Brazilian midfielder Paulinho is too busy thinking about the Confederations Cup to worry about where he’ll be playing this fall. At least, that’s what the Corinthians midfielder is claiming in the face of strengthening links to Tottenham Hotspur, where he would join Moussa Dembélé and countryman Sandro at the base of André Villas-Boas’s midfield.
The 24-year-old, whose style has been compared to that of Frank Lampard’s, isn’t shying from the rumors. As he tries to recover from injury ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal, Paulinho’s addressing the buzz, saying an offer’s been made from Spurs to Corinthians (the Guardian’s reporting says the bid’s been accepted), but a decision will have to wait until after the Confederations Cup:
“There is an official offer from Tottenham to Corinthians,” Paulinho told reporters after Brazil’s 4-2 win over Italy, which he did not play in because of an ankle injury.
“But, as I did when there was an Inter Milan offer, I’ll sit and decide with my family before I make any decision. I will only do it after the Confederations Cup because it’s hard to deal with all these things.”
At this point in his career, this seems like a now-or-never situation. Paulinho’s 24. He’s been at Corinthians since 2010. The fee (just over $26 million) is unlikely to get any higher, and while Spurs aren’t exactly Barcelona, there are few more prominent teams in world soccer. And how many of them are in the market for a midfielder like Paulinho? If this opportunity closes, he might find himself in Ukraine within a couple of seasons.
Chelsea are still said to be in the picture, but they’ve also been linked with every decent midfielder in Europe. Spurs, however, have had their bid confirmed by both Corinthians officials and the player himself. While Paulinho may be trying to leverage another club to get a better deal (or, destination), Tottenham look close to adding a second Brazilian to their midfield.
Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.
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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.
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.)
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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.