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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.

Klinsmann wants top-four finish at Copa America, but can the USMNT do it?

KANSAS CITY, KS - MAY 28: The USA soccer team poses for a group photo before taking on Bolivia in the international friendly match between Bolivia and United States on May 28, 2016 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
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With the United States kicking off the Copa America this Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann has made his goal clear:

Reach the final four.

After a disappointing showing last summer in the Gold Cup and a poor finish to 2015, the USMNT heads into the Copa winners of six of their last seven matches and ready to make a run. But can they really reach the semifinal?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The U.S. faces their toughest test in the opening match against Colombia. One of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, few are expecting the U.S. to get a result against Los Cafeteros. Just a draw would be a great result for Klinsmann’s men, but it will be a big ask against the fourth-ranked team in the world.

The second match against Costa Rica is key. The two CONCACAF foes have plenty of experience playing against each other, and it is a relatively even matchup. The last time these sides met in October, the U.S. put in one of their worst performances ever under Klinsmann, and he must avoid a similar result at the Copa. If the United States wants to secure their position as one of CONCACAF’s top two sides along with Mexico, they cannot afford to drop points against Costa Rica.

Paraguay will be the USMNT’s final opponent, a very intriguing matchup for Klinsmann. Paraguay’s recent form doesn’t look threatening on paper, as Ramon Diaz’s side has not won since November, taking just two wins from their last 12 matches overall. However, they reached the quarterfinals in last summer’s Copa, earning a draw against Argentina and knocking out Brazil in penalty kicks.

[ MORE: Klinsmann excited about USMNT’s promising youngsters ]

The two sides that advance from Group A will face off against Group B in the quarters. Brazil are the heavy favorites in that group, paired with Ecuador, Peru, and Haiti. The U.S. beat Ecuador last week, defeated Peru in a September friendly, and are strides above Haiti, arguably the weakest team in the field. With Brazil likely to win Group B, a second-place finish in Group A would give the U.S. a brutal matchup in the quarters. Brazil embarrassed Klinsmann’s side in Massachusetts last fall, walking over the U.S. en route to an easy 4-1 win.

[ MORE: Mexico’s Pulido fought off kidnappers to call police for help ]

With the prospect of potentially facing Brazil in the quarters, the U.S. needs to put all their focus on winning Group A if Klinsmann really wants to reach the semifinals. The only match that the U.S. is not expected to take points from is the opener against Colombia, meaning a surprise result, however unlikely it may be, could kickstart a nice little run for the Stars and Stripes.

Firm issues plan urging companies to let employees watch EURO 2016

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Wayne Rooney of England celebrates with team mates after scoring his team's second goal of the game during the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Worried about trying to balance work with EURO 2016 this summer? Acas is here to help.

Acas, a British conciliation firm that helps companies maintain good working relationships with their employees, has called for bosses to allow their staff to watch EURO matches.

[ MORE: Bellerin to make Spain squad ]

Some matches, including England’s Group B showdown with Wales, kick off during the workday at 3 p.m. London time.

Sir Brendan Barber, who is the chairman of Acas, believes workers should be given some time off during games, or work later hours on other days to allow time to watch the EURO.

The EURO 2016 tournament is an exciting event for football fans but staff should avoid getting a red card for unreasonable demands or behaviour in the workplace during this period.

Employers should have a set of agreements before kick-off to help ensure their businesses remain productive while keeping staff happy too.

Our guidance can help managers get the best from their teams, arrange substitutions if necessary and avoid unnecessary penalties or unplanned sendings off.

With the tournament getting underway on June 10, I suggest printing out Acas’ statement and seeing if your boss will follow the sage advice of Sir Brendan Barber.

VIDEO: Payet scores sensational free kick winner for France

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 25:  Dimitri Payet of France in action during the International Friendly match between Netherlands and France at Amsterdam Arena on March 25, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Don’t let Dimitri Payet get a free kick, because he’s probably going to score.

After scoring four of his 12 goals for West Ham from dead-ball situations this season, his touch has carried over to the French national team.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO coverage ]

With France playing Cameroon and the match tied 2-2 in the 90th minute, Payet stepped up from about 30 yards out and did this:

While there may be some suspect goalkeeping on this one, it’s a stellar strike that found the top corner perfectly from a tough angle for a right-footed shot.

[ MORE: Saints set to give Long new contract as Liverpool, Spurs show interest ]

Payet has three goals for the French national team, with two of them coming from free kicks. After being named to the PFA Team of the Year this season, Payet will be a key member of the France squad that has high hopes as the host nation for the upcoming EURO.

El Tri striker Pulido fought kidnappers, used cell phone to call police

HYERES, FRANCE - JUNE 01:  Alan Pulido (no.19) of Mexico celebrates his goal during the Toulon Tournament Final between  Mexico and Turkey at Stade Perruc on June 1, 2012 in Hyeres, France.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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More details have been released regarding Alan Pulido’s kidnapping in Mexico.

The Mexican international and Olympiakos striker was taken at gunpoint early Sunday morning in Tamaulipas. He was then freed on Monday after a police “rescue operation.”

Seen leaving the police station with a bandaged hand, officials have now given information on how Pulido was injured.

[ MORE: PSG defender Aurier arrested ]

The 25-year-old striker cut his hand while punching through a glass pane in an attempt to escape. Officials also said Pulido fought his kidnapper, doing enough to grab a cell phone and notify police of his whereabouts.

From BBC News:

State prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla said the masked gang had taken Pulido to a house in Ciudad Victoria where he eventually found himself alone with one of his abductors.

“They traded blows. He takes it [the phone] and calls [emergency number] 066. It all happened very quickly,” Mr Quintanilla told Imagen radio.

An official report of the calls Pulido made to the emergency operator, obtained by the Associated Press, revealed that he threatened and beat the kidnapper while on the phone, demanding to be told where they were.

In one of the calls, Pulido said police were outside and starting to shoot so he described what he was wearing to avoid being mistaken for a kidnapper.

A wild situation, but the most important thing is that Pulido is safe while one arrest has been made.