Swansea City v Malmo - UEFA Europa League Third Round Qualifying: First Leg

Even “ridiculous” money won’t buy Michu

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Don’t even think about it.

That’s the advice Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has doled out to Arsenal amidst rumors that the Gunners are interested in buying Spanish sensation Michu.

After sputtering out in their pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney, Arsenal are reportedly turning their interest to alternative options up top, with the Swansea hitman topping the list.

But Laudrup has set forth to squash any hope that Arsene Wenger may have before it grows too large. Having previously stated that he values Michu in the region of £30 million, Laudrup explained his feelings in detail.

“I think economically the club is very good,” said Laudrup. “I know if they (Arsenal) came in with a very late bid, I know that the reaction from the board and chairman will be ‘No’, even if the money is ridiculous, as we will not have time enough to find a replacement who is near enough to the same standard.”

Laudrup was also quick to quell any belief that huge money could sway his position. “You can say we would get a lot of money but why be the richest club in the championship? What is that worth?”

Of course, while Laudrup may not see the upside in “ridiculous” money, that’s not to say that chairman Huw Jenkins wouldn’t feel otherwise. The two were at odds earlier this summer over transfer market expenses, with Laudrup eventually winning out as he was given £12 million to sign striker Wilfried Bony, a deal which smashed the previous club record by £6.5 million.

But thus far there is no indication that Jenkins is seeking to recover those funds or the £7.5 million Laudrup spent on defender Jordi Amat and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (the Swans other signings were all free transfers or undisclosed).

At the end of the day keeping Michu at the Liberty Stadium is all part of the agreement made between manager and player. “I spoke to Michu last year,” Laudrup added, “and he extended his contract and asked me about mine and I said ‘I am going to stay here’, and he said, ‘So am I’.”

So there you have it.

Michu and Swansea City host the mighty Red Devils of Manchester United this Saturday at 12:30 pm EST on NBC.


“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.