Every transfer window has its saga, with summers’ drama being particularly long, hot and drawn out. One of 2013’s longest running “will he / won’t he?” storylines is that of Gareth Bale, whom almost no one expected would be wearing a Tottenham Hotspur kit by the end of August. However, it now seems that the Welsh winger just might remain in London, as transfer negotiations with Real Madrid have begun to break down.
Just a week ago, speculation swirled about the Spanish side’s willingness to pay £100m for Bale. But then something funny happened. Real Madrid set off on a preseason tour of the United States, participating in the inaugural International Champions Cup and pretty well thrashing their opposition in each match. Watching the final against Chelsea, it was difficult to comprehend why, exactly, Real were so dead set on adding Bale to their side. Luka Modric, another former Spurs man, ran circles around the Blues, while Cristiano Ronaldo was up to his old tricks again. Just for fun, Los Merengues then dismantled Inter Milan on Saturday, ending their preseason with six of seven games won.
Previously, Real Madrid felt pressured to up their star power, particularly after Barcelona signed Neymar earlier this summer. But the successful preseason seems to have loosened the tension a bit. On Thursday, club president Florentino Pérez stated that £100m “seemed like a lot” for Bale. Then the supporters questioned the need to spend quite so much money for the Welshman. Now manager Carlo Ancelotti has tossed in his two cents, stating that Bale is not in his plans for the future.
So what now? With Manchester United having yet to make any big signings this summer, and possibly poised to lose Wayne Rooney as well, it seems natural that the Red Devils would at least attempt to secure Bale’s signature. It would certainly bolster the supporters and quiet their mumblings about the early days of David Moyes’ reign. But price remains an obstacle, and if Daniel Levy is truly set on £100m, it’s unlikely Bale will end up in a United kit. In addition, Bale has expressed his reluctance to move to Old Trafford. But if Real Madrid are truly out of the race, and United don’t step in, there are few options left — which is exactly what Tottenham wanted all along.
There’s a lot of buzz about celebrating, and not celebrating, when it comes to Manchester United.
Star striker Romelu Lukaku‘s post-goal actions were muted for a second-straight week, and manager Jose Mourinho appeared nonchalant on the bench.
[ RECAP: WBA 1-2 Man Utd ]
For Lukaku, that could be down to his status as a former West Brom player (and to be sure he was quite energetic in support of Jesse Lingard‘s insurance goal).
As for Mourinho, this is a man who was quite critical of Man City’s celebrations after winning a derby at Old Trafford. And Jose isn’t one to let a story line die unnecessarily.
Here’s Mourinho when asked about Lukaku’s non-celebration, from the BBC:
“Maybe he looks to the bench and sees his manager doesn’t celebrate. Maybe he loves West Brom. Maybe he remembers the team that helped him early in his career.
“I will celebrate if my team scores a winning goal in the last minute. But you have to have more maturity and keep your feet on the ground. If some guys want to be kids until the last day of their careers or if they want to act to the cameras then they can. But if we score an important goal then I can do anything.”
On one hand, I get it. On the other hand (and a third if I can find one), be okay with having a bit of fun, Jose.
United is back to within 11 points of leaders Man City, and it’s a massive mountain to climb for the Red Devils. Yet Ander Herrera, who was terrific again on Sunday, said the directive is simple: control what you can.
“We won three titles last season, which was very good. It is true that the top of the table is difficult to reach right now but this is Premier League, you never know. Our aim is just to keep winning games.”
The side’s 41 points through 18 matches would’ve been enough to lead the Premier League in two of the previous four seasons. No one’s going to tell United to be content with where they stand, but it’s been a fine season for Mourinho’s men so far.
Philippe Coutinho is capable of elite magic, and he conjured up some fantasy on Sunday at the Vitality Stadium.
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Liverpool and Bournemouth were scoreless when the Brazilian dribbled past Simon Francis and Lewis Cook on a mazy run, taking Andrew Robertson‘s square pass and dancing through daylight.
If only there were a body cam on Adam Smith, who was chasing Coutinho the whole time!
Dejan Lovren — does this require we say “of all people?” — then scored a diving header after Roberto Firmino saved a wayward corner kick.
And Mohamed Salah, what else can you say about the 20-goal scorer (in all competitions)?
Salah would get his goal in stunning fashion, bodying off a defender before dribbling past two more to finish with an off-balance belt past Begovic.
He’s the last Ballon d’Or winner neither named Messi nor Ronaldo, and he’s calling it a career.
Kaka announced his retirement on Sunday after a gleaming career on three continents.
Born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, Kaka won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and also boasts two Confederations Cup wins amongst his 92 caps and 29 international goals.
[ MAN CITY-SPURS: 3 things | Studs and duds ]
Kaka debuted for Sao Paolo in 2001, and left for AC Milan three seasons later. Thrice names in the UEFA Team of the Year and twice the Serie A Footballer of the Year, Kaka won Serie A with Milan and La Liga with Real Madrid.
He spent the final three seasons of his career in Major League Soccer with Orlando City SC, and was magnificent. The 35-year-old scored 25 goals with 19 assists for the Lions.
- United back into second
- Lukaku scores 10th PL goal of season
- Baggies winless in 16
Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard scored first half goals and Manchester United held on to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Hawthorns on Sunday.
Gareth Barry scored the Baggies’ lone goal, as Alan Pardew‘s men sit 19th and without a win since August.
United pulls three points ahead of Chelsea, and is 11 points back of Man City.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
West Brom wasn’t intimidated by the task at hand, and James McClean was particularly lively as the Baggies tried to find an opener.
But United quickly settled into control through possession, albeit without any effective incisiveness.
That changed when Lukaku rose to deposit a trademark header beyond the reach of Ben Foster, converting Marcus Rashford‘s cross with power.
After a moment of danger provided by Allan Nyom and Salomon Rondon, United made it 2-0 when Lingard took a lay-off from Juan Mata and hit a shot that Ahmed Hegazi deflected past Foster.
Jake Livermore forced David De Gea into a low save in the 44th minute.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
The Baggies pulled one back as both Evans and Barry could’ve tapped in a loose ball off a corner kick.
Barry did, and United was on its heels. Credit Alan Pardew for his substitutes of Barry, Chris Brunt, and Jay Rodriguez (though they were, after all, on the bench).
Rodriguez powered a header off Brunt’s cross wide of the near post with about five minutes to play.
And a scramble in front nearly put the Baggies level, but De Gea was there. The keeper was kicked by Ahmed Hegazi and came up smarting.