Liverpool may have beat Newcastle 2-1 to finish up their season, but the Reds had already let the Premier League title slip away. Sure enough, Manchester City’s win over Newcastle meant it was the Citizens throwing the championship party at close of business on Sunday.
But that’s not to say that Liverpool didn’t have a fantastic season. Consider this: last year Liverpool finished 7th, 14 points back of a Champions League position. Now they’re in second, are headed to Europe’s premier tournament and did it all while scoring 101 goals along the way.
It’s no wonder, then, that Steven Gerrard sounded rather optimistic when speaking after the match:
If someone had said to me that we would go into the last game with a slim chance of winning the league I’d have taken that at the start of the season. We have been unlucky – we gave it a great shot, but we fell a little bit short. But what do we do? We dust ourselves down and go again.
Liverpool know that they have some areas in which they need to improve – certainly the penultimate game, in which Palace came back, in the last fifteen minutes, from 3-0 down to draw 3-3, showed that was the case. Their defense away from home needs to be strengthened and lapses in concentration need to be reduced.
But that doesn’t stop the Liverpool captain from believing that, come next season, his side will be capable of proving themselves the best team in the league:
I believe the title is not too far away if we continue to produce performances like we have done this season. If we add to this team and the squad in the right areas we are capable of challenging. We are genuine title contenders before a ball is kicked next year, and we need to go and prove that we’re the top side in the league over 38 games, and not second.
Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi both spent some time as potential Arsenal players in the summer rumor mills, but will the former’s move to Juventus keep the latter from the Emirates Stadium?
As we wait for official confirmation that Juventus has purchased Higuain from Napoli for $103 million, it seems Napoli is aiming to replace him with Icardi. Football Italia says Inter has rejected an offer of $22 million plus Manolo Gabbiadini that would send Icardi to Naples.
[ MORE: Messi back, blonde at Barca ]
Gabbiadini has 20 goals in 60 matches for Napoli, but Icardi is among the hottest properties in the world. The 23-year-old Argentine is signed through 2019, and the fee is obviously going to be quite high, but Napoli is ready to spend money that others may not.
Many players have been rumored for the “fourth chair” behind Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez in the Barcelona attack orchestra, but could the issue be settled with a reserve from Atletico Madrid?
Luciano Vietto, 22, is being linked with a $24 million move from the Vicente Calderon to the Camp Nou. AS says personal terms are the only obstacle remaining, and Vietto would have a lot to prove in Barcelona. After belting 20 goals for Valencia in 2014-15, Vietto found the net just thrice in 28 matches last season.
Atleti could use that money, according to Marca, as Diego Simeone’s bunch reportedly believes it can pry Diego Costa from Chelsea. The Brazilian-born Spanish international has massive success at Atleti before moving to North London, and Simeone has not quit on the idea of bringing him back “home”.
Also, we’re just going to leave this right here, with the lone add-on that Aaron Schoenfeld is tearing it up for Maccabi’s rival.
Lionel Messi is back with Barcelona a week earlier than expected, as the Camp Nou set prepares to defend another La Liga title.
That means Messi will be on the roster for the International Champions Cup, as Barcelona is slated to play Celtic, Leicester City, and Liverpool.
[ MORE: Manchester Derby in China on Monday ]
That’s not the only surprise from the 29-year-old, who has pulled an Aaron Ramsey and dramatically altered his ‘do.
Glad to have him back on our screens a bit earlier than planned, and — although I’m far from a style icon — I’ll be just as glad when the blonde grows/washes out of his head.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s long summer has earned him an extended vacation, but the knee injury he suffered in the EURO 2016 Final would’ve kept him from this season’s first big club match anyway.
The 31-year-old star will not be available for the Aug. 9 UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla, saying he’ll be back in the mix just one day later.
[ MORE: Discussing Yedlin’s future ]
Ronaldo also said he’s going to speak with the club about extending his contract, which runs through the 2017-18 season. He’s very been vocal about his desire to finish his career at the Bernabeu, and will put pen to paper in order to prove it.
From Sky Sports:
“I spoke to the president on the phone and when I get to Madrid, we will talk about it.
“Obviously it’s something I want, I have mentioned it many times, and the club also wants it. But we only spoke briefly, and there will be more concrete things to come.”
No surprises here, though it would’ve been nice to have Ronaldo on our screens for the match-up between his Champions League winners and the Europa League champions.
Preseason matches rarely have legitimate hype, let alone live up to it.
Yet Monday will see Manchester United and Manchester City tangle outside of England for the first time in history, and there are a lot of fans looking forward to the early morning match in China.
[ MORE: Discussing Yedlin’s future ]
A lot of that has to do with it being the first match-up between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho as bosses of City and United, to the extent where journalists asked whether the longtime rivals would shake hands (admittedly a weird question, as if to say, “Are you a grown-up?”).
They essentially issued the same answer, and here are Mourinho’s comments, from ManUtd.com:
“Of course I will shake his hand – why wouldn’t I? I don’t understand the question to him or to me. We were opponents for three years [in Spain] but we are professionals. I don’t see why I wouldn’t shake his hand.”
Both managers also talked, understandably, about fitness and health being their No. 1 goal of the match, and there are concerns about the pitch in China due to heavy rains.
Guardiola also gave insight into Vincent Kompany‘s continued struggles with recovery from the injury that hampered him for much of last season, refusing to give a timetable for the captain’s return.