Roberto Soldado

Friday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Soldado to Liverpool, Capoue to Cardiff

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Are Liverpool about to snatch Roberto Soldado from Tottenham Hotspur? Valencia have already rejected two bids from Spurs for the Spanish international striker, and Liverpool are poised to jump ahead of their Premier League rivals. With Luis Suárez’ situation becoming more precarious by the day, the Reds have lined up Soldado as his replacement. The 28-year-old will leave Valencia this summer, as they have big money problems. The Premier League would suit his style of play and if he’s in a team that want to attack and get balls into the box from wide areas, he’ll be a perfect fit. Liverpool would have to pay $36 million for him, something Spurs aren’t prepared to do.

Cardiff City are closing in on a club-record signing, as French midfielder Etienne Capoue may arrive in the Welsh capital. Tolouse have reportedly accepted a $15 million bid from the Bluebirds. Capoue, 25, can play in a variety of roles and if Malkay Mackay does pull this one off, it will be a major coup for the PL newcomers. So far they’ve only signed Danish forward Andreas Cornelius, but Cardiff are staying patient in the transfer market and Capoue’s possible arrival will strengthen their midfield options.

Queens Park Rangers aren’t any closer to finding out if Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar is on his way out of Loftus Road. The 33-year-old ‘keeper has been linked with Arsenal and Napoli, but both of those moves have stalled. However, Fiorentina are apparently in the hunt for Brazil’s No.1. On huge wages and unwilling to play in the Championship, La Viola could snap Cesar up for a reasonable fee after he proved just how good he is during Brazil’s triumphant Confederations Cup campaign this summer.

Ex-Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou is planning on a move back to the Premier League after French side Lille have accepted two bids of $7 million for the Ivorian attacker. Kalou is said to have turned down West Ham as they wanted to play him on the wing, instead of a central role. While West Brom are the other club interested and Steve Clarke worked alongside Kalou for many years at Chelsea. The Baggies need to replace Romelu Lukaku’s goals and Kalou would add pace and bags of experience following his successful spell at Stamford Bridge.

Sam Allardyce has turned his attention to Southampton’s Rickie Lambert, after the Hammers failed in a bid to lure Lambert away from the Saints last season. The 31-year-old striker scored 15 goals in his first-ever season in the Premier League last year, making him the highest scoring English forward. He has just signed a new Saints contract and is a hero at St. Mary’s, so Big Sam could be wasting his time on this one. One thing is for sure, Lambert would thrive under West Ham’s direct tactics and certainly score plenty of goals alongside Andy Carroll. But I doubt he will want to go from being Southampton’s main man to West Ham substitute.

More: Wednesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Bent to Newcastle, Soldado to Spurs

More: Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Bernard to Arsenal, Nani to Monaco

Report: Chelsea making first waves in $88m Bernardo chase

MONACO - NOVEMBER 22:  Bernardo Silva of Monaco  during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Monaco FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC  at Louis II Stadium on November 22, 2016 in Monaco, .  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Monaco has slapped a massive price tag on Bernardo Silva, and The Times says that isn’t stopping Chelsea.

Antonio Conte is trying to land the 22-year-old Portuguese attacker according to the report, which says that the Blues are already chatting up the Ligue 1 outfit.

[ MORE: Wenger’s Sutton pitch worry ]

Silva has six goals and seven assists in France’s top flight this season, adding another three in the UEFA Champions League. He did not appear at EURO 2016 thanks to a hamstring injury, as Portugal won the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Chelsea is ready to spend $88 million on the right winger, who can also play in a attacking center mid role. From The Times:

Monaco would like to secure a minimum of €80m (£68.4m) for Bernardo, who is comfortable operating on either the left or right wing or as a number 10. With Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs also expressing their interest Monaco, who play Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, believe a money-spinning auction may develop.

Transfer prices can be hard to predict, but is Silva the sort of talent that will tempt nine figures? We’ve been surprised before, and at his age it’s possible, but color us skeptical.

AEK Athens beats Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) AEK Athens defeated Greek league leader Olympiakos 1-0 in an ill-tempered game on Sunday that saw 12 yellow cards and two dismissals.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win of season ]

Astrit Ajdarevic scored the only goal in the 34th minute with a free kick that deflected off Olympiakos defender Manuel da Costa.

Olympiakos’ athletic director Francois Modesto was sent to the stands for protesting about the lead-up to AEK’s goal. His team’s central defender Alberto Botia was dismissed after a second yellow card in the 75th for pulling an advancing AEK forward’s jersey.

Despite the defeat, its second of the season, Olympiakos has a 10-point cushion over second-place Panionios, which beat 10-man Iraklis 1-0.

PAOK, a 4-0 winner over Veria, remains in third place, one point ahead of Panathinaikos, which beat Asteras 5-0 on Saturday. AEK is joint fifth with Xanthi.

PSG drops points against Toulouse days after massive UCL win

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 14:  Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes on February 14, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Just days after its massive (and somewhat unexpected) beatdown of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain failed to close the gap on league leaders Monaco.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win ]

PSG settled for a 0-0 draw on Sunday at the Parc des Princes against eighth-place Toulouse, leaving the Parisian side three points behind Monaco through 26 rounds of action.

[ MORE: Bielsa returns to Ligue 1 with Lille ]

Despite holding the visitors to just three shots (one on target), Toulouse managed to contain a rampant PSG attack, which posted four goals midweek in their rout of the Blaugrana.

PSG’s first strong chance came in the 14th minute when Lucas Moura’s effort was saved in the bottom corner by goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani may have had the game’s best opportunity to break the deadlock when the Uruguayan attacker struck the post from inside the penalty area.

Unai Emery’s group will be back in action on Feb. 26 when PSG travels to Dimitri Payet and Marseille.

Wenger worried over Sutton’s pitch heading Monday’s clash

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 16:  Pundits Paul Merson (4L) and Matt Le Tissier (2L) take part in a training session alongside Paul Doswell manager of Sutton United (L) and players during a Sutton United FA Cup media day on February 16, 2017 at the Borough Sports Ground in Sutton, Greater London. Sutton United are due to face Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup Fifth round on 20 February.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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The story of Monday’s encounter between Arsenal and fifth-division Sutton United will be whether the minnows can overcome the mighty Gunners.

[ MORE: Mourinho pleased with United’s “attitude” against Blackburn ]

However, Arsene Wenger already fears a bigger challenge within the game, one that concerns his players’ safety.

Sutton’s 5,000-seat Gander Green Lane features an artificial surface, which is largely uncommon for English and most European venues regardless of club standing.

“First of all the pitch. Secondly their enthusiasm. Thirdly that we are not ready mentally for a big fight and think subconsciously that it doesn’t matter,” Wenger said ahead of Monday’s FA Cup meeting in South London.

In preparation for their meeting with the U’s, Wenger had his side train on their own indoor artificial field on Friday.

“Look, ideally we would like to play on a normal pitch. Competition is as well to deal with what you face, and we’ll face an unusual pitch and we’ll have to deal with it,” he said.

“We practice inside [on Friday] because we have an artificial pitch. It’s not the same as it’s a dry pitch, and at Sutton I’ve heard that’s a wet pitch, they water it before the game. So it will be much quicker than what we have.”