Sunday transfer rumor roundup: Demichelis to City, Gomis to stay

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With less than 48 hours remaining in the transfer window things are getting very very edgy as teams look to make cut-rate bids, fill last-minute holes, and do their best to throw off the opposition.

It appears that Manchester City have all but completed a move for Atletico Madrid defender Martin Demichelis who Sky Sports is reporting will have a medical today to complete the move.  The Argentinian international is mostly a stop-gap purchase, with Vincent Kompany out for a number of weeks and young central defender Majita Nastasic only just having returned from a hamstring injury. Even without the injuries, the 32-year-old also provides a veteran replacement for Kolo Toure who left for Liverpool this window. The transfer is a bit of an unusual one, with the former Bayern Munich man having just signed on a free transfer from Malaga to Atletico earlier in July.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has shot down rumors that many teams – most notably Newcastle – were heavily interested in his striker Bafetembi Gomis.  On Twitter last night he proclaimed, “We have to face facts, there isn’t an offer that Bafe has accepted despite (interest from) the ‘English’ and the ‘Turks’ and Lyon need a player like him.”

Gomis is on the last year of his contract, and could still be persuaded by a last-minute bid, but the fact no one has made a definitive move yet means there is very little time to complete any desired switch.

Schalke attacker Julian Draxler has made some surprising comments regarding speculation that he could be the target of a last-ditch Arsenal move, refusing to rule out a move like he has all summer.  The 19-year-old wonderkid has oftem been the target of rumors, but after signing a contract extension in May, he’s maintained his loyalty to his boyhood club.  Now, he told the media he could very well leave.  “I don’t mind people speculating” said Draxler. “If the club wants to sell me, I will not say ‘no I want to stay here’. We will see if anything extraordinary happens on Monday.” Yes, we will Julian.

source: Getty ImagesAs the Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini rumors continue to fly about their possible exit from Goodison Park to join up with David Moyes at Manchester United, the media have switched their attention to Roberto Martinez’s efforts to replace them.  It appears they have been linked with Wigan’s James McCarthy (pictured to the left), with Martinez set to bring the midfielder back to the Premier League following relegation last season.  Wigan manager Owen Coyle did confirm Everton have made an inquiry about McCarthy, but no bids have been filed yet. “I am never evasive as you know” said Coyle.”Roberto [Martinez] spoke to the Chairman the other night. They have a fantastic relationship anyway and they probably speak every other week regarding a number of things.”

It’s not a rumor anymore, but Chelsea have confirmed the signing of 21-year-old Christian Atsu from Porto. The Ghanan international becomes yet another winger/attacker that Jose Mourinho has bagged this window, although this one looks to be probably one for the future rather than this season, as Chelsea immediately sent him on loan to Vitesse Arnham.  The youngster made his full-season debut for Porto last season after being named their youth team’s Player of the Season in the 2010/2011 year.

Reports are placing wantaway Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe at St. James Park in Newcastle after he will apparently spurn advances from West Ham.  Defoe is hoping Alan Pardew makes a move after deciding that’s where he’d like to ply his trade.  It’s likely Pardew would be interested, after the aforementioned stay planned by Bafetembi Gomis at Lyon, and given Newcastle’s desperate need for a striker.

Reports in Spain are placing Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera at Old Trafford, after local papers are claiming David Moyes is ready to meet his €30 million ($40 million) release clause.  The 24-year-old was not selected by manager Ernesto Valverde, although the boss declined reports that Herrera had refused to play.  The Spanish midfielder’s father was quoted in Spanish media outlet Mundo Depotivo as claiming his son is happy at Bilbao. “Ander is getting on very well at Athletic, very content” said Pedro Herrera. “He’s fought hard to come to this club and it’s very difficult for him to leave. I think it’s Manchester United’s decision, since they have not found a replacement for Cesc Fabregas. They’ve decided to opt for a creative player and have thought about Ander.” Replace Cesc Fabregas? Interesting comments…

Finally, Fulham have been linked with 25-year-old defender Michael Mancienne of Hamburg.  Mancienne is formerly of Chelsea for a quick cup of tea before spending a long loan spell at Wolverhampton and finally his permanent move to Germany.  With the futures of both John Arne Riise and Philippe Senderos in question, Martin Jol is keen to bring on at least one new defender to the squad.  Mancienne is mainly a central defender, but can also play on the right, which would be helpful considering the Whites have zero cover for Sascha Riether at that position.  Additionally, if Riise were to leave, it would leave the left-back position thin with just young Matthew Briggs and oft-injured Kieran Richardson to man the left flank.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.