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How Tony Pulis removal at Stoke City may affect U.S. internationals Cameron, Shea and Edu

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It is too early to tell how Tony Pulis’ removal at Stoke City could affect the trio of U.S. internationals there, Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu.

But it’s hard to see how this will be good for one of them (Cameron). It could go either way for another one (Shea). And it can only be good for the third (Edu), for whom things went pear-shaped pretty much from the moment he arrived at the Britannia.

The soccer around the Britannia will improve. Pulis’ negative tactics were generally effective, but they were brutal on the eyes. As for our chief interests on this side of the Atlantic …

Cameron was a Pulis favorite from the moment he landed in the midlands. He had to switch positions, from center back to outside back, but that was hardly a stretch for the  former Houston Dynamo man, who had been an outside midfielder and central midfielder before he was a center back for Dominic Kinnear in Houston.

But Cameron was an immediate starter, named to the first XI just days after arrival. So, hopefully Cameron is OK under a new manager – but he was already in the safe zone under the old guy.

(MORE: Another EPL manager goes, as Tony Pulis is out at Stoke City)

Shea was practically in the witness protection program at Stoke, a fact that never sat well with U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who wondered aloud why the player made a move to a place where he wasn’t more certain of time on the field. But Pulis said all along that Shea came in carrying an injury and that his winter arrival was mostly about 2013-14.

He seemed to fancy Shea and what the lefty winger could do – even though “wingers” were never really part of the vocabulary around the Britannia under Pulis. “Getting stuck in” was always prioritized under Pulis over “getting forward.” Shea could prosper if the new man actually uses wingers, or he could be seen as surplus under a new man who wants “his guys” to get the minutes.

As for Edu, he never really got a chance, sentenced to languish on the bench before a loan into Turkey spelled reprieve. But he remains Stoke property … and now he presumably gets a fresh start.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?