If they’re willing to pay, Arsenal would be a great fit for Júlio César

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It’s not a matter of a transfer free, which would be insignificant for the 33-year-old Júlio César. We’re talking $1.5-$2 million – nothing for the kind of clubs that could be asking for the Confederations Cup Golden Gloves winner. If one of those clubs is Arsenal, whose solution (or lack there of) at goalkeeper could mean the difference between holding off Spurs or being passed for a Champions League spot,* a couple million dollars truly becomes a bargain.

*Since Joe Posnanski writes for NBC Sports, I have a little more license to do these, right? Good, because it’s pretty insane to talk about passing teams for Champions League spots the day the transfer window opens.

The bigger issue for the Gunners in any César pursuit are the club’s principles, ideas that usually preclude playing a player like him the $106,000 per week (£70,000 pounds) he’s making with Queens Park Rangers. Although you don’t hear the term wage structure floated around the Emirates as often as you used to, the club remains dogmatic in its approach to finances. It’s why $197,000 a week (£130,000) is controversial for Gonzalo Higuaín. It’s why the club’s record transfer fee remains a relatively low $22.8 million (£15 million).

But to dissociate transfer fees and wages when assessing a player’s cost would be mistake. There are levels in which that distinction may matter, but in terms of the financial commitment you have to make to a player, both have to be considered as part of a total outlay. It shouldn’t be looked at as $2 million being cheap for César or his wages being too high. The combined package should be considered against what the combined package for a similar talent would run.

Seventy thousand pounds a week does seem high for César. It’s undoubtedly how he was lured to a club like QPR. But at this point, Arsenal may not be able to get him off that number, a number that’s undoubtedly contributing to his low transfer fee. They may need to look at the near $7 million total commitment and ask if they could get a better deal elsewhere.

Given what we saw from César in Brazil, what we saw in the recent past at Inter Milan, and what we saw at times for QPR, it’s hard to imagine Arsenal finding that value elsewhere. As long as his transfer fee stays very low, Arsenal should be able to justify his wages.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man City steps towards the title, Merseyside recap

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect Derby Day, where Man City set the Premier League single season all time consecutive winning streak against rivals Man United, Jurgen Klopp had a bad day at the office against the blue half of Merseyside and Arsenal stutter again away from home.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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La Liga & Serie A: Suarez, Messi pace Barca; AC Milan tops Bologna

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Villareal 0-2 Barcelona

The visitors struggled to break down Villareal’s back line throughout the opening 45 minutes, but the Blaugrana were aided by Raba’s second-half dismissal on Sunday. From there, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez helped Barca pick up its 12th win of the season and restore the club’s five-point lead over Valencia.

Messi’s goal — his 525th for the club — matched Gerd Muller’s Barca record on Sunday, while the finish was his 18th in all competitions this season.

Real Betis 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Saul Niguez scored his second goal of the La Liga season to help give Atletico an important road victory against Real Betis. Atleti now sits third in Spain’s top flight, but remains six points behind league leaders Barcelona.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 0-2 Malaga
Levante 1-2 Athletic Bilbao


AC Milan 2-1 Bologna

Giacomo Bonaventura scored twice on Sunday to give AC Milan a victory at the San Siro. The midfielder opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes, before Simone Verdi’s finish in the 23rd minute leveled the match for Bologna. Bonaventura tabbed his second goal of the day in the 76th minute to give the Rossoneri a win and keep the team inside the top seven. Milan currently sits on 24 points through 16 matches.

 

Elsewhere in Serie A

Chievo Verona 0-0 Roma
Napoli 0-0 Fiorentina
SPAL 2-2 Hellas Verona
Udinese 2-0 Benevento
Sassuolo 2-1 Crotone

Second-half burst gives Ajax big win over Dutch leaders PSV

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For only the second time this season, Dutch Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven have lost a league match.

Ajax stormed back for a 3-0 victory over PSV on Sunday in Der Topper, the long-standing rivalry between the two Dutch powerhouses.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from the Manchester Derby ]

The victory moves Ajax up to third place on 32 points this season, while PSV remains atop the league table on 39 points.

David Neres, Lasse Schöne and Donny van de Beek each scored in a span of 11 minutes after the halftime break to five the hosts a comfortable result.

Neres broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when he stunned PSV with a long-distance volley that couldn’t be dealt with by goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

Schone then found the back of the net three minutes later, while Van de Beek capped off the outing with the dagger in the 72 minute.

Sunday’s win also gives Ajax a slim advantage over their rival in the all-time Eredivisie series, 54-24-53.

Stanford knocks off Indiana to capture third consecutive NCAA title

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Prior to this weekend, only one team in NCAA men’s soccer history had won three or more titles in consecutive years. Now, you can add Stanford to that list.

The Cardinal knocked off the Indiana Hoosiers, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Talen Energy Stadium behind Sam Werner’s extra-time winner.

[ MORE: Kamara, Zimmerman amongst biggest MLS trade moves on Sunday ]

Werner, who also scored the second goal for the Cardinal in Friday night’s 2-0 victory against the Akron Zips, provided the finish in the second overtime after powering a shot over Hoosiers goalkeeper Trey Muse.

On the cold day in Chester, PA, both sides struggled to come up with chances on goal, with the Hoosiers managing just one shot on target in the match.

Prior to 2015, Stanford had never won a College Cup in school history, however, the Cardinal are now tied for sixth in NCAA history with their third championship.

The University of St. Louis has captured the most titles in men’s soccer, with 10, while Indiana’s eight championships rank second.