Scott Sinclair’s ‘happiest moment’? When he signed for City, of course

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I’ve always been a massive fan of the IMG/Premier League produced television show, ‘Premier League World’.

The nerdy cousin of the famous ‘Premier League Review Show’ and the equally intoxicating ‘Premier League Preview’, ‘World’ provides a behind-the-scenes view of the league and its clubs, covering topics such as community work, transfer news, tour updates, international players living in England and more. Along with ‘Review’ and ‘Preview’, ‘World’ represents the finest supporting content in the footballing world. If you haven’t tuned in already, I highly encourage you to do so.

In one of the show’s shorter segments, ‘World’ asks a current player a series of questions for which he provides short, insightful answers. In this week’s show, Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair was the man in the hot seat. In the series of questions asked of Sinclair he was queried on his ‘Happiest Moment’ as a footballer.

The question brought a huge smile to Sinclair’s boyish face and without hesitation the winger explained: “The moment I signed for City.”

My jaw dropped to the floor.

How on earth Sinclair’s happiest moment could be the moment he signed for City is beyond me.

I figured he would’ve said scoring a hat-trick in Swansea’s 4-2 victory over Reading in the 2011 Championship playoff final to help the Swans become the first Welsh club to compete in the Premier League. Or, perhaps something with an international flavor like getting capped by the England U-21s or scoring a goal for Stuart Pearce’s 18-man Olympic squad.

But not signing for City. That, I didn’t see coming.

Mainly because I would’ve thought his decision to sign with City would rate as one of his worst moments of his career. My disdain for Sinclair’s answer is simple – since leaving Swansea to sign a four-year contract with City in August 2012 he’s appeared in only 15 of 46 competitions. Making matters worse, 12 of those 15 appearances have come as a late match substitute. In other words, he’s barely stepped on the pitch.

And it’s not like this is the first time Sinclair has been thwarted by life at a big club. In 2004 he signed with Chelsea only to spend next five years being loaned out to six different clubs. Not exactly the best way to spend your formative years as a footballer.

It’s not that I don’t understand Sinclair’s motive for the answer. I get it – it’s all about the money. It’s a fact widely known and accepted throughout football. And for Sinclair, the proof is in the pudding as the winger more than quadrupled his £10,000-a-week salary since moving from Swansea.

But still, it’s incredibly disheartening to see a player reflect fondly on the moment when his wildest dreams came true as his talent contemporaneously spoils on the sidelines.

UCL wrap: Napoli, Celtic win big; Nwakaeme volleys beauty (video)

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A day after three of five road sides felt good with their work in first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round, it was the hosts time to celebrate good results.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL first legs ]

Home sides in Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Israel posted wins. Spanish side Sevilla did manage a road win.

Napoli 2-0 Nice

Chances and even possession was at a premium for the visitors, and Napoli found its breakthrough from one of the more overlooked gems in the world. Dries Mertens scored in the first half, his sixth career UCL goal, and Jorginho converted a second half penalty to give Napoli a foot in the group stage.

Adding insult was a pair of red cards in the 80th minute, the first to Vincent Koziello for a dangerous tackle (it was a harsh call) and Alassane Plea was given a second yellow for protesting the sending off.

Mertens’ goal was smooth as silk:

Celtic 5-0 Astana

A pair of Scott Sinclair goals joined an Astana own goal as the Bhoys went a long way towards avoiding the tight tie that made the last round tricky.

Olympiacos 2-1 Rijeka

Heber gave the visitors a halftime lead in the 42nd minute, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized in the 66th minute to minimize the damage for Olympiacos, who would go on to win.

Istanbul Basaksehir 1-2 Sevilla

Remember Eljero Elia? The Dutchman’s on his eighth club and third since leaving Southampton after just a half season, but he’s given his Turkish side hope against mighty Sevilla after Sergio Escudero gave the Spanish side an early lead and Wissam Ben Yedder nabbed the winner.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Maribor

Goals from Anthony Nwakaeme and Shir Tzedek boosted the Israeli hosts to a come-from-behind win.

In the case of the former, it was a beauty:

Brighton breaks transfer record (again) with Izquierdo (video)

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Brighton and Hove Albion have broken its transfer record.

A week after setting a new club standard with the signing of Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven, the Gulls have signed electric Colombian attacker Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge for over $15 million.

[ MORE: Matuidi medical at Juve ]

Izquierdo averaged a goal every other match for Brugge last season and broke through to the Colombian national team with two caps this summer, scoring in a friendly against Cameroon.

With Propper and Izquierdo, manager Chris Hughton has two more playmakers who can better set the table for a strike corps that has been questioned at the Premier League level.

Brighton lost to Man City 2-0 on Saturday and next faces Leicester City at King Power Stadium.

Matuidi having a medical at Juventus ahead of move from PSG

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi was having a medical at Juventus on Wednesday ahead of a potential move to the Serie A club.

Juventus said that Matuidi arrived at Turin airport in the afternoon and was undergoing tests.

Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the 30-year-old Matuidi, who had a year left on his contract with the French club.

[ MORE: Wenger issues updates on Alexis, Ox, Wilshere ]

PSG, which is also trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros, could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

Matuidi played nearly 300 games for PSG in all competitions after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2011.

After a difficult first season, he quickly became an integral part of the team for successive managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

He flourished from a largely defensive midfielder to a robust, tireless runner with an eye for goal and an enormous work-rate.

Overcoming some technical deficiencies in his game, Matuidi gradually earned himself a place in the France lineup and became a key player at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s European Championship.

At the beginning of last season, after Blanc was fired and replaced by Unai Emery, he expressed a desire to leave PSG and already wanted to join Juventus. But the club blocked his move, considering him too important to leave, and he stayed for another season.

Altogether, Matuidi has scored 33 goals for PSG in 295 appearances, becoming a well-respected player among fans and teammates alike, often taking a public stance when others would not and when tensions arose within the club.

In all, Matuidi has won four league titles, three French Cups and four League Cups with PSG.

This story has been corrected to show that Neymar’s fee was 222 million euros, not 220 million euros.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo responds to five-game ban

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the Spanish soccer federation after his five game ban for pushing a referee in the back was upheld.

Ronaldo, 32, pushed the ref after he was shown a second yellow card in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona on Sunday.

It capped an eventful El Clasico for Ronaldo who arrived in the second half as a sub, then scored a stunner to put Real 2-1 up.

He received his first yellow for taking off his shirt and holding it up to the Nou Camp crowd to mock Lionel Messi for doing the same in a goal celebration in April at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo then received a second yellow for going down in the box under a challenge.

In an Instagram post the Real Madrid forward had the following to say about the decision which sees him banned for the second leg ag the Bernabeu on Wednesday as well as Real’s next four games.

“It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.”