Spanish invasion of the Premier League continues, when will it end?

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With less than a month to go until the 2013-14 Premier League season, English clubs have scoured the Iberian peninsula for talent this summer.

That’s just the way it is.

After Michu’s sensational season for Swansea City last year, phrases such as “there’s top value in La Liga” and “Spain is the place to go for cheap yet dependable players” are being banded around the soccer community.

But it seems as if most of the Spanish clubs have cottoned on to English teams stealing their promising talents for a relatively small sum.

Nonetheless, Spain has still been the destination of choice for PL sides to splash the cash this summer.

Take Manchester City for example, they’ve brought in Sevilla’s two best player in Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo but it didn’t come cheap. The Spanish duo cost in excess of $50 million.

For two international soccer players that’s still pretty cheap in this day and age, but still, every English club searching for the next ‘Michu’ is having a tough time finding him.

Perhaps Liverpool have had the best value for money so far, with Brendan Rodgers bringing in Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas for $20 million. Both excelled with Barcelona’s B team and Celta Vigo respectively last season and could bring excitement and Spanish flair to Anfield. While Swansea are the masters once again, as Michael Laudrup knows the Spanish domestic market like the back of his hand.

(MORE: Swansea’s Michael Laudrup deserves big-time credit)

After coaching Real Mallorca and playing in Spain, Laudrup can sniff out a La Liga bargain in a Force nine storm. He has added Jose Canas, Jordi Amat and Alejandro Puzuelo all for less than $10 million.

Those are just a few clubs, but young Spaniards are popping up all over the Premier League and the rest of Europe. And other Spaniards David Silva, Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla have all proved successful in the past.

The value is there, you just have to know where. And even with the vast scouting networks every Premier League club employs today, certain managers (Laudrup) and certain clubs just seem to get better value for money than others. But at the end of the day, besides Real Madrid and Barcelona, Spanish soccer is in ruins financially, as even Champions League regulars Valencia are going through a cash crisis.

(MORE: Manchester City sign Spaniard Alvaro Negredo for $30 million)

English clubs provide the money and hold the Spanish teams to ransom. That’s just business.

Spanish shores have proved fruitful for PL players in recent time, Michu is just the one everyone focuses on. He cost $3 million and scored 22 goals in his first season in England. So you can see why.

But if any of the other aforementioned players have the same impact Michu had, then English clubs will continue to raid Spain for emerging talent.

Years ago France and Scandinavia were the places to look for the best deals on players. And this ‘bargain bucket’ mentality in Spain won’t last for much longer. Premier League clubs will look to get the best deals before the market price eventually rises.

Then they’ll move onto the next nation or region to scavenge and compete. But until then, let the Spanish invasion carry on.

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game

The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.

Paul Pogba: “Transfers are not in my head”

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Paul Pogba has been discussing his future at Manchester United beyond this season.

The Frenchman delivered a stunning assist in United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, with the midfielder now named Man of the Match in each of his last two games after plenty of speculation about his future at United in recent months.

Jose Mourinho left Pogba out of his starting lineup on multiple occasions, while Pep Guardiola claims he was offered to buy Pogba in January and speculation about him joining Paris Saint-Germain, going back to Juventus or heading to Real Madrid continue.

Speaking to French outlet Canal Football Club, Pogba had the following to say about his own future.

“Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present. Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner,” Pogba said.

Pogba also addressed the rumors regarding his relationship with Mourinho with reports stating that the duo do not get along and United’s manager is fed up with the Frenchman’s attitude off the pitch.

“I don’t have a problem with him, and I don’t think he has a problem with me,” Pogba said. “He’s the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch.”

Benitez happy to stay at Newcastle if he “has the tools to compete”

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Rafa Benitez is approaching something vaguely resembling sainthood in the northeast of England — with the Newcastle United-supporting portion, at least — but his future remains in doubt as the end of the current Premier League season draws nearer and the next one approaches.

[ MORE: Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the year award ]

Benitez and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley have endured an unhappy working relationship for much of Benitez’s 25 months at the club. The Spaniard was true to his word, though, when he stuck around another season after being relegated from the PL in 2016, then again after winning promotion on the Magpies’ first attempt, but he’ll be faced with the same dilemma again this summer, even after guiding Newcastle to a mid-table finish (they currently sit 10th with five games left to play).

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

If he’s not given assurances that he’ll be handed the necessary funds to properly strengthen his squad during the upcoming summer transfer window, the 58-year-old could very well walk away and leave Ashley to play the part of all-too-familiar villain. Or, as Benitez put it this weekend, Ashley could fork over “the tools to be capable of competing” and make everyone, from the manager to the fans, happy — quotes form the Guardian:

“If they [Ashley’s representatives] want to talk to my people [about a new contract,] they can talk. The main thing is to be sure we share the same ambition.

“I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.

“We have to be sure to have all the tools to compete and achieve what we want to achieve because Newcastle is a massive football club and we want it to reach its potential.”

Of course, the perfect scenario for everyone involved would have been for any one of the numerous takeover bids to have gone through during the last two years, but as was most recently evidenced earlier this year, Ashley and the Toon can’t seem to quit each other just yet.