Chelsea add Egyptian winger Mohammed Salah.

Chelsea: the great talent hoarders strike again, as Salah heads to the Bridge



On Thursday afternoon Chelsea announced an agreement had been reached with FC Basel to purchase young Egyptian winger Mohammed Salah. With the rising star expected to agree to personal terms and complete a medical without any issues, West London will welcome one of Europe’s brightest attacking talents.

Many expected Salah to end up in the Premier League during this January transfer window.

But at Chelsea? Really?

Jose Mourinho seems to be well stocked with wide players, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Andre Schurrle plus the likes of Oscar and Ramires can put in a shift on the flanks. Then they have youngster Marco van Ginkel, while wingers Victor Moses and Marko Marin are both out on line.

Six out-and-out wingers, plus two flexible central players who can play out wide, seems far too many to have on the books. However with Kevin de Bruyne signing for Wolfsburg and Juan Mata halfway out the door, I understand why Mourinho is replenishing his attacking unit.

But the big question is: are Chelsea hoarding some of Europe’s best young attackers just to stop other PL teams from improving?

Liverpool and Tottenham were incredibly close to signing Willian in the summer window, then Chelsea nipped in at the last minute to make a slightly bigger offer and the Brazilian winger was off to Stamford Bridge. The same is about to happen with Salah.

Since Mourinho returned to the PL, Chelsea have taken transfer trolling to the next level.

Salah, 21, will be a great signing for now and the future as the Egyptian international possesses tricks, flicks and bags of pace, the latter will suit him well in the PL. Plus Chelsea know all about his qualities as the Blues have had a really good look at the youngster in the UEFA Champions League this season. Salah scored home and away against Chelsea in two shock wins for FC Basel.

(MORE: Salah transfer saga hits new, Blue twist as reports say Chelsea lands “Egyptian Messi”)

Mourinho has seen the young wide player, who mainly operates on the right, dazzle against his current crop of players and has decided he’s worth going that extra mile for.

Liverpool were said to have been extremely close to signing Salah, but Chelsea came in at the last minute and usurped them with a bid of around $24 million. That is much more than Liverpool valued him at and therefore, once again, ‘moneybags’ Chelsea win the race.

I have nothing against Chelsea stockpiling the best young talent at all, after all it’s their money to spend, but will these players really get the chance to shine on the big stage? Mourinho has repeatedly talked about the project he is overseeing at the Bridge and how his ‘kids’ are learning and developing, if he is true to his word and plays all of the 21,22 and 23-year-old’s he has then fair play.

With Salah expected to come on board and other PL teams frustrated as they constantly lose their top targets to Chelsea, Mourinho’s aim to keep those team challenging for the top four way out of the picture is working.

But how much longer, especially with the new Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules being ushered in, can Chelsea continue to buy every top player being courted by PL clubs? Right now, it seems like it’s never-ending.

Especially if you’re clubs aspiring to make the top four (ahem, Liverpool and Tottenham) as Chelsea’s monopoly continues.

VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast

Kroenke: “Very high” on Wenger who is “very hard” to replace

Jeff Fisher
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LONDON — Arsenal remains “very high” on Arsene Wenger and it will be “very hard” replacing the manager who is in the final year of his contract, owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press on Monday.

Wenger this month celebrated 20 years in charge of Arsenal and has offered no indication whether he wants to sign a new deal into next season.

The 67-year-old Frenchman became the Premier League’s longest serving manager when Alex Ferguson retired from Manchester United in 2013. United is now on its third manager in three years and has not competed for the Premier League title since Ferguson’s departure.

In a rare interview about Arsenal, Kroenke noted the tricky post-Ferguson succession at United while discussing the challenge of eventually replacing Wenger.

“You see it (at United), you bring up a comment like that,” Kroenke told the AP after Arsenal’s annual general meeting. “It’s very hard. He’s a great manager.”

Wenger signed his last three-year contract extension in 2014.

“We will sit down and discuss the future at the appropriate time,” Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick told shareholders at a meeting where Wenger didn’t address his contract situation in his speech.

Although Wenger has won the Premier League three times, the last success came in 2004 – a drought which frustrates fans.

“He’s been a wonderful influence on the club,” Kroenke said. “We are all very high on Arsene. We are (joint) top of the table right now.”

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are only separated on goal difference at the summit. Despite Wenger only winning the FA Cup twice since 2004, the team is in the lucrative Champions League for the 19th successive year thanks to its runner-up finish last season. Wenger is yet to win European football’s top prize.

“I know a number of (sports team) owners that are very successful that say the same thing – the hardest thing to do is be consistently competitive at the top of the league,” said Kroenke, who also owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. “Arsene has always done that and Arsenal has always been in that position. We have always been competitive.

“We may not always win the things we want to win. We are very focused on winning for sure the league. Arsene’s been consistently at the top and I will tell you – it’s very, very hard to do if you look around sports.”


2016 MLS Cup playoffs bracket in full

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Michael Bradley #4 and Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC celebrate a goal by teammate Tsubasa Endoh #9 during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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With Major League Soccer’s Decision Day 2016 in the books, we now know who will battle it out for MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Who will win MLS Cup? ]

Up first on Wednesday and Thursday are the four knockout round games, then the Conference semifinal first legs kick off this weekend.

We get into it thick and fast.

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The PST crew already selected their picks for the postseason and filled out their bracket. You can see that by clicking on the link above. FWIW, I have Toronto FC beating the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup…

[ MORE: Ranking MLS playoff teams ]

Below is the MLS playoff bracket in full so you can make your picks and let us know who you went for in the comments section below.


MLS Playoff bracket, 2016

MLS Playoff bracket, 2016