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?

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”