Brazil v Spain: Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013

Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fred to Man City, Matic to Chelsea

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Manchester City are set to turn their attention to Brazil’s Confederations Cup hero Fred, after City cooled their interest in bringing Edinson Cavani to the Etihad. The powerful striker excelled as Brazil lifted the title, as Fred scored five times and netted a double in the final against Spain. The former Lyon striker could cost only $11 million, after Brazilian side Fluminense picked up the 29-year-old on a free transfer. Fred would be the cheaper option, and as he looks set to spearhead Brazil’s attack in next summer’s World Cup, he will no doubt be hungry to keep producing the goods. (Mirror)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be on his way out of Paris Saint-Germain, with the Swedish striker keen on a move to Real Madrid. Ibrahimovic, 31, wants to follow former manager Carlo Ancelotti to the Santiago Bernabeu and could cost just $ 28 million as PSG look for a fast sale. With Gonzalo Higuain on the move, a strikers spot seems to be opening up at Madrid. Is Zlatan the man to help wrestle the Spanish title from Barcelona? Madrid fans may think so. Although his status as former Barca may not help him out, but he did fall out with the Catalan club, so he is likely to be accepted by Madridistas. (Punto Pelota)

Chelsea and Real Madrid are battling it out for Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic, with the 24-year-old impressing in the Portuguese sides run to the Europa League final last season. Matic is interesting Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, and the Serbian midfielder has a release clause in his contract of $60 million. Whether or not the two European giants are willing to splash that much out on him remains to be seen, especially as Chelsea let him leave Stamford Bridge two season ago. But his quick feet and incredible engine would see him dominate the midfield, wherever he ends up. Chelsea have a good relationship with Benfica, after taking Ramires and David Luiz from them in recent times. Could Matic be next in line? (Metro)

Liverpool now face competition from Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund for Henrik Mkhitaryan. The 24-year-old Armenian star has long been admired by Brendan Rodgers but Shakthar Donestk have claimed no bid matching his valuation. With Dortmund now involved, Liverpool may up their bid to try and land their man before the start of preseason really kicks in. Mkhitaryan scored 25 goals from midfield last season and his slick passing style has seen interest flood in. Liverpool would be a great setting for his talents. But can the Reds afford him? (

Gareth Barry is set for a move to either Arsenal or Tottenham, as the Manchester City midfielder has been told he can leave the Etihad. Barry, 32, has spent four seasons at City after leaving Aston Villa. But perhaps now is the time to leave after a disappointing season last year. However he has plenty of options. His great range of passing and composure make him a good fit for Arsenal. But will he start for Arsene Wenger’s side? And with Spurs buying Paulinho, Barry’s best option could be with the Gunners. However his $150,000 a week wages are a big stumbling block. (The Sun)

More: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, El Shaarway to Chelsea, Cavani to PSG

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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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.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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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.