Altidore 5

Where Jozy Altidore’s transfer will rank among major moves for U.S. internationals


When all is said and done, Jozy Altidore will almost certainly hold the distinct privilege of holding two of the highest transfer fees ever recorded for a U.S. international. If his final sell price in this impending move from Alkmaar to Sunderland lands on the high side of the estimates, he will hold the two highest transfer prices.

Altidore already holds the top spot from that way-premature move into Spain from 2008.

The $10 million price tag that hung for a few years as an albatross on the young striker’s career isn’t looking so wildly out of whack all of the sudden, is it? Outrageously early, yes … but not completely out of line with Altidore’s upside.

It seems safe to say at this point that he still has a lot left – upside, that is. We’ll start to know for sure in about six weeks, assuming the dotting of “Is” and crossing of “Ts” all go without a hitch on this move into Sunderland, Altidore’s second EPL go-round.

No transfer price has been sourced, but estimates during the transfer back-and-forth recently have fallen anywhere between $5 million and $15 million as moves West in Europe to the Black Cats from Alkmaar, a big payday for the small Dutch club wherever it lands.

Here are some other high-profile transfers involving U.S. internationals:

Jozy Altidore, $10 million, Villarreal in 2008: Altidore was just 18 when this good Spanish club, perpetually striving to match Real Madrid and Barcelona, took a big e gamble. In a way, you could say Villarreal’s deciders were right all along about the U.S. striker – but were just way ahead of themselves. And everyone else. Because he never gained a bit of traction, just too young to establish himself at a higher level, and eventually left on a free transfer.

Clint Dempsey, $9.7 million, Tottenham in September of 2012: Dempsey may have eclipsed Altidore’s U.S. record but for the lost leverage; as the transfer window closed, and as the residue of a failed move to Liverpool left things stained, his market value surely suffered somewhat.

Clint Dempsey, $4 million, Fulham in 2007: What a bargain that was in retrospect, considering all the U.S. international did at Craven Cottage prior to his high-profile move across London to Tottenham 10 months ago.

Brek Shea, $4 million, Stoke City in 2013: Clearly, the jury is way out on this one. There’s a new sheriff in town at Stoke City, which is probably good news considering his lack of playing time before. Then again, it’s hard to say; Shea’s lack of action under the previous regime at the Britannia was really about injury recovery and long-term asset protection.

Tim Ream, $3.75 million, Bolton in January of 2012: The former New York Red Bull never made the move work for him in terms of gaining on the rungs of the national team ladder. On the other hand, he is carving out a nice-enough career in England with 28 games last year for Bolton.

Tim Howard, $3.3 million, Manchester United in 2003: He was probably a bit young to stand guard of Old Trafford goal, but anybody who doesn’t recognize how good the move was for Howard in the long run needs to turn in his U.S. Soccer supporters card. Immediately.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.