The Robert Lewandowski situation at Dortmund gets uglier

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One week after confirming that Robert Lewandowski will not be leaving Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich, the Champions League finalists have now issued a universal ‘hands-off’ warning for clubs interested in the Polish international.

“Robert will definitely be playing for Borussia Dortmund next season,” BVB general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke told Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “We need this security to be able to plan (for the season).”

The news comes as a blow to Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, who have all been strongly linked with a move for the Pole, who has scored 54 goals in 98 Bundesliga appearances.

So how did this situation get so sticky?

The biggest issue is that the entire world knows that Lewandowski wants to go to Munich but has been barred from doing so. Clubs also know that Dortmund would love to sell the player (as his contract is set to expire within the next year) but Lewandowski hasn’t expressed the slightest bit of interest in playing anywhere but the Bavarian capital.

This puts Dortmund in a tight spot as there’s no point in negotiating a deal with a club outside of Munich since there’s no guarantee that Lewandowski will agree to it. Therefore, instead of taking a position of weakness, Dortmund are embracing a position of defiance.

Things get even more interesting when you consider that Lewandowski and Dortmund have an agreement that says the player can leave the club if a ‘reasonable’ offer is made. BVB are contending that this threshold has yet to be hit, while Lewandowski’s camp claims other wise. Fortunately, the lawyers are all over this one.

So how is this situation going to end? Is Dortmund really going to eat a transfer fee in the range of £30-£40 million just to keep a disgruntled Lewandowski for one more season?

No way. It simply makes no sense that a club that nearly ran itself into bankruptcy before becoming a model of economic efficiency would waste that amount of money on one season’s wages out of sheer stubbornness.

Plus, if the situation truly upsets Lewandowski, there’s always a chance he goes AWOL à la Luka Modric last summer when Tottenham was refusing to sell the playmaker to Real Madrid.

Expect this story to be an ongoing saga of ‘he said she said’ all summer long before Dortmund eventually caves. Unfortunately for BVB, the longer the drama plays out, the lower the fee.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.