Headshot Gonzalo Higuain

Arsenal deal for Gonzalo Higuaín looks imminent

1 Comment

Word out of North London is that Arsene Wenger is set to break the transfer record at Arsenal and sign Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuaín.

The only thing holding back the Arsenal manager from completing the deal is Madrid’s need to hire a manager. It’s been two weeks since they parted ways with Jose Mourinho and, from all accounts, it looks like Carlo Ancelotti is the man set to take over at the Bernabéu. The Italian manager has made it clear that he’s done with Paris Saint-Germain.

Wenger has everything in line to make the Higuaín deal happen. With his £70 million war chest and the blessing of Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, who last week said the club could now snap up the very best players in the transfer market, Wenger may finally be ready to give Arsenal supporters what they want.

The pessimists, however, will be weary of Wenger as he continues to eye young, low-cost players like Auxerre’s Yaya Sanogo and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastian Rode, who can easily be molded into the Arsenal mode.

From all accounts, however, Wenger is set to turn over a new leaf and bring in established players. In addition to Higuaín, Wenger is rumored to have his eye on Barcelona’s David Villa and Victor Valdez, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Swansea City’s Michu.

The signing of Higuaín should be completed as soon as Ancelotti is in place in Madrid. In an ideal world, Wenger will get the deal done in time to show off his new goods on the club’s pre-season tour of Asia, which begins July 11th.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez values Higuaín at £25 million, a number that if paid by Wenger, would shatter Arsenal’s transfer record by £10 million.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
Leave a comment

Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
Leave a comment

Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.