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.

Ancelotti rules himself out of Liverpool job

Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid CF
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Carlo Ancelotti will not be the next manager of Liverpool, if you’re not so cynical that you don’t believe Mr. Ancelotti himself, that is.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Ancelotti, who this summer was fired one season after winning the UEFA Champions League at Real Madrid, has been widely reported a top-two candidate for the Premier League club’s vacant managerial position ever since Brendan Rodgers was fired on Sunday.

While he may very well have been one of Liverpool’s top choices, to hear Ancelotti tell it, he’s not interested in taking the job, nor any other job anywhere in the world this year.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

Ancelotti, speaking at the National History Museum in London on Tuesday — quotes from the Guardian:

“I enjoy my time now but, of course, I want to come back to manage – to work – because it is my passion. I want to take my time to rest, but next season I am ready.”

“Why not [return to Paris Saint-Germain]? I have very good memories of Paris, PSG, I have good relations with everyone, with Nasser [al-Khelaifi, the PSG president].

“But I’m thinking about other things and PSG has a very good coach in Laurent Blanc. I hope he will continue and shine in the Champions League.”

Of course, with Jurgen Klopp reportedly all but officially announced as Liverpool’s new manager, Ancelotti is probably doing two things by ruling himself out until next season: 1) saving a bit of face, given that he was pretty clearly not Liverpool’s first-choice candidate; 2) letting every Ancelotti-sized club know that he’ll be available come this spring and summer, just in case they’re considering firing their current manager and need a bit of assurance an elite candidate will be available.

[ MORE: Klopp expected to be named new Liverpool manager this week ]

For instance, the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus immediately come to mind. A manager of Ancelotti’s quality will always have options and offers, and that’s something he clearly understands. Ancelotti has earned the right to enjoy a year-long sabbatical and to be picky when choosing his next job.

Report: FIFA provisionally suspends Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

Sepp Blatter could, finally, be frozen out by FIFA.

The 17-year leader of world soccer’s governing body has reportedly been suspended for 90 days after FIFA’s ethics committee met on Wednesday to discuss allegations against both Blatter and his close ally Michel Platini.

[ MORE: Chung to sue Blatter ]

Reports suggest that the decision to suspend the Swiss official still needs to be formally ratified by the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, but it is highly likely that Blatter will be suspended until January 2016.

Blatter, 79, has been at FIFA for over 40 years but under his stewardship the organization has been riddled with allegations of corruption as current investigations from both the U.S. and Swiss authorities continue. The longtime FIFA official is suspected of “criminal mismanagement or misappropriation” by the Swiss authorities after a payment of over $1.9 million is linked to Blatter and the current president of UEFA, and FIFA presidential candidate, Platini.

[ MORE: How will USA line up vs. Mexico? ]

Klaus Stoehlker, who formerly advised Blatter, has told Sky News that the ethics committee “made the ruling pending further investigations by the Swiss attorney general” and the verdict was “pending”  but that “no negative finding had been made against the head of world football’s governing body.” It is believed that the 90-day suspension is the maximum amount of time the ethics committee can suspend any individuals while an investigation is ongoing.

It has been reported that the head of FIFA’s ethics committee, Judge Hans Joachim-Eckert, has told Blatter of his suspension.

The leader of FIFA, who will stand down following the next presidential elections on Feb. 26, 2016, has been defiant in recent weeks despite growing pressure from corporate sponsors of FIFA for him to resign.

On Wednesday he spoke out and denied he will quit, while at the Leaders’ in Sport Summit in London another presidential candidate ,Chung Mong-joon, declared that he will sue Blatter for “at least $100 million” and believes the FIFA president and his “cronies” are deliberately sabotaging his own presidential campaign.