File photo of Liverpool's Luis Suarez reacting at their English Premier League soccer match against Reading in Reading

Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Suarez to Real Madrid, Benteke to Spurs


After Arsenal tabled a $45 million bid for Luis Suarez that was rejected earlier this week, Real Madrid have stepped up their chase for the Uruguayan forward. Suarez, 26, wants out of Anfield after his agent revealed yesterday that the striker wants to end his stay at Liverpool. But with Carlo Ancelotti now in charge at Real Madrid, president Florentino Perez is set to put in a huge $60 million offer that will test Liverpool’s resolve. If Suarez wants to move, Liverpool should just let him go. We all know what a great player he is, but this saga had dragged on for too long. It would be wrong of Liverpool to keep a player against his will. Now is the time to cash in.

A tug of war is taking place between three EPL giants for Aston Villa’s want-away striker Christian Benteke. London clubs Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea are battling it out to bring the bustling Belgian forward to England’s capital, with Villa now putting a $45 million transfer fee on Benteke’s head. The 22-year-old scored 23 times last season in a struggling Aston Villa team, think of how much better the service would be at Spurs, Chelsea or Arsenal. He wouldn’t have to do it all on his own like he did at Villa. If the bruising striker does leave Villa Park, Tottenham would be a great option. Andre Villas-Boas is a huge admirer of Benteke, and with the World Cup coming up and Belgium almost certainties to qualify, it is a big year for Benteke. A new club and playing in the World Cup? Perhaps.

Sunderland are certainly making waves in the transfer market his summer, and manager Paolo Di Canio wants to add a fellow Italian to the ranks. Juventus winger Emanuele Giaccherni is the man in question, with the Black Cats tabling a $13 million deal for the Italian international. The 28-year-old put in a solid shift for Italy during the Confederations Cup, but Juve may hold out for closer to $16 million. Giaccherni can operate in the wing-back role and also further forward in the central attacking position. Di Canio could make the Juve man his seventh summer signing, as he molds Sunderland into his own outfit. Giaccherni has a sweet left foot and with opportunistic strikers like Steven Fletcher and now Jozy Altidore in the box, the Wearsiders offensive output could increase rapidly.

Ex-Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini has alerted several English Premier League clubs, after admitting he has “unfinished business” in England. The 29-year-old French midfielder left the Gunners to join AC Milan back in 2008, but after several injuries he is only now regaining the form that saw him become a pivotal part of Arsene Wenger’s side. But which clubs will take Flamini? He has spoken about wanting to win the EPL and other titles, but also about being part of an ambitious project. I really can’t see a top four team buying the Frenchman. Maybe an ambitious smaller club would be best for him. Southampton? West Ham? Or maybe, just maybe, Manchester City could swoop for Milan’s midfielder destroyer?

Staying in Manchester, and United’s winger Nani could be leaving Old Trafford as the 26-year-old Portuguese winger has been the subject of a large bid from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. Flamboyant, unpredictable but at times mercurial, Nani’s talent is unquestioned. But after spending much of last season on the peripherals, is it time for Nani to move on? I think that would be best for both parties. Regular minutes and the chance to shine ahead of Portugal’s potential appearance in the World Cup is what Nani needs. Maybe United can loan him out somewhere? I’m not sure if Russia, or Anzhi, is the right option. But then again with Nani, just like his form when he steps onto the pitch, you never know what’s going to happen.

MORE: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Benteke to Chelsea, Luiz to Barcelona

Pochettino trolling? “You got the feeling that Chelsea were a small team”

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur huffed and puffed at White Hart Lane on Sunday but never really got going as they settled for a point at White Hart Lane.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Harry Kane forced Asmir Begovic into two good saves in the first half and Song Hueng-min should’ve scored in the second half with a header but even after after a grueling 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday night for Europa League action which saw them arrive back in England at 6 a.m. local time Friday, manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t pleased his team didn’t win to move into the top four.

“No, not really happy. We deserved more than we got, so I was disappointed, but it’s true that I’m proud of the players. For me they’re big heroes,” Pochettino told ProSoccerTalk. “The effort was massive. Chelsea played one of their best games of the season, and when you make the effort we showed and the maturity, you have to be happy with your players but disappointed with one point.”

[ MORE: Mourinho calls benched Costa “privileged” ]

With Spurs now stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games this season — their one and only defeat in 2015-16 came on the opening day of the season, 1-0 at Manchester United — Pochettino was asked if his side, who sit five points off the top, should be pleased that a draw against Chelsea felt like two points dropped.

The Argentine coach then released his inner Jose Mourinho — the pair have a close relationship and before Poch came to coach in England he spoke at length to Mourinho — dishing out a backhanded compliment to the master of the backhanded compliment.

