sevilla.”

Sampaoli was hired by Sevilla last month to replace new Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery.

The Argentine-born Sampaoli led Chile to its first Copa America title in 2015.

Argentina has been without a coach since Gerardo Martino stepped down earlier this month after losing a second consecutive Copa America final.

Preseason roundup: Chelsea fall to Real Madrid; Man United win big

ANN ARBOR, MI - JULY 30:  Willian #22 of Chelsea defends against Marcelo Vieira Da Silva #12 of Real Madrid during the first half at Michigan Stadium on July 30, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images
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A roundup of Saturday’s preseason action involving Premier League sides, including the 2016 International Champions Cup…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Real Madrid 3-2 Chelsea

Marcelo scored twice in the opening 26 minutes at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., as Real Madrid picked up their first ICC victory of the preseason. It was 3-0 before halftime after Mariano Mejia beat no. 2 goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who started the game and gave way to Thibaut Courtois at halftime, in the 37th minute.

Eden Hazard only pulled back the Blues’ consolation goals in the 80th and 90th minutes, meaning first-year manager Antonio Conte will have plenty of areas to target for improvement as the next 14 days roll by and Chelsea kick off their 2016-17 Premier League campaign Monday, Aug. 13, at home against West Ham United.

Manchester United 5-2 Galatasaray

The Zlatan Ibrahimovic era has officially begun at Manchester United after the most delightful of starts on Saturday. Ibrahimovic scored an acrobatic opening goal just four minutes into his Red Devils debut (watch at the link below), Wayne Rooney scored twice in the rout of Galatasaray, and Marcus Rashford showed once the kind of game-changing ability realized in his breakout 2015-16 season.

[ MORE: Zlatan scored a ridiculous scissor-kick goal on his debut ]

After entering the game at halftime, the 18-year-old was instantly the most dangerous player on the field, running at defenders at every opportunity and singlehandedly winning the penalty that resulted in Rooney’s second goal. Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata scored the fourth and fifth goals, respectively.

Elsewhere in preseason action

Liverpool vs. AC Milan (10 p.m. ET)
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Leicester City (11:30 p.m. ET)
Real Betis 1-1 Everton
FC Gronigen 0-1 Southampton
Bournemouth 1-0 Cardiff
Rangers 1-3 Burnley
Nottingham Forest 1-2 Hull City
Aston Villa 1-3 Middlesbrough
Wolves 0-4 Swansea City
Fulham 3-1 Crystal Palace
Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Watford
Montpellier 1-1 Sunderland
Plymouth 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

After 2015 World Cup success, Australian women stood for better wages — and won

MONCTON, NB - JUNE 21:  Australia celebrates the 1-0 win over Brazil during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between Brazil and Australia at Moncton Stadium on June 21, 2015 in Moncton, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Long before the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a federal complaint over wage discrimination, the Australian women fought for better pay.

And won.

The Matildas, as they are known, will be among the 12 women’s soccer teams playing in Brazil next week when the Olympics get underway. Their strike following a successful run in last summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada was significant as female athletes across sports fight for recognition and respect – including their American counterparts.

“In terms of being trailblazers, I’m not really sure. I think we just sort of went about it how we thought was necessary,” Australian defender Steph Catley said. “We felt we deserved more.”

The Matildas have made a quick ascent as one of the world’s elite teams. They gained national attention last year when they became the first team from Australia – male or female – to win a World Cup knockout round match by upsetting Brazil 1-0 and advancing to the quarterfinals.

The United States went on to win the World Cup with a 5-2 victory over Japan in the final.

Afterward, the U.S. women scheduled a pair of exhibition matches against Australia as part of a victory tour. But the Australian federation withdrew from those matches after the Matildas walked out of training camp and the players’ union said contract talks with the national federation had stalled.

The Matildas, whose contract had expired, said they had not been paid for two months heading into the walkout.

