André Schürrle is Jose Mourinho’s first signing as new Chelsea manager


Jose Mourinho has pulled the trigger on his first signing as new Chelsea manager putting pen to paper on a deal that brings Bayer Leverkusen forward André Schürrle to Stamford Bridge.

The 22 year old winger-come-striker has been a long term target of the Blues and is reportedly parting ways with Leverkusen for a transfer fee of £18 million ($28.2m).

Chelsea announced the deal via their website, releasing the following statement: “Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen have reached an agreement for the transfer of André Schürrle, subject to the completion of legal documentation and related matters, including personal terms and passing a medical.”

Schürrle has spent the last two seasons at Leverkusen where he scored 18 goals in 65 appearances. The Germany international arrived at the North Rhine-Westphalia based squad in 2011 on a €8 million ($10.7m) transfer from Mainz 05, where he played youth football and made his Bundesliga debut in August 2009. In two seasons of top-flight action with the O-Fives, Schürrle netted 20 times in 66 appearances.

To cover the loss of Schürrle, Leverkusen have signed South Korean forward Son Heung-min from Hamburg SV. The 20-year-old, who scored 12 goals last season, signed a five-year deal with Leverkusen for an undisclosed fee.

With Schürrle’s move to Stamford Bridge, huge question marks arise over the future of current Blues strikers, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, and the potential blockbuster transfer of Edinson Cavani, Hulk, Edin Dzeko or another world-class striker.

It’s widely accepted that Schürrle’s best position on the pitch is as a winger, which bodes well for Ba and Torres. But the German can also be used in a striker role playing off a target man and if that’s how Mourinho decides to utilize Schürrle, the aforementioned Blues duo could be out the door. Torres looks the more likely to leave, with Napoli and Barcelona knocking at the door, while Ba could be headed anywhere from Arsenal to Monaco to PSG or even back to Newcastle.

If Mourinho sees Schürrle as a winger, this could spell trouble for Kevin De Bruyne, the young Beligan product who ‘The Special One’ recently hinted would be given a fair shot during preseason, and guys like Victor Moses, who has recently been linked with a transfer to Everton.

Things will get even more complicated if Roman Abramovich opens up his wallet for one of the big striker names on the transfer market. Mourinho is said to be keen on Cavani, Hulk and Dzeko, with the Napoli man looking the most likely to head to West London, perhaps in a swap plus cash deal for Torres.

One way or another, this looks to be the first of many transfers for Chelsea this summer. Stay tuned as Mourinho continues to build the army that he hopes will challenge for the Premier League title.

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

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French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

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Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

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Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.

Allow England defender Alfie Mawson to charm you

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Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson is at England national team camp, and the young man is conducting himself in downright adorable fashion.

It seems the 24-year-old London defender cannot quite believe Gareth Southgate called his name for the Three Lions.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“A lot of people wouldn’t have even heard my name until this call up,” Mawson told the BBC. “You know it’s down to performing well at certain times, it’s down to doing the right things and sometimes it’s down to being a nice person.”

Mawson has played every minute for Swans this season, picking up two goals and an assist. More importantly, he’s won 3.3 aerial battles per game and 6.3 clearances.

While this won’t necessarily serve him well against the Netherlands and Italy in this week’s friendlies — they don’t put a lot of hopeful balls into aerial or clearing positions — it’s kept Mawson on the England radar for this summer’s World Cup.

Mawson is two seasons removed from playing in the Championship, and was loaned to lower league clubs like Maidenhead United and Welling United. At the time, he was going to “car boot sales with my girlfriend” which from my limited Googling seems the English equivalent of a yard sale and flea market combined.

“We are in a good position now where we don’t really have to do the car boots unless she wants a bit of excitement on a Sunday morning.”

Pretty good position, yeah.

FIFA urges Russia to hasten work on delayed World Cup arena

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SAMARA, Russia (AP) FIFA has urged Russia to speed up World Cup preparations at a stadium which needs “a huge amount of work” to be ready on time.

With less than three months to go until the World Cup, the 45,000-seat Samara Arena is the only one of 12 stadiums which doesn’t yet have a pitch installed.

The stadium in the Volga River city of Samara was already badly delayed due to a complex roof design, but now cold weather in the Russian spring is causing further problems. The pitch can’t be installed until the weather warms up.

“Obviously we would expect further progress than this,” FIFA’s chief competitions official Colin Smith said on a visit to the arena Wednesday. “We don’t yet have a pitch, and obviously we need to wait for some warmer weather conditions in order to get this pitch installed.”

As of Tuesday, instead of a field, there was an area covered with tarpaulins and snow. Temperatures are forecast to stay slightly below freezing for the rest of the week.

“There’s a huge amount of work still to be done,” Smith added. “From the information we’ve received there’s nothing stopping all these areas being completed on time. It just requires commitment and more manpower to get it done on time, and when we talk about on time, we’re talking about the commissioning date of the end of April.”

If that date passes, it could restrict FIFA’s ability to test the stadium with Russian league games and install World Cup equipment. Outside the arena, deep snowdrifts cover much of an area that is due to be landscaped for the tournament and will host some facilities for fans.

Alexander Fetisov, deputy governor of the Samara region, said the stadium will be ready.

“I’d like to avoid unnecessary dramatization of the situation,” he said. “Everything is being done so that the stadium is commissioned in the time required.”

Samara isn’t the only World Cup field which has drawn attention in recent weeks. The stadium in Kazan has been widely criticized by Russian fans after a brown, muddy surface was used for league games after the winter break.

Smith said FIFA was offering Russia help to get its fields ready, adding, “We’re doing everything possible and we’re convinced that we’re going to have a very, very high standard of pitches at this tournament.”