Kostas Mitroglou

Transfer window: Biggest winners, losers in Premier League

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The January transfer window is shut.

Take a deep breath after what has been a whirlwind day of deals around the Premier League.

Dollar signs and contracts terms are floating around the heads of many fans, players, managers and chairman after crucial deals have been pushed through in the final few hours of the deadline.

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Now it’s time to break down the big winners and losers from the window, as certain clubs have definitely fared better than others in the transfer window.We’ve had panic buys, loan deal, multi-million dollar signings and some will turn out better deals than others.

That’s the beauty of it. Leaving it so late in the window to do your business is risky and some clubs will get their fingers burnt.

Let’s analyze who stood out with their business acumen and we will simply pick out three Premier League teams that did the best business… then we will lambast another three who should’ve done better business.

BIGGEST WINNERS

Fulham

This was massively needed in the window, Fulham have overhauled their roster and finally spent some big cash to get guys in that they really wanted. On deadline day they first brought in Lewis Holtby from Tottenham on loan, and the little man is a terrific workhorse in the middle and exactly what Fulham needed at the point in midfield. Then the big signing came as Greek international striker Kostas Mitroglou signed for $18 million from Olympiakos. He swapped the UEFA Champions League for a relegation battle, this guys is a top class striker who scores boat loads of goals. Best signing of the day. Hands down. Great buys from Rene Meulensteen and American owner Shadid Khan. They’ve also added John Heitinga from Everton, who is a terrific Dutch center back that will stop the Cottagers leaking goals. Great window.

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Can Zaha kick-start his career on loan at Cardiff?

Cardiff

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has made plenty of bold moves in the window, and I like what he’s doing. The Bluebirds needed some fresh legs and new faces around the place, because let’s face it, despite all their grit and determination they aren’t getting it done in the PL. Norwegian trio Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Mats Moller Daehli and Jo Inge Berget have arrived,  as well as Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones. But the most significant signings could be Wilfried Zaha and Fabio from Manchester United. Zaha is on loan and has something to prove, which means the England international could be the difference between Cardiff staying up or going down.

Crystal Palace

Jason Puncheon, Wayne Hennessey and Scott Dann all arrived on deadline day, with deals for Thomas Ince and Joe Ledley being pushed over the line as the window slammed shut. If they do get those five players, Palace have a tremendous chance of staying in the Premier League this season. Tricky attackers, solid midfielders, a good ‘keeper and a solid center back. The spine of their entire squad now looks incredibly strong. Tony Pulis is the master of deadline day deals, he proved that at Stoke. He’s done it again for the Eagles.

BIGGEST LOSERS

Arsenal

The Gunners had a big chance to bring in a top striker to challenge for their first title in almost 10 years. But they blew it. With just Oivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner as recognized strikers, Arsene Wenger somehow moved for Spartak Moscow midfielder Kim Kallstrom instead of getting a forward in. With a few midfield injuries, you can see why Wenger’s done it. But Arsenal fans were just hoping for a big-time striker to arrive as they desperately seek some silverware after an eight-year drought. No such luck. Opportunity missed.

Liverpool

source: AP
If Liverpool would’ve sealed the deal for Konoplyanka, it would salvage their transfer window. But they struck out.

For so long the Reds looked like they were about to seal a $22 million deal for Yevhen Konoplyanka but it looked like it all fell apart at the end. I really hoped Brendan Rodgers would go out and spend some big money on another good defender as well as the Ukrainian winger. I think that Liverpool’s squad isn’t quite strong enough, and they may now miss out on fourth place due to a bit of laziness in the window. I hope I’m proved wrong, because this is a good side. Sometimes you have to buy big when you’re on the edge of becoming a great team. You can’t stand still.

Stoke City

The Potters big transfer target was Lee Cattermole… No disrespect, but that says it all really. A holding midfielder, of which Stoke have a plethora of, should not have been the priority for a Stoke side dropping alarmingly down the table. They can’t score goals. They needed to bring in a top striker and they grabbed Peter Odemwingie and John Guidetti, while getting ride of Kenwyne Jones. I think Mark Hughes’ side are going to struggle for the rest of the season, they really needed some new additions in this window.

