Chelsea board may want Fábregas, but Mourinho sees needs elsewhere

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Last night, news connecting Cesc Fábregas to Chelsea emerged, something that seemed like a good fit, on paper. With time to follow-up, reports out of England have added a new twist to the Barcelona star’s transfer story: Chelsea’s manager may not share the same excitement as his board.

According to The Independent, José Mourinho would like Chelsea to look elsewhere to bolster his third place squad. Those places include: Atlético Madrid, where Koke is being targeted; Juventus, where Paul Pogba is the object of many teams’ desires; and Porto, where central defender Eliaquim Mangala has drawn the Blues’ attention. With young Brazilian Oscar reportedly meeting Mourinho’s need for creativity in midfield, Chelsea may not be among Fábregas’s main suitors.

From The Independent:

Jose Mourinho is not convinced Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, with whom he has had several run-ins in the past, is the right player for Chelsea, with the Stamford Bridge board apparently far more enthusiastic about the purchase than the manager …

Mourinho will also have to put aside his past disputes with Fabregas if the west London side are to provide a return route to the Premier League for the 27-year-old former Arsenal player.

Fabregas said four months ago that his Barcelona side’s critics – he meant Mourinho – should “shut up” after the Spaniards’ win at Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16. “Some people want us to fail and some people have been talking a bit much as usual,” Fabregas said, pointedly.

If Chelsea can land Pogba and Koke, they certainly don’t need Fábregas. You can argue that you can never have too much quality in the middle, but in a world of Financial Fair Play, spending because you can is no longer a justifiable approach. The $45 million it may cost to get Fábregas (and, the wages he’ll demand) may be better spent elsewhere; or, for a team that’s pushing the limits of FFP, not at all.

Where would this leave Fábregas? Assuming he both departs Barcelona and is targeting England, Liverpool and Manchester United would seem logical options. Tottenham is another team that could justify the move, but as is the case with Manchester United, Fábregas may think twice before moving out of Champions League. As a former Gunner, he also may have misgivings about moving to such a heated rival.

So what does that leave? A move to a place like Paris Saint-Germain? FFP problems will keep the Parisians from completing that deal. Perhaps Monaco, just now coming under FFP’s guidelines, will take the plunge, but will the interest be reciprocated?

Elsewhere in Europe, there are very few teams can afford Fábregas’s transfer fee or wages (over $8 million per season). With that in mind, going to a place like United or Spurs and moving out of Champions League (if only momentarily) may make some sense.

If Fábregas is going to leave Barcelona, and if teams like Arsenal and Chelsea are not interested, he may not have that many viable options.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”

Boa Esporte goalkeeper back to prison as murder appeal denied

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The risk clearly wasn’t worth it for Boa Esporte.

The Brazilian club signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza in March, not long after the convicted murderer and goalkeeper was released from prison on appeal.

Fernandes, 32, had been jailed for ordering the murder of a lover, who was fed to dogs by the killer. Boa Esporte lost several big sponsors for signing him, but vocally defended the move.

The owner, Rone Moraes da Costa, said he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to revive his career. Fernandes admitted his mistakes but said he wasn’t “a bad guy”.

According to the Associated Press:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to deny an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in March while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio.”

So it’s back to jail for Fernandes, and we’ll be waiting with baited breath to hear from Boa Esporte’s owner.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”