John Terry willing to end international retirement, Hodgson should pass

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Chelsea’s John Terry is willing to end his hasty international retirement, an offer that should have England manager Roy Hodgson browsing for “Thanks, but no thanks” cards. Though England have proved thin at center half since Terry quit the Three Lions in September, there’s little good that can come from reintegrating the former captain into the current squad.

According to Dominic Fifield at the Guardian, Terry has his sights set on Brazil 2014, a change of heart partially motivated by impending changes at the top of The FA. David Bernstein, the current chairman of England’s federation, is set to step own later this year, and as we learned last week, Terry still resents Bernstein’s part in last year’s suspension for racial abuse.

When he retired from international duty, Terry called his position within the England national team “untenable.” Rather than represent a federation that was willing to ban him four games after he’d been cleared in a court of law, the Chelsea captain chose to walk away. At the time, it looked like a principled stand. Rather than persist in squad in which he was arguably still a starter, Terry was willing to call it an early day on a 78-cap career.

Now, with Terry’s potential comeback coinciding with Bernstein’s upcoming departure, his September retirement seems like a unsuccessful power play. That, or retirement seems more political than we may have originally thought. If I’m going to be suspended, I’ll just retire. Oh, nobody’s rallying to the cause? Um …

While there will always be a faction of onlookers who ascribe cynical motives to Terry, there was previously reason to believe his decision stemmed from a desire to eliminate a negative from his life. And there’s still reason to believe those were his thoughts, at the time. But now, with this willingness to make a quick about face that coincides with his snub of Bernstein? It casts that hasty retirement in another light.

You hate to say that if Terry’s simply had a change of heart. It’s entirely possible that he retired, regrets his decision, and now wants to rejoin his national team, a realization you wouldn’t begrudge anybody. Yet that indecisiveness only adds to the baggage Terry carries back into the national team, a history Hodgson need not engage when Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, and Chris Smalling (and perhaps even Rio Ferdinand) are all viable options.

Although Terry’s post-prime decline has been exaggerated, he is no longer an improvement over that array of decent if unspectacular options, meaning there’s little incentive to bring him back into the team. The volatility that accompanies him is unlikely to be matched by an increased chance of success in Brazil. Though you never want to close a door when, should his center backs against become depleted, Hodgson could use Terry, the England boss may want to steer clear of Terry.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.