Top five transfer targets this summer: Will they go in the window?

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With Monday’s transfer deadline edging ever closer, certain players still have no clue which team they’ll be playing for when September 2 arrives.

This summer window has seen an unprecedented number of long-term transfer saga’s play out at some of England’s top clubs. You know who we’re talking about.

But with less than a week to go until the dreaded transfer window shuts, will any of these drawn out episodes come to a finale?

(MORE: Premier League club-by-club needs, as transfer deadline looms)

Remember, clubs can’t add to their squad until January 1 at the earliest. So expect a flurry of business this week as deals go down to the wire.

Will any of the following players be involved in a big money transfer?

source: Getty ImagesGareth Bale

Okay, so we have pretty much heard this one is a done deal for quite some time now. But until we see the Welshman shaking hands with Florentino Perez and Alfredo di Stefano with the number 11 Real Madrid shirt in his hands, we have to expect this isn’t completely done and dusted.

Bale, 23, hasn’t featured for Tottenham in their opening three games of the season and is apparently injured. The reining PFA Player of the Year will apparently swap White Hart Lane for the Santiago Bernabeu for a world record fee of $129 million.

On Monday morning reports of Manchester United becoming involved surfaced, but that’s probably a ploy from Spurs to try and hustle a few more million or a player in exchange out of Real Madrid. Bale has his heart set on a move to Madrid and all signs lead towards that being finalized later this week.

But until we see it with our own eyes, Bale can’t surely stay at Spurs this season… can he?

source:  Luis Suárez

Will he really leave Liverpool this week? Rumors flying around over the weekend suggest that Liverpool have tied down the tricky Uruguayan to a new contract and all will be forgotten. But will Arsenal or Real Madrid, or anybody else for that matter, table a sneaky last minute bid to try and catch Liverpool off guard? The 26-year-old forward will be essential to Liverpool pushing into the top four and getting the Champions League soccer everyone involved with the Reds craves.

Suárez has been the subject of two failed bids from Arsenal and with Liverpool’s American owner John W. Henry sticking to his guns about keeping his prized possession, this transfer window may end with Suárez in the same place his started it. Liverpool Football Club.

After all the talk, tantrums, speculation and furor this little guy has caused, it’s astonishing that Liverpool could keep hold of him.

source: Getty ImagesWayne Rooney

On Monday night at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney will play for Manchester United against Chelsea in a gigantic Premier League clash.

Next Monday we could well see Rooney smiling whilst holding up a Chelsea shirt with his name on it.

The Blue badly want England’s star forward and have already had two bids rejected by David Moyes and Manchester United for the 27-year-old. Rooney has wanted out of Old Trafford since last May and all summer this one has dragged out. Chelsea are the only club willing to bid for Rooney and Mourinho has already stated that the Blues will table another bid following their clash with United at Old Trafford on Monday.

Will the Red Devils buckle and offload their prized possession that wants to leave after a decade of service?

Karim Benzema

source: Getty ImagesThe Real Madrid striker may seem his playing time reduce significantly this season with the impending arrival of Gareth Bale. The 26-year-old French international striker is clinical, strong and can lead the line on his own superbly.

One problem throughout his Real career has been getting a decent run in the team. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain have often been the preferred options up top but with Higuain signing for Napoli should Benzema stay at the Bernabeu?

One club have been chasing the bustling striker harder than anybody else: Arsenal. The Gunners need reinforcements up top with Olivier Giroud their only real central striking option. If there’s any chance of grabbing Benzema, Wenger should beak the bank to get him. The former Lyon forward is just entering his prime, has vast international and Champions League experience and can score goals of any kind. A true poacher who can also lead the line, the Gunners should snap Benzema up before next Monday.

If they don’t another top European side will, but that’s only if he leaves Madrid.

Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines

source:  Well, I couldn’t narrow it down to five without including these guys, so let’s make it six.

Manchester United have made two double bids for the Everton duo, both have been described as “derisory” by the Toffees and unless the Red Devils dramatically up their bids then Baines and Fellaini won’t be following their former manager David Moyes to United.

