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Arsenal make $44.7M offer for Luis Suarez, Liverpool immediately reject

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The Guardian is reporting that Arsenal have had a £30 million ($44.7m) bid for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez turned down by Liverpool.

The offer is believed to have been made sometime towards the end of last week, with Liverpool immediately rejecting.

For the Reds, the turn-down emphasizes their desire to hold on to the controversial Uruguayan despite his comments about wanting to leave the club because the media in England does not treat him well.

In response, Liverpool explained that Suarez was not for sale and they expect him to honor his contract.

Arsenal’s interest in Suarez emerged last week when British bookmakers reported heavy action on the player’s transfer to the Emirates. One major bookie went so far as to stop taking bets on the move while most sites had a Suarez-to-Arsenal deal pegged at 2-1.

More: Luis Suarez to Arsenal? Bet on it.

The Guardian believes that Arsenal’s bid for Suarez could merely be a ploy to pressure Real Madrid into finalizing the Gunners’ deal to sign Gonzalo Higuain. That deal, which has been in negotiations for over three weeks now, is expected to see the Argentine head to North London on a £23 million ($34.3m) transfer fee with wages in the range of £100,000-£120,000 ($149k-$197k).

More: Arsenal deal for Gonzalo Higuain looks imminent

If The Guardian’s position is to be believed, it would suggest that the Gunners are not looking to purchase both Higuain and Suarez. That would be the kind of double coup Goonahs could only dream about, regardless of whether or not the two South Americans could operate on the pitch at the same time.

Buying both Higuain and Suarez becomes even more unlikely when Arsenal’s most pressing needs are considered. While the club would be well served by bringing in a world-class striker (apologies, Olivier Giroud), buying two would be wasteful. Instead, the Gunners would do well to focus on their most pressing need, bringing in Patrick Vieira 2.0 – a holding midfielder who can handle the ball while dishing out defensive bite.

Everton’s Marouane Fellaini would seem to be the best fit for the holding midfielder role although the club also has expressed interest in Freiburg’s Matthias Ginter, Manchester City’s Gareth Barry, Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons and Anzhi Makhachkala’s Odil Ahmedov.

Once a holding midfielder and striker have been signed, Arsenal will consider finding a replacement for Bacary Sagna at right-back and possibly bringing in another winger.

But for now, all eyes are on the Suarez situation.

And while the Uruguayan is unlikely to end up at the Emirates, Arsenal’s willingness to make the £30 million offer should be uplifting to their supporters. Going into the summer transfer window many worried that, despite being handed a £70 million ($104m) kitty, Arsene Wenger would not shoot for the stars.

Might the old dog be learning new tricks?

After January camp, USMNT looks to rosters for World Cup, Olympic qualifying

at StubHub Center on January 31, 2016 in Carson, California.
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The United States men’s national team finished its experimental January camp with a 2-0 record, and now trains its eyes on World Cup and Olympic qualifying.

The last part is critical not just because of the ramifications of a potential second-successive Olympic absence for the men’s U-23 side.

[ USMNT: Tops Iceland 3-2 | Knocks off Canada, too ]

The Yanks have to deftly divide their player pool because March 25 and 29 are not only the dates for the next round of World Cup qualifying matches — a home-and-home series with Guatemala — but also the dates for the U-23s’ pair of matches with Colombia.

That’s why Jordan Morris isn’t likely headed to Guatemala City, and the same is true for impressive January camper Jerome Kiesewetter and new Chelsea defender Matt Miazga.

[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]

Bobby Wood, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are also eligible for the U-23s, but there’s the rub. All three are in good form for country, and only Yedlin isn’t playing well for his club (That’s because Sam Allardyce isn’t using him much at all. His substitute appearance against Liverpool was his first action since Jan. 9).

New England midfielder Lee Nguyen impressed Jurgen Klinsmann during January camp, and it’s hard to ignore the impact of Steve Birnbaum’s goal and assist.

Assuming health, here’s our best guess at who’s making the squad for Guatemala on March 25 and 29. It’s worth noting that six MLS clubs play on March 26 (NYC, New England, Vancouver, Houston, DC and Dallas):

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson

Defenders: DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Jonathan Spector, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Danny Williams, Lee Nguyen, Darlington Nagbe

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes, Bobby Wood, Aron Johannsson

Report: Atletico’s Fernando Torres has interest from MLS, NASL

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - Copa del Rey: Round of 16
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Spanish outlet Marca claims that a number of North American sides are among the clubs chasing Fernando Torres.

The Spanish striker has only scored more than 11 goals once since 2009-10, and is uncapped since 2014. But that doesn’t mean clubs from China to to the U.S. and the UAE to Japan aren’t interested in the 31-year-old.

[ JPW: Recapping the top stories from an intense Premier League weekend ]

The Marca report claims three MLS teams are interested and also name drops the New York Cosmos of the NASL, who’ve recently brought Venezuelan legend Juan Arango on board.

It’s hard to imagine anyone outside the MLS rich sides taking a risk on Torres. Maybe Montreal would look to reunite him with Didier Drogba, and Torres certainly has experience combining with New York City’s David Villa. As for the third… Orlando City? Chicago?

Your guess is as good as ours, though it could be moot if this is solely about money. China continues to spend well.

Difficult fixture run looms as Aston Villa aims for great escape

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Joleon Lescott of Aston Villa (3L) celebrates with team mates as he scores their first goal with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park on January 12, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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Gabriel Agbonlahor is riding high, as the Premier League Player of the Week broke his duck this weekend and is thinking “great escape” for his Aston Villa side.

Villa has eight points in its last five matches, doubling its season total to 16. That’s still table bottom, but Remi Garde’s bunch would love to see their way out of the drop zone after a brutal start to the season under Tim Sherwood.

What would it take for Villa to pull that off, and avoid the first Premier League relegation in club history?

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Week ]

Turns out, a lot.

There is no easy match in the next five, and Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on the schedule after that.

Villa next five matches
Feb. 14 – vs. Liverpool
Feb. 27 – at Stoke City
March 1 – vs. Everton
March 5 – at Manchester City
March 12 – vs. Spurs

The Villans do have three relegation six-pointers left, and two of those are at Villa Park with Bournemouth and Newcastle United. Villa also heads to Swansea City.

But Villa has to make up 12 points on the Cherries, 11 on Swans and eight on the Magpies. And while they are within two goals difference of Newcastle, they have eight goals to make up on Bournemouth and 11 to make up on Swansea.

That doesn’t include Sunderland and Norwich, sides four and seven points ahead of the Villans (though both have tricky runs left as well).

If Garde’s club is to make its escape, it will be close to unbelievable. That it will close with a match against Arsenal makes it even trickier, but that would be just the final impressive note in what could only be considered a Garde-conducted masterpiece.

VIDEO: Recapping the top stories from an intense Week 25 in the Premier League

JPW at Stamford Bridge
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What a weekend. Let’s relive it.

Round 25 of the Premier League provided plenty more thrills, shocks and excitement as two unlikely title contenders — Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur — are pushing ahead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Our own Joe Prince-Wright recaps all the major headlines from what could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in the Premier League title race.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League news

Click play on the video below to join JPW as he battles the elements and checks in from outside Stamford Bridge in London following Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.