Chelsea reps watched Diego Costa on Wednesday as transfer rumors ramp up

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Chelsea appear to be moving closer to a summertime deal for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa.

Representatives from the Blues traveled to the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night to watch the Brazilian-born striker score the match-winner in Los Colchoneros 1-0 victory over Granada.

Costa’s winner came in the 63rd minute when he headed Jose Sosa’s cross past Granada keeper Roberto to help Atletico into 1st place in La Liga, one point clear of Barcelona and three clear of Real Madrid.

Reports out of West London claim that manager Jose Mourinho is keen to wrap up a deal for Costa before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where the striker will be representing Spain after his recent switch was confirmed by FIFA this past winter.

Mourinho is believed to have made an approach for Costa in January with the 25-year-old rebuffing a mid-season move. An end-of-the-season move, however, is not believed to be adverse for Costa, who boasts a buy-out clause in the region of $66 million, according to the Daily Mail.

Much in the mold of Didier Drogba, Costa represents that large, powerful striker that Mourinho’s teams crave. Many believe that Everton loanee Romelu Lukaku also fits that bill but the Portuguese manager is reportedly unimpressed by the Belgian striker and may look to sell him come next summer.

The aging Samuel Eto’o, ineffective Fernando Torres and seldom used Demba Ba all represent surplus goods when compared to Costa. The combustible striker has been in dashing form this season, with 32 goals in 42 total appearances, 24 of which have come in La Liga.

Mourinho’s Chelsea side take on Crystal Palace this Saturday at 10:45am ET on NBCSN.


 

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.