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

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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

Klopp hopes for speedy solution in club, fans’ ticket-price dispute

Liverpool's fans wave flags during the English League Cup semifinal second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp is used to a much more positive, family-like, everyone-pulling-in-the-same-direction atmosphere at his club of employment, so the present goings-on at Liverpool understandably have the Reds’ first-year manager feeling more than a little uneasy.

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Saturday’s late 2-2 draw with Sunderland wasn’t the first time Liverpool fans have headed for the exit before the final whistle, leaving Klopp feeling all alone, but it was the first time the fans have departed from Anfield early in a pre-planned, organized manner (Klopp missed the game himself with appendicitis). The Anfield faithful didn’t walk out on 77 minutes due to their team’s poor performance — Liverpool were 2-0 ahead at the time — but in protest of steadily rising ticket prices, which were unveiled at $111 per game to sit in the 132-year-old stadium’s new main stand next season.

Klopp, coming from the Bundesliga, where a season ticket at clubs the size of Bayern Munich and Dortmund doesn’t cost much more than a single-game ticket at many Premier League grounds, understands the fans’ frustration. At the end of the day, though, he works for the club, which is why he just wants the whole thing settled quickly, for the sake of his squad — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s not what we want. What I know is everyone in the club has a big interest in finding a solution for this. We don’t want people to leave the stadium before the game is finished.”

An LFC TV appearance by Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre, in which he was expected to answer fan-submitted questions, was consequently canceled on Monday due to the ongoing dispute.

West Ham want Payet to sign new contract for fear of losing him this summer

Dimitri Payet, West Ham United FC (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Dimitri Payet is going to be a red-hot commodity during this summer’s transfer window, there’s no doubt about it.

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Given he’s currently contracted to one of the Premier League’s “smaller” clubs — in comparison to some of the giants which are bound to be interested — West Ham United, there’s a decent-to-good chance he could be wearing a different club’s shirt come August. Especially if the 28-year-old attacker shows up and shows out at this summer’s European Championship in his native France.

If I can foresee the interest in Payet, then so too can the executives at West Ham, which is why manager Slaven Bilic took to the press on Monday to convey his desire for Payet to consider signing a new, increased contract at his earliest convenience — quotes from the Guardian:

“We are moving, the club is moving, with the new stadium, with the revenue and everything. We have to move and the most important move is to keep your best players and to add some new players who are needed and Dimitri Payet is our best player — I have no problem whatsoever to say that. Of course, I would love to have him happy, long term, at the club.”

Of course West Ham want Payet to sign a new deal immediately — doing so would accomplish two things in the club’s eyes: 1) increase the likelihood he remains at the club next season, or 2) insure the club receives a higher transfer fee for the player if he leaves in the summer anyway. The more total money remaining on his West Ham contract, the more they can demand of a prospective buyer.

[ MORE: Ronaldo commits himself to Real Madrid through 2018 ]

From Payet’s side — unless he has absolutely zero desire to move to a club like Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United, where he’d likely be paid close to $200,000 per week — he’d be crazy to sign a new contract at this point. Not only would it make a move this summer more difficult, but a strong showing at EURO 2016 could be worth another $15,000 or $20,000 per week on a new contract with West Ham (his current contract is rumored to be close to $100,000 per week).

With as many as five seasons still remaining on his current contract (a one-year club option can be exercised at any point), and his stock perhaps at an all-time high, the next six months could hold Payet’s last chance to get really, really paid before he hits the downside of his career.

USWNT players’ union responds in USSF lawsuit

FILE - In this Sunday, July 5, 2015 file photo, the United States Women's National Team celebrates with the trophy after they beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s original lawsuit against the union for its champion women’s national team has been sealed after the governing body realized it had disclosed the home addresses and email accounts of many players, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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(AP) — The union that represents the Women’s World Cup-winning American national team opposed an expedited schedule in the lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Soccer Federation last week, insisting no collective bargaining agreement exists.

The federation sued in an attempt to establish it has a contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that runs through this year’s Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.

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The USSF filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago asking for an expedited schedule, and the submitted opposition papers Monday that claim “facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed.”

The union also maintains the USSF knew about the disagreement since July but did nothing about it.

An initial status conference is set for April 4.

Lionel Messi to undergo tests for lingering kidney problems

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holds the ball during a quarterfinal, second leg, Copa del Rey soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi is to undergo medical tests to assess a recurrence of kidney problems.

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup | Barca win on Sunday

Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to a renal colic, an abdominal ailment often related to the presence of kidney stones within renal ducts.

Barcelona says in a statement Monday that the tests to be conducted by Tuesday at the latest, are “to assess the evolution of the kidney problem he suffered last December.”

[ MORE: Champions League returns next week — KO round matchups ]

The statement says Messi will resume training with the squad on Wednesday, when Barcelona travels to Valencia for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals in which it carries a 7-0 lead.