Wilfried Bony wants a bigger club and the Champions League


If there’s one player that Swansea City can thank for helping them avoid relegation, it’s Wilfried Bony.

The Cote d’Ivoire striker arrived at the Liberty Stadium on a $20.2 million (£12m) transfer from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem last summer.

His impact was immediate, scoring a double on his club debut against Malmo in the Europa League and nabbing the lone goal in the 1-4 loss to Manchester United in the Premier League opener. He went on to play 11 times in Europe for the Swans, scoring four goals, and has thus far appeared in 32 Premier League matches, scoring 15 goals and providing 7 assists. The league he absolutely devours, however, is the FA Cup where he scored 6 goals in four appearances. 

Tacking on a goal in the Capital One Cup brings Bony’s season total to an impressive 26 goals, which is just over half of the club’s total Premier League goals (51).

Bony’s emergence came at the most opportune time as last year’s club hero, Michu, has become a mere footnote due to persistent ankle injuries. Needing someone to step up, Bony accepted the role and has earned acclaim around the league for his clinical finishing, sharp heading, tight touch on the ball and incredible strength.

These are characteristics many clubs would love to have in a striker and Bony is more than eager to move on to the next level. “I want to be in a bigger club, like all young players dream,” he told Sky Sports News’ Weekend Warm-Up. “I want to do Champions League now. I want to play more European games, so I feel like that because you feel it is good to play against the big teams.”

The come-and-get-me plea will be upsetting to Swansea supporters and Bony was careful to note his happiness in South Wales. But still, the man is hungry: “I want to do Champions League now. I want to play more European games, so I feel like that because you feel it is good to play against the big teams. It is good to check your level.”

The question then becomes — Assuming Bony wants to stay in the Premier League where might he fit?

Manchester City have strikers for days and are unlikely to be in the market for a striker. Chelsea are eyeing strikers at a world class level and recent reports have a deal for Diego Costa all tied up meaning a deal for Bony doesn’t look to be in the cards. Liverpool could be a decent fit if the Ivorian were open to rotating with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the surefire first-choice partnership.

Perhaps the most likely club to entertain the idea of adding Bony would be Arsenal (assuming they qualify for Champions League), who are desperate for a front-man to spell Olivier Giroud. Bony has the skills to fit in with the side and is impossible to move off the ball, an essential quality for an attacking three that loves to run into holes. Most Gunners fans will be eager to bring in a big name striker but given the dearth of those available this summer, Bony should at the least be in the options considered.

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

[ MORE: Alonso, Pedro support Morata ]

Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
Leave a comment

BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

[ MORE: Best PL summer buys ]

An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

[ MORE: Best PL summer buys ]

That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

[ MORE: Top PL summer buys ]

Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.