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.

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

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The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

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But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.