The salary for a national team player was equivalent to $14,475, based on a six-month playing period. That meant many of the players needed to have other jobs to make ends meet. Some players worked two club seasons, one at home in Australia and the other in the United States with the National Women’s Soccer League, meaning they played year-round.

The players were asking for a salary increase to $28,000 a year, as well as other benefits including improved accommodations and bonuses for international matches. The demands were part of larger bargaining that included the men’s national team and A-League players, and the Football Federation Australia at one point claimed the Matildas were being used as a pawn in the negotiations.

But there was a groundswell of support for the women, who have seen their popularity rise in Australia along with the team’s stature on the national stage.

American stars Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, former player Julie Foudy and Canadian forward Christine Sinclair were among those who expressed support for the Australians. There were change.org petitions to support the team.

“The Matildas are courageously fighting for what is right. (hashtag) priclessrolemodels,” Lloyd posted to Twitter.

The deal that was eventually struck in November included a pay structure that puts the salaries for top players at $30,700 per year and those at the next level at $22,400. The contract calls for a 10 percent raise each year and improved bonuses and other benefits.

“Our elite female players deserve a full-time professional career path in football and this agreement represents a solid foundation we can build on,” players’ association chief executive Adam Vivian said at the time.

Striker Kyah Simon said the move made the team stronger.

“The Matildas’ story is standing up for what we believe in and standing up for our brand and our culture. I think at the end of the day it brought the team closer together,” Simon said. “It’s something we can look on with pride, and something that’s hopefully a positive future for our sport and for the new generation of players.”

The victory came well before a group of U.S. women’s national team players filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination. The women claim they make far less on average than their male national team counterparts. The complaint in late March came as the players seek a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.

Heading into the Olympics, the Matildas are ranked No. 5 in the world.

They leapfrogged Japan and Korea in the AFC qualification tournament to earn the trip to Rio along with China – scoring 17 goals in five matches.

Australia is in a tough group in Brazil that includes No. 2 Germany, No. 10 Canada and Zimbabwe. It is the only group with three teams ranked in the top 10. The top-ranked Americans play in a group that includes No. 3 France, New Zealand and Colombia.

Australia opens the tournament on Wednesday against Canada in Sao Paulo.

“After the World Cup everything sort of started to change. When we came home there was so much media attention and so many people that were interested in what we were doing and really proud of the success we had,” Catley said of the team’s rising profile. “I think people always knew there was a national team, but I don’t think they realized how high in the rankings we were and how much better we were getting as a team.”

Conte: “I don’t know” if Diego Costa will be a Chelsea player this season

VELDEN, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Diego Costa of Chelsea looks on during the friendly match between WAC RZ Pellets and Chelsea F.C. at Worthersee Stadion on July 20, 2016 in Velden, Austria. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
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Antonio Conte sent “silly season” into overdrive (all over again) when he admitted on Saturday that he himself doesn’t know whether or not Diego Costa will remain a Chelsea player this season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking after his side’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup, Chelsea’s first-year manager confirmed the reason for Costa’s continued absence this preseason — an injury — but went on to say the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard’s club future remains up in the air just 14 days before the 2016-17 Premier League season kicks off — quotes from the Sun:

“I can say that today Costa is a Chelsea player. He didn’t play in these games because of injury and if he solves the injury and I see in training he’s in good shape it can be possible to see him in the next game against Milan. But I can tell only this.

“I speak for today and today Costa is Chelsea’s player. Tomorrow if you ask me if Costa will remain with us, I don’t know.”

Costa, who signed for Chelsea from Atletico Madrid two summers ago, has regularly been linked with a return to the Spanish capital. However, Atleti announced on Saturday the signing of Sevilla striker Kevin Gameiro, who scored 68 goals in three seasons (all competitions) with the three-time defending Europa League winners, reportedly for nearly $40 million.

[ MORE: Zlatan scored a ridiculous scissor-kick goal on his debut ]

Atleti would hardly be the only suitors for a goal-getter who has netted 32 times in two seasons in the Premier League, including 20 times in 26 games during his 2014-15 debut campaign.