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Everton striker Nikica Jelavic catching interest from Hamburg

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Nikica Jelavic could be on the move out of Goodison Park as Hamburg are keen on signing the Croatian striker.

Oliver Kreuzer, sporting director at Hamburg, informed the Hamburger Morgenpost that the Bundesliga club are interested in signing the 27 year old and promising talks have been held with Everton.

Kreuzer is a long-time admirer of Jelavic. “He is a great player,” the director said. “I know him very well. I wanted to get him out of Rapid Vienna and to Graz in 2010 before he went to Rangers. That transfer only just failed.”

The issue for Hamburg, who finished 7th in last year’s Bundesliga table, is one of finances as Kreuzer claims the club may need to sell before they can buy.

“Day in, day out, I talk to all the agents, but nothing has come up yet,” Kreuzer said. “If we manage that [to sell two or three players] we could work out if a loan or a payment in instalments would be possible.”

After arriving on Merseyside in January 2012, Jelavic wowed crowds scoring nine goals in 13 Premier League contests. His second season, however, was another story as he struggled mightily, netting just seven goals in 37 Premier League starts.

The issue for Everton is whether last year’s form has deemed Jelavic surplus requirements. This summer has already seen the Toffees bring in two strikers, buying Arouna Kone from Wigan and signing Barcelona starlet Gerard Deulofeu to a one year loan deal.

Competition up front thickens when considering the emergence of Victor Anichebe, who was Everton’s best striker last year, bulling his way to a six goal four assist haul over 26 Premier League competitions.

Everton’s great young hope, Ross Barkley, is another player more than capable of making an impact up front. The Toffees youth product, now 19 years old, has shown glimpses of stardom and could be poised for a major breakout in 2013-14.

Another factor in the potential sale of Jelavic is the value the Toffees can command from dealing him.

If manager Roberto Martinez needs to bring in additional players (a center midfielder is certainly in the cards) and Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright financially stonewalls him (which tends to be the case at Goodison Park) then the revenue from a Jelavic deal could come in handy.

The club would be smart, however, to spend some hard time thinking this one through. Merely because Jelavic endured a sophomore slump doesn’t mean he can’t recapture the form that endured him to Toffees supporters in 2012.


“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.