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.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.