Three former players at center of Austrian match-fixing investigation

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Reports out of Austria have indicated that three former players in the Austrian Bundesliga have been charged in a relatively large match-fixing investigation.

Sanel Kuljic, Dominique Taboga and Johannes Lamprecht reportedly banded together and offered players anywhere between $10,000 and $55,000 to influence matches, and placed subsequent bets of up to $415,000 on the fixed matches.

The case was first brought public in November, when it was revealed that 17 first-division matches were influenced, all involving the clubs Kapfenberg or Groedig, two of which are from early this season.

31-year-old Taboga has since admitted he tried to persuade four teammates at Groedig to throw matches, and has since received a lifetime ban.

However, he has brought charges against Kuljic (pictured, from 2010), saying the 36-year-old used a personal debt to force him and Lamprecht into the fixing ring, and claimed Kuljic threatened the two after they refused to fix matches.

The claims state Kuljic threatened the pair until they were forced to hand over items such as laptops and cars in lieu of money.

Kuljic claims he was trying to collect on a loan he gave his former teammate to buy furniture.

However, investigators say they have a list of 26 names, including the trio, obtained from two unnamed Albanian men who apparently arranged the fixing.  Seven other “unnamed persons” have been charged, and prosecutors say they could add up to 15 more to the list in the near future.

The fixing allegedly began in 2004.  Kuljic retired back in 2012 due to ligament tears after registering three goals for the Bosnia-Herzegovnian national team, while Taboga was playing for Grodig during his arrest in November.  Lamprecht has not played since the 2008/09 season.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.

Report: Bayern Munich scouted Walker, Alexis this weekend

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German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.

Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s Top Four plight ]

In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.

On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.

Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.

Roma lands sporting director Monchi, a reported Arsenal target

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AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.

Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.

Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.

[ JPW: Oriol Romeu — The Perfectly Poised Destroyer ]

He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.

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