“This is a good thing. We play the champions. It’s good. You got the feeling that Chelsea were a small team and Tottenham can win every game we play,” Pochettino said. “It’s very difficult, though. Not easy. We’re the youngest team in the PL and the maturity we showed today we have shown in different games. We have to feel happy. It’s a good thing that, maybe, we are a bigger club than Chelsea or that we deserve more. We showed good performances in the last few games, and I’m happy, but we have to keep working hard. We’ve only had 14 games in the PL and it’s too early to think about the end of the season.”

Whether or not those comments were lost in translation from a man who is still getting used to English as his second language, Pochettino clearly felt Spurs deserved more than the point they got and it’s apparent from the differing predicaments both teams find themselves in that Spurs have more chance of winning the title and finishing in the top four than Chelsea this season.

Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Swansea City (Lineups, Live Stream)

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16:  Kyle Naughton of Swansea City is closed down by Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Struggling Swansea City has quite a task with its visit to high-flying Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Swansea has plenty of experience on the bench, and will start Eder and Kyle Bartley.

Daniel Sturridge is again on the bench for Liverpool, while Christian Benteke starts up top for the Reds.



Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Can, Milner, Lallana, Ibe, Firmino, Benteke. Subs: Bogdan, Toure, Henderson, Sturridge, Allen, Origi, Randall.

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Bartley, Williams (c), Taylor, Britton, Ki Sung-Yueng, Sigurdsson, Routledge, Ayew, Éder. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Fernandez, Cork, Grimes, Montero, Gomis.

Watch Live: Norwich City vs. Arsenal (Lineups, Live Stream)

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and Johan Elmander of Norwich City compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on May 11, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images
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Norwich City faces a third UEFA Champions League side in four matches when Arsenal visits Carrow Road on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Arsenal starts Mathieu Flamini in place of the injured Francis Coquelin, and Olivier Giroud is again up top.

As for the home side, there’s a lot of offense on the bench including Nathan Redmond.



Norwich City: Ruddy; Wisdom, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Howson, Dorrans, O’Neil (c), Brady; Hoolahan; Grabban. Subs: Rudd (GK), Martin, Mbokani, Jerome, Mulumbu, Redmond, Odjidja.

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Campbell.

Mourinho on benching Costa: “He is very privileged”

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho defended his decision to leave Diego Costa on the bench on Sunday for Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur, calling the Spanish international “privileged” for keeping his spot in the Chelsea lineup this long.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Costa, 27, has scored just four goals in 17 appearances for Chelsea this season and in their midweek win at Maccabi Tel-Aviv he and Mourinho had a clear misunderstanding in the first half which saw words exchanged.

Since then, reports have claimed that Mourinho is trying to bring in a new striker in January and his benching of Costa on Sunday will add further fuel to the fire.

“Diego is very privileged because he was the last one to be on the bench,” Mourinho said. “Everyone else has been: the captain; Ivanovic, Cahill, the vice-captain of England; Fabregas; Pedro; Hazard, player of the season; Oscar; everyone was on the bench. Diego was privileged because I kept him in the team for all these matches. Today we thought the best strategy was this one. We are happy with the decision and the players. If we had won 1-0, our performance would have been considered tremendous. You will still say it was good.”

Chelsea’s boss was pushed further about Diego’s state of mind as he reportedly failed to put his boots on when warming up and then threw his warm-up bib (see the video above) in the direction of Mourinho.

“Physically he is fine. No problems. He is working well every day. His mood is positive. He’s always a positive guy in the team,” Mourinho said. “I was not expecting to have a player on the bench jumping and singing because he is not playing, unless you’re a kid who has a chance to go on the bench – Ruben, Kenedy, feel that is one more step. But for a top player, they’re not happy. His behavior was normal. He was ready to play when he went to warm up. When I decided not to play him, he went. And probably he is eating while waiting for us in the bus.”

“If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problem”

Mourinho may not feel like he has a problem right now with Costa because Eden Hazard led the line superbly in a false-nine formation.

With Loic Remy missing due to the birth of his child on Saturday, Mourinho decided to replace Costa with the diminutive Belgian and he dazzled Spurs’ backline with several intelligent runs and had Chelsea’s best two chances as he headed over in the first half and then forced Hugo Lloris into a superb stop in the second half from a controlled volley.

Costa’s benching has been coming, and although he seemed to handle it poorly on the sidelines, it’s clear that he must now shape up or Chelsea will move on without him.

“If Costa watched the game with some attention from the bench he will  know what is needed from him,” Mourinho said, ominously.