Adel Taraabt is back in the Premier League as Fulham secure loan deal

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Whew!

For a moment there I though we might go through the 2013-14 Premier League season without Adel Taraabt.

Would’ve been a darn shame.

Fortunately, Fulham have came to our rescue – and Adel’s as well – as the West London club has completed the loan signing of the Moroccan playmaker from Queens Park Rangers.

For the Cottagers, snapping up Taraabt represents a major coup as one of the club’s biggest downfalls last year was the absence of a link play between the midfield and forward lines.

And we’re all familiar with Dimitar Berbatov’s famous advice: Keep calm and pass me the ball.

In Taraabt, Fulham have just that, a highly skilled link-up man who can both drive the attack and slip the cheeky pass that Berbatov craves.

Taraabt’s loan deal to Craven Cottage also represents a reunion with Martin Jol, who coached the attacking midfielder during his younger, more troubled days at at Tottenham Hotspur. After leaving Spurs in 2007, Jol examined the possibility of signing Taarabt when the Dutchman was the boss at Hamburg and Ajax, but a deal was never completed.

Now, six years removed from their time at White Hart Lane, Jol and Taraabt are reunited.

“I like his creativity,” Jol said  following Monday night’s friendly draw with Real Betis. “Sometimes it comes off when he scores a lot of goals and I think he was involved in 40 goals [during QPR’s 2010-11 Championship promotion season].”

Jol also spoke about his skill in dealing with players commonly sited to have attitude quirks. “It is like [Fulham striker] Dimitar Berbatov – sometimes these fantastic talents will be blamed, but I hope to find a way to gel him in together with the boys we’ve got.”

Jol made no secret about the bottom line with Taraabt: “I think he can do a hell of a job for us because he is a tremendous player on the ball.”

Few will take issue with Taraabt’s other-worldly skill and if Jol can gel him with the rest of the squad, the Moroccan could be exactly what the Cottagers need to improve on last year’s 12th place finish.

Taarabt is Jol’s sixth signing this summer after moves for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, defenders Sascha Riether and Fernando Amorebieta, midfielder Derek Boateng and forward Ange-Freddy Plumain.

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.