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Tuesday transfer rumor roundup: David Luiz linked to Barcelona, Cardiff looking at Zaha, Morrison

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Gossip columns spent the better part of the summer speculating which center back would wind up at Barcelona only to see Blaugrana pass on all their options. With Carles Puyol still struggling to stay health, it make sense that the old copy is being recycled, with a potential $47 million move for David Luiz gracing the pages of Real Madrid-friendly Marca. The outlet also sees Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala, Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Sociedad’s Inigo Martínez as targets.

Mangala, however, is going to be a much-soughtafter man when the Dragons decide to sell. The 22-year-old French monster (I meant that in the best way) is also being sought after by Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United, according to one report. Then again, every big club in England is after everybody, according to the U.K. outlets, right?

Meanwhile, over at AS, it’s Real Madrid that’s in the news. Fabio Coentrão, who nearly moved to Manchester United at the end of the summer window, will reportedly cost over $30 million to get out of the Bernábeu. Then again, that report is from the Daily Star, who have the lowest rumor accuracy of all England’s outlets. So let’s take the $30 million Coentrão with a grain of salt.

Over in Italy, D.C. United’s Erik Thorir, operating in his capacity as president of Inter Milan, was short on specifics when he claimed wanted to “strengthen” while admitting the club have “an excess of players for certain roles.” The Indonesian businessman also claimed Walter Mazzarri’s team was too old, claiming the ideal “average age of the team should be 26.” Sounds like a recipe for both buying and selling, making them no different from most teams in the January market.

All those rumors about Paul Pogba returning to Manchester United? Not going to happen, according to the player. Resentment about how the French international was treated by Alex Ferguson could keep the one-time Red Devil trainee from returning to Manchester. Next stop: the Santiago Bernabéu?

Back in England, if Manchester United really are looking to replace Patrice Evra, Leighton Baines is candidate number one. Given how much David Moyes like his former left back, the England international may be the entire candidate’s list, something that has Everton keen to get their star fullback inked to a new contract. Baines’ current deal runs through June 2016.

Newsflash: Cardiff City are in trouble. Subheadline: Their squad needs help, part of the reason why interest in Wilfried Zaha and Ravel Morrison makes sense. With one player currently with Manchester United, the other having moved to West Ham two years ago, both young England talents would represent upgrades to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s club. Because of an escalator clause in his contract, West Ham may be forced to sell Morrison outright, something that could lead to a reunion with his former Red Devils coach.

One player that could potentially leave England is Lewis Holtby. Without a role with Spurs under Tim Sherwood, the Tottenham midfielder could make a return to the Bundesliga. Schalke are reportedly ready to take him back.

Now for the more spurious stuff: Arsenal want to pay big for Julian Draxler (but see him as a Van Persie-type?); Sunderland are trying to land Ignacio Scocco, as if they don’t have enough stickers; Liverpool in frame for Mohamed Salah, but potentially nothing else; Arsenal is looking into bringing Sebastian Giovinco over from Juventus; and Chelsea are ready to give Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett a chance to replace Petr Cech.

Okay – I made that last one up.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

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.