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Liverpool close to signing Simon Mignolet – But is the Belgian the right choice?


Liverpool believe they are poised to sign Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

After having their initial transfer offer of £ 6.5 million ($10.2m) rejected by the Black Cats, Liverpool look poised to make an improved bid for the 24 year old, perhaps as early as this week.

Part of the speculation arises due to club managing director, Ian Ayre, pulling out of a scheduled appearance at a conference on football economic opportunities in Rio de Janeiro this past weekend. Instead, Ayre opted to remain in Europe and pursue discussions with Sunderland.

While Mignolet has avoided commenting on the matter of a transfer, he has indicated a reluctance to sign a new deal at Wearside, giving Liverpool hope.

Sunderland, to their credit, see the writing on the wall. Instead of pulling a Dortmund and refusing to sell the wantaway player before his contract runs, the Black Cats are merely holding out for reasonable value, which they believe is £10 million ($15.7m).

Here are a few somewhat conflicting but ultimately complimentary thoughts about Liverpool and Mignolet —

First, if Liverpool are truly done with Pepe Reina and Mignolet is the man they want in net, then fine. Sign him. £10 million ($15.7m)? That’s a steal.

Do I believe there are more talented keepers for ‘the Pool to purchase? Absolutely. Within the Premier League, I rate both Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Swansea’s Michel Vorm above Mignolet.

Why? Both are better shot-stoppers which, for me, is the most important attribute in goalkeeping.

I also love Begovic because he’s an athletic behemoth (6’5″ with shoulders like a cargo plane) who sounds like he could be an Ivy League professor. Seriously. Ask the Bosnian international any question and he’ll not only respond thoughtfully, but in perfect, articulate English.

My love for Vorm is largely because I believe he has the fastest reactions of any keeper in the world. Simply enough, no one gets corner-to-corner quicker than Vorm.

But don’t take these as knocks on Mignolet – I rate him higher than Reina and believe he could be fantastic at Anfield. I admire the Belgian because he has ice in his veins under any situation and he single-handedly saved Sunderland from relegation this season, conceding an astounding 54 goals in 38 matches.

It’s for these reasons that Sunderland should demand at least £12 million ($18.8m) for Mignolet’s services, and not a dime less.

Juan Carlos Osorio to become new Mexico boss

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Mexico looks to have found a new manager in Juan Carlos Osorio.

Osorio, who had stints managing in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls, was most recently coaching in Brazil with Sao Paulo.

However, the Brazilian club released a statement today that Osorio had decided to step down from his position in order to take the Mexico job.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Following Miguel Herrera’s firing in July, Ricardo Ferretti was named interim manager of El Tri, and will coach the side in Saturday’s CONCACAF playoff match against the United States. However, Ferretti has stated he will not stay with Mexico past that match, and will return to Liga MX, where he serves as manager of Tigres UANL.

Osorio had recently been linked with the Mexico job, but said he would take his time in making a decision.

His only other exposure to Mexican football came during a short stint in Liga MX managing Puebla. He lasted just seven matches before resigning and returning to manage in his native Colombia.

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He was in line to take charge of the Honduras national team in 2011, but he was unable to get out of the contract with the Colombian team he was managing at the time.

There has been no official confirmation of the hiring from the Mexican Federation.

Benzema and Benitez in a war of words at Real Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Rafael Benitez (R) of Real Madrid CF gives instructions to his player Karim Benzema (L) during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Malaga CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 26, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Karim Benzema has scored six goals in his eight appearances for Real Madrid this season, and is currently the top scorer in La Liga.

Despite being in great form, Benzema has continuously been substituted by manager Rafa Benitez, which has upset the French striker.

Benzema opened the scoring for Real in the Madrid derby over the weekend, but was taken off in the 77th minute. Atletico would go on to score minutes later as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

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Speaking after the game, Benzema said he was “fed up” with being taken off, but will continue to work to help his team.

Substitutions are what the coach decides, I’m just there to help my teammates.

It’s true I’m fed up of being taken off. I’m calm and will continue to work so I’m not always subtituted. He took me off to get a result, for defensive reasons.

It’s true that the electronic board always shows the No.9. Ask Benitez why that is.

When told about Benzema’s comments, Benitez said he made the change for tactical reasons, as Real was in the lead and he replaced the striker with a more defensive-minded player in midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

I needed to give the team some balance at that point in the game. I’m a huge fan of Benzema. If I were Karim, I’d also be angry at being taken off when I thought I was playing well and was on a great run of form.

What I’d do if I were Karim is score more goals so that next time I don’t have to be taken off and can say, ‘Hey, here I am.’

Benitez’s response comes off as a backhanded compliment, asking Benzema to “score more goals,” despite the player leading La Liga in scoring. In fact, Benzema has averaged a goal every 84 minutes this season, an incredible strike rate.

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Over the summer, Benzema was linked with a move away from Real Madrid, but he constantly denied the rumors and said he never thought about leaving the club, which he called the best in the world. Just a few matches into the new season, there may be some trouble in paradise.