Celta Vigo's Aspas battles for the ball with Real Betis' Nosa during their Spanish first division soccer match in Vigo

Liverpool officially lock up Spanish striker


The Reds have confirmed the deal for 25-year-old Iago Aspas from Spain’s Celta Vigo is now complete.

According to an official club statement, “Liverpool have tonight agreed a deal in principle with Celta Vigo for striker Iago Aspas, subject to documentation being completed. Aspas can play through the middle or out wide and he could become Brendan Rodgers’ second signing of the summer transfer window following a deal for Kolo Touré.”

The transfer is reportedly for a fee of €9 million ($12 million).

Aspas has Liverpool connections in his past. During the 2011/2012 season, when Celta Vigo were in the Spanish second division (Segunda), his coach was ex-Liverpool player Paco Herrera, who was an assistant under Rafa Benitez during the Champions League winning season.

The Spanish striker scored 23 goals in 35 games that year, as Celta returned to the Primera Division by finishing second in the table.

This move is most likely not a replacement for Luis Suarez, but instead a replacement for Andy Carroll, who is almost certain to depart for West Ham or elsewhere.

However, Aspas is known as another hot-headed figure, playing with passion and desire but also can get carried away at times.  His disciplinary record is fine (just 12 yellows and a red in 69 Spanish league matches over the last two years) but with Luis Suarez already at the club – at least for now – he’ll have to keep his act together.

The Spaniard is also considered a huge bargain for Liverpool, and they’ve done well to secure his services for that price. He had a €9.6 million ($12.9 million) release clause, but that was only available for other Spanish clubs.

Celta Vigo avoided relegation by a single point, which probably would have made his price even lower had they gone down, but with the worsening financial stance of many Spanish clubs, they needed the cash.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.