Fernando Torres to Barcelona is a rumor with legit backing

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So apparently the Fernando Torres to Barcelona rumor isn’t just a rumor, there’s legit belief that this could happen.

This morning it was widely reported – along with the typical baseless summer transfer rumors – that the Blaugrana were set to offer £17 million ($26.7m) for the Chelsea striker’s services.

To which we all nodded and sarcastically thought: ‘Yeah, sure Barca want Torres.’

But now, the highly respected Spain-based journalist, Graham Hunter, is giving the rumor some extra firepower, claiming “[it] is a well-sourced story,” and that Barcelona are looking to rid themselves of David Villa and buy a new center forward.

Hunter told Sky Sports –

Every time Torres played for Atletico Madrid against them he scored and terrorised them at Camp Nou. He also scored for Chelsea when they were knocked out of the Champions League.

He is patently full of vim and vigour after an initial difficult time at Chelsea. The Barca president has long coveted him and once advised his board to bid for Torres.

They believe there may be movement at Chelsea and that new coach Jose Mourinho will try to bring in different strikers and that Torres may become available.

The truth of it is that Barca are saying they are ready to move for him and they are assessing their resources and it is a story that may evolve over the coming weeks.

And suddenly, we’re all nodding our heads, saying, ‘Ok, that actually makes a lot of sense.’

Chelsea must feel torn by the predicament.

On one hand, Barcelona’s offer means the Blues will take a £33 million loss on the transfer fee they paid to acquire Torres from Liverpool back in January 2011. Plus, despite an infamously horrid start to his career at Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard’s form dramatically improved this past season, scoring 23 times in all competitions.

On the other hand, £17 million is not terrible money for a player who has drastically underperformed since moving from Anfield two and a half years ago. Plus, with the signing of André Schürrle earlier today, there is a surplus of strikers queing up at Chelsea with Torres, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku also on the books.

Making the deal even more tasty is that Chelsea can now take that cash and put it towards the purchase of a world-class striker like Edinson Cavani. Although it has to be noted that by selling Torres to Barcelona the Blues may actually be scuppering themselves in the Cavani sweepstakes as Napoli were keen on a swap plus cash deal between the players.

The other issue to figure out is what will happen to David Villa in this deal?

The Spain striker’s value will plummet if Barca show their hand by buying Torres without a deal in place for Villa. That means we could see the 31 year old transfered out of Catalan at a cut-rate price. You can bet clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal will be sniffing around this deal with great interest.

 

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.