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

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.