Cardiff City may have landed their first major target of the summer transfer window, agreeing to a transfer fee for Blackpool winger Tom Ince.
Ince, who racked up 18 goals and 14 assists in this season’s Championship, had been pegged with a move to the Premier League after Blackpool failed to achieve promotion.
Liverpool, Tottenham and Swansea were believed to be Ince’s favored destinations but things came to a halt when Blackpool manager (and Tom’s father), Paul Ince, hinted that his son’s transfer should command a fee in the range of £15-25 million ($23.1-$38.4m). The soundbite was a turnoff to the aforementioned suitors, who dropped their interest and decided to focus their sights on other targets.
Despite the fee claims, however, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay maintained his admiration for the player and it is now being reported that the club’s Malaysian billionaire chairman, Vincent Tan, has shelled out £8 million ($12.3m) for the winger. Ince’s move to Cardiff City Stadium will be finalized after the player pens a deal for personal terms and successfully passes a medical.
If the deal goes through, Liverpool – who tried to re-sign the player this past January but were thwarted after “heated” negotiations – are set to receive £2.8 million ($4.3m) by virtue of a 35 % sell-on clause for their former academy player.
Ince’s move to South Wales will see the England U-21 international challenge Craig Bellamy and Craig Noone for a starting spot on the Bluebirds’ wing. Ince’s deal also is likely to squash the club’s rumored interest in out-of-favor Chelsea winger Florent Malouda, Fenerbahce’s Dirk Kuyt and Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi.
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
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Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
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That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]
On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.