West Ham’s ‘style of play’ issues magnified by Lacina Traore

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The bashing of West Ham United continues.

Yesterday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho dealt the Hammers a swift back hand with his post-match comments that the East London club played “football from the 19th century.”

Today, it’s new Monaco striker and Everton loanee, Lacina Traore‘s turn to take a swipe after revealing that he selected the Toffees over West Ham due to style of play concerns.

“It was quite close but Everton was my choice,” said the striker. “I looked at the styles of play of the two teams we are talking about and the way in which Everton play is more of a passing side and the style of Everton suited my technical ability.

“Also I looked at where they were in the league and they [Everton] were quite well off for points in the league so I think with that sort of emphasis on skill and the passing game I am hoping I can settle in as quickly as possible with my style of play.

“There were other clubs interested in me at the beginning but I knew Everton had a good possibility of getting into European football next season. I am pleased I have made this choice and I am standing by my choice of this club.”

The decision comes as a major boost to Everton, who lost starting striker Romelu Lukaku to an ankle injury in Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool. The 6 foot 8 inch Traore provides Roberto Martinez’ side with another athletic body as well as a player the gaffer describes as “technically gifted” with “a real understanding of space and combination play.”

Therein lies the difference for Traore, who despite his bruising size would prefer to avoid playing for a side like West Ham, known for it’s direct, physically punishing style and the ability (as Chelsea found yesterday in the 0-0 draw) to park the bus.

That style of play is quintessential Sam Allardyce but with two major dings to that reputation in as many days is it time West Ham thought about a new manager?

Suffering in the relegation zone two points from safety, many Hammers supporters will feel the answer to that question is ‘yes.’ Despite nipping a point off of Chelsea yesterday that style of play is widely accepted as archaic, not a sustainable blue-print for growth and, as Traore’s comments demonstrate, a turn off to potential recruits.

On the other hand perhaps better than any manager in the Premier League (sans Tony Pulis), Big Sam knows how to keep a club up. Plus, fairness requires noting that West Ham has endured a laundry list of key injuries throughout the season, so an early sacking may not be justified.

Either way, with 15 weeks remaining in the season West Ham find themselves in a very precarious situation. Decisions, decisions.

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.