A recent $45 million bid was put in and laughed away, after Moyes had already tried to bring in the duo earlier this summer. But do United really need both of these players? They certainly need Fellaini, but missed the boat earlier this summer as the midfielder has a minimum release clause of $37.5 million in his contract that is no longer available. United have lacked creative midfielders who can score goals and genuinely make a difference in the opposition box in the past few seasons. Fellaini can keep things ticking over but also find pockets of space in the box and use his aerial prowess to score goals. As for Baines, United still have Patrice Evra putting in some terrific displays from left back and Baines is now 27.

If they fail in a double bid once more, United should go back and try grabbing Fellaini on his own.

Wild day in American soccer: Crew relocation, NASL LOIs, USL reserves

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The top three soccer leagues in the United States of America are dealing with varying bits of turmoil this Tuesday in October.

It began late Monday with reports that Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt aims to take the MLS founding member to Texas, seemingly only paying lip service to the idea of investment keeping the team in Ohio.

[ MORE: Leicester sacks Shakespeare ]

Some have said Precourt’s goals have always been to find a way out of Ohio, and the Crew owner was asked what has changed in the four years he’s owned the club (From ColumbusCrewSC.com):

Q:When we read your story about your purchase of the team, this was back in 2013, part of that was that it was very important to the Hunt family that the Crew remained in Columbus and you said at the time that you were committed to that. So what’s changed?

AP: I was committed to that and I believe that I demonstrated my commitment through significant investment in infrastructure, in personnel, in the quality of our product on the field. What has changed? Our League has grown leaps and bounds, it’s been unprecedented the improvement we’ve seen year over year and new markets that have come in the League have shown dramatic attendance. Let’s look at Atlanta with over 70,000 fans over their last few games, with Orlando building a new facility and averaging over 30,000 fans a game, with New York City FC. The list goes on and on. Our peers get stronger and stronger, year in and year out and I have to get back to our ambition as a club. This is key: our ambition as a club is to be a standard bearer in Major League Soccer, to be respected on and off the field in terms of our soccer operations and our business operations and to operate world-class, soccer-specific infrastructure. We’re going through growing pains now. It’s time for us to explore building a world-class, soccer-specific stadium so that we can be celebrated and successful and sustainable.

So, yes, barring a king’s ransom — word use intended — from the Ohio business community, it’s not being cynical to read Precourt’s intention to leave Ohio as very strong. The idea is very sad for the league, and makes every pro/rel honk’s argument against the closed model.

Then there’s the NASL, where it’s almost head-spinning to keep abreast of the future of the league. New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso has taken the wheel in an attempt to not only see the NASL rise, but remove Sunil Gulati from power at the United States Soccer Federation in the hopes of a complete overhaul. In what should not be read as a footnote, the NASL is currently suing the USSF.

There are reports that the league could have as many as 17 teams next season in a bid to regain sanctioning from the Unites States Soccer Federation, including a series of teams from the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League.

According to SocTakes.com, the NASL has letters of intent from NPSL clubs in Boca Raton, Boston, Detroit, Arizona, New Orleans, and Virginia Beach. Additionally, there’s interest in Hartford and it may not be the NPSL club.

Then came this Tweet:

Now here’s a league, the USL, whose only issues have been perception-related. Growing well and instituting a D-3 companion, the biggest concern has been the mentioned MLS Reserve sides creating a minor league feel for the league.

All of this is manageable, and you could argue that the disappearance or at least rebranding of most of these reserve sides would be a boon for the league.

Taken in a vacuum, any of these stories has the potential to carry a day’s news. Together, and in the wake of the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, they give Tuesday one of those Soccer-USApocalyptic feelings.

UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: Chelsea, Man Utd look to break out

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Only one of 16 teams was held off the score sheet on Tuesday. Could the same level of entertainment reach the UEFA Champions League a day later?

Two more Premier League teams take the pitch on Wednesday, with Manchester United facing its stiffest test of the group stage and Chelsea with a tricky visit from AS Roma.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

Manchester United has a significant challenge in Benfica, and may need a man familiar with the Estadio da Luz to help them out. Center back Eric Bailly remains out for United, which could bring Victor Lindelof into the fold to help stop Haris Seferovic, Gabriel Barbosa, Raul Jimenez, and especially Jonas.

Coming off a sleepy weekend draw versus Liverpool in an underwhelming derby, United will take on a desperate Benfica team which is traditionally strong but lost at home to CSKA Moscow and was crushed in Switzerland by Basel.

