Thiago Silva’s Barcelona fixation remains a problem for PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain’s ascendance to true, top-flight European destination is complete, with their combination of wages, location, and level-of-competition making the Parc de Princes one of the world’s top 10 destinations. Yet even among that elite group, there’s an elite tier. Manchester United found that out when they lost Cristiano Ronaldo. Arsenal found it out when they lost Cesc Fabregas.

Now PSG is fighting to keep one of their best players from the draw of Spain’s big two. Thiago Silva, who only arrived in France last summer, seems ready to move to Barcelona, if this morning’s reports are to be believed. And if they’re not to be believed, there’ll be another report next week. Silva to Barcelona is something that won’t go away until Silva’s in Barcelona.

The Brazilian international, who rose to prominence after his transfer from Fluminense to AC Milan, apparently wanted to move to Cataluyna last year yet elected to try France because of his relationship with PSG president Leonardo, who had worked with the Brazilian in Italy. But with that tribute paid, Silva’s ready to move on, something PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi is dead set on preventing.

It’s a tough situation for the Parisians, if Silva truly wants to go. You never want a disgruntled player in your squad, and when somebody expresses a wish to move elsewhere, it’s usually best to consider a solution, especially when the player can garner a huge fee.

But PSG is still an ascending giant, one that will acquire more Silvas and Zlatan Ibrahimovics before they make a push for Champions League. If those elites talents can’t be convinced to use Paris as more than a weight station en route to other things, PSG will never make progress. They’ll tread water at their current level, one they could transcended if they could combine their prodigious talent with some longer-term continuity.

That’s the general theory. The specifics may be different. Silva’s may be an isolated case, one that may not portend the departure of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In addition, with Mamadou Sakho in the squad, PSG has a third starting-caliber center back, one who made more Ligue 1 starts last season than either Silva or Alex. If Barcelona’s willing to make the Silva sale a profitable one — one that far eclipses the $53 million PSG gave Milan for Silva last summer — the Parisians could argue a transfer is in the best interests of the club.

Silva, a late bloomer, will turn 29 in September. His value may never be higher.

All of that seems like post hoc rationale, however. Not to discredit the value of those kinds of evaluations, but PSG didn’t enter the summer intending to sell Silva. They still don’t to sell him, so if Silva ends up at Barcelona, on some level, no matter how much money they make, the move will seem feel like a capitulation.

“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.