Rodgers: ‘It would’ve been interesting’ had Suárez made Mirallas’s controversial challenge

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Is Everton’s Kevin Mirallas getting a star’s benefit of the doubt? For all the quality that the Belgian international brings to Goodison, that’s unlikely, but Brendan Rodgers hit on an interesting point after Saturday’s derby. Implicitly asking whether reputation has any role in a referee’s decision, Rodger’s questioned whether yesterday’s red-worthy challenge from the Everton winger would have been received with less leniency had Luis Suárez committed the foul.

It wasn’t just a random name. Mirallas’s boot high from behind caught the Uruguayan star  behind the right knee. As Rodgers put it, “You don’t want to see people getting sent off but if they should be than that’s what should happen.” The only grey area about Mirallas’s challenge was in the eyes of veteran official Phil Dowd, who remarkably kept red in his pocket.

“I thought Mirallas should have been sent off,” Rodgers said, asked about the challenge. “It would’ve been interesting if Luis made the challenge. I have seen Kevin for a few years and he looks a real honest player but if you look at it in every way, real time and slow motion, it is a bad challenge.”

Whether Suárez would have been sent off is academic, but Rodgers’ missive does ask us to consider whether reputation has any role in these judgments. Perhaps, more generally, is there a bias when assessing severity, one which would have seen Suárez dismissed?

“He caught him on the back of his knee and that can end your career,” Rodgers explained. “It was awful jumping in like that and it took Luis 10 or 15 minutes to try to run it off …”

Does Sunderland red card machine Lee Cattermole get away with that challenge? Or Newcastle’s Cheick Tioté? Would they have gotten the same benefit of the doubt that befell Mirallas, a player who has only committed 11 fouls (and drawn three cards) all year?

Dowd’s decision may not be the best place to start this debate. It was so egregiously wrong that it’s hard to use the call as an example of where a line should be drawn. Mirallas’s infraction was so bad, even a player of Javier Zanetti’s reputation should have been dismissed.

But abstract it, think about it, and Rodgers’ more general point might be worth some discussion. Do certain players get the benefit of the doubt on potential red card offenses? And if so, what types of players are those? Superstars? Players reputed for clean play? Or a combination of both?

After seeing the leniency shown Wayne Rooney on Sunday, Cardiff City might content stars get special treatment. Rodgers, on the other hand, wonders whether his star would have received sure a compassionate ruling.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.