Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Real Madrid line up audacious bid for Luis Suarez, throw Karim Benzema into mix

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After his stunning return to the Premier League following his 10-game ban at the tail end of last season, Luis Suarez’ stock in the transfer market has risen even higher over the last few weeks.

That may be a good thing for Liverpool… as according to various reports their star Uruguayan striker is still keen to leave the Anfield club and has his heart set on a dream move to Real Madrid.

Suarez, 26, repeatedly confirmed his wish to leave Liverpool over the summer as one of the longest transfer saga’s in recent PL history, and that’s saying something, played out with clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea hovering and the former making a bid that was rejected for Liverpool’s prized possession.

But if Suarez continues to score, he’s bagged six in four PL games already after his sublime hat trick against West Brom on Saturday, can the Reds afford to not cash in on a want-away player now? Maybe, even if they don’t want to sell Suarez, the time is right.

(MORE: Liverpool 4-1 West Brom – Suarez hat trick sinks Baggies, video)

As talk about the January transfer window is already reverberating around clubs, media outlets and terraces across Europe, Suarez’ name will be on the lips of many as top European clubs circle to snap him up. Liverpool are desperate to keep their main man, and I’m sure that will still be the case if Brendan Rodgers’ side are challenging for the title come January time.

Yet if Real Madrid, who are eager to offload plenty of stars to stop crippling debts mounting up, were to offer one of Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira, plus cash, for Suarez, that has to be hard to turn down?

From a business standpoint it may make sense, but in terms of the ambition of the club, it would reek of settling for second-best. If Liverpool want to become title-contenders again, Suarez needs to stay and American owner John W. Henry needs to keep firm in the brilliant stance he made over the summer by simply hanging a ‘not for sale’ sign around Suarez’ neck.

It worked, and proved the club now has the power in the situation and Suarez realizes he must keep performing on the pitch for the Reds if any massive move to Madrid will ever come off.

Rumors of Suarez leaving Anfield are about to start heating up again, and expect them to intensify between now and the end of January.

If Liverpool are serious about winning the title and making a splash in the PL, their firm stance of a ‘no sell’ must remain. Suarez’ goals and that cutting edge and ‘X-factor’ he provides up top will be the difference between Liverpool being in the top six or challenging for the PL crown. Their squad may not be quite strong enough to do the latter, but with Suarez’ on board they’ll be a damn good bet to finish in the top four.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.

Emre Can back in the Liverpool side ahead of Europa clash vs. Villarreal

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14:  Emre Can of Liverpool battles for the ball with Idrissa Gana of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Emre Can has recovered from an ankle injury and will be in Liverpool’s squad for their Europa League semifinal against Villarreal on Thursday night.

The German international has not played since April 14 when he was forced off in the Reds’ wild 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool prepping for Villarreal ]

Giving his team update on Wednesday, manager Jurgen Klopp said Can is back in the team, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out. The Reds enter the second leg trailing 1-0 on aggregate.

Another positive note out of Melwood was the return of Danny Ings to first-team training. The 23-year-old striker signed with Liverpool last summer, but managed just eight appearances before having his season end to a torn ACL in October. Ings is still far away from his full return, but it was a good sight to see him back on the pitch and making progress in his recovery.

Disappointed Pellegrini rues lack of offense in Man City’s loss to Real

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 04:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi final, second leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images )
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Manchester City put in an uninspired performance against Real Madrid on Wednesday, losing the match 1-0 and falling out of the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Real Madrid 1-0 Man City ]

The match was decided by just one goal, but the scoreline was flattering to City as they failed to create any kind of real chances at the Bernabeu. Over the two legs, City managed just two shots on target.

While City were wildly disappointing in the second leg, manager Manuel Pellegrini did not think the match was that one-sided, saying both teams struggled on the attack.

I am disappointed because I think that was a very close game with two teams who did not create many chances. The two teams were working with no-one making a difference.

It is not the best thing changing a defender very early but I don’t think we had any problems in defence, we had problems creating, same as Real Madrid. They did not create many chances.

Real Madrid was not in top form, but they still could have scored three or four goals on Wednesday. Joe Hart had to come up with some big saves to keep things close, as the England goalkeeper was by far City’s most valuable player throughout the tie.

[ MORE: Liverpool preparing for Europa League match vs. Villarreal ]

The absence of David Silva through injury certainly hurt City’s attack, but there was very little service moving forward from the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure. The poor play in the midfield left Sergio Aguero stranded alone up top, nearly invisible in the second leg.

Without service, Aguero was forced to track back to try and find the ball himself, leaving City no options to hit on the counter. For a tie between two of the most expensive teams in the world, neither side was truly impressive, but City surely disappointing.