Soldado

After yet another devastating miss, how far will Roberto Soldado fall?

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Roberto Soldado made a habit of scoring last year for Valencia, bagging 24 league goals over 35 matches.

This year, after Daniel Levy shelled out $50 million for the Spaniard, Soldado has made a habit of doing just the opposite – missing, and missing badly.

Today, Soldado had a chance to equalize against pesky Norwich, the chance on a platter in front of him, begging to be put away with the first touch of his substitute appearance.

Instead of gobbling it up, with the goal gaping he lashed at the ball, sending it curling well wide right, and with it Spurs’ best chance to score *poof* gone forever.

Thanks to the miss, one of 29 this season, Soldado’s shot accuracy sits at just 33% on the Premier League season.

source: Getty Images
This is becoming an all-too-familiar sight at Tottenham matches this season.

That ranks 47th of the 51 forwards in the Premier League who have played at least 15 matches. The only players with worse are Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Andre Schurrle, Marko Arnautovic, and Johan Elmander. And Soldado has attempted at least 11 more shots than anyone of them.

And remember, that 33% includes the four penalties he’s taken. Remove those, and his open-play shot accuracy is just 10-of-35, or 29%.

Speaking of four penalties, Soldado has just five measly goals this season. Factoring in the four penalties he’s bagged, that means the 28-year-old has just one lone goal from open play. One. Uno.

His misses aren’t going unnoticed around the Tottenham clubhouse.

New manager Tim Sherwood has often selected a resurgent Emmanuel Adebayor over Soldado, relegating the Spaniard to the bench five times since Sherwood’s appointment, all coming in the last six matches.

Following what could be considered the year’s worst miss, midweek against Dnipro in the Europa League, Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen was forced to come to Soldado’s aid after the match.

After former Tottenham owner Lord Alan Sugar referred to Soldado as a “donkey,” Vertonghen fired back.

“I think Roberto deserves better, it’s very difficult to settle in England,” said the defender. “He’s getting less chances than he did in Spain but he will start doing well. Sometimes those ones are easier to score than miss, but it’s more difficult than you think. It’s sad for him because he scores from every angle in training and I hope he will start scoring (on matchday).”

There’s a painful twinge of fleeting hope at the end of that quote.  Almost as if Vertonghen followed it up with “he will start scoring, right? Please?”

But where Spurs in the past could get by making up for Soldado’s misses by earning penalties or hitting on others, today they stung the visitors at Carrow Road in a way they may not recover from this season.

So what will the future hold for Soldado at White Hart Lane? If this continues, eventually there’s only one possible ending, one that may see Soldado marked as one of the worst signings in Spurs history.

It’s much too early to slap those kind of labels on a player just yet, but whereas the Spaniard’s misses before could be considered an aberration, they’re now clearly under the “trend” column, and trends in this direction rarely see themselves picked up like nothing happened.

Stats in this article courtesy of Squawka’s Comparison Matrix.

Ranieri criticizes Leicester for lacking “desire and heart”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City looks dejected during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Millwall and Leicester City at The Den on February 18, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri criticized his players for lacking “desire and heart” in a 1-0 loss at third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday, the latest setback for the stuttering English champion.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup — Premier League sides underwhelm in 5th round ]

Leicester, which is one point above the relegation zone in a woeful defense of its Premier League title, is without a victory in its last eight matches.

Millwall played most of the second half with 10 men and won thanks to a 90th-minute goal.

“I want to speak again with the players and say we have to fight every match,” an animated Ranieri said. “Who wants to fight? Tell me. I need the soldiers, I need the gladiators.

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

“It is strange because last season we won for this, to be more determined than the opponent and play with more heart than the opponent. We could also lose but we would fight every match. I want to see this, the fight until the end.”

Leicester’s next match is against Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

FOLLOW LIVE: Spurs, Man United away in FA Cup 5th round

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his third and his sides third goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between Manchester United and AS Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford on February 16, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-rounders served up the biggest Cupset of them all — fifth-division side Lincoln City knocking off Burnley of the Premier League — as well as two moderately shocking results — Leicester City losing to 10-man Millwall (League One) and Manchester City drawing 0-0 with Huddersfield Town (Championship).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Sunday’s FA Cup 5th-rounders ]

On Sunday, two more of the PL’s big boys hope to avoid upsets and reach the quarterfinals of the 2016-17 tournament. First up, Tottenham Hotspur visit Fulham’s Craven Cottage in a renewed London derby, followed by Manchester United’s trip to Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park. For live scores and updates, hit the above link, or click right here.

Saturday’s FA Cup results

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION
Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City
Millwall 1-0 Leicester City
Middlesbrough 3-0 Oxford United
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9 a.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET

Report: AC Milan negotiating new deal for keeper Donnaumma

ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 13:  AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma gestures during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico on February 13, 2017 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly become one of the most coveted goalkeepers in the world, and he’s only 17 years old.

[ MORE: Gameiro nets hat-trick in five minutes for Atletico ]

And that’s why AC Milan plans on doing everything in its power to hold on to the Italy international.

[ MORE: U.S. U-20s fall to Panama to begin CONCACAF Championship ]

According to CalcioMercato, the Rossoneri are preparing to lock up Donnarumma to a big deal once he turns 18 next week in order to fend off the likes of Premier League duo Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.

However, agent Mino Raiola could stand in the way of Milan as they attempt to negotiate with the promising shot stopper out of fear that the club won’t be able to compete with Europe’s best teams.

Also, it has been suggested that Raiola is seeking at least $4.25 million per season for Donnarumma plus add ons, while Milan is said to be willing to go as high as $2.1 million annually.

Donnarumma is currently in his second professional season with Milan and has risen to the Italian national team level over the past year as well. The young keeper is seen as the logical successor to Gianluigi Buffon once his international career concludes.

Baggio marks 50th birthday by visiting quake victims

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Roberto Baggio (L) is challenged by Diego Lugano during the Interreligious Match For Peace at Olimpico Stadium on September 1, 2014 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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AMATRICE, Italy (AP) Italian great Roberto Baggio marked his 50th birthday on Saturday by visiting towns devastated by earthquakes last year.

[ MORE: FA Cup Saturday wrap — Man City held against Huddersfield ]

Baggio opted not to celebrate his milestone surrounded by celebrities, and instead spent the day in Amatrice, which was almost wiped out by the Aug. 24 earthquake.

The former world footballer of the year, who met children and others from the central Italy region, said “it was very emotional,” and he went there with his family “to fully understand what so many people are going through.”

Baggio also met the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, and said they will remain in contact, “and we will try to do something concrete.”

Baggio was moving on to nearby Norcia, which was also damaged, and there was a party organized with a birthday cake.

The Aug. 24 quake killed nearly 300 people and left a further 4,000 homeless. There were aftershocks for several days as well as more quakes in October and January.

Baggio, who was nicknamed “Il Divin Codino” (The Divine Ponytail) for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, scored 27 goals in 57 appearances for Italy and helped the Azzurri to third place in the 1990 World Cup and runner-up four years later, when he famously missed the last penalty kick of the shootout in the final with Brazil.

He won the Serie A title with Juventus in 1995 and with AC Milan the following year.