Fulham manager says it can’t get any worse… but fixtures, odds say it can

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Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen says it can’t get any worse for his beleaguered club.

Their fourth manager in four years watched his club, sitting in 20th place in the Premier League with 14 matches to go, use its home FA Cup fourth-round replay with League One’s Sheffield United to throw up a 1-0 tournament exit.

“If you talk about this game and ask ‘Have we hit rock bottom?’, we probably have,” Meulensteen told British television network ITV4. “If you say that, then it cannot get any worse, it can only get better.”

Problem is: it can.

Fulham has 19 points through 24 rounds and even a shock win over Manchester United on the weekend would still have them in the relegation zone come next week. After rebounding from a 6-0 thrashing at Hull to beat West Ham on New Year’s Day, Fulham has lost four in Premier League succession.

Those games include three scoreless losses (Arsenal, Swansea, Southampton) and a 4-1 spanking from Sunderland.

“We could have played until next month and not scored a goal,” Meulensteen added. “I think the knocks we have picked up over the last couple of weeks have definitely had an influence on the confidence.

“When it happens, that is when you need to stick together. We know we only have ourselves to blame, we need to look in each other’s eyes and dig ourselves out of it.”

Fulham’s next eight dates include the aforementioned match against Manchester United in addition to visits from Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle, as well as a trip to Manchester City. It doesn’t look pretty for Fulham, who will also lose all-time leading scorer Clint Dempsey to the end of his loan deal soon (not that he’s done much of anything so far in a currently disappointing return to England).

But the Cottagers are coming off a seemingly successful transfer window that saw them pick up Lewis Holtby and John Heitinga on loan in addition to their big ticket acquisition of Kostas Mitroglou from Olympiacos.

The web site Sportsclubstats says Fulham have an 82 percent chance to get relegated and 50 percent chance to finish dead last in the PL. Does that feel about right to you, or can Rene pull his boys out of dangers against the odds?

Football leaks: French police raid PSG HQ, 3 players’ homes

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PARIS (AP) A French official says police investigating suspected tax fraud linked to the soccer industry have raided the headquarters of Paris Saint-Germain and the homes of three Argentine players in France.

The official said anti-corruption police units searched the homes of PSG players Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore, and that of Nantes forward Emiliano Sala on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Real Madrid signs $50m teen ]

Police also raided the head offices of PSG at Parc des Princes and other offices in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside the French capital, the official said.

The official, familiar with the case, declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

The national financial prosecutor’s office opened an investigation in December after so-called “football leaks” reports allegedly detailed tax arrangements by top players, coaches and clubs.

Real Madrid signs most expensive Brazilian since Neymar

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Real Madrid didn’t wait long after learning Vinicius Junior was healthy.

The 16-year-old Flamengo star is committed to the Bernabeu after passing a physical, and Real Madrid announced Tuesday that they’ll have their new player no later than July 2019.

The reported fee is $50 million, which would be the most money spent on a Brazilian player since Barcelona landed Neymar for about $64 million in 2013.

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The forward has made two appearances for Flamengo, and turns 17 on July 12. He has 19 goals in 22 appearances for Brazil’s U-17 side.

Here’s Real’s announcement:

Real Madrid C. F. and Clube de Regatas do Flamengo have reached an agreement regarding the transfer of the federative rights of the player Vinicius Junior from July 2018. The player will remain at his current club until July 2019, although he will be able to play for Real Madrid before then if both clubs agree to it.

VOTE: 2016-17 Premier League Goal of the Season

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Okay, so you have 1064 to choose from, so choose wisely…

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 PL season reviews

The 2016-17 Premier League season is over but you can vote for your favorite goal of the campaign up until June 1.

Simply click on the video above to watch the contenders compiled by Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, and then you can vote by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Ex-Barcelona president Rosell held in money laundering probe

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MADRID (AP) Spanish authorities say former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and his wife have been detained in a probe over his businesses in Brazil.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

The detentions early Tuesday are part of a money laundering investigation related to buying television rights for past matches of Brazil’s national team.

Three other people have been detained, but their identities were not immediately released by authorities.

Police raided offices, homes, and businesses in Barcelona and other locations in Spain as part of “Operation Rimet,” in reference to former FIFA President Jules Rimet.

Authorities said the operation used information from the FBI following the U.S. case against high-level FIFA officials in 2015.

Rosell is already standing trial for fraud and corruption charges involving the 2013 transfer of Brazilian striker Neymar.