Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Higuain and Reina to Arsenal?

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This morning we are going to take another quick look around Europe to see which transfer rumors have surfaced.

With plenty of big money deals already flying around, and new managers building their squads hurriedly behind the scenes, this summer is set to see plenty of transfer activity.

Let us begin.

Gonzalo Higuain is edging closer to a move to Arsenal this morning. The Real Madrid striker is understood to have agreed personal terms with the Gunners, and a transfer fee of over $30 million is being suggested. The 25-year-old Argentinian forward would be the clinical finisher Arsene Wenger has been searching for since Robin van Persie’s departure. A proven goalscorer to finish off the huge number of chances Arsenal create could be the final piece in Wenger’s jigsaw. (The Guardian)

21-year-old Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama is interesting Premier League sides Cardiff City and Southampton. The Kenyan superstar is said to be subject of a $15 million bid, with the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona previously inquiring about his services. Wanyama is stalling on a new contract at Celtic Park, but could a move to the EPL with Cardiff or Saints take his career to the next level? (Sky Sports)

Reports from Italy have Juventus tabling a double offer for Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Aleksandar Kolarov. The rumors suggest that Tevez will join for $17 million, while left back Kolarov could leave for as little as $3 million for a season loan. Manuel Pellegrini may already be looking to trim his squad to try and bring in more new faces, with Tevez’ contract situation still not resolved, City should probably cash in on him sooner rather than later. There could be some truth in this. (Tuttosport)

Pepe Reina has cast doubt over his Liverpool future, as the Spanish goalkeeper stated that he would leave the Reds if a “bigger club” came calling. Arsenal and Barcelona have both been interested in the 30-year-old ‘keeper, and after eight seasons at Liverpool, Reina could be willing to move away to win silverware. Arsenal are desperate for a top quality stopper, and Reina could fit the bill. But he would probably cost them in excess of $15 million, with Liverpool reluctant to sell the Spanish international. (The Sun)

Spanish sensation Isco is moving closer to joining up with his former coach Pellegrini at Manchester City. The Malaga star is hoping his move to the EPL can be finalized over the weekend, with a transfer fee in the region of $32 million reported. Isco stole the show at the recent UEFA U-21 Championships, as Spain defeated Italy in the final to win the title. The diminutive attacker would certainly fit in with City’s other midfielders, such as David Silva and Samir Nasri. But would one of those players leave if Isco does arrive? (Daily Mail)

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

[ MORE: Russia’s straw stadium ]

Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

Russian farmer’s straw stadium pokes fun at World Cup costs

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KRASNOYE, Russia (AP) Russia is desperate to control its spending on the 2018 World Cup, and a farmer might just have the answer – straw.

In a project straight out of the “Three Little Pigs” fairytale, Roman Ponomaryov has built a straw replica of the 43 billion ruble ($700 million) stadium in St. Petersburg which will host World Cup semifinals.

His arena made of 4,500 straw bales comes with tiered seating for 300 and flagpoles. It hosted its first tournament – for local teams only – last weekend using modified soccer rules.

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“It’s good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,” Ponomaryov said in a recent interview.

The real St. Petersburg Stadium has drawn ire for its cost, corruption scandals, delays, and workers’ deaths.

Ponomaryov is a fan of the Zenit St. Petersburg club and says he modeled his straw stadium on Zenit’s new home in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction.

“It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction timeframe were increasing,” he said. Russia’s total World Cup budget is around $10.7 billion.

Zenit has accepted the straw stadium with good humor, offering Ponomaryov a ticket to a game at the real thing.

The harvest will keep him on the farm for the next few weeks, though, and he has in mind another project – organizing a Straw World Cup.

Spain’s sports court opens disciplinary procedure vs. Villar

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Spain’s administrative court for sport has initiated disciplinary procedures against Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar after he was arrested and jailed in a corruption probe.

The opening of the disciplinary procedure on Monday clears the way for Spain’s sports authority, the Higher Council of Sport, to rule whether it will temporarily suspend Villar when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

The court’s decision had been expected since Thursday, when the Higher Council of Sport asked the court to act against Villar following his arrest.

Villar, his son Gorka, federation vice president Juan Padron, and Ramon Hernandez, the secretary of the regional football federation of Tenerife, were arrested last Tuesday when police raided the national federation’s headquarters and other properties.

The four were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz ordered last week that the Villars and Padron remain in jail without bail after questioning them. Hernandez’s bail was set at 100,000 euros ($116,000).

The elder Villar is FIFA’s senior vice president and also a vice president of UEFA. He’s been president of the Spanish federation since 1988.

Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation “at least since 2009.”

MLS rejected $4 billion deal which wanted promotion/relegation

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Major League Soccer has confirmed it brushed aside a $4 billion TV deal which insisted on promotion and relegation coming into place in North America’s top-flight.

A report from the Sports Business Journal stated that the owner of NASL side Miami FC Riccardo Silva gave a presentation to the league and owners on June 26, offering a 10-year deal for the domestic and international TV rights from 2023 with one clause: promotion and relegation had to become commonplace in MLS.

Of course, Silva, who founded the media company MP & Silva who put in the bid, would love for there to be promotion and relegation in MLS as his team cannot currently rise above the second-tier NASL.

Jeff Carlisle from ESPN has the following statement from Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications.

“As was stated to Mr. Silva both in person and in a subsequent letter, Major League Soccer is prohibited contractually from engaging in discussions about our media rights with other distributors. We are not in a position, nor are we interested, in engaging with Mr. Silva on his proposal.”

“It is also important to note that since its inception, MLS, like the other North American leagues, has dealt directly with its domestic broadcast partners, rather than through agents and brokers. This ensures that the league and its partners can structure an agreement that addresses all elements, such as scheduling, marketing and digital distribution, that are required for a successful partnership.”

This deal would quadruple the current annual TV deal MLS has with Fox, ESPN and Univision, but it has been stated that no new deal can be discussed until at least 2021.

With cities across the U.S. and Canada lining up to pay the $150 million MLS expansion fee, league commission Don Garber has stated multiple times that promotion and relegation is not needed in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.

With USL and NASL now both second-tier, the only way they can become a top-tier franchise is by buying into MLS with two markets set to be selected later this year from 12 current expansion bids, plus David Beckham’s franchise in Miami still pushing ahead with plans to join the league.