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

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET