Italy v Spain - UEFA European U21 Championships: Final

Bayern Munich sign Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona for $33 million


Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing Spain international Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona.

The 22 year old penned a four year deal with the Champions League and Bundesliga titleholders and is expected to join teammates and manager Pep Guardiola in the coming days. A statement from Barcelona confirmed the deal:

FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich have reached an agreement over the transfer of the player Thiago Alcantara to the German club for a total of  €25 million [$33m].

The subject of Alcantara’s transfer was one of great debate this summer with Manchester United emerging as his likely destination following the player’s noted displeasure over his bit-part role at Barcelona.

After dominating the 2013 European Championships and helping Spain defeat Italy 4-2 in the final courtesy of his ‘perfect hat-trick’ (scoring a goal with his head, left foot, and right foot), the chase for Alcantara’s signature heated up.

But with United prepared to reach deep into their pockets to land the player, Guardiola stepped forward to name Alcantara as his “only” target of the summer transfer window -even though he technically purchased Dortmund midfielder Mario Gotze during that time as well.

The former Barcelona manager’s declaration brought United’s pursuit of the Spaniard to a halt, recognizing that the reunion of Alcantara and Guardiola, after spending four years together at Camp Nou, was an inevitability.

“Thiago Alcantara was a player greatly coveted by our new head coach Pep Guardiola,” said Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “We’re delighted to be able to finalize this huge transfer. Thiago has just recently been selected as the best play at the U-21 European Championships. He’s a fantastic player with a lot of potential, who will undoubtedly make FC Bayern even stronger.”

For United, the pain of losing Alcantara has come and gone and David Moyes must now look elsewhere in the transfer market for the midfielder his side so dearly requires.

Everton’s Marouane Fellaini looks the most likely to fill that void while Roma’s Daniele de Rossi, PSV’s Kevin Strootman and Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio are all potential targets.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.