Breaking down the Clint Dempsey to Everton rumor

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Could Clint Dempsey be heading to Everton? That’s the blabber going down in today’s transfer speculation.

Now, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves – after all it was just 20 hours ago that Deuce was rumored to be heading to MLS side Seattle Sounders – but Dempsey at Goodison Park is simply too juicy not to at least contemplate.

The information fueling the rumors is minimal and it all comes from British tabloid Metro, which is reporting that the purpose of Dempsey’s trip to the United States was to meet with Everton in San Francisco.

From a connect-the-dots approach, the rumor is foreseeable as Dempsey was seen yesterday in San Francisco airport and Everton are currently in the Bay Area for the International Champions Cup. Of course, so too are Juventus and those rumors have yet to fly.

Dempsey’s presence in the U.S. means he will miss out on Tottenham’s friendly tomorrow in Monaco, which is significant as the 30 year old is not carrying an injury meaning he normally would be available for selection. So the fact that he is currently stateside is absolutely significant.

Also significant is Spurs’ transfer market activity, having recently signed 24 year old Belgian winger Nacer Chadli and 28 year old striker Roberto Soldado. Their addition will make competition for playing time extremely tight for Dempsey, who in 2012-2013 challenged Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Gareth Bale to make 29 league appearances.

Factor in Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenet that his players must be playing to be selected for the national team – and the writing for Deuce is on the White Hart Lane wall. There’s no doubt he’s good enough to not only play in the Premier League but to do so at a Top 10 team. It’s just looking like Spurs aren’t that club.

But what about Everton?

The club has a long history of being a favorable place for Americans, with Joe-Max Moore, Preki, Brian McBride, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard all featuring for the Toffees. Competition and finances, however, will be key issues.

Up front Everton have depth. Roberto Martinez has Victor Anichebe, Nikica Jelavic and Arouna Kone all available to lead the line while Marounae Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley can all play in the supporting roles.

Despite the numbers, the dominos could fall in Dempsey’s favor.

We can remove Fellaini from the mix because by the beginning of the season the Belgian will either be transferred or playing his favored role as a holding midfielder.

Mirallas, who was deployed in the supporting striker role by Martinez against Juventus on Wednesday night, is a versatile attacker who can also be used on the right or left wing.

Deulofeu and Barkley are both young projects, more suited to come off the bench.

Kone and Anichebe will likely vy for the starting spot leading the line.

Which leaves Jelavic.

Ultimately, Dempsey’s spot on the squad will come down to whether or not Martinez wants to keep the Croatian dynamo. His first season at Goodison was a bliss (9 goals in 13 Premier League matches) but his 2012-2013 campaign was a disaster (7 goals in 37). Hamburg have noted their interest in bringing Jelavic to the Bundesliga and if that move transpired, the door at Goodison Park would be wide open for Dempsey.

Which brings us to the other issue in this deal, finances.

Spurs paid $9.2 million (£6m) to bring Dempsey to White Hart Lane from Fulham last year and will likely seek to recover the majority of that cost. Whether Dempsey, as a 30 year old striker, is worth that amount is questionable and an issue for the boards to resolve.

Moving Jelavic, however, would go a long way to Dempsey becoming the sixth American to play in the royal blue of Everton.

Netherlands manager Danny Blind fired after Bulgaria loss

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The Netherlands are in real trouble, and the manager has paid the price.

The Dutch national team has parted ways with Danny Blind the day after a 2-0 loss to Bulgaria left the Dutch fourth in their World Cup qualification group halfway through.

The move garnering all the headlines from Saturday’s loss was Blind’s decision to start 17-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt. The Ajax youth product, who has just two Eredivisie starts to his credit, made two crucial errors and yanked at halftime, but the damage had been done. Spas Delev scored twice in the opening 20 minutes for Bulgaria, and that was all the home side needed as the Dutch offered little in front of goal.

Blind was also criticized for not getting Memphis Depay on the field as they chased the game. The Netherlands held 74% possession, but could only manage 3 shots on target. Depay has been in good form since his January move to Lyon, with five goals in his 10 Ligue 1 appearances.

This decision was something Blind saw coming. He told national broadcaster NOS immediately after the Bulgaria loss, “I blame myself. It can’t go on like this. Things have to change.”

“I need to think about [my future]. I do not throw the towel in here. I’m incredibly disappointed, especially since I had a good feeling about this match. It makes sense that I put myself in front of the mirror.”

However, the problems for the Dutch go far deeper than Danny Blind. They missed out on Euro 2016 largely thanks to the failed 2nd tenure for Guus Hiddink. His assistant Blind took over, but the results have been equally as poor. The Netherlands sit fourth in UEFA World Cup qualification Group A, with losses to Bulgaria and France plus a draw with Sweden. It’s not over for them though, as they sit three points back of a second place spot with five matches to go, and three of those five at home.

With the Netherlands still yet to play their friendly against Italy this coming week, former goalkeeper Fred Grim takes over on an interim basis. Grim collected 101 caps for the Netherlands, and has served as the Netherlands U-21 manager for the last two years. Before that, he took charge of his first full managerial job as head man of Dutch 2nd-tier club Almere City.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).