Hope Solo’s ban from USWNT about much more than “coward” comments

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 5: Goal keeper Hope Solo #1 celebrates with Julie Johnston #8 of U.S. Women's National Team during the second half of a friendly match against Japan on June 5, 2016 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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On Wednesday the news broke that U.S. Soccer had banned Hope Solo for six months from the USWNT and had terminated her contract as a member of the national team.

In truth, we all saw this coming.

[ MORE: Boufal to Saints close ]

The official reason given by Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, was that Solo’s comments following the USA’s shock defeat on penalty kicks to Sweden in the quarterfinals at Rio 2016 were “unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players.”

Solo, 35, said that Sweden played like “a bunch of cowards” and argued that “the best team did not win.”

Were the comments out of line? Yes. Were they in the heat of the moment? Yes. Were they worthy of a six-month suspension from the USWNT? No.

Then again, this whole episode is about far more than Solo basically lambasting Sweden for being a long-ball team. This storm has been brewing for some time with multiple incidents of indiscretion leading to this inevitable outcome.

Gulati said as much.

“Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action,” Gulati added in the statement.

Solo is currently locked in a legal battle with a half-sister and nephew over alleged domestic violence — Solo continues to claims she is innocent — from 2014, while there was also the incident in 2015 involving Solo and her husband, Jerramy Stevens.

The latter was arrested and charged with a DUI after he and Solo took a team mini-van from the USWNT hotel in California and drove around the streets before being pulled over outside the team hotel by police with Solo reportedly dragged from the scene kicking and screaming. Solo was banned by U.S. Soccer for 30 days on Jan. 31, 2015 for that incident but was recalled by Jill Ellis for the 2015 World Cup and was a star during the USWNT’s World Cup win.

Those two unsavory incidents coupled with the huge wave of negativity from the people of Brazil at Rio 2016 — home fans booed Solo constantly and chanted “Zika” every time she kicked the ball after she posted several pictures on social media showing her preparing for the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil — were enough for U.S. Soccer to act in this manner when Solo gave them yet another reason to investigate her.

USWNT head coach Ellis flew to Seattle with Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer’s secretary general, to deliver the news of the suspension and although Solo will still be able to play for Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL (U.S. Soccer is reportedly handing her three months severance pay on the contract they terminated which also includes her salary for NWSL play) she will miss two upcoming games for the USWNT in 2016.

Will the USWNT be weaker without Solo? Of course they will. She has been one of the greatest players in women’s soccer history and probably the greatest-ever goalkeeper. Yet, Gulati and U.S. Soccer had to make a firm stance after giving Solo chance after chance to clean up her act.

It doesn’t take a master decoder to work out the subliminal message buried in Gulati’s comments in the statement released by U.S. Soccer.

In a nutshell it says: enough is enough. You were on your last chance and you blew it. It is highly likely than since January 2015 Solo has been repeatedly warned that if she steps out of line again there would be severe consequences.

Right now Solo will not be available to play for the U.S. until Feb. 2017 and even then it seems highly unlikely she will return. After a distinguished career on the pitch, Solo’s erratic behavior off it has finally caught up with her.

The lengthy ban for her outspoken rant against Sweden was undoubtedly excessive and there is a big question mark about the notion of free speech here. She spoke her mind vehemently about her distaste towards Sweden’s tactics but it wasn’t like Solo swore or used discriminatory language when speaking about Sweden. She just didn’t agree with their tactics.

Yet, that “coward” rant was likely the final straw in a long line of indiscretions which even Solo, perhaps one day, must admit have painted both herself and U.S. Soccer in a poor light over the past few years.

Enough is enough. It may seem harsh to many but this is likely the end of Solo’s glittering, controversy filled, USWNT career.

Southampton agree club-record fee of $28 million for Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal
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Southampton look set to smash their transfer record as Moroccan international Sofiane Boufal is close to sealing a move to St Mary’s.

ProSoccerTalk understands that Saints have agreed a club-record fee of $28 million with Ligue 1 club Lille for Boufal and the attacker is now discussing personal terms with the side who finished sixth in the Premier League last season.

[ MORE: Solo suspended by USWNT

It is believed there is still some way to go in the deal before Boufal, 22, is unveiled at Saints — it could be early next week ahead of the summer transfer window slamming shut at 7 p.m. ET on Aug. 31. — with the player currently in the latter stages of recovering from a knee injury he suffered at the end of last season.

With Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool all linked with Boufal in the past, this signing would represent a major coup for manager Claude Puel (former manager of Lille from 2002-08) and also boost Southampton’s attacking options following the loss of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle over the summer.

Boufal could be the latest in a long line of shrewd European pickups from Saints who have benefited greatly over the past three seasons from giving stars of other European leagues a chance in the PL (see: Mane, Sadio.) then selling them on to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United for huge profits.

The Paris-born attacker shone for Lille in France’s top-flight last season, scoring 11 goals and adding four assists following his move from second-tier Angers where he came through the youth system. Born and raised in France, Boufal chose to represent Morocco at international level and he has already placed twice for the Atlas Lions after making his debut in 2016.

If the deal does get over the line, as expected, then what type of player may Southampton be getting?

Boufal has skill and trickery similar to Riyad Mahrez and the directness of a Yannick Bolasie. He can play out wide or centrally and his creativity is his main trait. That is something Saints need as they’ve scored just once in their opening two games of the season and they look to be lacking a cutting edge in the final third heading into their first-ever appearance in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

This could well be another masterful signing from Saints’ now famed analysts in the “black box” room at their Staplewood training ground.

Wales manager says Arsenal could have avoided Aaron Ramsey injury

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 07: Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Pre-Season Friendly between Arsenal and Manchester City at Ullevi on August 7, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
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Wales manager Chris Coleman says Arsenal could have prevented Aaron Ramsey‘s current hamstring injury had they left him out of the early-season matches.

Ramsey was withdrawn in 62nd minute of Arsenal’s season opener against Liverpool after pulling up, and Coleman believes it happened for a reason. “It’s disappointing he’s got an injury. Could it have been prevented? Possibly, yes,” Coleman told the media ahead of the international window. “I think we all expected him to [miss the start of the season]. So I don’t know what happened between then and when he ended up on the pitch. Obviously only Arsenal can answer that. I think, to a man, if you were looking at [Arsenal’s team-sheet], it was a bit of a surprise he started.”

Ramsey helped Wales progress to the Euro 2016 semifinals. Many starts from countries that went deep in the Euros got a rest to start the season. Many of France’s team members, including Dimitri Payet and even Ramsey’s Arsenal teammate Olivier Giroud saw time off to start the Premier League season.

“When you’ve got a player as good as Aaron, take him out of any team and you are going to know about it,” Coleman said. “He is irreplaceable. He makes a huge impact for us. He is a great player and it’s a shame he’s not here. He’s a loss to any team.”

Wales has a World Cup qualifier against Moldova on September 5.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 1-2 Toronto FC

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC dribbles the ball during the second 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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The game in 100 words (or less): The Orlando City defense played a 75 minute match, and those 15 minutes off cost them the match. A pair of sleepy moments early and late in the match saw Toronto bag two goals on the road and leave Citrus Bowl Stadium with all three points. Sebastian Giovinco had the assists on both, a pair of perfectly timed through balls – one over the top and one through the middle – sprung the Toronto strikers.

Three moments that mattered

7′ – Toronto had a dream start just seven minutes in when a looping ball from Sebastian Giovinco found Tousaint Ricketts. He torched Tommy Redding down the right, breaking free on goal and finishing the one-on-one chance around Joe Bednik cooly.

56′ – Greg Vanney’s anger was doubled. First, the Toronto FC manager was left seething at a foul called as Marco Delgado clipped Matias Garcia and gave Orlando a set-piece opportunity. In the ensuing spell of possession, a cross from Luke Boden met the head of Clye Larin, who deposited it into the back of the net. A stone-faced Vanney was left seething on the bench as the home side leveled it up at 1-1.

86′ – Jozy Altidore came off the bench to finish off the game, and while he had a horrible miss just minutes into the game, he atoned at the end. The visitors again caught the Orlando defense completely asleep, with the back line pressed way high up the pitch. Altidore timed his run perfectly, and the hosts didn’t even attempt to catch up. One-on-one, the USMNT striker finished easily.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Ricketts 7′, Larin 56′, Altidore 86′