Marouane Fellaini’s £23M release clause is a joke

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In case it wasn’t already clear, the £23 million ( $35.8m) release clause reportedly inserted into Marouane Fellaini’s contract is a complete joke.

The clause was inserted into the deal that Fellaini penned with Everton in November 2011 when the Belgian dynamo signed a five year extension with the club. At the time it was a huge coup for the Toffees, as Fellaini had been linked with numerous high-profile moves away from Goodison Park.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of Marouane for the long term,” Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone said. “Marouane has been a hugely influential player for Everton since his arrival in 2008 and we hope that remains to be the case for the next five years.”

Fast forward a year and a half and it’s clear that Elstone’s wish isn’t coming true as it’s widely accepted that Fellaini will be moving on to a bigger club this summer. And the main reason why? Big clubs are foaming at the mouth to pounce on that ridiculous £23 million release clause.

It’s unclear who negotiated that number on behalf of Everton, but whoever it was – YOU’RE FIRED.

Seriously.

How £23 million sounded like a good deal for the Everton board is beyond me. At the time of the re-up Fellaini was the perfect age for a developing talent (23 years old), freakishly large (6’5″ and 190 lbs), and a proven Premier League game-changer in both the striker role (where he had starred in 2008-09 scoring 8 goals on 52 shots) and the holding midfield position (where he decimated everything in his path).

So why did Everton agree to let big clubs trigger Fellaini’s release for such a measly fee?

It’s totally non-sensical.

When Everton bought Fellaini from Standard Liege in 2008 they paid a semi-hefty £15 million for his services. In other words after spending three years grooming Fellaini into a world class player – and groom they did as Fellaini entered the league a hot mess of pointy elbows and knobby knees – Everton was content to re-sign him knowing that when they would eventually be selling him for an £8 million profit.

An £8 million profit? For Fellaini?

If that kind of business was negotiated at Arsenal there would be outrage. Pandemonium. Anarchy. But at Everton, no one raised an eyebrow.

But why not? A quick look at the deals going down for strikers and holding midfielders in and around 2011 proves Everton definitely undervalued Fellaini’s worth:

And while I recognize that comparing certain players’ transfer values with others is never an exact science, it’s relatively clear that Everton could have fetched £27-35 million for Fellaini’s transfer.

Point being, in an age where it’s common for clubs to set over-ambitious release clauses (Porto’s £84 million release clause for Hulk comes to mind), setting Fellaini’s exit clause at £23 million was a travesty.

If Everton haven’t recognize that yet, they will soon.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.