Premier League Transfer Talk: Zinedine says Madrid will buy Gareth Bale

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Tottenham fans will be enraged with Zinedine Zidane’s claim that even a $93.4m (£60m) price tag won’t be enough to prevent Real Madrid from snapping up the superhuman Gareth Bale this summer. Here are the other transfer rumors percolating for today, May 1, 2013:

London

The news is equally bad on the other side of North London where rumors persist that Arsene Wenger could be on his way out of Arsenal in favor of a move to Paris Saint-Germain, although Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood says they’re rubbish. Speaking of PSG, that could be the future destination of Hatem Ben Arfa, who had the couilles to wear a kit of Les Parisiens while working out in a Newcastle gym.

Over in West London it’s being reported that as Jose Mourinho inches closer to his dramatic return at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich plans on welcoming his old foe with a fat $155m (£100m) transfer kitty to help “rebuild” the squad. If Mourinho isn’t the man for the job then it’s widely believed that the Blues will turn to Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini, causing the Spanish club to turn to Wigan’s Roberto Martinez. All sources indicate, however that ‘The Special One’ will be in West London come June and once he arrives, a new one year deal in place for Super Frank Lampard.

At Loftus Road word is that Djibril Cisse, Julio Cesar and Loic Remy are all planning moves that will help them avoid a rough and rugged season in the Championship. Cesar and Remy stand good chances of a return to the Prem but Cisse? I think that ship has sailed. Another player the R’s will be trying to profit off of is Adel Taarabt, who’s array of wildly inconsistent performance and incessant brain farts has somehow convinced QPR he’s worth £15m.

Down the river at Craven Cottage, Martin Jol may face a tough decision as Zenit St. Petersburg are dreaming up a bid to sign Dimitar Berbatov, 32, who has one year remaining on his two year contract. While on the opposite end of town, West Ham owners have found a cheap cure for their defensive woes by lining up a contract for Shakhtar Donetsk’s infamous Rat, Romanian defender Razvan Rat, who is set to leave the club on a free this summer.

Liverpool

At Anfield Brendan Rodgers & Co. may be preparing fans for the sale of Dracula to Juventus by showing interest in 19 year old Partizan Belgrade striker Lazar Markovic, who is also being followed by – you guessed it – Chelsea. The writing may also be on the wall for Martin Skrtel as the Reds plan to outbid Inter for Barcelona defender Martin Montoya whereas  Reading defender Alex Pearce has been named the top target to replace Jamie Carragher.

Meanwhile, the blue side of town is transfixed on bringing in 21 year old attacking midfielder Adem Ljajic after his contract talks with Fiorentina have apparently broken down.

Manchester 

Over in Manchester, all this talk about Robert Lewandowski and Radamel Falcao has Wayne Rooney concerned over his future at the club. Wazza is apparently requesting assurances from Sir Alex Ferguson that he’ll have a role to play in next year’s trophy chase. While Roo may still be on Fergie’s radar, Anderson and Nani certainly are not, as the underwhelming duo will finally be sold to clear space for this summer’s new purchases.

Manchester City will begin “rebuilding” their squad by acquiring 27 year old Toluca defender Diego Novaretti. The man known as “El Flaco” is known for his height (6’5″) and, amazingly, his quickness, and could be the cheap solution to the impending sale of Joleon Lescott. Joining Lescott on this summer’s pink slip could be Gael Clichy, who is garnering interest from Galatasaray, who apparently love buying stars who have past their prime.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.