Roberto Soldado’s arrival takes Tottenham’s summer spending over $75 million

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After missing out on fourth-place in heartbreaking fashion, again, last season, Tottenham Hotspur are trying to put that right… by throwing plenty of money around.

So far Andre Villas-Boas has spent a whopping $79 million on just three players.

And if he can keep Gareth Bale at the club, Spurs will have an extremely good chance of reaching not just the top four, but making a modest challenge for the title.

That assessment may seem far-fetched.

But with new eras being ushered in at Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, Spurs are deservedly in the upper echelons of the Premier League. And with North London neighbors Arsenal yet to spend big this summer, Tottenham could mount a serious challenge for at least a place in the top three.

(MORE: Paulinho confirms he’s on his way to Tottenham)

Of course this all depends on whether or not they can resist the overtures of Real Madrid. But let’s forget about Bale for now, and look at the three men they’ve bought in.

The first arrival of the summer was Brazilian midfielder Paulinho. He shone at the Confederations Cup and was the driving force in Brazil’s engine room as they lifted the trophy. Spurs’ midfield has been crying out for someone to really make the holding midfield spot their own. Scott Parker has been missing through injury and Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore didn’t set the world alight last season. Paulinho’s $28 million arrival from Corinthians will solidify Spurs’ midfield, with the feisty 25-year-old ready to be unleashed in the new campaign.

Then Belgian winger Nacer Chadli arrived from FC Twente for $11 million, with the 24-year-old winger expected to push for a spot out wide in Spurs’ new look attack. With Clint Dempsey gone, and the future of Jermain Defoe and Bale shrouded in mystery, Spurs will look to Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Chadli to bring pace, goals and attacking creativity from the wing. Belgian international Chadli will certainly get Spurs fans off their feet this campaign.

(MORE: What can we expect from Roberto Soldado at Spurs?)

And finally, today Roberto Soldado‘s switch from Valencia was officially sealed. The Spanish international striker cost $40 million and will spearhead Tottenham’s Champions League charge. The 28-year-old targetman will pull it all together with his goals, tireless running and cultured hold up play. If Bale does stay — as Soldado has pleaded with him to do so — this summer’s spending spree will give him plenty of top tools to play alongside and wreck havoc in the Premier League next season.

Spurs are building a fine squad. That’s what happens when you splash the cash.

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.