(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Speaking of the need to rebound, Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace still has many scratching their heads. Fortunately, Roma is also in a mini-funk after a weekend loss to Napoli that ended a five-match winning streak.

There’s a reunion for Antonio Rudiger inside Stamford Bridge with Roma in town. I Lupi has been pretty one-dimensional in terms of offense, with ex-Man City man and reigning Serie A capocannoniere winner Edin Dzeko. He’s scored eight times in nine matches for Roma this season.

Full Wednesday UCL schedule
All kickoffs at 2:45 p.m. ET except where indicated

Qarabag vs. Atletico Madrid — Noon ET
Anderlecht vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Benfica vs. Manchester United
Juventus vs. Sporting Lisbon
Barcelona vs. Olympiacos
Chelsea vs. Roma
Bayern Munich vs. Celtic
CSKA Moscow vs. Basel

U-17 World Cup wrap: England advances to meet USA

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The United States now knows it’ll have to take down England’s best to get to the semifinals of the U-17 World Cup in India.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

England, don’t laugh, won in penalty kicks after a scoreless match with Japan, advancing to meet the Baby Yanks.


England 0-0 (5-3, PKs) Japan

There wasn’t a single miss amongst the England shooters, as Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Phil Foden (Man City), Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), and Curtis Anderson (Man City) converted from the spot to set up a date against the U.S.

Mali 5-1 Iraq

Lassana Ndiaye scored twice to join France’s Amine Gouiri atop the goal scoring list for the tournament as Mali advances to face the winner of Ghana vs. Niger.

France 1-2 Spain

Barcelona prospects Juan Miranda and Abel Ruiz get the better of France to set up a date with high-flying Iran.

 

Iran 2-1 Mexico

Iran conceded for just the second time in the tournament, but not before Mohammad Sharifi and Allahyar Sayyad (both of Iranian club Saifa) made it 2-0 by the 11th minute.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Tables turned on wild day

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One clean sheet in eight Tuesday matches certainly helped the entertainment value of the UEFA Champions League, and the group ramifications follow suit.

Borussia Dortmund whiffed on a chance to take advantage of Real Madrid’s home draw versus Spurs, while Sevilla was waxed in Russia, and Besiktas continues to strut in UCL play.

Real Madrid 1-1 Tottenham HotspurRECAP, VIDEO

Raphael Varane’s plans to mark Harry Kane were subverted by the French defender’s unwitting legs, but Serge Aurier chopped down Toni Kroos in the 42nd minute for a yellow card and penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo sent beyond the reach of Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris.

It was Lloris’ outstanding day, along with a couple timely Keylor Navas saves, that kept the score line 1-1 after 90 minutes. The backstops will likely match wits again come Nov. 1 at Wembley Stadium.

Manchester City 2-1 NapoliRECAP

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored in the ninth and 13th minutes as City has been an unwelcoming host for the Neapolitan side. Ederson stopped a Dries Mertens penalty, adding insult to Napoli’s twin concessions, but Napoli would get a second penalty kick and pulled back a goal courtesy of Amadou Diawara.

Monaco 1-2 Besiktas

Reported Newcastle United and Crystal Palace target Cenk Tosun scored a pair of goals as group-leading Besiktas came back to beat Monaco after Radamel Falcao made it 1-0 to the hosts.

Feyenoord 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Similar story in the Netherlands, where Ex-Watford man Steven Berghuis gave the Eredivisie hosts a lead only to see a Bernard brace lead Shakhtar at De Kuip.

Spartak Moscow 5-1 Sevilla

Liverpool’s score line was a bit surprising, but this one raised eyebrows even given Sevilla’s long road (or flight path) to Russia. Quincy Promes scored twice to make Sevilla consider its Europa roots (though plenty of time remains in the group stage).

Spartak’s Luiz Adriano scores past Sevilla’s Sergio Rico (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Maribor 0-7 LiverpoolRECAP

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds are sent their finishing demons off a cliff. It was 3-0 after 20 minutes, 4-0 at half, and when all was said and done there were braces for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to go with single markers from Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

APOEL Nicosia 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

A significant step backward for BVB, who would’ve done well to take advantage of Real and Spurs drawing at the Bernabeu. The Germans even trailed for five second-half minutes before Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided the equalizing goal.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Porto

Five first half goals felt like the start of something special, but the upstart Germans held on through a scoreless second half to claim their first UCL win.